Military and economic hegemony

Other Names:
Dependence on military and economic hegemony
Domination by old industrial powers

Hegemony denotes dominance by one or more states over a group of states, or sometimes, when simply economic or military, within a regional area. Economic or ideological hegemony may be reinforced by the supply of weapons to the dominated nations by the dominating nation. Arms can be provided to enable local forces to perform military tasks which are in the interests of the supplying country. The arms may serve to strengthen the relationship between the supplying country and the recipient government (possibly through pre-emptive supply which forestalls any effort of another supplying country to enter into the same kind of relationship). The supply itself may provide an opportunity for influencing individuals in the recipient countries, especially those of the military establishment in countries where the military plays an important role in politics.


The rise of communist and socialist movements following World War I created considerable fear in elite capitalist circles. Marxist ideology emphasized the tyrannical aspects of the capitalist elite, and issued a call for solidarity among peasants and industrial workers, whom Marx credited with creating all real wealth. Although simplistic, this ideology nonetheless took firm root in Russia and seemed poised to spread farther.

In Germany, Italy, and Spain, anti-elite movements gained popular strength under the banners of socialism, communism, or anarchism. Thus, it was not surprising that the elites in those and other countries welcomed and encouraged the rise of fascist movements. Fascism was virulently anti-communist, pro-capitalist, and willing to brutally suppress any who opposed its agenda.

Hitler began his political career as an operative of German military intelligence and received funding and support from Western industrialists. While in prison, writing Mein Kampf, he kept a portrait of Henry Ford on his desk. Mein Kampf made it unambiguous that Hitler's primary objective was the subjugation and economic exploitation of Russia. By ignoring their own prohibition on German re-armament, the Western elite in fact collaborated with Hitler in the development of an invasion force targeted on socialism's bastion. Meanwhile, it watched with discomfort Japan's growing economic power and imperial scope.

The latter was a significant threat. Not only would markets and investment opportunities in populous Asia be highly curtailed, but Japan would be dislodging the West from its accustomed role as collective master of the seas and arbiter of global imperial arrangements.

The US handled this complex situation with all the finesse and subtlety of a skilled martial-arts expert, guided by a strategic vision unsurpassed by the imperial masterminds of any previous age. The war-popularizing incident was the inevitable Japanese strike on the US Pacific fleet, sparked by the cutoff of Japanese oil supplies, which the US convinced Holland to undertake. President Roosevelt feigned surprise and outrage, and the most formidable, popularly supported military crusade of all time was launched.

By end of the war, the US was very close to total global hegemony. It had the run of the seven seas, an intact military machine and national infrastructure, a monopoly on nuclear weapons, greatly expanded influence in the oil-rich Middle East, and the lion's share of the world's disposable wealth and industrial capacity. Meanwhile, most of the rest of the world was in shambles, deep debt, and/or under occupation. The US had the prestige, power, and resources to guide the construction of post-war arrangements largely according to its own designs.

Following the war, the Western elite, led by the US, drew a line on the globe, separating the part they dominated from the part they didn't. The "free world" (doublespeak for "elite-controlled zone") was organized into a new kind of investment realm, while much of the "free" population was systematically subjected to military dictatorships responsive to elite interests. The doublespeak usage of "freedom," originating during the American Revolution, had been globalized. Meanwhile, the "communist bloc" (doublespeak for "beyond elite control") was contained: ostracized, pestered around its periphery by provocative military deployments, and subjected to chronic economic destabilization via the "arms race," expensive brushfire engagements, and trade restrictions.


The use of arms trade as a means to secure the allegiance of a recipient regime has been used extensively by the USA, USSR and, to a lesser extent, France and the UK. The European countries tend to supply military aid to ex-colonies or to countries where there is a sizeable resident minority of the donor's nationals. Professional contacts between military personnel of supplying and recipient countries are therefore a useful way of maintaining sales channels. Through training, foreign servicemen become indoctrinated with the donor's defence thinking and weapons systems, and this encourages further purchase of such systems from the dominating country.

Broader Problems:
Reduced By:
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic GrowthGOAL 10: Reduced InequalityGOAL 16: Peace and Justice Strong InstitutionsGOAL 17: Partnerships to achieve the Goal
Problem Type:
A: Abstract Fundamental Problems
Date of last update
14.01.2020 – 17:34 CET