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How the Existing Culture Shapes the Values, Beliefs, Desires, Fears, Fantasies, and Ambitions of the People, which Serves to Reproduce the Culture and Its Social Problems      

This web page discusses 'hegemony', a Marxist sociological concept, but also conceptualised by Weber, and particularly Gramski (an Italian Marxist). The fact that most of you have never heard of hegemony is an indication of just how uninformed and ignorant the public is kept about sociological perspectives (which is not the same as being informed but choosing to reject it). Hegemony is a process whereby the public institutions and social structures (including economic stratification) of a society, which are created by the ruling class, serve to mould the values, morality, ambitions, fantasies, fears, and desires of the citizens to those of the ruling class. 

For example, consider a leadership or a ruling class who maintain their control over their society through astrology. These leaders would probably use their power within the society to create a culture in which....   

  • elitism is based upon astrological knowledge (and because of this, most citizens would not have access to an advanced education in astrology);  
  • the society's educational and scientific institutions regard astrological beliefs as true;  
  • certain astrological events become associated with feasting, gift-giving, public holidays, and public rituals or ceremonies; 
  • the media continually regards and reaffirms astrological knowledge and beliefs as being the only sensible, fair, and valid things to base the rules and social structure of a society upon;    
  • the yearly calendar may be based upon star signs, and the year zero or one may be based upon some astrological event;  
  • peoples' daily or weekly lives include (superstitious) rituals, or modifications of individuals' behaviour, which are associated with promoting or inhibiting events that the stars have indicated might be a possibility;   
  • the laws and policies of the state are based upon astrology;
  • the state and major public and private institutions make decisions based upon astrological events;
  • the institutionalised religion preaches astrology and supports the economic and social stratification that is based upon astrological knowledge;  
  • peoples' successes and failures in life (and economic life) are continually rationalised, analysed, and reaffirmed in terms of astrological events and beliefs;
  • the society becomes much more fatalistic (e.g. Births, deaths, and sickness are written in the stars);
  • individuals applying for jobs or marriage partners may be assessed by their birth date and time; 
  • droughts, storms, etc are attributed to astrological events, or by people breaking taboos that are based upon astrological beliefs; 
  • the state's successes or failures are attributed to astrological events; and 
  • the physical structure, appearance, and locations of prominent building, towns, and roads reflect astrological beliefs. 

In such a society, the citizens' values and beliefs, and what they think they know become rationalised upon what they think they know about astrology because the culture is rationalised upon astrological events. And many citizens would develop fantasies and ambitions about being a great astrologist, not just for personal enlightenment, but mainly because they fantasise about enjoying the same social and material benefits that the current elite class does. And these fears, desires, fantasies, and ambitions that develop within ordinary citizens (from infanthood) serve to keep the value of astrology and elitism very high within the society, and this serves to reproduce the same form of rule and social structure (i.e. an institutionalised astrological domination culture that serves to favour the ambitions and fantasies of elite astrologists). As in any materially stratified society, social and environmental problems, which are more often than not, quite acceptable to the ruling class, ensue, but now it is also these culturally developed values, beliefs, desires, etc of the citizens that are serving to keep the dysfunctional culture/constitution reproducing itself over and over again, even when the public does not like or trust the current leader. 

Most citizens, and especially those born into the society, would accept astrological beliefs as normal or obvious, and regard astrology is being all-important. But even if some citizens don't believe in astrology, they will have no choice but to pander to these beliefs if they hope to get by or to succeed within their society and if they hope to be regarded as normal. And in doing this, they helplessly support and reinforce astrological beliefs within their society and the astrologists' control of their society. Many citizens would develop the desire to know as much as they can about astrology, but because this knowledge is inaccessible to most people (because it is a means of acquiring high status), most citizens are likely to develop a fear of being without their leading astrologists. Not only does this serve to keep astrologists in power, the citizens are more likely to worship or display gratitude to their astrologist leaders, and to accept that they do deserve to be rewarded more than all others for undertaking this vital job for their society. 

Hegemony can hardly be considered an accidental phenomenon. It would appear that ruling classes learnt long ago that if you succeed in achieving this transmission of values, beliefs, etc, the leadership will remain far more stable than when one is ruling through more blatant forms of domination. As such, and as the list above indicates, we see important social institutions such as religion, science, law, and government being controlled and manipulated to validate and consolidate the values, desires, fantasies, ambitions, etc of the ruling class, and therefore the existing structure of the society. It is blatant social construction; it is never admitted to; it is denied that it does condition peoples' minds; it is evident in all elitist forms of rule, and it works. That is, hegemony is a form of conditioning, and as you can see, it is very different to the process of deducing what is the right or the most fair or logical thing to do.    

At the same time that all this social construction occurs, an equally intensive campaign is working to seduce the citizens into accepting that all other forms of rule are unfair, unjust, ignorant, corrupt, oppressive, unworkable, weak, inhumane, immoral, or anything else that can be thought up, and this usually works on us as well (even though most citizens conversely distrust the motivations of those people who preach this rhetoric: the ruling class, the elite, and politicians). You may think that the leaders of the various forms of rule would need to justify to the people why their form of rule is the best and/or rational, and you would be right. However, and I know that you're not going to like this, but we people are capable of believing and becoming emotionally attached to the most unbelievable and unacceptable things through this social conditioning process, as the example of a society based upon astrological beliefs indicates. As you will see shortly in our 'The Capitalist Scam' and our 'The Democratic and Undemocratic Nature of the AEM's Egalitarian Society' web pages, we people of so-called civilized, scientifically enlightened, and modern western societies are currently believing the absolutely ridiculous, and accepting the completely unacceptable (e.g. intellectual labour is worth more than physical labour). And this is because the rulers of our society have also deliberately and successfully conditioned us by using all the same techniques that are discussed in the list above, and they have used them to social create support for, and belief in two inter-supportive loads of nonsense, capitalism and the contemporary form of democracy.  

So, the context of our culture serves to modify the way in which we think (i.e. our psyche), and much of what we are motivated to do. Almost every fantasy and every goal that the citizens acquire were developed within a particular cultural context, which would often not make sense outside of that culture, particularly the fantasies and goals of those people who were born into an existing culture (which is everybody in Australia and in most other places). And as the context of the culture is created from the top down, we feel that Marx was pretty close to the mark when he wrote that the ruling values of a society are the values of the ruling class. 

Typically however, most citizens in all cultures usually refuse to believe that certain of their own values, beliefs (or what they think they know), desires, fears, and ambitions were developed within them by their ruling class or the context of their society. Nor do they accept, or begin to consider that their own values, beliefs, ambitions, etc are the problems underwriting their own society's greedy or brutal leadership and social problems. They instead blame bad or greedy individuals in power or those individuals who are the victims of social problems. As such, as much as the citizens complain about the social problems or the poor leadership of their society, their own values and beliefs, etc serve to keep things the way they are. 

Developing the same fantasies and ambitions of power and wealth is also why new forms of rule tend to behave a lot like the form or rule that was just ousted, particularly when they have no objections to a materially stratified society. The end result is that although new regimes may come into power on a more humanitarian ticket, they often end up being just as ruthless as the people they ousted.  

The AEM's task is to change your values and attitudes regarding all economically stratified societies, including capitalist societies. This is a difficult task because our values and attitudes are not just based upon what we think we know. They incorporate a lot of emotional investment. Like sexual fantasies, our other fantasies, ambitions, desires, and fears that we have been developed from living within our culture don't just stop because a bunch of Egalitarianists have partially convinced us that they are socially dysfunctional. As with sexual fantasies that have been deemed to be the product of a sick mind, most of us would rather stay sick than to give up something that we derive so much pleasure from thinking about or living out. These are the fantasies and ambitions that keep us motivated to keep going. However, the AEM doesn't expect you to stop fantasising about being rich, but we do hope that most of you realise that you are amongst the 80+% of people who are never going to be rich. To a large extent, it is too late to save ourselves. We are already the product of this society. The idea is to stop developing or reproducing these fantasies in those people being born into the society. We have to understand that we all want to be rich, just as we all wish we had magical powers, but this doesn't mean that certain people should have more wealth than everybody else, just as it doesn't mean that certain people should possess magical powers (even though some people have claimed to possess magical powers in order to gain control of the society or certain groups of people). 

There are quite a few other reasons why we tend to believe nonsense, and we may expand this page later to discuss them. For example, we people tend to believe what we hear first, and particularly so when delivered by someone who is believed to be a reliable source of knowledge. And because we have been receiving capitalist hegemony for the outset of our lives, we tend to believe in the capitalist ideology above all others (which was the planned outcome).    


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