Anthonio Gramsci-(1891-1937)


In the last Article of Gramsci (Article No-03), we discussed “Common Sense” which is what Anthonio Gramsci argued; that the ruling class is using common sense as a tool in order to carry out their hegemonic power over the other classes. 

Mass Media 

Now we go on to explore further on what he explained about “Mass Media”; a tool the ruling class using to maintain their hegemonic power.

       The Media, the real sense of the word, it appears like an impartial entity. It looks like the media is doing great service for the people to know the truth, the correct news. However this “media” ought to follow some guidelines and protocols to produce any type of news. They do have to follow the given rules in order to carry on the business to make profit and to survive. Under these circumstances, the media authority has to show, or is biased towards the political system or the hegemonic power who issues the licence to the media.

   But nowadays, the media is becoming more and more obvious entity to carry out the ruling class agenda. During the period of elections, this is far more explicit. Even in the American Presidential Election, people understood the way the media behaved. This is why Anthonio Gramsci explained that the role of the media is favorable for political power. Back in 1940s, the media in Germany had a biased behaviour for the Nazis. In Italy after 1920, Italian Media was favorable for Benito Mussolinis’s fascist regime. Stalin era of Russia, then the Media of Russia had biased behaviour. Even in Sri Lanka at the moment, the media is biased towards the current Rajapaksha regime. Actually the current regimes, even before they came to power, they were keen to buy media entities. They know how important it is to possess the media with their hand. Controlling the loyalty of the people is the key to power.

     Even before Anthonio, Karl Marx argued that the media freedom means nothing as long as the media belongs to the capitalists.

                      Therefore as we’re leftist, we must be very careful when we use the media. These media can absorb everything from our slogans, protests and they can change the ideas of those into their language to tame the people for their rulers. At this moment, as an example, we can see the media is absorbing the deforestation and ecosystem damage from the real fighters and the media introduce kind of individual stars for the struggle instead of a collective struggle.


Anthonio Gramsci argued that the ruling class using the languages as a tool for controlling the other classes. That means, the language has become a part of their hegemonic enterprises. Let’s see how it works. For any kind of Subjects or an area where someone wants to be professional, he or she must be fluent in English. That means, someone who has a good knowledge of English is in a position to enter for the educated world, they have the facilities to become “intellectuals”, then they have the path to get for the high rank of officials and high post of governments. In this way, those who are governing the countries,should be very essentially fluent in English. On the other hand, those who lack of English Knowledge, deemed to be uneducated, unintelligence. Any musicians or writers who compose their music or writing books in english, or singing songs in english or creating films in english their works have the path to become world famous. Therefore the ruling class always use English language as a tool of controlling the other classes and to maintain and manipulate them to keep their hegemonic power unharmed.

If we follow kind of examples regarding Sri Lanka how this works, when the British took control of Sri Lanka, they gave facilities for certain families to study english language. Once they became fluent in english, the path opened for them to become high profile officials as well as to share the hegemonic power. Later the rich people sent their children to England for further education in english, then they came back to Sri Lanka as intellectuals to take over the high rank posts of the government. When Sri Lanka received what we called, so-called independence, all of those who were fluent in english, came to power and became the ruling class. these english educated intellectuals did not resist the imperial policies and they embraced the colonial rules.(except the leftists intellectuals). This was what happened to almost all colonial countries around the world at that time. In this way, the ruling class always using the english language to spread their ideas.Then people do not control the ideas, rather the ideas control the people.that means, if someone can control the ideas of people you can easily control those people.

 Cultural & Morality.

It is very important to understand the way the ruling class using the culture and moralities as the tools to maintain their hegemonic power. Specially the ruling class ideas come to the societies wrapping with the culture and morals. Normally the common people are very interested to follow their cultural habits and morals even without thinking those things deeply. So the ruling class is very clever enough to mix their hegemonic ideas with the culture and morals. When those ideas of the ruling class sneak through as a mixture of culture and morality, the working people are ready to follow them as their own ideas because they feel that those ideas look like their own cultural habits.

It would be better to bring quite a few examples regarding Sri Lanka to explain it for better understanding. If we go back to consider the Presidential election of 1994, many of you can remember that Mrs Chandrika Bandaranayake appeared in that election as “ Nuthana Vihara Maha Devi”. She launched her entire election campaign based on that notion which was inculcated to the people’s mind deeply. 

In Sri Lankan culture, the “Vihara Maha Devi” as we all are well aware, she had been reported in the history that she sacrificed her life in the sea for the benefit of the people when the high tides of the sea flowed to the inland. Therefore the common  people of Sri Lanka believed her as a heroine of all the time of Sri Lanka. When Mrs Chandrika Bandaranayake impersonated as “ Vihara Maha Devi” the common people went to vote Mrs Chandrika, by thinking she would save the country as the way “Vihara Maha Devi” did. This is how the ruling class using the cultural figures or the events to control the people’s cultural beliefs. If some control the beliefs of people, she or he can control the people easily. That is why the ruling class mix their ideas into the culture theories or habits then those culture theories itselves are the ideas that guide the common people. This is the way the ruling class using culture and morality to maintain hegemonic power.

Let’s have another example to make sure to understand how the culture and morality theory works for the ruling class. In the last parliament election, one ruling party candidate who was a movie actor and who played a main role in the movie “ Dutugemunu” as the king “Dutugemunu”. He won the election by a majority of votes. He contested the election for the first time and never did politics before. After the election, one person who voted for him explained that he voted for that candidate as he assumed the candidate as real “Dutugemunu”. So the king “Dutugemunu” was reported in history, the king who killed the tamil national king “Elara”. Therefore the common people consider king dutugemunu as their hero. This impression dragged the people to vote for that candidate because he impersonated king Dutugemunu. So people had or built the morality to vote for him. This is how the culture and morality work. Some politicians try to act as “Diyasena Kumaraya” in the elections. People of Sri Lankan community have a belief that one day an imaginary character in history called “Diyasena Kumaraya” would arrive to save the country and the nation. Those sort of cultural figures are very influential for the common people’s mind. Therefore ruling class politicians use those characters to mix their ideas into the cultural beliefs. This is how the ruling class using the culture and morality as tools for manipulating working people to maintain the hegemonic power even when the people do not like the hegemonic power.

Anthonio Gramsci argued how smart the ruling class is at manipulating these tools of enterprises such as Common Sense, Mass Media, Language, Culture & Morality to maintain their hegemonic power even when the people do not like the hegemonic power.

( Please consider that the examples that were mentioned to explain this Anthonio’s theories, are not any authentic of Gramsci’s writings but just the writers imaginaries)

Ranjana Senanayake. (02/04/21)