(fwd from CIEPAC) Manufacturing Consent: Antonio Gramsci, hegemony and U.S. foreign policy

Les Schaffer schaffer at optonline.net
Thu Jul 3 07:37:44 MDT 2003

Chiapas Today" Bulletin No. 352
June 26,  2003

Manufacturing Consent:
Antonio Gramsci, hegemony and U.S. foreign policy

         On November 8, 1926, Antonio Gramsci, an Italian Communist thinker 
and activist, was arrested in Rome by Mussolini's fascist police and 
convicted of violating certain "Exceptional Laws," which prohibited 
anti-government activities.  He was sentenced to twenty years in prison, 
but only lived ten  on April 27, 1937, he died of a cerebral 
hemorrhage.  At his sentencing, the public prosecutor declared that "for 
twenty years, we must stop that brain from working," but, ironically, those 
years in prison were, from a philosophical standpoint, his most 
productive  his Prison Notebooks developed theories that continue to be 
useful for explaining today's world.
         One of these is his concept of hegemony, which is especially 
useful for analyzing the current state of the world characterized by the 
unipolar dominance of the United States with president George W. Bush at 
the helm.  For Gramsci, hegemony is a form of dominance that involves both 
"force and consent, which balance each other reciprocally, without force 
predominating excessively over consent."  In other words, the ruling power 
achieves and maintains its hold not only through coercion (using 
institutions such as the military, the police, etc.) but also through 
"leadership," by which it creates a culture that supports its actions 
within that society.  In this understanding of power, force alone is not 
enough to dominate a system  along with this bellicose arm, a more benign 
(if no less insidious) side rallies support and thus manufactures 
consent.  Interestingly enough, this concept can help to explain and 
understand the U.S.'s current foreign policy vision.  Following the 
invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, which demonstrated the country's 
unmatched military power, the Bush administration is seeking this very 
consent, the Achilles heel of U.S. dominance.

full at: http://www.marxmail.org/ciepac-gramsci-consent.html

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