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autumn 1995

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!

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David Kerr



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