HEGEMONY

Hegemony is a "moving equilibrium" between the interests of a dominant class and a number of allied but subordinate classes. It is a self-contradictory compromise, though, that is always shifting, fluid. Since it is always in a state of flux, due to the shifting nature of the compromise between classes, it is not a universal state, always under the control of the same ruling class, though it does have pretensions of eternity.

Hegemonic power, which 'naturalizes' a certain set of social relationships can, however, be deconstructed, be read oppositionally, and, occasionally, be altered greatly. The naturalization that hegemonic ideology renders gives to the vast majority of society's members a 'common-sensical' explanation for why the world is the way it is. "I don't know why. That's just the way it is. It's common sense." The common sense of hegemony suffocates questions, denies challenges, prevents alternative answers. For a subordinate group to gain power to shift the directions of the hegemonic power, however, is next to impossible in a stable society. The very forces of hegemonic influence which sustain the power of one group, prevents other groups from gaining enough alternative economic, military or intellectual resources to change the equilibrium in their favor. It can be seen that the times in which these shifts in the hegemony do occur are times of great crisis and change. In a world ordered and explained by the invisible, silent and omnipresent movement of common sense, how does one bring forward a challenge?

As we hope we sketched out, hegemony is never a monolithic force. It is a term used to describe a generalized tendency on the part of human societies to be oriented ideologically according to the interests of the institutions of a dominant ruling class, reflective of their material control of a society's economic resources..

The ideology of hegemony naturalizes the material balance of power in a society, and permits no alternative visions of reality to gain widespread acceptance. Hegemony is a fluid thing, as is the material balance of power in society, and slight shifts do seem to occur from time to time, as one formerly excluded group or another enters the hegemonic compromise and its needs are to be included, whether symbolically or otherwise. But radical shifts in the hegemonic balance of power never seem to be a threat. As soon as a threat presents itself, the hegemony shifts and appropriates, alters and incorporates, co-opts, the elements of the issues that inspired the threat into the dominant paradigm.