Category Archives: Gramsci

Asad Haider: “Pessimism of the Will”

“Optimism of the intellect, because we have to start by recognizing that all people are capable of thought, that they are able to not only form conceptions of the world but also to experiment with new possibilities. … But pessimism of the will, because we know that the will has to take a material organizational form, and that across the history of revolutionary politics the classical form assumed by the young Gramsci is no longer available to us. We lack the concrete basis for organizations on the model of the twentieth century revolutions, and we know from the history which followed these revolutions that the emancipatory potential of the party seizing the state has been exhausted. … Our subjective horizon is the optimism of the intellect; our objective, structuring condition is pessimism of the will. Without optimism of the intellect, we have the party without the people. Without pessimism of the will, we have the illusion of power. Until we recognize this there is no path for action.”

The Marxist Long Goodbye to the Revolution

Bruce Robbins on Perry Anderson’s Gramscian hegemony between Thucydidean realism and Stoic melancholy.



Chris Maisano: “Politics without Politics”

“Four decades of defeat and marginalization means that a new generation of socialists is now joining a Left in serious need of inspiration and guidance. We would be well served to mine our own tradition’s rich vein of history, theory, and practice, including that of Gramsci himself. The alternative is a politics without politics, the substitution of technique for strategy.”

Josep Maria Antentas: “Strategic imagination and party”

“A party oriented towards a policy of emancipation must be conceived as a strategist-party. A movement-strategist-party. Addressing reality strategically is a precondition for victory, although there is no guarantee of it. Planning a strategy does not mean that it is correct. Or that it is useful for advancing the cause of emancipation. Or that its implementation is tactically correct. Or having a correlation of forces that leads to victory. But thinking strategically is the first step.”

Joseph Fronczak: “Hobsbawm’s Long Century”

“Hobsbawm’s short twentieth century was hard and horrific. Today it is a century since his birth, and it has been a long one. Long enough that Hobsbawm’s vision of humanity-encompassing Enlightenment ideals expressed politically in the form of socialism, seemingly dead at his short century’s end in 1991, now in 2017 suddenly appears once more in surprisingly sturdy shape, fortified for what looks to be another long century.”

Alvaro Bianchi & Daniela Mussi: “Gramsci and the Russian Revolution”

‘For Gramsci, the Russian Revolution was very different than the Jacobin model, seen as a mere “bourgeois revolution.” In interpreting the events of Petrograd, Gramsci exposed a political program for the future. In order to continue the movement, to move towards a workers’ revolution, the Russian socialists should definitely break with the Jacobin model — identified here with the systematic use of violence and with low cultural activity. … Gramsci saw in Lenin and the Bolsheviks the embodiment of a program of renewal of the uninterrupted revolution. A revolution that he wanted to become real also in Italy.’

Chantal Mouffe: “Mélenchon: A Radical Reformist against Mounting Oligarchy”

‘At stake in left-wing populism is how we can articulate these demands in the construction of a collective will. Its objective is to put an end to the domination of the oligarchic system: not through a “revolution” destroying republican institutions, but through what the Italian philosopher Antonio Gramsci (1891-1937) called a “war of position” leading to a profound transformation of the existing power relations and the establishment of a new hegemony. This, in view of recovering and indeed radicalising the democratic ideal.  Indeed, what is at stake in France Insoumise and Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s project of a “citizen revolution” is a refoundation of left-wing politics in a perspective that distinguishes itself from both social-democracy and the radical Left [gauche de la gauche]. Far from being an avatar of the far Left, we could term this perspective a “radical reformism” that takes up a position within the horizon of the great democratic tradition.’

Panagiotis Sotiris: “How do we create a people? Rethinking resistance, solidarity, and transformation in the European South”

The formation of the people “as the collective subject of emancipation, as the unity in struggle of the subaltern classes, as the collective process of making possible an alternative future, is not something spontaneous or autopoetic but the contingent result of political interventions and projects.”  We should see the people as a process, not as construction or performance.”