Neo-Gramscianism In The International Relations: Counterhegemony

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Political theories are divided into general and, depending on the level of abstractness in the study of their subject. For the theories of private nature, sometimes which are called middle-level theories, include analysis of decision-making, foreign policy analysis, strategic research and research on the problems of peace. In this context, in the world of Globalization, I would say, that all the historical and political cases lead to the place of international actors as a Hegemon.

Now in processes of the international relations Gramschi’s theory, which is directly connected with hegemony in world space is more widely considered. Many gramschists preferred this theory to call ‘Neogramschism’, though the idea didn’t change.

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Neogramschism analyzes how concrete social forces, the states and the dominating ideological educations define and keep world order. The view of neogramschist of hegemony differs from the realistic. Realists consider hegemony as ‘the prevailing force of the state (group of the states)’. Neogramschists claim that because of globalization process, the neoliberal transnational historical block or already exists or only starts appearing.

One more concept which is used by neogramschists is the concept of counterhegemony. The concept of counterhegemony belongs to alternative interpretation of standard functioning of social, economic and political institutes. Neogramschists use such terms of Machiavelli as ‘war of a position’ and ‘movement war’ to explain as this transformation will be possible. In ‘war of a position’ the counterhegemonic movements try to increase by belief and promotion, number of people who share opinion; in ‘movement war’ counterhegemonic tendencies which grew rather widely due to overthrow, either violently or democratically, the current hegemony is approved as the new historical block.

One of mechanisms through which universal norms of world hegemony are expressed is an international organization. The international organization functions as process by means of which institutes of hegemony and ideology are developed. Among features of the international organizations, which express the role of predominant force, are:

  1. The organizations include the general rules which promote expansion of a hegemonic world order.
  2. They are product of such world order.
  3. They ideologically legalize norms of a world order.
  4. They are copying elite of the peripheral countries.
  5. They absorb counterhegemonic ideas.

Representatives of realism in International Relations understand hegemony as ‘the actual and essential superiority of potential of power of someone’s power over the potential of the others.

‘Gramschi considers the Western world as the world of the settled hegemony, where in the sphere of economy the capitalist system was installed, in policy bourgeois political forces dominate, in the intelligent environment intellectuals serve interests of bourgeois political forces and serve the capital’.

However, there are societies which politically aren’t up to the end integrated into a hegemony kernel. Their Gramschi describes as tsezarism model when ‘the strong personality interferes with a desperate situation between equal and opposite social forces’ . It is Russia, China, the countries of the Middle East (Iran, Saudi Arabia). However, the tsezarism faces as the calls proceeding from international external hegemony and from the national bourgeoisie. It can’t ignore these processes and goes on the way of transforms that is partial modernization, rapprochement with hegemony, trying to keep the sovereignty .

Now we will pass to consideration of the concept of A. Gramschi integrated into the critical theory of IR. The founder of this direction is Robert Cox. After Gramschi, he notes that modern global society is founded on domination of the bourgeois and liberal principles and all system of the international relations is constructed on service of hegemony of the bourgeoisie. This society of hegemony is in language, technologies, policy, customs, art, fashion, etc.

For him hegemony at the international level is established order between the states, and order in world economy with the dominating way of production, and complex of the international social relations connecting the whole classes in the different countries. Thus, the world hegemony can be described as well as economic, both political and the social device; it can’t be something one and has to include all three elements.

Counterhegemony can lean on the countries of the Second and Third world, BRICS country (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), Argentina, Egypt, Vietnam, Indonesia and all states to which it is uncomfortable in the developed hegemony in general. Besides, there is a number of countries which are in direct opposition of hegemony: Iran, North Korea, Serbia, Venezuela, etc.

Today most of experts are sure that one-polarity — only an episode in geopolitical history. However, all of us still live in conditions of this unipolar world.

Such is structure of the unipolar moment, there are at once some measurements:

  • geopolitical (military domination of the United States of America “USA” and countries of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization “NATO”);
  • ideological (standard distribution of liberalism and liberal democracy);
  • economic (final internationalization of world capitalist system — globalization);
  • technological (inevitability of adaptation of high western technologies);
  • valuable (gender policy).

Today we live in hegemony establishment conditions. It has two forms:

  1. the direct open hegemony of the USA (called by ‘one-polarity’ or ‘the American empire’) about what the American neoconservatives frankly speak and that was almost official line during an era of presidency of Bush Jr.);
  2. the hidden hegemony of a globalism which is carried out through distribution in the planetary scale of the western values, norms and procedures as universal socio-political and economic device (the last is called sometimes as ‘the nonpolar world’ where the West dominates not on behalf of some one country but as the invisible center setting the general protocol, system of codes and rules).

However, it is impossible to forget that in the XXI century the USA dominates as a superstate which obviously tries to keep hegemony and unipolar system. And judging by neogramschism theory, the USA defends the interests against the counterhegemonic phenomena.

From the beginning of the new millennium the USA though didn’t show frankly the interests in suppression of prosperity of other powers, however USA showed the objection with every possible way. We can see it on the example of international policy system of the USA till nowadays and one of the most important of them, which happened after the collapse of Soviet Union. Right away the USA wanted to minimalize the role of Russia in the Central Asia to be the only superpower or as I mentioned before, to become a hegemony.

The international events of the last decades, increased the attention to the Central Asian region caused by geopolitical features, namely a geostrategic arrangement of the region. Besides, rich natural resources of these states gained appeal in the opinion of the international actors. In turn, it is necessary to consider that the importance of the Central Asian region for world and regional powers consists not only in the sphere of economic and political transformations. The situation in the countries of Central Asia can influence the international security, rendering counteraction to the existing threats of the modern world.

The aims are pursued by such countries as Russia, China, the USA, Turkey, Iran, Japan, India and the states of the European Union “EU”, thereby increasing the importance of the region on the world scene. In this plan the USA act as one of the main players in worldwide policy on whose activity the condition of modern and future international backgrounds and development of certain regions and countries in many respects depends.


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