Ideas of Antonio Gramsci, by Theme

[Italian, 1891 - 1937, Born in Sardinia. Spent many years in prison. Died in Rome.]

green numbers give full details    |    back to list of philosophers    |     unexpand these ideas    |    
24. Political Theory / B. Nature of a State / 1. Purpose of a State
The state should produce higher civilisations for all, in tune with the economic apparatus
     Full Idea: The role of the State is always that of creating new and higher types of civilisation; of adapting the 'civilisation' and the morality of the broades popular masses to the necessities of the continuous development of the economic apparatus of production.
     From: Antonio Gramsci (Selections from Prison Notebooks [1971], 2 'Collective')
     A reaction: This makes education virtually the prime role of the state. Reminiscent of Sir John Reith's original dream, in the 1930s, for the BBC. Many marxists feel that the economy is in direct conflict with morality and civilisation.
24. Political Theory / B. Nature of a State / 2. State Legitimacy / d. General will
Eventually political parties lose touch with the class they represent, which is dangerous
     Full Idea: At a certain point in their lives, social classes become detached from their traditional parties. In that particular form ...the parties are no longer recognised by their class as its exopression. ...The field is then open for violent solutions.
     From: Antonio Gramsci (Selections from Prison Notebooks [1971], 2 'Parties')
     A reaction: Left wing parties pursue ideologies that don't connect with the actual current interests of the working class, and righ wing parties are taken over by rich elites who don't value safe traditonal communities. (This thought is resonant in the 2018 UK).
24. Political Theory / C. Ruling a State / 2. Leaders / a. Autocracy
Caesarism emerges when two forces in society are paralysed in conflict
     Full Idea: Caesarism (as the emergence of a 'heroic' personality) expresses a situation in which the forces in conflict balance each other in a catastrophic manner ...which can only terminate in their reciprocal destruction.
     From: Antonio Gramsci (Selections from Prison Notebooks [1971], 2 'Caesarism')
     A reaction: He goes on to distinguish progressive and reactionary versions of Caesarism. Gramsci's interest is in the circumstances that throw up such people. Marx had identified 'Bonapartism'.
24. Political Theory / C. Ruling a State / 2. Leaders / c. Despotism
Totalitarian parties cut their members off from other cultural organisations
     Full Idea: A totalitarian party ensures that members find in that particular party all the satisfactions that they formerly found in a multiplicity of organisations. They break the threads that bind them to extraneous cultural organisms.
     From: Antonio Gramsci (Selections from Prison Notebooks [1971], 2 'Organisation')
     A reaction: British parties traditionally had a 'club house', where you could do most of your socialising. Presumably Nazis left the church, and various interest groups.
24. Political Theory / C. Ruling a State / 3. Government / a. Government
What is the function of a parliament? Does it even constitute a part of the State structure?
     Full Idea: The question has to be asked: do parliaments, even in fact constitute a part of the State structure? In other words, what is the real function?
     From: Antonio Gramsci (Selections from Prison Notebooks [1971], 2 'Parliament')
     A reaction: Nice question. In the UK it is only the cabinet which has active power. Backbench MPs are usually very frustrated, especially if their party has a comfortable majority, and their vote is not precious. They are privileged lobbyists.
24. Political Theory / D. Ideologies / 6. Liberalism / f. Liberal problems
Liberalism's weakness is its powerful rigid bureaucracy
     Full Idea: Liberalism's weakness is the bureacracy - the crystallisation of the leading personnel - which exercises power, and at a certain point it becomes a caste.
     From: Antonio Gramsci (Selections from Prison Notebooks [1971], 2 'Hegemony')
     A reaction: This sounds more like what is called 'the Establishment' in Britain, which is the hidden controllers of power, rather than the administrators (whose role is only despised by right-wingers).
25. Social Practice / B. Equalities / 2. Political equality
Perfect political equality requires economic equality
     Full Idea: The idea that complete and perfect political equality cannot exist without economic equality ...remains correct.
     From: Antonio Gramsci (Selections from Prison Notebooks [1971], 2 'The State')
     A reaction: In the west we are living in a period (2018) when the top 0.1% of the wealthy are racing away, creating huge inequality. Their wealth controls the media, and it seems unrestrainable. The belief that we live in a 'democracy' is an illusion.