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Gramsci in Cairo: neoliberal authoritarianism, passive revolution and failed hegemony in Egypt under Mubarak, 1991-2010

Roccu, Roberto (2012) Gramsci in Cairo: neoliberal authoritarianism, passive revolution and failed hegemony in Egypt under Mubarak, 1991-2010. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Most existing interpretations of the thought of Antonio Gramsci in International Relations and International Political Economy are strongly influenced by the seminal account provided by Cox in the early 1980s. Recovering the hitherto neglected concept of philosophy of praxis, this thesis departs from the 'Coxian orthodoxy' and develops an alternative understanding of Gramsci that sees hegemony as a combination of coercion and consent emerging from the articulation on three overlapping dimensions, respectively involving the interaction of the economic and the political, the international and the national, the material and the ideational. The potential of this approach is illustrated by examining the unfolding of neoliberal economic reforms in Egypt in the past two decades. It is argued that, firstly, the interaction of economic and political factors produced the emergence of a neoliberal authoritarian regime with a predatory capitalist oligarchy playing an ever greater role. Secondly, articulation across different spatial scales brought about a passive revolution managed by the state with the aim of adapting to the globalising imperatives of capital accumulation without broadening political participation. Lastly, the performative power of neoliberalism as an ideology fundamentally reshaped economic policymaking in favour of the rising capitalist elite. This focus on the shift in class relations produced by – and itself reinforcing – neoliberal reforms allows us to understand how the already waning hegemony of the Egyptian regime under Mubarak gradually unravelled. The rise of the capitalist oligarchy upset relations of force both within the ruling bloc and in society at large, effectively breaking the post- Nasserite social pact. Passive revolution witnessed the abdication to the pursuit of hegemony on the national scale, with the attempt of replacing it with reliance on the neoliberal hegemony prevalent on the international scale. The success of neoliberalism as an ideology did not obscure the increasingly inability of the regime to provide material benefits, however marginal, to subaltern classes. Thus, the affirmation of neoliberalism in Egypt corresponded to the failure of hegemony on the national scale.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2012 Roberto Roccu
Library of Congress subject classification: J Political Science > JQ Political institutions Asia
J Political Science > JZ International relations
Sets: Departments > International Relations
Supervisor: Bicchi, Federica and Hutchings, Kimberly and Smith, Karen E.

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