Small Wars Journal

The Need to Outsource Information Operations: Gramsci and the Ideological Defeat of Islamic Terrorism

Mon, 09/19/2016 - 11:05am

The Need to Outsource Information Operations: Gramsci and the Ideological Defeat of Islamic Terrorism

William M. Darley

The Communist intellectual Antonio Gramsci (1891–1937) developed the theory of cultural hegemony to further the establishment of a working-class worldview. Courtesy Wikimedia

Subject to a twenty-year jail sentence, and dying of exposure and abuse in an Italian prison in the late 1920s, the young communist Antonio Gramsci ruminated on why so many of the common people of Italy had been so resistant to what he regarded as the liberating message of Marxism, the crime of spreading of which was the reason he had been imprisoned. While meditating upon this conundrum, he hit upon an observation that would profoundly change the evolution of modern political thought as well as human sociology. He observed that, in general, human nature seems to impel members of any given society to stabilize the social order in which they live by collectively internalizing as reality certain abstract conceptions concerning what each individual considers the right and proper role each citizen should properly play in society. He further observed that these abstract assumptions concerning citizen roles underpinning society were mainly inculcated by the combined influence of established cultural institutions that reinforced each other in a manner that colluded to keep the structure of the social order fixed.

This process of converting abstractions into a perception that such were reality was a process Marxist theorists had already defined as reification (e.g., abstractions perceived as reality).1

However, by such reification, Gramsci observed, the roles and classes that existed in society came to be accepted by the members of the general populace as the natural and proper social order, even when such acceptance placed many of citizens in the position of being exploited and oppressed.2 And, of course, the prime benefactors of this process of reification and the social stratification that it produced were those economic classes at the top of the class structure. He described this phenomenon of reification that ensconced some at the top and the majority at the bottom of the socio-economic order as ideological “hegemony”.3 This concept is sometimes termed “cultural hegemony” by Marxist scholars.4

He found evidence of this hegemony in Italian society where he asserted that the majority of the socio-political and socio-economic institutions collaborated to reinforce cultural control over the minds of the lower social classes to keep them at once subservient to, yet protective of, the prevailing class structure. To that end, he asserted, the Church, the schools, the military, the police, the banks and large scale business interests, even social clubs and informal social organizations in general, were instruments in the hands of the wealthy industrialist capitalist class which used them to exercise psychological control of the lower classes by instilling in them not only acceptance of, but support for, the prevailing socio-economic order.5 Thus, by controlling the institutions that shaped popular culture, the capitalist class successfully controlled society for its own benefit by reifying popular acquiescence to an illusion of social reality through which it exercised dominion.

The logical conclusion he reached was that the Italian masses would never accept the precepts he and other Marxists advocated until Marxists themselves had taken the necessary steps to reify a different concept of reality in the popular mind conducive to accepting Marxist principles of social organization. In other words, Marxism would only be possible when Marxists had usurped cultural hegemony over society. This, he concluded, was an essential preparatory step to induce the people to accept implementation of the Marxist social paradigm.6

Consequently, Gramsci asserted, the logical conclusion was clear: Marxist activists needed to revamp their strategy into two parts. Rather than just focusing on attempts to effect social change primarily through direct confrontation, as had previously been the main thrust of communist revolutionaries, they needed to first concentrate emphasis on conducting an ideological and cultural War of Position—a “siege” strategy consisting of relentless and sustained efforts over a long period of time to usurp cultural hegemony over society by forming and then propagating an alternative popular culture that made it receptive to Marxist practices and ideals. Only after the effects of the War of Position neutered the opposition, Gramsci asserted, could Marxists then conduct the War of Maneuver, which reflected the more classic Marxist conception of organizing, agitating, and directly confronting ideological opponents that up until Gramsci was most closely associated with common communist organization and practice.7

Thus, prior to the final phase of Marxist confrontation with the hegemonic institutions of capitalism, the change of emphasis in strategy would enable Marxists to reify in the public mind the perception that a Marxist social order was not only the superior, but the right and natural order for human society. This strategy thus paved the way for the War of Maneuver to be successful. In this way, Gramsci fostered a new brand of communist strategy that enjoined defeating the establishment by joining the cultural institutions shaping culture, and then gradually changing the cultural values of those institutions from within rather than mainly relying on having to force change by a revolution from without.8

Setting aside moral arguments concerning the overall Marxist objectives of his observations, as one considers the strategic approach derived from Gramsci’s concept of hegemony in light of historical events subsequent to his time and development of the current world order, it is hard to argue against the concept that broad popular cultural support for any ideology is a prerequisite for overall change to, or control of, a given society. For example, it is hard to imagine public acceptance of the Supreme Court’s recent decision to normalize homosexual marriage in the United States had such a decision been handed down in the American popular culture of the 1950s. To effect such a social change via a court ruling required a profound cultural change in the United States. Such a decision in the 1950s would likely have met with fierce collective public opposition with support from the Church, education system, business interests, the military-and even Hollywood-not to mention a host of other hegemonic institutions that in that time period shared cultural convictions opposing homosexuality, and perhaps would have even resulted in widespread violence.

In contrast, the broad popular acquiescence to the concept of homosexual marriage in 2015, accompanied by wide and virulent stigmatization of opponents to such, was largely due to the success of a long-running campaign that reflected Gramsci’s dual approach to activism by waging at once an ideological War of Position to shape culture and a confrontational street War of Maneuver against opponents of homosexual lifestyle. Orchestrated and synchronized over decades by sympathetic political figures, the entertainment industry, various church and human rights groups, influential activist groups within the national educational system, and other social institutions, this dual-pronged strategy accomplished the shared goal of changing the culture of the United States through reifying gradual cultural tolerance for homosexuality while simultaneously organizing successful agitation to challenge and eventually displace ideological—and political—opponents.9

Such a successful effort to alter public cultural perceptions, and with it, public policy in a manner conducive to achieving the socio-political objectives of the homosexual advocacy subculture in U.S. society showcases the validity and  accuracy of Gramsci’s prescriptions for effecting sociopolitical change. The relevance of his observations and prescription for action to the specific purpose of this article is to suggest that application of Gramsci’s principles as epitomized in the successful campaign waged by interest groups to achieve cultural hegemony conducive to cultural acceptance of homosexual marriage in the United States provides the template needed to defeat what will be a long-running battle against global Islamic terrorism.10

To that end, Gramsci’s conclusions help refine the much debated concept of Information Operations as is relates to strategic efforts aimed at countering Islamic terrorism in a so-called war of ideas. Among the more intriguing as well as frustrating debates that have been carried on with regard to the official war on terror is that which deals with the role of information in the conflict. There has long been general, but inchoate, agreement in the government and among scholars with the proposition that to win the war against terrorism, the West must wage some kind of information campaign to successfully persuade the populations from which terrorists mainly spring, if not the terrorists themselves, as to the wrongness of terrorism. However, a key impediment to developing such an information campaign has often been tacit disagreement over what the word information means within the context of information operations.11 This, in turn, has produced profound open disagreement over who the messengers, and what the content, of such information should be.

On the one hand, some appear to regard information as merely facts (e.g. items of objective knowledge that can be empirically proven, or that are believed to be true at the time conveyed.)12 On the other hand, others view information primarily as subjective assertions, intermingled with selected facts of convenience, intended to either entice or coerce modifications of behavior in other persons. In other words, for those who subscribe to the latter view, the primary role of information and information campaigns is not to inform but to manipulate others’ behavior in a manner that supports a particular political or operational objective.13

As one considers the approaches discussed above, the value of Gramsci’s observations become clear with regard to clarifying what the objectives together with the substance and instruments of any information campaign should be when pursuing how to undermine the deeply entrenched and widespread ideological foundations of Islamic terrorism. The Gramsci approach implies that one must first begin not by framing the problem set as a transfer of information but by analyzing the key questions upon which success is largely contingent as they specifically relate to framing the issue as how best to achieve a favorable state of cultural hegemony that effectively sets the conditions for more active measures to counter the underlying cultural narrative sustaining Islamic terrorism.

The first such salient question is, “What causes someone to be an Islamic terrorist?” Though this topic has been explored extensively, especially since 9/11, the basic answer appears self-evident in the question itself; at least one foundational cause of Islamic terrorism is internal cultural reification of some version of the Islamic faith. Consequently, applying Gramsci’s logic would imply that a vital component of the solution for mitigating the impetus behind Islamic terrorism must be linked to undermining the reified concepts associated with the specific Islamic subculture from which precepts justifying and promoting terrorism emanate. This suggests the absolute necessity of formulating an effective means to culturally neutralize on religious grounds such a rendition of Islam in the minds and hearts of those currently supporting terrorism. Such a conclusion leads to a key collateral question that grows out of the first: “If the problem of Islamic terrorism does indeed grow primarily out of religious conviction reified by culture, do facts even matter?”

Most religious systems, Islam included, appear to be mainly rooted in convictions held by adherents that stem from faith not empirical facts. This is significant because conviction driven by faith appears much more resilient to challenge, refutation, or change than conviction based on persuasion deduced from empirical evidence. People appear much more inclined to fight and die for what they believe as opposed to what they may have been persuaded to cognitively accept based on purported facts and logic. As noted by Gramsci,       

On what elements, therefore, can his philosophy be founded [the philosophy of the common member of society]? And in particular his philosophy in the form which has the greatest importance for his standards of conduct? The most important element is undoubtedly one whose character is determined not by reason but by faith.14

To illustrate, many of the world’s great religions, including Islam, Judaism, and Christianity, appear to rest upon the foundation of adherent confidence in mythologies the historical veracity and authenticity of which are impossible to empirically test or prove. As Gramsci might have observed, such religions are magisterial products of reification that in each case also produced hegemony over populations fostered by self-promoting institutions that employ faith and conviction to both establish civic order in society as well as exercise psychological control over adherents. Therefore, assuming that Islamic terrorism is established primarily on a foundation of such faith as opposed to conviction stemming from persuasion derived from consideration of empirical facts, the futility of information campaigns that rely primarily on such collections of facts as instruments of persuasion becomes clear.

These observations, emerging from consideration of the aforementioned questions, give rise to the third and most essential set of questions with respect to the issue of defeating Islamic terrorism. Given the extremely resilient nature of religious conviction rooted in faith, “Can persons reified to a specific tradition of faith change their religious convictions? If so, what might cause a person to change his or her convictions of faith on issues of religion, especially those justifying terrorism?”

These questions begin to drill down into the most essential issue because they point squarely to uncomfortable solutions that are largely viewed as outside what Western governments characteristically feel they are able to appropriately do vis-à-vis religion in general. Challenging the religious tenets upon which even the most vagrant and extremist branches of long-established religious faiths is largely viewed as untenable in the West due today’s politically hypersensitive environment, especially regarding moral critiques of non-Christian religions on religious grounds. Therefore, for Westerners, plausible efforts to effectively challenge the morality of the specific tenets of a population’s faith, even one openly supportive of terrorism, seem significantly out of the purview of any Western-secular government’s prerogative.

Notwithstanding, it is an obvious fact of history fact that faiths among mass populations can, and do, change. Latin America was not always predominantly Catholic; Russia was not always predominantly Orthodox; the Middle East was not always predominantly Islamic; San Francisco was not always predominately gay; and, Utah was not always predominantly Mormon. In conjunction, it is extremely relevant to note that such mass shifts in faith were largely due to the influence of zealous missionaries proselytizing change, some with government support and control, but many without. Such historical examples that illustrate the potential for dramatically effecting change to civilization through a cultural shift in religious faith suggest two points: first, that populations under the influence of one cultural hegemon can be persuadable with regard to converting to a new reified state; and second, that a powerful means—perhaps the most powerful means—to change a society imbued with cultural hegemony that fosters sympathy for a particularly violent religious tradition is a sustained effort by dedicated proponents of a faith to promote reification in that society of an alternate strain of religious tradition and morality. Thus, applying Gramsci’s logic seems to imply that a key component of a strategy to permanently mitigate Islamic terrorism in the long run must be to supplant with alternatives those underlying religious and cultural values of Islam that appear to legitimize terrorism, and to do so through exhortation to change based on a change of religious faith.

With the above in mind, a prerequisite for arriving at a sober and serious change in U.S. government policy that would more effectively deal with the issue of Islamic terrorism, is to first frankly acknowledge that there are multiple malevolent variants of the Islamic faith from which today’s Islamic terrorism springs—that violence springs from widely supported traditional interpretations of historic doctrine easily traceable from the religion itself; and, second, to acknowledge that the current trend in the Islamic world is toward increasing intolerance and more stringent cultural control over populations rather than less.

Such acknowledgement gives the necessary perspective to discern that whatever steps are taken to effect a change in cultural hegemony in those parts of the Islamic world that countenance terrorism, it is highly unlikely that such steps can originate from within the Islamic world itself. There is simply too much psychological inertia and history supporting tolerance for coercion and physical intimidation of non-Islamic populations and practices within global Islamic culture in general.

Consequently, it becomes clear that whatever change that is possible and necessary will have to be introduced from outside the Islamic world, and done so on the plane of passionate conviction in a manner that invites a change to tenets of religious faith that underlie sympathy for terrorism. Mere transfers of sterile information through dispassionate information programs designed by secular governments relying on the persuasive power of “facts” have little prospect of being executed with the fervor or courage necessary to directly challenge the religious values underpinning such terrorism. Additionally, information conveyed that does not forthrightly criticize and denounce on moral grounds the underlying immorality of precepts asserted within those versions of Islam that legitimize terrorism will be weak instruments with regard to converting views rooted in faith much less changing behavior among populations.

This leads inescapably to the conclusion that the best agents for pursuing the kind of long-term philosophical and ideological change necessary to defeat Islamic terrorism are not vague and culturally tepid government-sponsored information operations programs that heretofore were characteristically fashioned by hirelings to be as inoffensive as possible. Such programs are characteristically hobbled by Western moral relativism that engenders in them a congenital inability to call into question and impugn Islamic religious beliefs on moral grounds as homage to so-called Western cultural tolerance. Consequently, such information operations routinely preclude them from challenging or denouncing the specific religious tenets espoused by radical Islamic clerics at the foundation of terrorism.

But if not government, then who is best equipped to formulate “information campaigns” that would most effectively promote a new cultural hegemony that might effectively supplant that which now fosters global Islamic terrorism?

The answer is private enterprise.

The best way to defeat Islamic terrorism in the long run is the enlargement and protection of the market place of ideas, including religious ideas, as a means of confronting, challenging, and undermining those malevolent strains of cultural values at the root of Islamic terrorism. And the most effective agents for accomplishing that are not government agents or agencies. Just as Gramsci’s War of Position for developing campaigns to reify cultural acceptance of homosexual marriage was conducted mainly through private enterprise, so to should private enterprise be the main component of efforts to ideologically defeat Islamic terrorism.

Unlike government-sponsored information operations campaigns, persons involved in such private enterprise have the advantage and prerogative—indeed, the self-appointed charter—to challenge and severely criticize other religious systems on moral grounds, and to do so by inviting populations to compare the utility and veracity of the dominate prevailing systems of beliefs and values in their society with their own. In view of such, existing systems of belief that appear particularly vulnerable to comparison and critique are the Islamic variants of Sunni and Shia Islam that today espouse and sponsor terrorism. These variants of Islam rest upon a religious foundation that fosters appeal and draws strength and vitality primarily from hatred expressed through intolerance, together with encouragement of personal avarice, bigotry, the opportunity for plunder, specious history, and a particular devotion to ignorance and superstition. The praxis of such Islamic interpretation translates into barbarism, notably on display in web-based glorification of minority persecution, rape, exploitation of women and children, mutilations, slavery, beheadings, immolation of prisoners, intimidation and violence directed against dissenters in all areas of intellectual as well spiritual inquiry, torture, and murder, not to mention terrorism.

In the case of the Sunni Islamic State, these practices have attracted to date an army of generally youthful adventure seekers, who find the major appeal of Islamic terrorism is obtaining a religious license to kill, rape, enslave, and pillage in the name of the Islamic god. However, the values such practices impart, as the melancholy recent history of the Middle East has repeatedly shown, are weak components for building a viable and prosperous society because they inculcate social dysfunction by embedding fear of individual initiative and creativity, self-serving narcissism, stove-piped thinking, disunion, deep institutional suspicion and jealousy, vindication of treachery, internal resentment among comrades, and simple-minded reliance on personal violence as the default solution to all issues arising from friction in everyday social intercourse. 

Such propensities stemming from values underpinning the culture of Islamic terrorism are highly vulnerable to the impact of a market place of ideas in which they would be fairly compared and contrasted to those propensities associated with more tolerant, humane, and liberal religious systems not only under the microscope of human conscience, but also because they would be evaluated simply on the pragmatic basis of how well they serve as practical social factors impacting the building of order, efficiency, and stability in society overall. In such a marketplace, the anti-social defects of existing variant Islamic values underpinning terrorism can be expected to wither in the glare of a fair competition as they are compared in the public mind with the merits of more practical and efficacious values that exist within competing, less violence oriented faiths.

Consequently, the most effective way to challenge strains of Islamic culture promoting terrorism is to foster and dramatically expand the global marketplace of ideas by encouraging, enabling, and multiplying private agents who are willing to work at personal risk in countries to challenge Islamic values, traditions, and tenets of faith conducive to terrorism using as their primary tools the spreading of their own personal religious convictions and faith.

A large part of the solution to the problem of competing in what some call the war of ideas, therefore, lies in part recognizing that effective information operations campaigns must necessarily be waged in the dimension of passionate religious conviction using appeals calculated to invite faith as opposed to convert by logic, and that this is best done by increasing the number and diversity of emissaries of various faiths who operate outside the control of, or oversight by, government. Without any official involvement or direction from the U.S. government, such campaigns by the very nature of the personalities conducting them can be expected to do much to effectively challenge and neutralize on religious grounds the values that engender global Islamic terrorism.

Thus, a major key to defeating Islamic terrorism in the long run is to facilitate a great expansion of the number of religious conviction campaigns conducted by private third-parties that eventually build masses of converts in faith communities inside societies that currently support Islamic terrorism who in time reify in the overall national cultures an alternative more humane narrative regarding human eschatology and purpose. 

So What, as a Matter of Government Policy, Can be Done to Appropriately Enable Such Private Information Operations Enterprise?

Long-standing philosophical and legal prohibitions against favoring the advancement of any single religion make it untenable for the U.S. government to officially sponsor, or give preference to, any single religious order or church in their outreach efforts. However, support for all groups that seek to promote and foster an expansion of ideas in general, including religious groups, is perfectly appropriate on the condition that such support is contingent upon a candidate group seeking sponsorship demonstrating that its efforts are aimed at expanding human rights, not diminishing them, and is not involved in promoting clergy control or involvement in either actual civil governance or the persecution of other religious groups.

Such broad support is justifiable on ethical and legal grounds because efforts to promote the exercise of individual conscience and freedom of worship by exposing global populations to a greatly expanded variety of ideas, points of view, and expressions of opinion directly serves the national interest by encouraging the exercise of universal human rights. Thus, official support for promoting a larger global marketplace of ideas is wholly consonant with our own historical values and national policies due to the conviction that solutions to social ills are best arrived at through competition in a freewheeling marketplace of ideas expressed through speech, press, and worship. In practice, the exercise of freedom of conscience, freedom of speech and expression, freedom of association, and freedom of religious practice serve the collective interest by promoting just such a competition of ideas and convictions. Such an approach is indeed consistent with U.S. historical liberal values, and is, in fact, among the key components in the philosophical development of the United States itself.

Consequently, in practical application, the U.S. government should make as a key national security policy priority—perhaps its single most important overarching policy priority for the foreseeable future—promoting and protecting peaceful global diversity of religious practice. To operationalize this policy, the U.S. government could appropriately serve in the kind of supporting role that Gramsci called the War of Maneuver by conducting appropriate activities at a strategic policy level that confront the governments of nation-states that impede the free exercise of conscience as expressed through individual religious practice and agitate for change.

For example, at present, the published national security strategy already includes similar commitments to work with and support nongovernmental entities that are endeavoring to similarly expand human rights specified as follows:

Defending democracy and human rights is related to every enduring national interest. It aligns us with the aspirations of ordinary people throughout the world. We know from our own history people must lead their own struggles for freedom if those struggles are to succeed. But America is also uniquely situated—and routinely expected—to support peaceful democratic change. We will continue mobilizing international support to strengthen and expand global norms of human rights. We will support women, youth, civil society, journalists, and entrepreneurs as drivers of change. We will continue to insist that governments uphold their human rights obligations, speak out against repression wherever it occurs, and work to prevent, and, if necessary, respond to mass atrocities.15

Though the quoted extract shows that the U.S. already has a policy of supporting and working with a variety of private entities to promote human rights, the existing policy should be formally expanded to include working with religious organizations to expand human rights.

Additionally, to further enable private enterprise in the endeavor of expanding the exercise of freedom of conscience, the United States should amend its domestic tax code to encourage private foreign engagement efforts through tax deductions for support of engagement efforts as well as foreign religious groups to promote the global diversity of ideas because they relate to expanding acceptance of universal human rights associated with exercise of freedom of conscience, religious practice, and freedom of association.

Concurrently, again employing another element reminiscent of Gramsci’s concept of waging a supporting War of Maneuver, the U.S. government should increase formal political pressure on nations sympathetic to Islamic terrorism by greatly expanding efforts under current official policy to sanction those that do not support the exercise of freedom of conscience and worship in their own countries. To support this political effort, the United States should formulate and conduct global information campaigns that specifically confront and stigmatize cultural and legal practices that preclude exercise of freedom of conscience. The informational and diplomatic campaigns the United States used to wage ideological war against Soviet-communist ideology during the Cold War serve as good models for such an effort. The production and telecast of commonly themed radio and television programming, support for cultural activities such as theater productions, films, and works of art, sponsorship for writing advocacy literature, and extensive use of the Internet and social media all should be used in support of a global effort to promote the concept that individual religious practice is an inviolable human right.

It is worthwhile noting that such initiatives to support free exercise of religious practice by the U.S. government are not new. The State Department already has within it, The Office of International Religious Freedom, which was specifically created by then President William J. Clinton in 1998 to promote religious freedom as a core objective of U.S. foreign policy.16

As such, it monitors the state of religious freedom in the nations of the world accordance with agreements made in the United Nations. Its four stated priorities are as follows:

  • Promote freedom of religion and conscience throughout the world as a fundamental human right and as a source of stability for all countries;
  • Assist emerging democracies in implementing freedom of religion and conscience;
  • Assist religious and human rights NGOs in promoting religious freedom;
  • Identify and denounce regimes that are severe persecutors on the basis of religious belief.17

Support for the work of this office should be elevated to a far higher level of policy importance in the development and execution of national strategy to defeat Islamic terrorism. In focusing strategy, the United States government should make greater use of this office as it adjusts its foreign policy to more effectively isolate diplomatically and economically those nations that are the chief violators of personal religious freedom and freedom of association. To actualize such a policy, the U.S. should formally adopt a range of diplomatic and economic measures with the goal of keeping them in place until prohibitions against freedom of expression and worship are lifted entirely in such countries.

Values that Must be Challenged

As one considers the scope and depth of such efforts to promote change, the author is under no illusion that such an undertaking is small, quick, or that it would be viewed in anyway other than both threatening and hugely offensive to a large number of persons living in Islamic countries, especially those governing. However, with regard to whatever risk there might be associated with offending Islamic national and religious sensibilities in today’s world, it must be observed that the general socio-cultural environment that currently characterizes the cultural hegemony prevalent in the greater part of Islamic world is one that already lionizes intolerance for non-Islamic populations and theology, and currently does so with virtual impunity from the West.

Moreover, the trend toward intolerance for non-Islamic practice is a characteristic that is increasingly pronounced as can be seen not only on display in IS-controlled areas of the Middle East, but equally so within the entrenched Islamic strongholds that provide sub-rosa support for Islamic terrorism, including Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt, Nigeria, Malaysia, Pakistan, Turkey and elsewhere where Islamic control over society is either already official or is moving in that direction. Furthermore, what remains of fragile traditions of institutional tolerance for non-Islamic faith and practice in many Islamic societies is quickly eroding as intolerance for non-Islamic religious worship is gathering momentum in ongoing official or semi-official efforts to purge non-Islamic thought and practice together with expelling non-Islamic populations. This long-term cultural trend in the Islamic world has the potential of geometrically expanding the number of Islamic terrorists into the millions which threatens not only the West by also those highly vulnerable Muslim states that are trying to remain politically secular. This constitutes a direct and existential threat to the freedom and movement of all secularly-minded Islamic as well as non-Islamic societies globally that cannot be ignored and must be effectively dealt with.

As a result, though the Gramscian approach described above might agitate and provoke in the short- and mid-term an even harsher reaction toward the West, leveraging as quickly as possible the basic human desire to choose for oneself by vastly expanding resources dedicated to promoting the concept that exercising personal conscience through religious practices independent of state or terrorist-group coercion is a human right is a promising way to proceed for the long term. And the most effective way to leverage effectively this psychological human imperative is through the energy, resourcefulness, and devotion characteristic of private enterprise. As noted by C.G. Jung,

Such problems are never solved by legislation or tricks. They are only solved by a general change of attitude.  And the change does not begin with propaganda and mass meetings, or with violence. It begins with a change in individuals. It will continue as a transformation of their personal likes and dislikes, of their outlook on life and of their values, and only the accumulation of such individual changes will produce a collective solution. 

End Notes

1. Georg Lukács, “Reification and the Consciousness of the Proletariat” in History and Class Consciousness, Merlin Press, 1967, 1923; see also, Gajo Petrović “Reification” in A Dictionary of Marxist Thought, edited by Tom Bottomore, Laurence Harris, V.G. Kiernan, Ralph Miliband (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1983), 411–3; James Robinson, “Reification and hegemony: the politics of culture in the writings of George Lukacs and Antonio Gramsci, 1918-1938”, Unpublished Doctoral Thesis, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, February 1983 accessed 20 August 2016]

2. Antonio Gramsci, Selections from the Prison Notebooks (New York: International Publishers, 1971) 12.

3. Ibid.

4. Peter D. Thomas, The Gramscian Moment: philosophy, hegemony and Marxism (Leiden and Boston: Brill, January 2009) 63, 66, 173, 224.

5. Gramsci, 214, 264-5.

6. Ibid, xcii; see also, Valeriano Ramos, Jr., “The Concepts of Ideology, Hegemony, and Organic Intellectuals in Gramsci’s Marxism” Theoretical Review No. 27, March-April 1982

7. Gramsci, 229-239.

8. Gramsci’s concept served as a guide for such socialist movement leaders such as Rudi Dutschke, who, in 1967, coined the phrase Der Lange Marsch durch die Insitutionen (The Long March through the Institutions) to describe operationalization of Gramsci's concept of doggedly pursuing cultural hegemony over a long period of time as a means of establishing Marxist domination over society. The phrase was an allusion to the Mao Tse-Dong-led Long March, 1934-1935, that resulted in the survival and eventual victory of the Communist People’s Liberation Army.

9. Marshall Kirk and Hunter Madsen. After the Ball, How American will conquer its fear & hatred of Gays in the 90s (New York: Doubleday, 1989); Dudley Clendinen and Adam Nagourney, Out for Good, The Struggle to Build a Gay Rights Movement in America (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1999); Mark Thompson, editor. Long Road to Freedom: The Advocate History of the Gay and Lesbian Movement. (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1994); Michael J. Klarman, “How Same-Sex Marriage Came to Be,” Harvard Magazine, March-April 2013; Larry Gross, Up From Invisibility, Lesbians, Gay Men, and the Media in America (New York: Columbia University Press, 2001), 48-55.

10. Marshall Kirk and Hunter Madsen, “The Overhauling of Straight America” A primer listing specific activities in a strategic campaign suggests a potential guide for active measures supporting a similar campaign aimed at undermining cultural support for Islamic terrorism.

11. Joel Harding, “What is Information Operations?” accessed 2 September 2016. 

12. Joint Pub 3-13, Information Operations,, p. I-3 (“Information. Data in context to inform or provide meaning for action”); See also discussion of both in MAJ Tadd Sholtis, “Public Affairs and Information Operations, A Strategy for Success,” Military Review, July-August 2011, accessed 2 September 2016

13. Dorothy Denning, Power Over the Information Front, Conference Paper, Global Flow of Information, Yale Information Society Project (2005) accessed  She describes the information front and presenting a taxonomy based on breaking the information environment down into three areas: information, channels, and actors.

14. Gramsci, 339.

15. National Security Strategy, February 2015, p. 19

16. Basic law, “International Religious Freedom Act,” Public Law 105-292, 105th Congress,

17. Office of International Religious Freedom, U.S. Department of State accessed 2 September 2016.

18. C. G. Jung, Psychology and Religion (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1938), 95.

About the Author(s)

William M. Darley, Colonel (ret.) U.S. Army, served thirty-one years on active duty in the U.S. Army, primarily as a public affairs officer. After retirement, he served as a social anthropology team leader for the Human Terrain System in Ramadi, Iraq and editor for the Army University Press at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. He is a 1977 graduate of Brigham Young University and its ROTC program.