If you’re not familiar with Antonio Gramsci, you should be. Gramsci was an Italian Communist who, while in prison in the 1920s, penned what has become the left’s handbook for taking over societies. The current ne plus ultra of Gramsci’s methods is Pope Francis, the Marxist who worked himself up through the ranks of the institution to become its head. Today’s Catholic Church, a 2,000-year-old institution, is headed by a Marxist who may not even be a Catholic. That’s Gramsci.
The Pope is hardly the only leftist “marching through the institutions.” He’s just a handy, very prominent example. The world is full of these people. The idea of Cultural Hegemony — seeking it, maintaining it, using it — is central to leftist thinking worldwide. Here in the United States, we are at considerable risk of being surrounded by Gramsci-style cultural hegemons. Ironically, that is because we had attacked them where they are strongest.
There was a think piece in Friday’s Wall Street Journal that is nominally about “the role of the corporation in society” but which describes how Roosevelt’s New Dealers built the American welfare state inside the private sector, using large firms to do what they could not do (at that time) politically. They basically ‘Gramscied’ the Fortune 500 into carrying out their preferred social policy in regards to medical care, defined pensions, employment security, etc. They could do this because corporate governance was quite weak back then. Managers did whatever they wanted with corporate assets; ownership was so spread out and unorganized that shareholders really had no say in how resources were used.
All that changed in the 1970s with the rise of ‘shareholders rights’ movements and institutional investors who swung a big enough bat to put an end to the corporate welfare state. Which the lefties hated but which is just as well because it’s probably a bad idea to have unelected people setting social policy anyway. As we are learning the hard way with Twitter and Google.
So all the unelected Social Policy Makers from the private sector moved into the government, where they populated a vastly expanded federal bureaucracy. That’s pretty much where we’ve been for the last 30 years, with Gramsci’s hegemons happily directing government resources and power into their favorite causes. Like the corporate hegemons of the 1950s, they have mostly ignored the owners’ elected representatives.
Just as shareholders eventually revolted in the 1960s and reclaimed their assets from the occupying social engineers, so the voters are waking up and wondering why their government is allowing so much harm to come to them, and doing so little to benefit them as opposed to all these other causes and peoples around the world.
If it hadn’t been Trump, it would have been somebody like him. Somebody was going to come along and harness the fact that the government is in the hands of a huge, unelected clique of arrogant do-gooders who don’t care, and don’t have to care, what the public wants or what the “politicals” tell them to do.
It has taken Trump three years, but we are finally starting to see evidence that the Gramscian Hegemons in government service are being squeezed. They certainly aren’t gone yet, and they may never be entirely removed. But we don’t need them to be gone. We only need them to get their hands off the steering wheel.
Here’s what else we don’t need: we don’t need them popping up again in the private sector, turning large corporations into social engineering platforms the way they were in the 1950s. This isn’t just happening in Silicon Valley anymore. We’re seeing Gramsci’s head pop up in places like WalMart and NASCAR, where left-leaning ideologues are using market power to implement social policies they cannot get past the elected leaders in government.
The good news is that this means that the left wing hegemons are indeed being kicked off their perches in the Civil Service. They feel threatened, and many are jumping ship.
The bad news is that if we don’t catch this in time, and the Bad Guys get lucky, they could end up owning both the private and public sectors. And then we’re hosed.
Follow Robert A. Hahn on Twitter.