Hegemony How-To: A Roadmap for Radicals (2017 AK Press)
What is the purpose of having a political Left? Marx suggested that "the point is to change the world." But too often leftist spaces and organizations become self-referential subcultural enclaves — little clubhouses with their own unique jargon, constantly signaling distinction from the larger society. In the new book Hegemony How-To, Jonathan Smucker discusses how this tendency toward insularity has worsened over the past four decades, following the contours of the dominant neoliberal culture. Smucker will discuss with Maria Poblet (Causa Justa and Leftroots) and Vicente Rubio (Podemos participant) the opportunities that today's crises offer us to break out of this holding pattern. From the movement of 'the 99%' to the massive resistance against the Trump Administration, we are starting to see a vibrant contest over popular cultural meanings. And from the Sanders campaign to Podemos in Spain, we are seeing impressive experiments in contesting state and institutional power. These developments present us with many questions about the roles and relationships between a "left pole," grassroots social movements, and political parties, factions, candidates, and officeholders; how do we utilize these different vehicles to navigate political terrain toward a liberatory horizon? We'll discuss all of this, and how Gramsci's conception of hegemony might help.