World domination (sometimes world conquest, global domination, or colloquially taking over the world), in which a single political authority rules over all the inhabitants of planet Earth, has been attempted by several individuals and political systems throughout history, and remains a popular theme in fiction.
Ideologies advocating world domination
Religious ideologies advocating world domination
such as most sects of Christianity
, viewing it as their task to convert as many people as possible to their religion, without restrictions on national or ethnic origin (although certain sects of these religions, such as Quakers
or the Druze
are not). This spiritual domination
(see, for example, Kingdom of Heaven
) is usually seen by most people to be distinct from a temporal domination
, but certain fringe groupings within these religions have an established goal of global theocracy
Political ideologies advocating world domination
Similarly, some devoted adherents of many different ideologies, such as anarchism
, social democracy
, certain conceptions of capitalism
view their credo as the ideal form of societal organization, and actively encourage its implementation throughout the world. The period of the Cold War
in particular was seen as a period of intense ideological polarization across the globe, with supporters of the two rival camps expressing hope that their ideology would emerge triumphant over the other and become the pre-eminent form of government worldwide. Elements within the allied blocs led by the Soviet Union and the United States accused each other of having objectives of global domination. By some standards the United States was triumphant, and in holding the global position of super-power
can perhaps be seen as having achieved world domination although only over a single decaying foe just through pure endurance.
After the end of the Cold War, and the Soviet Union's collapse, Francis Fukuyama in The End of History predicted that liberal democracy would become the favoured form of government throughout the earth. This period was called by some the new world order.
Arnold Toynbee's concept of a universal state
Before modern times, the reach of political control and military force was limited by rudimentary transportation technologies and knowledge of geography. The Roman Empire
had goals of global domination, and indeed the empire was able to conquer most of the "known world" (i.e., the Mediterranean
) throughout its long history. The Qin
dynasties as well as the Tang
of China were also successful in conquering the known world of Chinese civilization
. Historian Arnold Toynbee
used the term Universal State
to refer to an empire like the Roman Empire or Chinese Empire that conquered the entire world known to a particular civilization.
Examples of universal states
As noted above, a universal state
is an empire that has conquered most of the area known to a civilization.
The Persian Empire
was the world's first great empire
. At its height in 525 BC under Cyrus II the Great
, it was the strongest empire in the region with its influence stretching as far as Asia Minor
The Macedonian Empire was formed as a result of Alexander the Great's conquest of the Persian Empire. At his death in 323 BC it encompassed most of the world that was known to the ancient Greeks.
Under Ashoka the Great
, the Mauryas had captured most of ancient India
and their rule extended as far as Herat
. However, after defeating the Kingdom of Kalinga
in 250 BC, the last major Indian empire outside the rule of the Mauryas, and witnessing the bloodshed that resulted from the war
, Asoka renounced violence and adopted Buddhism
. He became a person who is sometimes regarded as the most enlightened ruler throughout history and envisioned a world governed by the compassionate eightfold path
of Buddhism, sending out missionaries from ancient India to as far as ancient Rome
. The influence of Gandharan art
extended as far as Eastern Europe.
As noted above, the Roman Empire
ruled the entire Mediterranean world during the Pax Romana
The Muslim Caliphate
reached its maximum extent in the 8th century. A caliphate, (from the Arabic خلافة or khilaafah), is the Islamic
form of government representing the political unity and leadership of the Muslim world
. The head of state's position (Caliph
) being based on the notion of a successor to the Prophet Muhammad
's political authority and was known as the head of state or Amīr al-Mu'minīn
(أمير المؤمنين) "Commander of the Believers". Each member state (State = Wilayah
) of the Caliphate (United States = Khelaphah) had its own governor (Wali
). In areas which were previously under Persian or Byzantine rule, the Caliphs lowered taxes, provided greater local autonomy, greater religious freedom for Jews, indigenous Christians, and brought peace to peoples demoralized and disaffected by the casualties and heavy taxation that resulted from the years of Byzantine-Persian warfare.
The Muslim Empire during the Umayyads Caliphate grew rapidly geographically expanding westward across North Africa and into Hispania and eastward through Persia and ultimately to Sindh and Punjab in modern day Pakistan. This made it one of the largest unitary states in history and one of the few states to ever extend direct rule over three continents (Africa, Europe, and Asia). Although not ruling all of the Sahara, homage was paid to the Caliph by Saharan Africa usually via various nomad Berber tribes.
The Mongol Empire (Mongolian: Их Монгол Улс, meaning "Greater Mongol Nation"; 1206–1405) was the largest contiguous land empire in history, covering over 33 million km² (12 million square miles) at its peak, with an estimated population of over 100 million people. This was one-third of the population of Earth, thus making the Mongol Empire the sole superpower of its day. The Mongol Empire was founded by Genghis Khan in 1206, and at its height in 1294 under Kublai Khan, it encompassed the majority of the territories from East Asia to Central Europe. The Mongol Empire was the first empire to use paper money on a large scale (it had been issued on a smaller scale in China as early as the 6th century AD).
In the 15th century, the Ming Empire
of China was a dominant power in Asia. The Yongle Emperor
sent out, beginning in 1405, under the command of the admiral
and explorer Zheng He
, vast fleets of ships to explore and trade with Southeast Asia
, and Africa. The expeditions continued until 1433. Had China not abandoned its huge naval
program in the mid 15th century, it is possible that China, rather than the European powers, would have dominated the world in the 16th century.
At its height, the Incan empire encompassed virtually all of the world known to the Incans, and indeed, the Quechua
name for the empire was Tawantinsuyu
which can be translated as The Four Regions
or The Four United Regions
, indicating their belief their empire encompassed most of the world.
Examples of global empires
Since the Age of discovery
the entire globe
has become known. There have been many global empires
since then, but no empire has yet been formed that has embraced the entire world into a universal state.
After the expedition of Vasco da Gama
, discoverer of the African way to India, the Portuguese built a huge empire.
The Holy Roman Emperor Charles V
had control over Austria, Spain, southern Italy, parts of Germany, recent conquests in the Americas. Least of all was the de jure
control of Germany as Holy Roman Emperor.
The nations closest to world domination in territorial terms were both the Kingdoms of Spain and Portugal when they were merged in 1580 (until 1640) during the reign of Philip II. The Spanish Empire covered almost all South and Central America, as well as a large area of southern and western North America, almost all African and Indian maritime territories and other important regions such as the Philippines, Guam, the Mariana and the Caroline Islands in Asia Pacific, and the Netherlands (known as Spanish Netherlands), parts of France and a significant portion of the Italian peninsula, in Europe. Other territories included the Mediterranean islands of Sicily, Sardinia and Malta and the North African cities of Oran, Mers-el-Kébir, as well as Ceuta and Melilla which remain Spanish to this day. The Spanish Empire is also considered the first global empire in history.
The English-led coalition of opponents in the west and the Russian Empire in the east often claimed that Napoleon had sights on global domination, and portrayed him as being the quintessential global conqueror.
The British Empire
, in demographic and geographical terms, came closest to achieving global domination. By the reign of Queen Victoria
the British Empire had gained direct political control of about two fifths of the world's population and about one quarter of its land area, and hegemony
over nominally independent areas such as parts of China and South America, thus establishing the Pax Brittanica
. British imperialist advocate Cecil Rhodes
proposed that the United States and the British Empire jointly establish a world government and make English the official world language. The British Empire is generally considered to have arisen as a result of Britain's trade objectives rather than an attempt to establish military dominion, however, and was dismantled after World War II without substantial bloodshed towards the end of the reign of King George VI
. The British Empire transformed itself into the Commonwealth of Nations
Since the October Revolution, the Bolsheviks envisioned their regime as the first step to Communism dominating the world. The Comintern was established in 1919 in order to encourage Communist parties across the world and promote international proletarian revolution, although Stalin seemed more interested in consolidating Communist control in the Soviet Union rather than promoting worldwide revolution (Socialism in One Country).
Beginning in 1931 with the invasion of Manchuria
, the Japanese Empire
then launched an aggressive war
of conquest against China and Southeast Asia
culminating, under the leadership of Hideki Tojo
, in the attack on the United States at Pearl Harbor
and the establishment of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere
before the Empire's final defeat by the Allies
in World War II in 1945.
In World War II, the Nazi
regime of Adolf Hitler
, the Third Reich
, established what they called the New Order
and had ambitious plans for directly controlling all of Europe, and then obtaining a position of power that would make them a formidable superpower
in global politics
. In Hitler's Second Book: The Unpublished Sequel to Mein Kampf
, written in 1928, Hitler envisioned an apocalyptic air war
of conquest against the United States by his successor in 1980, conducted by a great fleet of German
long range bombers
. At the time of the initial invasion of Russia (Operation Barbarossa
) in June 1941, Hitler had expected to win victory in World War II by 1945, and he then planned, after completing the construction of the Welthauptstadt Germania
plan of Albert Speer
for Berlin, to hold a great World's Fair
in Berlin in 1950 and then retire to his hometown of Linz
United States of America
The United States of America
has been occasionally referred to as The American Empire
to emphasize the great power and influence of the United States in the world both economically
, with its extensive business investments
around the world, and militarily
with its extensive system of alliances, ostensibly to defend global trade, freedom
, and democracy
The origin of the "American Empire" in concept is possibly traced back to 1898, in the aftermath of the Spanish American War. Others date its formation to 12 July 1947 with the signing of the National Security Act of 1947 by President Harry S Truman. Truman then organized the Rio Pact on 2 September 1947, NATO on 4 April 1949, and ANZUS on 1 September 1951, thus uniting many non-communist nations into a single Western Alliance to implement the policy of containment in order to prevent the expansion of the Soviet Union, both in territory and influence. A primary goal of President Dwight D. Eisenhower and his Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles, was to create a Pax Americana in the American sphere of influence. In his final speech in 1960 before leaving office, Eisenhower warned against allowing the military-industrial complex to gain too much power.
In the aftermath of the Cold War, critics of American foreign policy have argued that the United States seeks, or indeed actually has, global hegemony. On September 11, 1990, the President of the United States, George H.W. Bush gave his famous speech, Toward a New World Order to a joint session of the United States Congress. On September 20, 2002, the George W. Bush White House posted on its website the full text of the (at that time) newest National Security Strategy of the United States, composed primarily by prominent neo-conservative Paul Wolfowitz. In this document, the Bush Doctrine of pre-emptive war was outlined. The Bush Doctrine was first put into use on March 20, 2003 when the Bush Administration launched the United States into war with Iraq (see Iraq War).