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2010-12-16 00:17:12 (UTC)

Hegemony

HEGEMONY

Edward Said(1935-2003), University Professor of English and
Comparative Literature at Columbia University, wrote that: "In any
society that is not totalitarian certain cultural forms predominate
over others, just as certain ideas are more influential than others.
The form of this cultural leadership is what Antonio
Gramsci(1891-1937), one of the 20th century’s leading Marxist
interpreters, has identified as hegemony. Hegemony is an
indispensable concept for any understanding of cultural life in the
industrial West."1 It is an indispensable concept, therefore, for
understanding the cultural life of any of its groups.

Hegemony, as Gramsci saw it, is always a process, a realized complex
of experiences, relationships and activities, with specific and
changing pressures and limits. Its internal structures are highly
complex….It has continually to be renewed, recreated, defended and
modified. It is also continually resisted, limited, altered,
challenged by pressures not at all its own.2

Gramsci died the same year as his father! He died within days of the
articulation of the first Baha’i Seven Year Plan(1937-1944). This
Plan was about to be formulated in late April and early May of 1937 by
the delegates to the National Convention in Chicago. The Baha’i
community was itself being transformed while Gramsci was writings his
Notebooks into a very different hegemony, process and complex of
relationships.
-Ron Price with thanks to 1Edward Said, Orientalism, Penguin Books,
London, 2003(1978), p.7; and 2Raymond Williams, Marxism and
Literature, Oxford UP, Oxford, 1977, p.112.

You died the same year as your father
after such a short life.1 Hunch-backed
and underdeveloped, family in poverty
and plagued by health problems your
entire life. But you read and read and
had that wonderful memory…....Your
writings have been published recently
especially your prison Notebooks and
their 3000 pages written during those
last eleven years of your life in prison.2

An informal network of pockets of small,
local, ingrown and amorphous groups
evolved at this time into a national unit
of a global, well-organized religion with
a national consciousness in world society.3
I found the events-interesting synchronicity.

1 Gramsci died at the age of 46.

2 Not published in English until the 1990s these Notebooks, these
writings are the fruits, some say, of a genius. That being said, some
also say, they are virtually impossible to understand. They are not
cohesive in any sense of the word and offer no linear insight to tell
the reader a story. They do, however, offer a great deal of insight
into Gramsci's thoughts about virtually every topic from people he met
to the thinkers of his days. His prose and poetry go to the heart of
his thoughts, a heart which was politics. His work on hegemony,
whenever it appears is brilliant and should be given apt time to
study. These Notebooks are not for the casual reader. Readers need to
have some background with Gramsci’s thought and the period in which he
was writing. For serious scholars of Gramsci’s thoughts and works
these Notebooks are a must have. Otherwise, I would recommend reading
his collected works. In the edited volumes of his writings readers
will find a more cohesive story presented. They will not get this in
his Notebooks.

3 Loni Bramson-Lerche, “Some Aspects of the Development of the Baha’i
Administrative Order in America: 1922-1936,” Studies in Babi & Baha’i
History, Vol.1, ed. Moojan Momen, Kalimat Press, 1982, pp. 255-300.

Ron Price
15 December 2010


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