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Hegemony

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Bernie Sanders’s Democratic Socialism
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Abstract

This chapter applies the concept of Antonio Gramsci’s cultural hegemony to illustrate Bernie Sanders’s conception of class domination. Gramscian hegemony held that the supremacy of the dominant class in society was neither a simple question of domination nor a simple question of coercion. The supremacy of the dominant class, for Gramsci, was also, and primarily so, a question of intellectual and moral supremacy. The chapter reflects on the manufacturing of consent and on the largely unconscious and therefore uncritical ways of perceiving and understanding the world. Gramsci (as well as the Frankfurt School) was interested in how mass-produced culture could end up limiting the potential for human agency. In Outsider in the House, Sanders explicitly extended the consumption metaphor to denounce a mechanism of “public consumption” orchestrated to promote political adhesion by the public—against the public’s own interests.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Hillary Clinton, quoted in Lacey Rose, “Hillary Clinton in Full: A Fiery New Documentary, Trump Regrets and Harsh Words for Bernie: ‘Nobody Likes Him,’” Hollywood Reporter, January 21, 2020, https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/features/hillary-clinton-full-a-fiery-new-documentary-trump-regrets-harsh-words-bernie-1271551.

  2. 2.

    Hillary Clinton, What Happened, p. 422.

  3. 3.

    Ibid., p. 276.

  4. 4.

    Ibid.

  5. 5.

    Hillary Clinton, What Happened, p. 97.

  6. 6.

    Ibid, p. 411.

  7. 7.

    See, for example: Daniel J. Hopkins, John Sides, eds. Political Polarization in American Politics, New York, Bloomsbury, 2015; Thomas Carothers, Andrew O’Donohue, eds., Democracies Divided: The Global Challenge of Political Polarization, Washington, DC, Brookings, 2019.

  8. 8.

    Sanders, Eugene V. Debs, band 1, “Introduction.”

  9. 9.

    Joseph V. Femia, Gramsci’s Political Thought: Hegemony, Consciousness, and the Revolutionary Process, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1981, p. 12.

  10. 10.

    Gramsci, p. 263.

  11. 11.

    Ibid., pp. 58–59.

  12. 12.

    Ibid., p. 110.

  13. 13.

    Michael Heinrich, An Introduction to the Three Volumes of Karl Marx’s Capital, New York, Monthly Review Press, 2004, p. 200.

  14. 14.

    Ibid., p. 12.

  15. 15.

    Femia, p. 28.

  16. 16.

    Ibid, pp. 27–28.

  17. 17.

    Sanders, Eugene V. Debs, band 1, “Introduction.”

  18. 18.

    Id., Outsider in the White House, p. 334.

  19. 19.

    Gramsci, p. 18.

  20. 20.

    Ibid., p. 5.

  21. 21.

    Ibid.

  22. 22.

    Ibid., p. 7.

  23. 23.

    Ibid.

  24. 24.

    Ibid., p. 8.

  25. 25.

    For a comparative approach to Bourdieu’s theory of symbolic domination and Gramsci’s theory of hegemony, see Michael Burawoy: “Gramsci and Bourdieu may appear convergent at one level, but at a deeper level they are mirror opposites: Bourdieu attacks Gramsci’s organic intellectual as mythical, while Gramsci attacks Bourdieu’s traditional intellectual as self-deluding. At bottom, the divergence rests on claims about the (in)ability of the dominated to understand the world and the (in)ability of intellectuals to transcend their corporate class interests. To these two questions, Gramsci and Bourdieu have opposite answers: Gramsci claims the dominated can have a partial insight into their worlds and organic intellectuals exist to elaborate that insight; Bourdieu, by contrast, claims the dominated cannot comprehend their subjugation, while intellectuals, so long as they are autonomous from classes, can see and represent the truth through the fog of cultural domination.” Michael Burawoy “Cultural Domination: Gramsci Meets Bourdieu,” Symbolic Violence: Conversations with Bourdieu, Durham, NC, Duke University Press, 2019, pp. 74–75.

  26. 26.

    Gramsci, p. 18. See also Jan Rehmann, “Bernie Sanders and the Hegemonic Crisis of Neoliberal Capitalism: What Next?” Socialism and Democracy, vol. 30, n° 3, 2016, pp. 1–11, https://doi.org/10.1080/08854300.2016.1228874

  27. 27.

    Femia, p. 34.

  28. 28.

    Gramsci, p. 366.

  29. 29.

    Ibid., p. 281.

  30. 30.

    Frederick W. Taylor, The Principles of Scientific Management, New York, Harper & Brothers, 1911.

  31. 31.

    Gramsci., p. 382.

  32. 32.

    Ibid.

  33. 33.

    Ibid., p. 285.

  34. 34.

    Ibid., pp. 309–310.

  35. 35.

    Ibid., p. 310.

  36. 36.

    Ibid., p. 286.

  37. 37.

    Ibid., p. 180.

  38. 38.

    Sanders, Eugene V. Debs, band 1, “Introduction.”

  39. 39.

    Sanders, Outsider in the House, pp. 128–129.

  40. 40.

    Max Horkheimer notably published Eclipse of Reason, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1947, in which he discusses how the Nazis were able to project their agenda as “reasonable,” and, together with Theodor W. Adorno , Dialectic of Enlightenment (1947, rpt., New York, Verso, 2016).

  41. 41.

    Theodor W. Adorno was the leading figure of the Frankfurt School of critical theory. See, notably: Theodor W. Adorno Negative Dialectics, trans. E. B. Ashton, London, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1973.

  42. 42.

    See supra, p. 20.

  43. 43.

    Herbert Marcuse notably published Soviet Marxism: A Critical Analysis, New York, Columbia University Press, 1958 to criticize the ideology of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. He worked for the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the U.S. wartime intelligence agency and the forerunner of the CIA. He also authored One-Dimensional Man: Studies in the Ideology of Advanced Industrial Society, New York, Beacon Press, 1964.

  44. 44.

    See: Peter E. Gordon, Espen Hammer, Alex Honneth, eds., The Routledge Companion to the Frankfurt School , New York, Routledge, 2019.

  45. 45.

    See supra, p. 17.

  46. 46.

    Water Lippmann, Public Opinion, New York, Macmillan, 1922. Rpt. New Brunswick, NJ, Transaction Publishers, 1988, p. 248. The expression “manufacturing consent” was later used in 1988 by Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky in the title of their book, Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media, New York, Pantheon Books, 1988.

  47. 47.

    Sanders, Our Revolution, pp. 420–421.

  48. 48.

    Gramsci, p. 263.

  49. 49.

    Ibid., p. 110.

  50. 50.

    Ibid., p. 12.

  51. 51.

    Ibid.

  52. 52.

    Kate Crehan, Gramsci’s Common Sense: Inequality and Its Narratives, Durham, NC, Duke University Press, 2016, p. x.

  53. 53.

    Gramsci, p. 328.

  54. 54.

    See supra, p. 32.

  55. 55.

    Lionel Trilling, The Liberal Imagination, New York, Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1950, p. vii.

  56. 56.

    Patrick M. Garry, Liberalism and American Identity, Kent, OH, Kent State University Press, 1992, p. 37.

  57. 57.

    William J. Clinton, Address Before a Joint Session of the Congress on the State of the Union, January 23, 1996, The American Presidency Project, https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/223046.

  58. 58.

    James MacGregor Burns, Leadership, New York, Harper & Row, 1978.

  59. 59.

    Ibid., p. 6.

  60. 60.

    Bernard M. Bass, Bruce J. Avolio, “Transformational Leadership and Organizational Culture,” Public Administration Quarterly, vol. 17, n° 1, Spring 1993, p. 112.

  61. 61.

    Obama, Interview with the Editorial Board of the Reno Gazette-Journal, January 14, 2008, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HFLuOBsNMZA

  62. 62.

    Stephen Skowronek’s “political time” theory holds that the possibilities for presidential leadership are in fact shaped by each president’s relationship to the political regime in which he or she is elected: “American political history has been punctuated by many beginnings and many endings. Periods are marked by the rise to power of an insurgent political coalition that secures its dominance over national affairs for an extended period of time. The dominant coalition perpetuates its position by gearing the federal government to favor a particular approach to public policy questions. The political-institutional regimes they establish tend to have staying power because the Constitution, with its separation of powers and checks and balances, makes concerted change of the sort needed to dislodge these arrangements difficult and rare.” Stephen Skowronek, Presidential Leadership in Political Time, Lawrence, University of Kansas Press, 2008. Rpt. 2020, p. 28.

  63. 63.

    Sanders, Outsider in the House, p. 237

  64. 64.

    Id., “Sanders Calls For 21st Century Bill of Rights,” op. cit, p. 65.

  65. 65.

    Id., Outsider in the House, p. 25.

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Gachon, N. (2021). Hegemony. In: Bernie Sanders’s Democratic Socialism. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-69661-0_7

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