Gramsci Redux

LeoCasey at LeoCasey at
Mon Oct 16 10:11:54 PDT 2000

Ken writes: << This doesn't surprise me. Didn't Gramsci write in a secret code? - so that only

the elect might understand his work? I'm reminded of the book of revelations

from the xian scriptures... written by John of Patmos (speling?). >>

You're way off base here. Gramsci's _Prison Notebooks_, the source of the major concepts of hegemony, etc., were certainly written in code... because they were written in prison, and Gramsci was attempting to evade the apparently not very well-read fascist prison censors. As the same time, the terms Gramsci uses, such as philosophy of praxis for Marxism, can not simply be considered a code in the ordinary sense of the term: they express a certain conception of the original concept, in this case a certain view of Marxism.

In fact, Gramsci is, IMHO, the most democratic of classical Marxist thinkers by a very wide margin. It is not by happenstance, I would argue, that those who have embraced a post-Marxist politics of "radical democracy," such as Laclau and Mouffe, came to that position through Gramsci.

I always thought that this question of Gramsci interpretation was a fairly obvious point, until I found E. D. Hirsch using a quotation from Gramsci on education as if it should be read literally. In debate with him I discovered that he hadn't even considered the particular problems of interpreting Gramsci.

Leo Casey United Federation of Teachers 260 Park Avenue South New York, New York 10010-7272 (212-598-6869)

Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never has, and it never will. If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet deprecate agitation are men who want crops without plowing the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightening. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its waters. -- Frederick Douglass --

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