Dan Drezner: Robert Gilpin, R.I.P.: "I never met Gilpin in person—in contrast to many colleagues, once he retired, he left the field for good. It’s my loss. I became enamored with his ideas while in graduate school... an excellent intellectual history of how realists thought about the politics of the world economy...

...Gipin’s greatest work will always be “War and Change in World Politics.” Although written in 1981, the theory is perhaps more trenchant now than then. Gilpin offered his variant of hegemonic stability theory. This theory posits that a rising superpower has a strong incentive to structure the global rules of the game in a manner favorable to that state’s economy and polity. In return, however, the hegemon will provide the necessary global public goods to ensure that other states prosper in this system. Peace and prosperity can thrive when this kind equilibrium holds. Gilpin’s argument stands out... his prose... clearly written and clearly argued.... Gilpin’s story of hegemonic decline, which was both detailed and prescient.... Gilpin warned about the “corrupting influence of affluence” on the hegemon. See if this sounds familiar:

Perhaps the most pernicious aspect of this “corruption” (a term used in its classical sense to mean decay) is the generation in the minds of a dominant people of the belief that the world they (or, rather, their forebears) created is the right, natural, and God-given state of affairs. To such a people the idea that the world of their rule and privilege could be otherwise becomes inconceivable. The goodness and benefits of the status quo, as they know it, are so obvious that all reasonable men will assent to its worth and preservation. With such a state of mind, a people neither concedes to the just demands of rising challengers nor makes the necessary sacrifices to defend its threatened world.

Think of those U.S. elites who downplayed the populist revolt to globalization. Think of the current U.S. elites who are trying to stop making any sacrifice for anything beyond America’s borders. And then read that paragraph, published in 1981, again. There’s a reason Gilpin’s work remains highly relevant today...


#shouldread

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