Gramsci, Cultural Hegemony, and Why it’s So Vital for Our Liberation

Antonio Gramsci is one of the most influential Marxist thinkers of the twentieth-century (born Jan. 23, 1891, Ales, Sardinia, Italy—died April 27, 1937, Rome). Both an intellectual and a politician, he founded the Italian Communist Party. But after his party was outlawed by Benito Mussolini’s fascists, Gramsci was arrested and imprisoned (1926). At his trial the fascist prosecutor argued, “We must stop his brain from working for 20 years.” In prison, despite rigorous censorship, Gramsci carried out an extraordinary and wide-ranging historical and theoretical study of Italian society and possible strategies for change. Extracts of Gramsci’s prison writings were published for the first time in the mid-20th century; the complete Quaderni del carcere (Prison Notebooks) appeared in 1975.

Gramsci’s greatest contributionto the far-left theoretical tradition is his writings on hegemony, or, as laterdeemed, cultural hegemony. Though he did not label his concept under any onename at the time, his closest characterization of the idea was,

“…(T)he ‘spontaneous’consent given by the great masses of the population to the general directionimposed on social life by the dominant fundamental group; this consent is ‘historically’caused by the prestige (and consequent confidence) which the dominant group enjoysbecause of its position and function in the world of production.”

What that does all thatmean? With a further analysis of Gramsci’s work included, it means that thedominant group in society has been so instrumentally constructing a worldview intheir favor that it has become the ruling worldview, or culture, of our society.Those in charge have created a point-of-view that everyone perceives as the onlyway to see the world. And they have so accomplished this feat they have us believethat it is the natural order, not that it is just man-made. Therefore, we endup oppressing ourselves.

You could easily relate to a dominant hegemonic system like the “divine rights of kings” in which the people once believed that the aristocrats were in their position for God decided so. But that was the previous hegemonic culture. After the French Revolution and its spread of liberal ideals, the hegemonic culture became capitalism. That’s why Gramsci was so concerned with the concept: capitalism has engrained itself so deeply into our perception of reality, as created by the powerful, that the masses cannot think outside of it. People just believe that this is just how the world works and there are no options otherwise. Since the “divine right of kings” worldview is now replaced by a capitalist cultural hegemony, we perceive that period as incorrect. But it seemed just as valid during those times as capitalism does now.

The importance ofthe analysis of hegemony by Marxist theorists is that even though capitalism asinstilled into our every worldview, thereare alternatives, namely, radical leftism.  If we could just expose the people to adifferent, fairer, and the better ideology of socialism, communism, etc., wecan realize that another world is possible, and the hegemony of capitalism canbe discarded just as the divine rights of king was once discarded as false consciousness.

It will be very difficultfor the masses to ever think outside of the capitalist-created ideology withoutmuch hard work by activists and leaders. But let’s show the people thatcapitalism is not the world.

More Sparking The Left Gallery Images!

Hey Comrades,

I have been adjusting to a new work schedule and have not been as active as I’d expect of myself to be, but that will end this week.

In the meantime, here’s an update to the STL gallery with five new images.

In solidarity and revolution,

Kleier

5 New Images in STL Gallery!

Just added five new images to the Sparking The Left image gallery!

Hoping you find them inspiring and will lend to any propaganda-spreading action you may participate in.

NYT: “The Making of a U.K. Millennial Socialist”

Stand with our British sisters, brothers, and comrades!!!

nyti.ms/2GEXexS

Expert on Venezuela Stand-off says Attempted Aid Delivery: “It was a farce, and it failed.”

Mark Weisbrot, the co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, who advocates a negotiated end to the political crisis (said),

”The ‘humanitarian aid’ this weekend was a public relations stunt, since the aid was just tiny fraction of the food and medicine that they are depriving Venezuelans of with the sanctions….As the Trump administration admitted, it was an attempt to get the Venezuelan military to disobey Maduro. It was a farce, and it failed.”

https://apnews.com/fda32cb8f5b944a989f6c2443c5c8084

Maduro Critic Even Argues A U.S. Coup Attempt is Occurring in Venezuela

A great Democracy Now! interview with a Caracas professor who, though being a Maduro critic, explains how U.S. aid is an attempt to incite the Venezuelan publics support for a Guaido/U.S. coup.

Also explains how U.S. sanctions are true cause for Venezuelan economic crisis.

Plus, for good measure, they have snippets of Trump spewing lies at one of his rallies calling Maduro a “Cuban Puppet.”

www.democracynow.org/2019/2/22/this_is_not_humanitarian_aid_a

Gaza Medic Murder Investigation: STL Stands Against Israeli Crimes

As in agreement with our far-leftist brothers, Sparking The Left supports the persecuted Palestinians in their battle against the occupying and murderous state of Israel. The reasons are too many to begin with here, but the below video investigation by the New York Times into a medic’s shooting death at the Gaza/Israeli border, should be a start. We profess our support for the Palestinian people, whether in Gaza, the West Bank, or those living as refugees outside of those borders. Israel is running an apartheid regime and has established a ghetto in the Gaza Strip.

As you watch this story, be aware that it has gone completely uncovered by the mainstream media outside of the Video Investigation Team at the NYT. Why?  For any sense of empathy towards any citizen of Gaza is too far left off the spectrum of acceptable dialogue to be engaged in by most corporate media.

Stand With Us!!!

Americans Should be Envious: “Why Infants May Be More Likely to Die in America Than Cuba”

nyti.ms/2HieZUR

A great op-Ed by Nick Kristoff at the NYT explaining how, though lacking in first rate medical technology, the infant mortality rates are actually lower in Cuba. We could take away many good practices from the Socialist, island nation so close to our shores.

Save Far Left Ideologies from the Trash Heap of History!

Ancient Athens is revered as the birthplace of both democracy and all of Western civilization. During its democratic period of the 5th and 4th century B.C. both its power and cultural achievements were at their height. Even the word “democracy” (demokratia, literally “people power”) is rooted in the Classical Greek language. But in 338, Phillip II of Macedonia (Alexander the Great’s father) conquered Athens and much of the rest of Greek world. It was under Macedonian rule off and on until 228, and democracy was never to take hold again in the Greek classical period.

Also, Ancient Rome was first ruled by a king but then also moved to a democratic, republic-form of government. But in the latter stages, power struggles amongst the elite led to the tyrannical rule of Julius Caesar. And you know what that led to from the pages of The 12 Caesars.

So, what is the point of this shockingly short and incomplete summary of the democratic periods of both ancient Athens and Rome? The reason is that the American Founding Framers took their inspiration from the Classical period in creating and founding the United States of America. They did not say, “Democracy failed in Athens and Rome, therefore we should throw into the dustbin of history.” No, they saw the good and bad parts of each period and drew from the best of their ancient liberal values.

The most often used criticism of radical leftist political philosophies is, “Communism failed in the USSR. It will never work.” But does that mean we should throw way the whole model? I do not believe so. The Founding Framers learned from the failures of the ancient democratic regimes of both Athens and Rome. Therefore, should we never try to install a radical leftist government again if we learn the lessons of the failed Communist experiments of the past?

I hope you answer, “NO!”

Expanding the Mainstream Media Spectrum to the Far Left

I watch and read a lot of mainstream news right now because that is what the public consumes. Now there are great leftist media sources out there I like to watch/read, such as DemocracyNow!, Libcom.org, or even the centrist PBS Newshour. But most Americans do not watch or listen to those outlets. What they do read/watch is FOX News, CNN.com, and whatever else flows across their social media news feeds. And the one thing I observe in the mainstream media most glaringly in terms of a leftist movement is the argument made by Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky in their classic analysis “Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media.”

Herman and Chomsky argue in MC that there is only so wide of a spectrum of allowable opinions which can be covered and/or expressed by journalists and/or pundits. E.g., The “Medicare-for-All” movement which, I admit, has finally started to squeeze in to the margins of discourse, has been outside of the spectrum of possibilities for decades. The journalists and pundits always put forth the arguments that it would be too expensive, or that it would lead down the slippery slope towards Soviet-style communism. But according to a Nov. 7, 2018, AP poll, nearly 6 in 10 voters said it should be the responsibility of the federal government to make sure that all Americans have health care coverage. So, the majority of people want, following that simple logic, a Medicare-For-All law, a public option, or a fully socialized healthcare system. And even though all other industrialized countries have healthcare provided to there citizens by the government, it has always been off the spectrum of acceptable media discourse here in the U.S. until the last few months, I estimate.

Therefore, leftists must widen that spectrum to the left the best ways we can. Rather it be on a blog, or podcast, or through social media, we must provide an alternative to the mainstream news because we mostly control these media. Even though we can complain about FB or Twitter suspending accounts in the name of “proper discourse,” it’s still the Wild West out there. If we spread the word, like what has happened with Bernie Sanders’ supporters who first argued for Medicare-for-All in 2016, we can expand the spectrum. But this will be tough, e.g, the public has supported stricter gun laws for decades, yet NRA lobbyists keep it taboo on the GOP congressional floor. But if we remain tenacious in our efforts, we can affectively expand the mainstream media’s spectrum of acceptable discourse.

The mainstream media is influenced by blog posts and Tweets, if even subconsciously through retweets and responses read by readers, but do not think it is going to happen overnight. Yet it shouldn’t be given up on by good radical leftists all over the world.