You need a gun

Wolfgang Streeck

  • The H-Word: The Peripeteia of Hegemony by Perry Anderson
    Verso, 190 pp, £16.99, April 2017, ISBN 978 1 78663 368 2
  • The Antinomies of Antonio Gramsci by Perry Anderson
    Verso, 179 pp, £14.99, April 2017, ISBN 978 1 78663 372 9

What is the relationship between coercion and consent? Under what circumstances does power turn into authority, brute force into legitimate leadership? Can coercion work without consent? Can consent be secured without coercion? Does political power depend on voluntary agreement and values shared in common, or does it grow out of the barrel of a gun? When ideas rule, how is that rule maintained? Can associations of equals – built on common interests, ideas and identities – endure, or must they degenerate into empires kept together by force? Such questions go to the foundations of political theory and practice. There is no better way to explore them than by tracing the complex career of the concept of hegemony, from the Greeks to today’s ‘international relations’. That is the task undertaken by Perry Anderson in The H-Word and The Antinomies of Antonio Gramsci.

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