Kantian Journal

2022 Vol. 41. №1

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The Problem of the Revolution in Gramsci (Between Kant and Marx)

DOI
10.5922/0207-6918-2022-1-6
Pages
147-170

Abstract

Reconstructing the evolution of Gramsci’s judgement about the Russian Revolution implies an overall rethinking of his own relation to Marx as well as to Kant. Already in the spring of 1917, Gramsci foresaw that the February Revolution could become a proletarian revolution and that this would realise in fact Kant’s moral: only a society completely freed from oppression and exploitation would allow people to be free and autonomous. After the fall of the Winter Palace, Gramsci wrote that the revolution happened “against Marx’s Capital”, or better, against its literal interpretation as spread by the positivistic Marxism of the Second International. Between the end of the 1910s and the beginning of the 1920s, Gramsci thought it possible for Italy and the whole of Europe “to do as in Russia”; yet, from 1924, he started elaborating a different vision of the revolution in the Western World, which in the Prison Notebooks became a contraposition between a war of movement and a war of position. At the same time, he developed the concepts of caesarism/bonapartism and passive revolution which allowed the analysis of phenomena such as americanism and fascism from the perspective of a conservative modernisation, or revolution without a revolution. Still, and most of all, Gramsci developed the concept of hegemony, highlighting the importance of the moment of consensus in the fight for gaining and maintaining power. This drew Gramsci quite far from the marxism-leninism of his time, both from the political and theoretical point of view; for instance, he rejected the “ingenuous realism” of Lenin’s Materialism and Empiriocriticism in favour of a phenomenalism explicitly drawn by Kant.

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