A Long March
Born in 1891, Antonio Gramsci was an Italian Marxist theoretician and politician who founded the Italian Communist Party. He wrote on political theory, sociology and linguistics. What he is best known for and why we need to be interested in him though is his theory of cultural hegemony.
Marxists such as Vladimir Ilvich Lenin used the word hegemony to talk about the political leadership of the working-class in a democratic revolution. Our friend, Antonio here, greatly expanded this concept to examine in a far deeper way, how their perceived enemies, the ruling capitalist class – the bourgeoisie – established and maintained its control.
Antonio put forward that the bourgeoisie developed a culture that supported its own values and norms to the point that they were considered common sense and it then made sense to the working-class to help maintain that status quo rather than revolting. His thought was that the working class needed to create their own set of values and their own corresponding culture as a crucial aspect of reaching their political objectives. His theory continued that in order to dominate, a class must exert intellectual and moral leadership, while still recognising that one would also need to create alliances that involved some compromise.
Antonio regarded the Christian way and the Word of God as folklore. He felt that what he could create would supersede religion and meet mankind’s needs. He spoke of a long march that began with ‘consented’ coercion, moved to a situation where a crisis called for the masks of consent to slip away, revealing the first of force. He celebrated the idea that the current cultural hegemony under which the working class had suffered could be changed over a period of time, so as to support what he saw as a better system of values.
He said, “The power of cultural hegemony lies in its invisibility. Unlike 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 that doesn’t look like politics and is therefore a lot harder to notice, much less resist. When a culture becomes hegemonic, it becomes “common sense” for the majority of the population.”
Communists/Socialists have used this technique very effectively in Australia. Little by little over generations they have patiently eroded godly features of our culture. They have worked hard and strategically to make Christians appear to be the enemy and to embrace a post modern culture where good is bad and bad is good. Now it’s okay to kill your unborn child because she’s not the gender you were after. Now it’s acceptable to talk however you want at your teacher and they can’t do a thing about it. Now if an Islamic terrorist kills people, Muslims are considered the victims more than those innocent people who were murdered. Now, sexual deviance and depravity is normal, as is divorce. Burgeoning debt cripples the average person and makes them easier to control. New school curricula rewrites history to claim the Christian a menace to society. A new anti-Christian culture has arrived and is regarded as common sense. Vice is celebrated. The long march has reached its destination… or so they think.
What they possibly didn’t count on was the fact that Christianity has always been counter-cultural. The early Christians were in the environment of the Roman Empire, a society more hostile to the gospel than possibly any other in history – and yet the gospel advanced and spread and was even eventually embraced by Rome. Today is the same. Despite the great persecution and hatred directed toward it, the Kingdom of God continues to advance. To continue to do this to any great degree though, we need to embrace some of the theory of our mate, Antonio. We need to recognise that for real change in a society, there must be a change of the dominant cultural understanding and practices. As has been the thesis of this blog, cultural change happens largely through the creative expression of the Arts within society.
The body of Christ has a long march ahead. We must tenaciously and patiently continue to sing, dance, write songs and poetry, take photos, produce movies, write television screenplays, sew, paint, design graphics, sculpt, author novels… exercise whatever creative gift God has placed within each one of us for the purpose of furthering the Kingdom. It’s time to get your boots on and start marching.
Ever changing; Thy Kingdom come
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