Skip to comments.Why There Is A Culture War
Posted on 05/04/2003 1:19:35 PM PDT by Enough is ENOUGH
This article provides a road map to all of the leftist dissent we are witnessing in our country today by the people who hate America and all that it stands for - the progressive caucus, university campuses, leftist Hollywood, the education system, special interest groups and other people who have been duped by their political correctness techniques.
While economic Marxism appears to be dead, the Hegelian variety articulated by Gramsci and others has not only survived the fall of the Berlin Wall, but also gone on to challenge the American republic at the level of its most cherished ideas. For more than two centuries America has been an "exceptional" nation, one whose restless entrepreneurial dynamism has been tempered by patriotism and a strong religious-cultural core. The ultimate triumph of Gramscianism would mean the end of this very "exceptionalism." America would at last become Europeanized: statist, thoroughly secular, post-patriotic, and concerned with group hierarchies and group rights in which the idea of equality before the law as traditionally understood by Americans would finally be abandoned. Beneath the surface of our seemingly placid times, the ideological, political, and historical stakes are enormous.
(Excerpt) Read more at policyreview.org ...
We both agree that it's probably too late to do anything about what has happened, BTW.
But just for starters what's so great about the underdog? Why is a power transfer good or necessary? Isn't equal opportunity a better idea?
A governing class must succeed in persuading the governed to accept the moral, political and cultural values suggested by those in power.
Therefore his conclusion was: Let us do the same and capture the minds of the population, as well as the institutions of the bourgeoisie and do it with ideas that we will present as "common sense".
The implementation will be through intellectuals and figures of influence gained to the cause by vanity, convenience or ambition and a by a new element, intellectual operatives that work with the people. All of it, coupled to constant use of the media.
Gramsci perceived that in a western society, the bond between the ruler and the ruled was what kept it together and this bond was what created "hegemony." And where was that bond? How was it cemented?
In the classical institutions, and through them of course. The family, the church, the schools, the civil society and its organizations, none other than the building blocks of the State.
The revolutionaries who wished to break the "hegemony" had to build up a "counter hegemony" to that of the ruling class. It was necessary to change the minds, to change the popular consensus, to change the way institutions work. In sum, to make the people question the right of their leaders to rule in the accepted way.
Success would consist in permeating throughout society a whole new system of values, beliefs and morality. A system that would become accepted by all in a way that would appear to be the normal thing to do. How is it done? Besides the traditional intellectuals (those who see themselves as such) there must exist the "organic intellectual", i.e. the one that grows with a social group, and becomes its thinking and organizing element. The role of informal "educators" in local communities becomes essential. The educator must not be seen as a distant "brainy" figure but as "one of us", one of the neighborhood, another one of the group.
The same applies to the schools which Gramsci sees as a means used by social groups "to perpetuate a function, [namely] to rule or to be subordinate". Ergo, schools and curriculums must be controlled either directly or indirectly.
Once organized these groups would engage in incessant political activity and use massive means of communication. No armed conspiracies, just unrelenting propaganda. The introduction of Gramscian methodology in society, produces a constant clash for supremacy of ideas and a patient but persistent subversion of the building blocks of that society. Subversion is a many faced endeavor played by different people with different objectives but the modern method has a substantial Gramscian content.
Take a case in point. Why it is that we must often suffer a way of thinking that attempts to coerce us intellectually? Look around. How many times have you heard: You must not be "judgmental" or "intolerant." What does that mean in Gramscian terms? It means: You must accept our values and not argue. If you do not you are out the mainstream. Remember the Gramscian objective of turning their ideas into "common sense"?
Do you now understand, why we have political correctness? Why we have neighborhood groups that look more like agitation and propaganda entities than neighborhood associations?
Why we have schools that push a peculiar curriculum and ignore parents, school budgets that make available funds for incredible courses, and teachers unions that often do not appear to represent teachers true interests?
Why we have churches that have become political discourse centers?
Why we have a myriad civil associations with goals that appear to be destructive and divisive?
Why we have mass media that often operate as propaganda machines rather than reporters of events?
The Wall Street Journal article continues: "Mr. Fonte says the Gramscian view has special currency in higher intellectual circles, particularly on elite college campuses. The plight of women, minorities, gays and other victims of cultural hegemony is a favorite subject of student indoctrinations, not to mention speech and thought control, in such places. The federal Violence Against Women Act produced a Supreme Court case in which a 10-year-old boy was charged with harassing a fifth-grade female classmate. It is no accident that the Gramscian New York Times editorial page thought that the most important thing Al Gore said in his eloquent concession speech was that he would continue to fight for people "who need burdens lifted and barriers removed." How he might have conducted his fight if he had been elected has never been clear; certainly not by cutting their taxes."
The only way to gain absolute power in the United States is through long range Gramscian tactics. There is hope however, if we don t take for granted what we now enjoy and fight to maintain power divided. The true strength of the American Republic is the division of power. This is why the would be revolutionaries so hate the Electoral College, States Rights, local self government, etc. The system devised by the Founding Fathers complicates their life tremendously. As the quoted article notes:
"Over and above these structural features, there are the multiplicity of interests and interest groups, the immense diversity of American society and the excessive rhetoric that characterizes the conflict of those separated in fact by minor differences." Underlying it all, however, "is the sheer power of the idea of freedom an idea so powerful that not even those opposed to freedom condemn it . . . ."
The last sentence is crucial. Even those that seek to destroy the system must pay lip service, at least, to the idea of liberty. They must talk about the people s right to vote while they work against it and seek to discredit the process.
The Gramscians in the United States cannot wage a war of conquest. They must wage a war of attrition and position. If we understand their tactics we can stop them and win. But it won t happen by staying at home and watching the game. We must all become involved. In the same way they become involved. To use a Gramscian term, each one of us must become an "organic intellectual" of sorts, one that explains and convinces. Gramsci was right when he said that all men have intellectual concerns outside their field of activity. The problem is that most citizens are so busy with their lives that they do not have the time to think things through. They need help and those who understand must help, each in his own way.
We have in our favor truth and true common sense. If they succeed it is only because we allowed the party with the harmful product to sell it to an unsuspecting public.
Maybe somebody who once owned a piece of America and lost control of it but expects it back eventually. Just a thought.
That's the way it was in 1776, and that's the way it is now. It may be interesting to note that the country has never become a theocracy. Nonetheless, it is the religious input that keeps a society from descending into an entirely secular dictatorship. And vice-versa.
I belive that it's the balance between the two, coupled with the First and Second Amendments that keeps us unusually free.
A better article would have resisted the temptation of plugging the author's own ideology more than is necessary. If there really is an apocalyptic conflict between Hegelian-Marxist-Gramscian and Tocquevillian visions, Fante's celebration of his own clique at the expense of possible allies is an abomination and a great stupidity. Why alienate people who care as much about defeating the beast simply because they don't agree with you 100%?
If you really want to understand the culture wars, don't bother with neo-conservative and radical foundations in New York, go out into the country and look at some of the protests over abortion and controversies over school textbooks. Those disputes reflected real disputes that ran far deeper than anything Fante talks about.
But is there really still a culture war today? In previous years there was a clear and bitter conflict between cultural radicals and cultural conservatives. We will probably see divisive battles over abortion or homosexual marriage in the future, but the peculiar atmosphere of the culture wars of the seventies, eighties and early nineties seems to be a thing of the past.
Americans recognize now that we are one country and that as much unites as divides us. What made the culture wars was a strong them vs. us fissure. On both sides in the culture wars, "we" were people who lived and worked together, and "they" were an unknown threat from outside. Today, neighborhoods and work places are more mixed and people are more likely to know homosexuals and fundamentalists, Catholic traditionalists and radical feminists, so passions don't run as high.
Twenty years ago people saw court decisions and bureaucratic pressure transform America and wondered whether elections and lobbying might undo those changes. That atmosphere may well return in the future, but things have been quite different in recent years. The lesson of the past few years is that American politics and politicians don't usually tend to bring radical changes. The sixties were an exception, not the rule. The culture wars probably aren't over and may flare up at some later date, but there's been a truce for some time.
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