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The contours of the world

in the first half of the 21st century and a little further (theory)


 The contours of the world and in general the structure of international or world relations depend on the method chosen by the researcher for his analysis. It seems evident that a world outlook based on a class-and-ideology approach differs from worldviews based on, say, civilizational or technogenic approaches. In other words, the geostrategic and geoeconomic approaches that I explore in my study are but varieties of the structural method, i.e. just two of the many methods used to analyze international relations. Like any single method, they don’t cover the entire spectrum of international realities. Nonetheless, the three laws of international relations that I have uncovered through the use of these approaches give grounds to believe in the possibility of a more accurate forecast of the structure of international relations for at least fifty years into the future and probably a little further.

The geoeconomic structure of the world

 The geoeconomic structure of the world is defined by the different states’ economic weights that reflect their economic potential; the latter is customarily estimated on the aggregate level through the GNP/GDP/GNI[1] indicator. A comparative analysis of these potentials enables one to determine a state’s economic might which can be assessed in the capacity of a “pole.” This is how I formulate my law of “poles”: in geoeconomic space a global or regional pole is a subject whose economic might exceeds the economic potential of the next-mightiest state by a factor of at least 2. Economic potential is not therefore synonymous with might. It is precisely the phenomenon of might that gives birth to the phenomenon of a pole.

GNI figures for the year 2000 indicate that in Latin America there are no poles, as Brazil, with its GNI of $610 billion is rather close to Mexico - the next-biggest economy - at $497 billion. In Africa, the South African Republic is a pole with a GNI of $129 billion, followed by Nigeria ($33 billion). In the Near and Middle East, Turkey can be considered a pole ($202 billion); it is followed by Iran ($107 billion). In East Asia, Japan is a pole (about $4.5 trillion); it is followed by the People’s Republic of China (about $1 trillion). Eastern Europe like Latin America has no poles due to the fact that Russia’s GNI amounts to a small figure ($241 billion); it is followed by Poland ($162 billion). The same situation exists in Western Europe, since Germany with its GNI of $2.1 trillion is insufficiently far ahead of second-place UK ($1.5 trillion).


 Note: the USA is absent from this graph because it would take up too much space.

 The USA is the world pole with its GNI of about $10 trillion – more than double that of second-place Japan. (Note that the proportions stay practically the same when we recalculate the GNI figures at Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) prices, with the exception of China. Moreover, PPP is a tool mostly used for comparisons of countries’ internal economic situations rather than for analysis of international relations.) Thus, some regions have their own “pole,” but on the global level there is currently only one pole – the USA.

As for Russia, its economic potential enables it to form a “pole” in Eastern Europe (with Poland in second place). But the fact is that Eastern Europe is in itself a specific economic sub region that is more closely tied to Western Europe than to Russia or the CIS as a whole; it is therefore more logical to view Russia as a “pole” among CIS countries. In any case Russia’s pretensions, often voiced in Moscow, to be a global or even just a regional “pole” are very dubious, considering that its economic potential (GNI) in 2000 was only the 19th biggest in the world, and its per capita GNI was 114th in the world (79th when measured at PPP). Russia’s place is in the local CIS space after all.

The geostrategic structure of international relations

 The geostrategic structure of international relations is determined not through poles, but through the concept of a “center of power.”

The center of power is a subject that is capable of subjugating the activities of other subjects or actors of international relations to its own national interests. Depending on the sphere over which this control is exerted, a center of power can be local, regional or global.

Hegemony is power directed toward subjugating all actors of international politics for the purpose of realizing the hegemon’s interests.

The difference between a pole and a center of power is this: a subject that is a pole is not necessarily engaged in the system of international relations. For example, Japan during the Tokugawa shogunate period (the period of self-isolation) was comparable in its economic parameters to the great powers of Europe, but it was not a center of power since it practically had no foreign policy, i.e. it was not a subject of international relations. The same is true of China prior to the 19th century; it surpassed every European country in economic mass, but practically did not conduct any active foreign policy, i.e. did not try to impose its control in the system of international relations. In other words, a pole becomes a center of power when it conducts an active and aggressive (assertive) foreign policy directed toward subjugating other actors to its external and internal interests. On the basis of such reasoning the law of the “center of power” can be formulated.

The transformation of a subject that is a pole into a center of power presupposes the presence of a foreign policy potential (FPP), the volume of which  exceeds the competitor’s foreign policy potential by a factor of at least 2 on the regional level and 4 on the global level. This proportion defines the law of the “center of power.”

FPP itself is formed through the sum of outlays on foreign policy. This resource is comprised of financial flows contained in the country’s budget and realized through the foreign policy apparatus (FPA). It is sometimes difficult to define clearly what belongs to foreign policy and what belongs to domestic policy, yet there do exist certain institutions that are unequivocally built into the foreign policy process. These include ministries of foreign affairs, ministries of defense, information and propaganda services, border guards, foreign-economic organizations, external security and intelligence services, etc. The problem is that foreign policy outlays in national budgets are not always assigned to specific institutions of the state. More often than not they are contained in items labeled according to sphere of activity: “International Affairs,” “National Defense,” “Assistance to International Economic Development.” Though every single ingredient of a power center's FPP works toward the realization of all aspects of national interests, the volume of resources committed to each of the main foreign policy directions depends on the type of the “center of power”: it can be an economic, political or military-strategic center. For example, in 1997 Japan expended about $29.5 billion (about 0.7% of its GNP) on the item “Assistance to International Economic Cooperation” (it includes ODA – official development assistance). In the same year the United Kingdom and Germany expended $19.6 billion and $19.7 billion respectively on similar items (1.5% and 0.95% of their respective GNP).[2] Obviously the difference of $10 billion gives Japan an advantage in the world economic arena, conferring traits of an economic “center of power” on the Japanese pole.

Usually the lion’s share of the foreign policy potential is included in the item “National Defense.” This item determines the country’s military potential that can theoretically be used in the event of aggression. Since in the current historical conditions direct attacks between nuclear powers are practically out of the question, this potential actually determines the function of containment, on the one hand, while on the other hand it influences the types and forms of the state’s conduct in the world arena. At the same time, non-nuclear components of the military potential can be used against non-nuclear powers in the defense of “national interests.”

In the system of international relations the item most actively used for financing activities in the area is called “International Affairs.” It is precisely this “dynamic” item that defines the scope and depth of the country’s activities in the international arena.

 I repeat: while the economic potential turns into a might-pole when it is at least double the next largest potential, FPP turns a pole into a global center when it is at least 4 times the next largest potential. This is due to the fact that FPP must cover the four main regions of the world: Europe, East Asia, Latin America and Africa together with the Near and Middle East.

Calculations show that Western Europe does not have a center of power, since the total foreign policy potential of each of the main powers in this sub region (Germany, the United Kingdom, France and Italy) is in the range $40-50 billion (in 1999). Japan’s FPP exceeds $50 billion, which gives grounds to classify this country as a regional center of power (China’s FPP is about $10-12 billion, according to its official statistics).

The U.S. FPP in fiscal year 1999 (excluding the budget item “International Economic Cooperation”) was approximately $300 billion, or almost 5 times the FPP of second-place Japan. Therefore we currently have only one center of power on the global level – the USA.

Japan is the center of economic power in East Asia. The temptation to classify China as a center of military power in that same region should be resisted, since China’s potential is neutralized by the USA. Western Europe has no centers of power of any kind because of the approximate equality of the main states’ foreign policy potentials. Russia, of course, does not deserve any mention in this context. 

The theory of the three worlds, and their characteristics

 Let us look at the definitions one more time. The “center of power” is a political category, or a geostrategic category, which is the same thing. It is the superstructure to the structure of international relations. The “pole” is an economic notion; therefore it reflects certain phenomena fundamental to the structure of international relations. Both of these phenomena shape only the structure of international relations, not their content. The content of these structures is determined by the goals pursued by the international actors: states, international organizations, TNCs or MNCs, non-governmental organizations (NGO), blocs or alliances of states. To simplify, on the system level these goals and ultimately the whole content of international relations are defined by two system flows: 1) the struggle for power (interstate level); 2) the struggle for world markets (states plus TNCs and MNCs). Both flows are born of the uneven economic development of states. [3]

 For convenience of analysis let us also simplify the categories: internationalization, integration and globalization. The motivation for internationalization is access to markets for trade and investment; the essence of integration is the forming of closely interconnected economic enclaves, i.e. the unification of all cycles of economic activity in one entity; globalization is the spread of financial-investment and information activity over the whole world for the purpose of establishing control over it all. I now have to make one more simplification: divide the world into three groups of countries on the basis of their economic development level. Scholars of international affairs habitually do this when they speak of the Three Worlds (which are not to be confused with poles).

The First World (developed countries) is so called “the golden billion” comprised of three zones: North America, Western Europe and Japan, with their established forms of capitalist economy and democracy.

The Second World (countries of medium-level development) is the CIS, Eastern Europe, the Baltic countries, China and India. Their specific features are reform policies, i.e. rejection of the previous models of socialism or state capitalism and attempts to embrace new models that are close to Western models of capitalism.

The Third World (developing countries) is traditionally seeing as consisting of the countries of Africa, Latin America, the Near and Middle East, East Asia (except China, Taiwan and South Korea) and South Asia (except India). They all have in common a low level of social-economic development and the fact that almost all of them are objects of world policy instead of subjects.

Let me stress again: the Three Worlds are not poles and not centers of power. The phrase just suggests a conventional division of the world into parts according to levels of economic development. Coincidence is only observed in the case of the First World which is simultaneously a center of power and the sole economic pole.

Let us now give characteristics to each of the Three Worlds.

The First World works in all three economic spaces, albeit with different degrees of intensity. Each of the three sub regions within the First World has its own integration zone: Western Europe has the European Community, North America has NAFTA, North East Asia has the subsystem (not shaped institutionally) of Japan – USA. In the first case we see an advanced integration, in the second – a beginning process, in the third – a trend. All three sub regions are quite actively involved in internationalization. In the field of globalization the USA is the leader all by itself. In order to achieve true global leadership the USA must “open up” regional integration and combine it with globalization – in other words, arrive at “global integration.” Then the U.S. geoeconomic leadership will turn into global leadership. This is precisely why the USA is interested in world globalization, i.e. the subjugation of not only the Second and Third Worlds, but also the First World. And this is precisely why the European states use localization as one of the forms of resistance; it involves the inclusion in the local economic space of companies and investments from any country (although objectively localization works toward globalization).

On the whole, from the perspective of economic essence the First World is an economic enclave that is integrational or tending toward integration. As a center of power it is opposed to the forming of other centers of power and therefore is inevitably antagonistic to them.

The First World is the most powerful one in the economic, political and military respects; it dominates the other two Worlds. On this account the system of international relations can be viewed as the unipolar world with a single center of power, the USA.

The Second World is not integrated; it functions in the field of internationalization and is an object of globalization. There exist certain attempts to integrate among the countries of this World, for example integration around Russia within the CIS and around China in South-East Asia. In the field of internationalization, too, the Second World is an object, not a subject, except for China, South Korea and Taiwan; the foreign economic activities of these three countries is starting to be felt in the markets of other countries, including the zone of “the golden billion.”

Among the Second World countries there are two pretenders to (or, more exactly, challengers for) great power status: Russia and China. [4] This is indicated by their official strategy for forming a “multipolar world,” i.e. their intention to destroy the existing structure of international relations.

The Second World is weaker in all respects than the First World; with the latter it has a love-hate relationship. On one hand, it desires economic cooperation; on the other hand, it stands guard over its independence and self-dependence. There are no indisputable poles in this world, though China comes closest. The Second World is less integral than the First, less interconnected in the economic sense. It has no united policy or alliance relations. It is in flux, so part of it can attach itself to the First World while another part can attach itself to the Third World. In any case the Second World cannot be currently viewed as a pole; it is simply a geographic zone.

The Third World has no integration fields, unless you count as such the attempts of Latin American countries toward closer, more coordinated interaction within the economic spaces of the Caribbean basin. It functions as an object in the internationalization field, and at the same time it is an object of globalization, though to a lesser degree than the countries of South-East Asia due to the lack of the needed infrastructure.

Objectively it is interested in multipolarity, but to a still greater degree it is interested in bipolarity, since the latter structure gives it more opportunities to use the conflicts between the “poles” in its own interests. Currently the Third World is a conglomerate of states with a socio-political system on the level of feudalism with elements of capitalism (Africa), or on the feudal-capitalist level (South-East Asia), or on the criminal-capitalist level (Latin America).

This describes the static picture. Let us now look at the dynamics.

Development phases of the structure of international relations

 In my works I often speak out against the concept of multipolarity and promote the concept of bipolarity, while stressing that today’s world is unipolar; on this account I am often accused of being an enemy of Russia and an inveterate protagonist of the USA. Other critics, on the contrary, approve of my unwavering support for bipolarity. I mention here these personal considerations solely for the purpose of stressing the point: the establishment or forming of this or that structure of international relations is determined by objective processes of a systemic character, not through (or at least not only through) the individual efforts of this or that power or even a group of countries. For example, the current world leadership of the USA, the collapse of the USSR or the rise of China cannot be explained through the great military-economic might of the USA, the incompetence of Soviet leaders or the wisdom of China’s leaders. All these things are facts, but they all have their place within the framework of the combination of a multitude of systemic trends in world relations; each of these trends has its own regularities, and in their interaction they determine the general vector of the whole system’s movement. Therefore I cannot be a supporter of this or that concept of polarity. My task is to give a scientific explanation of the existing structure of international relations and attempt to forecast subsequent structures.

Let us now move on to the analysis of the development dynamics of the international relations structure. The cyclical regularity is this: usually (there are exceptions) a unipolar structure evolves into a multipolar one, the latter gives birth to a bipolar structure, which in turn transforms into a unipolar one, and so on.

If we limit our analysis to international relations within Europe, we see that in the early 19th century a unipolar system (France’s dominance) was replaced after the Congress of Vienna (1815) with a multipolar system (the Concert of Powers); the latter had evolved by the end of the century into a bipolar system (two blocs formed: the Entente and the German-Austrian bloc). In the 20th century after World War I unipolarity (USA: 1918-1936) was replaced by multipolarity (USA/UK – Germany/Italy/Japan – USSR: 1937-1941). After World War II, bipolarity was established (the Soviet bloc vs. the Western bloc: 1950-1989). The Soviet bloc’s defeat resulted in a unipolar world (the USA: since 1990). Following this logic, in the 21st century today’s unipolarity will be replaced with a multipolarity, which will then transform into bipolarity, which in turn will evolve again into unipolarity. This can be presented in the form of a table:


Change dynamics of the structure of international relations


 

The duration of each structure’s lifespan varies over cycles, but what is important to us is the regularity and the sequence of the structure changes. It should also be kept in mind that the change of structures within each period is filled and will continue to be filled in each particular case with a different content (the character of the reasons for the change, the character of policies used, and so on).



 Let us now sort out the current situation using the above scheme. As I have said many times already, the world’s basis foundation is currently unipolar, and the superstructure correspondingly has just one global center of power. This is the First World or “the golden billion” group of countries led by the USA. But the USA is not just the leader of this world; it is the world hegemon in both its basis and superstructure. It is precisely the USA that calls the tune in international relations as a center of power. In this connection a curious topic emerges, two topics even: 1) is the USA a hegemon or just a world leader? 2) if the USA is indeed a hegemon – is that bad or good for world order and international stability?

Hegemon-leader. To this kind of question Russians give a simple answer: “call me a cooking pot if you like, just don’t put me in the oven.” Unlike the Russians, Western scholars conduct lively debates about these topics, just as about other notions and categories. This is natural, since a phenomenon only exists when it is named (according to the teaching of Ludwig Wittgenstein). If I call someone a cooking pot, I have every right to put that “pot” in the oven in accordance with their systemic interconnection. If the USA is a hegemon, that title defines a certain policy type and attitudes toward it; if the USA is just a leader, then a completely different type of policy and attitudes is engaged. This is why American political sociologists accord such a great importance to words; in their use words acquire the character of concepts and categories.

In Terry Boswell’s opinion, being the world leader does not necessarily mean being the world hegemon. He makes it clear that leadership means economic dominance, while hegemony means military-political dominance. [5] In other words, leadership stems from economic superiority, but the leaders’ actions can be motivated by considerations of economic cooperation up to the point where the leader’s interests coincide with those of other actors or of the world community as a whole. This is precisely the policy of the USA as it creates “public goods” in coordination with other states, primarily those of the First World.

When we look into the term “public goods,” we find the following content. Referring to Charles Kindleberger who introduced this term in 1981, the German scholars K. Hausken and T. Plumper define public goods, or offentlichen Guter (in German), as “the type of goods that cannot be excluded from consumption, and consumption by one actor does not exhaust the good’s usefulness to other actors.” In international economic relations public goods include open trade systems, well-defined property rights, common-standard measurement units, including international money, consistent macroeconomic policies, adequate actions in the event of economic crises, stability of exchange rates, and the liberal international economic order. [6]

Clearly all these goods are defined by the First World’s interests and cannot suit the interests of the Second and Third Worlds.

But even if we admit that the USA is a hegemon, not just a leader, in this case too the answers to the question of whether it is good or bad may well be different. A hegemon usually causes negative associations related to pressure policies, imposition of its will, etc. (see my definition of a hegemon above). These are minuses, so to say. But there are also pluses that stem from the objective character of the hegemon’s functioning. This is how Boswell describes this phenomenon: "Because a world leader has emerged from the global war with overwhelming military and economic power, a new world order will be enforced. In so doing, the leader reconfigures the patterns of exchange and security to its benefit, setting up the potential requirements for hegemony. The military capacity of a hegemon is thus a critical determinant of its staying power, such as the protection of global shipping lines described by Modelski and Thompson. However, this too is a double edged sword. Military over-extension is a prime source of economic decline"  (21).

There is nothing wrong in all of this, since, in Boswell’s opinion, "A world leader becomes hegemonic when the institutional order it enforces builds an inertia into the otherwise chaotic movement of the system. Hegemony is a period of relative peace and order in a system that is inherently competitive, dynamic and uneven"(3). George Modelski characterizes hegemony in exactly the same way: "Order in world politics is typically created by a single dominant power" and "the maintenance of order requires continued hegemony." Order in this context means "peace and a liberal economy."[7]

From the West’s perspective, these statements contain rational sense. The hegemon – USA in our case – is interested in stability and preservation of the geostrategic status-quo since this stability doesn’t just serve the interests of the First World; it suits the ruling circles of the rest of the world who are able to control the internal political situation in their countries when relying on the USA. It is no accident that the Russian political-economic elite is extremely interested in close cooperation with the USA in spite of the fact that many of Washington’s actions contradict Russia’s strategic interests.

At the same time the status of hegemon is indeed a two-edged sword, and not just in the sense described by Boswell. Its reverse side is the inevitable resistance to hegemony as it structures and concentrates the struggle of all other forces against itself, i.e. U.S. hegemony. If there were several centers of power with pretensions to hegemony, the forces of the states that engaged them in struggle would be dispersed. It is much easier to fight a single hegemon. Therefore hegemony objectively nurtures many enemies for itself, and the USA will not avoid this struggle.

From First World unipolarity to a World Community

 The scheme outlined above suggests the inevitability of the transition from unipolarity to multipolarity, from one center of power to many centers of power. Which causes and factors will wreck the current system?

In the international arena the main challenge to sole leadership of the USA is China. As it increases its economic mass, China will be able to form an integration zone in East Asia while simultaneously establishing its presence in the economic territories of Third and Second World countries, and eventually in the First World as well. This process has already started, as evidenced by the activities of Chinese state-owned companies in the USA and several European countries (France in particular). Combined with China’s geostrategic strengthening (growth and improvement of its military potential + expansion of political influence), its foreign economic activity will work to wreck the unipolar world and stimulate the forming of first a multipolar world and then a bipolar world, which, in some experts’ estimates, may be formed by the middle of the 21st century. This topic is discussed in a special section that follows this chapter.

The other country aspiring to wreck the current system is Russia, as I mentioned many times already. More will be said about this country in the subsequent chapters.

I want to draw your attention here to one of the factors working to wreck the unipolar structure, a factor that is ignored most of the time by Russian scholars but studied diligently in the USA. It has to do with the proletarization of the periphery, i.e. the Third World – that is, the forming of a workers’ movement that is interested in the democratization of international relations, not in a hegemony of any country or group of countries.

Most of the Third World countries won political independence during the period of de-colonization, turning into nation-states. Economically, though, they remained dependent on their erstwhile colonial powers, and today they are dependent on all First World countries together. However, a curious process emerged in the past 10-15 years. The transformation of developed countries’ economies into services-and-information-based ones leads to the industrialization of Third World countries (i.e. this is where the heavy industries migrate that consume plenty of metals, power and labor). Accordingly the working class is growing in these countries. In Boswell’s terminology, these states that used to implement nation-state policies now are more actively implementing class-state policies (37). In other words, the classic class conflicts within capitalist states, uncovered in their time by Marx and Lenin, are transformed into interstate-class conflicts that permeate relations between the First and Third Worlds. It is especially curious that American social political scientists now claim that the working class is becoming the central actor in the democratization of the whole world (34)[8], contrary to their earlier assessments that ascribed democracy to the bourgeois class and bestowed the “democratic” label on states where the majority of the population was deprived of the franchise.

Therefore the struggle of the working class in Third World countries, in combination with the anti-globalist movement that is acquiring a worldwide character, is one of the main factors that stimulate the collapse of the unipolar world.

Another factor is domestic policy problems in the First World itself: economic, ethnic, class problems (such as the forming of Third World enclaves inside First World states), including the amazing phenomenon of the communitarian movement growing in those countries. [9] The latter fact means that socialist consciousness is spreading through ever wider strata of capitalist societies, influencing even members of the ruling circles.

From the international perspective, apart from the strengthening of countries that aspire to a new status in the world, another process will be enormously important: the erosion of unity between the three zones of the First World, as well as Tokyo’s oscillation between China and the USA in search of a correct strategic line that serves adequately the national interests of Japan.

Each of these topics merits a separate discussion, and these will be continued in my subsequent research papers. It was important for me here just to identify several factors that produce changes in the structure of international relations.

Here is one more important thing that must be mentioned.

The history of international relations bears evidence that multipolarity is the least stable system; it ranks ahead of other systems in the number of wars and conflicts. This thesis is confirmed by the history of Europe over ten centuries. It is also confirmed by the events of the mid-19th century. In that period the centers of power (Great Britain, France, Germany and Russia) were busy grabbing colonies around the world, and for the time being they managed to find points of contact for cooperation within Europe proper (including Russia prior to the Crimean War). But as soon as the periphery was divided into spheres of influence, all their attention became concentrated on Europe where some spheres of influence remained to be divided (the straits, the Balkans, the Saar, parts of Poland and Ukraine, etc.). The whole system of multipolarity started to crumble, yielding place to a bloc-shaped bipolarity on the threshold of a grandiose clash.

In theory a multipolar system can be stable when the centers are equally powerful. But in accordance with the law of unequal development of states, this ideal situation is impossible in practice. Some state inevitably surges ahead of the others, and the law of power is engaged: as soon as a state reaches a level of economic might and military potential comparable to the might and potential of leading states of the world, it starts demanding a new status for itself which means a rearrangement of the spheres of world influence. [10] Since the old great powers usually oppose these demands, newcomers can usually acquire a sphere of influence only through the destruction of the existing structure of international relations, including the corresponding security system.

Therefore the multipolar structure of international relations with many centers of power is the most unstable system. It is a world in chaos, a world where all struggle against all. It gives birth to frequent regional conflicts, including military ones. From the perspective of international stability it is the worst structural variant of the international system. The only solace now is the hope that the multipolar world will quickly (by historical measures) evolve into a bipolar one with two centers of power – supposedly the USA and China.

This time, it will not be the differences in economic development levels that will be the main distinguishing characteristics of the confrontation between the two centers of power (though they will certainly remain, as they did during the period of the capitalism-socialism confrontation in the second half of the 20th century); the main differences will be the geostrategic and geoeconomic contradictions fed ideologically by the ideas of socialism and capitalism, or, to put it differently, equality and inequality.

On the level of polarity it will be two economic integration fields connected through internationalization that will be yielding to globalization. The latter will be filled to a much greater degree than today with the problems of ecology, demography, joint mastering of outer space, etc. All these things will be tying the two blocs together. They will be divided by geostrategy, i.e. the struggle for the countries (that is, for resource-rich territories, cheap workforce, etc.) not yet included in the bipolar system.

A lot can be said here about uniting and disuniting motives and factors, but what is more important is this: how will the differences between the two blocks be resolved? It follows from my scheme that the inevitable collapse of bipolarity must result in unipolarity. Indeed this is what will happen; it is a different matter that unipolarity that first emerged on a completely different curve of the historical spiral will now assume a global character, i.e. one pole will cover the whole world. In other words, the basis will now have the form of global integration, as was noted back in the chapter on globalization; a united world economy will be formed on this planet. The superstructure then can be labeled as universal political relations that correspond to the term “World Community.”

It is perfectly natural that all the phenomena identified here are only possible in the event of actual decrease of states’ importance as world actors. I don’t believe that they will disappear from the world arena altogether, but they will certainly lose their classical meaning by the end of the 21st century. The forming of a united world economy with the World Community in the superstructure will inevitably lead to the forming of a world government – a government of precisely the socialist type, as I mentioned already in the chapter on globalization. The reason is that only socially oriented governments are capable of fairly redistributing, governing and controlling the world economy. T. Boswell and W. Wagar forecast the emergence of such a government by the middle of the 21st century. I hold to the idea that it will only emerge after all the phases of the structural polarity cycle run their course. In other words, the world must become convinced once again that world problems cannot be solved without resolving the contradictions in the area of social justice, be it on the level of states or on the level of individual societies. This truth would seem to be obvious. But historical experience shows that all and any truths must be experienced individually by each country, each nation and the entire world community. We are given one more century for this purpose – the 21st century. 

*   *   *

I will now sum up several of the important theses presented above:

Firstly, there are certain laws that function in the geoeconomic and geostrategic spaces, in particular the law of might or poles, the law of power and center of power; the use of these laws enables one to identify more correctly not only a state’s place or role in the world, but also the possible outcomes of its foreign policy.

Secondly, the poles are the basis and centers of power are the superstructure in the polar theories of international relations.

Thirdly, the polar structures of international relations are not static; their evolution follows the scheme: unipolarity → multipolarity → bipolarity. The corresponding superstructures evolve similarly: one center of power – many centers of power – two centers of power.

 Fourthly, in accordance with Hegel’s laws of dialectics the unipolarity of the late 21st century that completes the upward spiraling movement will actually mean a united world whose further evolution will follow other laws, propelled by other contradictions. The structural approach that I used in this chapter will lose its meaning.

 Also published in World Economy and International Relations (Moscow), 2002, № 1, p. 73-80


[1] Gross national income (GNI) formerly referred to as gross national product (GNP) measures the total domestic and foreign value added claimed by residents. GNI comprises GDP plus net receipts of primary income (compensation of employees and property income) from non-resident sources. The World Bank began to use this indicator in 2002.

[2] See: Nikhon Tokei Nenkan 2001 (Japanese Statistical Yearbook, 2001). Tokyo, 2001 (table 25—12); available from: http://www.stat.go.jp/english/1431.htm.

[3] I don’t delve here in the deeper causes of this struggle – a topic that has been debated for centuries now.  Of all modern interpretations, I will only make a brief reference to I. Wallerstein who deduces this struggle from the “endless” accumulation of capital which is the main engine of the capitalist world economy. See Immanuel Wallerstein, “The Modern World-System and Evolution,” Journal of World-Systems Research 1, no. 19 (1995): 4.

[4] Some scholars of international affairs also mention India in this context. I exclude India from the number of pretenders to great power status on account of its lack of will for this purpose. In other words, this country’s strategy is not directed toward acquisition of great power status.

[5] Terry Boswell, “Hegemony and Bifurcation Points in World History,” Journal of World-Systems Research 1, no.15 (1995) :  3.

[6] Hausken, Kjell, and Thomas Plümper, “Hegemons, Leaders and Followers: A Game-Theoretic Approach to the Postwar Dynamics of International Political Economy,”  Journal of World-Systems Research  3, no. 1 (1997) :  40, 42.

[7]  George Modelski, “THE EVOLUTION OF GLOBAL POLITICS,” Journal of World-Systems Research 1, no.7 (1995) :  26.

[8] See  more detail in Global Labor Movements (Special Issue). Guest-Edited by Bradley Nash, Jr. Journal of World-Systems Research  4, no. 1 (Winter 1998).

[9] I reflected this theme partially in my book Rossiya v strategicheskom kapkane (M., Flinta, 1997), .65—68. For a comprehensive coverage of this topic, read the book by Henry Tam. Communitarianism. A New Agenda for Politics and Citizenship ( London: Macmillan Press, 1998).

[10] The law of power should not be confused with the definition of the category of power. That definition is contained in  R. Sh. Aliev, Moshch’ gosudarstva i global’noye sootnosheniye sil in  Gosudarstvo i obshchestvo (M.: Nauka, 1985).