Gramsci on crisis and reformism

This is a quote I wanted to save to think about later.

“A crisis exists sometimes lasting for decades. This means that incurable contradictions have come to light within the structure and that the political forces positively working to preserve the structure itself are nevertheless striving to heal these contradictions, within certain limits. These insistent and persistent efforts (since no social formation ever wants to admit that it has been superceded) form the terrain of the “occassional” wherein one gets the organization of those forces that “strive” to demonstrate (in the final analysis through their own triumph, but in immediate terms through ideological, religious, philosophical, political, juridical, etc., polemics) that “the necessary and sufficient conditions already exist to render the accomplishment of certain tasks historically obligatory”.

Gramsci, The Prison Notebooks volume 2 pg 177 Columbia University Press, 2010.


Gramsci and explosions of consciousnesses


Recently Columbia University Press released a box set of Gramsci’s Prison Notebooks (which incidentally is cheaper than prior separate volumes). I have begun reading the set, which was unavailable to me before in its totality. One thing that strikes you is the way that rather profound passages are embedded in what is otherwise uninteresting discussions of Italian history of the period (no offense intended to Italian history buffs).

One such passage is merely a page in length in a long note seemingly on journalism, and then later on relations of urban to rural populations. It seems timely since it deals with the way in which consciousness develops, likely revolutionary consciousness though it is obscured in the passage. With the mobilizations and ruptures in the Midwest and the Near East occuring, it’s worth reflecting on these issues and to my surprise Gramsci has contributions that I was not aware of.

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