On the occasion of the 5th anniversary of the February 17 revolution of Libya our reading group went through some works of Orientalism, and discussed the influence of the writer Antonio Gramsci on Edward Said.
Gramsci’s salient contribution to Western Marxism and to political philosophy was his analysis of the tendency of class interests in conditions of industrial capitalism to disguise themselves as cultural values, and even to become naturalized as instincts.
Gramsci realized that dominant classes were able to exert a leadership and directive influence at the level of ideas as much as at the level of force.
Hegemony- The ability of the ruling elite to retain power by manipulating public opinion in the realm of civil society, so as to obtain the organised consent of the masses. Hegemony has truly been achieved when the masses recognise ideas and values that actually serve the interests of the rulers of society as their own.
Difference between Organic and Traditional intellectuals
Traditional intellectuals- are those educated persons who provide an ideological rationale for the existing status quo in a given society
Organic Intellectuals– are those who elaborate at the conceptual and organisational level, a sense of change , of new social relations or arrangements and their legitimacy
What is work of Organic Intellectuals?
To give emergent socio-political movements a clear self-consciousness and a coherence at the level of ideas that will enable them to intervene persuasively in the public sphere
On being asked if they have heard of Antonio Gramsci, many of our Libyan friends said they had not. However, when told that this thinker was imprisoned by the same Italian authorities who were ruling Libya (1911-1951) they brightened up.
One Libyan friend said- There are no simple answers to this complex situation in the mad world of today.
For them and all concerned individuals, we said that the work and writings of Professor Edward Said are a must-read.
As a starter, one can go through the following lectures on Orientalism.
OUT OF PLACE
Another touching book of Edward Said is- Out of Place.
In the talk (Link given below) the writer speaks movingly about the three countries which he grew up in- and which were no more on the map of the world as he knew them.
On a personal note, he speaks movingly about his mother, and how she insinuated herself into the lives of her children.
She warned Said, that his politics would lead him to troubles..a prescient warning, which he ignored, but found true
Did the women, children pay a much heavier price for the Libyan revolution.
A troubled father
5 years on, a troubled father goes to pick up his son from the tuitions at 10.30 pm in the night. His son studies in the Pakistani Community school of Tripoli which is one of the most reputed.
The Libya as we knew it under Gaddafi will never exist.
There is talk between the warring parties of three regions-and all of them have their severe conflicts…with one word, which has no answer
CULTURE AND IMPERIALISM
Also for those interested in exploring these themes further, the following talk will be a good starter
On the occasion of this anniversary, we also went through works of Translating Libya, which we will discuss in subsequent blogs.
(gracereadings.com is the Reading Journal of the Tripoli Reading Group, in which we use the framework of literature to interrogate various layers of society)
2011- Shafshoofa Maleshi-Tripoli is Free
2012- One year on-what is the change
2013-Examining Belief and Interest
Link : http://wp.me/piL5Q-xm
2014: Mitiga Link http://wp.me/siL5Q-mitiga
2015 : Lost Generation Link http://wp.me/piL5Q-Jq