Rethinking Gramsci's Political Philosophy Essay

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Rethinking Gramsci's Political Philosophy

ABSTRACT: This paper is a clarification and partial justification of a novel approach to the interpretation of Gramsci. My approach aims to avoid reductionism, intellectualism, and one-sidedness, as well as the traditional practice of conflating his political thought with his active political life. I focus on the political theory of the Prison Notebooks and compare it with that of Gaetano Mosca. I regard Mosca as a classic exponent of democratic elitism, according to which elitism and democracy are not opposed to each other but are rather mutually interdependent. Placing Gramsci in the same tradition, my documentation involves four key points. First, the Notebooks contain an explicit
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(1) Second, I said "in large measure," and this does not mean "entirely"; that is, I think it would be wrong to claim that all of Gramsci's political theory derives only from Mosca since there is no question that there are other sources, such as Marx, Lenin, Hegel, Gentile, Croce, and Machiavelli. (2) Third, when I speak of political theory, I am not referring to the totality of Gramsci's thought, but to that part which deals with questions which are strictly and explicitly political and social, such as classes, forces, crises, revolutions, governments, parties, and states. For example, I am not referring to Gramsci's philosophical conceptualizations of the dialectic and the theory-practice nexus, nor to his historical interpretations of the Italian Risorgimento and French Revolution. Naturally, this distinction among political-theoretical, philosophical-conceptual, and historical aspects is not meant to be a separation since there are important relationships among them; however, the distinction aims to avoid confusion. Fourth, I should like to make clear that it would be an intellectualist error to pretend that Gramsci's thought derives only from other thought, be it Mosca's, Croce's, or

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