Unsettled States, Disputed Lands: Britain and Ireland, France and Algeria, Israel and the West Bank-Gaza

By Ian S. Lustick | Go to book overview

CHAPTER FIVE
Patterns of Hegemonic Change: Britain and Ireland, France and Algeria

Chapters 3 and 4 have shown how the British and French states failed to sustain the integration of Ireland and Algeria. In Britain a hegemonic conception of Ireland's incorporation within the United Kingdom, successfully defended in the 1830s and 1840s, no longer prevailed in the 1880s. In France, three successive attempts to establish hegemonic presumptions regarding Algeria's status, either as part of a French Union, or as part of France itself, failed. In both cases, in Britain by 1885 and in France by 1957, the boundaries of the state and of the political community emerged on the national agenda as bitterly divisive but open questions. In this chapter I examine explanations for why and how this happened.


Gramscian Explanations for Outcomes of Wars of Position

Ideologically hegemonic conceptions provide stabilizing distortions and rationalizations of complex realities, inconsistent desires, and arbitrary distributions of valued resources. They are presumptions which exclude outcomes, options, or questions from public consideration; thus they advantage those elites well positioned to profit from prevailing cleavage patterns and issue definitions. That hegemonic beliefs do not shift fluidly with changing realities and marginal interests is what makes them important. That they require some correspondence to "objective" realities and interests is what limits their life and the conditions under which they can be established and maintained. Though no detailed theory of hegemonic change can be crucially tested by comparing the Irish problem's reemerg-

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