In Marxist philosophy, cultural hegemony “describes the domination of a culturally diverse society by the ruling class, who manipulate the culture of that society — the beliefs, explanations, perceptions, values, and mores — so that their ruling-class worldview becomes the worldview that is imposed and accepted as the cultural norm; as the universally valid dominant ideology that justifies the social, political, and economic status quo as natural, inevitable, perpetual and beneficial for everyone, rather than as artificial social constructs that benefit only the ruling class.”
The Italian anarchist, Antonio Gramsci viewed cultural hegemony as operating within a society in which a shifting alliance of social classes struggle for domination of social norms and ideas. Gramsci was to first to identify popular media as the means through which this struggle takes place. This results in an on-going dialectic between the ruling classes and the subordinate classes as to the dominant definition of reality.
In today’s world, we see international business interests attempting to defend and increase capitalist domination of the global economy, and thus, local economies, through international trade agreements supported by international trade organizations such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Through economic manipulations, less developed countries are encouraged to shift their local economies from local production for local consumption to local production for global exports.
Also at the international level, the United Nations Division of Sustainable Development “provides leadership in promoting and coordinating implementation of the sustainable development agenda of the United Nations… and to promote integration and coherence of policies and the implementation of actions in the social, economic and environmental areas.” In plain language, this means the United Nations promotes economic growth to reduce poverty and increase the quality of life for people in less developed countries.
Meanwhile, people at the local level struggle to maintain cultural traditions, social norms and ideals against the negative effects of increased industrialization, environmental damage and cultural loss as due to the efforts of transnational corporations and international economic manipulation.
The definition and perception of climate variation takes place in this swirling miasma of competing agendas. Public relations firms are contracted by national and international agencies, including the United Nations, corporations and non-profits to spread their interpretation of climate variation and its implications for public policy and private initiative. As a result of media attention, climate variation has become a critical topic on which political careers depend, a moral issue for religious leaders and media pundits, a scientific conundrum based on popular misunderstanding of the scientific process and the nature of evidence and theory formation.
The current cultural hegemony of climate change holds that 97% of scientists believe that human CO2 production causes observed global warming, and that reduction of CO2 emissions will “stop” climate change, or at least diminish its effects on human civilization sufficiently to allow us to accommodate coming changes. Those who question these conclusions are labeled “deniers” and “climate skeptics” and marginalized in the discourse, regardless of qualifications or affiliations. Popular media parrots the consensus view without analysis or question, adding hyperbole and unsupported conjecture to the confusing mixture of opinion.
The situation oozes of cultural totalitarianism, in which only one mode of thought is allowed, in which ad hoc thinkpol roam the information superhighway seeking deviant thinkers and writers of thoughtcrime to be pulled over and diverted to the off-ramp to the Ministry of Love for reprogramming.
The question remains: cui bono? Who stands to benefit from the popular perception that human action causes climate change and all the cultural carnage that will follow? Does the global agenda to “stop climate change” benefit the people who will be affected, or does it benefit an economic elite in supporting a global economy based on unlimited economic growth? Which vision of reality supports all life on the planet, including human life, and which is designed to benefit humans at the expense fo the rest of the biosphere.
How do we shift from cultural hegemony to biological hegemony? How do we escape from the totalitarian domination of a destructive world view?
Next up on Words Arranged: Secession from the Broadcast: The Internet and the Crisis of Social Control.