Multipolar World Order: Old Myths and New Realities

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The concept of multipolarity has come a long way from its categorical rejection by Western politicians and scholars to the strong necessity of taking into account the realities of a multipolar world even by US closest allies. The article is devoted to the analysis of the official discourse, normative and positive concepts of the study of polarity, including system models of international relations, an empirical assessment of the current distribution of power in the world, as well as forecasting the further development of world dynamics. An analysis of the political discourse on polarity over the past 25 years is made and the most significant political figures are highlighted - defenders of multipolarity (BRICS and EU countries) as well as adherents of the unipolar world (NATO countries). The basic theories (mainly of a normative nature) that conceptualize both unipolar discourse (hegemonic stability theory) and multipolar one (theory of multipolar world) are shown. The intellectual segregation between two main approaches to the study of international systems is provided - abstract verbal models of systems vs empirical (quantitative) system research. Particular attention is paid to the analysis of the real distribution of power in the international arena. The main approaches and related methodological challenges are considered. Analysis of the relative shares of USA, Russia (USSR) and China in world power based on Composite Index of National Capability (CINC) is provided. The assessment of material potential is complemented by a multifactor (more than 30 parameters) comprehensive study of both “hard” and “soft” power of three countries. The main theoretical approaches to the concept of multipolarity are clarified. The empirical analysis revealed the formation of a “new bipolarity” (USA and China) while maintaining the leading role of the Russian Federation in the field of high politics and global security. It is predicted that China is gradually “trying on” the role of a new hegemon and is already less interested in a radical revision of the current world order. The strategic adaptation of the closest US allies to the realities of a multipolar world is shown.

About the authors

Denis Andreevich Degterev

RUDN University

Author for correspondence.

PhD (World Economy), Head of Department of Theory and History of International Relations

Moscow, Russian Federation


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Copyright (c) 2019 Degterev D.A.

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