Materiaal voor een workshop over de politieke filosofie van Gramsci, gegeven aan Jong WBS (het wetenschappelijk bureau v/d PvdA), 5 maart 2013. Zie hier voor de slides.
Ik heb enkele fragmenten geselecteerd uit: Antonio Gramsci, Selections from the Prison Notebooks. Ingeleid, verzorgd en vertaald door Quintin Hoare and Geoffrey Nowell Smith, Lawrence & Wishart, London, 1971
Bij wijze van introductie zal ik hier kort enkele opmerkingen plaatsen die de persoon Gramsci van enige context voorzien, en tevens de onderstaande tekst hopelijk wat toegankelijker maken.
Gramsci werd in 1891 geboren in Sardinië. Hij kreeg bekendheid als redacteur van het socialistische weekblad L’Ordine Nuovo en werd een belangrijk figuur in de Turijnse beweging van fabrieksraden in 1919-1920. Na een korte periode aan het hoofd te staan van de Italiaanse Communistische Partij, werd hij in 1926 gearresteerd door het fascistische regime van Mussolini. De rechter verklaarde op beroemde wijze in de rechtszaal dat dit brein het werken onmogelijk gemaakt moest worden. Tien jaar van gevangenschap volgde waarin zijn medische toestand scherp verslechterde. Hij stierf in 1937, drie dagen naar zijn vrijlating. Niettemin was hij in staat om in de gevangenis 2.848 pagina’s vol te schrijven, die pas na de oorlog zouden uitkomen als Quaderni del carcere, de Prison Notebooks. Deze omstandigheden hebben ertoe geleid dat het werk van Gramsci een zeer fragmentarisch karakter heeft, zoals we weldra zullen zien.
De gebeurtenis die Gramsci’s denken in hoge mate heeft gemarkeerd is de opkomst van het Italiaanse fascisme en de onmacht van links om daar wat tegenover te stellen. Drie elementen in het linkse denken waren daar verantwoordelijk voor, aldus Gramsci. Allereerst ‘mechanisch determinisme’: het idee dat de geschiedenis zich ontwikkelt aan de hand van een reeks van historische wetmatigheden. Het kapitalisme zou onherroepelijk leiden tot zijn eigen ineenstorting en daarop zou als vanzelf een nieuwe maatschappij geboren worden. Deze visie, tevens dominant bij Kautsky en de Nederlandse sociaaldemocratie (tot aan Banning) was volgens Gramsci van een semireligieuze aard en leidde tot grote passiviteit in doorslaggevend historische momenten, zoals in Italië de gefaalde revolutie in de jaren twintig die het fascisme inluidde. Ten tweede wat Gramsci ‘economisme’ noemde: het idee dat politieke structuren een directe afgeleide zijn van economische verhoudingen. Dit via de bekende marxistische metafoor van de basis (economische verhoudingen) die de bovenbouw (politiek, cultuur, sociale wetenschap) bepaalt. Dit leidde volgens Gramsci tot een gebrek aan waardering voor de mogelijkheden van politiek handelen. De overwinning zou immers spontaan voortkomen uit economische en technologische ontwikkelingen. Ten derde, de klassebepaaldheid van ideologie, het idee dat ideologie voortkomt uit materiële omstandigheden en dat enkel het bewustzijn van de (industriële) arbeidersklasse tot revolutie zou kunnen leiden. Het leidde tot de verwaarlozing van allianties met andere bevolkingsgroepen en het ontbreken van een breder gedragen mobiliserend verhaal.
Het antwoord op deze problematiek zoekt Gramsci via een modernisering van het werk van Nicoló Machiavelli en een kritische dialoog met het werk van de liberale, idealistische filosoof Bennedetto Croce. (Gramsci ziet Machiavelli overigens als een emancipatoir figuur: iemand die de geheimen van de macht naar buiten wil brengen en delen met bredere lagen van de bevolking.) Macht, aldus Gramsci, wordt uitgeoefend door een combinatie van dominantie (het monopolie op geweld dat we kennen van de socioloog Max Weber) en leiderschap. Dit onderscheid wordt vandaag de dag ook wel beschreven als hard power en soft power, waarbij de eerste vorm veelal met Bush en de tweede met Obama wordt geassocieerd. Gramsci is de theoreticus van de zachte macht. Het bekendste begrip van Gramsci is hegemonie: een vorm van macht gebaseerd op instemming, op politieke en ideologische overtuigingskracht. Bij hegemonie gaat het erom een systeem van allianties te creëren tussen verschillende bevolkingsgroepen (bij Lenin was dit het proletariaat en de boerenbevolking, bij Fortuyn bijvoorbeeld de middenstand en de nieuwe rijken), waarbij ideologie een bepalende rol speelt als lijm van een coalitie met uiteenlopende belangen. Een progressieve meerderheid is enkel te verwezenlijken door intellectuele en morele hervorming: het verspreiden van een emancipatoir gedachtegoed. Belangrijk is dat macht niet enkel gelegen is in het staatsapparaat. In moderne samenlevingen, aldus Gramsci, wordt macht evenzeer uitgeoefend via het maatschappelijke middenveld ofwel societá civile (civil society). Was het in een premoderne Tsaristische samenleving mogelijk om het Winter Paleis te bestormen (een bewegingsoorlog, aldus de metafoor van Gramsci) en staatsmacht te verwerven, in moderne samenleving dient eerst een positie opgebouwd te worden in de media, in de universiteiten, in levensbeschouwelijke organisaties etc. Een politieke groepering kan alleen politieke macht verwerven als haar ideeën ook leidend zijn in het middenveld (het project om dat voor elkaar te krijgen duidt Gramsci aan met de term stellingenoorlog). In Nederland is deze buitenstatelijke machtsstructuur hoofdzakelijk beschreven als de verzuiling, Hofland schreef op zijn beurt over het Bestel. Tot slot spelen intellectuelen een grote rol in het denken van Gramsci. We moeten daarbij in gedachten houden dat Gramsci een zeer brede definitie hanteert: er zijn de traditionele intellectuelen in de universiteit, de media en de kerk, en de organische intellectuelen die het denkwerk doen voor een organisatie of bedrijf. Zoals Edward Said later zou schrijven, is er in de huidige maatschappij sprake van een enorme toename van intellectueel werk, wat vandaag de dag overigens eerder onder de noemer creatieve klasse wordt aangeduid.
Gramsci is nauwelijks bekend in Nederland. Nieuw Links in Engeland en Frankrijk was in belangrijke mate geïnspireerd door Gramsci. In de Verenigde Staten en Groot-Brittanië wordt het denken van Gramsci gebruikt om de opkomst van Nieuw Rechts (Thatcher, Reagan, Bush) te verklaren. Hedendaagse linkse denkers als Wendy Brown, Michel Foucault, Jacques Rancière, Chantal Mouffe en Ernesto Laclau zijn sterk beïnvloedt door Gramsci. In Latijns Amerika is zijn invloed groot, in Brazilië is Gramsci de huisfilosoof van Lula en de PT. Omdat ik denk dat het belangrijk is om het origineel te lezen, volgen hier enkele fragmenten. Ik heb wat korte inleidingen bij de fragmenten geschreven.
In onderstaande selectie zien we de machiavellistische inslag van Gramsci. Het is een element dat we ook bij de socioloog Pierre Bourdieu vinden: de meeste mensen hebben geen eigen opinie over ingewikkelde politieke zaken. Media en politici geven hen een serie opties wat te denken. Er is een selecte club mensen die het politieke denken en het publieke debat van een maatschappij bepaalt. We zouden kunnen stellen dat het er in Nederland misschien enkele duizenden zijn, wat H.J.A. Hofland ooit ‘het Bestel’ heeft genoemd. Gramsci is geïnteresseerd in het begrijpen hoe een dergelijke selecte club invloed uitoefent op de bredere bevolking, om deze macht vervolgens te kunnen democratiseren.
NOTES ON POLITICS
THE MODERN PRINCE
Elements of Politics
“It really must be stressed that it is precisely the first elements, the most elementary things, which are the first to be forgotten. However, if they are repeated innumerable times, they become the pillars of politics and of any collective action whatsoever.
The first element is that there really do exist rulers and ruled, leaders and led. The entire science and art of politics are based on this primordial, and (given certain general conditions) irreducible fact. The origins of this fact are a problem apart, which will have to be studied separately (at least one could and should study how to minimise the fact and eliminate it, by altering certain conditions which can be identified as operating in this sense), but the fact remains that there do exist rulers and ruled, leaders and led. Given this fact, it will have to be considered how one can lead most effectively (given certain ends); hence how the leaders may best be prepared (and it is more precisely in this that the first stage of the art and science of politics consists); and how, on the other hand, one can know the lines of least resistance, or the most rational lines along which to proceed if one wishes to secure the obedience of the led or ruled. In the formation of leaders, one premise is fundamental: is it the intention that there should always be rulers and ruled, or is the objective to create the conditions in which this division is no longer necessary? In other words, is the initial premise the perpetual division of the human race, or the belief that this division is only an historical fact, corresponding to certain conditions?” (p144)
Op vergelijkbare gronden keert Gramsci zich tegen de fascistische kritiek op de democratie. Vandaag de dag zou deze argumentatie meer van toepassing zijn als kritiek op het opinieonderzoek en de hedendaagse politicologie.
Number and Quality in Respresentative Systems of Government
“One of the most banal commonplaces which get repeated against the elective system of forming State organs is the following: that in it numbers decide everything, and that the opinions of any idiot who knows how to write (or in some countries even of an illiterate) have exactly the same weight in determining the political course of the State as the opinions of somebody who devotes his best energies to the State and the nation, etc. But the fact is that it is not true, in any sense, that numbers decide everything, nor that the opinions of all electors are of “exactly” equal weight. Numbers, in this case too, are simply an instrumental value, giving a measure and a relation and nothing more. And what then is measured? What is measured is precisely the effectiveness, and the expansive and persuasive capacity, of the opinions of a few individuals, the active minorities, the elites, the avant-gardes, etc.- i.e. their rationality, historicity or concrete functionality. Which means it is untrue that all individual opinions have “exactly” equal weight. Ideas and opinions are not spontaneously “born” in each individual brain: they have had a centre of formation, of irradiation, of dissemination, of persuasion – a group of men, or a single individual even, which has developed them and presented them in the political form of current reality. The counting of “votes” is the final ceremony of a long process, in which it is precisely those who devote their best energies to the State and the nation (when such they are) who carry the greatest weight. If this hypothetical group of worthy men, notwithstanding the boundless material power which they possess, do not have the consent of the majority, they must be judged either as inept, or as not representative of “national” interests – which cannot help being decisive in inflecting the national will in one direction rather than in another. “Unfortunately” everyone tends to confound his own “private interest” with that of the nation, and hence to find it “dreadful”, etc. that it should be the “law of numbers” which decides; it is better of course to become an elite by decree. Thus it is not a question of the people who “have the brains” feeling that they are being reduced to the level of the lowest illiterate, but rather one of people who think they are the ones with the brains wanting to take away from the “man in the street” even that tiniest fraction of power of decision over the course of national life which he possesses.” (p192-193)
Ideologie is bij Gramsci min of meer synoniem aan filosofie. Iedereen is volgens Gramsci een filosoof, wat wij ontwerpen allen een denksysteem om de wereld om ons heen te begrijpen en in woorden te kunnen vatten. Maar slechts enkelen hebben de tijd en middelen om tot een coherent denksysteem te komen. De overgrote meerderheid, door gebrek aan tijd of scholing, heeft een zeer fragmentarisch en veelal contradictoir bewustzijn van de bredere samenleving, waarin onbewuste historisch overgeleverde denkpatronen zitten (denk in Nederland aan het calvinisme, en de breed gedeelde opvatting dat we op dit moment de broekriem moeten aanhalen, alhoewel dit economisch zeer controversieel is). Dit is wat Gramsci common sense noemt. Het is van belang voor links om dit alledaagse denken tot een hoger niveau te brengen, zodat mensen zich bewust worden van hun belangen, de zogenaamde good sense. Het probleem van intellectuelen is dat zij veelal nalaten hun inzichten op de juiste wijze te populariseren.
THE STUDY OF PHILOSOPHY
SOME PRELIMINARY POINTS OF REFERENCE
It is essential to destroy the widespread prejudice that philosophy is a strange and difficult thing just because it is the specific intellectual activity of a particular category of specialists or of professional and systematic philosophers. It must first be shown that all men are “philosophers”, by defining the limits and characteristics of the “spontaneous philosophy” which is proper to everybody. This philosophy is contained in: 1. language itself, which is a totality of determined notions and concepts and not just of words grammatically devoid of content; 2. “common sense” and “good sense”; 3. popular religion and, therefore, also in the entire system of beliefs, superstitions, opinions, ways of seeing things and of acting, which are collectively bundled together under the name of ” folklore”.
Having first shown that everyone is a philosopher, though in his own way and unconsciously, since even in the slightest manifestation of any intellectual activity whatever, in “language”, there is contained a specific conception of the world, one then moves on to the second level, which is that of awareness and criticism.
Note I. In acquiring one’s conception of the world one always belongs to a particular grouping which is that of all the social elements which share the same mode of thinking and acting. We are all conformists of some conformism or other, always man-in-the-mass or collective man. The question is this: of what historical type is the conformism, the mass humanity to which one belongs? When one’s conception of the world is not critical and coherent but disjointed and episodic, one belongs simultaneously to a multiplicity of mass human groups. The personality is strangely composite: it contains Stone Age elements and principles of a more advanced science, prejudices from all past phases of history at the local level and intuitions of a future philosophy which will be that of a human race united the world over. To criticise one’s own conception of the world means therefore to make it a coherent unity and to raise it to the level reached by the most advanced thought in the world. It therefore also means criticism of all previous philosophy, in so far as this has left stratified deposits in popular philosophy. The starting-point of critical elaboration is the consciousness of what one really is, and is “knowing thyself” as a product of the historical process to date which has deposited in you an infinity of traces, without leaving an inventory.
Note II. Philosophy cannot be separated from the history of philosophy, nor can culture from the history of culture. In the most immediate and relevant sense, one cannot be a philosopher, by which I mean have a critical and coherent conception of the world, without having a consciousness of its historicity, of the phase of development which it represents and of the fact that it contradicts other conceptions or elements of other conceptions. One’s conception of the world is a response to certain specific problems posed by reality, which are quite specific and “original” in their immediate relevance. How is it possible to consider the present, and a quite specific present, with a mode of thought elaborated for a past which is often remote and superseded? When someone does this, it means that he is a walking anachronism, a fossil, and not living in the modern world, or at the least that he is strangely composite. And it is in fact the case that social groups which in some ways express the most developed modernity, lag behind in other respects, given their social position, and are therefore incapable of complete historical autonomy. […]
Note IV. Creating a new culture does not only mean one’s own individual “original” discoveries. It also, and most particularly, means the diffusion in a critical form of truths already discovered, their “socialisation” as it were, and even making them the basis of vital action, an element of co-ordination and intellectual and moral order. For a mass of people to be led to think coherently and in the same coherent fashion about the real present world, is a “philosophical” event far more important and “original” than the discovery by some philosophical “genius” of a truth which remains the property of small groups of intellectuals.
Connection between “common sense”, religion and philosophy
Philosophy is intellectual order, which neither religion nor common sense can be. It is to be observed that religion and common sense do not coincide either, but that religion is an element of fragmented common sense. Moreover common sense is a collective noun, like religion: there is not just one common sense, for that too is a product of history and a part of the historical process. Philosophy is criticism and the superseding of religion and “common sense”. In this sense it coincides with “good” as opposed to “common” sense.
Relation between science, religion and common sense
Religion and common sense cannot constitute an intellectual order, because they cannot be reduced to unity and coherence even within an individual consciousness, let alone collective consciousness. Or rather they cannot be so reduced “freely”-for this may be done by “authoritarian” means, and indeed within limits this has been done in the past.
Note the problem of religion taken not in the confessional sense but in the secular sense of a unity of faith between a conception of the world and a corresponding norm of conduct. But why call this unity of faith “religion” and not “ideology”, or even frankly “politics”?
Philosophy in general does not in fact exist. Various philosophies or conceptions of the world exist, and one always makes a choice between them. How is this choice made? Is it merely an intellectual event, or is it something more complex? And is it not frequently the case that there is a contradiction between one’s intellectual choice and one’s mode of conduct? Which therefore would be the real conception of the world: that logically affirmed as an intellectual choice? or that which emerges from the real activity of each man, which is implicit in his mode of action ? And since all action is political, can one not say that the real philosophy of each man is contained in its entirety in his political action?
This contrast between thought and action, i.e. the co-existence of two conceptions of the world, one affirmed in words and the other displayed in effective action, is not simply a product of self-deception [malafede]. Self-deception can be an adequate explanation for a few individuals taken separately, or even for groups of a certain size, but it is not adequate when the contrast occurs in the life of great masses. In these cases the contrast between thought and action cannot but be the expression of profounder contrasts of a social historical order. It signifies that the social group in question may indeed have its own conception of the world, even if only embryonic; a conception which manifests itself in action, but occasionally and in flashes – when, that is, the group is acting as an organic totality. But this same group has, for reasons of submission and intellectual subordination, adopted a conception which is not its own but is borrowed from another group; and it affirms this conception verbally and believes itself to be following it, because this is the conception which it follows in “normal times”-that is when its conduct is not independent and autonomous, but submissive and subordinate. Hence the reason why philosophy cannot be divorced from politics. And one can show furthermore that the choice and the criticism of a conception of the world is also a political matter.
But at this point we reach the fundamental problem facing any conception of the world, any philosophy which has become a cultural movement, a “religion”, a “faith”, any that has produced a form of practical activity or will in which the philosophy is contained as an implicit theoretical “premise”. One might say “ideology” here, but on condition that the word is used in its highest sense of a conception of the world that is implicitly manifest in art, in law, in economic activity and in all manifestations of individual and collective life. This problem is that of preserving the ideological unity of the entire social bloc which that ideology serves to cement and to unify. The strength of religions, and of the Catholic Church in particular, has lain, and still lies, in the fact that they feel very strongly the need for the doctrinal unity of the whole mass of the faithful and strive to ensure that the higher intellectual stratum does not get separated from the lower.
The relation between common sense and the upper level of philosophy is assured by “politics”, just as it is politics that assures the relationship between the Catholicism of the intellectuals and that of the simple. There are, however, fundamental differences between the two cases. That the Church has to face up to a problem of the “simple” means precisely that there has been a split in the community of the faithful. This split cannot be healed by raising the simple to the level of the intellectuals (the Church does not even envisage such a task, which is both ideologically and economically beyond its present capacities), but only by imposing an iron discipline on the intellectuals so that they do not exceed certain limits of differentiation and so render the split catastrophic and irreparable. In the past such divisions in the community of the faithful were healed by strong mass movements which led to, or were absorbed in, the creation of new religious orders centred on strong personalities (St. Dominic, St. Francis).
The position of the philosophy of praxis is the antithesis of the Catholic. The philosophy of praxis does not tend to leave the “simple” in their primitive philosophy of common sense, but rather to lead them to a higher conception of life. If it affirms the need for contact between intellectuals and simple it is not in order to restrict scientific activity and preserve unity at the low level of the masses, but precisely in order to construct an intellectual-moral bloc which can make politically possible the intellectual progress of the mass and not only of small intellectual groups.
The active man-in-the-mass has a practical activity, but has no clear theoretical consciousness of his practical activity, which nonetheless involves understanding the world in so far as it transforms it. His theoretical consciousness can indeed be historically in opposition to his activity. One might almost say that he has two theoretical consciousnesses (or one contradictory consciousness): one which is implicit in his activity and which in reality unites him with all his fellow-workers in the practical transformation of the real world; and one, superficially explicit or verbal, which he has inherited from the past and uncritically absorbed. But this verbal conception is not without consequences. It holds together a specific social group, it influences moral conduct and the direction of will, with varying efficacy but often powerfully enough to produce a situation in which the contradictory state of consciousness does not permit of any action, any decision or any choice, and produces a condition of moral and political passivity.
Hier verzet Gramsci zich tegen het eerder genoemde mechanisch determinisme, het idee dat de geschiedenis zich ontwikkelt aan de hand van onbuigbare historische wetten. Hij ziet dit als een coping strategy die functioneel was ten tijde van de zwakte van links, maar zeer disfunctioneel is als links werkelijk invloed kan uitoefenen. Verder ziet Gramsci politieke overtuiging als een vorm van geloof. In de overtuiging dat het zeer moeilijk is bepaalde vastgeroeste vormen van denken te veranderen wijst Gramsci op het belang van herhaling, het creëren van polemieken (niet in deze selectie) en de ontwikkeling van intellectuele kaders.
When you don’t have the initiative in the struggle and the struggle itself comes eventually to be identified with a series of defeats, mechanical determinism becomes a tremendous force of moral resistance, of cohesion and of patient and obstinate perseverance. “I have been defeated for the moment, but the tide of history is working for me in the long term.” Real will takes on the garments of an act of faith in a certain rationality of history and in a primitive and empirical form of impassioned finalism which appears in the role of a substitute for the Predestination or Providence of confessional religions. It should be emphasised, though, that a strong activity of the will is present even here, directly intervening in the “force of circumstance”, but only implicitly, and in a veiled and, as it were, shamefaced manner. Consciousness here, therefore, is contradictory and lacking critical unity, etc. But when the “subaltern” becomes directive and responsible for the economic activity of the masses, mechanicism at a certain point becomes an imminent danger and a revision must take place in modes of thinking because a change has taken place in the social mode of existence. The boundaries and the dominion of the “force of circumstance” become restricted. But why? Because, basically, if yesterday the subaltern element was a thing, today it is no longer a thing but an historical person, a protagonist; if yesterday it was not responsible, because “resisting” a will external to itself, now it feels itself to be responsible because it is no longer resisting but an agent, necessarily active and taking the initiative. But even yesterday was it ever mere “resistance”, a mere “thing”, mere “non-responsibility”? Certainly not. Indeed one should emphasise how fatalism is nothing other than the clothing worn by real and active will when in a weak position. This is why it is essential at all times to demonstrate the futility of mechanical determinism: for, although it is explicable as a naïve philosophy of the mass and as such, but only as such, can be an intrinsic element of strength, nevertheless when it is adopted as a thought-out and coherent philosophy on the part of the intellectuals, it becomes a cause of passivity, of idiotic self-sufficiency. This happens when they don’t even expect that the subaltern will become directive and responsible. In fact, however, some part of even a subaltern mass is always directive and responsible, and the philosophy of the part always precedes the philosophy of the whole, not only as its theoretical anticipation but as a necessity of real life. That the mechanicist conception has been a religion of the subaltern is shown by an analysis of the development of the Christian religion. Over a certain period of history in certain specific historical conditions religion has been and continues to be a “necessity”, a necessary form taken by the will of the popular masses and a specific way of rationalising the world and real life, which provided the general framework for real practical activity. This quotation from an article in La Civilta Cattolica (Individualismo pagano e individualismo cristiano: issue of 5 March 1932) seems to me to express very well this function of Christianity :
“Faith in a secure future, in the immortality of the soul destined to beatitude, in the certainty of arriving at eternal joy, was the force behind the labour for intense interior perfection and spiritual elevation. True Christian individualism found here the impulse that led it to victory. All the strength of the Christian was gathered around this noble end. Free from the flux of speculation which weakens the soul with doubt, and illuminated by immortal principles, man felt his hopes reborn; sure that a superior force was supporting him in the struggle against Evil, he did violence to himself and conquered the world.” But here again it is naive Christianity that is being referred to: not Jesuitised Christianity, which has become a pure narcotic for the popular masses. The position of Calvinism, however, with its iron conception of predestination and grace, which produces a vast expansion of the spirit of initiative (or becomes the form of this movement) is even more revealing and significant.
What are the influential factors in the process of diffusion (which is also one of a substitution of the old conception, and, very often, of combining old and new), how do they act, and to what extent? Is it the rational form in which the new conception is expounded and presented? Or is it the authority (in so far as this is recognised and appreciated, if only generically) of the expositor and the thinkers and experts whom the expositor calls in his support? Or the fact of belonging to the same organisation as the man who upholds the new conception (assuming, that is, that one has entered the organisation for other reasons than that of already sharing the new conception)?
In reality these elements will vary according to social groups and the cultural level of the groups in question. But the enquiry has a particular interest in relation to the popular masses, who are slower to change their conceptions, or who never change them in the sense of accepting them in their “pure” form, but always and only as a more or less heterogeneous and bizarre combination. The rational and logically coherent form, the exhaustive reasoning which neglects no argument, positive or negative, of any significance, has a certain importance, but is far from being decisive. It can be decisive, but in a secondary way, when the person in question is already in a state of intellectual crisis, wavering between the old and the new, when he has lost his faith in the old and has not yet come down in favour of the new, etc.
One could say this about the authority of thinkers and experts: it is very important among the people, but the fact remains that every conception has its thinkers and experts to put forward, and authority does not belong to one side; further, with every thinker it is possible to make distinctions, to cast doubt on whether he really said such and such a thing, etc.
One can conclude that the process of diffusion of new conceptions takes place for political (that is, in the last analysis, social) reasons ; but that the formal element, that of logical coherence, the element of authority and the organisational element have a very important function in this process immediately after the general orientation has been reached, whether by single individuals or groups of a certain size. From this we must conclude, however, that in the masses as such, philosophy can only be experienced as a faith.
Imagine the intellectual position of the man of the people: he has formed his own opinions, convictions, criteria of discrimination, standards of conduct. Anyone with a superior intellectual formation with a point of view opposed to his can put forward arguments better than he and really tear him to pieces logically and so on. But should the man of the people change his opinions just because of this? Just because he cannot impose himself in a bout of argument? In that case he might find himself having to change every day, or every time he meets an ideological adversary who is his intellectual superior. On what elements, therefore, can his philosophy be founded? and in particular his philosophy in the form which has the greatest importance for his standards of conduct?
The most important element is undoubtedly one whose character is determined not by reason but by faith. But faith in whom, or in what? In particular in the social group to which he belongs, in so far as in a diffuse way it thinks as he does. The man of the people thinks that so many like-thinking people can’t be wrong, not so radically, as the man he is arguing against would like him to believe; he thinks that, while he himself, admittedly, is not able to uphold and develop his arguments as well as the opponent, in his group there is someone who could do this and could certainly argue better than the particular man he has against him; and he remembers, indeed, hearing expounded, discursively, coherently, in a way that left him convinced, the reasons behind his faith. He has no concrete memory of the reasons and could not repeat them, but he knows that reasons exist, because he has heard them expounded, and was convinced by them. The fact of having once suddenly seen the light and been convinced is the permanent reason for his reasons persisting, even if the arguments in its favour cannot be readily produced.
These considerations lead, however, to the conclusion that new conceptions have an extremely unstable position among the popular masses; particularly when they are in contrast with orthodox convictions (which can themselves be new) conforming socially to the general interests of the ruling classes. This can be seen if one considers the fortunes of religions and churches. Religion, or a particular church, maintains its community of faithful (within the limits imposed by the necessities of general historical development) in so far as it nourishes its faith permanently and in an organised fashion, indefatigably repeating its apologetics, struggling at all times and always with the same kind of arguments, and maintaining a hierarchy of intellectuals who give to the faith, in appearance at least, the dignity of thought. Whenever the continuity of relations between the Church and the faithful has been violently interrupted, for political reasons, as happened during the French Revolution, the losses suffered by the Church have been incalculable. If the conditions had persisted for a long time in which it was difficult to carry on practising one’s own religion, it is quite possible that these losses would have been definitive, and a new religion would have emerged, as indeed one did emerge in France in combination with the old Catholicism. Specific necessities can be deduced from this for any cultural movement which aimed to replace common sense and old conceptions of the world in general:
1. Never to tire of repeating its own arguments (though offering literary variation of form): repetition is the best didactic means for working on the popular mentality.
2. To work incessantly to raise the intellectual level of ever growing strata of the populace, in other words, to give a personality to the amorphous mass element. This means working to produce elites of intellectuals of a new type which arise directly out of the masses, but remain in contact with them to become, as it were, the whalebone in the corset.
This second necessity, if satisfied, is what really modifies the “ideological panorama” of the age. But these elites cannot be formed or developed without a hierarchy of authority and intellectual competence growing up within them. The culmination of this process can be a great individual philosopher. But he must be capable of re-living concretely the demands of the massive ideological community and of understanding that this cannot have the flexibility of movement proper to an individual brain, and must succeed in giving formal elaboration to the collective doctrine in the most relevant fashion, and the one most suited to the modes of thought of a collective thinker.
It is evident that this kind of mass creation cannot just happen “arbitrarily”, around any ideology, simply because of the formally constructive will of a personality or a group which puts it forward solely on the basis of its own fanatical philosophical or religious convictions. Mass adhesion or non-adhesion to an ideology is the real critical test of the rationality and historicity of modes of thinking. Any arbitrary constructions are pretty rapidly eliminated by historical competition, even if sometimes, through a combination of immediately favourable circumstances, they manage to enjoy popularity of a kind; whereas constructions which respond to the demands of a complex organic period of history always impose themselves and prevail in the end, even though they may pass through several intermediary phases during which they manage to affirm themselves only in more or less bizarre and heterogeneous combinations.
With regard to the historical role played by the fatalistic conception of the philosophy of praxis one might perhaps prepare its funeral oration, emphasising its usefulness for a certain period of history, but precisely for this reason underlining the need to bury it with all due honours. Its role could really be compared with that of the theory of predestination and grace for the beginnings of the modem world, a theory which found its culmination in classical German philosophy and in its conception of freedom as the consciousness of necessity. It has been a replacement in the popular consciousness for the cry of ” ’tis God’s will”, although even on this primitive, elementary plane it was the beginnings of a more modern and fertile conception than that contained in the expression ” ’tis God’s will” or in the theory of grace. Is it possible that a “formally” new conception can present itself in a guise other than the crude, unsophisticated version of the populace? And yet the historian, with the benefit of all necessary perspective, manages to establish and to understand the fact that the beginnings of a new world, rough and jagged though they always are, are better than the passing away of the world in its death-throes and the swan-song that it produces.
Gramsci benadrukt tevens het belang van de heteronomie van de democratische denker. Dat wil zeggen, aan de ene kant is de denker autonoom, aan de andere kant dient deze zich te verhouden tot de omgeving en zich niet op te sluiten in deze of gene ivoren toren.
“Language”, Languages and Common Sense
One could say therefore that the historical personality of an individual philosopher is also given by the active relationship which exists between him and the cultural environment he is proposing to modify. The environment reacts back on the philosopher and imposes on him a continual process of self-criticism. It is his “teacher”. This is why one of the most important demands that the modern intelligentsias have made in the political field has been that of the so-called “freedom of thought and of the expression of thought” (“freedom of the press”, “freedom of association”). For the relationship between master and disciple in the general sense referred to above is only realised where this political condition exists, and only then do we get the “historical” realisation of a new type of philosopher, whom we could call a “democratic philosopher” in the sense that he is a philosopher convinced that his personality is not limited to himself as a physical individual but is an active social relationship of modification of the cultural environment. When the “thinker” is content with his own thought, when he is “subjectively”, that is abstractly, free, that is when he nowadays becomes a joke. The unity of science and life is precisely an active unity, in which alone liberty of thought can be realised; it is a master-pupil relationship, one between the philosopher and the cultural environment in which he has to work and from which he can draw the necessary problems for formulation and resolution. In other words, it is the relationship between philosophy and history.
Dit stuk heb ik bijgevoegd omdat Gramsci hier enkele opmerkingen maakt over ideologie en zich distantieert van het klassieke marxisme dat ideologie enkel als een negatief gegeven beschouwt. Bij Gramsci vervult het een belangrijke rol als de cement die een politieke alliantie bij elkaar houdt.
The Concept of “Ideology”
“Ideology” was an aspect of “sensationalism”, i.e. eighteenth century French materialism. Its original meaning was that of “science of ideas”, and since analysis was the only method recognised and applied by science it means “analysis of ideas”, that is, “investigation of the origin of ideas”. Ideas had to be broken down into their original “elements”, and these could be nothing other than “sensations”. Ideas derived from sensations. But sensationalism could be associated, without too much difficulty, with religious faith and with the most extreme beliefs in the “power of the Spirit” and its “immortal destinies”, so that Manzoni, even after his conversion and return to Catholicism, even at the time when he wrote the Inni sacri, continued to adhere in principle to the theory of sensationalism, until he learnt about the philosophy of Rosmini. How the concept of Ideology passed from meaning “science of ideas” and “analysis of the origin of ideas” to meaning a specific “system of ideas” needs to be examined historically. In purely logical terms the process is easy to grasp and understand.
It could be asserted that Freud is the last of the Ideologues, and that De Man is also an “ideologue”. This makes the “enthusiasm” of Croce and the Croceans for De Man even more curious or would if there wasn’t a “practical” justification for their enthusiasm. One should examine the way in which the author of the Popular Manual [Bukharin] has remained trapped in Ideology; whereas the philosophy of praxis represents a distinct advance and historically is precisely in opposition to Ideology. Indeed the meaning which the term “ideology” has assumed in Marxist philosophy implicitly contains a negative value judgment and excludes the possibility that for its founders the origin of ideas should be sought for in sensations, and therefore, in the last analysis, in physiology. “Ideology” itself must be analysed historically, in the terms of the philosophy of praxis, as a superstructure.
It seems to me that there is a potential element of error in assessing the value of ideologies, due to the fact (by no means casual) that the name ideology is given both to the necessary super structure of a particular structure and to the arbitrary elucubrations of particular individuals. The bad sense of the word has become widespread, with the effect that the theoretical analysis of the concept of ideology has been modified and denatured. The process leading up to this error can be easily reconstructed:
1. ideology is identified as distinct from the structure, and it is asserted that it is not ideology that changes the structures but vice versa;
2. it is asserted that a given political solution is “ideological” i.e. that it is not sufficient to change the structure, although it thinks that it can do so; it is asserted that it is useless, stupid, etc.;
3. one then passes to the assertion that every ideology is “pure” appearance, useless, stupid, etc.
One must therefore distinguish between historically organic ideologies, those, that is, which are necessary to a given structure, and ideologies that are arbitrary, rationalistic, or “willed”. To the extent that ideologies are historically necessary they have a validity which is “psychological”; they “organise” human masses, and create the terrain on which men move, acquire consciousness of their position, struggle, etc. To the extent that they are arbitrary they only create individual “movements”, polemics and so on (though even these are not completely useless, since they function like an error which by contrasting with truth, demonstrates it).
It is worth recalling the frequent affirmation made by Marx on the “solidity of popular beliefs” as a necessary element of a specific situation. What he says more or less is “when this way of conceiving things has the force of popular beliefs”, etc. Another proposition of Marx is that a popular conviction often has the same energy as a material force or something of the kind, which is extremely significant. The analysis of these propositions tends, I think, to reinforce the conception of historical bloc in which precisely material forces are the content and ideologies are the form, though this distinction between form and content has purely didactic value, since the material forces would be inconceivable historically without form and the ideologies would be individual fancies without the material forces.
Zoals gezegd is Gramsci zijn schrijven zeer fragmentarisch. Ik heb dit stuk over hegemonie geselecteerd. Hij benadrukt hier tevens het belang van de absorptie van delen van het programma van geallieerde groepen. Daarbij passeren enkele belangrijke begrippen de revue: trasformismo (dat begrepen kan worden als een vorm van depolitisering, zoals onder Paars) en passieve revolutie ofwel het voorkomen van confrontaties en revoluties door het op voorhand van bovenaf doorvoeren van hervormingen, dat we in Nederland kennen als pacificatie, een term van Lijphart en een strategie die tevens op Fortuyn is toegepast.
The methodological criterion on which our own study must be based is the following : that the supremacy of a social group manifests itself in two ways, as “domination” and as “intellectual and moral leadership”. A social group dominates antagonistic groups, which it tends to “liquidate”, or to subjugate perhaps even by armed force; it leads kindred and allied groups. A social group can, and indeed must, already exercise “leadership” before winning governmental power (this indeed is one of the principal conditions for the winning of such power); it subsequently becomes dominant when it exercises power, but even if it holds it firmly in its grasp, it must continue to “lead” as well. The Moderates continued to lead the Action Party even after 1870 and 1876, and so-called “transformism” was only the parliamentary expression of this action of intellectual, moral and political hegemony. Indeed one might say that the entire State life of Italy from 1848 onwards has been characterised by transformism – in other words by the formation of an ever more extensive ruling class, within the framework established by the Moderates after 1848 and the collapse of the neo Guelph and federalist utopias. The formation of this class involved the gradual but continuous absorption, achieved by methods which varied in their effectiveness, of the active elements produced by allied groups-and even of those which came from antagonistic groups and seemed irreconcilably hostile. In this sense political leadership became merely an aspect of the function of domination in as much as the absorption of the enemies’ elites means their decapitation, and annihilation often for a very long time. It seems clear from the policies of the Moderates that there can, and indeed must, be hegemonic activity even before the rise to power, and that one should not count only on the material force which power gives in order to exercise an effective leadership. It was precisely the brilliant solution of these problems which made the Risorgimento possible, in the form in which it was achieved (and with its limitations)-as “revolution” without a “revolution”, or as “passive revolution” to use an expression of Cuoco’s in a slightly different sense from that which Cuoco intended.
 i.e. under the conditions of class society. For Gramsci’s “first element” here, see Hegel: Philosophy of History, Dover 1956, p.44: “The primary consideration is, then, the distinction between the governing and the governed.”
 See, for example, Mussolini “The war was ‘revolutionary’ in the sense that it liquidated in rivers of blood the century of democracy, the century of number, of majority, of quantity”, in Which way is the world going?, 1922 ; or again, “Fascism is against democracy which levels the people down to the largest number, bringing it down to the level of the majority”, in The Doctrine of Fascism, 1932.
 Gramsci: There are numerous formulations of this, some more felicitous than the one quoted which is due to Mario de Silva, in Critica Fascista, 15 August 1932. But the content is always the same.
 The Italian word here is “particulare”, a term used by Guicciardini, who suggested that the best refuge from the trials of public life was one’s own ”particulare” or private interest. De Sanctis criticised this “egoism”.
 The meaning that Gramsci gives to these two terms is explained in the paragraphs which follow. Broadly speaking, “common sense” means the incoherent set of generally held assumptions and beliefs common to any given society, while “good sense” means practical empirical common sense in the English sense of the term. See also introduction to this section.
 “Know thyself” was the inscription written above the gate of the Oracle at Delphi, and became a principle of Socratic philosophy.
 “vital action.” The concept here would appear to derive from Bergson, some of whose ideas were filtered to Gramsci through Sorel and in a sense provided him with a psychological antidote to the fatalism of Austro-Marxism. There is no question, however, of Bergson having had a systematic influence on Gramsci’s “philosophy of praxis” as such.
 part of the historical process.” In the original “un divenire storico” historical becoming. For this aspect of common sense see Int., p. 144 : “Every social stratum has its own ‘common sense’ and its own ‘good sense’, which are basically the most widespread conception of life and o f man. Every philosophical current leaves behind a sedimentation of ‘common sense’: this is the document of its historical effectiveness. Common sense is not something rigid and immobile, but is continually transforming itself, enriching itself with scientific ideas and with philosophical opinions which have entered ordinary life. ‘Common sense’ is the folklore of philosophy, and is always halfway between folklore properly speaking and the philosophy, science, and economics of the specialists. Common sense creates the folklore of the future, that is as a relatively rigid phase of popular knowledge at a given place and time.”
 For Gramsci’s uses of “ideology” in its various senses see pp. 375 77.
By “politics” Gramsci means conscious action (praxis) in pursuit of a common social goal.
 “normal times” :as opposed to the exceptional (and hence potentially revolutionary) moments in history in which a class or group discovers its objective and subjective unity in action.
 The heretical movements of the Middle Ages were a simultaneous reaction against the politicking of the Church and against the scholastic philosophy which expressed this. They were based on social conflicts determined by the birth of the Communes, and represented a split between masses and intellectuals within the Church. This split was “stitched over” by the birth of popular religious movements subsequently reabsorbed by the Church through the formation of the mendicant orders and a new religious unity.
 Filosofie van de praxis is het codewoord dat Gramsci hanteert voor het marxisme, vanwege de censuur. (MO)
 A reference to the 11th of Marx’s Theses on Feuerbach, which Gramsci interprets as meaning that philosophy (and, in particular, the philosophy of praxis) is a socio-practical activity, in which thought and action are reciprocally determined.
 “finalisrn”: the notion that history is always working towards a determined end. The idea that Gramsci is attacking is that of historical inevitability, and in particular of the “inevitable” spontaneous collapse of capitalism and its replacement by the socialist order.
 “subaltern.” Nonhegemonic groups or classes are also called by Gramsci “subordinate”, “subaltern” or sometimes “instrumental. In this context it is also worth noting that the term “hegemony” in Gramsci itself has two faces. On the one hand it is contrasted with “domination” (and as such bound up with the opposition State/Civil Society) and on the other hand “hegemonic” is sometimes used as an opposite of “corporate” or “economic-corporate” to designate an historical phase in which a given group moves beyond a position of corporate existence and defence of its economic position and aspires to a position of leadership in the political and social arena. Nonhegemonic groups or classes are also called by Gramsci “subordinate”, “subaltern” or sometimes “instrumental”.
 This is an echo of Marx’s statement (Preface to A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy) that it is not consciousness which determines being but man’s social being which determines his consciousness. This conception is very important to Gramsci and constantly recurs in his prison writings, as do other ideas from the same Preface.
 On this question see: Max Weber, L’etica protestante e Lo spirito del capitalismo; published in Nuovi Studi, volume for 1931 et seq. [Die protestantische Ethik und die Geist des Capitalismus; first published in the Archivfur Sozialwissenschaft und Sozialpolitik, Vols. xx and XXI, 1904 and 1905. English translation (by Talcott Parsons) The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, London, Allen and Unwin, 1930.] And see Groethuysen’s book on the religious origins of the bourgeoisie in France. [Origines de l’esprit bourgeois en France, Vol. I. L’Eglise et La bourgeoisie, Paris, 1927.]
 For Gramsci’s theory of the “organic” intellectuals see the essay “The Formation of the Intellectuals”, pp. 5-14.
 “the consciousness of necessity.” This notion, which originated with Spinoza, plays a particularly important role in Hegelian philosophy.
 Alessandro Manzoni (1785-1873), Italian novelist and poet, brought up on the ideas of the French and Italian Enlightenment but converted to Catholicism in or about 1810. His major work is the historical novel I promessi sposi (The Betrothed) (1827: revised and partly rewritten 1840) in which Enlightenment ideas co-exist uneasily with Catholic Quietism. The Inni sacri (Sacred Hymns, or Songs) date from 1812-22.
 The most effective literary propagator of ideology was Destutt de Tracy (1754-1836), because of the ease and popularity of his exposition. Another was Dr. Cabanis with his Rapport du Physique et du Moral. (Condillac, Helvetius, etc., are more strictly speaking philosophers.) Link between Catholicism and ideology: Manzoni, Cabanis, Bourget, Taine (Taine is the chefd’ ecole for Maurras and others of a Catholic tendency); also the “psychological novel” (Stendhal was a pupil of De Tracy, etc.). Destutt de Tracy’s main work is the Elements d’Ideologie (Paris, 1817-18). The Italian translation is more complete (Elementi di Ideologia del Conte Destutt de Tracy, translated by G. Compagnoni, Milan, Stamperia di Giambattista Sonzogno, 1819). In the French text a whole section is missing, I think the one on Love, which Stendhal knew and used from the Italian translation.
 Henri De Man, Belgian Social-Democrat, was the author of a book Au delá du Marxisme (“Beyond Marxism”), frequently referred to and criticised in the Quaderni (see in particular MS, pp. 111-114). Croce’s “practical” reason for enthusiasm for De Man lies in their shared opposition to revolutionary Marxism, although strictly speaking Crocean philosophy denies a serious theoretical role to ideological and instrumental thought such as De Man’s.
 There is a real problem in translating the Italian “dirigere” and its compounds: direzione, dirigente, diretto, direttivo, etc. “Dirigere” means to “direct, lead, rule”; when, as here, Gramsci counterposes it to “dominare“, we translate it “to lead”. “Dirigente” is the present participle of “dirigere“–e.g. “classe dirigente” is the standard equivalent of “ruling class”-and as a noun is the normal word for (political) “leader”; where Gramsci uses it, as in this passage, in counter position to “dominante” we have translated it as “leading”. “Diretto” as an adjective means “direct”, as a past participle has been translated “led”. “Direttivo” has been translated “directive”, although there is not really any such adjective in English. “Direzione” covers the various meanings of the word “direction” in English, but is also the normal word for “leadership”, and has usually been translated as such here. It could be argued that a better English version would be achieved, without distorting Grarnsci’s thought, by regarding “direzione” and “egemonia” as interchangeable. After all, not only does Gramsci usually use them interchangeably; it is also the case that, for example, in the standard English translation of Lenin, e.g. in “Two Tactics of Social-Democracy“, the word “hegemony” is used to translate “rukovodstvo“, which could equally well be translated “leadership”, and would certainly normally be translated as “direzione” in Italian. However, in view of the importance of these concepts in Gramsci’s work, and the variations in his usage of them, we felt it preferable to choose fidelity over good English– despite the awkwardness of “lead” and “leading” in some passages.
 The Moderate Party, formally constituted in 1848, had grown out of the neo-Guelph movement (see note 9 on p. 58). Its first document was C. Balbo’s Le speranze d’Italia (1844) , and its ideas inspired the reforms of 1846-47. It stood initially for a confederation of the Italian States, and demanded reforms and written constitutions in each state. It was to some extent eclipsed in 1 849, but its infuence increased during the ten years from 1 849 59, under the leadership of d’Azeglio and Cavour. It abandoned federalism, and was in fact the main instrument, at the level of political institutions, of national unification in 185g–61, and the main beneficiary of the Risorgimento. After Cavour’s death in 1861, it became the Right in the Italian parliament, and held power until 1876.
 Trasformismo. This term was used from the 1880s onwards to describe the process whereby the so-called “historic” Left and Right parties which emerged from the Risorgimento tended to converge in terms of programme during the years which followed, until there ceased to be any substantive difference between them especially after the “Left” came to power under Depretis in 1876 (see note Q3 on p. QQ7 below) and the latter began to recruit his ministers indiscriminately from both sides of the parliament. The two main parties disintegrated into personal cliques and factions, which characterised Italian parliamentary life until fascism. The emergence of the Socialist Party from the turn of the century onwards did begin a process of polarisation of politics along class lines a process which was arrested by fascism before the bourgeoisie had created a viable political party of its own (although the Popular Party see note 14 on p.62 was an attempt to do this). See too GraIruici’s note (Ris. p. 157) entitled Il trasformismo: “Transformism as one of the historical forms of what has already been noted about ‘revolution-restoration’ or ‘passive revolution’, with respect to the process of formation of a modern State in Italy. Transformism as a ‘real historical document’ of the real nature of the parties which appeared as extremist in the period of militant activity (Partito d’Azione) . Two periods of transformism: I. from 1860 to 1900 ‘molecular’ transformism, i.e. individual political figures formed by the democratic opposition parties are incorporated individually into the conservative moderate ‘political class’ (characterised by its aversion to any intervention of the popular masses in state life, to any organic reform which would substitute a ‘hegemony’ for the crude, dictatorial ‘dominance’) ; 2. from 1900 onwards transformism of entire groups of leftists who pass over to the moderate camp (the first event is the formation of the nationalist party, with ex-syndicalist and anarchist groups, which culminates in the Libyan war in the first instance and subsequently in interventionism). Between the two periods one can discern an intermediate phase (1890-1900) in which a mass of intellectuals joins the parties of the Left so-called socialist, but in reality simply democratic.”
 Vincenzo Cuoco (1770-1823) was a Neapolitan conservative thinker of great influence in the early stages of the Risorgimento. He played a minor role in the Parthenopean Republic of 1799 (see note 63 on p. 92) -out of a sense of public duty (he was a life long functionary) rather than out of any particular commitment to its ideals and was exiled in consequence. In exile he read Burke and De Maistre, and came to the view that revolution must at all costs be avoided, since it was a destroyer of the “traditions” on which civilisation is based. In his “Historical Essay on the Neapolitan Republic of 1799”, he described the episode as a passive revolution, because it was the work of an “enlightened” bourgeois class, “abstract rationalists”, ”Jacobins”, imitating French models (and backed by French armies), and involved no mass participation. In the years which followed he carne, paradoxically, to argue precisely in favour of such “passive revolutions”, in that his main thesis was the need to put through reforms in order to prevent revolution on the French model. He was an enthusiastic supporter of Napoleonic rule, and became a public official under it (1806-15). He can be seen as the theorist of what Gramsci termed (after Edgar Quinet) “revolution-restoration”. See MS. pp. 184-85: “One should study the way in which the critical formula of Vincenzo Cuoco on the ‘passive revolutions’, which when it was formulated (after the tragic experiment of the Parthenopean Republic of 1799) was meant as a warning, to create a national mood of greater energy and popular revolutionary initiative, was converted in the minds of the neo-Guelphs and Moderates, in their state of social panic, into a positive conception, into a political programme: the determination to abdicate and capitulate at the first serious threat of an Italian revolution that would be profoundly popular, i.e. radically national.”