In class on Monday, we did some work trying to tie particular texts and ideas into contemporary issues. That was interesting and productive, I thought, so I want to do more of the same for this Blog post. In this case, I would much prefer that you use/discuss one of the readings assigned for Wednesday, Nov. 12. If, however, you feel strongly that you want to go back and re-consider one of the texts assigned for the 10th, I would allow it. That said, I want you to follow a similar process as we did in class, with a few tweaks. Here, I’d like you to: 1) Outline and explain a key idea from your chosen author/text. Quote from the text and discuss just what, exactly, your selected author is trying to say, and why. 2) Offer up a specific political example or historical scenario that might be used to explore and critique the argument of your chosen author. 3) Negotiating the scenario and situation you’ve provided as your test case, explain and support YOUR view of the issue at hand. What do YOU think, and why?! This Blog is a little more wide open than we’ve done so far in class, but I think that’s a good thing and I’ll be curious to see what kinds of issues and ideas you come up with.
The text that I have chosen for this post is, “Hegemony” by Antonio Gramsci. The main point of this whole text is the idea of hegemony. This is usually described as ideological domination. This idea relates directly to the idea that it “locks up society”. This text also focuses on the idea of consent and how the people must give consent in order for things to happen. The text says, “The State does have and request consent, but it also “educates” this consent, by means of the political and syndical associations; these however, are private organisms, left to the private initiative of the ruling class”. An example of this could be with voting. Everyone, of the required age, has the right to vote. This means they could give consent to someone that they are voting for to assist in decision making for the people and the country. In my opinion, this text is very informative. It shows how the government says things with the consent of the people no matter what class you are categorized in. I also liked how the writer demonstrated how the bourgeois class has “taken over” and how they have been more successful than previous times.
In Bertrand Russell’s text The Forms of Power he claims that if two men are doing the same thing and one achieves it at a higher level than he has more power than the other man. On the other hand he states, “but there is no exact means of comparing the power of two men of whom one can achieve one group of desires, and another another” (19). I picked this quote because each and every person in society has their own individual goals they would like to reach, so I believe each person can hold equal power but they get there a different way. It’s impossible to compare someone who wants to reach the goal of becoming a doctor to someone reaching their goal of becoming a teacher. Achieving power does not have to be reached in the same way. Of course, two people who want to become a doctor one can get a step head, meaning he has the upper hand over the other, but it does not work that way with people who have different goals. From a political stand point, we could use this to look at the president of the United States. How much power does he really have? Because I believe when it comes down to it, a lot of situations are voted on by other people. So yes, he might have the higher titled, but does he really hold more power? The only way I believe people in society can have more power over others is if they are striving for the same goals, otherwise each and every person has the opportunity told an equal amount of power.
In Friedrich Nietzsche’s “The Will to Power,” he sates “one must desire more that one has in order to become more.” He is saying, that “to have and to wish to have more,” is called growth and is a principle that life itself preaches. Nietzsche is saying this because the desire for wanting more than what someone already has, is how anyone gains power. If there is no desire, there is no will and without either, no one has ever gotten a position of power. To prove this case, we can look at any and every leader in history. They have all reached their way to the top through the desire of becoming bigger and better. For example, Adolf Hitler rose his way to the top with the desire of becoming more than just a poor and ridiculed person. He wanted more from his government and himself, so he used his powerful speaking skills and won Germany’s heart. He had the desire and will power which shaped his way to becoming a very powerful leader. I believe that wanting more is the only way to actually become more. If you don’t want more than what you already have, there is no way you can possibly gain power. However, I am completely against Hitler’s way of doing this was for it was one of the worst things anyone has ever done in history.
The author that I am choosing is John F. Kennedy. The main point of JFK’s speech is summarized perfectly by his quote, “And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.” JFK was encouraging Americans to do service for their country instead of asking for their country to do things for them. JFK’s main purpose was equal rights and freedom. He wanted American to be better as a whole he also said, “My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.” He wants everyone to work together to help gain the right of freedom. Kennedy’s inaugural speech gave a challenge to American’s youth. His speech was to inspire the young to look foreword for a better future. For example, when the Cold War came the economic state of America was not great and then things started to change. JFK’s Speech had a impact on politics.
The text that I wanted to explore was “The Forms of Power” by Bertrand Russell. The key idea is that an individual may be influenced by direct physical power over his body, by reward and punishment as inducements, and by opinion. The author is trying to say that a person can be controlled physically, you can be controlled by being blackmailed or anything in that same category, and or being controlled by manipulation. A scenario would be how Hitler manipulated all the Germans into hating the Jews. He also imprisoned and killed all the Jews, and didn’t allow any of the Jews to work anymore. His goal was complete Genocide. I think this is cruel because there should be no control over anyone in any type of form. I feel that using one type of these three forms of power a leader can get away with. I feel that a leader that wants to use these three forms of power is a mentally ill leader, and something in his lifetime caused him to fell that he has to use these powers on any human. If a leader uses all of these powers it can ultimately lead to a leader’s downfall.
The text I am commenting on is Antonio Gramsci’s “Hegemony.” In the text, Gramsci makes a point of establishing the idea of “hegemony,” which can be described as the predominance of one social power over another. He states that the responsibility of the dominant power is to raise the populous to a “particular cultural and moral level, a level which corresponds to the needs of the productive forces of development,” which are the same standards of the ruling class. He admits that, in reality, these actions are tended to by private institutions that “tend to the same end.” A modern example of this idea of hegemony can be seen in the United States. As a global power, we do not have the influence militarily to impose a true hegemony on the entire planet, but our influence worldwide has produced the ideology of universal governance, and that can be seen as a type of hegemony. I personally do not think the United States holds a global hegemony, especially with the balancing existence of other major powers like Russia or China. Our military power is unnecessarily unrivaled, but we do not impose consented rule on the entirety of the globe, so we are not a true hegemony.
FDR’s inaugural address aims to speak to the hearts of the American people and hopes to assist in realizing their wants and needs. In the text of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s First Inaugural Address, he states the following: “Happiness lies not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort. The joy and moral stimulation of work no longer must be forgotten in the mad chase of evanescent profits. These dark days will be worth all they cost us if they teach us that our true destiny is not to be ministered unto but to minister to ourselves and to our fellow men.” In other words, he explains the fact that money cannot possibly buy happiness and that happiness comes through the end of a hard day’s work. Men must work together in order to achieve an equal point of happiness, which was the ultimate manifest that we were meant to live. Today, we would not be able to discover an equal point of happiness if we didn’t live in a democratic society. A society that allows checks and balances and the fact that people have the right to speak what’s on their mind. If happiness were to truly be found in finances, then we would live in a world that was ran by currency. I personally believe that a person should not be judged by the amount of income he or she pulls in at the end of the year, but rather by character and personality. A hard working, dedicated American is someone to look up to and be inspired by. A country cannot be operated through laziness, but rather by commited laboring forces and driven communities.
The author that I will be examining in more depth is one of my favorite civil rights activist, Malcolm X. His main idea that he always stressed was that he wanted freedom for all African Americans even if they believed in different religions or had different views on politics. The quote of his that I will be analyzing is when he said, “No, I’m not for separation and you’re not for integration. What you and I are for is freedom. Only you think that integration would get you freedom, I think separation would get me freedom. We both got the same objective, we just got different ways of getting at it.” Malcolm believes that the white man was trying to keep them divided by keeping African Americans fighting about separation and integration. When in reality everyone had the same goals and just needed unite to achieve it. I, being a part of the African American community, agree with Malcolm we do need to be united as a whole. My scenario or more like question is what if African Americans were finally able to unite in harmony, image the things that could be accomplished! To this day that community is still divided and are fighting each other, yes we have come a long way but we still have even further to go. One instance I believed was achieved because of unity was Barack Obama being elected as President. The African American community saw having him as President as a chance for their voices to finally be heard! I know a lot of people who hadn’t voted before that election and haven’t voted again after that election. That is only the beginning there can be much more accomplished if they just unite.
Antonio Gramsci’s text Hegemony discusses what hegemony is and how it works. Hegemony is the leadership over a group of people. He talks about how the government is set up, he says that “Government with the consent of the governed, but with this consent organized, and not generic and vague as it is expressed in elections.” He is saying how the government has to have consent of the people they are governing but not in a generic way like voting. In our government today we govern by the consent of the governed but we use what he calls a “generic and vague” way of doing so, elections. We use this system and it works for us, electing our president, governors, senators, whoever. The elections in which we vote who governs us, allows for a population that is somewhat happier with who is making decisions for us. No whole population will be happy with the elected representative but this allows a larger group to put in their input into who is governing us. Without this type of system I think it would be much easier for there to be a revolution of the bourgeois like he also describes in this passage.
Malcolm X changed the way Americans treat eachother. His writings brought forth many topics to think about. He believed it didn’t matter what race or religion you are, because you’re still a human being. “You’re not to be so blind with patriotism that you can’t face reality. Wrong is wrong, no matter who does it or says it.” We as Americans would like to believe that we believe this quote is what we all believe in, but unfortunately it’s not. Racism and other forms of judgement still happen today, and Malcom X’s work reminds us that discrimination needs to end.
In Friedrich Nietzsche’s “The Will to Power, the idea that emotion is what drives human power politics is explored. “Perhaps I know best why man is the only animal that laughs: he alone suffers so excruciatingly that he was compelled to invent laughter. The unhappiest and most melancholy animal is, as might have been expected, the most cheerful” (p. 44). The idea that man is innately sad and depressed mirrors the ideas of Hobbes that man is naturally in a state of unrest, and therefore, is restless and seeking ways to change how he feels. Take for example, Hitler’s rise to power, a move predicated on his anger with the situation that Germany found itself in after WWI. O the Catonsville Nine, who found themselves angry with the draft. Man seeks change to areas that upset him, and it is this emotion that ultimately drives all change. Those who feel powerfully about something will have power. I agree with this idea, because change will not be enacted unless there is something directly impacting those affecting change.
I would like to look at the contemporary application of a “Hitler Like” figure to a modern America with possibly (probably) controversial connotations. To quote him directly:
“The people has now been ruling three years and no one has in practice once asked its opinion. Treaties were signed which will hold use down for centuries: and who has signed the treaties? The people? No! Governments which one fine day presented themselves as Governments.”
However, now I would like to quote Malcolm X directly, and I would like you as a reader to consider the similarities in the following excerpt:
“The political philosophy of Black Nationalism only means that the black man should control the politics and the politicians in his own community. The- the time– the time when white people can come in out community and get us to cote for them so that they can be our political leaders and tell us what to do and what not to do is long gone.”
During class discussion yesterday, we asked the question whether or not a “Hitler Like” figure could come into any possible power in American politics, ignoring the fact that Hitler was preaching a similar philosophy of Malcolm X of political solidarity. Let me get the fact of the matter out of the way that in NO WAY do I endorse the methods of scapegoating an entire religious sect that Hitler used, I am simply raising the point that I was slightly afraid to raise in class during the discussion of Adolf Hitler that Malcolm X was the de facto “Hitler Like” figure that the class said simply did not/could not exist in contemporary United States, although the connotations attached to their philosophies were polar opposites; Malcolm X being a preacher of coexistence whilst Hitler was a preacher of eradication. It is also hauntingly similar that “Nationalism/Nationalist” is present in both titles of their philosophies (National Socialist German Workers’ Party/Black Nationalism). Again, in no way do I place Malcolm X in league with the hateful figure that is Hitler, I simply provide this as food for thought.
In Antonio Gramsci’s Hegemony, he comments on state, government and a society’s culture. He takes an ethical standpoint on state, believing that every state is ethical. He states that the main purposes is to raise their people under their prominent morals and culture but those ideas most correspond with the state needs to help further develop it. He uses school as example of a positive educative function and courts as a negative. I agree with this statement because schools due to provide a perfect environment to place the states morals on the students or better known as the “future” of their state. Then Gramsci speaks on government and the governed. And how the elections plays as organization that is primary based on consent of those that are governed. I feel like Gramsci is basically commenting on the structure of not only the society but also the country and its government as a whole. He shows how our discipline method is a negative, though we as America views as positive way to handle those that refuse to abide by our laws. He makes us examine the structure of our country and government, just to see if our “model country” follows the ideas that he purposes.
*Just a reminder that i email you and sent you my blog on time because the website was not working for me at the time*