Hegemony The New Shape of GLobal Power.pdf - P1 KPN\/FFX P2 IML\/FFX GRBT012-Agnew QC IML\/FFX T1 IML 4:51 Hegemony i Hegemony John Agnew is Professor of

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Unformatted text preview: P1: KPN/FFX P2: IML/FFX GRBT012-Agnew QC: IML/FFX February 10, 2005 T1: IML 4:51 Hegemony i Hegemony John Agnew is Professor of Geography at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is the author or co-author of Place and Politics, The United States in the World Economy, The Geography of the World Economy, Geopolitics, and Place and Politics in Modern Italy, among other titles, as well as the coeditor of American Space/American Place. Hegemony THE NEW SHAPE OF GLOBAL POWER John Agnew Temple University Press PHILADELPHIA For Felicity Temple University Press 1601 North Broad Street Philadelphia PA 19122 C 2005 by Temple University Copyright  All rights reserved Published 2005 Printed in the United States of America ∞  The paper used in this publication meets the requirements of the American National Standard for Information Sciences—Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials, ANSI Z39.48-1992 Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Agnew, John A. Hegemony : the new shape of global power / John Agnew. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 1-59213-152-2 (cloth : alk. paper) — ISBN 1-59213-153-0 (pbk. : alk. paper) 1. United States—Foreign economic relations. 2. United States—Economic policy. 3. Consumption (Economics). 4. Globalization. 5. United States—Foreign relations. 6. Civilization, Modern—American influences. 7. World politics—21st century. 8. Geopolitics. I. Title. HF1455.A6155 2005 337.73—dc22 2004058896 2 4 6 8 9 7 5 3 1 Contents Preface vii Acknowledgments xi 1 Introduction 1 2 Hegemony versus Empire 12 3 American Hegemony and the New Geography of Power 37 4 Placing American Hegemony 71 5 U.S. Constitutionalism or Marketplace Society? 102 6 Globalizing American Hegemony 119 7 The New Global Economy 159 8 Globalization Comes Home 189 9 Conclusion 219 Notes 231 Index 267 v Preface A s a child, I understood American “influence” in the world differently than that of the “high politics” of diplomacy and economic policy that I had heard about on the radio or from my parents and teachers. The first time I saw an American car taking up both sides of the main street in my home village in northwest England— brought there for display, not to drive, by a vacationing native son usually employed by Chevrolet (GM) somewhere “over there”—I understood something of the pull exerted on the rest of the world by the American cornucopia. I was disabused of all this as a university student. I was taught in international politics that the only important American influence was that exerted by the U.S. government as a result of its military strength and the capacity of the economy it governed. But apart from that, all states were more or less the same in striving for global primacy. The fact that the United States had “replaced” countries like Great Britain at the top of the global state-heap was attributed to its amazing industrial capacity, a dose of luck, and the support of such stalwart allies as the British, whose time as a world power had finally run out. My more positivist social science instructors were particularly dismissive of the idea that anything “unique” about American history might have anything to do with anything. The “rise” of the United States was due to rational actors exploiting the universal conjunctures associated with spurts of technological change and the outcomes of wars (predetermined by who had most war materiel). The United States was just another “case” like all of the others. In the years since, the world seems to have changed beyond all recognition. Much of this change is put down to “globalization,” although quite what that means remains elusive. It is partly about “time-space compression”—the reduction in the importance of distance for a wide range of transactions—but it is also about significant changes in the vii viii Preface geographical scope and the temporal speed of economic transactions and the rapid transmission of cultural messages. Certainly, the old theories of world politics of states bumping up against one another now seem not just antiquated but positively misleading. This book ties globalization to that American influence on the rest of the world that I had inchoately recognized so many years ago. A paper I wrote previously, “Globalization Has a Home Address,” lays out some of the main strands of my thinking. That expresses well one of the main arguments that I make in this book: globalization is to a significant degree “Made in the U.S.A.” But now I want to go beyond this idea to make the further argument that globalization under American influence has initiated change in the very spatial ontology of world politics. By this I mean that the geography of power is decreasingly organized on a singular territorial basis by reference to states as we have known them since the eighteenth century. In its place we are seeing a world with an increasingly complex spatiality of power, as localities, global city-regions, regions, and trading blocs connect or network with one another to challenge the primary state-based territorial divisions. So, if the twentieth century was the American century, the twenty first is not likely to be. American hegemony has set in motion a world that can no longer be dominated by any single state or its cultural fruits. Yet, one of the most common ways of addressing American influence today is to refer to the United States as an actual or incipient “empire.” With the disappearance of the Soviet Union as a competing superpower, the U.S. government certainly seems to have no peer. Indeed, particularly since September 11, 2001, the U. S. government has confronted the rest of the world with the hubris and noblesse oblige that are associated with the imperial purple. But the term empire usually implies much more than this. It implies a high degree of territorial organization, effective centralized power, and a directing intelligence. These traits do not seem to match the ways that an essentially improvising American government currently relates to the rest of the world. Perhaps history misleads us in looking for repetition in the behavior of powerful governments. If states with the largest military establishments or GDPs per capita in the past became or tried to become empires, then surely the United States must, too? I think that the empire designation is fundamentally misleading in understanding the current situation and influence of the United States in world politics. In its place I propose the concept of hegemony—not simply in the sense of dominance or equivalence to empire, but as a confluence between a globally dominant Preface ix position on the one hand and a set of attributes that that dominance has created, enabling it to spread and be imposed around the world, on the other: what I call “marketplace society.” Hegemony, therefore, has had a specifically American content, if one open to adaptation as it travels and enrolls others in its operations. This is not the same as modernization or the conversion of people to modernity in an American guise—that is, the adoption by individuals of a set of modern values in opposition to so-called traditional ones. Rather, it is about the adoption of rules of economic and political life that reorient and reorganize world politics. Globalization and the new geography of power that this entails have been the outcome. The temptation of empire, however strongly felt in some quarters in Washington, reflects the negatively charged reverberation of the success of what I am calling American hegemony on the United States itself rather than a coherent forward-looking strategy that grows out of either American experience or the main course of recent world history. Making the case for a new shape to global power that has developed from American hegemony but which now points to a world increasingly outside the direct control of the United States or any other state is the purpose of the book. Acknowledgments I would like to thank a number of people who have helped with this book and the thinking behind it. James Anderson and Gerard Toal encouraged me to develop my argument about empire versus hegemony. Tom Mertes made me clarify my criticisms of empire as a useful concept in the current world situation. David Lake introduced me to how a thoughtful political scientist considers questions of anarchy and hierarchy in international politics. Leslie Sklair questioned my consumption model of American hegemony and encouraged me to spell out my argument. Dennis Conway has tolerated my obsession with the need to understand the “American experience,” while understanding that this does not entail indulging in the exceptionalism that incites such hubris along the Potomac. Steve Legg provided me with a careful reading of Chapters 1 and 2. Mat Coleman made some pivotal suggestions that helped clarify the argument of Chapter 5. Jo Sharp and I worked together on many of the ideas in Chapter 4. Chase Langford conceived and drafted the map of the “Coalition of the Willing” that appears as Figure 9.1. He also drew all of the other figures. Finally, Leslie Sklair and Felicity Nussbaum read the manuscript with great care, saving me from a number of errors and misstatements. Any that remain are my responsibility alone. Felicity also offered kind encouragement at difficult moments. Peter Wissoker has smoothed the way with Temple University Press. I am particularly grateful to him. A much earlier version of Chapter 2 previously appeared in Antipode 35 (2003), and Chapter 3 appeared as follows: Millennium: Journal of International Studies; sections of this chapter first appeared in Millennium (vol. 28, no. 3, 1999), and are reproduced here with substantial alterations with the permission of the publisher. I am grateful to Yale University Press for permission to reproduce (as Figure 4.1) the map from Donald Meinig, The Shaping of America. Volume 1: Atlantic America (1986), Figure 67, p. 402. xi 1 Introduction W ords matter. Currently, there is much talk and writing about empire or American empire—words used to describe the dominant force in world politics today.1 I want to challenge this creeping consensus by proposing a different word to describe the current state of affairs. This word hegemony is often confused with empire and frequently appears with such ancillary words as imperial, imperialist, and so on, as if they all meant the same thing. Of course, they can be made to mean the same thing. But what if the consensus is fundamentally mistaken about what is actually unique about the current situation? And, by way of substitution, what if the word hegemony is given a meaning distinctive from that of empire, a meaning it has long had, thus providing an alternative conception of contemporary world politics? My task is to convince readers that the word hegemony, at least in the usage I give it, is a much better term for describing the historic relationship between the United States and the rest of the world than is the word empire. This is not an aesthetic choice; it is an analytic one. Words can help understanding—or they can obscure it. In this regard, loose use of the word empire fails to fulfill the theoretical duty it has been given. In brief, I argue that the main thrust of contemporary world politics is the result of the particular hegemony exercised by American society in the rest of the world through the agency of both the U.S. government and a wide range of other institutions, corporate, philanthropic, and inter-governmental—whose basic structures and norms are those of the marketplace society that developed in the United States in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Hegemony, therefore, is more than the simple domination implied when it is equated with empire or, as in other conventional accounts, when it is seen simply as the identity of a dominant state without inquiring into the nature of that identity and how it affects that state’s relationships with others.2 In my usage, hegemony is the enrollment of others in the exercise of your power 1 2 Chapter One by convincing, cajoling, and coercing them that they should want what you want. Though never complete and often resisted, it represents the binding together of people, objects, and institutions around cultural norms and standards that emanate over time and space from seats of power (that have discrete locations) occupied by authoritative actors. Hegemony is not, therefore, simply the exercise of raw military, economic, and political power by the latest in a long line of “hegemons” as if the exercise of power had remained unchanged through the centuries. Neither is it a simple continuation of military and political power exercised territorially as implied by use of the word empire, whether or not qualified by such terms as formal or informal. Such usage simply shifts the intellectual “territorial trap”—meaning seeing power as invariably territorial—from the level of the state to that of a global empire.3 If empires have a core feature it is that they exercise power territorially through effective centralized command. The Roman Empire, sometimes taken as analogous to the contemporary American empire, was an imperium in which all roads led (figuratively and literally) directly to Rome. American hegemony, however, even though it obviously has coercive attributes that have been very apparent in recent years, is fundamentally not imperial in its goals or territorial in its organization.4 Indeed, I will claim that globalization, in its fragmentation of existing state territories and its increasingly predominant networked geography of power, is the necessary outcome of American global hegemony, not some sort of empire. Globalization today and under American hegemony represents a dramatic quickening and geographical reformulation of the progressive universalization of capitalist commodification and accumulation.5 But globalization is not an abstract process of imperialism. Neither is it reducible simply to technological change or firm reinvestment strategies. Globalization is a hegemonic project intimately connected to the geopolitical calculus of the U.S. government and economic interests during the Cold War and to the incorporation of the entire world into its grip in the years since the demise of the Communist project in the former Soviet Union and China by a myriad of U.S.-based agents. From this viewpoint, globalization is not the same as liberalization. Globalization refers to the increasing pace and scope of economic and cultural activities across space. Liberalization refers to a mix of government-enacted policies that tend to expose states to the external pressures that attend technological change and policies that invite the guidance of world-level institutions such as the IMF, WTO, and World Bank through the privatization of state assets, reduction of Introduction 3 state spending on popular welfare, and increased openness to trade and foreign direct investment. Liberalization has been an important mechanism increasing the intensity of globalization, but it is not at all the same thing.6 The trend of the U.S. government since the 1980s toward unilateral military and economic action—from refusal to engage in global environmental treaties or participate in the International Criminal Court to the invasion and occupation of Iraq—represents, rather than its burgeoning strength, the weakness of the United States within the very world order that the country has done so much to create. To associate the contemporary United States with the word empire is to imply the exact opposite.7 An imperial strategy, whatever its short-term successes might possibly be, and few are immediately apparent, runs against the grain of what American society has brought to the world during the past century in terms of ideas and practices about the centrality of marketplace society to social life: from mass consumption and living through commodities, to hierarchies of class hidden behind a cultural rhetoric of entrepreneurship and equal opportunity, to limiting the delivery of what elsewhere are thought of as public goods and sponsoring an essentially privatized vision of life.8 This “central market” paradigm is not simply a package of ideas but a set of social practices in which instrumental (market) behavior tends to displace customary (communal) and command (state-mandated) behaviors as the social standard. It is also more demotic or popular than elitist in its idiom. It presumes that physical force is a very unstable, if sometimes necessary, form of rule.9 It was in the United States that this marketplace society first took root as a mass as opposed to an elite phenomenon.10 Indeed, the argument could be made that American independence was itself an early manifestation of the rumblings of an emergent marketplace society against an imperial or extensive command system.11 In this regard, Karl Marx’s famous phrase in his Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right comes to mind: “Theory . . . becomes a material force as soon as it has gripped the masses.”12 From this viewpoint, the content of American hegemony owes much more to American society, therefore, than to the machinations of an often incoherent, incompetent, corrupt, and bewildered American state. In other words, it is much more the American Main Street (and shopping mall) than Washington D.C. that has provided the social norms and practices that others around the world have come to emulate and that has provided much of the basis to American hegemony. 4 Chapter One Much writing about empire and hegemony as well as being excessively state-centric rests on a peculiarly productivist view of power. This is the case with both the more state-centered and the more class-centered accounts.13 According to this approach, because value is created in the production process everything else is traced back to that process. This is mistaken because value is only realized in consumption when (at least for Marxists) the M-C-M circle is closed.14 Conventional Marxism has lost this “parallax perspective” in which production and consumption play equivalently important roles. To all too many commentators, exchange and consumption are still regarded as illusory spheres in which speculation and commodity fetishism distract potential revolutionaries from taking over their places of employment. But consumption is not merely a “buying off” of workers or an alienating exercise in bourgeois mystification but an essential moment in capitalism itself. In this view, therefore, it was within the vast territory of the United States that capitalism first realized its full potential. People had to be free to consume as well as to labor for the circle of capital to close. With American hegemony this potential has globalized. The standardization of space that accompanied European settlement and incorporation into the United States in the nineteenth century by, among other things, the township-and-range system of land division, railroads and their timetables, and the logistical innovations of national businesses after the Civil War provided a framework for the birth of the first large-scale consumer economy. The absence of barriers to trade and the presence of a common currency created a massive space within which economies of scale could be captured to realize the liberal dream in which calculation and rationality would provide the basis to realizing the desire to better one’s material condition. The United States was the first modern capitalist economy as its avatars such as Adam Smith understood it.15 At home and abroad, however, American hegemony is much more of a mixed bag in its consequences than either its proponents or its critics tend to claim. In particular, the cultural logic of marketplace society has politically progressive as well as negative effects. For example, it can refocus male emotional commitment around business deal-making rather than warrior dreams. Edith Wharto...
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