In search of the 'real Gramsci': a historicist reappraisal of a Marxist revolutionary

  • N Greaves

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    This thesis undertakes a reappraisal of the Marxist philosopher and revolutionary, Antonio Gramsci. Gramsci has never been as widely discussed in academia as he is today. However, his ubiquity comes at a price. Due to the extensive range of its concerns, the body of thought that has arisen around him in recent times has become too obtuse, unwieldy and diversified to allow us to derive the denominational intellectual essence of its founder. Indeed, what has evolved into a ‘Gramscian school’ in recent times is an oxymoron. Above all, Gramsci’s thought has become distanced from his historical context and applied in greater abstraction. The most clear-cut example of this is his current alignment with postmodern, post-structural and post-Marxist thinkers who tend to weaken both his Marxism and his revolutionism. This goes too far and is methodologically unsound. By adopting a contextual historicist method, my intention is to uncover the ‘real Gramsci’. Gramsci formulated a philosophical and hermeneutic method of interpretation and he applied it, for example, to Marx and contemporary Italian idealism. Once enunciated, this method will be turned back on Gramsci himself throughout the thesis. Gramsci reciprocated with the intellectual, political, economic and, in particular, ‘hegemonic’ matrix of his time and location and this will be examined in order to identify the precise references and meaning of his theoretical formulae. It will be found that, for Gramsci, theory and practice are intimately related and that, in order to liberate the proletariat, Marxism offered by far the best means to link the two. He is thus inextricably tied to the Marxist theoretical paradigm and the practical, Leninist revolutionary problematic of class-consciousness and political struggle. However, he expands profoundly the compass of the inter-linked tradition and produces theoretical refinements that support a particularly humane, progressive, egalitarian and democratic political programme
    Date of Award2005
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Northampton
    SupervisorGlyn Daly (Supervisor)

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