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Gramsci's Democratic Theory

Gramsci's Democratic Theory: Contributions to a Post-Liberal Democracy

Copyright Date: 1992
Pages: 221
  • Book Info
    Gramsci's Democratic Theory
    Book Description:

    An in-depth study of Antonio Gramsci?s prison notebooks (Quaderni del carcere) and his specific contributions to radical democratic theory.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7548-3
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. vii-viii)
    Ernesto Laclau

    For well over the last half century, the obscure and passionate prison writings of Antonio Gramsci have continued to inspire political scholars and activists deeply committed to social change. But, during the first decade after his death, Gramsci’s writings were taken more as a symbol of having endured the brutality of fascist imprisonment than as original and rigorous contributions to a complete rethinking of marxist theory. So compelling were the circumstances in which he wrote, that, at the outset, Gramsci was considered primarily as a heroic figure of the anti-fascist resistance whose intellectual influence was limited to, and scarcely distinguishable...

  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
    Sue Golding
  5. Preface
    (pp. xi-2)
  6. ONE Setting the Problem
    (pp. 3-18)

    In his characteristically succinct fashion, Macpherson was able to single out one of the most pressing problems in contemporary political theory: the need to conceptualize in all its complexity a democratic theory that could go beyond its liberal-democratic roots. It was not that liberalism had outgrown its own parameters. It was rather that liberal-democratic theory could not successfully come to terms with what had been identified as one of the most fundamental prerequisites of a liberal-democratic state, namely, the creating and maintaining of a progressive society-state), that would be constituted by, and represent in all its diversity, the will of...

  7. TWO Gramsci’s Epistemological Eclecticism: What He Borrows from Vico and Croce, and Why
    (pp. 19-40)

    That Gramsci chose to refer to marxism as the ‘philosophy of praxis’ rather than to continually use the expression ‘dialectical materialism’ - or even the term ‘marxism’ itself - has often been attributed to one of two reasons, sometimes both.² The more common of the two dismisses the phrase as a strategic camouflage necessary to divert the censorial gaze of the prison guards whose duty it was, should they have found proof that Gramsci’s mind was still functioning in any way, but particulary in an anti-fascist, pro-left way, to end, and end abruptly, that mental activity.³ The other reason cited,...

  8. THREE Science, Immanence, and the ‘Real’ Dialectic: A Question of the Political
    (pp. 41-67)

    In criticizing Bukharin’s marxism as a representative sampling of ‘naive metaphysics,’² Gramsci insisted that a philosophy unable to account analytically for creativity and intellectual growth as fundamental to a concept of the real would, ipso facto, be unable to account for diversity and change, except by invoking dogma or superstition, or both. Indeed, Gramsci was willing to go farther than this. In contrast to Bukharin and others, he was to argue that a ‘real’ philosophy of praxis not only took explicit account of creative and intellectual activity at an analytic level, but placed this activity as the central, practical aspect...

  9. FOUR The Understated Importance of the Concept of the Will
    (pp. 68-87)

    Gramsci, in reflecting on the fascist victories in Italy and elsewhere, recast his impressions of that victory in the following way: ‘the State had been conceived of as something abstract by the collectivity of citizens, as an eternal father who was supposed to have thought of everything, foreseen everything, etc. Hence the absence of a ‘real’ democracy, of a real collective will, and hence, as a result of the passivity of individuals the need for a despotism more or less disguised as a bureaucracy.’¹

    This passage holds several key propositions, but in particular, the suggestion that a ‘real’ democracy would...

  10. FIVE Investigating the Base/Superstructure Dilemma and What Gramsci Does to Change It
    (pp. 88-122)

    In a comment aimed at Marx but that could, equally well, have been applied to Gramsci, Croce once wrote that the author ofDas Kapitalnever posed economics nor mode of production as the ultimate explanation of reality or the political configurations that could be said to emerge.¹ Indeed, Marx never posed any ‘hidden God’ to explain the phenomenal world. ‘His philosophy was not that cheap,’ Croce flatly acknowledged; Marx ‘had not flirted in vain with the hegelian dialectic to go then in search for ultimate causes.’² This remark was neither innocent nor unknown to Gramsci, and, in a lengthy...

  11. SIX Gramsci’s Contribution to a Post-Liberal-Democratic Theory: Concluding Remarks
    (pp. 123-138)

    At the outset of this work, the question was posed as to whether Gramsci’s philosophy of praxis might enable one not only to go ‘beyond’ the dilemmas found in a liberal or idealist tradition but, in so doing, to be able to establish an analytic framework for a ‘post’-liberal-democratic theory. That is, could one begin to articulate such a theory without having to accept as ‘always already’ given a homogeneous conception of human interest and need - in fact, of human nature itself - and yet, at the same time, not have to ‘ground’ that heterogeneity in terms of an...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 139-188)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 189-210)
  14. Index
    (pp. 211-221)