Antonio Gramsci quotes

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Antonio Gramsci

Birthdate: 22. January 1891
Date of death: 27. April 1937

Antonio Francesco Gramsci was an Italian Marxist philosopher and communist politician. He wrote on political theory, sociology and linguistics. He attempted to break from the economic determinism of traditional Marxist thought and so is considered a key neo-Marxist. He was a founding member and one-time leader of the Communist Party of Italy and was imprisoned by Benito Mussolini's Fascist regime.

Gramsci wrote more than 30 notebooks and 3,000 pages of history and analysis during his imprisonment. His Prison Notebooks are considered a highly original contribution to 20th century political theory. Gramsci drew insights from varying sources – not only other Marxists but also thinkers such as Niccolò Machiavelli, Vilfredo Pareto, Georges Sorel and Benedetto Croce. The notebooks cover a wide range of topics, including Italian history and nationalism, the French Revolution, fascism, Fordism, civil society, folklore, religion and high and popular culture.

Gramsci is best known for his theory of cultural hegemony, which describes how the state and ruling capitalist class – the bourgeoisie – use cultural institutions to maintain power in capitalist societies. The bourgeoisie, in Gramsci's view, develops a hegemonic culture using ideology rather than violence, economic force, or coercion. Hegemonic culture propagates its own values and norms so that they become the "common sense" values of all and thus maintain the status quo. Hegemonic power is therefore used to maintain consent to the capitalist order, rather than coercive power using force to maintain order. This cultural hegemony is produced and reproduced by the dominant class through the institutions that form the superstructure.

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Prison Notebooks
Prison Notebooks
Antonio Gramsci

„To tell the truth, to arrive together at the truth, is a communist and revolutionary act.“

—  Antonio Gramsci

Letter from Prison (21 June 1919), translated by Hamish Henderson, Edinburgh University Student Publications.

„Pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will.“

—  Antonio Gramsci

Variant: Pessimism of the spirit; optimism of the will.

„I’m a pessimist because of intelligence, but an optimist because of will.“

—  Antonio Gramsci

Letter from Prison (19 December 1929); also attributed to Romain Rolland.
Source: Gramsci's Prison Letters

„History is at once freedom and necessity.“

—  Antonio Gramsci

Selections from the Prison Notebooks (1971).

„To tell the truth is revolutionary.“

—  Antonio Gramsci

The first number of L'Ordine Nuovo, edited by Gramsci, appeared in 1921 with this motto of Ferdinand Lassalle on the first page. It is often misattributed to Gramsci.
Misattributed

„The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear.“

—  Antonio Gramsci, Prison Notebooks

Original: (it) La crisi consiste appunto nel fatto che il vecchio muore e il nuovo non può nascere: in questo interregno si verificano i fenomeni morbosi piú svariati.
Source: :s:Pagina:Gramsci - Quaderni del carcere, Einaudi, I.djvu/318 § (34). Passato e presente.
English translation Selections from the Prison Notebooks, “Wave of Materialism” and “Crisis of Authority” (NY: International Publishers), (1971), pp. 275-276.
Prison Notebooks Volume II, Notebook 3, 1930, (2011 edition) SS-34, Past and Present 32-33,

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„The old world is dying, and the new world struggles to be born: now is the time of monsters.“

—  Antonio Gramsci

Loose translation, commonly attributed to Gramsci by Slavoj Žižek, presumably formulation by Žižek (see below).
Presumably a translation from a loose French translation by Gustave Massiah; strict English with cognate terms and glosses:
Le vieux monde se meurt, le nouveau monde tarde à apparaître et dans ce clair-obscur surgissent les monstres
The old world is dying, the new world tardy (slow) to appear and in this chiaroscuro (light-dark) surge (emerge) monsters.
“ Mongo Beti, une conscience noire, africaine, universelle http://www.liberationafrique.org/imprimersans.php3?id_article=16&nom_site=Lib%C3%A9ration”, Gustave Massiah, CEDETIM, août 2002 ( archive https://web.archive.org/web/20160304061734/http://www.liberationafrique.org/imprimersans.php3?id_article=16&nom_site=Lib%C3%A9ration, 2016-03-04)
“Mongo Beti, a Black, African, Universal Conscience”, Gustave Massiah, CEDETIM, August 2002
Collected in: Remember Mongo Beti, Ambroise Kom, 2003, p. 149 https://books.google.com/books?id=6YgdAQAAIAAJ&q=%22Le+vieux+monde+se+meurt,+le+nouveau+monde+tarde+%C3%A0+appara%C3%AEtre+et+dans+ce+clair-obscur+surgissent+les+monstres%22.
Original, with literal English translation (see above):
La crisi consiste appunto nel fatto che il vecchio muore e il nuovo non può nascere: in questo interregno si verificano i fenomeni morbosi piú svariati.
The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear.
Similar sentiments are widespread in revolutionary rhetoric; see: No, Žižek did not attribute a Goebbels quote to Gramsci http://thecharnelhouse.org/2015/07/03/no-zizek-did-not-attribute-a-goebbels-quote-to-gramsci/, Ross Wolfe, 2015-07-03
Misattributed
Source: Selections from the Prison Notebooks

„History teaches, but it has no pupils.“

—  Antonio Gramsci

Letter from Prison (21 June 1919), translated by Hamish Henderson, Edinburgh University Student Publications.

„Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Etiam egestas wisi a erat. Morbi imperdiet, mauris ac auctor dictum.“

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