The way forward - a new hegemony
the Ulster Nation debate
IN THE LAST ISSUE of Ulster Nation I argued for
the formation of a National Congress to consolidate and co-ordinate the work of
all the pro-Ulster independence groupings. 1 concentrated on the purely
political front - that all the pro-independence groupings should come together -
but in passing 1 pointed out that Ulster's freedom struggle will also have to be
won on more than just the party-political arena. 1n this issue I wish to develop
these ideas further. 1f the pro-independence movement only operates on a
political level alone it is unlikely to achieve success.
Antonio Gramsci, who founded the Italian Communist Party in 1921 was imprisoned
by Mussolini in 1927. In his Prison Notebooks he wrote that cultural ideas were
well planted which prepared the way for Mussolini's victory. Gramsci recognised
that Mussolini gained much of his support from the frustrated middle classes who
did not feel themselves to be either part of the working class of factory
workers or the capitalist class of factory owners. Socialists and communists did
not get anywhere because they ignored the middle class and especially its
distaste for class warfare. Gramsci recognised that Mussolini had touched a
chord with the bulk of the Italian people.
Gramsci addressed himself to the role of ideas and of intellectuals in creating
the hegemony, i.e. the cultural domination, by means of which the ruling class
gained the mass support to achieve its aims. He held that a successful political
revolution which would preserve rather than destroy the best aspects of existing
culture must be preceded by a passive revolution in the climate of opinion - a
change of consciousness. This is where most classical Marxists fell down but
where Mussolini succeeded.
The pan-Irish nationalist front which has been constructed by Sinn Féin, the
SDLP and the Leinster House parties also embraces Catholic clergy, Gaelic
language enthusiasts, community groups and sections of the intelligentsia, the
trade union movement and the mass media. Mr Adams naturally hopes to fulfil the
role of Mussolini in due course.
The only way to combat this is to undermine the present order of things by the
construction of a new hegemony, gradually spreading our influence to all areas
of Ulster society. Our duty as Ulster patriots is to inculcate our ideas into
such autonomous bodies as the schools, the universities, the churches, the media
and cultural and sporting bodies.
This new hegemony will expand to spread our ideas throughout society. We can
appeal to a broad spectrum of opinion, reaching out to patriotic individuals in
all parties and to those who are not active at all in any political party. 1f we
can project our own positive worldview, we will not just gain political
independence for our Motherland but change our society for the better.
Unionism is dead and beyond hope of resurrection. The old certainties have
disappeared. We do not have to be on the defensive all the time in the face of
the accusations of our enemies. Ulsterfolk have a rich cultural heritage. We can
construct our own positive national and popular consensus. Let's do it!