The Western world, particularly the United States, have held varying degrees of hegemony over the rest of the world for almost the entire modern era. This brings up two very important questions. The first is, is this good? The second concerns the future. What will come after this?
So the effects of Western hegemony, to be fair, I don’t think they are terribly different from what would happen under the hegemony of any other region. Other regions are exploited for the gain of the hegemon. Human rights and democracy often take a backseat to potential helpfulness to the hegemon when governments of the “third world” or “developing world” or whatever else the term might be at the time for the less powerful nations. Hegemony over the rest of the world is good if you are the one in power, and is considerably less awesome if you are not. Western domination has helped the West, but not necessarily the rest of the world, I think.
What’s next? This is a question that has been frequently posed over the course of the class, but without any specific answers brought forth in discussion. I tend to agree with Fareed Zakaria’s idea, which is that the “pie” will simply get bigger, and therefore, even though the West’s share of that pie will grow, so will everyone else’s, and the proportion will decrease. I think this leads to the possibility of a world system closest to one without hegemony since the 13th Century system. We would see a multi-polar world, where the United States would still likely have the most important voice, but would only have one voice of many. Regional powers would have much more influence on the system, as Brazil, South Africa, India, and similar nations rise to take their places on the world stage. All of this would still be relatively hegemony-like, but multi-polar, as opposed to previous uni or bi polar systems. What do you think this system will lead to?