People are re-reading Gramsci right now, not least because of his development of the notion of hegemony, arguing that the ruling class enforces its power not solely through economic and class coercion, but also through ‘ideological illusions’. And those who haven’t read or re-read Gramsci are attributing the phrase ‘long march through the institutions’ to Gramsci rather than Dutschke.
One person who clearly has read Gramsci is Dominic Cummings. And although he is no longer at the helm in Downing Street, he has already accomplished a rapid route march through the institution of No. 10 and beyond.
The Tory party itself was the first to be transformed, as Johnson expelled the majority of those with any intellect or compassion, leaving s with the likes of Hancock, Williamson and Patel in important offices of state.
Now, we have the EHRC, which has no black commissioners and has just appointed a man who boasts that even his children think he’s racist.
Then there is the BBC, where each new appointment nudges the prevailing culture further to the right. And the mainstream media, which is overwhelmingly in the hands of the ruling elite.
Perhaps most fundamentally, we have seen a series of sackings and forced resignations of senior civil servants.
That is quite an achievement for an administration – I use the word loosely – which took power exactly a year ago.
Richard Neville, the founder of the magazine Oz back in the ‘60s, said that “There is but an inch between the positions of the Tory and Labour parties” he said, “but it is in that inch that the British people live”.
That inch expands and diminishes occasionally, as it did when Labour embraced the so-called Corbyn project. For a couple of years, it became a yawning chasm, prompting the neo-liberals to respond in terror with ad hominem attacks on Corbyn himself, Diane Abbot, John McDonnell et al.
But with the election of Starmer to the leadership, it is clear that the Labour Party is the next institution in line for the marchers.
The suspension of Corbyn, the sacking of Long-Bailey, the appointment of Evans, the prevention of any debate within the party, these are not individual acts of authoritarianism. They are part of a strategy.
The 57,000 or so members who have left since his election will not be missed by the Starmer cabal. Indeed, their resignations will be welcomed. Each resignation reinforces the hegemony.
Richard Neville’s inch is now measured in millimetres, if at all. And the position of it is significantly to the right.
But the divide within the party itself, between the leadership and the membership, is huge.
Today from the everysmith vaults: Not Bob's Christmas album, but a return - after a month-long hiatus - to Rough & Rowdy Ways. Still extraordinary.