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Gramsci's hegemony theory: after hegemony forcibly entered Britain

Infiltrating British milieu, concept of hegemony began to emerge in 1970s to explain how dominant and shared ideas could redefine social reality in a given political moment.

Author's takeaway: Gramsci's theory of hegemony can be described as a response to concept of a unified ideology, involving introduction of a complex network of different hegemonies, including:ideological, economic, political, linguistic and cultural spheres. Concept between deal and negotiation process.

However, danger of an unreasonable expansion of this understanding lies in fact that Gramsci's hegemony will be considered primarily as a "field" of living social relations in one social formation or another, divorced from historical deposits.

From this perspective, politics of hegemony becomes process of ensuring that newly formed collective political entities agree to oppose existing collective political entities, while hegemony becomes a linear temporal process that ultimately shapes contemporary unity (see Thomas, 2020 ) .

Given criticism of Perry Anderson, it is ironic that he sees Stuart Hall's application of Gramsci's ideas as a reason for further "abuse" of the concept of hegemony.

Gramsci's hegemony theory: after hegemony forcibly entered Britain

He reiterated his understanding of Gramsci as immutable and idiosyncratic, noting that in Thatcher's consensus "the emphasis on ideological captivity is too insistent at expense of material bait, ideological theme itself is changing, never clear, but not enough precautions, too easy to free oneself from any social anchor, as if they were free to sail in any political direction, Hall may never make that move, but door is half open.

Hall met cultural theorist Lydia Curti in 1964. When she first entered Birmingham Center for Contemporary Cultural Studies, she brought with her an Italian version of Gramsci Letters.

Hall started out there and became a pioneer in a unique field of British cultural studies that made extensive use of concept of hegemony in analysis of areas of cultural struggle such as race, identity and gender.

More importantly, he also uses this concept to deconstruct Margaret Thatcher's consensus: he sees her success as result of a new conservative "historical bloc" establishment whose main feature is a machine capable of "capturing" mass culture and therefore labor unanimity.

He sees this development as a new British form of what Gramsci called "trasformismo" (transformationism): new political structures."

Gramsci's hegemony theory: after hegemony forcibly entered Britain

Gramsci presents his own unique version of trasformismo (transformationism) while discussing moderate Italian liberals.

Although Hall uses various Gramsci terms to describe Thatcher's political revolution, including "organic crisis" and "regressive modernization", "hegemony" forms basis of his analysis of Thatcherism's main theoretical pillars.

Hall described concept of "Thatcherism" in an article in Marxism Today a few months before Conservative Party won 1979 UK general election. His formulation was developed in later articles.

Here he describes it as a political phenomenon because it is a cultural phenomenon, with lines such as "Mrs Thatcher knew they had to 'win' in civil society" and "They understood that social struggle was about consequences of new territories" . and need for strategy”, actively using vocabulary and conceptual structure of Gramsci.

The New Deal of British politics is described as a uniquely hegemonic narrative whose political nature is best understood through lens of cultural analysis.

Author's main point:For Hall, therefore, Gramsci's approach is crucial not only because he "rejects any idea of ​​a pre-given single ideological body" that divides culture and thought into spheres liberated from cage of materiality before merely because it gives "central importance to 'plurality' of selves which constitute so-called 'subjects' of thought and thought".

Gramsci's hegemony theory: after hegemony forcibly entered Britain

Hall never develops a properly developed theory around concept of "hegemony" that he uses, but its great evocative power lends term enduring status.

In a further analytical development, he relates this to his use of concept of "authoritarian populism", based on concept of "authoritarian statism" by Nikos Poulantzas, which refers to institutions based on explicit coercion as a result of transition from a consensual political culture, Hall proposed an "authoritarian populism" as best description of Thatcher's hegemonic projects, developing Gramsci's concept of hegemony as a "rule of consensus".

While Purantas described authoritarian statism as a reaction to crisis of Western capitalism, Hall introduced a more subtle notion of "populism" to address Thatcher phenomenon.

In trying to understand simultaneous discursive re-symbolization of traditional political legitimation and national identity in post-Fordist British society, driven by pre-modern nostalgia for empire and "moral panic" over immigration, he describes it as a key feature of Thatcher's authoritarian populism.

This hegemonic project culminated in public's emotional involvement in Falklands and Malvinas War, which Hall vividly analyzes in his essay The Empire Strikes Back.

Author's comment: There is no doubt that concept of "authoritarian populism" touches on some of key features of the distinction between "politics" and "economics" that Gramsci developed in developing his concept of hegemony.

Gramsci's hegemony theory: after hegemony forcibly entered Britain

Although Gramsci's concept is understood as a set of social relations in which political and economic aspects of hegemony are not separate but interconnected, building on Gramsci's formulation, Hall further draws a clear distinction between Thatcherism as a populist project and fascism. former being equated in some superficial leftist analyses.

An important aspect of Hall's argument denounces this tempting simplification, emphasizing that "unlike classical fascism, Thatcherism retained much of its formal representation."

At same time, he exposes yet another "temptation" of simplistic application of clichéd "Marxism as an obvious theory", by trying to portray new phenomenon as capital and bourgeoisie. such undertakings are meaningless and short-sighted and even call for rejection of concept of false consciousness.

In addition, he pays special attention to distinguishing between "popularity" of Thatcherism and what he describes as "populist" traits: full compliance with traditional moral values, "British spirit", patriotic and patriarchal ideas and ideas about future. on basis of retrospective and its legitimation.

In Gramsci and Us, this nostalgic orientation to past is characterized by a paradoxical regressive modernization. Gramsci's passage on Italy's "backwardness" echoes Hall's analysis of "The British social form: it never properly entered age of modern bourgeois civilization."

Gramsci's hegemony theory: after hegemony forcibly entered Britain

This can also be compared to Anderson's reflections on British society and politics in 1992.The author's point of view: According to Hall, Thatcherism builds its project of hegemony on pre-modern Victorian values. The coexistence and pursuit of a new modernity based entirely on individual behavior in a free market society appeals to voters.

Thus, Hall's Thatcherism is a kind of "reactionary modernization", just as Gramsci's analysis of Italian fascist corporatism in terms of passive revolution and hegemony is a kind of modernization and forces of retreat as well: Gramsci operated in a political environment very similar to that of left, with retreat and asceticism of labor movement, rise of fascism, "new wave of capital" and its heightened culture of economic exploitation and authoritarianism. '".

The uncritical use of an earlier Gramsci assessment of Hall's "hegemony" by Jessop et al., and indirectly by Raymond Williams in 1983, is associated with "authoritarian populism".

In contrast to Hall's conception of politics, Williams proposes a "constitutional populism" that puts more emphasis on role of repressive state apparatus and shifts analytical pointer a few degrees back towards Polanchas's argument.

In meantime, systematic critique of Jessop et al. in 1984 primarily concerned Hall's description of Thatcherism as strictly homogeneous, "too homogeneous", which, in their opinion, is useless for understanding political scale phenomena.

Gramsci's hegemony theory: after hegemony forcibly entered Britain

While their argument begins with an analysis of authoritarian populism as a project of hegemony, it continues by considering limitations of Hall's theory of ideology and ends with rejection of his translation of Gramsci's hegemony into British politics in 1970s and 1980s and ended.

Clearly, Hall was well versed in Gramsci's ideas and thought carefully about how to make most of Gramsci's concepts, advocating a radical re-symbolization of politics with an emphasis on engaging in ideological struggles. requires creation of a new era, Hall's thesis focuses primarily on mainstream public discourse and popular culture.

The bitter "authoritarian populism" scandal had consequences:This was followed by a long series of accusations and allegations among British intellectual left.

The fields of political theory and cultural studies diverge in applying Gramsci's concepts in an attempt to explain Thatcherism, Hall's powerful legacy of intellectual activity and research, but he renders an abbreviated translation of Gramsci's ideas into an English context. .

Hall's analysis of language of Thatcherism and civil society struggles uses Gramsci's concept of hegemony to understand discursive shifting of Britain's social and political territory, and appropriately uses this concept in ongoing negotiations.

However, this also includes linear development of hegemonic secular institutions, implying a synchronous system of power, and Hall frequently repeats "Gramsci's contention that hegemony cannot be conceptualized or achieved without 'deterministic core of economic activity' argument."

Gramsci's hegemony theory: after hegemony forcibly entered Britain

Author's comment: Gramsci Hall's interpretation, however, as of Jessop et al. Doctrinalism is seen as a natural practice of social relations, not as a historical process with interconnected layers over time.

In this respect, Alexander Gallas' recent theoretical analysis of Thatcherism is a "class political system" rather than a hegemonic project, although Gallas argues that in absence of hegemony one can argue that "the term is reserved for political projects with a broad and active popular consent."

With this statement, he assumes self-sufficiency of one political or social actor in relation to other political or social actors and thus has a hierarchical and one-dimensional view of temporality, pointing to unique and inevitable in conclusion.

The strength of Gramsci's theory of hegemony lies primarily in its emphasis on "concrete apparatus of hegemony", a key aspect that is largely ignored in English-speaking world.

Secondly, its interpenetrating relationship with politics and historical moments, although it is true that Hall's understanding of Gramsci's understanding of hegemony as an important discursive aspect of "civil society" ideologies and political struggles. as an external immutable process.

These "hegemony" theories also tell us what happened during that "age of hegemony". Hegemony will be a process, and it is a process that we can never ignore.


Anderson: periphery of hegemony. Opposite side

Armitage·. International Turn in Intellectual History

History of Marxism by Antonio Gramsci, Badaloni, NC

International News

Baker, P.. Hegemony and Perspectives of Populism: Reflections on Politics of Our Time

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