Antonio Gramsci & the Narrative Behind the Narratives

This past Sunday, my pastor asked me if I was free to go and have lunch mid-week. I said, “Sure I am.” The reality is, even if I wasn’t free, I would make sure I would be so he and I could sit down and fellowship. After all, he is a very busy man, and I recognized his time and presence are objectively valuable. During our lunch, he solicited my opinion about everything going on in the world. He told me a couple of weeks back he had asked his wife if he was dreaming; meaning, since there had been such a non-stop onslaught of disruptive events since the start of the year, he began to wonder whether all of this was real, and if the only thing he needed was a nudge to wake up. After all, 2020 has been a year characterized by unsettling, and we are presently bearing witness to events so unthinkable that if I described it to someone at the end of 2019, they would think I was narrating a television drama. Now, cities that were once vibrant with life are now dreary ghost towns. People wear masks in public and have an unhealthy fear of one another; it is no longer socially acceptable to be social, but to wear a face shield and gloves and keep your distance. Doing everything from home is the new normal, yet giving someone a hug and a kiss in church is frowned upon—that is, of course, if your local congregation actually meets in person on Sunday. Then there are the protests, the violence, the rage against the police, the anger against the rich, the dissatisfaction with the politicians, and the presupposed animosity between the races. Oh, and let’s not forget the impending economic collapse and the upcoming U.S. presidential election.

Alas, I told my pastor that he is not dreaming, but that while the multiplicity of narratives can seem overwhelming, there is hope. There is a clear way forward once your eyes are opened to see what’s really going on. And, I told him, the world begins to make a whole lot of sense when you consider the one who is orchestrating the narrative. There is a unified purpose behind the strategy and a thread that brings everything together; there is one metanarrative behind all the other narratives. What I subsequently did in our conversation is prepare my pastor about what lies ahead. You see, we are living in the midst of a manufactured revolution, but it is crucial to discern what the revolution is for and whom it is against. Consequently, in what follows, I am going to warn you. I am going to warn everyone, because if the people of God are forewarned, they will be empowered to be forearmed.

So my pastor asked me, “Elijah, what do you think about all of this?” I began my answer with a question. I said, “Have you ever heard of a man by the name of Antonio Gramsci?” He looked puzzled. I said, “Well, let’s start there.”

Many in the 21st-century West have no clue who Antonio Gramsci is, and I myself am grateful for a wonderful talk that Daniel Ajamian recently gave at the 2020 Mises University. A link to this talk can be found at the bottom of the page. In what follows, I will condense and summarize what Mr. Ajamian said.

So, who is Antonio Gramsci, and how is he relevant? Mr. Ajamian labels Antonio Gramsci as “the greatest political strategist in history.” Hence, in order to understand what’s happening now, you have to understand Gramsci’s ideology. In short, Gramsci took an economic philosophy developed by Karl Marx and extended that ideology beyond economics into all facets of society, with the purpose of overthrowing the existing order in favor of a new one that was presumably better. So, if Antonio Gramsci expanded upon Karl Marx’s ideas, who was Karl Marx? Marx was a 19th-century German philosopher, among other things. In simple terms, Marxism is an economic worldview that interprets societies as being divided along one line: on one side lie the workers, or the proletariat. On the other side lie the owners of the means of production, the bourgeoisie. Socially and politically speaking, Marxism views all of history as a struggle between the classes; that is, between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. Marx was an anti-capitalist and thought that capitalism was oppressive in that a profit-based system exploits the workers and exclusively benefits the owners. Accordingly, private ownership was a means for the minority to abuse the majority. So, according to Marx, because society can be viewed primarily in terms of an exploitative class struggle, there will come a point when the existing system of economic production will allow no further progress for the proletariat. The result is a worker’s revolution and a Marxist utopia: a classless society without any private ownership, though there is room for collective ownership. It’s relevant to note here that Marx was also an atheist, and his belief was that religion is an “opium” of the people. Marx also said, “Man makes religion, religion does not make man.” Of course, these statements make sense in the context of Marx’s overall ideology. Why is that? Because Marxism is antithetical to a Christian worldview. For example, using a biblical lens, history is absolutely not about a class struggle; it is about God working through history to bring about His will through the church, with the ultimate end being the glory of God through the redemption of the elect. From a Christian worldview, we never see people as groups but as individuals, and the primary concern in life is never economic: it’s a man’s trust in Christ and standing before the Lord. Accordingly, the dangerous part about Marxism is what happens when the economic idea that “nothing is mine” extends into other realms: like the familial realm, as in my children are not mine; the personal realm: my body is not mine; the psychological realm: my mind is not mine; and the political realm: I have no individual rights, as I am part of a whole.

So, what does any of this have to do with Antonio Gramsci? Gramsci was a 20th-century Italian philosopher who didn’t think Marx went far enough. In many ways, you could even say Gramsci even looked down on Marxism because it was too simplistic. You see, Gramsci was smart enough to see that society is not built primarily on economics. It’s built on culture, values, and morals. In a society, people aren’t primarily separated by economic relations; they are primarily unified by common ideas and morals. I don’t think of my neighbor as a member of the proletariat, I think of him as Frank who lives in Queens, just like me; I think of him as a man who wants to leave a legacy for his children, just like me. Where Marx and Gramsci did agree is that they wanted to remake society in their ideological image, but what’s key is that Gramsci saw that changing a society’s culture, not its economic organization, was the key to transforming that society. In other words, you change how people think and see the world from within. The goal is to nudge them to adopt a set of cultural values separate and distinct from the prevailing culture. Consequently, when a man sees the world around him as having values radically different from his own, what he will now do—on his own volition—is seek to change the prevailing values in favor of his, or support candidates who will have the power to enact change to the same effect. In other words, if you control what a man thinks, then you control the man, because as a man thinks within himself, so he is. The question now is, how do you go about controlling what this man thinks so you can control him? And the answer is, by creating a narrative. What’s the narrative? That there is a cultural hegemony of the elite, and that this cultural hegemony is what is holding you down. In other words, there is a cultural bourgeoisie that owns the means of production of intellectual and moral capital, and they use that capital to exploit the cultural proletariat, which tends to include everyone who’s not a heterosexual white male. Hence, as the narrative goes, the only way for you to become unshackled is for the power of the hegemony to be broken.

So, if there is a hegemony that molds and shapes the hearts and minds of the people, how do you create a new culture? Well, not through violent revolution, because people will resist—a violent revolution is not agreeable. Not to mention, the group using violence loses all moral credibility. What you now do, as Gramsci says, is slowly change the culture over time so that, at a tipping point, enough individuals will think as you do and therein help to bring about sweeping change. And by “slowly change,” what Gramsci had in mind was infiltration, deception, and manipulation over decades. The point was never to say, “We want to overthrow the system.” The point was to promote the narrative, “The system is holding you down, and the only way for you to be free is to change the system so that it works for you.” Consequently, you slowly infect educational institutions (like elementary schools and seminaries) so that children are indoctrinated in the Gramscian narrative. And when you go to church, you hear the Gramscian narrative from the pulpit. Institutions would cultivate Gramscian intellectuals whose values were always critical of the status quo. These intellectuals need not be professors or PhDs. In the modern world, they can be anyone who has a platform to communicate the narrative. Hence, these intellectuals could be members of the clergy, philosophers, and those in academia; they can also be in entertainment, sports, business, and politics. Regardless of the field, the point is that the corruption of the status quo is so pervasive and deep, the solution demands a complete takeover. A path to overthrow the existing order begins when the cultural proletariat claims to be a ruling class in the political, cultural, and moral domains. The next step is to gain political power and transform society—influence precedes authority.

But wait a minute. Nothing that I’ve said so far is at all revolutionary. Any group of people who thinks there’s a cultural hegemony can use voluntary persuasion to nudge the hearts and minds of people to think differently. And if they do influence others by open dialogue and free exchange, then what’s the big deal? The big deal is that Antonio Gramsci identified what he thought was the major obstacle to a sweeping Marxist-type revolution in the West. As I mentioned, Gramsci understood that people did not see themselves as being separated from one another based upon ideology. Gramsci saw that the glue that held traditional Western culture together was biblical Christianity. It is Christianity that laid the foundation of our customs and traditions. For example, from a Christian worldview, there is an objective morality that recognizes the value and dignity of all people. (This is where the idea that “all men are created equal” and are “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights” in the Declaration of Independence comes from). It says Christians are called to act in love, even toward those who hate God. Christianity defines what a family is—a man, his wife and their children—and uplifts the family as the core social unit in society. Christianity also ordains both the church and the State as institutions, but it neither advocates mixing of the two nor allows the sphere of operation of one to encroach on another. Christianity also recognizes individual, private ownership. Two of the Ten Commandments—not to steal and not to covet—imply that something else is rightfully owned by someone else and therefore, in God’s eyes, you ought not to take it away from them nor lust after it.

So, Gramsci postulated, in order to overthrow Western civilization, what must first be accomplished is to get rid of Christianity. Then, once the real, Christian God is out of the picture, man can do whatever is right in his own eyes. (Notice that little-g “god” need not be taken out of the picture as long as it is an inclusive, syncretistic, false deity—as long as it is not Christ. Idols are not jealous in that they don’t care who you worship, as long as it’s not the God.) The goal of Antonio Gramsci’s political strategy is to destroy the “old way of doing things” because God is standing in the way of creating a new world order: get rid of God, get rid of Christ, eliminate objective morality, and certainly don’t let anyone teach what the Bible actually says. (And if they do, they must be labeled, separated and shunned.) Because, you see, God is the ultimate oppressor. He is the apex member of the bourgeoisie, and in order for man to escape from His divine tyranny, God must die. It is then that man in his prideful arrogance will be free to say, “I will ascend and be like the Most High.”

So, how do we fully reconcile Antonio Gramsci’s 20th-century ideology with the present? In Gramsci’s eyes, the only way to nudge a Marxist-inspired proletariat revolution would be to make the West as godless as possible so that their faith in the Judeo-Christian moral system would crumble. And this is the point: all of the mini-rebellions we see in the world today in actuality have nothing to do with the objects of rebellion. They are all “previews” and “set-ups” that lead up to the grand rebellion against the Lord. He’s the biggest problem, because He’s not an earthly authoritarian but a heavenly one. It’s only a matter of time before a Gramscian intellectual says something along these lines: “The root of the problem is much bigger than the rich, the police or systemic racism. While we’re talking about deconstructing ideas, things and institutions, why don’t we talk about removing the entire idea of God from our legal code? Isn’t is time for a new Constitution—one that doesn’t mention God—for a new nation?”

A new utopia demands a new man to populate it; an old man won’t do, because the old man believes in Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. The old man will die for Christ; he doesn’t want to live in the new world, because there is no objective truth. In the new order, without God, it is man’s responsibility to fix things. We can perfect people with machines (i.e., transhumanism), we can fix racism and we can also cure poverty. And in the new order, there is a collective ideology where one is all and all is one. The more diverse the better, because all is one. There are no distinctions, borders or separations, because total inclusivity is the name of the game. The lack of borders includes your privacy (surveillance); your property (no private ownership); and your body (mandatory vaccinations and no confidential health records). You can even be and think whatever you’d like, just as long as you don’t oppose the new order. Exclusion only applies to those who don’t loyally subscribe to total inclusivity.

So there is one big metanarrative: the de-Christianization of the West and the overthrow of the authority of God. This begets many smaller, but related narratives, like the overthrow of the police, the overthrow of the traditional definition of marriage and the overthrow of what it means be a man or a woman. But here is a crucial point that must not be missed: if the traditional narrative of biblical Christianity is overthrown in the West, what will it be replaced with? If someone takes down a statue in protest, will they leave it as a bare pedestal or put something else in its place? If you rename a military base or a school, will it be re-named or be called “The Place that Has No Name?” If the Christian foundation is destroyed, what remains will not be a vacuum. It will be exchanged for something else. This is how deception always works: the truth of God is suppressed, and in place of God’s truth, something else is substituted. Isn’t that what the serpent did in Genesis 3? He did not just ask Eve, “Did God really say you can’t eat from the tree?” He asked that question, tempted Eve to distrust God and then proposed an alternative: “Surely if you eat from the tree you will not die … so go ahead, take a bite.”

So, what will replace the Christian foundation in the West? What will remain is a new standard of so-called “truth” that has nothing to do with the objective truth at all. The new standard of truth will be the self, who is now free from God and therefore autonomous—free from all “oppressive,” “antiquated” hegemonic systems so that a person is at liberty to simply do what what he or she wants to do. Now you tell me: who does that sound like? Which character in the Bible protested against God and rebelled against Him so that he could be like God? Who is the one who said in his heart, “I will ascend and be like the Most High,” so he could reign in a universe in which he was king? The answer is, Satan himself. So, if you really want to know who’s lurking behind the ideology of Antonio Gramsci, it’s not Antonio Gramsci. It’s the devil. We know it’s the devil because the purpose of the cultural revolution is to overthrow Christ. Men are satisfied with much more earthly rewards (like money and women), while tyrants are happy with power and guns. But the Gramscian revolution is anti-Christ. That is a rebellion that began a long, long time ago and has played out in many different forms throughout human civilization. Unfortunately, many people don’t see the flaming dragon blowing fire into the ideology, which is why they can figuratively “take a bite,” not recognizing that they are being manipulated and recruited into a campaign against omnipotence.

Here now is a question worth considering: Who will maintain this new, Satanic, Gramscian system? That is, assuming a cultural revolution succeeds, how will it be maintained? There are millions of Christians in the United States who will never budge one inch. So, what institution will ensure that the West remains anti-Christ? And the answer is, the State (in whatever form that may be: either national, transnational or global). It is the only institution on earth that has the natural power to start and then maintain a revolution, and then to ensure its own survival. God only ordained three external institutions of authority on earth: the family, the church and the State. The State has the power of the sword, so if the State is godless, it can wield the sword and attempt to destroy Christ’s church and the family. When you think about it this way, it forces you to think twice about the spring of this year, when governors (by illegal fiat) told churches all over the country, “You can’t have church.” It persuades you to consider if the State was practicing to see how the church would respond.

You see, in the kingdom of God, the Holy Spirit regenerates individuals. He gives men a new heart and a new mind because He’s God and He has the power to do that. Someone who is born again therefore goes out into the world as a new creature and an ambassador of his King (Christ). Now that this man has been transformed, he serves his King willingly because that is his strongest inclination. God can change men’s hearts from within, but the devil can’t. The devil can try to test and tempt from without, but he cannot change anyone’s heart so they will freely do his will. But what Satan can do is coerce people to do things. How does he do that? By the power of the State. By coercing you with law; by coercing you with the threat (or reality) of losing freedom, rights and property; and by coercing you with violence. God’s truth will stand forever, and even the devil knows that. So, the best he can do is swap God’s truth for a lie. He will lie and attempt to manipulate many to obedience. But others will recognize the lie and refuse to compromise. He cannot change their minds, so he has to resort to coercion. This helps to explain why, for so many in 21st-century America, politics is their religion. Political religion is basically a religion of works: I can save you by politics. I can fix you by politics. I can make the world better by politics. The common thread is something that man does (works). A core message of Christianity is that we are justified by faith alone, so when people subscribe to salvation by works, the devil couldn’t be happier. The point is that whenever someone actually believes in salvation by politics, if you do not consent with my opinion or cannot be persuaded, I can always lean back on political power and coerce you to do that which you are unwilling to do if free to decide.

So, where do we go from here? What is the concerned Christian to do? Where is the hope? Indeed, Antonio Gramsci’s ideas are dangerous, but they are the least dangerous to a person of ideas—that is, someone who has an acquaintance with ideology and is therefore not overrun by empty promises, dazzled with words, or swept away by rhetoric. Conversely, if a person’s head has no ideas, then Gramsci’s ideology is the most dangerous, because that mind will quickly become saturated with something new. I say all that to make the point that awareness of what’s happening in the present is the first step toward knowing what to do.

That being said, even considering the rapid pace of change before our eyes, I don’t think we have even come close to seeing the worst of it. Yet what is bad for the world is sanctifying for the elect. The good news is that a Gramscian challenge to Western Christianity will put the faith and the church through a stress test. When that happens, Christians will no longer be burdened with the curse of prosperity but rather with the grace of adversity. The result of this challenge is that many will finally come to truly understand what they believe and why. They will finally know what is true and what is real, and see how a godless ethic leads to guilt, shame, misery, discontentment, hopelessness and a host of traumatic abominations. The result of putting Christ’s church through a furnace is glorious, because what remains after being refined in the fire is rid of all impurities; what remains is a resilient minority who will not move, because we stand on the Rock of God’s Eternal Truth.

We are living in the midst of a manufactured revolution, the purpose of which is to incite a cultural revolution that overthrows Christianity. That’s what the revolution is for. The revolution is against God Himself. That may seem daunting, but quite the contrary. For who can wage war against God Almighty? Who can raise a sword against omnipotence? You may be asking yourself, “But what can I do?” The answer is simple: know God’s truth, live it, and stand for it. If the State begins persecuting the church or coming after Christians, let them come. The State does not have enough power to come after all of us, and the State’s primary weapon is fear. Fear that they are more powerful than we are. But we know that God has never abandoned His people, and He won’t start now. For the elect, our names are written on the Lord’s hands (Isaiah 49:16), so how could He forget? When the time comes, many may be hesitant to take the first step, but all it takes is one person who is willing to put what the Bible says into action. God will always shield those who refuse to compromise on Christ. In the end, it never matters how many they are or how big they seem. In the end, what matters is if you are for God or not. One person plus God is always a majority, and Christ is already King with all power and authority in heaven and on earth. The fight is fixed, and there are many more in the army of Light than there are in the army of darkness. Christian, be not worried, for when the God of the Universe sees powers gathering against Him, He laughs. Allow me to read Psalm 2 in its entirety:

Why are the nations in an uproar
And the peoples devising a vain thing?
The kings of the earth take their stand
and the rulers take counsel together
against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying,
“Let us tear their fetters apart
and cast away their cords from us!”

He who sits in the heavens laughs,
The Lord scoffs at them.
Then He will speak to them in His anger
And terrify them in His fury, saying,
“But as for Me, I have installed My King
Upon Zion, My holy mountain.”

“I will surely tell of the decree of the Lord:
He said to Me, ‘You are My Son,
Today I have begotten You.
‘Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance,
And the very ends of the earth as Your possession.
‘You shall break them with a rod of iron,
You shall shatter them like earthenware.’”

Now therefore, O kings, show discernment;
Take warning, O judges of the earth.
Worship the Lord with reverence
and rejoice with trembling.
Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way,
For His wrath may soon be kindled.
How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!

Christ died for you. Now, beloved, I encourage you to live for Him. Now, beloved, I encourage you to live for Him. Take refuge in Jesus, saints, by earnestly meditating on His Word and by dedicated communion through prayer, both individual and corporate. Take refuge in Christ by standing for His truth, everywhere, all the time, and in all situations.

Dr. C. H. E. Sadaphal

Link: https://mises.org/wire/antonio-gramsci-greatest-political-strategist-history

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