chapter  1
23 Pages

Social power defined

When W.B. Yeats wrote his famous poem The Second Coming, in the revolutionary aftermath of World War I, it was generally assumed that the established rules and mores had been overtaken by events, and were ready for a major and radical overhaul. Indeed, anarchy was looming, things seemed to be falling apart, and traditional institutions of authority were no longer able to keep the center together. Although today’s political tableau is less ominous and does not foreshadow a looming anarchy, it seems clear that we are equally witnessing a major reshuffling of economic, political, and social cards on the global stage. As Richard Haass has argued, the world is entering a new era “dominated not by one or two or even several states but rather by dozens of actors possessing and exercising various kinds of power.”1