Continental Philosophy

Critical Theorists

Who was Antonio Gramsci?

While Antonio Gramsci (1891–1937) was in prison he worked out his version of Marxism, which was mainly a revolt against Karl Marx’s (1818–1883) historical determinism. Gramsci’s Prison Notebooks (compiled after his death, beginning in 1971) was edited for publication by Palmiro Togliatti, who succeeded him as leader of the Italian communists. According to Togliatti, education and persuasion were the paths to reform toward a classless society, rather than Bolshevism or direct political revolution.

Gramsci’s most influential idea has been what Togliatti called Gramsci’s “theory of hegemony,” whereby the dominant class in society creates not only its own ideology, but also that of the classes dominated by it—all classes share the ideology of the dominant class. Hence, education and persuasion are important to change the social mass mind, so that political change can evolve. In this sense, it could be said that Gramsci was not only a member in spirit of the Frankfurt School, he was also a structuralist.


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