Gramsci’s Civil Society

Gramsci’s Civil Society

Antoni Gramsci was born in January 1891 in Sardinia, Italy. He was one of those members of the Italian Socialist Party (PSI) who influenced the party’s work and made an impression on the world’s revolutions. He remained the party’s Secretary General due to his impressive and creative ideas. Later, he grew his interest in socialism from his brother, who sent him pro-socialist books and articles when he was at university as a student. Gramsci struggled to end the capitalist and fascist regimes in Italy to introduce a peasantry and a Marxist regime. He was arrested by the fascist regime in Italy and imprisoned for 20 years to stop his brain from working. He worked on different notebooks in prison, published as ‘The Prison Notebooks.’
Antoni is widely known for his theory on culture, culture hegemony. Though his famous work includes the famous cultural hegemony, his notebooks discuss various issues related to his era’s politics. This work is mainly based on the concept of Gramsci’s Civil Society. According to Gramsci, a state is based on two main structures. One of them, which is widely known and almost every state possesses this type of society, is Political Society. Political Society is the society of those social groups that consist of police, military, courts, political parties, etc.
The political society is to serve the ruling elites who are dominant or ruling party in that present time through force and jurisdiction. Unlike Hegel and Marx, Gramsci introduced a new concept of the other society, Civil society, which mainly serves the state, Political society, through hegemony. It is believed that the idea of civil society has been taken from Hegel, though correct, but Gramsci altered the concept of civil society and gave it a different notion. What distinguishes his idea of civil society is that he understood it as a part of the superstructure, while Marx and Hegel regarded civil society as a part of the state (political society) without talking about their coercion. Gramsci argues that civil society is used to maintain the hegemony (hegemony is the control of ideas of the people granted by intellectuals of the state) of the state over the common people. This control on people is the control of their criticisms and thinking into a circle that does not ask for a change and is not the thought of a radical man. This hegemony makes the common man a state apparatus who, however, the state may be, does not blame the structure and try to ask for tiny changes in their societies. Various civil society institutions play an active role in maintaining this control on people to intact the dominant class. These institutions include education, media, culture, and religion.
Gramsci argues that the 1917 revolution in Russia succeeded because there was no concept of civil society. Russia had only a political society which made it clear enough for the working class whom to fight and rebel with. Because of the transparency that political society creates and divides society into two, the dominant and dominated, it becomes clear for the revolutionary class to engage in a war of position. However, Gramsci claims that a society comprised of political and civil society makes it difficult for the revolutionary class to bring revolution until there is a war of movement (Culture revolution) and a war of position. The same is the case with European countries. These countries have had access to civil society to create opaqueness for the revolutionary class to act. This argument is especially based on the failure of Italy’s socialist party.
There are misunderstandings that civil society aims at safeguarding the common man, which is untrue. Let us take, for example, educational institutions. Frankly, there are very limited disciplines that are taught in universities. None of those disciplines include a discipline of change and a revolutionary subject. Those disciplines never teach the students how to cope with the cruelties of the state. Let us take a case.

A student engaged in a law program for five years is taught many constitutions, including the constitution of the home country. He is prepared and knows what line divides an innocent man from a criminal that commits a crime. The overall constitution is based on the crimes and limitations of a citizen, but I do not think it tells a law student what the limitations of a state can be. Every article and point tells the readers the do’s and don’ts of a citizen but never mention the same for the state. A state that commits the don’ts of a citizen and protects itself from its constitution is nevertheless a constitution for safeguarding the state itself. To be specific, enforced disappearances are a grave violation of human rights written throughout the constitution of human rights organizations, but it is easily reflected in how the state is practicing the wave of enforced disappearances. Does any article or point of the constitution speak against the state’s atrocities committed on the common man? I do not think there is such an article that protects the man from the state, but I am pretty sure there are rules and regulations that give various non-logical reasons for the atrocities committed by the state to justify the genocide and killing of the common man. So, students in those law classes never urge to ask because they know what the conclusions may be, and the teachers do not make a move to question the authority since they are a part of the state themselves.
Religion is one of the other main institutions that play an important role in controlling people’s minds. Religion is a tool the state and its institutions have used to control the people, stopping them from questioning the authorities and making them act like computers. Even the state uses religion to justify its crimes and prove itself as a defense against the enemies of the religion. Let us take a case.

Islam is the second-largest religion in the world. There are many followers of the religion, and one of those followers is Pakistan which was formed based on religion. Pakistan has annexed Balochistan forcefully using military force since 1948, and Baloch has been fighting since then for their independence of the land. Fighting for the land, asking for the independence of one’s land, saving the identity of a nation, securing the resources that are being looted continuously by Pakistan and preserving the culture of a nation are acts of a revolution that do not go against Islam and any other religion. Most Balochs ask for freedom of their land, which is not a sin against any religion. Balochistan is a war-torn land where hundreds of people die in the name of religion. The forces are brainwashed that they are fighting against Baloch non-believers of Islam and that Balochs are enemies of Islam. This state is using the name of religion to control and prepare the people for committing her crimes. Islam teaches peace and justice, and prosperity. What Pakistan has been doing since 1948 in Balochistan is totally against Islam, and people who are disappeared and have been killed asked no more than the freedom of their homeland. The prophet and the Quran, I do not believe, teach a man to occupy the lands of others and loot their resources and kill them and disappear them because they stand for their rights. In addition, various religious institutions in Balochistan (orchestrated by the state) teach and brainwash the people to justify the atrocities committed by Pakistan. No doubt, these groups are a part of the state and work for the dominancy of the state to use religion against rightful men.
Consequently, the media, a part of civil society, plays an important role in misinterpreting information and working for the state to hide the cruelest games outplayed by the political society. The newspapers and television in the 21st century create an environment for the viewer who is put into a misconception of the information, which is systematically altered to make the people pro-state. Let us take a case to look at how the media is used as the main source of propaganda.

Have you ever watched the news that shows the crimes committed by the judiciary or the political society (state)? In Pakistan, there are always reports of killing a specific number of terrorists in Balochistan. Who are terrorists? Where do they belong to? What are their demands? And are those men killed terrorists? Pakistani intellectuals have widely accepted the efforts of Bhagat Singh, an Indian freedom fighter who fought against the British colonizers to get the subcontinent’s freedom. They also praise the Cuban revolutionary comrade, Che Guevara, who fought against the Batista regime in Cuba.
Similarly, Baloch freedom fighters who struggle for the freedom of their motherland cannot be called terrorists because they stand for their rights, identity, land, and culture. Due to media propaganda, Baloch students who, with their cultural dresses, are studying in the universities of Punjab and Federal are looked at with suspicious eyes as terrorists. Even most of the natives of the colonizers have never understood or are unaware of the Baloch struggle for their land and are shocked to hear the atrocities committed by the state and the propaganda shared by the media. Information through media is presented in a very altered way that erroneously shapes the viewers’ minds.
In conclusion, Gramsci’s concept of civil society is widely understood as a changing factor in the world’s revolutions. People in the past and present have been using civil society to brainwash people to maintain their hegemony. Colonizers worldwide, with their political society, have used civil society to misinterpret the true nature of a revolution and bring misconceptions into the people’s consciousness to seek their help to control the dominancy over the natives of a land. Pakistan, which has occupied Balochistan since 1948, uses the same concept of civil society elaborated by Gramsci. Educational institutions are used to control people’s minds and stop them from thinking radically with their pro-state curriculum. These educational institutions and rules in those institutions do not allow the native language to be practiced and learned, which is clear proof of how thoughts are shaped in the languages of outsiders. The native culture is degraded and marked as outdated and replaced with the culture of the West. The men who stood for their rights and spoke up against the state’s atrocities disappeared and were killed and then named terrorists by the Pakistani media. Government institutions are created to justify the crimes of the state. Various myths are created to support the intact ruling class and maintain the oppression of the natives of the land. Thus, it is very much necessary for a revolutionary people to eradicate the hegemony that is maintained by the civil society and create its society to bring awareness among natives that a revolutionary change is possible in their land where they will no longer have to fear speaking their language, to wear their dresses, to sing and listen to their songs, to dance in their sphere, to use their resources, to say who they are and what they can do for their nation.

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