Antonio Gramsci

The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear…
_Antonio Gramsci

On this day in history Antonio Gramsci, the influential Italian Marxist theorist, intellectual and a leader of the Italian Communist Party was born(22 January 1891). When communism was outlawed after Benito Mussolini’s fascists took power, Gramsci was arrested and sentenced to 11 years in prison, where he died on April 27, 1937. ⁠

Considered one the greatest minds of his time, even his enemies revered him, including Mussolini who said that Gramsci had “an unquestionably powerful brain.” During his trial, the prosecutor famously urged to “prevent this brain from functioning for twenty years.”⁠

During his time in prison, Gramsci filled over 30 notebooks with his writings, later entitled “The Prison Notebooks”.⁠

One of Gramsci’s most notable theories was that of “cultural hegemony”, explaining how ruling classes maintain their power over the masses by “consent” through ideological or cultural means. Building on Marx’s dictum that “the ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas”, the theory describes the ability of a group of people to hold power over institutions like schools, churches and the media to strongly influence the everyday thoughts, expectations, and behavior of the rest of society to obey social norms and the rules of law by framing the worldview of the ruling class, and the social and economic structures that go with it, as just, legitimate, and designed for the benefit of all, even though they may really only benefit the ruling class. ⁠

Another theory of Gramsci was that of “organic crisis” which is a crisis touching on almost every sphere of the capitalist system: economic, (geo-)political, ideological, epidemiological, cultural, environmental, etc. Such crises would lay bare fundamental contradictions in the system that the ruling classes are unable to resolve, weakening hegemony and marking historical transitions between non-revolutionary situations and potentially revolutionary situations.
_ Redfish

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