Legitimacy and Equilibrium

Ian Clark

in Legitimacy in International Society

Published in print September 2007 | ISBN: 9780199219193
Published online January 2008 | e-ISBN: 9780191717734 | DOI:
Legitimacy and Equilibrium

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This chapter develops the idea that legitimacy is intimately related to power, and considers the extent to which contemporary problems affecting international legitimacy simply reflect the current distribution of power. It considers the specific debate about US hegemony in the contemporary world situation. It argues that the problem for legitimacy in contemporary international society does indeed reside in disequilibrium, but not in any straightforward sense. It is not simply a matter of international society coming to terms with the lack of a balance of power. Nor, for that matter, is it the case of international society having to adjust to the preferences and vagaries of US policy, as they variably reflect these underlying power conditions. The contemporary idea of legitimacy attaches itself to a notion of acceptable leadership in conditions of hegemony. That is to say that it must be a leadership that is acceptable both to international society at large, and also to the predominant state called upon to play that role.

Keywords: international society; power; international legitimacy; United States; leadership; US hegemony

Chapter.  8756 words. 

Subjects: International Relations

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