Second in a series of three, this piece explores how Antonio Gramsci builds on the best of Marxist theory and advances it to include concepts, such as hegemony, historic blocs, relations of forces, organic and conjunctural crises, war of maneuver and war of position, permanent and passive revolutions, and organic and traditional intellectuals.

In Part 1 of Gramsci 101, we explored the concepts of organic versus conjunctural crises and the relations of forces framework. An important takeaway from that article is that crisis is the logical outcome of a society structured by domination in which reactionary and revolutionary alliances are in constant conflict for power. Rather than understanding crisis as an aberration, Gramsci urges us to see hegemony, or moments of political stability, as the rare moment in the life of society. Part 1 also outlined one of his most important contributions to Marxist scholarship, an analytical method he calls "relations of forces.” Gramsci describes the method “as a body of practical rules for research and of detailed observations useful for awakening an interest in effective reality and for stimulating more rigorous and more vigorous political insights” (175-176). The relations of forces framework is based on studying power by assessing three levels of social relations: (1) the relations of the material forces of production, (2) relations of political forces, (3) and the relations of military forces. This article builds on the concepts presented in Part 1 and offers several other key concepts, including the relationship between historical blocs and hegemony, war of maneuver…

First in a series of three, this piece explores how Antonio Gramsci builds on the best of Marxist theory and advances it to include concepts, such as hegemony, historic blocs, relations of forces, organic and conjunctural crises, war of maneuver and war of position, permanent and passive revolutions, and organic and traditional intellectuals.

In this prolonged moment of political, economic, and social crises, it's more helpful than ever to engage with the work of Italian, Marxist philosopher and politician Antonio Gramsci. While in prison under Mussolini's fascist regime, Gramsci wrote the Prison Notebooks (PN), a series of essays produced between 1929 and 1935 that addresses how crises emerge and what is required to achieve stability. Gramsci demonstrates that political power, or hegemony, is not won through top-down forms of repression or bottom-up forms of liberal democracy. Instead, it coalesces through the formation of strategic alliances that expand to control the state's civil institutions—examples include public education, mass media, religious organizations, law enforcement, finance and financial services, and real estate development. Furthermore, he shows that the state is not a coercive apparatus, but "an equilibrium between political society and civil society" (PN 5). Rejecting an analysis solely rooted in economy, Gramsci builds on the best of Marxist theory and advances it to include concepts such as hegemony, relations of forces, organic and conjunctural crises, war of maneuver and war of position, and permanent and passive revolution. This article is the first part of a three-part series that outlines Gramsci’s most famous contributions. PART ONE…