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Current And Past Hegemonies Essay

1567 words - 7 pages

According to Ellis-Christensen (2014), “The term hegemony refers to the leadership, dominance or great influence that one entity or group of people has over others.” Hegemony is derived from a Greek word, hegeisthai which means to lead. Years back, this term was often used to refer to a country or state that exerted power over other city-states or countries indirectly as opposed to the use of military force. In modern times the word hegemony often refers to the capability of a group in society to have power over others in the same society. A good example would be the wealthy class where we see them practicing hegemony over the poor in society because of the ability to use available resources to influence many aspects of society and government. Individuals who are able to exert power over others in society are referred to as hegemons. The term hegemony is usually used in reference to the power of a single group in a society to basically dominate and lead other groups in the society. This is done in several ways for example by influencing government leaders, by controlling forms of communication or by influencing voters. Take for example some lobbying groups, which might have hegemony status over some leaders in power. In order to limit political spending by special interest groups, some rules are designed to reduce their dominance and allow individual voters to have more control.
In modern times a single country might also be considered to be hegemonic if it possesses enough power to influence the way that other countries behave in the international system. Hegemonic states, such as the British Empire of the mid-19th century and the United States of the 21st century, have extraordinary influence over many other countries. The hegemony that exists in a single country simply means that the dominant and most influential group is able to influence government policies in the given country. Hegemons use fear and intimidation to control the behavior of weak states but balance of power theory states that other great powers would put strategies in place to prevent one state from having control over the system for a period of time. An attempt by one state to dominate the international system will be retaliated by a forging alliance. In a hegemonic system, states have no distinction between balancing against power and threat.

The United States is an example of a state enjoying a hegemonic position in these first years of the new century when it comes to its military power and its economic power and also its dynamism in running affairs. The United States currently is technologically very advanced yet the exercise of American power has over time proven to be incompetent, and in significant aspects irrelevant to the world's military and political challenges. Examples of such irrelevances include the Somali Crisis, the Vietnam War, the Caribbean and Central American interventions and also the 1999 intervention in Kosovo. At the time we see NATO fought a war...

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