The Next World War: World-System Cycles and Trends


  • Christopher Chase-Dunn University of California, Riverside
  • Bruce Podobnik Lewis and Clark College



This essay places the contemporary period of global development in long-run historical perspective, elaborates a model of world-system cycles and trends, and discusses the main structural forces influencing the probability of future war among core powers. The possible continuation of the cycle of hegemonic rivalry is discussed in terms of the similarities and differences between the coming three decades and earlier periods in which a declining hegemon was challenged by upwardly mobile states. Possible bids for economic and political hegemony by Japan, Germany, China and the United States are discussed, as are the possibilities for different coalitions in East Asia and Europe. The phenomenon of bloc formation is discussed in a long-term perspective that includes earlier periods of colonial empire and "commonwealth." We conclude that there is a significantly high probability that warfare among core states could occur in the 2020s. The prospects for global state formation within the next three decades are considered. We recommend a combination of the build-up of U.N. peace-keeping forces and the continuation of U.S. military strength as the least worst and most feasible solution to the problem of avoiding nuclear holocaust in the 2020s.




How to Cite

Chase-Dunn, C., & Podobnik, B. (1995). The Next World War: World-System Cycles and Trends. Journal of World-Systems Research, 1(1), 295–326.



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