Antonio Gramsci

The material is published within the framework of the collaboration between “Enlight” Public Research Center and “:Boon” scientific-cultural foundation.

The famous Italian theorist, Marxist philosopher Antonio Gramsci’s godfather was initially considered to be Benito Mussolini.During the First World War, they claimed that Italy had no right to maintain neutrality and and to rebuild society and the state they should be involved in the war.

In 1920, in one of his worksGramsci came to the thought that the Italian socialist powers were crude and could not unite around an idea and carry out a revolution.

For Gramsci, there were two systems of management, coercion and persuasion, which, in his opinion, existed in all state and public institutions, in the army, police,  judicial system, church, trade unions, press, in the field of education and in the family.

In Antonio Gramsci’s opinion, the state is a union of political and civil society.

For Gramsci, ideology was a complete system that included both controllers and those being controlled.

Gramsci is known in Marxist theory as one of the main thinkers of the theory of dominance, although he was not the founder of that theory.

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In 1926 Gramsci was arrested on charges of organising a rebellion and revolution. In 1928, a trial took place, resulting in Gramsci being sentenced to 20 years in prison.From the shorthand of the trial, it became clear that the judge wanted to “disconnect that brain”, it was evident that socialists and, in particular, communists, could become a magnetic force for all political unions who were dissatisfied with the fascist rule.

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In the USSR, Gramsci was considered a representative of the Italian Communist Party and had close ties with Lenin, though he was against some of Lenin’s ideas. With direct influence of Lenin, Gramsci was on a trip to Vienna, where he had to negotiate with leaders of the European Communist Party. He returns to Italy, where was elected to parliament in 1924, but his friends start leaving Italy, seeing danger from the Fascist authorities. Gramsci remains a deputy, believing till the end that the parliament is the platform where he can connect with the people.

Gramsci believed there are poles of coercion and consensus representing monolithic power, in which coercion is secondary to consensus. The compulsory apparatus is only the consequence of the failure to reach agreement. The link between power and society is maintained through civil society, and the tool for persuading them, ideology, which in its turn extends to different layers of society through mass culture.

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According to Marx, the two concepts of classical Marxism, base and superstructure are equivalent, but Gramsci pointed out that their equivalence was not definite, as the ruling class can include the ideas of the other: basis class, so monolithic class, as such, cannot exist. 

The intellectuals are the ones keeping in touch with the government and the people: educating, persuading according to the ideological system.Gramsci distinguished two types of intellectuals: organic and traditional.Traditional intellectuals were the servants of state ideology who did not have their own vision and reproduced the existing system of government.Organic intellectuals were representatives of different classes and were promoting the interests of different social groups.In fact, any man is an intellectual,if he does a public function, which contradicts, for example, the ideas adopted in the Soviet Union.

According to Gramsci, ideology is an integral process and will not reach any final point.It is aimed towards progress,as the interests of different parties in favour of the state and society can only be progressive.

Author: NAS RA Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography, PhD, “Enlight” NGO researcher GorMadoyan

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Translator: Armine Avetisyan

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