Was Jesus a Marx's
Was Jesus a Marx's
A Bit of fun for today
So imagine you’re at a dinner party. Nice enough person comes up to you and starts talking to you. Let’s say the conversation starts to go in the direction of politics you talk for a while and at some point in the conversation you decide to ask this person, “so what are YOUR particular feelings about politics and where do you land on the whole political spectrum?” imagine the person replies with well, I’m a Communist! Communism could be the solution to of all of our political problems.
Now, to us, being people living in the 21st century that has seen history play out the way that it has, no matter what you think about Communism, we would instantly have a lot of thoughts about this person and probably a few questions that we wanted to ask them. See because the word Communism carries with it an enormous amount of baggage to us in the 21st-century. It’s important to note, that just didn’t exist when people were having political discussions at the beginning of the 20th century.
put ourselves in the shoes of someone viewing the political landscape back when Communism was first being proposed as a potential solution. Then we can see the political philosophy of the time within its proper context. All we're trying to solve the same general problems that existed in the political philosophy of the time. One was democracy, one was Communism and the general problem they were both trying to solve was: how do we ensure that in the future society doesn’t devolve into a situation where a relative handful of people have an inordinate amount of control over the lives of the majority of the population. This had been a serious problem in the past
Neo-Marxist thinkers at the beginning of the 20th century there was a short period of confusion when it came to what exactly was going on. See, Marx prophesized that very soon the proletariat would realize that all they had to lose were their chains and that inevitably, they would rise up, they would overthrow the bourgeoisie and implement a new system of economic order, let anyone who agrees with Marx cross their fingers and hope that it ends up being Communism. But this Communist revolution just wasn’t happening in almost every case. So what was going on? Neo-Marxist thinkers went back to the drawing board: why does it make any sense that people living in these abject conditions, working jobs that were in many cases brutal…why would those people stand for it? Why didn’t Marx’s prophesy come true?
Well, very quickly the trend that emerged in neo-Marxist thought of the time was that control over a population of people extends far beyond the halls of Congress or the ballot box. Political control is almost always dictated by cultural control. This is why the Italian philosopher Antonio Gramsci (1920) spends a considerable amount of his work exploring the concept of political control and more specifically the very important question of when there is a dominant social group or a dominant class within a society…how exactly does that group ascend to power and then beyond that how do they maintain that power once they’ve gotten it especially when the social order that they promote with that position of power often times is at odds with the wellbeing of the average person? The fact is that sometimes when a leader is elected they don’t try to pass policy that’s necessarily good for the majority of the population sometimes they support policy that really only benefits them or friends of theirs that are members of a dominant social class, sound familiar at all?
Gramsci wants to find out: why is it that these leaders are sometimes capable of getting massive support from the people for policies that are actually hurting the average citizen more than helping them. How is it possible that the proletariat can feel so comfortable participating in a system that keeps them in chains, in the eyes of a neo-Marxist thinker.
Gramsci in his prison notebooks writes about Cultural Hegemony. The word comes from the Greek word meaning “to lead”, some translators say it’s closer to “to rule over” but either way during antiquity there were things called hegemons…now in the context of ancient Greece a hegemon was typically a state that had a significant military advantage over another state the arrangement is that if the weaker state didn’t comply with certain demands from the hegemon they would be annexed or dominated militarily or burned to the ground, take your pick. The term hegemony implied the threat of physical dominance over a population of people…this was the case all throughout human history.
But Gramsci is going to say that in our modern world the definition of the word hegemony needs to evolve with the political reality we are living in. We are no longer living in a world where most political control is exercised by military dominance over a population of people. Since the advent of mass media people in positions of power have realized that a much more effective way of controlling populations is by manipulating the cultural parameters that citizens have to navigate. The general idea is this: to be a human being living life in our modern world you always have to be living that life immersed within a particular culture. But what is culture other than an elaborate collection of norms, rules, structures, mores, taboos, rituals, values, symbolic gestures these things are not exactly abstract concepts they are acute? They are visible. This is the cultural custom of a handshake to pay deference to someone else. This is not talking with your mouth full. This is the sum total of every ritual we engage in on a daily basis that all come together to create a cohesive society. But what Gramsci is going to ask is: who exactly created all of these norms and taboos that we abide by?
We can easily look at different cultures around the world and all throughout history and see that culture can function and flourish when doing things completely differently. The norms and taboos of a culture can be completely alien from the modern world that we’re living in, and yet things still somehow managed to stay held together…so it makes Gramsci wonder: to what extent is the current set of norms and taboos serving to reinforce itself? To what extent are the citizens seeing the current set of norms and taboos not as an instantiation of culture, but as just the way the world is?
This raises the question how much of the reality of the world can be explained by nature, how much of the world can be explained by culture?
This is extremely important because to Gramsci if you can control the narrative and you can convince the average citizen that the current set of cultural norms is just the way the world is then there’s not going to be much complaining, there’s not going to be much in the way of seeking justice and trying to change things
To Gramsci, this is the old switcheroo that’s going on with cultural hegemony. Dominant social classes have the ability to dictate cultural norms, these cultural norms often times serve to reinforce themselves and people born into these cultures often times view the normalized state of the world around them as nature rather than culture
To Gramsci, this is why Marx’s prophesy hasn’t come true. This is why the proletariat continues to live in chains…because they’ve come to accept those chains as the natural state of the world that they need to come to terms with. Cultural norms become to the average person what Gramsci calls the “common sense” that they use to make sense of their place in the world. When the common sense of your world serves to legitimize the dominance of a particular class of people and tells you that anything you don’t like about your socio-economic situation is just the natural order of things…then your very existence becomes reinforcing of cultural hegemony…you are reinforcing the political status quo simply by participating in the culture that you were born into. This is why people that would otherwise never stand for getting pushed around can find themselves getting worked into the ground in a factory during the time of Gramsci only to accept their place in the world as a necessary part of how the world works.
Being a neo-Marxist you can no doubt guess what his first and most commonly used target is throughout his work: Capitalism. So to Gramsci even people that are struggling within a Capitalist system have often times lived their entire lives immersed in a culture that promotes the merits of Capitalism this, in turn, creates a sort of economic Stockholm Syndrome, where despite the fact they are struggling, the citizens identify themselves and their place in the world in relation to Capitalist ideology. When the entire way that you view the world has been given to you by a culture that benefits from maintaining capitalism, Gramsci would say don’t be surprised if that education produces a few blind spots.
These blind spots are the point. Cultural Hegemony in many ways is accomplished by getting consent from the population to keep things the way that they are by making sure people are blind to other options at their disposal. Keep in mind as we continue talking about cultural hegemony that this isn’t always accomplished by an organized group of people that are actively trying to control things. Cultural Hegemony can exist and people can be a part of perpetuating the status quo just simply by acting out of their own self-interest, see because their self-interest is always considered in relation to how the current system can help them they unintentionally support things staying the same.
What Gramsci is getting at is that for any single person or any social institution to appeal to groups in positions of power for the sake of your own self-interest you must in some capacity…go along with the way things are currently structured. So for example, if you’re an aspiring politician or social commentator that wants to make the world a better place the …the only way you are ever going to be able to get your message across is by participating in the existing culture and using the tools at your disposal. Just like the militaristic hegemon of ancient Greece…the goal of cultural hegemony is to stay in power.
Jesus stood against the common culture overturning first-century dining laws. Cutting against the grain. While people everyone was looking for a dominant force to overthrow the powers that be. Jesus changed the world by working in society and serving society while challenging the status quo.
If you look at the world through the political lens of Gramsci I think you could draw the question was Jesus a Nio-Marx's some 1800 years before Marx?
We as christens are meant to be in the world but not of the world if we took this to challenge the system and not just accept the world as it is given to us.
Today we see Hegemony in the media, facebook, politics even the English language it's self as the majority of the elite education only comes in our English and does not except people who are not well versed in English. Economics and capitalism as the ruling class dominate through.
What if Jesus infiltrated all the Hegemony everywhere we find it. Os are they too big to fail? Or is God infiltrating the ruling clause ideas?
Did Jesus start the revolution that true Marx’s demand and look for?
02 May, 2022