Extra-territoriality, reterritorialization and hegemonic power:

The “hegemonic dilemma” and its implications for globalization.







Colin Flint,

Department of Geography,

The Pennsylvania State University,

University Park, PA 16802.


Tel. #. (814) 865 2493.













To be presented at “Responding to Globalization: Societies, Groups, and Individuals.

Sponsored by the Globalization and Democracy Research and Training Program, Program on Political and Economic Change, Institute of Behavioral Science, University of Colorado, Boulder. Hotel Boulderado, Boulder, Colorado, April 4-7, 2002



Draft version, not to be cited without the permission of the author.






Hegemonic powers play a unique role in the world-economy by reaching beyond their state boundaries and imposing their will upon other sovereign entities. The purpose of much of this extra-territorial power is to facilitate an “open” world-economy, as witnessed especially during the period of the United States of America’s hegemonic reign. The result of the USA’s efforts is the contemporary experience of globalization. However, the USA, as did previous hegemonic powers, still retains the need for maintaining their own territorial security as a nation-state. Hence, hegemonic powers face a hegemonic dilemma; the pursuit of extra-territoriality that opens up the boundaries of the state to inward flows that are deemed to threaten the “security” of the nation and require a simultaneous reterritorialization of the nation-state. This dilemma has been made most clear in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11. Quotations from members of the Bush administration serve to illustrate the existence and tensions of the hegemonic dilemma. These quotations are supported by an analysis of nativism in Pennsylvania to show how the establishment of hegemony disrupts domestic politics. Finally, images from a number of white supremacist and separatist web-sites that illustrate the fears held by the extreme right of porous borders emanating from globalization. The pervasiveness of globalization has produced a geopolitical context in which all countries, to varying degrees, face the dilemma of participating in a global economy while maintaining “national security.”








Thanks to Catherine Adams, Sebastian Castrechini, Douglas Grane, Neeta Maniar, Drew Schaub, and Taisa Welhasch for collecting the quotes used in this essay. Thanks to Cory Forer for finding and capturing the web-sites, and to Todd Heibel and Ian Oas for the cartographic work.


            What is globalization? It is important to address this question in order to identify the geopolitical processes that underpin globalization, as well as the geopolitical implications that it produces. Santos’ (1999) concentration upon the multi-faceted processes that are globalization plus the important geographic component of diffusion allows for an understanding of both the content of globalization and its geographic expression. For Santos, globalization is “the process by which a given local condition or entity succeeds in extending its reach over the globe and, by doing so, develops the capacity to designate a rival social condition or entity as local” (Santos, 1999: 216). This definition provides insight into the geopolitics of imposition, on the one hand, and resistance on the other. Thus, globalization is the competitive diffusion of economic, political, and social practices from one locality over a significant portion of the globe.

But the geographic component is not enough to understand globalization, the timing is of utmost importance too. Globalization is seen as a qualitative progression in the developmental trajectory of capitalism that has ushered in a new from of social organization (Hardt and Negri, 2000). However, we are also warned that globalization is not necessarily a one-way process – it was created, in part by the actions of states (Sassen, 1996: 22), and hence states could decide to re-impose a regime more centered upon the sovereignty of nation-states (Block, 1987). A more historically sensitive interpretation of globalization places it within the cycle of the rise and fall of great, or hegemonic, powers that has been a sporadic feature of the capitalist world-economy since its inception in the mid-1400’s (Arrighi, 1994).

Defining the hegemonic dilemma

In this word-systems analysis interpretation of the current economic processes, the one I adopt in this paper, the role of hegemonic powers is vital in explaining what is diffused, and why, from where, and when. In other words, it offers a geohistorical contextualization of contemporary globalization (Taylor, 1999).  The world-system’s understanding of hegemony has become more complete over time. It began with an initial concentration upon economic prowess (Wallerstein, 1984), through a connection with the establishment of geopolitical world-orders (Taylor, 1996; Taylor and Flint, 2000), to the important inclusion of the role of social and cultural practices defined and disseminated by the hegemonic power (Taylor, 1999). Hegemony is founded upon the clustering of dominant production processes and technological innovation within the borders of one state (with intra-state uneven development) that allow for dominance in commerce that, ultimately provides for global financial domination. Economic hegemony allows for, and is facilitated by, political domination of the world that is reflected in the establishment of periods of geopolitical stability, otherwise known as hegemonic geopolitical world orders. But the power and dominance of the hegemonic power is not just a product of economic strength or political might. The power base is based upon a subtler tactic – the definition of a modern way of life that is, on the whole, desired and emulated by social groups within the hegemonic power and across the globe.

This understanding of hegemony provides for the multi-faceted nature of hegemony discussed by Santos (1999); economic, political, social, and cultural. It also includes the processes of diffusion. Economic influence is diffused through the necessity to establish free-trade across as much of the world-economy as possible to provide relatively easy market access for the goods being produced so efficiently by the hegemonic power. The hegemonic power also plays the role of world-leader (Modelski, 1987) establishing a period of relative geopolitical calm that simultaneously is fueled by, and itself facilitates, economic growth. Political influence is felt in the establishment of institutions with global reach, such as NATO, the UN, and the IMF and World Bank in the period of US hegemony. In addition, hegemonic economic prowess is built upon a social reorganization that comes to define what it means to be modern (Taylor, 1999). In the case of the United States, modernity was centered upon the consumer society and its suburban landscape. This social reorganization is built upon a social compact that is given validity and strength through the cultural practices that are embodied within it (Silver and Slater, 1999). To use the US as an example again, the white and blue-collar workers that provided the administrative and manual backbones of economic production were housed in the newly established suburbs with their assumed gender roles and racial segregation (Baumgartner, 1988; Danielson, 1976). To be modern was to be suburban (Taylor, 1999). It was the suburban way of life, broadcast from Hollywood, which was sold to the world as the prime modernity to be emulated.

The practice of hegemony, the diffusion of economic, political, and socio-cultural practices and influence requires a geopolitics of extra-territoriality, namely the imposition of power and influence by one nation-state into the sovereign spaces of other nation-states (Flint, 2001a). Extra-territoriality is the geopolitical manifestation of contemporary globalization, a set of diffusion processes that is primarily the product of the hegemonic nation-state. These practices and their dissemination began in the middle of the last century, and have become most manifest during a particular period in the hegemonic cycle – the period of financialization (Arrighi, 1994; Arrighi and Silver, 1999).

Extra-territoriality is only one side of the coin, though. As noted, the economic growth that is the required underlying basis of hegemonic power is based upon the creation of a social compact (Silver and Slater, 1999). The social compact includes and excludes particular groups from the benefits of a particular hegemonic project. In the example of the United States, the New Deal provided benefits for blue and white collar workers that accepted new work relations. More radical workers movements and African-Americans were not awarded the same levels of participation and reward. The hegemonic social compact also entailed differential social rewards outside of the US. However, for the purpose of this paper it is apt to concentrate upon one aspect of the social compact that has not been emphasized enough.  The social compact is based upon an understanding of territorialized citizenship, belonging to a recognized and territorially bounded nation-state and the two-way avenue of rights and responsibilities between state and citizen (Taylor, 1991; Taylor, 2000). In other words, the extra-territoriality of the hegemonic power requires the establishment of territoriality that structures the domestic component of the hegemonic compact.

It is this tension that I have called here the hegemonic dilemma – or the geopolitical need to promote extra-territoriality and infiltrate the sovereignty of other nation-states while maintaining one’s own territorial sovereignty. Emphasizing that hegemony is a process of establishment, rule, and relative decline suggests that the balance between territoriality and extra-territoriality will change over time. It follows that the domestic and international aspects of hegemony are intertwined and their separation in this article is for purely organizational and heuristic purposes. Rather than taking a chronological approach, the current tensions of the hegemonic dilemma are illustrated by reference to the political response to the attacks of September 11. Then, resistance to the establishment and disintegration of social compacts within the hegemonic country is analyzed by reference to nativist politics in the state of Pennsylvania. Finally, images taken from the web-sites of extreme right-wing groups are used to illustrate that the diffusions of globalization also include flows into the hegemonic country and consequent political reaction.

These empirical snapshots hope to illustrate the continuous but changing tensions between extra-territoriality and territoriality that faces the hegemonic power. They may also serve as an initial inquiry into two competing visions of globalization held by world-systems analysts. On the one hand, Peter Taylor (1993) and John Agnew (1993) (a less overt world-systemite) interpret the innovations of US hegemony as ushering in fundamental change in the balance between the world-economy and sovereign nation-states. The result being that the latter have been so weakened they can no longer provide the territorial haven upon which a new round of hegemony can be based. The US is, therefore, The Last of the Hegemons (Taylor, 1993), and the role of nation-states within the world-economy has been changed permanently. If this happens to be the case, we would expect to see a continued commitment to extra-territoriality by the hegemonic power as it attempts to continue to assert its comparative advantage of global reach across the globe. Alternatively, the cyclical emphasis of Arrighi (1994) and Silver and Slater (1999) argues that the recent experience of global financialization is a temporary phase in response to the global over-accumulation initiated by the hegemonic power’s prior dominance in production. Hence, the reassertion of political sovereignty is not only possible but, given a historical understanding, most likely as well. If this scenario is correct then we would expect to see political moves, even within the hegemonic power, to tilt the balance towards protecting territorial sovereignty.

The analysis of the US political reaction can help us to consider the relative likelihood of these two scenarios. Of course, such snapshots regarding one political issue over such a shorter-period of time are suggestive rather than conclusive. They do, however, illustrate that hegemonic powers must balance extra-territoriality and territoriality, and that this hegemonic dilemma creates security concerns related to the twin needs of global reach and “homeland security.”

Rhetoric of extra-territoriality and reterritorialization post 9/11


The twin notions of hegemony (Wallerstein, 1984) and prime modernity (Taylor, 1999) suggest that the United States of America has a role in diffusing particular economic practices as well as a particular way of life across the spatial extent of the capitalist world-economy. Economic leadership and dominant social practices were at the forefront of U.S. politician’s comments in the aftermath of 9/11. The President established free trade as the defining element of American power, identity, and engagement with the rest of the world:


“Fearful people, people who don't trust the ability of our entrepreneurs build walls around America.  Confident people tear them down.  And I'm confident in the American spirit.  I'm confident that the entrepreneurs of our country -- Hispanic, Anglo, African American -- compete with anybody, any place, any time, and let's trade freely.”


Remarks by President Bush in Town Hall Meeting With Citizens of Ontario. Ontario Convention Center Ontario, California 10:00 A.M. PS

January 5,2002.  http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2002/01/20020105-3.html



The relationship between economic hegemony and prime modernity was emphasized by the treasury secretary:


 “As trade flows from nation to nation, ideas of freedom, creativity, and tolerance are part of the packaging.”

Remarks by Secretary Paul O'Neill to the coalition of serviced industries, October 24, 2001, http://www.ustreas.gov/press/releases/po717.htm


As in previous manifestations of hegemony, the economic reach of the United States is the key engine in ensuring power, influence, and the ability to speak as if for all. As stated by Colin Powell:

“It was not hard to pull this coalition together because instantly, on the 11th of September, every civilized nation looked and said this is an attack not just against the American World Trade Center, but the World Trade Center.”


“And while we are waging our campaign, you will still be out there in the world doing your work. We know that for you, as for us in the State Department, staying home is not an option.”


“From its beginning in 1985 when Secretary Shultz met with a handful of CEOs, OSAC has expanded to nearly 2,000 affiliated US companies and organizations. That is a wonderful, wonderful testament to the drive and spirit of America's entrepreneurs, business people, educators and others who follow their dreams beyond our borders and spearhead America's engagement with the world.


Remarks to the Overseas Security Advisory Council by Secretary Colin L. Powell
Washington, DC. November 7, 2001. http://www.state.gov/


These ideas were reinforced by Condoleeza Rice.


“We are committed to a world of greater trade, of greater democracy and greater human rights for all the world's people wherever they live.  September 11th makes this commitment more important, not less.”


Remarks by the National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice to the Conservative Political Action Conference, Marriott Crystal Gateway Arlington, Virginia February 1, 2002. http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2002/02/20020201-6.html



However, the success of the hegemonic process depends upon maintaining a balance between national self-interest and the perception that the hegemonic country is bringing benefits to all.


“Our ideas, our know-how and our culture reach every corner of the world, and is transforming the world as we knew it.”


“Our economic engagement with the rest of the world is an important part of our effort to maintain the secure international environment within which Americans and American businesses prosper. It helps spread to others the benefits that we ourselves enjoy.”


Secretary Colin L. Powell, Board of Directors Meeting. Monarch Hotel, Washington, DC. October 31, 2001. http://www.state.gov/



With regard to extra-territoriality, a (re)definition of prime modernity took center stage over economic globalization. In response to a terrorist act, an immense criminal event, tropes of civilization and justice were used to bring America’s role in disseminating a particular way of life in to the conversation. Numerous quotes on this matter were found from each and every member of the Bush administration. The following quotes were selected as they highlighted that though the pursuit of justice was extra-territorial in its geography, that justice was particularly American.

A calculated, malignant, and devastating evil has arisen in the world. Civilization cannot ignore the wrongs that have been done. America will not tolerate their being repeated. Justice has a new mission -- a new calling against an old evil.”

John Ashcroft, Attorney General Ashcroft and Deputy Attorney General Thompson Announce, Reorganization and Mobilization of the Nation's Justice and Law Enforcement Resource November 8, 2001 http://www.justice.gov/ag/speeches/2001/agcrisisremarks11_08.htm


The Taliban served, in an Orientalist fashion (Said, 1979), to not only define the USA as the locality that defines the freedoms that are to be globalized, but also the perceived dangers that can arise if the globalization project is thwarted.

Walker was blessed to grow up in a country that cherishes freedom of speech, religious tolerance, political democracy, and equality between men and women. And yet he chose to reject these values in favor of their antithesis, a regime that publicly and proudly advertised its mission to extinguish freedom, enslave women, and deny education. John Walker Lindh chose to fight with the Taliban, chose to train with al Qaeda, and to be led by Osama bin Laden.”  

John Ashcroft Attorney General Transcript John Walker Lindh Press Conference DOJ Conference Center January 15, 2002 http://www.justice.gov/ag/speeches/2002/011502walkertranscript.htm


The key point, reflected in the following comments by President Bush, is that the United States, as prime modernity, is the definer and disseminator of justice.


“We will rid the world of the evil-doers.  We will call together freedom loving people to fight terrorism.”



“Terrorists try to operate in the shadows.  They try to hide.  But we're going to shine the light of justice on them.” 



Eventually, no corner of the world will be dark enough to hide in.  



The U.S. is the defensor of liberty all over the world, and that's what this attack was about.



There is no corner of the Earth distant or dark enough to protect them.  However long it takes, their hour of justice will come.



Such a strategy requires not only the political might of the hegemonic country but also the power that comes from being the prime modernity.

"We're going to go after these terrorists with a global reach on our own time, but as rigorously as possible. We're going to get them where they are in whatever shape they are."


Richard Armitage, Deputy Secretary of State. Interview: PBS Web Site

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/terrorism/interviews/armitage.html September 2001 (the exact date wasn’t given)



“Our mission today is not only to root out and eliminate the terrorists—we must also enlarge the circle of human freedom to include that vast majority of Muslim people who are seeking to enjoy the benefits of living in a free and prosperous society, but do not yet do so.”


Remarks by Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center Wednesday, Fletcher Conference. November 14, 2001




Even a “hawk”, or perhaps velocirapotar according to The Economist, such as Wolfowitz can see that geopolitics requires a cultural component to aid global dominance. The attacks of 9/11 were perceived by the Bush Administration as a catalyst to a redefinition of the United States’ global role. One in which a US civilization and justice were not only to be defined but also spread across as much of the globe as possible. Seemingly benign statements such as


I think the best way to attack -- to handle the attacks of September the 11th is to fight fear with friendship; is to fight fear with hope; is to remind people all around the world we have much more in common than people might think; that we share basic values -- the importance of family, and the importance of faith, and the importance of friendship.


President Bush, http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2001/10/20011025-2.html  


were echoed by more explicit recognition of an historic mission.

“History has called us into action, here at home and internationally. We've been given a chance to lead, and we're going to seize the moment in this country.  As we've mentioned more than once, what we do here at home is going to have lasting impact for a long time.  And I want to tell you what we're doing abroad is going to have lasting impact, as well.”

President Bush, Masonic Temple, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA. February 5,2002. http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2002/02/20020205-4.html



But such mission has to be given concrete ingredients, as specified by Condoleeza Rice.


 “On every continent, in every land, this President, the education President at home, wants to press the goal of education for all abroad.”


Remarks by the National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice to the Conservative Political Action Conference, Marriott Crystal Gateway Arlington, VA. February 1, 2002



The hegemonic commitment requires a global strategy of diplomacy, one driven by the common sense assumptions of the unquestioned legitimacy and supremacy of US prime modernity.

“The terrorist attacks of 9/11 underscore the urgency of implementing an effective public diplomacy campaign.”


“There is no part of the world that we are not interested in. We are a country of countries. We are touched by every country, and we touch every country.”


Testimony at Budget Hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Secretary Colin L. Powell, Washington, DC. February 5, 2002. http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2002/7797.htm


The comprehensiveness and multi-faceted nature of this project were also made clear by the Secretary of State.


 “But the war on terrorism starts within each of our respective sovereign borders.  It will be fought with increased support for democracy programs, judicial reform, conflict resolution, poverty alleviation, economic reform and health and education programs.  All of these together deny the reason for terrorists to exist or to find safe havens within those borders.”


Remarks to United Nations Security Council, Secretary Colin L. Powell. New York, NY. November 12, 2001, http://www.state.gov/



The emphasis placed upon the charitable and developmental image of prime modernity should not prevent us from recognizing that it is extra-territorial in its geographic expression and, hence, geopolitical. History also suggests that the imposition of a way of life into other sovereign spaces cannot be achieved without military force. Secretary of State Rumsfield seemed aware of this history lesson when he stated

We talked early on, the president did, about the opportunity to rearrange things in the world in a way that would be beneficial to our country and to peace and to stability and to free systems, and how as we're doing this do we do it in a way that because it's such a fundamental shift in how people think about the world, how do we do it in a way that benefits the world after this event is over.


Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld

Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2002. Interview with the Washington Post



In remembering how hegemony and prime modernity are connected, it should be emphasized that Rumsfield recognizes national interest first and assumes its global benefits. “Rearranging things in the world” has been the historic role of hegemonic powers (Taylor, 1996), and it appears that a response to 9/11 is the current vehicle for its enactment. Military force is an expensive way of facilitating such diffusion. On the other hand, justice is a much more neutral term as it encourages emulation rather than forced transformation.

“Some will ask whether a civilized nation – a nation of law and not of men – can use the law to defend itself from barbarians and remain civilized. Our answer, unequivocally, is "yes." Yes, we will defend civilization. And yes, we will preserve the rule of law because it makes us civilized.” 

Attorney General John Ashcroft Prepared Remarks for the US Mayors Conference October 25, 2001 http://www.justice.gov/ag/speeches/2001/agcrisisremarks10_25.htm


 “At the conclusion of World War II came the reckoning at Nuremburg. Former Attorney General and Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson led the prosecution of 21 Nazi defendants for crimes against their countrymen, against their neighbors -- indeed, crimes against humanity. All pleaded not guilty. Some claimed that they were merely following orders. Others disputed the jurisdiction of the court. But Jackson successfully argued their guilt with a sense of urgency born of a civilization threatened by a new force of evil. "The wrongs which we seek to condemn and punish have been so calculated, so malignant, and so devastating," said Jackson, "that civilization cannot tolerate their being ignored, because it cannot survive their being repeated.’”


John Ashcroft, Attorney General Ashcroft and Deputy Attorney General Thompson Announce, Reorganization and Mobilization of the Nation's Justice and Law Enforcement Resource November 8, 2001 http://www.justice.gov/ag/speeches/2001/agcrisisremarks11_08.htm


Of course, the reasons for such actions require, perhaps, none of this talk of hegemony and prime modernity. It is after all a simple matter of manifest destiny.

“Watch us, we're America. We're not going to draw back behind our oceans and behind our fences.”


Remarks to the Overseas Security Advisory Council, Secretary Colin L. Powell. Washington, DC. November 7, 2001, http://www.state.gov/


But a manifest destiny that is linked to a hegemonic project, that secures ownership of the seas as previous hegemonic powers have done while speaking for the whole world.

“And I know the President will consult with our friends and allies in the world because it is not just a danger to the United States; it is a danger to the whole world, to the civilized world. “


Interview on CBS's Face the Nation, Secretary Colin L. Powell. Interview by Bob Schieffer and Gloria Borger, Washington, DC. February 3, 2002.



And the hegemonic project is diffused from a national base, over a specific period of time, with perceived global benefits.

And it is our national security, the United States of America, at this time in history, that is able to contribute to peace and stability in the world.


Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld,  Sunday, Feb. 3, 2002 - 11:30 a.m. EST. Interview with ABC This Week.



The tropes of justice and freedom are the key contemporary codewords for the practices of American hegemony that are to be encouraged across the globe.

“We act today to protect the lives and safety not just of Americans but all of those who believe in this idea and ideal of freedom, and all of those who have sacrificed to live amidst the blessings of freedom.” 

Attorney General John Ashcroft  and INS Commissioner Ziglar Announce INS Restructuring Plan November 14, 2001 http://www.justice.gov/ag/speeches/2001/agcrisisremarks11_14.htm


The flip-side of the hegemonic dilemma is that the necessary practices of extra-territoriality, the expansion of influence into other sovereign spaces may decrease the security of one’s own. Tom Ridge’s interpretation of his cabinet responsibilities seem to be in direct contrast with the extra-territorial mission defined by Rumsfield, Powell, and Ashcroft.


"The only turf we should be worried about protecting is the turf we stand on."


Remarks by Tom Ridge, Swearing in Ceremony October 8, 2001

Becker, E., & Sciolino E. (2001, October 9) A Nation Challenged: Homeland Security; A New Federal Office Opens Amid Concern That Its Head Won't Have Enough Power. The New York Times. B11



The establishment of a cabinet level Office of Homeland Security is a recognition that the flows of globalization are not operating just one-way anymore, but that the sources of that insecurity are the practices of American hegemony. 

“…to deal with a 21st century environment that says the challenges to American's sovereignty and our security, which historically have been offshore, but because of the 20th century environment we find that the challenges are here…”


Press Briefing on Homeland Security, Governor Tom Ridge. October 18, 2001 The White House Press Briefing Archive.




Or to put it another way, the geography of the current challenges is a spatiality of networks that blurs any distinction between “domestic” and “foreign” (O’Tuathail, 2000). Moreover, these networks are a product of historically prior American hegemonic practices. However, the embedded statism of formal foreign policy requires a separation of the two (Agnew; 1999; Taylor, 2000; Walker, 1993).


“It's one war, but there are two fronts. There's a battlefield outside this country and there's a war and a battlefield inside this country.”


Governor Tom Ridge, October 22, 2001. Excerpts From News Conference on Anthrax in Postal Workers



In the minds of policy makers the distinction between the domestic and political arenas remains, and the key political-geographic prophylactic separating them is the international border of the United States. The border creates a spatial dichotomy between a territorialized and revered sense of American justice on the one hand and foreign “evils” on the other.

But any time there are borders that are that open and that substantial, there are risks that people crossing the border could be individuals who are involved in very serious activities that could be troublesome.” 


John Ashcroft Taken from transcript of press conference with John Ashcroft and Canadian Solicter General Lawrence MacAulay on 10/02/01.  http://www.justice.gov/ag/speeches/2001/agcrisisremarks10_2.htm


“I had an opportunity several times to testify before the Senate and the House, and to make the point that what we're dealing with here is not immigration; we're dealing with evil.” 

Attorney General John Ashcroft Outlines Foreign Terrorist Tracking Task Force October 31,2001 http://www.justice.gov/ag/speeches/2001/agcrisisremarks10_31.htm


“I'd like to note that the INS has been and continues to be a very vital player in this war on terrorism, in this investigation, as well as the ongoing process of protecting the American people from what we see as the forces of evil.” 

Jim Ziglar, the commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, AG Outlines Foreign Terrorist Tracking Task Force October 31, 2001 http://www.justice.gov/ag/speeches/2001/agcrisisremarks10_31.htm


These quotes reinforce the foreign/domestic polarity underlying mainstream understanding of international politics (Agnew and Corbridge, 1995: 86; Walker, 1993). But the balance is not as simple as keeping terrorists and criminals outside of the United States, it is about maintaining an immigration policy that protects but does not disrupt the practices of prime modernity. American hegemony still requires relatively open borders, but it appears that the commitment to this openness is being questioned currently.


“You know, we used to think of America the beautiful, fortress America, trusting America. And we find that perhaps we’ve trusted too much.”


NBC Nightly news Tom Brokaw interview with Tom Ridge

October 16, 2001, http://www.msnbc.com/news/643696.asp



At the very least, policy makers are discussing a balance between openness and security, and raising the broader question of whether nation-states are seeking to redefine the balance between globalization and state sovereignty.


“We need to do more with respect to tracking people within a society that is an open society. And we have to do it in a way that protects us but, at the same time, does not cause us to be a closed society, be the kind of society that would not be reflective of American values.”


Interview on CNN, Secretary Colin L. Powell. Washington, DC. September 12, 2001http://www.state.gov/


”The attack on September 11 was not just an attack on the United States, it happened to have been an attack on every civilization that values freedom.”

John Ashcroft Taken from transcript of press conference with John Ashcroft and Canadian Solicter General Lawrence MacAulay on 10/02/01 http://www.justice.gov/ag/speeches/2001/agcrisisremarks10_2.htm


The policy commentary post 9/11 served to territorialize particular notions of freedom and civilization, American versions that were perceived to be for the benefit of all and so worthy of imposition by processes of extra-territoriality.

“And it should be a testimony and inspiration to every American everywhere, to understand that public safety is everybody's business, and it's our opportunity to do those things that preserve our liberty and the integrity of what it means to enjoy the freedoms we call America.”

Attorney General John Ashcroft, Attorney General Remarks Pennsylvania Crash Site September 20, 2001 http://www.justice.gov/ag/agcrisisremarks9_20.htm


US politicians have been eager to use the attacks of 9/11 as catalyst for a politics reasserting the ability, but moral necessity, of American hegemony. Ashcroft’s earlier quote invoking the justice of the Nuremburg trials offered a reminder of how World War Two offered a rhetorical counterpoint to illustrate the global need for American power and political leadership. The first necessity in this discursive strategy is to define a period of global chaos that requires the order that a hegemonic power may offer. The terrorist attacks of 9/11 were used to define a time of emerging global chaos requiring the re-imposition of American order and its associated extra-territoriality.

“British Prime Minister Tony Blair recently spoke of the fragility of our borders in the face of transnational terrorists. Conflicts, he said, rarely stay within national boundaries. Tremors in one country reverberate throughout the world. The threat, Prime Minister Blair concluded, is chaos.”

John Ashcroft, Attorney General John Ashcroft , Financial Action Task Force, October 29, 2001 http://www.justice.gov/ag/speeches/2001/1029financialaction.htm


The attacks upon American symbols of hegemony were used to re-invigorate a hegemonic message and mission. It must be emphasized that this invigoration has both domestic and foreign components that are intertwined (Walker, 1993).


“We'll be resolute in our determination to rout out terror wherever it exists -- in our neighborhood or neighborhoods around the world.”


Remarks by President Bush to the World Affairs Council National Conference, Organization of American States, Washington, D.C.

January 16,2002





“We still face a shadowy enemy who dwells in the dark corners of the earth.  Dangers and sacrifices lie ahead.  Yet, America will not rest, we will not tire until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, has been stopped, and has been defeated.”


Remarks by President Bush at Reserve Officers Association Luncheon, Washington Hilton Hotel,

Washington, D.C. January 23, 2002




The series of quotes from the Bush Administration have served to highlight a number of points. First, extra-territoriality is a key component of the practices of hegemony. Second, extra-territoriality is founded upon economic strength and self-interest. Third, the economic reach is facilitated by the diffusion of a cultural or “civilizational” model, the prime modernity that is American in definition but, it is argued, benefits all. Fourth, the global diffusions initiated by the hegemonic power are also disruptive of the social compact upon which hegemony is built, hence the sovereign space of the hegemonic power must be protected in a way that does not derail the hegemonic project. This is the hegemonic dilemma currently facing the United States of America.

Internal tensions and the rise and fall of prime modernity

A singular focus on the extra-territoriality of hegemony emphasizes a geopolitics of inter-state conflict (Modelski, 1987). On the other hand, defining the presence of the hegemonic dilemma recognizes that hegemonic powers must balance “domestic” and “foreign” concerns that are normally separated by academic and political bureaucratic institutions (Taylor, 2000; Walker, 1993). The disruption or reorganization of sovereign spaces is also felt within the borders of the hegemonic power, suggesting that notions of security based upon a misperception of territorial sovereignty do not apply (Agnew and Corbridge, 1995; Walker, 1993). The establishment of a prime modernity requires the peripheralization of other lifestyles, including those within the hegemonic state. It also offers a model of what society is and, most importantly, the promises it holds; promises that must be kept to avoid disaffection.

            This brief section is a summary of previous work (Flint, 2001b) that showed how nativist movements (Bennett, 1988; Higham, 1966) in Pennsylvania reacted to the process of hegemonic rise and decline. Using two snapshots in time, the 1920s and the 1990s, two very different patterns of nativist activity were discovered. In the 1920s, the process of defining US prime modernity appeared domestically as the assertion of urban morals and a way of life over rural ones (Leuchtenburg, 1958; Shideler, 1973). This dramatic shift in American demography provoked fears of a corrupt and un-American way of life that would marginalize rural America. The Ku Klux Klan was opportune in voicing their desire to defend such rural based American morals (Annan, 1967; Johnson, 1923). Hence, it is not surprising that rural Pennsylvania was the locus of a disproportionate amount of Klan organization, as nativist messages were used to defend established rural practices (Figure 1).

            On the other hand, the pattern in the 1990s is starkly different as hate crime activity is concentrated in the suburban areas of the state (Figure 2). Suburbia was the epitome of US prime modernity (Jackson, 1985; Taylor, 1999), but in the 1990s it experienced dramatic changes as the established separations of work and home, working class and middle class populations, and racial groups were eroded (Fishman, 1987; Garreau, 1991; Teaford, 1997). Coupled with general economic insecurity, the promises of the American Dream seemed to be fading, and one manifestation of this was an increase in ethnic and racial tensions in the suburban landscapes of prime modernity (Hamm, 1993).

            Together these snapshots illustrate that the process of establishing a new prime modernity entailed conflict within the borders of the United States. Initially, the creation of a prime modernity was a local process, and only once it had been defined locally could it be exported globally (Santos, 1999). Furthermore, the social and cultural promises that comprise prime modernity may not be fulfilled, provoking domestic frustration as well as international challenge.

Defending the Nation-State

            The recognition that globalization is a matter of diffusion (Santos, 1999), also reminds us that hegemonic powers must be aware of reverse flows, or diffusions into its sovereign space. Extra-territoriality requires relatively open borders that also allow for flows inwards. It is such flows that disrupt the domestic expression of the social compact and, not surprisingly, provoke resistance by the affected groups within the US. Contemporary white supremacist and nativist groups have emphasized the porosity of the US border, which is seen as a threat to sovereignty, and its impact upon a perceived nation of white Americans (Berlet and Lyons, 2000; Dobratz and Shanks-Meile, 1997). The following are just a few images from the web-sites of extreme right-wing groups emphasizing these themes.

            The first image (Figure 3) illustrates that the reduction of state sovereignty that was a key component of hegemonic extra-territoriality is now seen as a threat to the hegemonic state itself. The blurring of distinction between the flags of the UN and the USA provoke images of declining territorial sovereignty. Moreover, this may have a more direct and local impact with federal law enforcement agencies kicking down doors with the assistance of UN employees (Figure 4).

            In the rhetoric of the extreme right, a secure, militarized, and non-porous border is required to reassert state sovereignty. The following image being most notable for the militarized violence deemed suitable and necessary for its protection (Figure 5). But what is to be protected? Underlying the hegemonic social compact is the social primacy of the white heterosexual male. The final image invokes a sense of cultural loss as “foreign” cultures diffuse into sovereign US space (Figure 6). The purpose of defending territorial sovereignty is to maintain the domestic social compact that was the foundation of US economic hegemony (Silver and Slater, 1999).


            Reterritorialization, evident in some of the quotes from policymakers at the beginning of the paper, is also to be seen in the extreme depictions of right-wing groups. Extra-territorial practices have generated challenges to the integrity of US sovereign space. Homeland security was on the agenda of right-wing social movement long before the Bush administration established the Office of Homeland Security (Gallaher, 2000; Stern, 1996). On the other hand, the terrorist attacks of 9/11 have reinvigorated a sense of US global mission that drives the hegemonic process. The extra-territoriality of American justice is maintaining the imposition of American power in to other sovereign spaces. But there exists a tension between the two needs – the hegemonic dilemma of maintaining a domestic social compact while simultaneously diffusing economic, social and political change across the globe. 

            Understanding globalization as a suite of diffusion processes (Santos, 1999) allows for the identification of prime diffusers, the hegemonic powers. But diffusion is as much a temporal as a spatial process. The timing of the flows of globalization is linked to the establishment of American economic and political hegemony. Previous hegemonic powers of the capitalist world-economy have declined, ushering in new periods of state control of global flows (Polanyi, 1957; Schwartz, 1994). The concerns for territorial security within the hallways of Washington, D.C. and the minds of the American extreme far-right suggest that the globalization of American hegemony is not an irreversible process.

1. The data for the number of klaverns (or Klan cells) per county in Pennsylvania is recorded in the Pennsylvania State Archives, Harrisburg, PA, in the State Police Archives, RG 30. The frequency of klaverns per county was standardized to the rate per 100,000 using 1920 census data. This standardized score was then mapped. The number of acts of intimidation and alleged crimes against the person or property between 1985 and 1999 was used to measure contemporary hate activity. These data were gathered from the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission. The PHRC is a state government office with the mandate to collect data on acts of ethnic and racial intimidation. For further details see Flint (2001b).


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