pulled off in the last half century. I do not claim that Gramsci’srnideas were consciously followed by those who seized culturalrnpower in the United States—indeed, the beginnings ofrnthe cultural revolution of the left long predated Gramsci’s influencern—but it is true that the process by which that revolutionrnoccurred resembled the strategic and tactical ideas that Gramscirnlater articulated. Besides, most successful revolutionariesrnpossess an instinctive understanding of these ideas and knowrnhow to apply them. If the cultural right in the United States isrnto take back its culture from those who have usurped it, it willrnfind a study of Gramsci’s ideas rewarding.rnWhat distinguishes Gramsci’s Marxism from that of most ofrnhis predecessors and contemporaries is that while most ofrnthem, following Lenin, emphasized the need to capture andrncontrol the state, Gramsci argued that this was not the appropriaterntactic in Western Europe or the United States. In thosernsocieties, the capitalist class had succeeded in manufacturingrnwhat he called “ideological hegemonv” by control of the culturalrninstitutions of society—religion, education, the arts, thernvery processes of thought, taste, and emotion. While as arnMarxist Gramsci believed this kind of hegemony was no less repressivernthan the economic and political repression Marx andrnLenin had discussed, he also understood that the “masses” orrnworking classes had essentially internalized the ideological formulas,rnmyths, values, and norms that this ideological hegemonyrnimposed, so that actual reliance on force bv the rulingrnclass was largely unnecessary.rnThe main implication of the cultural or ideological hegemonyrnof the capitalists in Europe and America, in Gramsci’srnview, was that the strategy of revolution there had to be differentrnfrom what it had been in Russia. While in Russia capturingrnthe highly centralized czarist state was the key to a successfulrnrevolution, in the West the ruling class only partiallyrndepended on the state. “In the East,” Gramsci wrote, “the staternwas everything, civil society was primordial and gelatinous; inrnthe West, there was a proper relation between state and civil society,rnand when the state trembled a sturdy structure of ciil societyrnwas at once revealed. The state [in the West] was only anrnouter ditch, behind which there stood a powerful system ofrnfortresses and earthworks.”rnIn other words, overthrowing the state or capturing it wouldrndo the revolutionary little good, since the real power of the oldrnruling class rested on its cultural hegemony, and if the reolutionrnwere to succeed, it would have to challenge the culturalrnhegemony of the ruling class even more than it challenged itsrnpolitical hegemony. “A social group,” he wrote, “can, and indeedrnmust, already exercise ‘[moral and intellectual] leadership’rn[i.e., cultural hegemony] even before winning governmentalrnpower (this indeed is one of the principal conditions for thernwinning of such power); it subsequently becomes dominantrnwhen it exercises power, but even if it holds it firmly in its grasp,rnit must continue to ‘lead’ as well.” It does no good for revolutionariesrnto control the coercive apparatus of the state if thernmasses they intend to rule still retain the internalized beliefs instilledrnin them by the ruling class, since the result would be thernkind of total state repression that emerged in Russia underrnLenin and Stalin. What the revolutionary must do, then, is tornseize cultural power before seizing political power.rnHow this seizure of cultural power can be accomplished wasrnthe subject of a good deal of Gramsci’s own political workrnas a communist organizer before his imprisonment and ofrnmuch of his writing while in prison. Essentially, he argued thatrninstead of relying on the bureaucratized and elitist party structurernthat Lenin had built, revolutionaries must build what herncalled a “counter-hegemonic force,” independent of the socialrnand cultural institutions under the control of the ruling class.rnThis parallel force would challenge the authority of the rulingrnclass, its values and norms, while constructing its own authorityrnin accordance with socialism.rnWhat is important to understand about Gramsci’s strategyrnof cultural hegemony, however, is, first, that it recognizes thatrnpolitical power is ultimately dependent on cultural power—rnthat human beings obey because they share, perhaps unconsciously,rnmany of the assumptions, values, and goals of thosernwho are giving them orders—and, second, that in order tornchallenge the dominance of any established authority, it isrnnecessary to construct a countervailing cultural establishment,rna “counter-hegemony” (or, as the New Left called it, a “counterculture”)rnthat is independent of the dominant cultural apparatusrnand is able to generate its own system of beliefs. As indicatedrnearlier, these concepts were not entirely new, and theyrnhad been applied, probably instinctively, by Progressivists,rnMarxists, liberals, and others on the left in the United Statesrnthroughout the first part of the 20th century as the left graduallyrnestablished its dominance in the mass media, the foundations,rnthe universities, and the federal state. That dominancernhas intensified in recent years as veterans of the New Left, oftenrndirectly influenced by Gramsci, have occupied strategic positionsrnin such institutions and have used them to construct therncultural hegemony that we know as “political correctness.” Inrnthe case of the American left, because it has so totally lackedrnany popular support at the grassroots level, it has been unablernto build the kind of independent countercultural institutionsrnthat Gramsci wanted and has had to rely on the infiltration andrnpermeation of established institutions, and especially on governmentalrnpower.rnMoreover, the left has not been the only group to apply thisrnstrategv. It is interesting to note that Adolf Hitler seems to havernconceived much the same idea in the aftermath of his failedrn1923 Beer Hall Putsch. Speaking to a group of veterans of thernputsch after he had come to power in November 1936, Hitlerrnremarked, “We recognized that it is not enough to overthrowrnthe old State, but that the new State must previously have beenrnbuilt up and be practically ready to one’s hand…. In 1933 itrnwas no longer a question of overthrowing a state by an act ofrnviolence; meanwhile the new State had been built up and allrnthat there remained to do was to destroy the last remnants ofrnthe old State—and that took but a few hours.” In the years betweenrnHitler’s failed putsch of 1924 and his coming to powerrnin 1933, he and the Nazis built up an entire series of party institutionsrnthat paralleled and duplicated those of the existingrnstate, including groups for women, youth, workers, students,rnartists, and intellectuals, as well as the party’s propaganda organsrnand its paramilitarv forces, so that bv the time Hitler becamernchancellor in 1933, the national socialist state had alreadyrnbeen “prefigured” (to use a term of Gramsci) in the party organization,rnand the actual seizure of state power merely enabledrnthe party to substitute its own apparatus for that of thernold state. The strategy that both Hitler and Gramsci were devisingrnwas essentially to construct what historian Crane Brintonrnin his classic The Anatomy of Revolution called an “illegalrngovernment.” “The legal government,” wrote Brinton, “findsrnopposed to it, not merel}’ hostile individuals and parties… butrnDECEMBER 1993/13rnrnrn