MARXISMS: Part 4 – Hegemony

Gramsci and hegemony, as I’ve read before, was the Marxist’s explanation for the lack of socialist revolution in the western capitalist societies, and refers to “a condition in process in which a dominant class does not merely rule a society, but leads it through the exercise of intellectual and moral leadership.”

The elites present their interests as the interests of everyone else. In a hegemonous society, there’s a high degree of consensus, despite the presence of oppression and exploitation.

Here’s a great example from page 80:

“…elections in Britain were contested by what are now the two main political parties, Labour and Conservative. On each occasion the contest circled around the question, who can best administer capitalism (the economy)… In this sense, the parameters of the election debate are ultimately dictated by the particular needs and interests of capitalism, presented as the interests and needs of society as a whole.”

Hegemony implies that everyone agrees, but that’s not the case. There’s still conflict. Instead “conflict is contained and channeled into ideologically safe harbors. Subordinate groups have concessions made to them for appeasement, as I’ve read before.

Organic intellectuals organize hegemony, and each class has its own intellectuals. Gramsci thought of these intellectuals as individuals, but later interpretations bestow the title of intellectual on apparatuses like TV, the family, etc.

Striking example of how youth culture leads to hegemony on page 81. Basically, youth culture, which may start out as original and an affront to the hegemony, is, over time, adopted by the rest of society, commercialized, made part of the whole and thus no longer original, and far from a challenge to the status quo, supports it.

Popular culture not an authentic culture stopper, nor dictated from above, rather it’s a negotiated mix of all of the above.

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