Seminar: The Struggle for Power – The Gramscian Challenge for Politics

Left Forum (Vasemmistofoorumi) and The KSL Civic Association for Adult Learning (Kansan Sivistystyön Liitto KSL) are organising a joint seminar on the thinking of Antonio Gramsci and especially his concept of hegemony. How could the Gramscian concept of hegemony be used in the analysis of contemporary society and politics? There are two international guest speakers, Peter Thomas and Sara Farris present and also Mikko Lahtinen from the University of Tampere will give a presentation. The seminar The Struggle for Power – the Gramscian Challenge for Politics will take place on Wednesday, October 28th at Balder-sali (Aleksanterinkatu 12) in Helsinki from 5 pm to 7.30 pm. The entrance is free.

Time: Wednesday, 28.10. at 5 pm to 7.30 pm

Location: Balder-sali, Aleksanterinkatu 12, Helsinki



Peter Thomas: Confronting the Crisis: Gramsci and the Politics of Hegemony

Sara Farris: The emergence of the far-right in Europe. Hegemonic project or fragmentary reaction to the economic crisis?

Mikko Lahtinen: Hegemoniset kamppailut ja demokratian ongelmat (Hegemonic struggles and the dilemmas of democracy)


Free entry.

The international guests will speak in English. There is no translation available for Mikko Lahtinen’s presentation. Questions from the audience can be translated.

The organisers of the event are the Left Forum (Vasemmistofoorumi) and The KSL Civic Association for Adult Learning (Kansan Sivistystyön Liitto KSL)



For more information contact:

Ruurik Holm

Director, Left Forum


Gsm. 050 304 1125



Abstracts and presentations of the speakers in English:


PETER THOMAS: Confronting the Crisis: Gramsci and the Politics of Hegemony

The global wave of protest movements against the neoliberalism in the last decade has given rise to a series of debates about the definition of a realistic leftist political project for the twenty-first century. Contemporary radical thought and political philosophy has proposed a variety of concepts for mobilising popular energy against both new and old forms of capitalist exploitation and social domination: the “multitude”, the “common”, the “people” and the “political subject” are only a few of the many recent attempts to define concrete alternative political forces. After discussing the strengths and limitations of some of these concepts, Thomas will argue that Antonio Gramsci’s concept of hegemony constitutes a particularly fruitful way for us to understand and to organise resistance to the ongoing international financial and economic crisis.

Peter Thomas is a researcher of the Finnish Academy and the Jan van Eyck Academy, Maastricht. He is the author of “The Gramscian Moment. Philosophy, Hegemony and Marxism” and an editor of the journal “Historical Materialism: research in critical Marxist theory”.

SARA FARRIS: The emergence of the far-right in Europe. Hegemonic project or fragmentary reaction to the economic crisis?

The last European Elections revealed at least two alarming phenomena: on the one hand, the increasing distance of EU citizens from the European Institutions, and, on the other hand, the dramatic growth of xenophobic and ultra-nationalist parties. The unprecedented success of far-right parties in Europe is certainly one effect of the failures of the process of European integration, although in a very contradictory fashion. Yet, more importantly, this success is especially the result of the economic crisis, the dismantling of welfare state services and the impoverishment of the population that has increasingly threatened the European working classes since the late 1990s. The far-right, and especially its anti-immigration and racist propaganda, has started becoming more aggressive. It has even managed to find support in social strata and territories that were once points of reference for the left. Can we speak of a hegemonic project of the far-right in Europe? How can we establish an hegemonic project for the left that will be able to challenge the threats represented by these xenophobic and right-wing organisations?

Sara Farris is a researcher in the International Institute of Social History, Amsterdam, and the Jan van Eyck Academy, Maastricht. She is the author of “Religion, Individual and Society. Max Weber’s Sociology of Religion” (in Italian), an editor of the journal “Erre” and contributor to the journal “Critica Marxista”.

MIKKO LAHTINEN: Hegemonic struggles and the dilemmas of democracy

A change in hegemonic power relations cannot be defined by a shift in the power relations within representative democracy only. In order to solve the ever deepening crises of the capitalist system, a nationally, internationally and globally influential counter-hegemonic project should sooner or later emerge. Lahtinen analyses the historical basis and the political and pragmatic preconditions for such a project.

Mikko Lahtinen is currently a senior researcher in the University of Tampere. His most recent books include “Politics and Philosophy. Niccolò Machiavelli and Louis Althusser’s Aleatory Materialism” (Brill, Historical Materialism Book Series, vol. 23, 2009) and “Snellmanin Suomi” (Vastapaino, 2006).