How is power exercised and maintained?
Direct power in the most obvious way of exercising and maintaining power.
Exercise of direct power
• British imperialism – wholesale conquest of countries. Insurgency put down by force.
• Military power – US navy has 12 aircraft carriers and 70 submarines. It is the most powerful military machine on Earth. It established a ring of bases to surround the USSR in the Cold War era, as part of its policy of containment. The Iraq war saw the USA effectively “go it alone.”
• Some economic power is direct. The USA plays a major role in world trade, much of which is conducted in $. The US $ is the world’s ...view middle of the document...
41% of the global receipt of royalties and licence fees in 2006 went to the USA.
• China’s interest in Africa dates from the mid 1990s. Its search for oil and mineral resources has focused on that continent. It has invested US$ 8 billion, building oil pipelines in Sudan. Critics say all China wants from Africa is its resources and that it has no interest in African development.
• The most influential players in promoting economic development are the TNCs. The largest of these match some countries in terms of their wealth, power and trading. In 2006 776 of the largest TNCs in the world were American. Because of their size and wealth some TNCs can dominate the worldwide market price for primary commodities.
• Cultural hegemony is a term coined by the Italian Marxist phisosopher Antonio Gramsci. It means that education, religion and the media reinforce the values of the powerful. US cultural hegemony is largely unchallenged. In 2008 53 of the top 100 brands were from the USA. Much of the world has been Americanised in terms of cultural values.
Evaluating the theories which explain the growth of superpowers
• In the 1960s WW Rostow’s modernisation theory was used to explain the dominance of the British Empire and the USA. Rostow said the economies of developed countries moved through 5 stages of economic development. The Asian Tiger countries, which followed Rostow’s model and created the pre-conditions for ”take off” did well, but others failed and became burdened by debt. Rostow’s model, therefore, doesn’t adequately explain the growth of superpowers.
• Dependency theory is based on the work of AG Frank who says the world has an economically developed core and an underdeveloped periphery. The capitalist core deliberately keeps the periphery poor by exploiting its cheap resources. Skilled people from underdeveloped countries migrate to the core. Aid is a way of stopping the periphery becoming dangerously restless. The rise of the NICS (Asian Tigers) isn’t explained by his theory. Also. Aid has put some countries on their feet, not just stopped them becoming restless. Japan and Singapore, for example, have received huge economic support from the USA. Frank’s theory is based on Marxist ideas of the rich versus the poor. It is political as well as economic.
• World Systems Theory is put forward by Wallerstein. It is more of an analysis of geographical patterns than a theory. Wallerstein sees a three-tier world (core, semi-periphery and periphery). According to Wallerstein the capitalist world system has three main characteristics: (1) a global market (2) many countries which complete politically and economically (3) the three tiers already identified. Wallerstein says industrial capitalism was born in Europe and the rise of China and India represents another stage in the growth and spread of the global economy.
History and the future
• The British Empire began with the mercantilist...