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Man's pains and pains' relief are from within.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."
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Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C 

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TAMIL NATION LIBRARY: Politics

  • Gramsci,
    James Joll, 1977
    , Fontana Modern Masters

Gramsci[see also 1. An Introduction to Gramsci's Life and Thought - Frank Rosengarten Antonio Gramsci was born on January 22, 1891 in Ales in the province of Cagliari in Sardinia...  In the spring of 1919, Gramsci,  founded L'Ordine Nuovo: Rassegna Settimanale di Cultura Socialista (The New Order: A Weekly Review of Socialist Culture), which became an influential periodical...  On the evening of November 8, 1926, Gramsci was arrested in Rome and, in accordance with a series of "Exceptional Laws" enacted by the fascist-dominated Italian legislature, committed to solitary confinement at the Regina Coeli prison ...This began a ten-year odyssey, marked by almost constant physical and psychic pain as a result of a prison experience that culminated, on April 27, 1937, in his death from a cerebral hemorrhage. No doubt the stroke that killed him was but the final outcome of years and years of illnesses that were never properly treated in prison... Gramsci's intellectual work in prison did not emerge in the light of day until several years after World War II... By the 1950s, and then with increasing frequency and intensity, his prison writings attracted interest and critical commentary in a host of countries, not only in the West but in the so-called third world as well. Some of his terminology became household words on the left, the most important of which, and the most complex, is the term "hegemony" as he used it in his writings...  Also extremely pertinent, both theoretically and practically, were such terms and phrases as "organic intellectual"... and

2. Antonio Gramsci - Monica Stillo ]


From the back flap: 'Who has really attempted to follow up the ' explorations of Marx and Engels? I can only think of Gramsci.' Of a man who died at the age of forty-six leaving only a number of newspaper articles and a collection of often fragmentary and disjointed notebooks, and who had spent the last ten years of his life as Mussolini's prisoner, this claim by Louis Althusser, the French Marxist, is indeed remarkable. But in this study James Joll demonstrates why ; Antonio Gramsci (1891-1937) has become not only ' a significant contemporary guide to revolutionary action, but also a representative intellectual hero of our time. Quoting extensively from Gramsci's own writings - the Prison Notebooks, the Letters from Prison, the political journalism -James Joll integrates the twin aspects of his achievement: Gramsci the active ' politician, of the Turin Factory Council Movement, the formation of the Italian Communist Party, the opposition to the Fascists; and Gramsci the Marxist ideologue, of historical materialism and `hegemony,' 'active' and 'passive' revolution, 'traditional' and 'organic' intellectuals, `democratic centralism' and the 'Philosophy of praxis.'

Gramsci on the Organic Intellectual:

  1. "Man can affect his own development and that of his surroundings only so far as he has a clear view of what the possibilities of action open to him are. To do this he has to understand the historical situation in which he finds himself: and once he does this, then he can play an active part in modifying that situation. The man of action is the true philosopher: and the philosopher must of necessity be a man of action.

  2. 'Man does not enter into relations with the natural world just by being himself part of it but actively by means of work and technique. Further, these relations are not mechanical. They are active and conscious... Each of us changes himself, modifies himself to the extent that he changes and modifies the complex relations of which he is the heart. In this sense, the real philosopher is, and cannot be other than the politician, the active man who modifies his environment, understanding by environment the ensemble of relations which each one of us enters to take part in it. If one's individuality is the ensemble of these relations, to create one's personality means to acquire consciousness of them, and to modify one's own personality means to modify the ensemble of these relations.'
  3. "Each man ... carries on some form of intellectual activity, that is, he is a 'philosopher', ...he participates in a particular conception of the world, has a conscious line of moral conduct and therefore contributes to sustain a conception of the world or to modify it, that is, to bring into being new modes of thought... All men are intellectuals . . . but not all men have in society the function of intellectuals. Thus, because it can happen that everyone at some time fries a couple of eggs or sews up a tear in his jacket, we do not necessarily say that everyone is a cook or a tailor."

  4. "...as time goes on, intellectual groups. which once performed an organic function, lose their links with a particular class and 'put themselves forward as autonomous and independent of the dominant social group... The whole of idealist philosophy can easily be defined as the expression of that social Utopia by which the intellectuals think of themselves as "independent", autonomous, endowed with a character of their own.'  But this feeling of independence is, of course, an illusion. Croce and other liberal idealist philosophers are inevitably linked to the class-structure of the society in which they live, and are as much bound to the industrialists the ruling class of the liberal society of their day of whose liberalism they are the spokesmen as the Catholic priesthood was to the feudal aristocracy..."
  5. "...The error of the intellectual consists in believing that it is possible to know without understanding and especially without feeling and passion... that the intellectual can be an intellectual if he is distinct and detached from the people-nation, without feeling the elemental passions of the people, understanding them and thus explaining them in a particular historical situation, connecting them dialectically to the laws of history, to a superior conception of the world... History and politics cannot be made without passion, without this emotional bond between intellectuals and the people-nation. In the absence of such a bond the relations between intellectuals and the people-nation are reduced to contacts of a purely bureaucratic, formal kind; the intellectuals become a caste or a priesthood..."

  6. "The mode of being of the new intellectuals can no longer consist in eloquence, which is an exterior and momentary mover of feelings and passions, but in active participation in practical life, as constructor, organizer, 'permanent persuader' and not just a simple orator.."

  7. "One has, to struggle against . . . the false heroisms and pseudo aristocracies and stimulate the formation of homogeneous, compact social blocs, which will give birth to their own intellectuals, their own commandos, their own vanguard - who in turn will react upon those blocs in order to develop them. "

  8. "The position of the philosophy of praxis is the antithesis of that of catholicism. It does not tend to leave the `simple' in their primitive philosophy of common sense, but rather to lead them to a higher conception of life. If it affirms the need for contact between intellectuals and 'simple' it is not in order to restrict scientific activity and preserve unity at the low level of the masses, but precisely in order to construct an intellectual-moral bloc which can make politically possible the intellectual progress of the mass and not only of small intellectual groups..."
 

 

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