Gramsci and Contemporary Politics: Beyond Pessimism of the by Anne Showstack Sassoon

By Anne Showstack Sassoon

Can politics now be either radical and practical? Gramsci and modern Politics is a suite of Anne Showstack Sassoon's writing which spans the main transitions from Thatcher and Reagan to Clinton and Blair; the cave in of communism to the regeneration of social democracy. employing unique interpretations of Antonio Gramsci's rules at the intellectuals, political language, civil society and political management, she argues that drawing from the prior, and broadening modern resources of political and educational wisdom can give a contribution to a grounded, radical hegemonic politics which may result in swap.

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Additional info for Gramsci and Contemporary Politics: Beyond Pessimism of the Intellect (Routledge Innovations in Political Theory, Volume 4)

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THE POLITICS OF THE ORGANIC INTELLECTUALS 41 HISTORY PROVIDES NO GUARANTEES The dangers in the Soviet Union of coercion dictating politics rather than consent were obvious to Gramsci before he was arrested81 and continued to preoccupy him in prison. Historical development was providing the conditions which could allow for the creation of a democratic exchange between leaders and led, intellectuals and people. 82 This relationship may remain bureaucratic, the intellectuals resemble ‘a caste, or a priesthood’,83 and the ‘simple’ continue in their subaltern condition.

Gramsci refers constantly to a hierarchy and to a division of labour because it reflects the historical development of organised capitalism. The classical liberal schema of an unmediated relationship between citizen and state, where the rational, isolated individual makes choices between alternatives and elects representatives who determine policy in the interests of the whole had been made anachronistic by history. The individual has the most impact in modern mass politics if a member of an organisation, and increasingly interests, even of those who are not members, are represented by organisations.

The challenge also existed at the level of production itself. 58 But in the Prison Notebooks his study of the intellectuals and his notes on Americanism and Fordism manifest a much more critical and complex view. The increasing socialisation of production under capitalism now appears THE POLITICS OF THE ORGANIC INTELLECTUALS 37 more clearly as an aspect of the long-term organic crisis to which it is forced to respond. Its answer is to reorganise the productive process as new technology is developed and applied.

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