Hegemony, as defined by Merriam Webster, is:
2: the social, cultural, ideological, or economic influence exerted by a dominant group
Let’s examine the history and tradition in the United States to take “dominance and authority over others, including social, cultural ideological and economic influence” for granted, and even as a national RIGHT.
What we are witnessing in Washington, from the current American administration cannot be disconnected from the long-running stance of the American government(s) for dominance in geopolitical affairs. The most powerful arsenal, not only in history, but in relative comparison with all of the state and non-state actors combined, is merely the tip of the iceberg of both the American “strength” and paradoxically, also its extreme vulnerability.
More about the vulnerability aspect later.
First, let’s look at the United States “need” to be considered the world’s single super-power and how that need has played out through the use of the United Nations as an instrument of American policy, as for example, through the design of the National Security Strategy, immediately following the 9-11 attack on Manhattan, through the too-clever-by-half hiding or avoiding the intimate support of Israel’s nuclear arsenal in Security Council resolutions, while demanding non-proliferation from all others, save and except the “original five”. The campaign for American values, as embedded in capitalism, profit-centred manufacturing, labour-as-raw-material, environment-as-collateral-damage, and the complete manipulation of the modern press (also embedded in the for-profit-first-and-people-last cultural, psychological and even ideological cornerstone) sold as “family values,” have given rise not only to the latest Trump administration, but more significantly, to the almost “Gibraltar-like” edifice of the definition of America, both at home and abroad.
If and when America interests, as seen by the “establishment” do not concur with those of the international community, as represented by the United Nations, including the Security Council with its five-member Veto, then the United States has no qualms, regrets or even a sense that it has to explain its “superior position”. In fact, since the beginning of the United Nations, no country has deployed the Veto more than the United States.
Since 9-11, especially, with the advent of both the 'preemptive' and the ‘preventive’ military attack, again morphed from the ‘defensive stance’ used previously as justification for military action, the United States has moved significantly in the direction of self-justification of any military action deemed by the administration, with or without supporting, documented evidence that would garner the kind of public support that accompanied the American declaration of war in 1941 following Pearl Harbour.
Public support, however, is also merely another minor pawn in the overarching national design of American foreign policy, manipulated by the sycophant media, drinking the administration kool aid, “in the interest of national security.”
National Security, that phrase so expedient in the aftermath of 9-11, to justify the injection of billions into another “security” apparatus, linked to the underlying national paranoia that inevitably comes with a perceived national identity of dominance. After all, hard power, the identity of the bully, is very costly, whether for the drug lord in his coterie of “protectors” or for the national reputation. Ironically, national identity, seems paradoxically missing from the political rhetoric at the micro-district voting debate about individual identity (gender, race, religion) when the national identity is so intrusive into all of the language and the attitudes expressed by that language at the state (national, official) level.
Providing arms to political leaders then taken as friendly to the U.S. interests, as expressed again in national dominance, national security, national need for resources like fossil fuels, supported by a munitions manufacturing sector of the economy (and also supported by the NRA, the testosterone-infused gun lobby) sets the table for those same weapons, when abandoned by American fighters on the battlefields, to then be used to ‘bite the ass’ of another influx of American personnel, when those leaders turn against their former benefactor. Satellite states, (those whose national security is propped up by the sale of arms from the United States) have had their support of the United States “bought” by those sales, another example of the nationally condoned opportunism that renders all private and national profit as “exemplary” and in the “national interest”. There is a “deal” with a profit at both ends, in the national and corporate account books, and in the political influence log books when American “allies” offer both supporting votes when needed and supporting Public Relations when required.
Another example of American ‘hegemony’ takes the stage in Davos each year when the “economic wizards” and the “movers and shakers” meet to eat, drink and pontificate about their undiluted success, measured in the number of billionaires, the growth of GDP’s, the size of the investment accounts and the obvious spike in sales of Masserati’s. This meeting, and the many of its kind, does not hear, and does not even acknowledge the dramatic drift between the have’s and the have-not’s that has accompanied the rise in globalization in trade and investment. American hegemony once again, has another chorus of private-sector choristers loudly proclaiming the success of their definition of globalization, that is the globalization for investors.
After all, it is certainly not the globalization of “workers” that is being celebrated in Davos, given that the profit-motive that governs all capital and capitalist corporations (which serve their investor-masters) requires the search for and the attainment of the lowest labour costs on the planet, with the least labour protections (costs), and the least environmental protection (costs). There is something called the World Social Forum*, that has met at the same time, in a different location as the Davos platinum dining salon.
While the pundits excoriate the Koch brothers for their unimpeded financial largesse in support of a right-wing political agenda, (also in support of American unfettered capitalism) made legal by the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United, they are merely the “face” of an otherwise mostly hidden cadre of financial supporters of the capitalism mantra, commonly called the greatest economic and political system ever devised.
In pursuit of American “ideals” the U.S. administration has also incorporated the legal right to detain without cause, to interrogate and to torture, a “right” abandoned by the Obama administration and revived by the Trump gang.
Essentially declaring not only the United Nations and Security Council to be instruments of the American administration(s), the nation’s laws too have become an instrument of American corporate dominance, through the prominent and unabashed deployment of redistricting (jerrymandering) that makes nearly 90% of all Republican candidates for office re-elected in every election. It is not incidental that Obama has dedicated much of the next chapter of his life to challenging the hegemony of the elite within the nation.
· White racial superiority,
· corporate immunity from many social justice issues in addition to fair labour practices (unions now representing less than 10% of a workforce as compared with a near half in the middle of the twentieth century),
· the refusal to adopt restrictions on the purchase, ownership and use of assault weapons,
· the resistance to corporate off-shoring profits to tax havens enabled with tax loopholes that make the practice “legal”,
· the U.S. refusal to sign on to other International bodies like the International Criminal Court at the Hague,
· the history of propping up puppet dictators while decrying “illegal” interventions by other nations, and the military incursions into “threatening” nations (Cuba, El Salvador, and more recently Yemen, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria) under ‘trumped-up’ evidence of danger to ‘our national security’
· the resistance to tax support for green and renewable energy projects while fossil fuel corporations have consistently bought up technical innovations that would have provided clean air emissions from automobiles as early as the mid-twentieth century
· enforcing a heath care system that caters to the pharmaceutical and insurance industries at the expense of a single-payer system that would provide access to every American
· championing military exploits as national celebrations of the cherished and honourable “sacrifice” of millions of wounded and killed veterans, while denying appropriate and accessible health care to those returning from illegitimate combat
· exporting and exploiting an entertainment culture that disseminates and inculcates in world youth, as well as American youth, the notion that everything American embodies “success” and “wealth” and “power” and the most to be admired of world cultures, while shutting the doors of America’s compassionate embrace of refugees and migrants even as young as early teens who are trying to escape lives of danger, threats to their lives, and hopelessness
· parading the world’s high seas looking for drug shipments to interdict and arrest those trading in illicit drugs only to serve an insatiable American drug appetite that bespeaks an angry, disconsolate and dispossessed cadre of mostly young men who have dropped out of school, cannot find work and engage in the street trafficking of those same drugs that were not confiscated on the seas
These are just some of the ways in which the American hegemony operates, grows and shows no sign of either remorse or regret and clearly no sign of abating, especially when the latest national success story incarnates the worst of American hegemonic “values” and has been elected by those whose anger and fear that the U.S. was not acting like the bully it is supposed to be, and had better return to that bullying supremacy.
Ambition, greed, profit, unilateralism, militarism and a history of impunity in the pursuit of such American “values” while championing the Christian faith as the model to emulate in its spiritual and ethical journey…this is a divide from which the only recourse is the rejection of the denial that sustains the hegemony that is both America’s perceived strength and its authentic failure.
*World Social Forum is an annual meeting of civil society organizations, first held in Brazil, which offers a self-conscious effort to develop an alternative future through the championing of counter-hegemonic globalization. Some[who?] consider the World Social Forum to be a physical manifestation of global civil society, as it brings together non governmental organizations, advocacy campaigns as well as formal and informal social movements seeking international solidarity. The World Social Forum prefers to define itself as "an opened space – plural, diverse, non-governmental and non-partisan – that stimulates the decentralized debate, reflection, proposals building, experiences exchange and alliances among movements and organizations engaged in concrete actions towards a more solidarity, democratic and fair world....a permanent space and process to build alternatives to neoliberalism." It is held by members of the alter-globalization movement (also referred to as the global justice movement) who come together to coordinate global campaigns, share and refine organizing strategies, and inform each other about movements from around the world and their particular issues. The World Social Forum is explicit about not being a representative of all of those who attend and thus does not publish any formal statements on behalf of participants. It tends to meet in January at the same time as its "great capitalist rival", the World Economic Forum's Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland. This date is consciously picked to promote their alternative answers to world economic problems in opposition to the World Economic Forum. (From Wikipedia)