Jack Beatty writes in Age of Betrayal:
…capitalism was up for debate in Gilded Age America; it had not achieved “cultural hegemony,” a concept introduced by the Italian Marxist thinker Antonio Gramsci to elucidate how regimes rule without force. Hegemony, for Gramsci, is “the ‘spontaneous’ consent given by the great masses of the population to the general direction imposed on social life by the dominant fundamental group; this consent is ‘historically’ caused by the prestige (and consequent confidence) which the dominant group enjoys because of its position and function in the world of production.”
“Cultural hegemony” is a useful concept, if we strip away the postmodern autism–what’s remarkable about a “dominant fundamental group” establishing norms? Is there a place where this isn’t in effect?
Nonetheless, it exists, and it’s useful to know exactly who wields it and how.
Gramsci the revolutionary invokes it to pathologize the capitalist order he seeks to overthrow. In the process he gives us a fine example of what Noam Chomsky said of post-structuralist theory, that it’s all over-complicated truisms. Truisms, I would add, purporting to expose distortions in an implied natural order that doesn’t exist.
But cultural hegemony is real. It’s inevitable. Isn’t the real question who wields it?
The old Wasp elite may have held their poor relations in some contempt, but they recognized them as relations. They would be stingy, they would be exploitative even, but they would not cut them loose, out of noblesse oblige.
Those commanding cultural hegemony now have no connections to the mass, and of course many feel hostility toward it. They are either indifferent to or enthusiastic about cutting them loose.
As ruling elites go historically, they weren’t a severe as they look to our Current Year degenerate eyes. But the Wasps aren’t in charge any more, not as Wasps at least, having been displaced by the Jews, who determine the course of society by virtue of the “prestige” they’ve earned through their “position and function in the world of production”.
Cultural hegemony is complicated and souped-up now by technology. The old means of transmission was the church, the school, the intact pre sexual revolution family. The “hegemony” was traditional and orderly; oppressive but pacific.
The new hegemony defines itself as opposed to the old order, disdains pacifism and is just as oppressive, in its way. The hostility and dysfunction Grasmsci saw through Marxian goggles in the old cultural hegemony is now here in reality–and money is still fundamental. And Gramsci’s radicalism helped, playing its part in discrediting the old order.
The globalist elite, having co-opted Marxism and folded it into capitalism by way of–yes–cultural hegemony are quite adept, if not as confident any more, of squeezing “spontaneous” consent, even enthusiasm, out of the masses, for a social direction no one would have acquiesced to, if they’d been asked. Gramsci had no idea. He must be rolling, leftward, in his grave.