By J. Chalcraft, Y. Noorani
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Extra info for Counterhegemony in the Colony and Postcolony
First, while the gravitational power of popular liberalism helped bring together the broad opposition coalitions of 1910–11 and 1913–14, it was quite incapable of maintaining these disparate coalitions in defiance of strong centripetal forces: those of class, ethnicity, region, generation and personal faction. With its broad, diffuse, emotive appeal, popular liberalism was effective as a ‘counterhegemonic’ ideology, espoused by the successful – but highly diverse – opposition to both Díaz (1910–11) and Huerta (1913–14); but it was much less use as a programme of government, especially of activist revolutionary government.
28 This view fits the Mexican story quite well. But, even in Mexico, there were revolutionary groups who were leery of state power, who, rather than seeking to seize the state and cast it in their own image, as would-be hegemons are meant to do, were chiefly concerned to weaken and even dissolve the state. Such anarchist/anarchisant forces were, of course, even stronger in other revolutionary contexts: in Nestor Makhno’s Ukraine, for example, or in the Spanish Revolution of the 1930s. These revolutionary actors sought to dismantle – or, at least, substantially weaken – state hegemony without apparently desiring to forge their own hegemonic statist alternative.
First, when we talk of hegemony, we should clarify whose hegemony is at stake. Second, this clarification rapidly leads to a rather obvious conclusion: that hegemony is never complete and is, to varying degrees, contested. Third, and no less obvious, struggles for hegemony are shifting processes; hegemony is not a given. And even when it seems to be a given – when it seems secure and preponderant – it has to be worked at; it depends on mechanisms of, let us say, acculturation; and we should ask what those mechanisms are.