Thursday, July 28, 2011

Antonio Gramsci: Book Reviews

Reviewed by Adam Hilton
York University
Socialist Studies / Études socialistes 7(1/2) Spring/Fall 2011

The fortunes of Antonio Gramsci as a Marxist thinker and Communist Party leader have been so curious it is worth foregrounding their recent past within academic and intellectual circles.1 Particularly in the English-speaking world, Gramsci’s popularity has undoubtedly only increased since the fall of the Soviet bloc, the advance of neoliberalism and the deeper disorganization of the Left. 

Such a phenomenon leaves us asking why it is that this Marxist revolutionary has been spared the same fate as Marx and Engels, who either have continued to be held in disrepute or, worse, been relegated to irrelevance. In this case, however, the exception proves the rule. The growth of the “Gramsci industry” in the past few decades has been due mainly to the fact that he is not typically read as a Marxist and a Communist.

Indeed, as a “theorist of the superstructures” Gramsci is frequently promoted as an alternative to the crude economism of the Marxist tradition. In part due to the earlier instrumentalizations by the Italian Communist Party’s (PCI) official postwar “Gramscianism,” as well as the later academic interpretation of Gramsci’s perspective as rooted in the trenches of a non-political “civil society,” the Italian Communist thinker ultimately found a warmer reception in cultural studies than he did in either political science or sociology.

Peter D. Thomas’s fresh reassessment of the Prison Notebooks and the late Antonio A. Santucci’s recently translated biography serve as important correctives to this non-political, “cultural studies” Gramsci.

Read these reviews HERE.

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