Media Hegemony: A Failure of Perspective

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DAVID L. ALTHEIDE, Media Hegemony: A Failure of Perspective, Public Opinion Quarterly , Volume 48, Issue 2, SUMMER 1984, Pages 476–490,

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Numerous studies of TV news have been published since Gans's (1972) call for more research on the mass media. A central issue underlying much of this research is control and dominance of the news process. This essay analyzes the logical and empirical adequacy of media hegemony as an explanation of ideological dominance. Analysis of recent research shows that some researchers have uncritically adapted the “dominant ideology thesis” of media hegemony to studies of TV news and have overlooked findings which challenge their claims about (1) the socialization and ideology of journalists, (2) whether news reports perpetuate the status quo, and (3) the nature and extent of international news coverage. Despite the shortcomings of the concept of media hegemony, efforts should continue to develop an empirically sound theoretical perspective for locating the news process in a broader societal context.

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Cover Media, Ideology and Hegemony

Media, Ideology and Hegemony

Series:  studies in critical social sciences , volume: 122.

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  • Notes on Contributors
  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1 Global Media Practices and Cultural Hegemony: Growing, Harvesting, and Marketing the Consuming Audience
  • Chapter 2 The Return of Radical Humanism in Marxism and Anarchism? The Art of Refusal, Resistance and Humility
  • Chapter 3 The Culture of Capitalism
  • Chapter 4 Adorno on Ideology: Ideology Critique and Mass Consumerism
  • Chapter 5 Hegemony, Ideology, Media
  • Chapter 6 Hegemony and the Media: A Culturally Materialist Narrative of Digital Labor in Contemporary Capitalism
  • Chapter 7 Distorted Knowledge and Repressive Power
  • Chapter 8 Counter-Hegemony Narratives: Revolutionary Songs
  • Chapter 9 The US Empire’s Cultural Industries, at War: Selling and Subverting the Ideology of Militarism
  • Chapter 10 Donald Trump and the Politics of the Spectacle
  • Chapter 11 The US Media, State Legitimacy, and the New Cold War
  • Chapter 12 American Journalism’s Ideology: Why the “Liberal” Media is Fundamentalist
  • Chapter 13 Media Activism from Above and Below: Lessons from the 1940s American Reform Movement
  • Chapter 14 The Role of the Hollywood Motion Picture Production Code (1930–1966) in the Creation of Hegemony
  • Chapter 15 MH17 as Free-Floating Atrocity Propaganda
  • Chapter 16 Commercial Reform and the Ideological Function of Chinese Television: A New Model in a New Era?

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The theory, derived from Gramscian Marxism, that an elite controls the mass media, and that the media promote the dominant ideology. See also consciousness industry; hegemony; manufacture of consent. The audience is not necessarily compliant ( see dominant reading; negotiated reading; oppositional reading). ‘Corporate media hegemony’ refers to the global dominance and influence of powerful commercial mass media organizations and a transnational elite. ‘Western media hegemony’ refers to a perception that global news media are dominated by Eurocentric values and perspectives ( see also media imperialism). Critics argue that ritualistic use of the concept reflects reification and determinism and underestimates the contestation highlighted by Gramsci.

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Hegemony and Ideology Essay

The media plays a pivotal role in defining the world and providing models for appropriate behavior and attitudes. Ideology has a link with concepts such as belief system, worldview and values, but is broader in context. The media is considered to be an avenue through which dissemination of ideology takes place. Hence, this is one reason why the media is often a subject of political debate.

The media is deemed a root of social evils and problems. In his campaign trail of 2000, President George W. Bush alleged that school violence was due to “dark dungeons of evil on the internet” (Kornblut and Scales cited in Croteau & Hoynes 2003).

Also, politicians from across the political realm blamed violent video games for the tragic shootings at Colorado Columbine High School in 1999. The media thus is perceived to sell both ideas and products and this paper will discuss how the media effectively achieves this by paying attention to ideology and hegemony.

As shown by Marx and Frankfurt, ideology yields positive results by indicating that social power is operational via the cultural realm of society. People are grouped into social networks of oppression and subordination by ideological systems (Cottle 2000).

Marxists often talk of ideology as a belief system used by those in power to justify their actions though distortion and misrepresentation of reality. Media uses ideology as a means to define and explain the world, and make value inferences on this world.

Ideology in media does not focus on specific activities shown in newspapers, songs, or movies, rather it is interested in the broader system made up by such activities. Compatibility of images and words in a certain media text, thoughts and definitions of cultural and social issues are fundamental in ideological analysis (Croteau & Hoynes 2003).

Despite the fact that mass media texts are comprehended ideologically as means of communication that have a higher regard for some set of ideas and not others, an explicit description of media ideology remains limited. Hegemony on the other hand deals with predominant influence of one group over other groups/group.

Fiske defined hegemony as “exertion of a nation’s ideological and social, rather than military or coercive, power over another nation” (Fiske 1998, 310). In contemporary cultural society, hegemony is the dynamic means used by a dominant class to obtain and win the consent of the subordinate class.

Ideology is very powerful because it is the means through which dominance of hegemonic institutions is gained. Therefore, consent should be won and re-won because courageous individuals may possess alternative ideologies that make them rebellious to hegemonic ones. Ideology, therefore, is integral in enabling a ruling, hegemonic institutions propagate the required consent for dominance.

Media texts are seen as fundamental sites to basic social norms. This is because they play a role in depicting appropriate roles of men and women, employers and their employees, and parents and children. By so doing, the media disseminates the ideologies governing roles by various kinds of people.

Ideology is fundamental in reinforcing perceptions and ideas in the minds of the audiences but, for it to have the powerful effect of changing these perceptions and ideas, a hegemonic aspect is essential. Media audiences define their being, and through such means social demarcation prevails.

The U.S. cultural historians: Todd Gitlin and Williams, and British cultural studies headed by Stuart Hall, have applied false consciousness as the anticipated end product of hegemony. Hegemony has been deemed as the domination, via ideology, of the ruling class and development of popular consent by Antonio Gramsci, an Italian Marxist.

Hegemony is a concept that integrates persuasion from the dominant classes and consent from the dominated classes. It is used by Gitlin and other scientists to explain the process of the capitalism’s promotion. Gitlin’s study implies that supremacy is maintained when those people who are responsible for the process can easily present the explanations of the subjects under consideration.

The ruling class controls ideological space and restricts the thinking of society. The minor/dominated class ignorantly takes part in their domination as hegemony becomes a part of their daily routines and ideas (Gitlin 1980).

Media sites have become a site where cultural contests are staged. This is due to the varying ideological perspectives, which are a representation of different interests varying in power that creates a kind of conflict and struggles within media texts.

Hegemony is not all about ideological domination; rather, it operates by using common sense while making assumptions on social life and terrain of things accepted as natural, or conventional. Gramsci says that by shaping commonsense assumptions, effective rule is achieved (1971). Common sense is the way that people conceive and perceive things without the need of critical evaluation.

A young woman watches a sitcom on television each evening. The characters on this program, her favorite show, are young, thin, Caucasian, and attractive. She is also young, attractive, and Caucasian; watching the program informs and reinforces her perceptions of her successful appearance, her sense of belonging, and her identity as part of her generation (Gray 2005).

Most people are not aware of how presentations of television are developed. The decision by consumers on any program and advertisement is influenced by various parties and institutions. According to Marxist theorists, such parties and institutions are deemed to possess power and privilege.

Ideology is useful in understanding contemporary media because it focuses on compatibility of hegemonic ideology with personal or societal ideologies. However, hegemony is more useful because it has an influential role that persuades the audience thereby creating dominance. The ability of the media’s hegemonic ideology to influence the ideology of an individual leads to subordination.

Otherwise, hegemony alone is not enough to wage subordination because through hegemonic ideology, the dominated class engages in its domination without realizing it. In the excerpt given above, the ability of the media to shape and reinforce the ideology of the young woman creates a kind of subordination to the program.

According to Althusser, ideology is the link between imaginary thinking with real existence: material existence (Althusser 1969, 296). Stuart Hall is one of the contemporary cultural and media critic rooted in Althusserian framework of ideology, and believes that audiences will accept some ideas and reject others depending on their individual differences, particular beliefs and cultural circumstances (Hall 2001).

Hall regularly contours this scenario in his “encoding-decoding typology that postulates the encoding of messages with their unique meanings by the sender, and the decoding of these messages by the audiences” (2001).

The audiences accept some of these meanings, develop new meanings, and reject some of the desired meanings. Postmodern Marxists embrace Gramscian hegemony characterized by persuasion of individuals and social classes to accept social values and norms of an exploitative system (Gramsci 1971).

In the contemporary social world, there are conflicting ideologies as mentioned earlier on. As a result, hegemony comes in and plays an essential role in influencing the decision of the audience.

Gramsci describes hegemony as a form of social power that is dependent on voluntarism and willing participation and is seen as common sense that governs people’s understanding of the world (Gramsci 1971, 333). Integration of hegemony in ideology is what defines and helps to understand contemporary media.

Individuals, who are lovers of romantic novels and films, begin watching the movie with their certain ideologies in mind, but at the end of the novel or film, their ideologies become influenced and changed via hegemony. In a story of “I Followed My Dream” (True Romance 1980 cited in Williams 1977), the hegemony of patriarchy influences and changes the feminist ideas of a young woman.

The character in this story possesses feminist ideas that guide her thinking. She does not intend to get married to a Chauvinist, who will just regard her as a servant. However, she falls in love and actually performs wifely duties as required of her. This story is influential to the audience, and is an indication of hegemonic ideology.

The main theoretical concept that governs contemporary ideology of media is hegemony. Hegemony encompasses culture, power and ideology. The media is perceived to possess a powerful hegemony over the audience thus making them less independent. Freedom of the press, which is leading slogan in almost all media stations, should be understood to mean ‘power of the press’.

The media has had a powerful influential role on the audiences. Several instances include the rise of nationalism in Serbia (Meeuwis 1993), inciting ethnic hatred in Rwanda and South Africa, as well as triggering the post-election violence in Kenya. Despite the fact that the media depicts various ideologies, hegemony is very imperative in contemporary media as far as power, dominance and influence are concerned.

In the Contemporary American society, the media has been referred to as a center of culture wars against fundamental issues related to morality (Hunter 1991). There are struggles over morality and values as the media tries to persuade audiences to accept the images being disseminated.

The nomination of Eminem’s album ‘The Marshall Mathers LP’ in the year 2001 stirred up a lot of controversy as a result of the angry and violent lyrics by the rapper in his depictions of gays, women and lesbians. The media has become the avenue through which change in lifestyle, sexuality and behavior is propagated, and persuades the audiences.

Right now, the issue of single motherhood has been swept under the rug just because the media has shown it as acceptable thus most women nowadays are becoming single out of mere choice (Croteau & Hoynes 2003).

In addition, the Third World countries have been imposed on by the Western countries in terms of clothing, diet, body size, lifestyle, etc. via the media. Hegemonic ideology has been very influential in changing people’s (audiences’) ways and thoughts.

The media is an area where change is inevitable noticed, from ideological sense to hegemony. The media, therefore, is a powerful tool that greatly influences the thinking and behavior of the audience. The media is able to perform this role through hegemony/dominant ideology.

Hegemonic ideology is able to influence the audiences, making them less independent such that they rely on the media for guidance. This is the reason why the media has been blamed for change and dilution of social norms and especially in Third World countries.

Althusser, L 1998, ‘Ideology and ideological state apparatuses’, in Rivkin, J & Ryan, M (eds.), Literary theory: An anthology , Blackwell Publishers, Malden, pp. 294-304.

Cottle, S (ed.) 2000, Ethnic Minorities and the Media: Changing Cultural Boundaries , Open University Press, Buckingham.

Croteau, D & Hoynes, W 2003, Media Society: Industries, Images, and Audiences , Sage Publications, Inc., California.

Fiske, J 1998, ‘Culture, ideology and interpellation’, in Rivkin J & Ryan M (eds.), Literary theory: An anthology, Blackwell Publishers, Malden, pp. 305-311.

Gitlin, T 1980, The Whole World is Watching: Mass Media in the Making and Unmaking of the Left, University of California Press, Berkeley.

Gray, JB 2005, ‘Althusser, Ideology, and Theoretical Foundations: Theory and Communication’, Journal of New Media & Culture, 3, 1, < >.

Gramsci, A 1971, Selections from the Prison Notebooks of Antonio Gramsci , International Publishers, New York.

Hall, S 2001, ‘Encoding decoding’, in Durham, MG & Kellner, DM (eds.), Media and cultural studies: Key works , Blackwell Publishers, Malden, pp. 166-176.

Hunter, JD 1991, Culture Wars , Basic Books, New York.

Meeuwis, M 1993, ‘Nationalist Ideology in News Reporting on the Yugoslav Crisis: A Pragmatic Analysis’, Journal of Pragmatics 20, 3, 217-237.

Williams, R 1977, Marxism and Literature , Oxford University Press, Oxford.

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Hegemonic View of Media Power in Society - Essay Example

Hegemonic View of Media Power in Society

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Liberalism is simply another tool to maintain western hegemony. discuss, human rights and globalization, theory of hegemony in communication studies, the hegemony debate in international relations, neo-gramscian approaches and marxist thinking on international relations, the role of modern media in the creation of social identities of the dominant and subordinate group, role of american hegemony, united states and the neo-gramscian perspectives.

media hegemony essay


Hegemonic orders and the idea of history

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This article makes the case that the literature of hegemonic orders and debates on the crisis of US hegemony have been shaped and up to a point intellectually confined by a tradition or idea of world history understood as a series of hegemonic powers. This tradition of history as a succession of hegemonic powers is traced from ancient to modern sources, later reconstituted as a theoretical discourse. In drawing attention to the historical traditions underpinning this literature, these findings contribute to advancing the historiography of International Relations and to studying the role of multiple contemporaneous histories in the emerging international order.

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This article makes the case that the literature of hegemonic orders (Ikenberry and Nexon 2019 ; Ikenberry 2011 , 2001 ; Gilpin 1981 ) and debates on the crisis of US hegemony (Ikenberry 2020 , 2018 ; Cooley and Nexon 2020 ; Goh 2013 , 2019 ; Goddard 2018 ; Lascurettes 2020 ; Porter 2020 ; Mearsheimer 2018 ; Acharya 2018 , 2014 ; Flockhart 2016 ) have been shaped and up to a point intellectually confined by a tradition or idea of world history understood as a series of hegemonic powers. In drawing attention to the intellectual sources and historical traditions underpinning this literature, these findings contribute to advancing the historiography of International Relations (Acharya and Buzan 2019 ; Schmidt and Guilhot 2019 ; Rosenboim 2017 ; Ashworth 2014 ; Hall 2012a ; Long and Wilson 1995 ) and to growing interest in historical approaches to International Relations (de Carvahlo et al. 2021 ).

I trace the idea of history as a series of hegemonic powers from its ancient to modern sources, then trace how this tradition of history was reconstituted as a social scientific theoretical literature in the twentieth Century. Returning to contemporary debates on the crisis of US hegemony that deploy this theoretical literature, I indicate how they can be advanced by broadening their empirical interests to include not only alternative and non-Western conceptions of hegemony , but also multiple contemporaneous alternative and non-Western traditions of history and their role and influence in shaping the emerging international order.

Hegemonic succession as an idea of history

Debates on the contemporary crisis and emerging future of international order are predominantly concerned with the crisis and decline of the US-led hegemonic order, and the rise of China as a hegemonic competitor (Ikenberry 2020 ; Cooley and Nexon 2020 ; Lascurettes 2020 ; Porter 2020 ; Johnston 2019 ; Kitchen and Cox 2019 ; Goddard 2018 ; Mearsheimer 2018 ; Acharya 2018 , 2014 ; McKeil 2021 , 2022a , b , c , 2023a , b ; Flockhart 2016 ; Goh 2013 ; Schweller and Pu 2011 ). Major contentions in this literature include whether the US-led hegemonic order will endure, how distinct an order is within China’s strategic preferences, and whether the prospects of war and other challenges can be managed in this era of hegemonic power shift. These debates are important and significant, as well as among the most prominent in the field of International Relations.

Underdiscussed in these debates are the historical sources and theoretical limitations of the idea or tradition of international history as defined by a succession of hegemonies. This tradition of history is more discussed and familiar in the adjacent field of International History than it is in International Relations. In an illuminating essay , the historian Christopher Clark has suggested that the theme of international history as a series of powers was first established by the Book of Daniel .

Until well into the early modern era, it was conventional to think of world history as an eschatological sequence of hegemonies based on Daniel’s dream, starting with the Babylonians, then moving on to the Persians (with the optional addition of the Medes), the Greeks and the Romans’ (Clark 2021 : 5).

In sum, Clark continues, ‘The book of Daniel laid the foundation for a way of thinking about the history of the world as the unfolding of a prophesied sequence of empires’ (Clark 2021 : 7). Footnote 1 Although this may be common knowledge to historians, it is arguably an important insight for the literature of hegemonic orders and powershift that its discourse about the future and past have been framed by a certain tradition of history with ancient and theological roots. Herbert Butterfield’s much earlier text Christianity and History also explained that the idea of history as that of clashing powers was made not in modern times, but ‘in the days when the ancient Hebrews, though so small a people, found themselves between competing empires of Egypt and Assyria and Babylon, so that they became actors… in the kind of history-making that involves colossal struggles for power’ (Butterfield 1950 : 2). Here is the idea that this way of imagining history was formed in an ancient historical experience.

Collingwood’s classic Idea of History of course made the point that the idea of history has a history. The idea of history as a series of hegemonies itself has a history no less. The idea became widespread in the rise of Christianity, later Roman “world”, and medieval system, and later powers sought to claim the succession of Roman hegemony (Nexon and Neumann 2017 ). The eschatological ideas of a higher power and end times that framed this idea of history, by the seventeenth century, had begun to be challenged by Pufendorf (Clark 2021 : 7). ‘The idea of powers jockeying for supremacy, or at least security’ Clark explains, ‘within a competitive multi-state system helped establish “human history” as an autonomous discourse, distinct from the historia divina underwritten by prophesy’ (Clark 2021 : 8). Although history became divorced from the idea of a higher power, ‘The habit of imagining history as a succession of empires has been hard to shake’ (Clark 2021 : 8). It is an important insight that the literature of hegemonic order theory has reified a secularized narrative rooted in an earlier theological tradition of history.

The writings of Leopold von Ranke, for example, counted among the founding texts of modern history, convey a self-conscious secularizing effort. His essay, ‘The Great Powers’ (1833), is a cool-headed analysis of the economic and military rise and decline of the great powers, from the balance between Spain and France, that gave way to French hegemony, which in turn receded against the strategic competitors, England, Austria, and Russia, and later Prussia too. Where Ranke writes on his craft of history, in his essay, ‘On the Character of Historical Science’ (1830), he explicitly references the Book of Daniel , as theological history, and theology understood as revelation. He distances his modern craft of history from theology. ‘The idea that even historical efforts are directed solely toward the search for that higher principle in phenomena must be rejected’ (Ranke 2011 : 12). Modern historians such as Ranke and Heeren divorced the story from the assumptions of a higher power, or end times. They also represent a shift in the narrative, to include the modern idea of the “international” (Armitage 2013 ; McKeil 2018 ), adjusting the story from a series of universal empires, to one of multiple powers jostling for position and dominance, albeit still in a sequence of hegemonic powers. Gibbon’s Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire, so influential in English history texts, (read intently by Churchill in reflection on the rise and decline of British hegemony, for instance), also evoked this theme of history as a succession of powers, by providing an enormous case study in the fall of the most successful hegemon in Western history.

Historia divina became separated from the immanent universe, while the secularized tradition of history as a succession of powers carried on, reframed as a secular process now seemingly without end times (Taylor 2007 ; Bain 2020 ). Paul Kennedy’s Rise and Fall of the Great Powers, a highly influential and celebrated text in this literature, for example, continues this narrative, in cool-headed analysis (so similar in style and content of analysis to Ranke’s), of the economic and military succession of powers, including Western hegemony itself, as a player in the larger story of historical successions. Kennedy’s text is among the clearest examples of international history imagined and recounted as a succession of powers. In explaining his sources, Kennedy notes that, ‘An early model for the present book was the 1833 essay of the famous Prussian historian Leopold von Ranke upon die grossen Machte (“the great powers”), in which he surveyed the ups and downs of the international power balances since the decline of Spain…’ (Kennedy 1989 : xxiv). In this literature, the past as history is about speculating the future of powershift too, however. ‘In examining the “prospects” of each of the Great Powers, he [Ranke], too, was tempted from the historian’s profession into the uncertain world of speculating upon the future’ (Kennedy 1989 : xxiv–xxv).

The major defining texts and thinkers in this literature have carried on this tradition of world history that expects the future to be succession of powers, because this is how it understands the past. Gilpin for instance explains in his influential War & Change that,

The theory of international political change to be developed here rests on the assumption that the history of an international system is that of the rise and decline of the empires and dominant states… (Gilpin 1981 : 42).

The influential G. John Ikenberry, too, explains that,

Across world history, states have grown powerful and built hierarchically organized political orders. Indeed, for most of the last two thousand years, world politics has been dominated by major states seeking to extend their rule over other people (Ikenberry 2011 : 55).

This literature as such has been highly influenced by this idea of history.

Ideas of hegemonic order theory

The secularized idea of history as a series of hegemonic powers began to be reconstituted as a theoretical and social scientific discourse in the 1960’s. The post-war search for a scientific theory of international politics (Guilhot 2011 ) reconstituted the idea of history as a series of hegemonies into abstract generalizations. A.F.K Organski’s World Politics , for instance, advanced bold claims to generalization and ambitions of a social scientific theory of hegemonic powers. For Organski, ‘the dominant nation, the nation that controls the existing international order’ ( 1968 , p. 364; see, also Organski and Kugler 1980 ). Martin Wight, influential in British approaches, was less captured by the scientific idea of theory (Hall 2006 , 2012a ), but also framed his Power Politics around the succession of “dominant powers”. ‘The most conspicuous theme in international history is not the growth of internationalism. It is the series of efforts, by one power after another, to gain mastery of the states system’ (Wight 1978 , p. 20). Footnote 2

Kenneth Waltz’s influential Theory of International Politics drew the diverging conclusion that international systems instead tend to establish a balance of power, rather than hegemonies, although this claim has been contested in historical surveys (Waltz 1979 ; Kaufman et al. 2007 ; Griffiths 2018 ). The post-war role of the US as a hegemonic power furthered interest in American academic literature about the rise and fall of hegemonic orders (Gilpin 1981 ; Ruggie 1982 ; Strange 1987 ), notably in Keohane’s influential After Hegemony ( 1984 ), and the literature of hegemonic stability theory (Kindleberger 1973 ; Snidal 1985 ; Webb and Krasner 1989 ). In this context, various Marxian-inspired theories also developed ambitions of social scientific international theory, drawing on the idea of history as a series of hegemonies. Modelski “long cycles theory” of international politics sought to explain recurrent hegemonic war and “evolutionary learning” processes working across each successive struggle (Modelski 1978 : 214–235; Modelski 1987 ). Giovanni Arrighi’s ( 1994 ) later Wallerstein-inspired hegemonic order theory similarly suggests that hegemonic succession can be explained by economic processes, understanding hegemons as economic nexuses that produce international orders as reflections and extensions of their structural power. Footnote 3 Gramscian approaches to international order developed Gramsci’s distinct horizontal concept of hegemony and emphasized historical forces of change in world politics (Cox 1981 , 1996 ).

Following Martin Wight’s earlier studies, Adam Watson’s Evolution of International Society ( 1992 ) and Hegemony & History ( 2007 ), alongside Modelski’s, developed among the most sweeping claims about international history as a series of hegemonies. Through a searching study of international systems in world history, Watson’s project sought to explain Wight’s earlier suggestion that international history has been defined by ‘a succession of hegemonies, in which one great power after another tries to transform the states system’ (Watson 1992 : 2–3). Watson defined hegemony as when, ‘some power or authority in a system is able to ‘lay down the law’ about the operation of the system, that is to determine to some extent the external relations between member states, while leaving them domestically independent’ (Watson 1992 : 15). Through his study of world historical international systems, Watson argued that international systems have a tendency toward hegemony, as a sort of modicum between the extremes of a purely anarchical world of ‘multiple independences’ and the other extreme of world empire (Watson 2007 : 17; see, also, Watson 1997 : 126–138). Convinced by his findings, Watson’s later conclusions maintained this hypothesis,

After half a century of looking at hegemony in the light of international systems in world history, I have concluded that the whole range of known historical systems that lies between suzerainty of an imperial power and the theoretical absolute of real independence for all member states operates hegemonically; and this hegemonial operation has certain well-defined characteristics that appear in local guise in all various historical systems of nominally independent states (Watson 2007 : 111).

For Watson, and much of this literature, ‘the whole range of known historical systems… operates hegemonically’ (Watson 2007 : 111).

Arnold J. Toynbee’s earlier Study of History aimed to offer a comprehensive analysis of world history as a series of civilizations, each changing and declining through patterns of “challenge and response” (Toynbee 1957 ). Among Toynbee’s major and influential ideas, however, was the claim that international systems as civilizational groupings have tended to fall under regional “world” empires, echoing that idea of history as a series of world hegemonies. Footnote 4 Later attempts to utilize a civilizational framing of world history, most prominently in Samuel Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations , have been highly critiqued in theory (Katzenstein 2010 ; Linklater 2021 ), although the discourse of “civilizational identities” and “civilizational states” has found persistent and even increasing usage in practice (Hall and Jackson 2007 ; Coker 2019 ). The comparative study of international systems in world history, working from earlier works such as Toynbee’s Study and Wights Systems of States , is now a large and growing literature (Kang 2007 ; Zhang 2014 ; Suzuki et al. 2014 ; Phillips and Sharman 2015 ; Reus-Smit 2018 ; Spruyt 2020 ; Phillips and Reus-Smit 2020 ; Phillips 2011 , 2021 ; Zarakol 2022 ; Buzan and Little 2000 ; Buzan and Acharya 2022 ), although the concept of an “international system” has been distanced from the earlier concept and notion of an underlying “civilizational” culture (Philips 2017 ; Dunne and Reus-Smit 2017 ). Connected here to this literature is also the growing literature on the historical “evolution” of international systems over the longue durée (Neumann 2020 ; Tang 2010 , 2013 ), as well as major statements on the historical transformations of international orders in world history (Phillips 2013 ; Buzan and Lawson 2015 ; Musgrave and Nexon 2016 ).

In this literature, the idea of history as a succession of hegemonies has come to be theoretically understood as making hegemonic powers decisive agents in shaping international orders, albeit with nuance as both order-makers and order-takers, in their interaction with other lesser powers (Ikenberry and Nexon 2019 ). The historical turning points after major wars have become a focus of empirical interest, when victor states enjoy greater power disparities and leading statespersons have greater scope for strategic ordering choices (Gilpin 1981 ; Holsti 1991 ; Ikenberry 2001 ). This is not a purely material explanation of the configuration of hegemonic orders in the modern international experience, however, which would be deficient and misleading. The historical context and political character of the actors is also needed to make sense of their strategic choices made after major wars (Ikenberry 2001 ; Sluga 2021 ). Having waged a war against the hegemonic gambit of Napoleonic France, Castlereagh for instance sought in Vienna 1815 a different order by “collective hegemony” (Clark 2011 ; Schroeder 1994 ). Or, later, in Versailles 1919, having waged a war for “civilization” and “democracy”, the victors had built up public expectations, as well as personal impressions, about the kind of peace that was acceptable (Cohrs 2022 ). In this sense, the experience of history shapes the victors as much as they may shape history. At the same time, while victors may entertain their own ideas of history, their strategic ordering choices are not entirely made under the conditions of their choosing.

The role of agency within history has not been forgotten in this literature, but the idea of history as a series of hegemonies itself has become increasingly taken for granted. In this literature, when states rise within an established order tensions over threat (mis)perceptions, and contentions over the principles and distributive benefits of ordering institutions, especially hegemonic status and potential succession, are understood to induce stress and strain (Mukherjee 2022 ; Ikenberry and Nexon 2019 ; Goddard 2018 ; Goh 2013 ). Hence, contemporary debates on the rise of China and decline of the US have come to hinge on theories of the conditions and dynamics of contested hegemonic orders.

Rethinking contemporary debates

Prominent contemporary debates on the crisis of US hegemonic order characterize it as the latest in a series of hegemonic struggles and powershifts. Henry Luce’s phrase of the “American Century” often quoted in this literature strongly echoes the idea of history as defined by ascendant powers, making possible the new language of an “Asian Century”. The rise of China as a hegemonic challenger, as depicted in these debates, tends to be presented as the latest in a series of such struggles reaching across world history. Graham Allision’s widely read Destined for War : Can America and China Escape Thucydides’ Trap? ( 2017 ) perhaps most clearly presents idea picture of history as a succession of hegemonies, albeit by recasting Thucydides’ ancient and non-Christian Peloponnesian War (itself another highly influential text in Western traditions of history and strategic culture) as a kind of historical heuristic for understanding the prospects for war between the US and China today. Allison's popularized idea of “Thucydides’ Trap”, moreover, mentioned by Xi Jinping, raises concern for the potential unintended contributions of academic debates to public discourse and political tensions in practice. Contemporary debates use history but have neglected the historical sources of this discourse about the rise and fall of powers.

The contemporary theoretical literature of hegemonic orders and powershift is theoretically pluralistic (Ikenberry and Nexon 2019 ), but is generally influenced by the pervasive idea of international history as defined by a series of hegemonic powers. Contemporary debates on the rise of China as a hegemonic competitor contain roughly four categories of contending theoretical positions. Liberal internationalists for instance suggest the order of ‘liberal hegemony’ will endure and that challenges can be managed through institutional and strategic modifications (Ikenberry 2020 ). A range of realist positions instead suggest ‘liberal hegemony’ has become self-defeating, and that the international order will become more firmly divided relative to US decline (Mearsheimer 2018 ; Walt 2018 ; Porter 2020 ). A variety of constructivist positions that argue that illiberal and non-Western powers are engaged in recognition struggles within the US hegemonic order and are attempting to challenge and reconstruct it (Adler-Nissen and Zarakol 2020 ; Cooley and Nexon 2020 ), broadly along more regional lines, into a “multiplex” or “multi-order” order (Flockhart 2016 ; Acharya 2014 ). Critical theorists, forming a fourth broad category, have argued that the inequities of liberal US hegemony are generating its crisis, both domestically and internationally, producing processes of international instability and disorder (Jahn 2018 ). The outcome of these debates has considerable significance for the kind of international order emerging in future, its prospects for stability and management of common challenges. It is somewhat methodologically concerning, then, that so much of the contemporary literature on the rise of China and decline of America has not seriously reflected on this understanding of history as a succession of hegemonic powers.

The strengths and weaknesses of competing positions and theoretical explanations offered in this literature for the succession of hegemonic powers are less important than the predominance of this framing of history. It is not so much a matter of what it says about history, but how it is thought about and understood as history (Buzan and Acharya 2022 : 142). In this sense, the kinds of empirical evidence that is considered relevant and the assumptions made about international systems past and future have been shaped and up to a point limited by how history is conceived as a series of hegemonies. The great power-centricity of this literature for instance arguably stems from this framing of history as hegemonies, but this focus has been shown to overlook important ordering processes of interaction between hegemonic powers and middle and small powers (Acharya 2018 ; Ikenberry and Nexon 2019 ). International history may offer empirical support for the general claim of this literature that there have been a series of hegemonies and hegemonic struggles, at least in the modern international experience, i.e. the emergence of European hegemony and Franco-British rivalry in the eighteenth Century, with Napoleonic France’s bid for hegemony followed by Britain vs. Russia in the nineteenth Century, and Germany’s bid for hegemony, alongside Japan’s, followed the US versus the USSR in the twentieth Century, and the US vs. China in the 21st. But, if this framing of international history—now become a theoretical literature—has prior largely Western and earlier theological sources, the Eurocentric epistemic limitations of this literature become methodologically concerning (Hobson 2012 ), and its claimed insights into the contemporary crisis and emerging international order future become less certain.

Debates on the crisis of US hegemony and the emerging international order are ripe for reconnecting the tools history with those of theory more thoroughly (Suganami 2008 ; Lawson 2010 ). There are wide, productive, and ongoing debates on the epistemic status of theory, and fruitful directions for reintegrating international history and theory (de Carvahlo et al. 2021 ). In respect to the specific literature of the of international order theory that this article addresses, engagement with the role of narratives and therein to meta-narratives has become a promising direction of interest (Deudney et al. 2023 ). An initial and clear way forward here is to further broaden the empirical interests of this literature to include not only alternative and non-Western and particularly Chinese conceptions of hegemony, but also alternative and non-Western traditions of history (Buzan and Acharya 2022 ). In other words, if there are multiple contemporaneous historical temporalities present in world politics today, sensitivity to their influence in practice is of interest in studying the emerging international order. In this sense, this literature can be perceived as a debate internal to certain largely Western narratives of international history.

Historical ‘narratives are an important part of all world orders, and no under- standing of contemporary politics and the prospects for conflict and concord in the future can fail to take them into serious consideration’ (Deudney et al. 2023 , p. 2). The post-Cold War globalization of the US hegemonic order for instance is well-known to have been followed by historical narratives of not only the “end of history” as liberal modernity, but also widespread discourses America’s ‘Roman moment’ as the ‘new Rome on the Potomac’ (Cox 2022 , p. 3, 192; Jordheim and Neumann 2011 ; Murphy 2007 ). Yet, today, the crisis of US hegemony is being met by the rise of alternative narratives of global modernity, many developed from and refashioning distinct traditions of understanding history. The world historical rise of global Western hegemony, for instance, can be seen from alternative perspectives as disrupting distinct understandings and traditions of history in non-Western worlds, reflected today in political discourses about “restoring” world politics to a “normal” historical condition (Buzan and Acharya 2022 ; Suzuki et al. 2014 ).

China for example, as an emergent hegemonic power in East Asia, has been a major focus of debates on the changing international order, working to assess China’s strategic interests and intent. The historical regional international system of East Asia for has been shown to have historically developed distinct traditions of hegemony and order (Kang 2020 ; Lee 2017 ; Zhang 2014 , 2015 ; Callahan 2008 ). But, China’s political culture also includes distinct traditions of history, too. Historical literatures are not necessarily consulted for strategic decisions in China’s leadership, but the contributions of historical understandings to, ‘social and cultural concepts developed and contested over time color their concerns and help set the agenda for people’s view of what their country ought to do’ (Westad 2012 , p. 6). Popular public narratives of “the China story” today for instance are often connected to not only alternative visions of modernity but also framings of the past, including the discourse of “national rejuvenation”, rehearsing China’s historical experiences of decline and disunity, to be corrected in future (Mitter 2023 , 2020 ). The role of these public narrative discourses of the past and future contribute to legitimating foreign and domestic policies, but they also set up popular demands and expectations for the future in publics. China’s public political and strategic discourse moreover contains many and often competing narratives about China’s past and future, which in studying China’s rise, let alone India or the Islamic world, shows, ‘how it is necessary to recognize that China has multiple futures – for many China’s’ (Callahan 2013 , p. 64). In this sense, broadening interest in traditions of history includes the methodological scope of interest in multiple contemporaneous temporal narratives of the past and future, toward assessing their varied and contested role in shaping the emerging international order.

Better understanding the ideas of history underpinning major debates on the crisis of US hegemony encourages broadening empirical interest to consider the presence and role of multiple contemporaneous histories in the emerging international order. It also raises awareness for the potential unintended contribution of theoretical academic discourse to public discourse and political tensions. The literature of hegemonic orders and debates on the crisis of US hegemony have been shaped and up to a point intellectually confined by a tradition or idea of world history understood as a series of hegemonic powers. This tradition of history as a succession of hegemonic powers traced from ancient to modern sources has been reconstituted as a theoretical discourse, taking for granted its underlying tradition of history. This argument as such suggests that contemporary debates on the crisis of US hegemony are ripe for broadening their empirical interest in not only multiple conceptions and traditions of hegemony but also the role of multiple contemporaneous ideas of history in the emerging international order.

Although influential in a certain tradition or idea of history, the role of the Book of Daniel should also not be exaggerated, because other sources have shaped this literature too, and transformations in modern international history have changed the form of the narrative in crucial ways. Augustine’s City of God, and its explanation of the fall of Rome, also had its own considerable influence on Christian understandings of history. The emergence of modern history also developed multiple styles and varying traditions of history. Heeren’s History of the Political System of Europe and its Colonies for instance advanced a history of the strategic interaction of great powers in Europe and their colonial periphery, while Voltaire’s Essay on Universal History, the Manner and Spirit of Nations instead advanced a more comparative style, examining non-European history, including China and India.

Martin Wight’s lectures also suggested that these hegemonic struggles were configured by horizontal ideological forces, and that roughly half of modern international history could be defined by a series revolutionary waves, as much as it could be defined as a succession of hegemonies (Wight 1992 , p. 8–12; Halliday 1999 , 193–194).

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Literary Theory and Criticism

Home › Hegemony

By NASRULLAH MAMBROL on October 10, 2017 • ( 2 )

Hegemony, initially a term referring to the dominance of one state within a confederation, is now generally understood to mean domination by consent. This broader meaning was coined and popularized in the 1930s by Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci , who investigated why the ruling class was so successful in promoting its own interests in society. Fundamentally, hegemony is the power of the ruling class to convince other classes that their interests are the interests of all. Domination is thus exerted not by force, nor even necessarily by active persuasion, but by a more subtle and inclusive power over the economy, and over state apparatuses such as education and the media, by which the ruling class’s interest is presented as the common interest and thus comes to be taken for granted.

The term is useful for describing the success of imperial power over a colonized people who may far outnumber any occupying military force, but whose desire for self-determination has been suppressed by a hegemonic notion of the greater good, often couched in terms of social order, stability and advancement, all of which are defined by the colonizing power. Hegemony is important because the capacity to influence the thought of the colonized is by far the most sustained and potent operation of imperial power in colonized regions. Indeed, an ‘empire’ is distinct from a collection of subject states forcibly controlled by a central power by virtue of the effectiveness of its cultural hegemony. Consent is achieved by the interpellation of the colonized subject by imperial discourse so that Euro-centric values, assumptions, beliefs and attitudes are accepted as a matter of course as the most natural or valuable. The inevitable consequence of such interpellation is that the colonized subject understands itself as peripheral to those Euro-centric values, while at the same time accepting their centrality.


A classic example of the operation of hegemonic control is given by Gauri Viswanathan , who shows how ‘the humanistic functions traditionally associated with the study of literature – for example, the shaping of character or the development of the aesthetic sense or the disciplines of ethical thinking – can be vital in the process of sociopolitical control’ (1987: 2). Such control was maintained by the British government when it took responsibility for education in India after the Charter Act of 1813 . Searching for a method of communicating the values of Western civilization to Indians which avoided offending their Hindu sensibilities, the administration discovered the power of English literature as a vehicle for imperial authority. ‘The strategy of locating authority in these texts all but effaced the sordid history of colonialist expropriation, material exploitation, and class and race oppression behind European world dominance . . . the English literary text functioned as a surrogate Englishman in his highest and most perfect state’ (Viswanathan 1987: 23). This Englishman was, at the same time, the embodiment of universal human values. As Viswanathan puts it, the ‘split between the material and the discursive practices of colonialism is nowhere sharper than in the progressive refraction of the rapacious, exploitative and ruthless actor of history into the reflective subject of literature’ (22–23). This refraction is a precise demonstration of one mode of hegemonic control. It proved a particularly effective one because the discourse of English literature was disseminated with its attendant spiritual values, cultural assumptions, social discriminations, racial prejudices and humanistic values more or less intact.


The concept of hegemony played a significant part in the development of cultural studies and was a core concept of the field during the 1970s and 1980s. According to this theory, there is a strand of meanings within any given culture that can be called governing or ascendant. The process of making, maintaining and reproducing this authoritative set of meanings, ideologies and practices has been called hegemony.

For Gramsci, from whom cultural studies appropriated the term, hegemony implies a situation where a ‘historical bloc’ of ruling class factions exercises social authority and leadership over the subordinate classes through a combination of force and, more importantly, consent. Gramscian concepts proved to be of longlasting significance within cultural studies because of the central importance given to popular culture as a site of ideological struggle. In effect, Gramsci makes ideological struggle and conflict within civil society the central arena of cultural politics, with hegemonic analysis the mode of gauging the relevant balance of forces.

Within Gramscian analysis, a hegemonic bloc never consists of a single socioeconomic category but is formed through a series of alliances in which one group takes on a position of leadership. Ideology plays a crucial part in allowing this alliance of groups (originally conceived in class terms) to overcome narrow economic-corporate interest in favour of ‘National-Popular’ dominance. Thus, ‘a cultural–social unity’ is achieved through which a multiplicity of dispersed wills and heterogeneous aims are welded together to form a common conception of the world. The building, maintenance or subversion of a common conception of the world is an aspect of ideological struggle involving a transformation of understanding through criticism of the existing popular ideologies.

Hegemony can be understood in terms of the strategies by which the worldviews and power of ascendant social groups are maintained. However, this has to be seen in relational terms and as inherently unstable since hegemony is a temporary settlement and series of alliances between social groups that is won and not given. Further, it needs to be constantly re-won and re-negotiated so that culture is a terrain of conflict and struggle over meanings. Hegemony is not a static entity but is constituted by a series of changing discourses and practices that are intrinsically bound up with social power. Since hegemony has to be constantly re-made and rewon, it opens up the possibility of a challenge to it; that is, the making of a counterhegemonic bloc of subordinate groups and classes.

Neo-Gramscian hegemony theory has been challenged on the grounds that Western culture no longer has a dominant centre either in terms of production ormeaning. Rather, culture is heterogeneous both in terms of the different kinds of texts produced and the different meanings that compete within texts. Right across the Western world, it is argued, we have been witnessing the end of anything remotely resembling a ‘common culture’. In particular, the past thirty years have seen the fragmentation of lifestyle cultures through the impact of migration, the ‘reemergence’ of ethnicity, the rise and segmentation of youth cultures and the impact of gender politics. Above all, the restructuring of global capitalism, niche marketing and the aestheticization of daily life through the creation of an array of lifestyles centred on the consumption of aesthetic objects and signs has fragmented the cultures of class blocs.

In their post-Marxist revision of the concept of hegemony Laclau and Mouffe put aside the final determination of social and cultural relations by class, which for them does not determine cultural meanings. That is, ideology has no ‘classbelonging’. They stress that history has no prime agents of social change and a social formation has no one central point of antagonism. Instead, hegemonic and counter-hegemonic blocs are formed through temporary and strategic alliances of a range of discursively constructed subjects and groups of interest. Here, the ‘social’ is not understood to be an object but rather a field of contestation in which multiple descriptions of the self and others compete for ascendancy. For Laclau and Mouffe, it is the role of hegemonic practices to try to fix difference, to put closure around the unstable meanings of signifiers in the discursive field.

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Hegemony In Mass Media

media hegemony essay

Show More Hegemony is apparent in today 's society through the large mass media corporations. As stated by Social Scientist James Lull, "Hegemony is the power or dominance that one group holds over the other." In this sense, media is holding power over the viewers who watch certain programs. The corporations are able to influence ones thought process to attain power over the audience. A varying definition of hegemony given by author Craig Lloyd, "Hegemony is the the indirect implementation of ideas from a higher power to control subordinates to control their thoughts." Mass media corporations use their higher status to subtly influence societies thoughts. They must do this in a particular manner so it is not recognizable that they are influencing societies …show more content… This is one of the subtle ways media outlets utilize their dominance maintaining techniques. Medias social influence is not discussed or criticized as it should be (Lull). This is due to the amount in which society is engulfed in social media. Almost every page on the Internet has some sort of advertising or media outlet that is attempting to persuade the reader. Especially on the social networking cites such as Facebook and Twitter. These social networking cites have a surplus of false or modified information. This could be a direct correlation to the few media outlet corporations that dominate the media industry. As quoted by author David Croteau in his book "Media Society", "The worlds largest cable company is also the largest internet provider". This monopoly of the main ways people acquire information can be dangerous because of the multiple ways the corporation can deliver modified information. Freedom of press may be a right, but if there is one corporation controlling multiple sources, information is bound to be skewed. In 2000, only five firms dominated the media industry(Croteau). These five firms owned hundreds of different media outlets. That is only five different views that were portrayed to millions of viewers. Think of all the different media outlets there are. Know that less than 10 are giving the population information on news stories, …show more content… Different media corporations will be selective in the messages they send to viewers to maintain dominance. News stories that do not support views of the info outlet will be skipped(Lloyd). This relates back to how hegemony relates to the media. Since it is difficult to maintain the dominance that news media outlets want, they must be selective in the information they present. By doing this, they can repeatedly inform the public on different stories that all support the same idea. Fox News is notorious for altering or stretching stories to fit their views(Lull). Some outlets are well known for the amount in which they alter information. Somehow, people still listen to these because of the association in which they have had with the source in the past such as Fox News. That is the simple conclusion that has been drawn to why people associate with sources that they know are false. Another could be because they like the messages they are hearing even if it may be outrageously false or skewed. People tend to enjoy hearing confirmation on their beliefs, so hearing things like this strengthens their belief that the outrageous idea they have is correct. The political field is largely susceptible to media skewing(Lull). This is extremely apparent during election years when certain outlets promote or endorse a political party. If a

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Essay On Hegemony

media hegemony essay

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Trump's path to dictatorship depends on our democracy working

Elections in american history have heralded both the beginning of civil war and the end of slavery, by gregg barak.

I do not imagine that there are more than a handful of Salon readers who are not familiar with the danger of electing Donald Trump to the Presidency of the United States for a second time. It is not hyperbole for me or anyone else to write that the upcoming 2024 presidential election will be the most dreadful election since the one of 1860. In that election, and again in 1864, Abraham Lincoln’s victory heralded the end of slavery and the beginning of the Civil War. A victory next fall by the former president would portend the end of American Democracy as we have known it for some 250 years and the instigation of a new illiberal democracy or autocracy. 

The GOP’s assault on the U.S. Constitution and the rule of law combined with a Trumpian desire to censor the fourth estate, restructure democratic institutions, and weaponize systems of power are all in sync with a rising wave of anti-democratic and authoritarian movements worldwide.As a kleptocratic and wannabe authoritarian dictator, Donald Trump and the US are not alone in the contemporary world of neoliberal, illiberal, and authoritarian regimes engaged in various geopolitical struggles between competing democratic and autocratic styles of governance. These battles are commonly immersed in nationalist and/or populist movements of xenophobia. Most of the nations involved – democratic or authoritarian — are also trending towards fascism, standardization, and disinformation. During Trump’s recent Veterans Day speech, for example, the Insurrectionist-in-Chief used everyday parlance that echoed those authoritarian leaders who rose to power in Nazi Germany and fascist Italy in the 1930s. 

Thirty years after the collapse of the Soviet Bloc, there is President Putin invading Ukraine and promising another Russian Empire. In Brazil, there was former Army Captain Jair Bolsonaro elected to office in a landslide in 2018. Bolsonaro, a Trump ally, had surfed the anti-corruption wave promising to put an end to the “old politics” only to be narrowly defeated in 2022 by the progressive and former jailed President Lula da Silva. In Argentina there is right-wing libertarian and newly-elected President Javier Milei, a 53-year-old economist and former TV pundit promising to reduce the size of government and three decades of triple-digit inflation. To most people’s surprise, Milei at least temporarily has broken the hegemony of the nation’s two leading political forces, the Peronists or left of center party and the older conservative party, the Union Civica Radical. In the Netherlands, there is also the newly elected anti-immigrant Geert Wilders promising “ to break a few rules, shake up democratic institutions and spread a populist message. ” 

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In MAGA America, there is demagogue Trump who has hijacked and broken the Grand Old Party. Trump has been all too willing to exploit aggrieved voters and disavowed crowds of citizens who espouse conspiracies while he gaslights everybody else. Like Adolf Hitler in post-World War Germany, there is the racist, homophobic, and misogynistic Trump who also refers to people of color, homosexuals, leftists, progressives, and communists as vermin who are busy poisoning the blood of America and who need to be rooted out and destroyed. Trump, similar to another celebrity turned dictator with a “cult of personality” fanbase and a fascination with violence, elicits the performative style if not the self-discipline of Benito Mussolini — the man known as The Leader during post-World War Italy. 

Among other things, déjà vu Trump has once again been promising to overturn Obamacare, ban Muslims, and to make America great for a second time. Hopefully, not like when he was screwing up the USA’s security responses to COVID-19 and needlessly facilitating the death of a quarter of a million Americans.  

As Barton Gellman reflects in The Atlantic as part of its “If Trump Wins” special issue , Trump “tried and failed to cross many lines during his time in the White House. He proposed, for example, that the IRS conduct punitive audits of his political antagonists and that Border Patrol officers shoot migrants in the legs.” We also know from the second volume of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report, that on 10 occasions, Trump tried to obstruct justice. These failed attempts to violate the law, like Trump’s failed coup, were stymied because other officials such as Vice President Pence refused to go along with Trump. Should Trump regain the White House in 2025, not only will there be no persons or officials left to stymy Trump in his second administration, but there will only be Trumpists left in the House, if not, the Senate too.

Want a daily wrap-up of all the news and commentary Salon has to offer? Subscribe to our morning newsletter , Crash Course.

In the fall of 2023, one year out from the 2024 election, Trump and his minions, joined by the newly elected House Speaker Mike Johnson – an ultraconservative and right-wing Christian from Louisiana –  are promising to return God-fearing heterosexual Americans to the mythical days of a glorious white supremacist past. At the same time, these Trumpists have been uniformly calling for revenge and seeking retribution from all those people standing in the way of the former president’s treasonous rebellion masquerading as some kind of revelatory salvation or patriotic revolution. For the criminal record, it was the mild-mannered Republican speaker from the Bayou State who wrote the amicus legal brief signed by more than 100 House Republicans in support of the failed Texas lawsuit seeking to invalidate the 2020 presidential election.  

In brief, today’s Republican Party is a de facto political crime organization and three years after his failed coup attempt to remain in power, Boss Trump is still in charge. The former president rules this organization through fear, intimidation, and the threat of violence from Mar-a-Lago, his golf club and winter home in Palm Beach, Florida. As Robert Kagan, a Washington Post contributing editor and author of the forthcoming “ Rebellion: How Antiliberalism Is Tearing America Apart – Again ” has argued, “Let’s stop the wishful thinking and face the stark reality: There is a clear path to dictatorship in the United States, and it is getting shorter every day. In 13 weeks, Donald Trump will have locked up the Republican nomination.”  

If this were not bad enough, America’s leading mental health professionals have concluded that Donald Trump is mentally unwell, likely a sociopath – if not a psychopath. In starker terms, Trump has shown himself to have a “diseased mind, which in turn amplifies his already corrupt morality and ethics, attraction to violence,” and capacity for wickedness.  

After Thanksgiving and the publication of Thomas Edsall’s essay in The New York Times on the state of Trump’s mental health, Chauncey DeVega underscored that “Trump’s aberrant behavior is getting worse” and he questioned, “Why are Americans ignoring his decline?” Not to be too reductionist, I would contend that this is because absent his legal troubles and polling numbers the mass media with the exception of MSNBC is no longer paying much attention to Trump, let alone, covering him 24/7 as they had previously done for more than five years.

about the threat of a second Trump term

  • "Trump's fantasy of infallibility" has been destroyed: "Narcissistic injury" made him more dangerous
  • Donald Trump's dream team looks like an American nightmare
  • A dictator on "day one": The time to push back on Trump is now

Gregg Barak is an emeritus professor of criminology and criminal justice at Eastern Michigan University and author of " Criminology on Trump ." His sequel to that book, " Indicting the 45th President: Boss Trump, the GOP, and What We Can Do About the Threat to American Democracy ," will be published in April 2024.

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Putin, Bidding to Cement His Legacy, Will Seek Re-election as President

The announcement was long expected after the Constitution was amended in 2020, effectively allowing the Russian leader to stay in power until 2036.

Vladimir Putin, in a dark suit and tie, stands behind a lectern.

By Valerie Hopkins and Ivan Nechepurenko

President Vladimir V. Putin said on Friday that he would run for re-election in March, seeking a fifth term, which would extend his rule to 2030 and, if served to completion, make him Russia’s longest-serving leader since Catherine the Great in the late 18th century.

In the absence of genuine political opposition, Mr. Putin is all but assured of winning another six-year term, prolonging his authoritarian grip. There had been next to no doubt that he would run: Perhaps in an acknowledgment of his expected candidacy, Mr. Putin declared his intentions not at a podium, but in a conversation with soldiers that was recorded on camera.

Still, the exchange was laden with symbolism, coming after a military awards ceremony at the Kremlin that underscored his standing as a wartime president overseeing a brutal invasion of Ukraine.

The interaction appeared to be highly choreographed, though the Kremlin later denied that was the case. A Ukrainian-born Russian military officer and official from Donetsk, a Russian-occupied city in eastern Ukraine, approached Mr. Putin and expressed gratitude that its residents now had the opportunity to vote for the first time in Russian presidential elections, and they wanted to cast their votes for Mr. Putin.

“I won’t hide it, I had different thoughts at different times,” Mr. Putin responded solemnly, flanked by army officers and their relatives. “But now you are right, the time is such when a decision needs to be made,” he said, according to a video of his remarks posted by the Kremlin. “I will run for president of Russia.”

Russian lawmakers amended the Constitution in 2020 to effectively allow Mr. Putin, 71, to stay in power until 2036. He has led Russia as either president or prime minister since New Year’s Eve in 1999, promising Russians stability and a higher standard of living in exchange for their not getting involved in politics.

While Mr. Putin’s re-election is virtually certain, analysts see the March 17 presidential vote as a means for him to further legitimize his rule: With high turnout, elections in Mr. Putin’s Russia are a grand spectacle meant to showcase his popular support.

The vote, however, carries special significance because it is the first presidential election since Mr. Putin ordered the full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

Since then, the West has hammered Russia with sanctions, hundreds of thousands of Russians have left the country and at least 300,000 men have been mobilize d to fight in the war. Russia has become a pariah to much of the world, and Mr. Putin has been declared a war criminal by the International Criminal Court, accused of unlawful deportation of Ukrainian children.

But as the Russian economy has remained stable and Ukraine has failed to achieve a decisive breakthrough on the battlefield, Mr. Putin has remained consistently popular. A poll released on Thursday by the Levada Center, an independent Russian pollster, showed that 58 percent of Russians would support Mr. Putin in the election.

Mr. Putin’s approval rating received a boost after the invasion of Ukraine, though polling is notoriously complicated in Russia because of a climate of repression. The poll, of 1,625 people, had a margin of error not exceeding 3.4 percent.

While many Kremlin observers did not expect that the war would play a prominent role in Mr. Putin’s campaign, it was front and center in his announcement.

“Putin picked the war, and the war picked Putin,” Tatiana Stanovaya, the founder of the political analysis firm R.Politik, wrote on Telegram.

Mr. Putin approaches the next election in much better shape than expected a year ago. His army is on the offensive along almost the entire front line in Ukraine’s east and south, at a time when Western support for arming and aiding Kyiv is becoming increasingly shaky. The war between Israel and Hamas has lifted Mr. Putin’s international standing by deepening divisions between Western countries and states sympathetic to the Palestinian cause.

And the Russian economy has largely adapted to Western sanctions by keeping trade open with China, India and countries in the Middle East, allowing Mr. Putin to keep Russia’s coffers full.

“His confidence levels are going through the roof,” said Alexander Gabuev, director of the Carnegie Russia Eurasia Center.

Mr. Putin is expected to face only a handful of contenders, probably picked by the Kremlin itself to serve as foils and to provide a semblance of legitimacy. So far, three Russian politicians have announced their intention to run against him, but they face a daunting task to even register, as they would need to collect thousands of signatures from supporters.

They include Boris B. Nadezhdin, a municipal deputy in suburban Moscow, who has said the end of the war was his top priority; Igor Girkin, a nationalist warlord and blogger in jail while awaiting trial on extremism charges, who has argued for a tougher approach in Ukraine; and Yekaterina S. Duntsova, who has campaigned against the war but has garnered limited national appeal.

“This is not an election, this is the re-election of the same leader,” said Nikolai Petrov, an analyst with a German think tank.

“Mr. Putin is essentially competing with himself — with the younger Putin,” Mr. Petrov added. “It is important for him to show that he is not in a worse place than he was 25 years ago.”

Mr. Putin has gone a long way since he entered the Kremlin’s walls as its master at the very end of 1999. He has evolved from being a pro-Western modernizer with a preference for a strong state to a traditionalist fighter against what he sees as the corrupt political, cultural and moral hegemony of the United States.

While at the beginning of his rule, Mr. Putin was willing to tolerate a certain degree of opposition in the Russian Parliament and media, he approaches what will probably be his fifth term as president with many of his critics either in jail or in exile and no openly oppositional media working in its territory.

Mr. Putin has orchestrated his leadership of Russia with care. After winning the presidency in 2000 and then getting re-elected in 2004, he was prevented by constitutional term limits from running for a third time. Instead, he nominated Dmitri A. Medvedev, his loyal ally, to run. After winning the election, Mr. Medvedev appointed Mr. Putin as prime minister, but many believe Mr. Putin effectively held control throughout Mr. Medvedev’s tenure.

At the beginning of Mr. Medvedev’s presidency, the presidential term was extended from four years to six. At the end of 2011, Mr. Putin announced his intention to run for presidency again, using a loophole in the Constitution that prevented people from running for more than two terms “in a row.”

At the time, Mr. Putin’s announcement — and a subsequent parliamentary election that was widely seen as rigged — ignited mass protests in Moscow and many other major Russian cities. But the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014 gave Mr. Putin a boost and opposition activity became increasingly constricted, leading to an easy re-election to another six-year term in 2018.

In 2020, Mr. Putin orchestrated an overhaul of the Constitution, arguing that the changes had allowed his term limit clock to reset and pave the way for another presidential run.

In the intervening years, the Kremlin has sought to militarize Russian society and instill “patriotism” in all levels of education . Ahead of Mr. Putin’s announcement on Friday, Russian policymakers have focused on building support for what the Kremlin sees as “traditional” values.

Last week, the Russian Supreme Court labeled the “global L.G.B.T.Q. movement” as “extremist,” effectively banning any public L.G.B.T.Q. activities. It has also outlawed gender-affirming surgery.

Representatives in the Russian Parliament, the Duma, have also floated restrictions on abortion next year, also under the guise of promoting “family values.”

“The Kremlin thinks social conservatism will be popular with a much broader base than the actual nationalist scene,” said Alex Yusupov, the director of the German Friedrich Ebert Foundation’s Russia program.

Valerie Hopkins is an international correspondent for The Times, covering the war in Ukraine, as well as Russia and the countries of the former Soviet Union. More about Valerie Hopkins

Ivan Nechepurenko has been a Times reporter since 2015, covering politics, economics, sports and culture in Russia and the former Soviet republics. He was raised in St. Petersburg, Russia, and in Piatykhatky, Ukraine. More about Ivan Nechepurenko


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