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In a post-colonial international society, there exist numerous debates about the future of the US as a superpower, or whether another nation will rise to take its place. Barry Buzan's Decentred Globalism (2011) suggests an alternative: that although the US will decline and lose its standing as the sole superpower, no other will succeed it. Instead, he envisions an international society becoming regionalised, without a superpower but multiple great powers in coexistence and co-operation – 'decentred globalism'. Buzan (2011 pp. (?)) defines a superpower as a political entity whose "reach extends across the whole international system". Great powers, in comparison, only have influence over more than one region. Using a framework of material and social factors from both domestic and international outlooks, Buzan argues skilfully the probability of a regionalised international order as the outcome of the future, using the US, China and EU as case studies.
Buzan contends that historical circumstances of unequal Western power allowed 'superpowers' to emerge, but through modernisation and industrialisation, it is now impossible to obtain the relative military capability needed for states to establish hegemony. Moreover, Buzan argues that socially superpowers can no longer exist, as the concept of hegemony contradicts the international system, which is founded on the sovereign equality of each state, hence the existence of an anti-hegemonic norm. He deploys a framework of material and social considerations, on both a domestic and international level, to evidence the US's imminent decline, and China and the EU's inability to succeed it. Although America remains materially powerful through its military, Buzan identifies internal disagreements over its desire to maintain hegemony, and externally its declining popularity as a world leader. This he draws from the controversy over US foreign policy, torture practices and collapse of the Washington Consensus's credibility. China is also shown to have material potential due to rapid economic growth. However, Buzan rejects China as it is also internally divided, being
and powers now have a commitment to maintaining world trade and do not desire open struggles. nonintervention. he asserts that in some regions. diplomacy. Secondly is the concern a multipolar world system would be unable to tackle collective issues such as climate change. he points out China's ideological solitariness. International regionalisation is the model Buzan puts forth in place of superpowers. should the world be regionalised. as Western hegemony is crumbling and other powers either have no capacity to step in. or are internally focussed. and to some extent manages to dispel them in favour of international regionalisation. Externally. He postulates that the inability of superpowers to now exist materially (due to decreasing inequality) and socially (anti-hegemonic norms) calls for a multi-polar system. he raises the danger of hegemonic dynamics in local regions. with a good foreign policy record and reputation as an international model. for example Pakistan's concerns about India. and migration. intergovernmental . Hence it is not a viable replacement for the US. terrorism. Foremost is the worry of a struggle for world hegemony emerging again – Buzan asserts this is not feasible. Buzan posits that global co-operation would continue through sufficient shared values and institutions internalised across international society. These include principles of sovereignty. and mode of government. Moreover. Buzan believes that these are enough for a degree of co-operation. lack of a coherent vision. and deficit of major allies or acceptance. economic and cultural consensus can be the driving force for multiple regions. norms of antihegemonism would constrain any emerging hegemonies. These can each pursue their different varieties of capitalism.GOVT1202 Library Exercise and Research Assignment 311239609 more concerned with its own stability than hegemony. and others. but lacks internal willingness to progress to superpower status. territoriality. Buzan addresses possible issues and dangers of this system which might emerge. However. cultural values. trade. Finally Buzan asserts that the EU is well placed materially and socially. equality of people. Finally. where political.
and the interdependent nature of global society. the world should embrace experimentation with varieties of capitalism following the downfall of both communism and the Washington Consensus. which is not sustainable anyway. At the same time. as there are no viable contenders. venturing outside of the polarized debate on whether the US will remain a superpower or whether another state will replace it. they need to be aware of what institutions and values they share with other powers. He maintains that this system is a natural progression of post-colonial world order. major powers should not focus on each other but on their own regional communities. Buzan makes a strong and persuasive point on the possible future regionalisation of the international system. Buzan draws the conclusion that international regionalisation is a desirable outcome for future in place of superpowers. Although there are minor weaknesses in his argument. Secondly. such as in the EU. and their impact on the world which now needs to move away from hegemonic order. to build a pluralistic coexistence able to handle collective problems.GOVT1202 Library Exercise and Research Assignment 311239609 organisations already exist to deal with such concerns. Instead. This clarity of insight rises above the mainstream discussion to offer a fresh alternative which has both strong evidence and an optimistic outlook not characterized by conflict . the Western world must accept its decline. Otherwise. Firstly. the US needs not address threats to its superpower status. he has hopes that strong anti-hegemonic traditions will manage power centres such as China and India. And finally. Thirdly. His argument is insightful and unique. to foster legitimacy and stability. nor will it necessarily endure as society changes. for example in the relatively even distribution of power prior to the rise of the West. He puts forth five thoughts on policy implications. he acknowledges that the emergence of superpowers is a product of historical circumstance and has not always existed. From his argument. combining diffusing power from the West.
suggesting lack of confidence in the US financial market. It also goes beyond mere military power of states and includes social questions acknowledging that superpowers require the agreement of other states for political capital.GOVT1202 Library Exercise and Research Assignment 311239609 and power struggle. For example. but would have no outside help. and can also be violated since they are not official laws. people in areas without sufficient mediating institutions and concentrated power (such as China and India) could only hope that dominant powers keep in mind anti-hegemonic norms. sparking off reactionary groups such as Al Qaeda and talks of replacing the dollar as a reserve currency. he himself says that harsh local hegemonies arose under a regionalised model. . Buzan not only looks at the persisting military might of the US but also factors in its growing unpopularity. In conclusion. However. Moreover. these weaknesses do not overshadow the likelihood of the world order moving towards a diffused power balance and regional model as outlined by Buzan. and so has well-rounded rationale. Norms are liable to change over time. This is hardly a statement of confidence. On the flip side. Buzan's Decentred Globalism provides a comprehensive and compelling argument for an alternative future world order. Buzan could potentially be making too strong a presumption in his belief that anti-hegemonic norms guarantee that a hegemonic power struggle will be completely eradicated.
325 Donnelly. 1. vol. J 2006. A M 2003. vol. 3. 83-90 . 2. pp. vol. 'Sovereign inequalities and hierarchy in anarchy: american power and international society'. pp. 132. no. 12.GOVT1202 Library Exercise and Research Assignment Bibliography 311239609 Buzan. B 2011. 'Everyday global governance'. no. International Relations. 'World history and international relations'. 1. 355-359 Slaughter. 25. European Journal of International Relations. International Relations. 'The inaugural kenneth n. no. no. pp. vol. Daedalus. L 2007. waltz annual lecture a world order without superpowers: decentred globalism'. 21. 139-170 Linklater. pp.
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