Antonio Gramsci was born in Sardinia in 1891, became the leader of the Italian Communist Party in his early thirties, was arrested by Mussolini’s police in 1927, and remained imprisoned until shortly before his death ten years later. The posthumous publication of his Prison Notebooks established him as a major thinker whose influence continues to increase.
Fiori’s biography enlarges upon the facts of Gramsci’s life through personal accounts, and through Gramsci’s own writings to relatives and friends. In relating Gramsci’s growth as a political leader and theorist to his private experience, it offers acute insights into his involvement in the factory councils movement. It examines his relationship with political opponents, including Mussolini, and with his comrades within the Communist Party before and during Gramsci’s imprisonment. It is an approach which seeks to explicate, as well as underscore, the substantial achievement of one of the most important figures in western Marxism.
Rossana Rossanda, communist, feminist and editor of Il Manifesto until 2012, gives an interview on the history of the circle of the publication in the second of the two-part series of interviews by George Souvlis. Rossanda reflects on the historical trajectory of the PCI in Italy, the relevance of Gramsci’s theoretical scrutiny of the worker’s movement post WW1, and the events which led to the split of Il Manifesto’s main circle. This interview was originally published in LeftEast.
First of all, let me apologize for my delay in answering, due to my health state and to a number of difficulties related to Italian politics. Your questions would require me to answer with full essays to each of them. In the course of recent years, I have tried to answer such questions in my books and articles. There is a methodological issue we should agree upon to reach an understanding; otherwise many of my answers would seem to not address in depth the questions you are posing. The core matter for me is Marx’s thought, which was only partly incorporated by European communist parties, including the PCI. I will now send you my latest reflections, which are about to be published, in order to continue our dialogue.
On this day in 1891 one of the most influential Marxists of the 21st Century, Antonio Gramsci, was born in the small town of Ales in Sardinia. Gramsci's work transformed how we think about a Marxist politics. Whereas the Russian Revolution occured in the "backward" Russia, and as such was as much a revolution against the "old regime" as against capital, Gramsci attempted to wrestle with the question of how we build a revolutionary movement in the developed areas of Western Europe. In particular it was his development of the concept of "hegemony" which was to prove the most influential. In this piece, from the great Stuart Hall and published in The Hard Road to Renewal, Hall attempts to expand these insights of Gramsci's to analyse the "regressive modernisation" of Thatcher. In an age where many are tackling the question of how to build a new left modernity, Gramsci and Hall are as relevant as ever.