Gramsci’s thought was based on correction and review of certain problems that existed in the traditional Marxist thought. Discuss. - Sleepy Classes Skip to main content

Gramsci’s thought was based on correction and review of certain problems that existed in the traditional Marxist thought. Discuss.

Ques. Gramsci’s thought was based on correction and review of certain problems that existed in the traditional Marxist thought. Discuss.

  • Introducing Gramsci in Marxist paradigm
  • Deficiencies of traditional Marxism
  • Corrections by Gramsci
  • Conclusion
  • Gramsci is regarded as “the greatest of western Marxists” who witnessed the rise and excesses of Fascism in Italy. Gramsci moved away from a dogmatic and determinist Marxism.
  • Gramsci’s thought was based on correction and review of certain problems that existed in the traditional Marxist thought:
    • Economic determinism: Marx’s idea- “the world of souls, souls shaped by capitalism”- thoughts, goals, consciousness are the product of one’s material conditions. Scholars criticised orthodox Marxism for reducing politics and culture to being a mere reflection of economic base and change only being a product of change in MoP.
    • Class struggle:The Communist Manifesto begins with Marx’s famous generalisation that the History of all hitherto existing societies is History of class struggle. Dynamics of society, according to orthodox Marxism could only be understood in terms of class division and conflict.
    • Deficiencies of historical materialism:Gramsci believed that human beings unlike natural objects do not merely react to external pulls and pressures; their action is not an automatic response to material forces. Gramsci admitted that “man cannot be conceived of except as historically determined man—i.e., man who has developed, and who lives, in certain conditions, in a particular social complex or totality of social relations.”
    • Role of Ideology:Karl Marx in his work ‘The German Ideology’ considers ideology to be ‘false consciousness’ invariably linked to the ruling class as a means of dominating and suppressing the exploited masses.
  • Gramsci’s thought was based on correction and review of some of these deficiencies in traditional Marxism. Gramsci was attracted to the thought of his compatriot political thinker from the 15th century, Machiavelli, who spoke about the centrality and autonomy of the political.

 

  • Gramsci tried to rescue the idea of political action from its reduction to being an epiphenomenon of economic or historical forces.
    • Integral State:Gramsci’s model of state and civil society were different from the base superstructure model of orthodox Marxism. Gramsci developed an expansive conception of the state, calling it ‘the integral state’, which included the two components of ‘political society’ (rule through force) and ‘civil society’ (rule through consent).
    • Importance of Civil Society:Civil society for Gramsci was a set of institutions through which society organised and represented itself autonomously from the state, which enabled maintenance of ruling class not through coercive mechanisms but through the manufacturing of consent which is done through ‘hegemony’.
    • Hegemony:According to Mouffe, “the concept of hegemony first appeared in Gramsci’s work in 1926. For Gramsci, hegemony consisted of a set of ideas by means of which dominant groups strive to secure the consent of subordinate groups.
    • Importance of human will:Change does not only come about automatically— it is the result of some individuals wanting to bring about the change wherein importance is given to role of intellectuals to ensure the idea of praxis.
  • Gramsci was aware of the need for Marxism to adapt to modern challenges, particularly the development of capitalism in the west that took the form of the emergence of a strong civil society structure.
  • Gramsci lay path for emergence of neo-Marxist school emphasising on the sociological and cultural aspects of class conflict rather than the economic focus of Marx’s original writings.

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