24 Kasım 2010 Çarşamba

Antonio Gramsci: A Cultural Interpretation of Marxism

Antonio Gramsci’s reading of Marxism in accordance with the new developments of the 20th century, which has faced fascist leaders like Hitler, Mussolini and Franco and the Great Purges in line with the integration of the working class to the industrial capitalism in the West and the establishment of the dictatoriat of the working class in the East has been a subject of contraversy on the account that he tried to combine the cultural approach with the historical materialism of Marx. In the light of 20th century events, Gramsci firstly broke the chains of economicism in the Marxist interpretations and brougth with him the cultural approach to the theory. His most influencial work, “The Prison Notebooks”, which he wrote during his imprisonment by the fascist rule in Italy, had been subject to many commentaries as well as criticisms which has also been multiple and diverse. In this essay my aim is to give a decriptive framework of Gramsci’s theory on the concepts of hegemony, civil society, historicism, revolution and philosophy. Later I will try to analyse the contribution of Gramsci to the Marxist theory on the account of his cultural approach which according to many have aroused the hopes for a proleteriat revolution in the industrialized capitalist West.
His Life and Works
Antonio Gramsci was born into a low incomed bourgeois family 1891 in Sardinia and was the fourth of seven children. He grew up witnessing the poverty and suffering of all the villagers on the island. His father was arrested and prisoned for five years in 1897 for administrative abuses. In 1911, after attending University of Turin, despite the opportunity and great promise of an academic career, he became an active member of the Italian Socialist Party in 1915 followed by a journalistic career. During his career as a journalist, he focused on the topic of Italian and French revolutions as well as the writings of Karl Marx. With the Bolshevik revolution of 1917 October, Gramsci identified himself with the Russian revolutionary leadership and the need for the socialist transformation with the aim of integrating political and economic action with the cultural work. As a member of the radical and revolutionary left in Italy, with his fellows he established the influencial periodical titled “The New Order: A Weekly Review of Socialist Culture” which continued its publications for five years.[1] For the following years Gramsci devoted his life to militant journalism and “to the development of the factory council movement” which resulted in him taking the side of the communist minority in the PCI and became an important figure in the party several years later standing against the facist movement defending the idea that unless there exists a unified action in order to save the Italian democracy and Italian socialism, they would face a defeat against Mossolini movement.[2] Between the years of 1922 and 1923, he lived in Moscow as an Italian delegate to the Communist International where he married a violinist who was a member of the Russian Communist Party from whom later he had two children.
In 1926 on November 8, he got arrested in Rome due to the exceptional laws that were enacted by the Italian legislature which was fascist-dominated. After ten years of physical and psychological suffering, Gramsci died in 1937 in Quisisana Hospital from a cerebral hemorrhage. His prison years were marked with intellectual achievement made up of “Notebooks” that he kept during his imprisonment in addition to the letters that he wrote to friends and the family members. The work that Gramsci produced in his prison years was not published until several years after the World War II. His prison writings faced great interest and critical commentary not by only the West but also from the third world countries. His conception of the successes and failures of socialism on a global scale influenced the leftist thought both theoretically and practically in light of his new formulations in the realm of the political philosophy.[3]
On Historicism and Philosophy
In order to base his theory on concrete grounds it is essential to focus upon his questioning of what a man is in understanding the essence of the knowledge that men possesses. The main focus of his argument is that men is a product of his actions rather than his thoughts in his attempt to establish his relationships with themselves, others and the nature in the aim of changing them and in order to be changed by them in the process which his actions may be categorised as active, conscious and complex. As well as constituting the distinction between the specialist philosophers and the ordinary men, Gramsci proposes that all men are philosophers based on the assumption that what differentiates them is the notion of quantity not quality offering the view that the specialist philosophers realize the act of thinking both being aware of the history and the future of philosophy, while the ordinary men think up to their boundaries of their common sense and beliefs of all kinds. Therefore, every man thinks of or attaches himself into proper knowledge as various world views and philosophies. This is called “spontaneous philosophy”[4] consisting of three parts : language as a world view, common sense and good sense and the religious beliefs and folklore of society where the last two cannot be organised into a systematic whole. Therefore, it may be stated that every men has his own philosophy, then social groups have their own at normal times. According to Gramsci, there exists two social groups one of which spreading its wold view to the other and that “other” act accordingly assuming that it is its own view. Accordingly, Gramsci states that the authority within the society is divided as well as the systems of philosophy which forces one group to systematize and totalize its world view within the history of philosophy enabling it to reach totality by exploring how thought originated as a subject matter by collective effort.
The reason why Gramsci attributes such importance to the history of philosophy is that philosophy and history form a Historical Bloc. History is the philosophy of a specific period including the changes that a ruling group has made, likewise philosophy is a cultural struggle in order to alter the common sense and beliefs of the society and the world view of the ruling class and disseminate a new way of thinking. According to Gramsci, the absence of a “consciousness of historicity” and as a result self-knowledge would condemn common sense thinking to a position of dependence and subordination. In order to clarify his point, it is essential to point out to the notion of common sense in the Gramscian meaning of the word which may be explained as historical and specific to each class which is not systematic and has its own reasoning that can combine ideas that are contrary to each other without even being aware of it.[5] Gramsci declares that; “ (common sense)… is strangely composite; it contains elements from the Stone Age and principles of a more advanced science, prejudices from all past phases history at the local level and intuitions of a future philosophy which will be that of the human race united world over”.[6] According to Gramsci the use of popular notions such as “human nature” eliminates the chance for a change because of creating a “naturalisation” process by which may be regarded as a key mechanism for common sense through creating an articulation of structure in dominance of the higher and lower realms of ideology. [7]
Historical Bloc by Gramsci is defined as intellectual and immaterial which necessitates dialectics as a reciprocal action between the will to change the world, practice and theory to develop and comprehend embedded dynamics stressing out that factors such as language may become means of self-defence and self-assertion on the part of the masses.[8] Therefore, dialect functions as the infrastructure for “folklore and parochialism, and as means of resistance, which can be called as the negative and positive poles of corporatism.”[9] Having explained the role of dialectics, Gramsci claims that Praxis arises as the human activity dependent to the conditions of nature and historicised matter as a philosophy of action to change the world and disseminate a world view into the ordinary men. Praxis involves the contradictions between the individual and the society in three areas of study which are economics, politics and dialectic. Dialectics is taken as the organic total of the philosophy, politics and economics which enables the praxis to evaluate and change itself which also necessitates a reciprocal action between the masses and the intellectuals developing in quantity and quality to spread the world view to the masses in the framwork of critical thinking.
Therefore, it may be claimed that Gramsci goes beyond the historical materialism interpreted as as a simple methodology of sociological research which seperates it from praxis which he considered to be a form of economism. Gramsci tries to form the link between the theory and practice which is lost on the economistic interpretations of Marx claiming that historical materialism should involve the historical political process breaking through the positivist conception of science.[10] The union of history and philosophy should not be therefore understood as a new way of reflecting knowledge but should be regarded as a necessity for philosophy to become history based on Gramsci pointing out the necessity of marxism to become history.[11] This only becomes possible when the ideas acquire “mass and unified form which makes them histrorical forces”.[12]
On Education and the Intellectuals
The notion of “the intellectuals” derives from the understanding of Gramsci which asserts that all men are intellectuals since they have an intellect and use it, however the understaning of the intellectuals as a distinct social category lies in the fact that men are not all intellectuals by social function. To analyse the formation of ideology and culture in relation to the classes; intellectuals who act as a mediator among different classes are divided into two as “traditional” and “organic” in their functions.[13] Firstly, there exists the traditional professional intellectuals who are categorised as literary, scientific and so on who whose position is deriven from the past and present class relations and who attach themselves with historical class formations. Secondly, there exists the organic intellectuals within the society which fuction as a thinking and organising element of a particular fundamental-social class. [14] “These organic intellectuals are distinguished less by their profession, which may be any job characteristic of their class, then by their function in directing the ideas and aspirations of the class to which they organically belong” meaning that thinking and organising in the name of a specific class to conquer others ideologically. [15] Gramsci develops his idea around this point by relating it to the problems of the working class as a whole. He claims that the working class is capable of developing its own organic intellectuals and the function of the political party whether mass or vanguard by providing a link between the class and certain sections of the traditional intellectuals while channelling the activity of these organic intellectuals.[16]“ The organic intellectuals of the working class are defined on the one hand by their role in production and in the organisation of work and on the other by their directive political role, focused on the Party. “It is through this assumption of conscious responsibility, aided by absorption of ideas and personnel from the more advanced bourgeoise intellectual strata, that the proleteriat can escape from defensive corporatism and economism and advance towards hegemony”.[17]
Based on the division between the intellectuals according to their function in the society, Eagleton claims that the Gramscian division of intellectuals resembles to the division of negative and positive concepts of ideology namely claiming that one takes ideology as a pure thought while the other brings it into the service of class interests.[18] Since it is believed that the transition from the negative to the positive concept ideology is possible, traditional intellectuals can also serve the duty of organic intellectuals. While making the distinction between the organic and the traditional intellectuals, Gramsci is also sensitive when referencing to the differential relation of levels of superstructure to the structure, and hence the significance of sub-ideologies that he sees particularly important among “traditional intellectuals”.[19] It accounts for a degree of affiliation to a group or organisation that can come into conflict with allegiance owed to fundamental class.[20] The category of “intellectual” in Gramsci enables him to explain the organisation and production of ideology as a specific practice which cannot be reduced according to Gramsci to the classes that intellectuals are linked to. Hence the ideas are not expressive of classes, but compromise a field in which class conflict takes place in particular forms.[21] Futhermore, the most important chracteristics of the class beginning to dominate the civil society is the fact that they elaborate their organic intellectuals to have an ideological triumph over the traditional intellectuals of the society. This act is accomplished by the intellectuals’ “spontaneous consent” given to the dominant class and if this fails, by the state instrumentality of force. In view of their locations, intellectuals are also classified as urban and rural type intellectuals. Former are the groups devoted to arrange the relations of production between the entrepreneurs of the society. Latter are mostl traditional intellectuals who interact both with the peasant and the state through their connections.
Gramsci’s theory of education is closely linked with his perception of the intellectual since he asserts that the creation of intellectuals from the working class is essential and that is what Gramsci is ultimately concerned of, and his life may be considered as a precise history of the formation of such an intellectual. [22] In order to point out to the dialectical character of education, Gramsci wrote; “ It was right to struggle against the old school, but reforming it was not so simple as it seemed. The problem was not one of model curricula but of men, an not just of the men who are actually teachers themselves but of the entire social complex which they express.”[23] The creation of intellectuals from the working class is essential in Gramsci’s thought which may be claimed as the revolutionary perspective which structures his whole analysis based on the assumption that the work involved in education should also involve the work of a revolutionary party of the working class with its “ organic intellectuals”.
On Politics and Hegemony
When Praxis is established among the society, it continues to function for some time until it takes a dogmatic and speculative form to the extend that it cannot be criticised like a trancendental belief. When it has become dogmatic, the praxis begins to dissolve regarding the fact that every praxis has a beginning, development, climax and a dissolution. The evolution of praxis may have relevance with Gramscian state as well as how hegemony will be formed among society. [24]
The concept of hegemony lies at the very centre of the theory of Gramscian politics around the concept of the “national popular” and the relationship established through hegemony, between a fundamental class and “people-nation”.[25] According to Hobsbawm, the conceiving of the working class as a part of the nation by Gramsci; “makes him the only marxist thinker to provide us with a basis for integrating the nation as historical and social reality within marxist theory”.[26] According to Mouffe the national question is probably the most urgent to be dealt with considered as the important area that the marxist theory is lacking. Mouffe states that Marx always worked with the two diverse and non-unified couples which were the structure/superstructure in the mode of production and state/civil society in the historical and political analysis. Mouffe claims that “… this second couple ( state and civil society) always remains descriptive in Marx and he never manages to integrate the two types of analysis at the same conceptual level in articulating the analysis of the mode of production with that of social formation” [27] She declares that Gramsci’s originality lies in his attemp to answer the question of the state and the nation by conceptually unifying the Marx’s two contradicting couples while establishing a link between “politics – class – state” and “people - nation – state” resulting in “recuperating within marxist theory a whole series of elements which have been excluded from it”.[28]
According to Mouffe, the concept of hegemony is the most interesting area of Gramsci’s work and its implications of politics show that it is not limited only to the Western capitalism. The concept of hegemony has enabled Gramsci to find answers to the problems not in the method of revisionism. The conception of hegemony also refers to the fact that the development of capitalism to a certain degree would not result in the dissolvement of the segments of the society which were neither proleteriat nor bourgeoise. It has also asserted to fact that when the transition to socialism shall take place, the working class shall face problems other than those class-based ones. When Gramsci had examined the bourgeoise revolution he has reached the conclusion that “the supremacy of social group” substantiated itself in two ways in which the first is the “domination” and the second, “moral and intellectual leadership”. [29] Mouffe claims that Gramsci constructed the concept of hegemony meaning that, “Hegemony, therefore, becomes, in its typical Gramscian formulation, “political, intellectual and moral leadership over allied groups”… (hegemony) is the decisive function exercised by the leading group in the decisive nucleus of economic activity, operates principally in civil society via the articulation of the interests of the fundamental class to those of its allies in order to form a collective will, a unified political subject.” [30]
Gramsci makes a clear distinction between the sovereign and the hegemony on the account that the sovereign may have the power bloc by coersion, however the hegemon is the power bloc which has attained the “consent” of the nation. Therefore, it may be claimed that ideology is fused through the organs of the society namely “civil society”. Hegemony should be seen as a dynamic and historically shifting set of relations.[31] As Gramsci emphasizes, any form of hegemony presupposes particular relations of coersion, and vice versa; effective domination depends on the workable combination of the “voluntary” and “coecive” relations.[32]
On Civil Society and State
Gramscian division between Civil Society and the State owes its foundations to the Marxian adaptation of the conception of civil society in the Eighteenth Century. “The state enmeshes, controls, regulates, supervises, and regiments civil society from the most all-embracing expressions of its life down to its most insignificant motions, from its most general modes of existence down to the private life of individuals.” [33] However, Gramsci expanded and complicated the structure-superstructure debate by making them constitute a historical bloc, dividing Superstructural level into State and Civil Society. Structural level has the relation between forces and means of production. While State exercises hegemony over the civil society as the locus of coercion, Civil Society includes social groups. Therefore, civil society emerges as “the sphere where ideological apparatuses operate and whose task it is to exercise hegemony and through hegemony to obtain consensus.”[34] However, in spite of the coercion exercised Gramscian view of state is not a totalitarian one, instead an integral state. Unlike the totalitarian state, the integral State receives the active and free consent of the society as well as the state enlarges its apparatuses among the civil society. Gramsci and Althusser differ in that these two levels do not exist in Althusser rather count too much for the division of the State into Repressive and Ideological State Apparatuses. The Repressive State Apparatus comprising of state functioning by violence –i.e.the police, the army, the courts etc.- may be linked to the Gramscian conception of the State acting through coercion.
In contrast to the state understood by the narrow definition as the government apparatus has a contrasting concept of the civil society, in the sense of hegemonic apparatus of the ruling class; in contrast to the moment of force and dictatorship there is the moment of persuasion and concent, and in contrast to the to the moment of economico-political struggle which transforms the infrastructure stands the moment of cultural or ethico-political expansion.[35] Gramsci refers to the civil society in both structural and superstructural levels. In the section of intellectuals, civil society is referred to as the “levels of superstructure”, on the other hand in a number of other instances, it is also referred to as the “structure”.[36] Therefore, it may be claimed that civil society refers to a intermediate sphere that carries the elements of both the structure and the superstructure. For Gramsci, it is the area of the “ensemble of organisms that are commonly called private; therefore it does not only include the associations like political parties and the institutions like press; but it also includes the family, church and so on which combines the ideological and economic functions standing in between the state and the economic structure. [37]
Gramsci uses the formula, “State = political society + civil society” stating that there exists a real relationship between what is called formally private and public which leads to Gramsci braking down the abstract ideas of politics and law. [38] Gramsci claims that in order to subordinate the other classes to the requirenments of the productive process, the power bloc cannot be successful by only exercising decrees of law but should also exercise an ongoing transformation of moral values and customs in the civil society.[39] As a result civil society stands out as an area in which the the classes contest for power whether economical, political or ideological. Civil society in the meaning the Gramsci refers to it, is the area that hegemony is exercised and where the relations of structure and the superstructure are fought out.[40] According to Gramsci, in the liberal state civil society is demonstrated as an autonomous sphere having no relation to class interest, however it is the very place that the hegemony of the bourgeoise is exercised.[41]
Gramsci’s reformulates the concept of civil society as a central organising principle of socialist theory. The aim of this formulation was to understand both the complexity of political power in the parliamentary or constitutional states in the West, which contradicts with the more coercive autocracies, and the difficulty of supplanting a system of class domination in which class power has no clearly visible power of concentration in the state but diffused throughout society and its cultural practices. [42] Gramsci thus appointed to the concept of civil society to mark out the terrain of a new kind of struggle which would take the battle against capitalism not only to its economic foundations but to its cultural and ideological roots in every day life. [43]
On War of Position and War of Movement
It has been explained above that the civil society is used as an arena for the state namely power bloc to diffuse its hegemony over the people by exercising domination through the organs of civil society that stands in between the structure and the superstructure combining the elements of both. The concept of hegemony in the Gramscian understanding of the concept organised in such a way to both mobilising the organs of the civil society and of the state. [44] On his conception of hegemony, Gramsci focuses on the “non – coercive” structuring of the state in the class rule which may declared as an originality since the former marxists has regarded the state as an “organised violence” of the ruling class.[45] According to Gramsci, the vital relation of the system is one that is between the state and the civil society to the extend that whether the ruling bloc can keep the civil society under its hegemony. According to Gramsci the power bloc has the capacity to retain power in times when it has lost hegemony over the classes by its repressive instruments such as the army and the police.[46] Therefore the war of movement refers to the fact that the seizure of power may be attained by violent or coersive ways such as a revolution which is a naturally imperative because the power bloc no longer has the hegemony over the society therefore has lost its power exercised upon the classes by their own consent.
Contrary to the “war of movement”, the “war of position” depends upon the classes taking vantage points in the society. However, the central position of the state in the maintenance of class rule is radically reconceived by Gramsci.[47] The development of the civil society in the West according to Gramsci, enables the state to form a long term guarantee for the power block by the civil society providing for the state the “system of fortresses and outworks”.[48] The strengthening of the civil society leads for Gramsci to reconceptualize a strategy for the based on winning political hegemony prior to the seizure of power; “since the ruling bloc determines the political terrain and organises its hegemony increasingly in the civil society, the party has got to explore the terrain and construct a strategy accordingly. Central to this is the development of the organic intellectuals by the party and the detachment of traditional intellectuals from the ruling bloc”.[49] Therefore, it is essential to conclude that Gramsci believes that the dominaton of the hegemon through the civil society can only be broken within that very organs of civil society. Therefore, change is only possiblewhen the party acts within the system in order to overcome the domination of the hegemony.
On Passive Revolution
Gramsci states that the concept of hegemony does not only refer to the strategy of the proleteriat. Mouffe claims that the concept of hegemony, “applies to all forms of articulation of the interests of a fundamental class to those of other social groups in the creation of a collective will.” [50] Alhough there exists several forms of hegemony, “passive revolution” is according to Gramsci is the most usual form of hegemony of the bourgeoise which involves an articulation mode in the aim of neutralising the other social forces. [51] It involves the “representation of the historical process resulting in the supression of an entire mode of production”.[52] It is a political form of transition in which the problems of the transformations of the society and the establishment of hegemony are affected through the state apparatuses.[53] Therefore, it is essential to understand the consequences and dangers of the passive revolution which has a vital importance for the revolutionary process in the West, in order to form the bases of a “anti-passive revolution” which is democratic and active in which the masses play a vital role instead of the state. [54]
On Ideology
Gramsci’s perspective of ideology is viewed as anti- reductionist in the sense that firstly, there is not a linear unfolding process of one contradiction but many contradictions in the same development. Moreover, the conception of ideology is dynamic considering the fact that ideology has to change, renew and adapt itself both to the changing situations in society and the other groups’ philosophies or worldviews. The first situation may be resembled to the Althusser’s, who perceives every conjuncture abstractly unique and overdetermined. Besides, Gramsci demonstrated a positive concept of ideology in terms of Larrain’s definition of it: “the totality of forms of social consciousness ot to the political ideas of social classes.” [55] This may be dedicated to the fact that Gramsci was unaware of the German Ideology written by Marx, or even if he had been, he could not have reached it while he was in prison.Therefore, it is necessary here to mention that the German Ideology written by Marx in 1845 is the first time for Marx to define the conception of ideology and historical materialism.
Historical materialism is taken up as the universal notion of the social reality establishing men’s consciousness, creating an independent and objective type of economic activity forced upon them to determine their other relations but still men have their chance of affecting and changing the social reality. About the conception of ideology, the book has a negative and restricted conception of ideology as “a kind of distorted thought” which involves the misrepresentation or distortion of the contradictions but not all of them.
If in all ideology men and their circumstances appear upside down as in a camera obscura, this phenomenon arises just as much from their historical life-process as the inversion of objects on the retina does from their physical life-process”. [56] Since it is mentioned, not all ideas are ideological it is the latter’s deficiency to express social reality. However, this deficiency arises not from a faulty processes of thinking but from limited practice of men. While stating limited practice creating upside down conceptions, Marx refers to the men’s objectified process of production and the alienated labour. Thus, if men “in their imagination turn reality upside down, then this in its turn is the result of their limited material mode of activity and their limited social relations arising from it.” [57] In other words, limited practice arises as the reason for the inversion of the inverted reality in men’s cognitive processes. Marx defined ideology as some ideas for hiding the outer contradictions whereas Gramsci tended to attach it to fundamental classes in the society in the past or future.
Despite the fact that Gramsci had used a positive conception of ideology, it does not prevent the analysis from comparing or nullifying each other. The change in the Marxist conception of ideology is explained under three titiles by Larrain: First, “the ideology is neutralised and loses its critical connotation”, second, “the relationship between ideology and class is altered” and third, “the relationship between ideology and contradiction is changed” Firstly, considering Marx’s critical and restricted concept of ideology, we realize that ideologies are mainly categorized by “their inversion of an inverted reality” without necessarily belonging to a class.[58] This assisted Marx, to differentiate between true and false, sufficient and insufficient ideologies to decide the extent they reflect social reality by considering the content of them. While in Gramsci, because the role of disseminating ideology or philosophy of praxis is attributed to the fundamental classes in society, the distinction between true and false ideologies can not be figured out by evaluating their inner consistencies. Rather the distinction begins to be made in accordance with which class the ideology belongs to. Secondly, in Gramsci this class attached ideology uses the position of the fundamental classes within the mode of production or their class interests to express the difference between the true and false ideologies. Therefore, the particular proletarian ideology is a siluette in Gramsci in the sense that every class has its own intellectuals carrying its ideology. Thirdly, For Marx ideologies are ideas formed in the process of historical materialism which consists of contradictions and explain these-they are effects of this cause and the ideologies help men to reach their ideals- whereas, Gramsci defines ideology attached to all fundamental classes as a space these contradictions and class struggles occur. Therefore, “ideology loses the combative and critical character it used to share with many other Marxist concepts such as alienation, contradiction, domination…Ideology becomes the battlefield but it is no longer an instrument in the battle.” [59]
Owing to the fact that ideologies have their own contents, Althusser and Gramsci has a resemblance about the relative autonomy of superstructure from structure. Because ideologies’ roles are not limited to the extent that it has an interaction with the relations of production but with the State and Civil Society as whole, it gains a relative autonomy as a superstructure. Remembering the conception of ideology according to Althusser as; “ideology is not the system of the real relations which govern the existence of individuals, but the imaginary relation of those individuals to the relations in which they live.” [60] Then, ideology represents the lived as imaginary and because they are appearences they are not related with a form of consciousness, whereas in Gramsci ideology is a consciousness; not explicitly granted the quality of being attached into how individuals live their relations. But implicitly one may end up with an argument that philosophy or world view of a class includes the culture, which men themselves live their relations within. Furthermore, arguably the most profound critic of Althusser is Gramsci’s failure to recognize the fact that “one class can exercise political dominance on the basis of the economic determinacy of another.” The issue is examplified by nineteenth-century Britain where economically strengthening middle class appointed its political power to the landed aristocracy which had begun to lose its power after manufacture and marytime trade.
Gramsci: Joining the Pieces of the Theory
Gramsci uses the term hegemony namely ideologic hegemony in order to conceptualize the mutual relationship between the structure and the superstructure. Gramsci justifies Lenin as the first to use the term hegemony on the aim of attaining a strategy of the working class in order to gain the support of the masses. However, according to Gramsci both Lenin and the classical marxism approaches were reductionist in the sense that they perceived a single-sided view of repression and coercion as the bases for the ruling of the dominant class. According the Gramsci this lacking feature in Marxist theory is a political strategy described as ideological control and manipulation which enables the continuance of the repressive structures. The theory of hegemony belonging to Gramsci stems from the fact that exercise of power on the classes may be done in two ways which are coercion and consent. A group in the society dominates the groups within the same society who are against them whether by destroying the particular group or taking them under its control, however according the Gramsci the political struggle does not end when the power is seized; the struggle starts when the power bloc tries to guarantee the maintenance of its domination. This is the point where, Gramsci makes a distinction between the concepts of the sovereign and the hegemony asserting that sovereignity refers to coecion while hegemony refers to consent and ideologic control. Since the concept of hegemony aims at maintaning the power under the consent of the social classes, legitimacy and consent becomes important terms for the Gramscian theory. The theory of hegemony states that the dominant class operates in a way of persuasion in order to acquire the consent of the opressed class agreeing to be dominated. Gramsci makes a clear distinction between the sovereign and intellectual and moral leadership on the bases that every regime in order to rule in the long run necessitates the support and legitimacy of the classes especialy in times of cirisis, no matter how authoritative that regime may be.
Hegemony, according to Gramsci, should never be understood as a static and total phenomena since its extend, forms and influence changes from society to society making hegemony a constant area of struggle. Hegemony should not also be considered between the boundries of the state because it should be regarded as a world view or organising principle by the socialisation and ideological control mechanism in every aspect of daily life. In order to explain the ways that the hegemon uses for the domination of the social classes, civil society plays an important role as an arena that the power bloc fuses its domination through the establihments such as media, culture, language and social foundations such as school, church and family.
The power elites reaches the people by the organs of the civil society with the aim of “neutralising” their philosophy, moral and cultural values and making them unchallengaeble. This common consciousness and world view becomes a part of the “common sense” of the majorities in which the term may be used in the sense of both for the resistence and surrender to the ruling bloc since it asserts that common sense is the intrument that one uses the perceive the world which may consider domination and inequality as natural or for the bases for resistance to such thought which is a critical point of Gramscian theory. Therefore, it may be seen that Gramsci is against the interpetation of Marx on the levels of economism by filling the gap between the structure and the superstructure.
According to Gramsci, there may occur crisis within the society which are organic, that the hegemon loses its legitimacy and consensus and transition from the hegemon to the sovereign is possible on the bases of implementing coersive force. In this way, the hegemon loses its power of diffusion through the organs of the civil society resulting in the loss of consent and faith against the ruling class. Therefore, the socially dominated classes are faced with a chance to challange the existing sytem by constracting their counter-hegemony. The concept of counter-hegemony of Gramsci is only possible by challenging the system within itself as it was explained on the part of the war of position. Challenging the system according to Gramsci is constituted of two parts one of which is exudation to the ordered system and the second phase is the construction of a base of new thoughts and values in order to achieve human liberation.
It should also be considered that the conception of civil society of Gramsci is different to that of understood in the modern meaning of the word. The civil society of Gramsci refers to all the concepts that make up the superstructure including the elements that operate as the organs of the state. However, in the modern sense of the word, the concept of civil society mainly refers to the non-governmental organisations which are seen as the resisting forces to the state authority which has the influencial power over the system. Therefore, in Gramsci the civil society is concieved as a public arena on which the hegemon exercises its power upon the social classes by altering their world views and making them perceive this views as their own, simply to neutralize the instruments of domination on the minds of the people. That is why Gramsci pays great attention to the creation of organic intellectuals of the working class in order to set up the values of change and resistence among the dominated class by the leadership of the intellectuals with the critical mind. Thus, it may be claimed that the stronger the civil society in the state, the harder it becomes to challenge the system according to Gramsci. This is why there is the differentiation between the war of position which is inclined to the West and the war of movement which is inclined to the East namely Russia. The war of movement that took place in Russia with the October Revolution according to Gramsci stemmed from the fact that the organs of civil society in the Gramscian meaning were weaker than that of the West.
The Bolshevik Revolution consists more of ideologies than of events. (And hence we do not really need to know more than we do.) This is the revolution against Karl Marx's Capital. It stood as the critical demonstration of how events should follow a predetermined course: how in Russia a bourgeoisie had to develop, and a capitalist era had to open, with the setting-up of a Western-type civilization, before the proletariat could even think in terms of its own revolt, its own class demands, its own revolution. But events have overcome ideologies. Events have exploded the critical schema determining how the history of Russia would unfold according to the canons of historical materialism.”[61]
The second concept of Gramsci that makes up a crucial point in his theory is his cultural approach to the theory of Marxism. Gramsci as the broad writers of the 20th century, paid a great deal of attention to the intersubjectivity distancing himself from the reductionist approach of object-subject relationship. In addition, the traditional academic incline of theories followed by the events may also be seen in Gramsci where he focuses on the development of the relation between the theory and practice of the Lenin’s socialist revolution strategy. Whether or not Gramsci would be considered as a revolutionist of marxism, his major contribution to the theory of dialectics as the bonding power should also be realized within the context that Gramsci saw language as a break point for the hegemon an the crisis in its power by which the party has the chance to challenge the existing system of domination. The cultural approach to structure and superstructure as in young Marx, made his theory a masterpiece in order to understand the ways in which the capitalist class builds its domination upon the working class. Gramsci, distancing himself from the economical interpretation of Marxism have constituted the grounds that the influence between the base and the structure is mutual examplified by the rise of the middle class bourgeoise with Facism. It was this cause which made Gramsci realize that the structure was not the only determinig factor of the social events.
In conclusion, Gramsci’s interpretation of Marxism may be declared as a cultural Marxism. He realized the unity of theory and practice which is essential to the marxist theory in line with the effort for the renewal of the meaning of the dialectics as a unifiying force in the new revolutional marxism. His contribution to marxism also takes a new meaning with his works upon the philosophy in order to revitalize marxism against the single sided structural approach. Unlike many Marxists, Gramsci rejected to interpret marxism as a purely economically based ideology and had added to his theory the social realities such as politics, culture, societal relations and ideology. Gramsci has been attributed by many as the “creative marxists” and the core of his theory has been the idea that socialism in order to change the society should have the cultural dominance. Gramsci believed that the socialist revolution was possible by the establishement of a historical setting which included the human action rather than the collapse of capitalism. In order to achieve this Gramsci asserted that the marxist theory should place the human factor in the middle of the theory since Gramsci discovered the importance of the cultural tendencies of the classes as well as its consequences. His general belief that men are products of their actions rather than their thoughts has constructed the concrete grounds for him to place the human factor in a unified action in the war of position.
Gramsci’s departure from the reconcilement of base and structure gave him the idea that the hegemon maintains its dominance not only through the accumulation of the modes of production but also through the instruments that men faces in every day life, titled as the civil society by the theory of Gramsci. Therefore, he necessitated the invasion of the system from the inside. While Gramsci constructed his theory upon the concept of philosophy and culture, he surely did open up the gates for a hope of socialist revolution in the West.

[1] Rosengarten, Frank. An Introduction to Gramsci’s Life and Thought
[2] Ibid.
[3] Ibid.
[4] Gramsci, Antonio, Prison Notebooks, trans. and ed. Q. Hoare and G. Nowell Smith, Gramsci, Antonio, Prison Notebooks, trans. and ed. Q. Hoare and G. Nowell Smith, 1971.
[5] Stuart Hall, Bob Lumley, Gregor McLennan, Politics and Ideology : Gramsci in On Ideology. Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies, Hutchinson of London.
[6] Gramsci, Antonio, Prison Notebooks, trans. and ed. Q. Hoare and G. Nowell Smith, New York: International Publishers. 1971.
[7] Stuart Hall, Bob Lumley, Gregor McLennan, Politics and Ideology : Gramsci in On Ideology. Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies, Hutchinson of London.
[8] Ibid.
[9] Gramsci, Antonio, Prison Notebooks, trans. and ed. Q. Hoare and G. Nowell Smith, Gramsci, Antonio, Prison Notebooks, trans. and ed. Q. Hoare and G. Nowell Smith, 1971.
[10] Mouffe, Chantal. Introduction : Gramsci Today.
[11] Ibid.
[12] N. Badolini, Gramsci and the Problem of Revolution.
[13] Gramsci, Antonio, Prison Notebooks, trans. and ed. Q. Hoare and G. Nowell Smith, Gramsci, Antonio, Prison Notebooks, trans. and ed. Q. Hoare and G. Nowell Smith, 1971.
[14] Introduction by Q. Hoare and G. N. Smith.
[15] Ibid.
[16] Gramsci, Antonio, Prison Notebooks, trans. and ed. Q. Hoare and G. Nowell Smith, Gramsci, Antonio, Prison Notebooks, trans. and ed. Q. Hoare and G. Nowell Smith, 1971.
[17] Introduction by Q. Hoare and G. N. Smith.
[18] Eagleton, From Lucas to Gramsci in Ideology, Verso : London, 1991.
[19] Stuart Hall, Bob Lumley, Gregor McLennan, Politics and Ideology : Gramsci in On Ideology. Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies, Hutchinson of London.
[20] Ibid.
[21] Ibid.
[22] Introduction by Q. Hoare and G. N. Smith.
[23] Gramsci, Antonio, Prison Notebooks, trans. and ed. Q. Hoare and G. Nowell Smith, Gramsci, Antonio, Prison Notebooks, trans. and ed. Q. Hoare and G. Nowell Smith, 1971.
[24] Gramsci, Antonio, Prison Notebooks, trans. and ed. Q. Hoare and G. Nowell Smith, Gramsci, Antonio, Prison Notebooks, trans. and ed. Q. Hoare and G. Nowell Smith, 1971.
[25] Mouffe, Chantal. Introduction : Gramsci Today.
[26] Hobsbawm, The Science of Politics in Rinascita , 1977.
[27] Mouffe, Chantal. Introduction : Gramsci Today.
[28] Ibid.
[29] Mouffe, Chantal. Introduction : Gramsci Today.
[30] Ibid.
[31] Gray, Robert. Bourgeois Hegemony in Victorian Britain, The Communist University of London.
[32] Ibid.
[33] Bobcock, Hegemony. Tavistock Publications, Sussex, 1986.
[34] Mouffe, Chantal. Gramsci & Marxist Theory, Routlage and Kegan Paul. London, 1979.
[35] Texier, Jacques, Gramscii theoretician of the superstructures, On the concept of civil society.
[36] Stuart Hall, Bob Lumley, Gregor McLennan, Politics and Ideology : Gramsci in On Ideology. Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies, Hutchinson of London.
[37] Gramsci, Antonio, Prison Notebooks, trans. and ed. Q. Hoare and G. Nowell Smith, Gramsci, Antonio, Prison Notebooks, trans. and ed. Q. Hoare and G. Nowell Smith, 1971.
[38] Stuart Hall, Bob Lumley, Gregor McLennan, Politics and Ideology : Gramsci in On Ideology. Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies, Hutchinson of London.
[39] Stuart Hall, Bob Lumley, Gregor McLennan, Politics and Ideology : Gramsci in On Ideology. Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies, Hutchinson of London.
[40] Ibid.
[41] Mouffe, Chantal. Introduction : Gramsci Today.
[42] Gramsci, Antonio, Prison Notebooks, trans. and ed. Q. Hoare and G. Nowell Smith, Gramsci, Antonio, Prison Notebooks, trans. and ed. Q. Hoare and G. Nowell Smith, 1971.
[43] Wood, E. M. Civil Society and Politics of Identity in Democracy Against Capitalism.
[44] Stuart Hall, Bob Lumley, Gregor McLennan, Politics and Ideology : Gramsci in On Ideology. Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies, Hutchinson of London.
[45] Stuart Hall, Bob Lumley, Gregor McLennan, Politics and Ideology : Gramsci in On Ideology. Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies, Hutchinson of London.
[46] Ibid.
[47] Stuart Hall, Bob Lumley, Gregor McLennan, Politics and Ideology : Gramsci in On Ideology. Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies, Hutchinson of London.
[48] Gramsci, Antonio, Prison Notebooks, trans. and ed. Q. Hoare and G. Nowell Smith, Gramsci, Antonio, Prison Notebooks, trans. and ed. Q. Hoare and G. Nowell Smith, 1971.
[49] Stuart Hall, Bob Lumley, Gregor McLennan, Politics and Ideology : Gramsci in On Ideology. Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies, Hutchinson of London.
[50] Mouffe, Chantal. Introduction : Gramsci Today.
[51] Ibid.
[52] Paggi in Mouffe, Chantal. Introduction : Gramsci Today.
[53] Buci-Glucksmann in Mouffe, Chantal. Introduction : Gramsci Today.
[54] Ibid.
[55] Larrain, Marxism and Ideology, The Macmillan Press, London, 1983.
[56] Marx & Engels, The German Ideology, Arthur, Lawrence and Wishart, London, 1971.
[57] Larrain, Marxism and Ideology, The Macmillan Press, London, 1983.
[58] Larrain, Marxism and Ideology, The Macmillan Press, London, 1983.
[59] Ibid.
[60] Althusser, Lenin and Philosophy and Other Essays, New Left Boks, London, 1971.
[61] Hoare; ‘Selections from Political Writings (1921-1926), ‘The Revolution Against Capital’, Lawrence and Wishart, London 1978

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