Point: there is only one possible rational/common sense way to organize society. What you see in society is the natural order of things.
I have problems with Gramsci, because I don't know Italian and the translations of his notebooks are too hard for me to understand, so I'm stuck with secondary sources. I can't fully understand his work for that reason, except in very broad outline.
Also, I think the Gramsci model does not quite fit circumstances in the U.S. today; Marcuse and McLuhan have enlarged on the uses of commercialism, consumerism, and the media to expand on Marxist ideas of how the masses are brought to accept the status quo. Gramsci was aware of the fascistic elements in kitsch culture, but he could not have dreamed of the elaborate media empire we have today.
According to Gramsci, There are two kinds of intellectuals: the traditional and the organic. In a sense, everyone is an intellectual, since we all use our minds. Traditional intellectuals are professors, clergy, philosophers, theoretical scientists and mathematicians and so on. They serve the elites by acting as cultural guardians of (mostly) western thought but regard themselves and are regarded by others as "above" the common culture. They are conservative in that they stand as the guardians of the "best" that culture has produced in literature, languages, the arts,philantrophy, scientific thought (as opposed to technology), philosophy and so on. This has proven to be a trap and a way of declaring their fields of interest as irrelevant: matters for one's leisure time, some beautification of everyday life, expressions of benevolence, since true citizens devote themselves mostly to obviously useful things. Other disciplines, such as anthropology and and psychology, have a quasi-scientific reputation and are regarded as "soft" but practical. Economics and political science are, of course, allied to the practicalities of business and government
Organic intellectuals, who directly serve the elites, are the technicians and pragmatic people of all sorts: engineers, inventors, information workers in advertising, journalism, popular entertainment etc. They create and improve the technology that runs society. They may show an interest in culture if it is salable and well understood by most to be good and beautiful or at the very least entertaining. There is some crossover here, because the intellectuals who create advertising and other media products have liberal arts backgrounds. Once upon a time this group of people was said to have "sold out." And of course scientific and mathematical speculation often lead to real world outcomes, the Bomb being one example.
So the traditional intellectuals provide the cultural, best that has been thought and said justification for the way things are, ( and for the religious, the beauties of resignation to the world as it is), and the organic intellectuals provide the infrastructure. The former are regarded by more practical types as sometimes capable of good, perhaps even salable, ideas. The latter are the ones who know how the world really works.
In the meantime a whole new class has arisen: the college educated business class, the MBAs.They have a little scientific or liberal arts background but are solely interested in wealth and social prestige. More and more students are getting business degrees. The MBA's vision of higher education is that it must make a profit. What's good is what the market says is good.
On the left, and bereft, are us liberal intellectuals.
Most of us know some Marx and believe that our society must provide better for the poor and luckless. But we don't believe in revolution, since we are too comfortable (or too scared). We give money to good causes. We march and petition. We are regarded as ineffectual.
On the right, the reactionaries blame our current woes on us liberal intellectuals. Since liberal intellectuals have no power and are stereotyped as latte -sipping snobs, we make good targets. Conservatives prescribe religion and family values as ways to deal with poverty and alienation. To Tea Partiers, conservatism makes a lot of sense. People want to be rewarded for leading the lives dictated to them. Women would like some credit for how they have lived for their families, for instance. Veterans want to be honored for their service. Libertarians claim to be interested only in getting the government off their backs, although they benefit from public projects and often are living off government salaries and pensions.
So what about real change? As usual, technological change is ahead of cultural change. We readily accept improvements in technology. Culturally, we lag behind. As someone embedded in the humanities and liberal thought patterns, I can't make out the road ahead.
I do think that Michael Moore is on to something, though. This seems like a small matter, perhaps, but every evening he goes for a walk. He gets good exercise, talks to his neighbors, urges people who are also walking to tweet him about what they see and learn on their perambulations. I am going to start "walking with Michael" myself. It was through walking around that Walter Benjamin came up with his great insights about Paris and Moscow. I plan to keep records of my walkabouts in Seattle and will report back. That's the best I can do as an old woman and blinkered liberal traditional intellectual.