This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

Rethinking Gramsci's Political Philosophy Essay

3366 words - 13 pages

Rethinking Gramsci's Political Philosophy

ABSTRACT: This paper is a clarification and partial justification of a novel approach to the interpretation of Gramsci. My approach aims to avoid reductionism, intellectualism, and one-sidedness, as well as the traditional practice of conflating his political thought with his active political life. I focus on the political theory of the Prison Notebooks and compare it with that of Gaetano Mosca. I regard Mosca as a classic exponent of democratic elitism, according to which elitism and democracy are not opposed to each other but are rather mutually interdependent. Placing Gramsci in the same tradition, my documentation involves four key points. First, the Notebooks contain an explicit discussion of Mosca's ideas such that when Gramsci objects to a theoretical concept or principle, he often presupposes a common methodological orientation, and when he objects to a particular method or approach, he often presupposes a common theoretical view. Second, Gramsci accepts and gives as much importance to Mosca's fundamental principle that in all societies organized elites rule over the popular masses. Third, Gramsci accepts Mosca's distinctive theory of democracy defined as a relationship betwen elites and masses such that the elites are open to the influx of members from the masses. Finally, there is an emblematic practical political convergence btween the two: in 1925, both opposed a Fascist bill against Freemasonry. Although their rhetoric was different, their speeches exhibit astonishing substantive, conceptual and logical similarties.

The aim of this paper is to suggest that the political theory of Antonio Gramsci is in large measure a constructive criticism or critical development of that of Gaetano Mosca. Before justifying this claim, some qualifications are in order.

The most immediate clarification is that the Mosca I have in mind is not the "proto-fascist" or reactionary alleged by some, but rather a thinker in the tradition of democratic elitism; this is a tradition which rejects the view that democracy and elitism are incompatible, but tries to combine them. (1) Second, I said "in large measure," and this does not mean "entirely"; that is, I think it would be wrong to claim that all of Gramsci's political theory derives only from Mosca since there is no question that there are other sources, such as Marx, Lenin, Hegel, Gentile, Croce, and Machiavelli. (2) Third, when I speak of political theory, I am not referring to the totality of Gramsci's thought, but to that part which deals with questions which are strictly and explicitly political and social, such as classes, forces, crises, revolutions, governments, parties, and states. For example, I am not referring to Gramsci's philosophical conceptualizations of the dialectic and the theory-practice nexus, nor to his historical interpretations of the Italian Risorgimento and French Revolution. Naturally, this distinction among...

Find Another Essay On Rethinking Gramsci's Political Philosophy

A Role for Religion in Public Service

3613 words - 14 pages theoretical abstraction, with which the people are merged in the epilogue. The ideational instrument is philosophy, which, according to Gramsci's most often quoted words, involves "criticism and the superseding of religion and 'common sense'." The only philosophy that has an impact on the masses, however, is a "philosophy of praxis" that opens people to a "higher conception of life" to which they adhere not through reason but on faith. This faith is

Karl Marx Essay

905 words - 4 pages , T. B. Bottomore, and Maximilian Rubel. "Karl Marx. Selected Writings in Sociology and Social Philosophy." The British Journal of Sociology 8.4 (1957): 378. Print.Milios, John. "Marxist Theory and Marxism as a Mass Ideology: The Effects of the Collapse of Really Existing Socialismon West European Marxism." Rethinking Marxism 8.4 (1995): 61-74. Print.Wheen, Francis. Marx's Das Kapital: a biography. New York, N.Y.: Atlantic Monthly Press, 2007. Print.

Biotechnology: A Tool of Body Manipulation

995 words - 4 pages , this project hooks up with the “new material turn” (Dolphijn and van der Tuin, 2012, Bennett 2010, Barad 2007, De Landa 2002) that forces rethinking of the notion life and technology within philosophical, cultural and political studies, in a more egalitarian because affective, self-critical and non-essentialist way (Braidotti 2006, 2013, Protevi 2009, Esposito, 2012). As such it will examine reflective attentiveness as real transformative capacity

Nazis and Nietzsche

1453 words - 6 pages Hitler had some of the Nietzschean "will to power," considering he rose from starving artist to Chancellor of Germany. However, Nietzsche's existentialist philosophy did not necessarily state that the power one would will toward was political or economic, but was instead an internal power, a power of self-realization, a power to overcome one's limitations. Still, Niestates: "Genuine philosophers, however, are commanders and legislators: they

Social Work

2263 words - 9 pages are influencing us. An important step, then, is to be clear about what our values are. Thompson (2000, pp33)It is not easy to recognise your own values, as often they are unconscious ideas or views, which can only be challenged or changed, when brought to the conscious level. Personal, societal, political and cultural experiences influence the values that an individual develops, so it is important to become aware of these influences. The values


1023 words - 4 pages Victorian England. Students can explore how the social context, economics, religion, philosophy, visual arts, and literature of the period might be interrelated. Inspiration enables students to brainstorm and explore relationships among concepts through both visual diagramming and outlining. Students can work individually or in small groups to develop "maps" of related concepts they have studied or to organize ideas prior to writing

An Illustration of State-Society Relations in Turkey

2122 words - 8 pages , “Reclaiming Universalism: Negotiating Republican Self-Determination and Cosmopolitan Norms”, The Tanner Lectures on Human Values, University of California at Berkeley, [online] available at: [accessed April 16, 2014] Benhabib, S., 2010, “The Return of Political Theology”, Philosophy and Social Criticism, 36(3-4), pp.451-471 Casanova, J., 2006, “Rethinking Secularisation: A

The Political Philosophy of Karl Marx

2443 words - 10 pages criticized Marx for his predictions in the past but now we can see that his political philosophy can be applied to countless contemporary issues. Works Cited 1. Rethinking Race, Class, Language, and Gender by Pierre W. Orelus 2. Marx's Theory and the Historic Marxist Controversy on Economic Crisis by John Milios 3. Critique of the Gotha Programme by Karl Marx 4. Marx's Perspective on the Objective Class Structure by Daniel J

My Philosophy and Theory about English Teaching

5384 words - 22 pages My Philosophy and Theory about English Teaching Teaching is a performance, a journey, and a battle. It is political, it is taxing, and its rewards are often not reaped until years later. A classroom requires quick thinking and reactions, and the modern teacher must succeed in lives of teenagers that are becoming increasingly more tenuous and complicated. All of these items factor into why everything a successful teacher does must have the

Historical Re-Interpretations: Writing/Re-Writing of Ethnography and Historiography

2956 words - 12 pages Northeast India. New Delhi: Sahitya Akademi, 2005. Print. • Burbidge, John, 2006. The Logic of Hegel's Logic: An Introduction. Broadview Press. • Dai, Mamang. The Legends of Pensam. New Delhi: Penguin Books, 2006. Print • Goswami, Chandana. Patkair Ipare Mor Desh. Chandra Prakash Publication, Panbazar, Guwahati, 2012. • Kelly, Mark G.E. “The Political Philosophy of Michel Foucault”. New York, Routledge, 2008. • Lyotard, Jean François. The

Female Liberation and Male Oppression

1958 words - 8 pages In 1848 Elizabeth Cady Stanton (an American social activist and one of the leading figures of the early women’s rights movement) stated that “man is infinitely women’s inferior in every moral virtue.” Feminism (defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as: “the theory of political, economic, and social equality of the sexes”) started out as a movement for total equality for all humans, yet it has become a philosophy (largely promoted by

Similar Essays

The Poverty Of Neoconservative Philosophy Essay

2114 words - 8 pages The poverty of neoconservative philosophy (rethinking liberalism) by John MacBeath Watkins Neoconservatives, a group which included formerly liberal academics and their younger Reaganite allies, have had a great deal of influence on American foreign policy, especially during the lamentable George W. Bush administration. They envisioned a world in which American dominance would be unquestioned, and opposing regimes would be overthrown and

A Comparative Analysis Of Gramsci’s Theory Of Cultural Hegemony And Balkin’s Theory Of Cultural Software

880 words - 4 pages Gramsci’s theory of cultural hegemony and Balkin’s theory of cultural software both examine the evolution of ideologies and their impact within a society through different perspectives. Gramsci’s approach focuses on the concept of hegemony, whereby gaining the consent of the people forms the means of gaining political and economical control. This approach is the point of contention in Balkin’s analysis, where Balkin criticises the concept of

Marxist Media Theory Essay

4310 words - 17 pages . Gramsci's stance involved a rejection of economism since it saw a struggle for ideological hegemony as a primary factor in radical change.Criticisms of Althusser's theory of ideology drew some neo-Marxists to Gramsci's ideas.Stuart HallStuart Hall, now Professor of Sociology at the Open University, was a major figure in the revival of the British political Left in the 1960s and '70s. Following Althusser, he argues that the media appear to reflect

Marxist Criticism Essay

1343 words - 5 pages Marxist Criticism Introduction Marxist literary criticism is based upon the political and economic theories of the German philosopher Karl Marx. In works like The German Ideology and The Communist Manifesto, written with Frederick Engels , Marx proposes a model of history in which economic and political conditions determine social conditions. Marx and Engels were responding to social hardships stemming from the rise of capitalism