Financialization and Us Hegemony: A Critical Approach To Contemporary Debates
Sarı Aksakal, Betül
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Hegemony has been the subject of heated debate among theorists from different perspectives in the international political economy literature since the 1970s. In this study, we aim to make a critical evaluation of contemporary hegemony debates, predicated on the analysis of Giovanni Arrighi, who explained the evolution of the international capitalist system with hegemonic transitions based on systemic cycles of accumulation, following the World System Theory developed by Immanuel Wallerstein in the 1970s. In his analysis of systemic cycles of accumulation, launched out in his study The Long Twentieth Century: Money, Power and the Origins of Our Age, published in 1994, Arrighi claims that the cycles of accumulation to which successive hegemonic leadership in the world economy are subject, initiate with real (material) expansion and at a particular stage are superseded by financial expansion. Accordingly, the financial expansion stage foreshadows hegemonic transitions in the international capitalist system and marks the autumn of the current hegemonic power. This study investigates whether the financialization process began in the 1970s, signs the end of the US hegemony that emerged after 1945, as advocated by Arrighi. Therefore, the first chapter of the study clarifies how and from which aspects the concept of hegemony is characterized by theorists from different International Relations and International Political Economy schools. In the second chapter, money and finance phenomena have been discussed since the birth of the modern capitalist system to reveal the nature of financialization. In the third chapter, the US hegemony is interrogated in particular. It is emphasized that, contrary to Arrighi's argument, financialization can be considered a process that consolidates the US hegemony. Finally, in the fourth chapter of the study, an answer is sought as to whether China can be the next hegemonic power by resting on a critical reading of the same theoretical framework. This question is discussed regarding the current academic debate involving various authors, notably Arrighi, who argue that the world's economic-political center of gravity has shifted to the East.