I nearly deleted the term hegemony from my last posts title. It is an intimidating word for me. It reminds me of writing essays and having to gloss over my lack of understanding of some of what I was reading and writing about. I now think my lack of understanding had little to do with my intelligence levels and a lot to do with my lack of experience in society. In some ways university is wasted on the young because they have no context upon which to hang the knowledge they encounter.
I was a little older than most when I made it to university but i was still young. I’d been raised in a mixed class family and was more confused (and in denial) about what class was and did than I realised. I was ‘female’ in a patriarchy and uncomfortable with some of the things that seemed to mean to some people but not yet clear as to what it was going to mean to me and my life, which I could still naively envisage as different, separate from and an exception to my social and political environment. I was political in theory but hadn’t really yet felt the utterly political nature of my interactions with society and it’s institutions. In effect I knew hypothetically what power was and could rant about injustices ‘out there’ but had not yet really experienced the exercising of it or more poignantly the force of it against me.
In such a state of being it is hard to really grasp the meaning of a word like hegemony beyond a parrot like recitation of what I was told by the books I read and the people who taught me.
Now as a 35 year old ‘unmarried mother’, with a ‘disability’ and a more defined value and belief system that has little in common with the dominant values and beliefs society tries to impose on me the word makes a lot more sense. It is brimming with the relevance and context that my life has uncovered in it first hand.
I’ve long felt at odds with the social, cultural, economic and ideological assertions of those who dominate the public voice in this country and known it as a force upon me to be resisted and battled with and circumnavigated. I’ve known it to be the rhetoric of a dominant group with their own self interest at heart. Yet never have I felt myself so alienated from and by it as I have since the last election and it’s devastating result. And since then the proponents of it’s ugliest beliefs and statements have felt freer and freer to state them in terms that would have not long ago been met with disgust and shock but now find an increasingly receptive audience.
The riots were a gift to these people and not one that they have looked in the mouth. It has moved things on to a whole new level to a construction of reality and justice that i find nothing in common with. I am now completely outside. I now feel a disgust and fear growing in me along with my usual anger and sense of injustice. That ideology of the dominant group has now got so much power that it is becoming an unstoppable force that terrifies me as to how far it is willing to go in crushing anything that contradicts it or lives outside it’s definitions of who is deserving, who is good, who is right.
The group it serves is getting smaller and more powerful by the day. More and more of us will fall into the category of ‘them’, the ‘other’, the underclass, the degenerate, the de-humanised wrong ‘uns who need not be shown compassion or be represented in democracy. It doesn’t bode well.