II.4 Hegemony and hegemons



II.4 Hegemony and hegemons

A dominant state exercises a hegemonic function if it leads the system of states in a desired direction and, in so doing, is perceived as pursuing a general interest. … Historically, the states that have successfully seized this opportunity have done so by reconstituting the world system on new and enlarged foundations thereby restoring some measure of inter-state cooperation. (Giovanni Arrighi 1994: 29-30, emphasis in original)

[T]he fixation on a single hegemon, and the succession from it to another, may exaggerate the role and importance of that hegemon to the detriment of an understanding of the role of others. We can best understand the political organization of the world economy by taking into account this wider framework of interlinking hegemonies. (Barry K. Gills and Andre Gunder Frank 1993a: 146)

II.4.1 Pre-modern vs. modern hegemony

We have argued in the previous section that the rise of capitalism marked a fundamental transition in the way the world system works. We will now argue that this was accompanied by a change of character of hegemony.

Frank and Gills, the principal proponents of a five thousand year world system, conceive hegemony as a hierarchical structure of accumulation of capital based on centre, periphery and hinterland complexes. Hegemony is then not held by any single polity (empire or state), but shared between several (core) actors, that can form alliance, complementary, or competitive relationships (Gills 1993a: 100-105, Gills 1993c, Frank 1995: 173-175).

This concept was built upon Abu-Lughod’s view of the 1250-1350 world-system (Abu-Lughod 1989), and we argue that it best applies to the pre-capitalist world system. Indeed, a cursory look at Table I reveals the simultaneous existence, in any given period, of several regional hegemons, each holding power over a large territory and defining a world-system comprising that territory and its periphery, but geographically separated to an extent that no direct interaction occurred between them.

The world system was then mainly held together by the PGN, IN, and EN interaction networks (see section II.2.4), with mostly separated bulk goods networks (BGN) and practically totally separated political/military networks (PMN). The main reason was that the communications and transport technologies that existed before the ‘Great Discoveries’ did not allow the expansion of a regional world-system into the scale of the world system. This changed with the Genoese hegemony, as can be symbolically represented by Pedro Álvares Cabral’s voyage of discovery of Brazil in 1500: he and his crew then sailed on to India, passing by Africa, touching four continents in a single travel (Diffie 1977: 187-193).

Further, while Gills and Frank cogently argue that there has been accumulation of capital in the pre-modern world system, and even “cumulation of accumulation” in regional world-systems (Gills 1993a, Gills 1995), the rise and fall of pre-1500 hegemonies has proceeded without any major transfer of the capital accumulated by one hegemon to the next. That is, pre-modern hegemonies did not allow the ceaseless accumulation of capital at a world system scale, which is a constant (and necessary) feature of modern capitalist hegemonies, where the falling hegemon invests, in its CM’ phase, in the new structures being created by the rising hegemon (as was emphasised for each SCA in section II.3).

Hegemony in the modern world system is better described by Arrighi’s contention: a dominant state exercises a hegemonic function if it leads the system of states in a desired direction. We can add that a state is dominant when it contains a dominant group of capitalists that form an alliance with it to establish and profit from one SCA[35]. The alliance restructures the world economy and the world polity, for which it needs the consent and co-operation of (some) other world actors[36]. It obtains that consent and co‑operation by leading a societal process that is claimed to be ‘universal’ and from which all participants can hence gain. The next sections are dedicated to the study of hegemony in the modern (capitalist) world system, paying attention to both hegemons and their relations with other actors.

II.4.2 Military capacity and ‘good wars’

Volker Bornschier proposes the existence of a world market for protection (WMfP), in which social order (i.e. protection) is a – territorially bounded – collective good (Bornschier 1995: 12-13, Bornschier 1999b: 83). Governments ‘produce’ and ‘sell’ this commodity to capitalist enterprises and to their citizens. States compete for money capital, which in turn dictates the conditions under which it is willing to support states in their struggle for power: “A state will be the strongest if it can combine moderate taxing with effective support favourable to innovation and investment; and, a capitalist enterprise will proper most if it can choose to be, or if it is fortunate enough to be situated in, a network of economic transactions effectively protected at cost” (Bornschier 1995: 13).

This applies not only to the hegemonic power, but to all participants in the inter-state system. In Frank and Gills’ B phases, or in Arrighi’s periods of systemic chaos, increased competition between those states that were most able to attract the surplus capital that is available at the end of a major material expansion leads to a world war. This terminal crisis war of one SCA involves the hegemony challengers and the current hegemon, as well as other minor powers (see Table II). The military outcome of this war, and the institutionalisation of a subsequent peace, are determinant in the definition of the new hegemony (Boswell 1999: 267-268).

Peter J. Taylor notes that the three ‘thirty years wars’ involving the great powers, i.e. the original one (1618-1648), the Revolutionary and Napoleonic one (1792-1815), and the Twentieth Century War (1914-1945), that are identified in Table II as terminal crisis wars, were different from other wars. The difference is not only quantitative (major powers suffered far more deaths than in any other wars – Taylor 1996: 27), but, more importantly, qualitative as “[t]heir great disruptions of the status quo were the enabling factor in the construction of hegemonies” (Taylor 1996: 27), and their outcome determined the nature of the subsequent world system.

In all three cases an imperial power, Imperial Spain, Napoleonic France, and Nazi Germany, that threatened the inter‑state system with the formation of an European world‑Empire, was defeated by an alliance of most other great powers (Taylor 1996: 27‑30):

At the end of each of the 30-year world wars the state we have identified as hegemon was just one military victor among the several great powers that made up the grand alliance. What, therefore, makes the hegemons special? Remarkably, in each case, while all around them were being devastated, they were prospering economically. Wars, especially ones that last 30 years, are incredibly destructive of capital, but they also create a continual demand to replace what is destroyed. World war, therefore, is a major economic opportunity. The Dutch, British and Americans grabbed the opportunity with both hands. As well as being military victors, they had a ‘good war’ economically. (Peter J. Taylor 1996: 30)

The two main factors that enable hegemons to have a ‘good war’ are, first, their specific role as maritime powers in the war. On one hand, war at sea is not so destructive of infrastructure and lives, while when successful it leaves the maritime trade networks open. On the other hand, the hegemon leaves most of the land fighting to its allies, which it subsidises, and is a relative latecomer in the extremely destructive land war. While the British and the Americans altogether avoided war in their own countries in the Napoleonic and Twentieth Century wars respectively, the Dutch “were never leaders in the Thirty Years land war, and kept carefully to their sector of the war. … The key point in all three cases is that the hegemon’s land war is carefully controlled so as not to become dehabilitating[37]” (Taylor 1996: 31).

This leads to the second factor: since its infrastructure is not destroyed during the war, the future hegemon is the economic powerhouse behind the victory. Hegemons emerge from the war with their economy boosted, while all other competitors (both its allied victors and the defeated imperial power) are exhausted. “With all economic rivals temporarily eliminated, the hegemon is in a position to use its unique economic clout to ensure that the post-war reconstruction of the world-economy is compatible with its interests” (Taylor 1996: 31).

It is clear that a country does not need to have an absolute military superiority to attain hegemony. On the contrary, it must rely on being able to lead an alliance of great military powers. This was obviously the case with the small Netherlands, also with Britain, that was a relatively weak power compared with the continental France and Germany, and even with the USA, as it is doubtful that they would have been able to defeat a Germany not previously weakened by five years of war (the USA only entered the European land war in 1944). Hegemony does not entail dominance of, but leadership and governance over a system of states (Arrighi 1994: 27). Indeed, the hegemons do not tend to pursue politico-military goals as such, but mainly economic ones. Hence, elimination of political rivals is not relevant, instead, the hegemon uses its power to maintain inter-statal competition (Taylor 1996: 23).

Finally, we did not mention the Genoese/Iberian hegemony in this discussion. The reason is that, being the first, it occupies a somewhat different place in the succession of Western (European) hegemonies. It did not have to contend with any other (medieval) European hegemon or hegemony challenger. The European powers were then based on a feudal economy, that was peripheral in the context of the world system (see section II.2.6). As discussed in section II.3.8, the Genoese/Iberian took advantage of the temporary state of disarray (B phase) in which the hegemonic East was to undertake the first step in the transfer of hegemony to the West. The Genoese/Iberian ‘good war’ could then be taken to be the Spanish conquest of South America and the establishment of the Portuguese maritime Atlantic and Indian Ocean Empire.

II.4.3 Reorganising the world’s economic space

The primary objective of a bid for hegemony is to restructure the overarching world system of accumulation of capital in a way that privileges the hegemon, but in which other states also can participate. Hegemony is a means to wealth, more than a means to power (for instance, Britain was never a major power in Continental wars, but managed to check the European powers through the Concert of Nations) (Gills 1993b: 146).

The general processes and foundations of this reorganisation of the world’s economic space in the industrial, trade and financial areas, as well as the specific paths taken by each successive hegemony, were analysed at length in section II.3 and will not be repeated here.

II.4.4 Reorganising the world’s political space I: The rise of the Westphalian system

Systemic chaos, with its disruption of economic processes and with the widespread war that generally accompanies it, generates desire for ‘order’ amongst the polities affected. In other words, in periods of systemic chaos there is a lack of supply in the WMfP, accompanied by an increased demand. Whoever can satisfy this demand has a chance of attaining hegemony.

Further, while imperial hegemony challengers base their would-be world order on their having a commanding position while all other states become subordinate, the successful challenger refounds the world system on enlarged foundations, from which many other polities can benefit, and hence by doing so restore some measure of inter-state collaboration (Arrighi 1994: 30).

We can identify, in the transitions between the four hegemonies to date, one meta‑systemic political transition, in which the basic political unit changed, and two subsequent ‘normal’ systemic transitions, in which the political unit, the state, retained its basic characteristics while evolving.

The meta-systemic political transition is, as mentioned in section II.3.8, from the pre-modern (feudal) imperial states, to the modern (capitalist) inter‑state system (Hall 1996: 11)[38]. During the first (Genoese) hegemony, Spain became by far the most powerful polity, being the only involved in the four continents as well as the largest military power in Europe. Spain used this power to, in conjunction with the Papacy, try to save the disintegrating European feudal system. However, the north-western European dynastic mini-empires (e.g. France, Sweden, England) had already subsumed the capitalist logic (MTM’) within their own territorialist logic (TMT’), as opposed to Spain, still dependent on Genoese finance capital, and they had no interest in accepting a Habsburg central rule (Arrighi 1994: 40-41).

The Dutch led the way out of the ensuing systemic chaos assuming a major role in the reorganisation of the European inter state system, formalised in the treaty of Westphalia. The idea of an authority above the states (i.e. the Papacy, tied with the Holy Roman Emperor) was abandoned, being replaced by the absolute rights of sovereignty of rulers over spatially delimited and mutually exclusive territories – the Westphalian inter‑state system, with international law and the balance of power operating not above but between states. Also, subjects were not party to their sovereigns’ conflicts, which allowed trade across frontiers even in wartime:

The considerable freedom granted to private enterprise to organize commerce peacefully across political jurisdictions even in wartime reflected not only the general interest of rulers and subjects …, but the particular interests of the Dutch capitalist oligarchy in an unfettered accumulation of capital. This reorganization of political space in the interest of capital accumulation marks the birth not just of the modern inter-state system, but also of capitalism as world system. (Giovanni Arrighi 1994: 44)

This reorganisation was in the interest of all the members of the inter-state system created, not only because it freed them from Habsburg central rule, but also because of the close ties between the north-western European dynastic states and capitalism, which “has been able to flourish precisely because the world-system has had within its bounds not one but a multiplicity of political systems” (Wallerstein 1974: 348). Each ruler could then proceed with state- and war-making activities, aided by ‘national’ accumulation of capital.

II.4.5 Reorganising the world’s political space II: Further developments

During the following hegemonic transitions (i.e. from Dutch to British and from British to American), there were repeated violations of the Westphalian principles. For instance, Napoleon installed systems of direct rule over foreign territories, encouraged revolutions abroad, and organised a command economy across Europe which encroached on rights of private property (Arrighi 1994: 52). These violations took a massive scale during the twentieth century thirty years war, with the disintegration of empires, the integration of many states within other empires, and an almost total disintegration of the world market (Arrighi 1994: 65).

Emerging hegemons are able to put an end to, or at least control, those violations. They change the workings of the inter-state system by restoring the Westphalian system of sovereign states, while partially superseding it[39]. This has been the main mechanism through which the political organisation of the world system evolved, being framed within the inter-state system, in which the sovereignty and autonomous capabilities of its constituent units are successively reduced with each new hegemony (Arrighi 1994: 75).

Thus the 1815 Settlement of Vienna restored the Westphalian system, in a way that benefited Britain the most: The Concert of Europe was primarily an instrument of British governance of the European system[40], allowing Britain free hands overseas to create its (unprecedented) colonial empire. That is, Britain restructured not only the European political system, but that of the whole world. At the same time, Britain elevated the rights of property-holders above the absolute rights of rulers (and above the rights of livelihood of the propertyless masses in Europe and in the rest of the world). This was accompanied by the ‘first wave’[41] (Anderson 1991: 47-52) nationalisms in North and South America, whereby a new group of states (controlled by national communities of property-holders of Western origin – see section II.3.7) joined the Westphalian system (Arrighi 1994: 53, 64).

The US, as Britain, also led the inter-state system towards the restoration of the Westphalian principles, norms, and rules, then remade it and governed it. Again, there was a perception amongst rulers, as well as amongst subjects, that this was in their interests after the ravaging effects of WW II. The right of every nation (including non-Western ones) to self-determination was marked by the ‘third wave’ (Anderson 1991: 113-140) nationalisms after the war and the corresponding expansion of scale and scope of the inter-state system. At the same time, the USA elevated the rights of all subjects (by now the citizens who had fought the wars), at least in the core countries, above the absolute rights of government and of property (Arrighi 1994: 65-66, 75), leading to high (Fordist) mass consumption and the Keynesian welfare state in the core. Under US hegemony, the rights and powers of nation-states to organise relations between themselves (e.g. through war) and with their subjects (e.g. through violations of human rights) were restricted (for instance, in the US intervention in the Vietnam civil war[42]). Institutions, mostly instruments of US governance, but nevertheless above the nation-states, were created for the first time in the modern era, such as the United Nations (UN), the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (Arrighi 1994: 68-69, 75).

II.4.6 ‘Universalism’ and the hegemon as liberal champion

We mentioned in the previous sections that the hegemon reorganises the world system’s economic and political spaces, from which it derives great benefits, but in such a way that many other core states perceive to be in their interest as well[43]. This is connected to the fact that the hegemon, while pursuing its own interests, is perceived as pursuing a ‘universal’ idea that is equally valid for all participants in the inter-state system. What this ‘universal’ idea was in each hegemony has already been mentioned in section II.3, and is also given in Table II.

Furthermore, the hegemon is the champion of liberal[44] ‘freedom’. In Peter J. Taylor’s words:

Although the reasons for promoting an open world-economy reflect the hegemon’s self-interest, they have portrayed their preferred economic arrangements as of universal utility against the particular arrangements of others. The key concept they have used is freedom: in Nicole Bousquet’s words ‘the freedom to sail of the Dutch, the freedom to trade of the British, and the freedom to invest of the Americans’. By wrapping up their economic interests in a philosophical garb, hegemons have projected their needs on to a universal plane… In converting their economic needs into universal pleas for freedom, this philosophical concept has been transmitted into the political sphere of activities. … We can conclude, therefore, that the hegemons have been the modern world’s liberal champions both economically and politically. … In short, hegemonic cycles represent much more than the rise and fall of particular hegemonic states. (Peter J. Taylor 1996: 34-35)

In so doing, and by bringing an end to systemic chaos, the hegemon strengthens its intellectual and moral leadership of the inter-state system. It relies on ‘right’ as much as on ‘might’ (Taylor 1996: 119-120).

Hegemons are ‘can-do’ societies, that see themselves (and are seen by others) as being able to achieve whatever targets they set themselves: This is well represented for the Dutch SCA by the (rather Enlightened and Humanist) assertion that ‘God made the world but the Dutch were responsible for Holland’. The British compared the ‘Industrial Revolution’ as the second great social transformation, equal to the ‘agrarian revolution’ of millennia earlier, and the Americans argued that the Moonlanding opened up a ‘Space Age’ and the dominion of the Universe by Humanity). The hegemons thus package their achievements in epochal terms that relate to all humanity, and it is their ‘can‑do’ technological capabilities that provide the foundations for the new ‘universalisms’ (Taylor 1996: 93).

II.4.7 Reorganising the world’s cultural space

Three ‘images of the future’ that contemporaries marvelled at are: the harbour full of ships at Amsterdam, the industrial landscape of northern England centred on Manchester and leafy suburbia symbolically represented by Los Angeles in innumerable Hollywood films. These landscapes are recreated in other lands which ‘modernized’ through mercantilism, industrialization and ‘Americanization’ in turn. (Peter J. Taylor 1996: 5)

The hegemon thus is the “most modern of the modern” in its era (Taylor 1996: 4). They represent the ‘future’ and shape the dominant culture of their SCAs. The re-shaping of the world economy (and the technological development inherent to it) creates the intellectual need to reassess what is ‘modern’ about modernity. ‘Modernity’ has then evolved with and through the hegemons, with a particular version of it being created in each SCA, reflecting the hegemons’ interests and particularities (Taylor 1996: 38-42).

While we have no wish to go into a detailed discussion of the meaning of modernity here, we will briefly discuss, following Peter J. Taylor, some distinctive cultural aspects of hegemons which contributed to the universalising of hegemonic ideas (Taylor 1996: 193-208).

Taylor describes the “hegemonic celebration of ordinariness” as being a specific trait of modernity of the capitalist hegemonies, different from the mid and late nineteenth century nationalistic invention of national identities based on the ‘people’s’ ‘age-old’ (ordinary) traditions[45]. Each of the hegemons developed “exceptionally innovative … new art forms” associated to this ‘ordinariness’, whereby the “everyday lives of ordinary people have been made a particular focus of attention” (Taylor 1996: 193).

In this way, Dutch genre painting portray scenes that attempt to mirror aspects of everyday life (which is the opposite of most non-Dutch contemporary (i.e. baroque) painting, that glorify religion, the great, and the powerful). The subjects, however, were trivial but not arbitrarily chosen, as they were related to the comforts enjoyed by the Dutch bourgeoisie: still lives depicting beautiful vases, expensive tulips, and fine foods, portraits of the bourgeois themselves or groups of them, at work but mostly in their fine, comfortable homes.

In the British SCA, the English novel played a similar role. It developed in the second half of the eighteenth century, with increasing numbers of middle-class (many female) readers. The English novel again articulates the concerns of the ordinary (propertied) people, eschewing “mythology and legend as traditional sources and instead produc(ing) original ‘storylines’” (Taylor 1996: 197), incorporating middle‑class interests (such as ‘who marries whom’ or the countryside) while ignoring political and economic ‘heartless’ subjects. “Every novel is about particular people in particular circumstances with definite time and place contexts. In short it is a literary vehicle for an ever-changing world which is why it is quintessentially modern, a product of the modern world-system” (Taylor 1996: 197).

The major American cultural contribution to the ‘celebration of ordinariness’ was the Hollywood movie, particularly the “safe and bland” films typical of the 1950s, from teenager “Elvis films” to comedies and “lightweight dramas”, which “showed American life becoming more secure, cozy and domestic. This is the same bourgeois domesticity to be found in Dutch genre painting and the English novel” (Taylor 1996: 198), with the difference that in the US SCA the entire population of the core countries could enjoy it, both the cosy life with multiple domestic appliances, as well as the movies themselves. The stories were “of ordinary people living comfortable lives – for much of the rest of the world it was the American dream on cellulose”[46] (Taylor 1996: 199).

Taylor then argues that this (hegemony-related) idea of ordinary modernity is essentially a forward-looking, positive one, bringing the promise of progress and a better future. Those who enjoy ‘the good life’ or cherish hopes for a good life may be a world minority as seen in section II.3.7, “but they are both very numerous and very ordinary” (Taylor 1996: 201) in the core countries. The core (populations and/or countries) hence emulate the hegemon also culturally, which is a fundamental aspect in generating the social and intellectual drive for economical ‘modernisation’. This emulation is extended to large sections of the world system, with even “prospects for ‘modernization’ in poor countries not appearing to be far-fetched” (Taylor 1996: 201), although promotions in the core-periphery structure only seldom actually occur (and are normally accompanied by demotions of other states).

II.4.8 What happens to past hegemons?

Oh dear! Here we are near the end of the 20th century and British politicians still appeal on the dubious promise of greatness. This is a mind-set that seems to be impossible to get out off. In the previous election of 1983, Mrs. Thatcher’s Conservatives registered a landslide electoral victory after a crushing military victory in the Falklands. Who put the Great back into Britain? Maggie did. Oh dear, oh dear. By their very lateness, these symptoms of post-hegemonic trauma illustrate the depth of affliction within the British collective mentality. What makes it worse is that it is all so hopeless: Britannia will never rule the waves again. It is not that the trauma is accompanied by delusions of future grandeur, rather there is an amnesia towards present predicaments. Hegemonic decline is not something that can be turned around; it is a social impasse. (Peter J. Taylor 1996: 158)

When a state loses hegemony, it does not suddenly become poor or part of the periphery. The capital it accumulated during its SCA is invested in the material expansion led by the new hegemon, which means on one hand that the ex-hegemon loses control over its own economy (Taylor 1996: 162), but also that it can, to some extent, share in the new profits being generated. That is, loss of hegemony is more a question of relative position in the world system vis a vis other members than a decline in absolute terms.

Post-hegemonic trauma is reflected on a refusal (or incapacity) to accept no longer being ‘Number 1’, which is reflected in the continuing pursuit of policies that do not conform to the new reality. This can lead to further political and economic failure, and “[i]n seeking the glories of the past, chances of a better future are eroded” (Taylor 1996: 158). While loss of hegemony is a process that lasts around half a century (very roughly the duration of the systemic chaos and terminal crisis period), it takes a much longer time to accept the fact. So, in the early eighteenth century many highly influential Portuguese still thought Portugal was destined to rule to world[47] (Boxer 1969: 367-378), it was only after the 1848 revolution that the Dutch abandoned great power pretensions (Taylor 1996: 159-161), and (at least some of ) the British leaders and population still have not done so[48].

After loosing hegemony, Genoa turned into a rich city integrated in a regional network of cities, Holland turned into a small power, and Britain into a medium power (Taylor 1996: 159-165). The USA, accordingly, are likely to retain great power status after its hegemonic period ends, which is a natural consequence of the increasing scale of modern hegemonies. Hence, even “after the end of high hegemony, the importance of America is such that it can still credibly use its immense power to resist becoming normal” (Taylor 1996: 173).



[35] It follows that, if the dominant group of capitalists is not associated with a single given state, stateless hegemonies are conceivable.

[36] Frank and Gills’ hierarchical structure of accumulation of capital based on centre, periphery and hinterland complexes is then retained. The main difference with their (pre-modern) hegemony can then be seen as being the enabling information, communications, and transport technologies, that allow a single group of actors to attain hegemony.

[37] One could note that this makes the attainment of hegemony by an aggressive Imperial power, that pursues expansionary policies against other core nations, extremely difficult, as it is extremely likely that, short of an extremely successful Blitzkrieg, it will be involved in war in its own – old or newly acquired – territory. Failed hegemony challengers are often semi-peripheral states that try to conquer adjacent core states instead of pursuing a global strategy of accumulation (Chase-Dunn 1998: xxii)

[38] Note that this meta-systemic political transition is part of a larger meta-systemic world systemic transition, from East to West, Empires to States, Feudalism/Agrarian world to Capitalism, pre-modern to modern, as described in section II.3.8.

[39] Thereby ensuring that the WMfP is well supplied, at a relatively low cost.

[40] And hence Britain came to govern the system it created, which Holland could never do.

[41] According to Anderson, first, second, and third wave nationalisms refer to the Americas in late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, Europe in late nineteenth century, and the de-colonisation of post-WWII, respectively. We can speak of a fourth wave referring to the nationalist and regionalist explosions of the post-Cold War.

[42] Which however is close to the US signal crisis.

[43] In other words, what is good for General Motors may be good for America, but what is good for America is good for the world (or in fact for the core nations).

[44] Here ‘liberalism’ is taken as meaning “either the idea of a liberal economics based upon markets or a political liberalism based upon diffuse power” (Taylor 1996: 35).

[45] We exclude Genoa due to its association with medieval Iberia as mentioned in section II.4.4, and the art form associated with the Genoese SCA – the Renaissance’s mainly religious painture and sculpture – is completely dissociated of the lives of ordinary people.

[46] Including, for instance, for DDR citizens with access to West German television, where they could plainly observe the comparatively luxurious lifestyle of the ‘capitalists’ (Sandford 1995: 202).

[47] Charles Boxer states in his classic book on the Portuguese empire “I doubt whether a more hysterically nationalistic work has ever been published, although the twentieth century can supply some formidable competitors” (Boxer 1969: 376), referring to a book written by a Portuguese Crown lawyer in 1631, that is, when Iberia was united under the Castillian Philips.

[48] “Two world wars and one world cup” is a crowd-pulling, albeit void of content, slogan still often heard. Alan Milward (Milward 1992: 345-395) documents thoroughly the utterly unrealistic post-war British attempt to reorganise the world’s finances, restoring the City to its pre-1932 pre-eminence, and developing plans for other European countries’ currencies (including the Deutsche Mark). “[T]his … can only be explained by bringing to bear additionally the long historical tradition of the country which sapped its belief that it was still in some sense a great power whose foreign policy should reflect that position, which reinforced its ignorance about its closest neighbours, which strengthened both arrogance and myopic conservatism, and which drove it towards rhetoric and away from realistic policy choices” (Milward 1992: 395).