A contribution by C Companyero
Hegemony (cultural domination ) includes social class; hence, the philosophic and sociologic theory of cultural hegemony analyses the social norms that establish the social structures (social and economic classes) with which the ruling class establish and exert cultural dominance to impose their world view—justifying the social, political, and economic status quo—as natural, inevitable, and beneficial to every social class, rather than as the artificial social constructs defined by and beneficial solely to the ruling class.
Internationally hegemony is a political relationship of power wherein a sub-ordinate society perform social tasks that are culturally unnatural and not beneficial to them, but that are in exclusive benefit to the imperial interests of the hegemon, the superior, ordinate power; hegemony is a military, political, and economic relationship that occurs as an articulation within political discourse.
In the praxis of hegemony, imperial dominance is established by means of cultural imperialism, whereby the leader state (hegemon) dictates the internal politics and the societal character of the subordinate states that constitute the hegemonic sphere of influence, either by an internal, sponsored government or by an external, installed government. The imposition of the hegemon’s way of life—an imperial lingua franca and bureaucracies (social, economic, educational, governing)—transforms the concrete imperialism of direct military domination into the abstract power of the status quo, indirect imperial domination.
Suggested examples of cultural imperialism include the latter-stage Spanish and British Empires and by the end of the 20th century, the United States.
Here in Malawi the British hegemony is mostly superseded by the international capitalist logic of neo liberalism. Now instead of British direct rule or indirect rule via HK Banda, the United States are imposing their interests on us. By direct means of money as in the MCC grant to Escom on the condition of unbundling and privatization on capitalist terms. Also by cultural means: we get international advertising on our satellite TV channels, internet websites, radio and by the roadside on ever bigger billboards, that are taking over our public space. In our newspapers we read advertising. Al this bombardment with capitalist consumerist norms and values (Buy! Buy! Buy!) influences our culture, so the neo liberal logic from the US is ingrained in our subconscious. You cannot enter a trading centre without being pushed to buy.
We see how our communal values have been eroded by this onslaught of consumerism. Our ruling class does not value the community. Many MPs never enter their constituencies (in spite of 500liters of fuel per month at the tax payers cost) until re election is coming. Instead they busy themselves with raking in more and more money to try to satisfy their consumerism. And it goes all over. Our personal relations are so transactional. Many of our peers cannot view any relation other than: what’s in it for me? Rather than the African, Malawian communal values that make life worth living. It should be better to give than to (corruptly) take away from others. It should be more satisfying to feed our hungry, than to rake in more personal property. More satisfying to house the population than to build an empty white farm of over 80 rooms. But we let the cultural imperialism of the foreign capitalists take over our values. We should re think our society: what is best for us? Is that the rat race to personal riches, or the African communal values of the gift economy?