World domination (also called global domination or world conquest) is a hypothetical power structure, either achieved or aspired to, in which a single social or political authority holds the power over virtually all the inhabitants of the planet Earth. Various individuals or regimes have tried to achieve this goal throughout history, without ever attaining it.
The theme has been often used in works of fiction, particularly in political fiction, as well as in conspiracy theories (which may posit that some person or group has already secretly achieved this goal), particularly those fearing the development of a "New World Order" involving a world government of a totalitarian nature.
Social and political ideologies
Historically, world domination has been thought of in terms of a nation expanding its power to the point that all other nations are subservient to it. This may be achieved by establishing an hegemony, an indirect form of government and of imperial dominance in which the hegemon (leader state) rules geopolitically subordinate states by means of its implied power - by the threat of force, rather than by direct military force. However, domination can also be achieved by direct military force. In the 4th century BCE, Alexander the Great notably expressed a desire to conquer the world, and a legend persists that after he completed his military conquest of the known ancient world, he "wept because he had no more worlds to conquer". However, Alexander "knew nothing of the great empire of China, and nothing, of course, about the civilizations that were developing in Central and South America". However, with the full size and scope of the world known, it has been said that "[w]orld domination is an impossible goal", and specifically that "[n]o single nation however big and powerful can dominate a world" of well over a hundred interdependent nations and billions of people.
In the early 17th century, Sir Walter Raleigh proposed that world domination could be achieved through control of the oceans, writing that "whosoever commands the sea commands the trade; whosoever commands the trade of the world commands the riches of the world, and consequently the world itself". In 1919, Halford John Mackinder offered another influential theory for a route to world domination, writing:
- "Who rules East Europe commands the Heartland:
Who rules the Heartland commands the World-Island:
Who rules the World-Island commands the World".
Some proponents of ideologies (anarchism, communism, fascism, Nazism, capitalism) actively pursue the goal of establishing a form of government consistent with their political beliefs, or assert that the world is moving "naturally" towards the adoption of a particular form of government (or self), authoritarian or anti-authoritarian. These proposals are not concerned with a particular nation achieving world domination, but with all nations conforming to a particular social or economic model. A goal of world domination can be to establish a world government, a single common political authority for all of humanity. The period of the Cold War, in particular, is considered to be a period of intense ideological polarization, given the existence of two rival blocs - the capitalist West and the communist East - that each expressed the hope of seeing the triumph of their ideology over that of the enemy. The ultimate end of such a triumph would be that one ideology or the other would become the sole governing ideology in the world.
In certain religions, religious fundamentalists may also seek the conversion (peaceful or forced) of as many people as possible to their own religion, without restrictions of national or ethnic origin. This type of spiritual domination is usually seen as distinct from the temporal dominion, although there have been instances of efforts begun as holy wars devolving into the pursuit of wealth, resources, and territory. In Christianity, one eschatological view is that a false religion, led by false prophets who achieve world domination by inducing nearly universal worship of a false deity, is a prerequisite to end times described in the Book of Revelations. As one author put it, "[i]f world domination is to be obtained, the masses of little people must be brought on board with religion".
In some instances, speakers have accused nations or ideological groups of seeking world domination, even where those entities have denied that this was their goal. For example, J. G. Ballard quoted Aldous Huxley as having said of the United States entering the First World War, "I dread the inevitable acceleration of American world domination which will be the result of it all...Europe will no longer be Europe". More recently, Geert Wilders argued in 2012 that "Islam is an ideology aiming for world domination rather than a religion", and in 2008 characterized the 2008 Israel–Gaza conflict as a proxy action by Islam against the West, contending that "[t]he end of Israel would not mean the end of our problems with Islam, but only... the start of the final battle for world domination".
- Superpower, a state with a leading position in the international system and the ability to influence events in its own interest by global projection of power.
- Hyperpower, a state that dominates all other states in every sphere of activity, and is traditionally considered to be a step higher than a superpower.
- Global governance, the political interaction of transnational actors.
- List of largest empires by maximum extent of land area occupied.
- Mad scientist, a fictional archetype of a scientist, engineer, or professor who is considered "mad" – a synonym for insane – and often depicted as having a desire to "take over the world".
- Technocracy, a form of organizational structure or system of governance where decision makers are selected on the basis of technological knowledge.
- Camp, Gregory S. (1997). Selling Fear: Conspiracy Theories and End-Times Paranoia. Commish Walsh. ASIN B000J0N8NC.
- Berlet Chip; Lyons, Matthew N. (2000). Right-Wing Populism in America: Too Close for Comfort. Guilford Press. ISBN 1-57230-562-2.
- Goldberg, Robert Alan (2001). Enemies Within: The Culture of Conspiracy in Modern America. Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-09000-5.
- Barkun, Michael (2003). A Culture of Conspiracy: Apocalyptic Visions in Contemporary America. University of California Press; 1 edition. ISBN 0-520-23805-2.
- Fenster, Mark (2008). Conspiracy Theories: Secrecy and Power in American Culture. University of Minnesota Press; 2nd edition. ISBN 0-8166-5494-8.
- Green, Peter (2007). Alexander the Great and the Hellenistic Age. London: Phoenix. p. 23. ISBN 978-0-7538-2413-9.
- Eric Donald Hirsch, William G. Rowland, Michael Stanford, The New First Dictionary of Cultural Literacy (2004), p. 144.
- Geoffrey Bruun, Millicent Haines, The World Story (1963), p. 474.
- The Atlantic Community Quarterly (1979), Volume 17, p. 287. At the time, the source specified that there were about 140 nations and about four billion people.
- Sir Walter Raleigh, "A Discourse of the Invention of Ships, Anchors, Compass, &c.", The Works of Sir Walter Ralegh, Kt. (1829, reprinted 1965), vol. 8, p. 325.
- Sir Halford John Mackinder, Democratic Ideals and Reality: A Study in the Politics of Reconstruction (1919), p. 186.
- Buddy Selman, Because God Made a Promise to Abraham (2011), p. 262.
- J. G. Ballard, Prophet of Our Present. Review of Aldous Huxley: An English Intellectual by Nicholas Murray. The Guardian, 13 April 2002.
- Geert Wilders "DECKER: 5 Questions with Geert Wilders", The Washington Times (14 September 2012).
- Geert Wilders Speech at the Four Seasons, New York (25 September 2008).
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