Hegemony, Counter-hegemony, Anti-hegemony

  • William K. Carroll University of Victoria

Abstract

This article takes a critical realist stance in exploring the changing conditions for and forms of hegemony and counter-hegemony in “postmodern”, “neoliberal”, “globalized” times. Current hegemonic practices and projects make common sense of a market-driven politics and a fragmented culture, infusing into them an organization of consent that operates both locally and globally. Yet this amounts only to a thin hegemony, a weak and ecologically unsustainable basis for social cohesion and material reproduction. If contemporary hegemony is deeply yet perilously grounded then counter-hegemony needs to address those grounds. This stricture points to the articulation of various subaltern and progressive-democratic currents into a counter-hegemonic bloc that organizes dissent across space and time. Counter-hegemony needs to walk on both legs, taking up statecentred issues as well as issues resident in national and transnational civil societies. Its durability across conjunctures requires not only a shared ethical vision but a political form appropriate to its tasks. A range of recent developments relevant to these issues is discussed. The article concludes with a critique of the anti-hegemonic politics of dispersed singularities, whose insights, particularly on the value of direct action and prefiguration, need to be integrated into a strategically coherent form.
Published
2009-01-02
Section
Keynote Address