STATES_SYSTEMS_AND_UNIVERSAL_EMPIRES

STATES_SYSTEMS_AND_UNIVERSAL_EMPIRES - STATES SYSTEMS AND...

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STATES SYSTEMS AND UNIVERSAL EMPIRES David Wilkinson Department of Political Science, UCLA, USA Keywords: World system, civilization, states system, universal empire, world state. Contents 1. Civilizations and World Systems 2. The Character of States Systems. 3. The Character of Universal Empires. 4. The Pathology and Survival of States Systems 5. The Pathology and Survival of Universal Empires. 6. Why is there no Universal Empire Today? Related Chapters Glossary Bibliography Biographical Sketch Summary "Civilizations" and "world systems" are alternative labels for the largest macropolitical entities that have existed in human history. These historical civilizations/world systems may be seen as having two polar types of power structure, the "states system" and the "universal empire." Each form has certain characteristic accompaniments, which may promote it, be promoted by it, or both. For states systems, these are diversity, creativity, self-government and war. For universal empires, they are homogeneity, peace, repression. Universal empires tend to be late and short-lived formations, but also tend to recur. Each power structure also has its specific pathologies, which tend toward its transformation. States systems produce a great power oligarchy, out of which from time to time emerges a dominant power, which (again from time to time) establishes a universal empire. Universal empires, though preys to a variety of ills, tend to succumb because of a failed succession in the monarchic component of the state. A universal empire seems long overdue in the current global system; but which however shows signs of having "learned" how to prevent the birth of such an empire by conscious "balance of power" doctrines and policies of counterintervention, "grand alliance" and "general war." The destructiveness of modern warfare, as instanced most notably by nuclear weapons now challenges the viability of the balance-of-power doctrine, for which no clear substitute has yet emerged. 1. Civilizations and World Systems " Civilizations " are city-level societies (of any size) each consisting of some number of cities (with their polities, economies, and cultures) strongly linked in a politico-economic, military-diplomatic network not a part of any larger such network; in this sense, any civilization therefore is also a world system (a politico-military network not a part of a
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larger such network). It should be noted that civilizations/world systems may be, but need not be, of global scale; a society of global scale was indeed achieved in the 19 th century, but all prior civilizations/world systems were of regional or even very local scope. Civilizations considered in their political aspect (and as world systems, in their world- political aspect) may be seen as having in theory either of two available political structures: the states system and the world state). There are several alternative labels to "states systems" for systems of many independent states; Walker’s is "multi-state
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STATES_SYSTEMS_AND_UNIVERSAL_EMPIRES - STATES SYSTEMS AND...

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