Hegemony: From Domestic Dominance to Global Empire


This paper provides an assessment of why hegemony is difficult to roll back, employing a Marxist approach built upon the work of Robert W. Cox on Gramscian hegemony. It traces the evolution of international hegemony and demonstrates how it sustains itself. Hegemony is a result of social development, and a form of power that relies on non-coercive control. Known as it may be to intellectuals that hegemony is real in international relations, less able have we been in articulating its materiality, explaining its resilience over the years, and uncovering the mechanisms by which this is sustained. Cox ably applies the concept of hegemony to international relations. He shows that hegemony is a product of a lengthy process of social development that begins from the domestic and then internationalises. In this process the domestic capitalist class metamorphoses into a dominant class that controls the socio-political and ideological superstructure of the state. Then it transcends national boundaries, internationalises and perpetuates itself at the international level, forming what Hardt and Negri call a global Empire. Hegemony, therefore, ably resists counter-hegemonic developments because of its empire-like entrenchment with both visible and invisible technologies, and articulated and unarticulated knowledge by which it is sustained.