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Antonio Gramsci and the Battle Against Fascism


#1

Antonio Gramsci and the Battle Against Fascism

Chris Hedges

Chris Hedges gave this talk Friday at the Left Forum in New York City. Click here to see a video of the address; the introduction of Hedges begins at the 7:30 mark.


#2

Great article - the following from Herbert Marcuse

“All liberation depends on the consciousness of servitude, and the emergence of this consciousness is always hampered by the predominance of needs and satisfactions which, to a great extent, have become the individual’s own. The process always replaces one system of preconditioning by another; the optimal goal is the replacement of false needs by true ones, the abandonment of repressive satisfaction.”


#3
i always learn something new from chris hedges' posts. he's so well read. i had never heard of antononio gramsci before this morning, but agree with much of his take. my preferred moniker is 'hummingbird' but that's a popular one and in some discussion already taken so i post as 'nature's child.' that's why this sentence caught my eye.
We are a product not of nature, Gramsci wrote, but of our history and our culture. If we do not know our history and our culture, and accept the false history and culture manufactured for us, we will never surmount the forces of oppression.

i do see that we are a product of Nature as homo sapiens sapient is but the latest twig on the primate branch of the tree of life. all of us can trace our ancestry back to mesopotamia where humans first attempted to control Nature. we experimented by promoting plant life that provided the foods most pleasing to our taste and discouraging plants or weeds not so delicious. also, our species developed ways to store food against the pattern of seven years of feast and seven years of famine. thus began the agricultural revolution still going on today. for the first time humans could settle into communities. a valiant effort but inadvertently we destroyed the necessary diversity that supported a variety of living beings. in time mono-culture caused depletion of the soil resulting in crop failure. to this day we have never eradicated famine. in fact today more humans face starvation than were alive at the beginning of the agricultural revolution. believing ourselves to be "special" and separate from the rest of creation, we in arrogance fail to learn from our mistakes.

those cultures the euro-centric peoples call primitive never lost their connection with the natural world. in that gramsci is correct. if we forget our cultural history, we cannot understand how we came to this crossroad. if we cannot retrace our steps, pinpoint our errant--arrogant choices--and learn to live harmoniously with Nature, we can never live harmoniously with one another.


#4

Hedges is awesome...for those who have the ability to absorb reality in big doses. Quite the opposite of most Murkins' 20 second soundbite absorbtion limit.


#5

What a wonderful critique of mass culture (via Gramsci) by Hedges! I would argue that in addition to using the hegemony of mass culture to pacify the vast majority of people, capitalists in the U.S. and abroad have never shied away from using brutality, mass murder, the slaughter of war, torture, imprisonment, slavery, bribery, extortion, marginalization and other forms of oppression and brute force.

Together with mass culture, these bloodier tools pretty much equal totalitarianism. It seems to me that we're in a totalitarian era now where the "choices" are passivity or having to fight the dirty war for freedom. Free breathing, feeling and acting spaces are narrowing to the point of collapse. Still we must maintain the values of liberty, fraternity and equality within this context. That's why the capitalists and their flunkies always seem to have an upper hand.


#6

Want to better understand where we are and how we got here, in a socio-political-economic sense?
Then read, and re-read this article! Those of us who were young adults in the 1967-1973 years can truly appreciate, in hindsight, what happened to us culturally, and why it did. Reading Hedges helps to condense and connect it all, and to recognize the flawless gem of truth that he presents.

At the risk of repeating myself, I must say that this is maybe his best one yet. Of course, each time I say this, he comes back and tops it!

Thank you, Chris, for your courage, your empathy, and your wisdom.


#7

"Culture" is the model for download of operating system. Its got some bugs...


#8

"Left"? "Progressive"? - How about the direct phrase, "All in. No one out." ~ 'Cuz, We the People don't mean an efin insurance company nor any of those, "lefty commies" - lol - NO! WE mean WE the People!
(Thanks Paul Jay for clearing the air about We as "All in. No One out!")

Thanks 'CD'. Youse guys are terrific. Bill Moyers couldn't have chosen a better crew to protect We the People's Right to the TRUTH! Same goes for Joseph Campbell, paraphrasing - "Follow your Bliss and doors will open for you, where there weren't any before."

An alternative to 'fb' -
The 2017 "All In. No One Out" Forum ~~ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EWrRNGc00To

Includes Chris, Jill and Medea at The 2017 "Left " Forum - any three of whom are welcome into We the People - Party. Movement. Edifice. "Earhstrong", Me thinks, Jah Rasta.


#9

Thank you, Edmundo. The Marcuse quote dovetails very nicely with what Hedges is saying. The first third of the 20th Century was notable for the great many intellectuals who spoke against the Ruling Order, and for the way that workers accepted and acted upon some of those ideas. This part of our cultural history is ignored and /or repressed in the faux culture of consumerism and conformity that we live in today.


#10

Irie! We be Jahmin'.


#11

I agree 100%.


#12

I don't think that intellectuals fed workers ideas so much as intellectuals were much more connected to workers, so their ideas made sense in the matrix of action/thought/feeling.


#13

And I agree with you! Writers, artists, and other great talents of the 20's and 30's very definitely identified with the common man/woman (Steinbeck, Woody Guthrie, Will Geer, Jack London, LaGuardia, LaFollette, Dos Passos, and on and on).


#14

“There is a reason the capitalist state seeks to keep workers unconscious. No worker will ever receive the full benefit of his or her labor under a capitalist system since this would destroy capitalism itself. And any worker who truly grasped his or her interests would be dedicated to the overthrow of capitalism….

We must, therefore, create a vibrant counterculture that ultimately makes revolution possible.”

Back to the 1960’s then. I wouldn’t mind that at all but I’m afraid there is no return just repetition. I was in my twenties back in the 60’s and I testify that culturally the 60’s lives… but not economically except for the rich and the “military, industrial, government complex”(Eisenhower’s original wording). Revolutions do not arise due to a vibrant counterculture as that is what a successful revolution will create in order to insure the future. Revolution occurs when most people are in enough pain to revolt. This is what is already happening with Trump being the latest revolt. And the left revolt is taking place in England around Jeremy Corbyn.

Yes we are in “an interregnum—a time when the reigning ideology has lost efficacy but has yet to be replaced by a new one. ‘The crisis consists,’ Gramsci wrote, ‘precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born, [and] in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear.’ Hence political mutations such as Donald Trump, or in Gramsci’s time Mussolini….”’

And i guess some would also include Corbyn. I would suggest that “an interregnum” has existed ever since the works of Karl Marx were published. Not too long ago with the fall of the U.S.S.R. capitalists were celebrating the triumph of capitalism and the final death of socialism. It is to me amusing that Russia, now capitalist and run by kleptocrats just like the good old U.S.A. has always been, should be a big enemy again. Personally I’m happy if Trump is in bed with Putin, Russia is running the C.I.A., or whatever the latest boogie man news is. Perhaps we can avoid WWIII a little longer. Of course what is really going on is a secret battle within the deep state between conflicting/competing economic interests of the owners apparently trying to work out arrangements with the Russian owner kleptocrats. As long as they fight over the pie and not our dead bodies.

The “interregnum” is finally coming to an end as capitalism is coming to an end just as Marx wrote it would. Decades now of capitalism failing worldwide has no end in sight and more and more people will increasingly suffer, wars and violence will continue to rise fueled by declining resources, robotization and globalization, and the destruction of the environment by insufficiently regulated technology.

The battle between capitalism and socialism has never been clearer and every day socialism grows more urgently needed to prevent the destruction of the human race itself. I love how intellectuals talk of “educating” people or creating a”vibrant subculture”. Most people have never had the time or energy after struggling to survive another day for anything but a little entertainment and rest. What is needed for revolution is enough pain, that is the job of the elite governance, and learning effective revolutionary leadership, that is the job of revolutionaries. Opportunity for revolution increases daily but are there socialists who can recognize it and effectively lead?

People act from emotion not intellect, as those who control society have learned so well. That is what charismatic leadership can combat. Inspiration is what is needed for revolution.

The US neoliberal economy depends on war. The war machine and its ramifications contribute more than 50% to the US GDP. Without war the U.S. economy and its empire would collapse. Of course such classic military overextension preceded the fall of previous empires. World peace would mean a black hole for the U.S. but the “exceptional” nation has no other way… or does it? Will Putin and the Russians save it?

I’m old but it’s a great time now to be young. There is every indication that big changes are about to happen. We could be on the eve of a rational, peaceful, socialist world where all are provided for and respected in a classless society.


#15

Our limbs cannot be unchained

Before our minds


#16

Hedges states

“Not only does the people have no precise consciousness of its own historical identity,” Gramsci lamented under fascism, “it is not even conscious of the historical identity or the exact limits of its adversary.”

If we do not know our history we have no point of comparison. We cannot name the forces that control us or see the long continuity of capitalist oppression and resistance.

I have always maintained you are only as human as the history you carry. (I have stated similarly here on the CD blog before, I am sure you can look it up). If you are incapable of carrying that weight, you are shedding your social responsibilities as a member of society, and thus incapable of being democratic.

The cherry picking of a historical lineage without the umbrella of morality is rampant in the so called civilized world. Confederadunces, Gunnuts, and relizealots can beat you down with their flash mob rhetoric, and then go elect an Orange Chump.

Our conversations seem to make sense only to those who understand such a concept, and elicit violence from vacuous blowhards. Your caricatured reduction of yourself in cartoons from newspapers or photographs from events you have been in dare not depict any glimpse of your place long arch of history. You must remain in the frame the CNN and Fox feasters can extend their brains to.


#17

nighthawk
Agree completely.

Chris Hedges is what I call a true seer. He is one of the few who can also convey his vision to those of us still seeking answers to how we got here and what is to be done.


#18

While undoubtedly in his later writings Gramsci came to see the Soviet model as inapplicable to other Western societies, he nevertheless continued to conceive of revolution as the taking of power via the leadership of a minority group, even if in different circumstances from those experienced by Lenin in Russia. Hardly ever does he view socialism other than as a form of state.

Gramsci wrote: ‘Society cannot live without a state: the state is the concrete act of will which guards against the will of the individual, faction, disorder and individual indiscipline ....communism is not against the state, in fact it is implacably opposed to the enemies of the state.’ Later too, in his prison writings, arguing now for a ‘long-term strategy’, he continued to declare the need for states and state organisation, for leaders and led, for governors and governed in the conduct of human affairs – underlined by his frequent use of three terms in particular: ‘direzione’ (leadership), ‘disciplina’ (discipline) and ‘coercizione’ (coercion).

So, despite what Gramsci himself recognised as changed times and circumstances compared with Russia in 1917, he continued to be profoundly influenced by Lenin’s views. Gramsci’s vision for the future is not a society of free access and democratic control where people organise themselves freely and collectively as a majority but rather a change from one form of minority authority to another – a change from a system of the few manifestly governing in their own interests to the few claiming to govern in the interests of the majority.

Far from eschewing the idea of a revolutionary vanguard, sees an intellectual leadership taking the masses with them. In other words the ‘consent’ that his hegemony, his long-term penetration of ideas, proposes is not the informed consent of a convinced socialist majority but an awakening of what, at one point he refers to as ‘popular passions’, a spontaneous spilling over of revolutionary enthusiasm which enables the leadership to take the masses with them and then govern in the way they think best.

https://www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/socialist-standard/2010s/2017/no-1352-april-2017/was-antonio-gramsci-socialist


#19

Here is the alternative link to Chris Hedges' speech, corresponding to this article's transcript - It begins 7 mins in ~~

The other link that I first posted today, is for a forum of 4 speakers, including Margaret Kimberley.


#20

"The Socialist State cannot be embodied in the Institutions of the Capitalist State."

"The Socialist State must be a Fundamentally New Creation"

"The Organizations of the Capitalist State are organized... to facilitate Free Competition...merely to change the Personnel in these Institutions (will not) change the Direction of their Activity."

In other words :

What if they gave a "Capitalism" and nobody Came?