Three waves in global governance and its leadership

First wave: from the late-19th century to WWII

Generally speaking, the essence of international governance can be regarded as globalization management. In other words, the start of globalization marks the beginning of global governance. However, in practical terms, global governance only makes sense when a worldwide international society is established. Therefore, the truly effective governance activities began in the late-19th and early-20th centuries. It was an era when free capitalism expanded from Europe to the world with rising powers outside Europe, such as the Soviet Union and the United States standing in the international arena. During this period, the world nation-state system was established worldwide, while the overall crisis of capitalism appeared. This was a stage when imperialism prevailed, and the primary task of global governance was to explore a way that could resolve the crisis of capitalism.1 Meanwhile, socialism became another choice for many nation-states, and old empires, considering their own situations, decided to take a path that can avoid the crisis of capitalism. In this period, various actors in world politics tried to play the leading role in global governance. However, the actual executor of global governance at this moment was the United Kingdom, who owned a strong colonial empire system, a gold-based global financial center, the most powerful navy, and a stable platform of the League of Nations. In this round of global governance, the main strategic partners of the United Kingdom were France and the United States, while the strategic competitors were Germany and Russia. Furthermore, it was the United States and the Soviet Union that brought new ideas to global governance. The Wilsonianism advocated by the United States, the New Deal of Roosevelt, the socialist revolution in the Soviet Union, and the national self-determination movement all made significant contributions to the resolution of global economic and political crisis. At this time, the core issue of global governance was "how to deal with imperialism and its colonial system”. The answer was to liberate the oppressed nations, oppose fascism and imperialism, and promote sovereign equality worldwide.

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