Hegemony, (how) does it work?

Continuing the discussion from Cultural appropriation? Hindu nationalists used yoga as an anti-colonialist export:

Or: Can Dialectics Break Wind?

Anybody game for a discussion of hegemony?

Is it the way big-pants people get things done in the real world? A critical-thinking fail for the gullible? Both? Neither?


Sure. Hegemony is a favorite among marxist theorists, especially Gramsci, so that’s as good a place to start as any. Of course, we can keep in mind this is a theoretical framework, and then maybe figure out if it operates in real life the way Gramsci or whoever theorized, yeah?

Gramsci believed that the dominant class exerted power in several ways, not just force. Culture was an important way that they did so. the creation of a hegemonic (or dominant) culture, he argued, was part of ruling by consent or the creation of “common sense”. You get people on board in this way in order to have them buy into whatever it is you’re selling as the “natural” structures of a society. But less dominant groups can also push for their ideas being hegemonic in a given society, and even work to come to power via the projection of their ideas.

So I think this is a decent start on Gramsci. I’ll have to ruminate some more, especially with the ideas of foucault and how he argues power works within a society…


Economically, hegenomy comes from oligarchs controlling resource and product markets and the way oligarchs do business (and war) with each other. That’s what empires and the transnational corporate world is all about. Why do ya’ll think Putin is so put out by the fight against Assad? We have “our” oligarchs entrenched from Egypt through Yemen, Finland through Georgia, and all the work the Soviets and Russian Federation did to build their oligarchies in Cyprus, Ukraine, and Syria have gone to shit.

It shouldn’t be this way, but until we pull the pebble of exclusive IP out of the foundation of this this shitshow, the rise of this aristocracy will continue and tens of millions will die from their wars. March for salt and makers.

Fwd to Sup Marxists! and brace for misapplied libertarianism.


Isn’t part of the question of just what hegemony is though, is how this is maintained? Raw power only works so well and gets you so far. Even in Russia, where Putin is less shy about the use of force, he has to create a culture that allows him and his cadre of oligarchs to rule in the manner that they do. this is done through the mass media, which pontfications on the disruption caused by NGO, which they say are underwritten by the CIA and NSA. Pretty much anything that doesn’t conform with “Russian values” is constructed in this way via the mass media in Russia. You could say much the same here, but it’s a more complicated media picture, since you have different media channels, controlled by different groups, competing for attention.


I thought you froods were talking about fivers found in privet bishes.


This must be a reference to Can Dialectics Break Bricks?

But the first thing I thought of was


But seriously.

Given two people with equal education and ability. If one has a secret snippet of information, why wouldn’t it turn into a hegemony? Hell, repeat the experiment a million times with the same two people, and randomly choose the person with the secret advantage.

It won’t ever balance, it will start to grow lopsided till one group (or person) controls the other. It is like a coin flip, when the coin isn’t perfectly weighted.

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#That’s not how it works!

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That’s true as long as one or both parties operate on the basis of compete & consume, rather than cooperate & conserve…

But then, we’re all pretty thoroughly fucked if we can’t make that paradigm shift anyway.


Humans are closer to ratis ratis than the kakapo. Hegemonies will always exist.

Gratuitis photo


The nature v. history distinction seems like an esp. important part for how the concept has been understood in academic and political discussions.

Western Marxists often examined ideology and power by considering how historical relationships and institutions came to appear natural and ahistorical to dominated groups.

“The disadvantaged live 'within an ideological space that does not seem at all ‘ideological’: which appears instead to be permanent and ‘natural,’ to lie outside history, to be beyond particular interests.” Dick Hebdige, Subculture: The Meaning of Style (London: Methuen, 1979), 16, quoted in Budd, Craig & Steinman, Consuming Environments: Television and Commercial Culture, (New Jersey: Rutgers Univ. Press, 1999), 13.


Or at least, until the point where hegemonic activity has harmed the biosphere so much that no further such activity is possible.

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The first narrator sounds like Paul Scheer. Is he involved?


I’d expect a more hopeful explanation is that hegemonies will always exist as long as humanity (as we know it) does.

It’s a feature of scarcity. When humanity changes the scarce resources change. But I fear hegemonies will exist as long as intelligent agents exist simultaneously with them nit having everything they desire on an individual basis.

At least that’s true from my perspective. As far as I know, the word hegemony means a majority of people going along with a dominant meme, or set of memes. In that way we are all ruled by hegemonies. And until there’s a way to raise an intelligent agent without any kind of external input, or (in a weak formulation) isolated from other external agents, the movement of power in service of the agent is a hegemonic action.

I could easily be misunderstanding though. That seems more likely every day.


Well, isn’t majority per say, it is cultural will, right?


Cultural will is a much better term, and I did think to use it. Or at least try to stay in terms of dominance and culture. But it’s late, I’m drunk, I’m on my phone, and it’s very cold out here on this park bench. So with those factors combined, I said fuckit and glossed over.

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Inmean thatbis why popo arguing against hegemony is both intriguing the WTF at the same time. Most of us know a society where force isn’t the dominant feature in a societal contract is cool, but when or how is that implemented?


Influence. That’s the basic unit of social capitalism. And to us little people, you gain influence by making friends (the stronger the better), or gaining reputation (which is perception of your actions and thoughts, spread via the friends route, or media/notetiety, or less commonly and in a way that requires initial social capital through fraud and lies.)

Any single reputation system only worjs for a homogeneous culture though. You can gain reputation through other ways by switching context. But that usually takes more work than what it’s worth unless you have plenty of sociopolitical capital already

When product and resource markets are sewn up as a matter of course in the legal system, it becomes easy for a few large companies to get the resources together buy into the media as a trivial expense (as GE did) and then both absorb the entire media industry outright before devolving the ownership of the media and political culture to the class of “significant” stockholders, a.k.a. oligarchs. It leaves out “insignificant” stockholders as well as democratic-republican institutions which used to be sovereign in will as well as in law.

So between pulling aside thee cloth of the fiction that is exclusive IP rights and finding a business model for media that is actually independent from advertising and other kickbacks, economic and cultural hegemony (in the form of oligarchy) can be challenged.