There are two main stands leading to the Gramscian idea of hegemony:
1. The third international concerning the strategy of Bolsheviks and the creation of a socialist state.
2. the writings from Machiavelli.
He is looking for a way of creating Hegemony and he wants to mention conditions. He enlarges the definition of the state. He says that it is possible that leaders hand out power to other civil instances, as long as they recognize the hegemony. So Gramsci says that the notion of the state would also have to include the underpinnings of the political structure in civil society. Gramsci thought of this in concrete historical terms. All the institutions that form people are consistent with the hegemonic order.
Gramsci comes to the conclusion that western societies differ fundamentally from Russian societies. Because of their intern organisation, it was hard for communists to turn over the state to with a revolutionary approach. He states that a war of movement is not the way to deal with the western societies, a war of position is better. This means you slowly build up the strength of the social foundation of a new state. In western Europe, the struggle had to be won in civil society before an assault on the state could achieve success. The difficulty about this is the fact that you have to create a counter hegemony with all new institutions and intellectual resources.
Gramsci says there are two kinds of societies; on has undergone a social revolution and worked out fully its consequences in new modes of production and social relations. The other kind were societies which had so to speak imported or had trust upon them aspects of a new order created abroad, without the old being replaced. In these societies, there was no active hegemony because the opposing forces did not succeed in creating a revolution. This created passive revolution conditions.
There are some typical accompaniments to passive revolution:
1. Ceasarism. A strong man intervenes to resolve the stalemate between equal and opposed social forces. There are progressive (when strong rules presides over a more orderly development of a new state) and reactionary (when it stabilises existing power).
2. transformismo. The widest possible coalition of interests. It is about cooperation between subaltern social groups.
We use passive revolution to show that there is no active hegemony because no dominant class has been able to establish a hegemony in Gramsci’s sense of term.
Gramsci states that state and society together constituted a solid structure strong enough to replace the first. Such a structure is a historic bloc. Ideas and material are always relating and mutually influencing each other. An historic bloc cannot exist without a hegemonic social class. A new bloc can occur when a sub group brings his ideas to the stage in a society and overrules the others. In western societies, this will be done by a war of position.
In the creation of historic blocs, three levels of consciousness are separated: economic-cooperative, solidarity of class consciousness and the hegemonic.
Hegemony and international relations.
The state remains for Gramsci the basic entity in international relations and the place where social conflicts take place, the place also, therefore where hegemonies of social classes can be built. The emergence of new worker led blocs at the national level would, in this line of reasoning, precede any basic restructuring of international relations. States that are powerful, have undergone a profound social and economic revolution and have most worked out the consequences of this revolution in the form of social relations.
Hegemony and world order.
It would appear that, historically, to become hegemonic, a state would have to found and protect a world order which is universal in its conception. The hegemonic concept of world order is founded not only upon the regulation of inter-state conflict but also upon a globally conceived civil society, a mode of production of global extent which brings about links among social classes of the countries encompassed by it. A hegemon can encompass more peripheral countries in it by a passive revolution. in the world hegemonic model, hegemony is more intense and consistent at the core and more contradicting at the periphery. Hegemony is an order with world economy with a dominant of production which penetrates into all countries. It also encompasses social relationships. You can describe it as social, political and economic structure.
Mechanisms of hegemony: IOs.
IOs form the process through which a hegemon can develop its ideology in to the world. Features that express IOs and their hegemonic role are:
1. They embody the rules which facilitate the expansion of hegemonic world order.
2. They are themselves the product of hegemonic world order.
3. They ideologically legitimate the norms of the world order.
4. They co-opt the elites from peripheral countries
5. They absorb counter hegemonic ideas.
International institutions are usually formed by the hegemonic state and its rules.
The prospects for Counter-Hegemony.
world orders are grounded in social relations. Gramsci’s analysis of Italy: only a war of position can, in the long run, bring about structural changes, and a war of position involves building up the socio political base for change through the creation of new historic blocs. This is the core of changing the world.