Crisis of Hegemony

Hence, no one single person amongst the Democrats should be taking the credit for the knockdown of the Republican “Tsunami” down to a Republican resurgence, which is perhaps what Joe Biden is seeking to do. If anything, leaders such as Joe Biden and Donald Trump are opportunistically trying to benefit from the situation and are then trying to spin the situation in their own favor, without acknowledging the root causes of the situation nor doing anything that would address the root causes of the situation.

Certain psychological studies such as the “Milgram Experiment” seek to explain why certain individuals are able to assume the position of an authority figure and are then able to control and influence others, while other people assume a follower role and then become obedient to an authority figure or a set of authority figures. There are perhaps three main reasons for this divergence or dichotomy. For one, the authority figure has to demonstrate that they are qualified to become an authority figure, and the qualifications then convince the rest of the population to obey the authority figure. Second, the authority figure has to have a certain level of credibility and legitimacy in order for their control to take hold over others. And third, the willingness of an authority figure to take responsibility for others is also important in fostering a sense of obedience amongst others. 

All three aspects or dimensions of this criteria for authority and obedience are lacking amongst a great deal of the world’s population in this day and age, which is why the urgency of fostering order out of flux is higher now than perhaps at any point in time over the course of the last fifty years or so. For the authorities in certain Western societies, the current crisis is a “crisis of hegemony” to borrow from Antonio Gramsci. And this ‘crisis of hegemony’ on the part of the authorities stems from their failure to succeed in their various undertakings over the course of last few decades. In turn, the authorities have to adapt to novel circumstances and situations in order to avoid becoming “mummified and anachronistic” to borrow from Gramsci. Between the bureaucracy and the political parties in Western societies, Gramsci argued that it is the bureaucracy which is most “conservative” and has the most difficulty in adapting to novel circumstances and situations. Hence, the current crisis is arguably most “catastrophic” for the bureaucracy than for the political parties. 

The goal in the short run for the bureaucracy is to retain its power and to reestablish its hegemony amidst the current state of flux which has emerged. The ability of the bureaucracy to retain its power and to reestablish its hegemony becomes ever more constrained and fettered when the legal and political institutions of a society are under the sway of democratic forces in a crisis situation which is largely defined by a state of flux. In sum, there is a “conflict” between the economic and social demands of the broader population on one hand, and the ideology of the bureaucracy and the state on the other hand. And as Gramsci argued, the only real and viable solution to this conflict is a “compromise” which would address the economic and social drivers for this conflict, which is undergirded for the most part by an “economic thrust” or economic undercurrent.  

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