Critical Rhetoric| The Critique of Domination and The Critique of Freedom: A Gramscian Perspective — Commentary

Dana L. Cloud


This article recounts the significance of Raymie McKerrow’s article “Critical Rhetoric: Theory and Praxis” for scholars in the field of communication studies. In contrast to the Foucauldian stance on domination and freedom put forward by McKerrow, I argue that the Marxist and antifascist activist Antonio Gramsci offers an account of domination and freedom in the theory of hegemony that is internally consistent. In addition to its coherence, hegemony theory is rooted in historical materialist practice that urges challenges to capitalism as a system rather than exercising contingent judgments without a clear goal, or telos. Gramsci’s “pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will” is an urgent corrective to the “critique of freedom” and poststructuralist thought more generally in the present political moment.


Raymie McKerrow, critical rhetoric, ideology, hegemony, Antonio Gramsci, Marxism, labor, social movements

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