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Chapter Week 4 Cox

PSCI 2602 Chapter Notes - Chapter Week 4 Cox: Communist International, Petite Bourgeoisie, Vanguardism


Department
Political Science
Course Code
PSCI 2602
Professor
Supanai Sookmark
Chapter
Week 4 Cox

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(WEEK 4) GRAMSCI, HEGEMONY AND INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS: AN ESSAY IN METHOD
Gramsci and Hegemony
Grasis oepts ere all deried fro histor 
These iluded the orkers ouils movement of the early 1920s, his participation in
the Third International and his opposition to fascism. (162)
He was constantly adjusting his concepts to specific historical circumstances. (162)
A oept, i Grasis thought, is loose ad elasti ad attains precision only when
brought into contact with a particular situation which it helps to explain a contact
which also develops the meaning of the concept. (162-163)
Gramsci geared his thought consistently to the practical purpose of political action.
(163)
Marxism as the philosophy of praxis. (163)
Nothing could be further from his mind than a Marxism which consists in an exegesis of
the sacred texts for the purpose of refining a timeless set of categories and concepts.
(163)
Origins of the Concept of Hegemony
There are two main strands leading to the Gramscian idea of hegemony. (163)
o First ran from the debates within the third international concerning the strategy
of the Bolshevik Revolution and the creation of a Soviet socialist state
o Second from the writings of Machiavelli.
I traig the first strad, soe oetators hae sought to otrast Grasis
thought ith Leis  aligig Grasi ith the idea of a hegeo of the proletariat
and Lenin with a dictatorship of the proletariat. (163)
What is important is that Lenin referred to the Russian proletariat as both a dominant
and a directing class; dominance implying dictatorship and direction implying leadership
with the consent of allied classes (notably peasantry). (163)
Gramsci, in effect, took over an idea that was current in the circles of the Third
International: the workers exercised hegemony over the allied classes and dictatorship
over enemy classes. (163)
Yet this idea was applied by the Third International only to the working class and
expressed the role of the working class in leading an alliance of workers, peasants and
perhaps some other groups potentially supportive of revolutionary change. (163)
Grasis origialit lies i his giig a tist to this first strad: he egan to apply it to
the bourgeoisie, to the apparatus or mechanisms of hegemony of the dominant class.
(163)
It necessarily involved concessions to subordinate classes in return for acquiescence in
bourgeoisie leadership, concessions which could lead ultimately to forms of social
democracy which preserve capitalism while making it more acceptable to workers and
the petty bourgeois. (163)
Because their hegemony was firmly entrenched in civil society, the bourgeoisie often did
not need to run the state themselves. (163)
This perception of hegemony led Gramsci to enlarge his definition of the state. (164)
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When the administrative, executive and coercive apparatus of government was in effect
constrained by the hegemony of the leading class of a whole social formation, it became
meaningless to limit the definition of the state to those elements of government. (164)
The notion of the state would also have to include the underpinnings of the political
structure in civil society. (164)
o The church, the education system, the press, all the institutions which helped to
create in people certain modes of behavior and expectations consistent with the
hegemonic social order. (164)
Gramsci had pondered what Machiavelli had written, concerning the problem of
founding a new state. (164)
The second strand leading to the Gramscian idea of Hegemony came all the way from
Machiavelli and helps to broaden even further the potential scope of application of the
concept. (164)
Machiavelli, in the fifteenth century, was concerned with finding the leadership and the
supporting social basis for a united Italy; Gramsci, in the twentieth century, with the
leadership and supportive basis for an alternative to fascism. (164)
Gramsci took over from Machiavelli the image of power as a centaur: half man, half
beast, a necessary combination of consent and coercion. (164)
o To the extent that the consensual aspect of power is in the forefront, hegemony
prevails. (164)
o Coercion is always latent but is only applied in marginal, deviant cases. (164)
Hegemony is enough to ensure conformity of behavior in most people most of
the time. (164)
The Machiavellian connection frees the concept of power (and of a hegemony as one
form of power) from a tie to historically specific social classes and gives it a wider
applicability to relations of dominance order. (164)
It does not, however, server power relations from their social basis (i.e., in the case of
world order relations by making them into relations among states narrowly conceived)
but directs attention towards deepening an awareness of this social basis. (164)
War of Movement and War of Position
He came to the conclusion that circumstances in Western Europe differed greatly from
those in Russia. (164)
To illustrate the differences in circumstances, and the consequent differences in
strategies required, he had recourse to the military analogy of wars of movement and
wars of position. (164)
In Russia, the administrative and coercive apparatus of the state was formidable but
proved to be vulnerable, while civil society was undeveloped. (165)
The vanguard party could set about founding a new state through a combination of
applying coercion against recalcitrant elements and building consent among others.
(This analysis was particularly apposite to the period of the New Economic Policy before
coercion began to be applied on a larger scale against the rural population). (165)
In western Europe, civil society, under bourgeois hegemony, was much more fully
developed and took manifold forms. (165)
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A war of movement might conceivably, in conditions of exceptional upheaval, enable a
revolutionary vanguard to seize control of the state apparatus; but because of the
resiliency of civil society such an exploit would in the long run be doomed to failure.
(165)
Gramsci described the state in Western Europe (by which we should read state in the
limited sense of administrative, governmental and coercive apparatus and not the
elarged oept of the state etioed aoe as a outer dith, behind which there
stads a poerful sste of fortresses ad earthorks. 
Accordingly, Gramsci argued that the war of movement could not be effective against
the hegemonic state-societies of Western Europe. The alternative strategy is the war of
position which slowly builds up the strength of the social foundations of a new state.
(165)
In Western Europe, the struggle had to be won in civil society before an assault on the
state could achieve success. Premature attack on the state by a war of movement would
only reveal the weakness of the opposition and lead to a reimposition of bourgeois
dominance as the institutions of civil society reasserted control. (165)
To build up the basis of an alternative state and society upon the leadership of the
working class means creating alternative institutions and alternative intellectual
resources within existing society and building bridges between workers and other
subordinate classes. (165)
It means actively building a counter-hegemony within an established hegemony while
resisting the pressures and temptations to relapse into pursuit of incremental gains for
subaltern groups within the framework of bourgeois hegemony. (165)
This is the line between war of position as a long-range revolutionary strategy and social
democracy as a policy of making gains within the established order. (165)
Passive revolution
Gramsci distinguished between two kinds of societies. (165)
o One had undergone a thorough social revolution and worked out fully its
consequences in new modes of production and social relations. (165-166)
o The other kind were societies which had so to speak imported or had thrust
upon them aspects of a new order created abroad, without the old order having
been displaced. (166)
In these societies, the new industrial bourgeoisie failed to achieve hegemony. The
resulting stalemate with the traditionally dominant social classes created the conditions
that Gramsci called passie reolutio, the itrodutio of hages hih did ot
involve any arousal of popular forces. (166)
Oe tpial aopaiet to passie reolutio is Grasis aalsis is aesarism: a
strong man intervenes to resolve the stalemate between equal and opposed social
forces. (166)
Both progressive and reactionary forms of caesarism: progressive when strong rule
presides over a more orderly development of a new state, reactionary when it stablisies
existing power. (166)
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