Gramsci and italian social and political problems
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Gramsci and Italian Social and Political Problems. Dr Takahiro Chino Dept. of Political Science and Economics t.chino [at] aoni.waseda.jp. My interest in Italian Political Thought(1). Less investigated field of study (in Japan and in English-speaking countries)

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Gramsci and italian social and political problems

Gramsciand Italian Social and Political Problems

Dr Takahiro Chino

Dept. of Political Science and Economics

t.chino[at]aoni.waseda.jp


My interest in italian political thought 1

My interest in Italian Political Thought(1)

  • Less investigated field of study (in Japan and in English-speaking countries)

  • The Italian and Japanese situations seem sometimes similar in the 19th-20th centuries

    → They generally shared a question: What is being modern?

    Modernity: encourages to achieve alternative vision to the existing society


My interest in italian political thought 2

My interest in Italian Political Thought(2)

  • Comparative perspective

    • Examining modern Italian political thought will lead me to better understand the Japanese thought

    • E.g. Similarity between Jun Tosaka(戸坂潤) and Gramsci


Structure of today s lecture

Structure of Today’s lecture

  • Who is Antonio Gramsci?

  • Problem (1): The Southern Question

  • Problem (2): The Catholic Church problem

  • Biggest Problem: Low Social Mobility in Italy


Structure of today s lecture1

Structure of Today’s lecture

  • Who is Antonio Gramsci?

  • Problem (1): The Southern Question

  • Problem (2): The Catholic Church problem

  • Biggest Problem: Low Social Mobility in Italy


Gramsci and italian social and political problems

Antonio Gramsci (1981-1937)

  • Born in Sardinia

  • Hunchback

  • Studied at the University of Turin

  • Joined the Factory Council Movement in 1919-20

  • Co-founder of the Italian Communist Party (founded in 1921)

  • Arrested by the Fascist government in 1926

  • Wrote his Prison Notebooks, consisting of 29 notebooks, from 1929 to 35 until his health condition became severe

  • Died in 1937


Gramsci and italian social and political problems

Sardinia


Factory council movement 1919 20 1

Factory Council Movement 1919-20(1)

Background: Ex-soldiers’ motivation that they can do it! This feeling fuelled Socialist, Catholic, fascist movements

  • First broke out at the Fiat Factory in Turin and spread to 30 factories, 50,000 people (Sep. 1919)

  • Aimed to achieve workers’ autonomous production without bourgeois supervisors

  • “Internal commission” as a key organisation to represent workers that could be expanded to achieve their self-governance


Failure of the factory council

Failure of the Factory Council

Intervention of then-PM Giolitti

  • Offered the workers a proposal to slightly improve their working conditions

  • A part of the workers compromised with his plan

The aim of the FC Movementwas to establish workers’ autonomy and independence, but now it failed


Gramsci s reflection on the failure

Gramsci’s reflection on the Failure

1) It failed to include the majority of Italian masses

  • it was the movement by the Northern Workers, but the Southern peasantry (very majority) was not included

  • 2) The separation between revisionists and communists within the socialist camp

    • compromise or revolution (intransigence)

    • → Establishment of the Italian Communist Party (1921)


What is socialist revolution marx

What is Socialist Revolution?: Marx

Marx : capitalism is a flawed system of economy

Accumulation and re-investment of capital

→ Further expansion of economy

In this process…

  • Bourgeoisie making commodities more

  • Consumers without money to buy

    →Contradiction of capitalism


What is socialist revolution gramsci

What is Socialist Revolution?: Gramsci

  • “Revolution against Capital”(1917, soon after the Russian Revolution)

    • Socialist Revolution took place in the less-developed Russia!

    • Italian Revolution is likely to take place if the Italian situation looks like the pre-revolutionary Russian.

      → But the failure of the FCM showed that this assumption is not true!!


What is socialist revolution revisited

What is Socialist Revolution? Revisited

  • Italy is different from the developed West and the less-developed East (Russia)

  • Need to closely look at the very characteristics of the Italian political and social situation

    → But, Gramsci’s travel to Russia and Austria (1922-24) overlapped the rise of fascism


The rise of fascism

The Rise of Fascism

  • Two tendencies in the fascist movement

  • City fascism (Mussolini)

    Wants to be a “legal”, parliamentary force

  • Country-side fascism (radical nationalists)

    Violent, grass-roots level

    • Underlying feeling is they were abandoned

      → The problems that excluded the Italian masses: the Southern Question and the Catholic Church problem


The prison notebooks 2

The Prison Notebooks (2)

  • 29 individual notebooks

  • Sketchy ones to developed and organised ones

  • Inspired social sciences and humanities in the post-WWII period until now (E.g. his famous concept of “hegemony”)


Structure of today s lecture2

Structure of Today’s lecture

  • Who is Antonio Gramsci?

  • Problem (1): The Southern Question

  • Problem (2): The Catholic Church problem

  • Biggest Problem: Low Social Mobility in Italy


The southern question 1

The Southern Question (1)

SQ: less-developed South vs. developed North

  • The “Southerners” (Sonnino, Franchetti)

    • Urges the government to remedy the poorness

  • Anthropologists (Sergi, Niceforo)

    • “Scientifically” justified the Southern poorness

      e.g. “phrenology”

  • New generation (Salvemini, De Viti de Marco)

    • North’s “exploitation” of the South


The southern question 2

The Southern Question (2)

4) Gramsci

  • Autonomy of the Southern peasantry?

    • “agrarian reform” during the Risorgimento

    • Both liberals and conservatives at that time ignored their demands due to the peasants’ alleged “violent” character

    • Gramsci: but, if liberals could have included their demands for “agrarian reform”, then they could have achieved a more democratic Italian unification?


The southern question 3

The Southern Question (3)

The Risorgimento: Italy’s turning point

  • Revolts of the peasantry after the Risorgimento

    • Represented as “barbarian” without noting their call for republicanism, agrarian reform etc.

    • The peasantry as the “subaltern groups”: lacking their own intellectuals, the ability to describe their own history

    • They are only represented and stigmatised by the dominant social groups

    • However, it does not mean that they do not have their own demands and autonomy


Structure of today s lecture3

Structure of Today’s lecture

  • Who is Antonio Gramsci?

  • Problem (1): The Southern Question

  • Problem (2): The Catholic Church problem

  • Biggest Problem: Low Social Mobility in Italy


The catholic church 1

The Catholic Church (1)

  • How the Italian masses were deprived of their autonomy?

    • Fixed relation between the elites and masses

    • The 1929 Concordat between the Church and the fascist state

    • Croce’s misfired critique of the Church

    • Gramsci’s proposal of reforming the people’s “common sense” and elaborating “good sense”


The catholic church 2

The Catholic Church (2)

Three camps in the Church – how to deal with the modern ideas?

1) Integralists : “non expedit” decree

2) Modernists: Italian People’s Party

3) The Jesuits: Catholic Action - spreading the Church’s influence over the masses

→ the Jesuits occupied the centre of the Church


The catholic church 3

The Catholic Church (3)

Concordat in 1929 – different assumptions

The Church: the religious sphere over the secular

The fascist state: two spheres can be separated independently

→ the Church’s intervention into the Italian educational system (religious education became mandatory in secondary education)

→ this reinforced the Church’s influence


The catholic church 4

The Catholic Church (4)

Benedetto Croce (1866-1952)

  • The most influential intellectual of the time in Italy

  • “Religion and the Peace of Mind” (1915): Superiority of philosophy over religion

  • → Gramsci discerns that Croce’s proposal is conservative – it is only appealing to his fellow intellectuals, but cannot be people’s action-guiding principle


The catholic church 5

The Catholic Church (5)

  • Croce’s contradiction

    Why not support liberal Catholicism (modernism)?

  • He did not like democracy

  • Croce rather helped to reinforce the division between intellectuals and masses

    → Despite his harsh criticism, Croce helped the Church’s policy to permeate people’s “common sense”


Gramsci and italian social and political problems

From the Prison Notebooks

Croce is, in essence, anti-confessional [...], and for a large group of Italian and European intellectuals his philosophy [...] has constituted a real and proper intellectual and moral reform of a ‘Renaissance’ type. ‘To live without religion’ (and here without confessional religion is meant) was the pith that Sorel elicited from his reading of Croce [...] But Croce has not ‘gone to the people,’ has not wanted to become a ‘national’ element (just as the Renaissance men were not, unlike the Lutherans and Calvinists), has not wanted to create a group of disciples who [...] could popularize his philosophy in his place and try to make it into an educational element right from the primary school state (and thus educational for the simple worker and peasant, that is to say for the simple man in the street)… (cont.)


Gramsci and italian social and political problems

From the Prison Notebooks

Perhaps this was not possible, but it was worth the trouble of trying to do it, and not having tried is also significant. In one of his books Croce has written something to the effect that ‘One cannot deprive the man in the street of religion without immediately substituting it with something that satisfies the same needs for which religion was born and still persists.’ There is some truth in this assertion, but does it not contain a confession of the impotence of idealist philosophy for becoming an integral (and national) world outlook? For how could one destroy religion in the consciousness of the ordinary person without at the same time replacing it? Is it possible in this case only to destroy without creating? It is impossible.


The catholic church 6

The Catholic Church (6)

Gramsci’s proposal “moral and intellectual reform”

  • Common sense → good sense

  • Remedying the gap between intellectuals and masses

    • The masses could be a potential part of Italian ruling class


Structure of today s lecture4

Structure of Today’s lecture

  • Who is Antonio Gramsci?

  • Problem (1): The Southern Question

  • Problem (2): The Catholic Church problem

  • Biggest Problem: Low Social Mobility in Italy


How to remedy italy s low social mobility

How to Remedy Italy’s Low Social Mobility ?

  • Elitist democracy (Gaetano Mosca)

    • Every society consists of two fundamental groups: elites and masses

    • Elites provide good governance

  • Gramsci’s elitist democracy

    • Mobility between two groups (members of the groups are not fixed), but prevented by the SQ and the CC

    • Masses can be potential part of the Italian ruling class (“everybody can govern”)


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