The Rise and Fall of the Soft Powers

Monocle magazine has an annual ‘Global Soft Power’ survey. Here’s the Top 20 (as listed in the Daily Mail):

1. Great Britain – the Olympics put it top
2. United States of America – overseas occupations, drone strikes, an insular outlook meant it lost its top spot.
3. Germany – enormous business strength
4. France – world leader in arts galleries, museums and cuisine
5. Sweden – viewed as a friendly and functional country
6. Japan
7. Denmark – music, art, architecture and design
8. Switzerland – leader in investments and banking
9. Australia
10. Canada
11. South Korea – good technology and K-Pop, as exemplified by Psy’s Gangnam Style
12. Norway – responsible re-investment of oil wealth.
13. Finland – design
14. Italy – fashion design and excellent cuisine
15. Holland
16. Spain
17. Brazil – ‘welcoming’ and ‘fun-loving’ people
18. Austria
19. Belgium

Monocle used 50 factors to rank countries by soft power, including tourist arrivals, Olympic medals, foreign students and the quality of a country’s cuisine, architecture and businesses. Monocle is behind a paywall so I do not know what all their 50 measures are. I suspect some are quite subjective, consisting of the kinds of things that trend-conscious magazine writers admire in a country, making this in part a beauty pageant for nations as judged by trend-watchers.

A few miscellaneous comments:
There is something feminine about soft power: its the power and rank that comes with attractiveness. Hard power is more masculine: the power and rank produced by resources and strength.
Overall, 16 of the top 20 are Western countries, 2 are Northeast Asian (Japan and South Korea), plus Brazil and Turkey. The West has 9 of the top 10.
If this list means anything, the West still leads the world comfortably. (But why is China not in the top 20?)
Anglophone nations take four of the top ten places at 1, 2, 9, & 10. Anglodom still has quite a bit of hegemony.
I note how attractive the Norden appears. Germans, Swedes, Danes, Swiss, Norwegians, Finns, Dutch, Austrians, and Belgians have 9 of the top 20. Note how highly they rank despite many having tiny populations.


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