The term cultural hegemony refers to the ruling class’ ability to impose its worldview, morals, ideas, and concepts on the rest of the population to justify the status quo and normalize it as the only unnatural order of things. In our capitalist, imperialist system, hegemony and guarantees, the dominant class’ has control over the economy, politics and society as a whole.
As we are bombarded by oppressive narratives of capitalist, patriarchal, heteronormative, imperialist, and white supremacist hegemony, we are often left without the stories of those engaged in the struggles of our times. From personal challenges to the status quo, to mass organized actions for radical transformation with change, our stories are suppressed by the incredible power and resources of dominant institutions in our society.
The media, educational system, cultural and civic organizations, and the government all play a role in producing and reproducing this alienating cultural reality. The study of these complex, yet crucial ideas, was developed into the theory of cultural hegemony by Italian communist, Antonio Francesco Gramsci while in jail, under the fascist rule of Benito Mussolini. Professor Stephen Duncombe writes about Gramsci’s cultural hegemony theory, and the power dominant ideas and practices have in defining our consciousness.
And I quote, “The power of cultural hegemony, lies in it’s invisibility. Unlike like a soldier with a gun or a political system backed up by a written constitution, culture resides within us. It doesn’t seem political. It’s just what we like or what we think is beautiful or what feels comfortable. Wrapped in stories and images and figures of speech, culture is a politics and is therefore a lot harder to notice, much less to resist. When a culture becomes hegemonic, it becomes common sense for the majority of the population.”
The effects in our lives and communities of this common sense are deep and devastating. We faced an incredible challenge against capitalist hegemony in a struggle for our own humanity. As AgitArte co-founder, Herb Fox radically affirms, “Building a culture of faith in our species, our ability to write the wrongs of a capitalist corrupted culture, it’s ethics, concepts of human relations, falsification of what is our fundamental human nature, is our task. Lest, the human species will not survive. “
It is important that we develop and implement in our struggles, our cultural strategy, which engages popular movements in the production of forms and narratives, which challenge established normality and propose radical alternatives to resist and create a new culture of militancy and solidarity for our liberation. Because when we generate cultural production, which challenges this hegemony with ideas and experiences of our dreams and fights for our collective liberation, we win.