Saturday, August 19, 2006

Revolution and Cultural Hegemony


"Too many so-called leaders of the movement have been made into celebrities and their revolutionary fervor destroyed by mass media. They become Hollywood objects and lose identification with the real issues. The task is to transform society; only the people can do that—not heroes, not celebrities, not stars. The revolutionary’s place is in the community with the people."
- Huey Newton -


It was Antonio Gramsci who expanded on the theory of hegemony to explain why the working people hadn't revolted against capitalism. In his theory, Gramsci suggested that control was maintained not only by violence and political and economic coercion, but through a hegemonic culture built around the values of an elite few. The ideologies of the elite few become the values of all within society. In Gramsci's definition of hegemony, the working people within society come to identify their own good with the good of the elite few and therefore help maintain the status quo.

I don't really remember when I awoke, as it seems it has been more of a gradual awakening. Something like a dream-sleep where I couldn't tell if I was still asleep and merely dreaming what I imagined as my reality or if I was actually awake and wishing I were dreaming as a way of escaping the reality I was living! I apologize for that example, but after all, I come from the days of Wavy Gravy and the Hog Farm. A different time when the youth of our nation actually developed their own political party and the awakening of the people was guiding them into lifestyles which practiced much simpler living. A time when the people were inspired by an underground press. A time when the people were actively involved in a counterculture. A time when the people had their very own revolutionary music which was the art form that brought the movement together. The time had all this and yet it disappeared and the movement died. Well, for the most part anyway. There are still a few of us eternal revolutionaries around! The disappearence of the movement was most likely through the hegemony of which Gramsci spoke.

The power was there, and it can be again. We learn from sharing our experiences and our stories become our history. And history is a powerful teacher. We all wake at different times, different speeds, and in different ways. We all have talents which can be used to once again breathe life into a social justice awakening that will surpass anything of the past. The people need revolutionary music with songs that produce power within our communities. People need revolutionary art with graphics that incite and excite. People need revolutionary writing filled with personal stories. Stories that tell of the wins and the losses, in the fight for a more just society. But the most important thing we absolutely need; the one thing which is required for a social awakening; the most important part of the puzzle needed for our world to evolve into a more sustainable society is quite simply...each other!

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