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Hegemony and Power

Hegemony and Power: On the Relation between Gramsci and Machiavelli

Benedetto Fontana
Copyright Date: 1993
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 242
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  • Book Info
    Hegemony and Power
    Book Description:

    Presents a comparative and textual exploration of Gramsci’s interpretation of Machiavelli’s political anlayses. This valuable contribution to our understanding of Gramsci includes a comparison of the major Machiavellian ideas such as the nature of political knowledge, the new principality, the concept of the people, and the relation between thought and action, to Gramsci’s concepts of hegemony, moral and intellectual reform, and the collective will.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-8524-0
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Chapter 1 Introduction Gramsci and Machiavelli
    (pp. 1-13)

    The purpose of this book is twofold: it will argue that the Gramscian interpretation of Machiavelli as the “democratic philosopher” and the “Italian Luther” is the vehicle through which he elaborates a fundamental and radical critique of bourgeois and liberal thought as expressed in Italy by the idealist philosophy of Benedetto Croce; and, it will further argue that such an interpretation identifies Machiavellian thought as an “anticipation” or “prefiguration” of Gramsci’s notion of hegemony.¹

    Interpreters of Gramsci have rightly noted that his political philosophy is fundamentally humanist—or rather, as he himself puts it, “neohumanist.” Human beings, for Gramsci, are...

  5. Chapter 2 Croce and Gramsci From Philosophy to Politics
    (pp. 14-34)

    Croce represents to Gramsci both the apex and the summation of liberal and bourgeois thought in Italy. Such thought posits a radical and total opposition between philosophy and action, “thinking” and “feeling,” culture and politics—an opposition that is translated within sociopolitical reality and within history into the opposition between the culture of those who rule(alta cultura)and the culture of those who are ruled(cultura popolare).¹ In Croce these distinctions are expressed and elaborated by means of a speculative and metaphysical system that posits philosophy as the universal realm of “truth” whose “purity” and integrity would be violated...

  6. Chapter 3 Renaissance and Reformation
    (pp. 35-51)

    It is sometimes suggested that the Gramscian notion of intellectual and moral reform is one taken from the work of Renan.¹ However, whatever its immediate antecedents, there is no question that Gramsci makes a historical and political parallel between theriformathat the philosophy of praxis is to undertake, and the Lutheran and Protestant Reformation of the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries.² The intellectual and moral renovation that was initiated by the Reformation is critical to Gramsci because it described a type of movement that attempted to bridge the gulf between the church hierarchy and the faithful in a way...

  7. Chapter 4 Power and the State Croce and Gramsci on the Nature of Machiavelli’s Politics
    (pp. 52-73)

    The Gramscian formulation that the work and thought of Machiavelli are equivalent to the work and thought of the Protestant reformers—that the enterprise Machiavelli wanted to introduce into Italy was historically carried out and brought to fruition by the Reformation—sees Machiavelli not so much as the discoverer of an “objective” political “science,” but rather as the innovator who attempted to initiate a moral and intellectual reform of the beliefs and thought of his period, and who in turn wanted to create and proliferate a new conception of the world in opposition to the established view. Thus the Crocean...

  8. Chapter 5 Hegemony and Virtù Moral and Intellectual Reform in Gramsci and Machiavelli
    (pp. 74-98)

    The antithesis established between the Crocean Machiavelli and the Gramscian Machiavelli underlines the fundamental opposition between the liberal conception of the world, which takes itself to be the “last word” and end of European thought, and a “neohumanist” conception of the world, which sees itself as emerging from within the very contradictions that the former conception has posited as the immutable products of knowledge and science.¹ The debate over the nature of Machiavelli as a theorist, and the controversy over the nature and significance of his political knowledge, are the focal points around which revolves the struggle between the two...

  9. Chapter 6 Machiavelli and the Democratic Philosopher The Relation between Machiavelli’s “New Modes and Orders” and Gramsci’s Hegemony
    (pp. 99-115)

    The relation between machiavelli’s thought and the subject to whom it is addressed is fundamental to understanding the Machiavellian enterprise. The new knowledge is not a disembodied thought that exists eternally and universally. It represents a form of consciousness, and a conception of the world, whose meaning and purpose are given by the subject to whom it is addressed, and within whom this knowledge is concretized and put into practice. The knowledge is the consciousness that defines, in Gramsci’s words, thepersonalitaof the subject, and the subject is the embodiment of this knowledge in the world and in struggle.¹...

  10. Chapter 7 The Constitution of the People as a political force Hegemony, Virtù Ordinata, and the Citizen Democracy
    (pp. 116-139)

    TJL he distinction that Machiavelli establishes between the vivere private (private life) and the vivere politico (political life) is one that defines the Machiavellian problematic. This distinction is reproduced in various forms throughout his writings. It is possible, moreover, to formulate a series of opposing dyadic polarities where the first and second term of one polarity correspond to the first and second term of the succeeding polarities. Thus we have:

    These dyads summarize fundamental questions posed by political theory since its emergence in classical antiquity. These questions address the nature of the political in the construction of a “space” within...

  11. Chapter 8 Conclusion Hegemony and Power
    (pp. 140-162)

    Hegemony is defined by Gramsci as intellectual and moral leadership(direzione)whose principal constituting elements are consent and persuasion. A social group or class can be said to assume a hegemonic role to the extent that it articulates and proliferates throughout society cultural and ideological belief systems whose teachings are accepted as universally valid by the general population. Ideology, culture, philosophy, and their “organizers”—the intellectuals—are thus intrinsic to the notion of hegemony. Since, to Gramsci, reality is perceived, and knowledge is acquired, through moral, cultural, and ideological “prisms” or “filters” by means of which society acquires form and...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 163-208)
  13. Select bibliography
    (pp. 209-218)
  14. Index
    (pp. 219-226)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 227-227)