Gramsci in Ecuador: Hegemony and Passive Revolution in the Latin American ‘Pink Tide’

Jorge Enrique Forero


In a short fragment of his first prison notebook, Italian socialist Antonio Gramsci attempted an interpretation of the political dynamics in Latin American countries, inspired by his reading of the biography of 19th Century Ecuadorian president, Gabriel Garcia Moreno, a prominent member of Catholic Action. The fragment included serious inaccuracies —due to the lack of access to the direct source— even confusing Ecuador with another Andean country, Venezuela. Nevertheless, he was able to identify some of the main nodes of conflict in the constitution of the Ecuadorian State: the role of the catholic church, the tensions with the coastal bourgeoisie and the political potential of the indigenous population. The accuracy of those insights could not rest, of course, on his knowledge of the particularities of the case, but rather in the way that what he read fit into the broader problematic of peripheral states, to which he devoted many years of his intellectual life.
We use this fragment as a point of departure to explore how Gramscian and neo-Gramsican approaches can contribute to a better understanding of the so-called Ecuadorian ‘Citizens' Revolution’, a case within the now-declining Latin American ‘pink tide’. It would specifically address the potential of the use of two categories, hegemony and passive revolution, to understand both, the relationship between national politics and the global context, and the way in which the incomplete constitution of a national state constrains the potential to develop radical and anti-capitalist political projects, or even reformist social democratic ones like the ‘Citizen’s Revolution.’

gramsci - counter hegemony - hegemony - passive revolution - latin america - state theory