Mussolini's fascist regime thought that Antonio Gramsci could be dealt with by sending him to jail for twenty years in the lugubrious San Vittore prison. But it was there that he wrote some of his most noteworthy works, including "Notebooks from Prison," in which he refined his concepts concerning hegemony.
In the context of a capitalist system of production he believed that the hegemony of the dominant group was not just a result of the control of the State's repressive system; it likewise involves the control or leadership of intelectual and moral institutions in the society. That is, cultural hegemony achieved by subordinating the mass media, educational and even religious institutions.
In order to maintain its power the dominant sector must get the support of intellectuals, he reasoned, so that their views be filtered down among subordinate sectors of society, uniting all social clases around the views of the dominant group.
Considering the present financial crisis, the struggle for power in outlying areas of the world's power centers and the obvious role of the mass media in acting as spokesman for those on top it is clear that Gramsci's ideas are reference points in any analysis of the world situation today. Economic and financial power concentrated in fewer and fewer hands, the mass media that acts as the slogan bearer of the rich--appropriately clothed in order to disguise from the uninformed reader the real intentions of the dominant power structure.
Whether or not you agree with Gramsci's concepts, it is clear that he could not be bought off by the fascists imposters. Mussolini offered him freedom if he would renounce his ideas. "The pardon might preserve my body," he declared "but would kill my soul."