Every once in awhile friends are kind enough to describe me as a gramscian, as when Levi wondered in relation to the commentary on the grey vampires post how a “Gramscian would participate in such ugly exchanges, much less make his blog a venue for such remarks.”
In response to this particular query I would say that I am never more gramscian than when I supply a venue for the free exchange of objectionable ideas. Of all the marxists Gramsci was perhaps the most open to the messy diversity of what I called in my dissertation ‘sociological consciousness’ and he called ‘common sense’, that is, all the junk that actual people actually think (as opposed to what they’re supposed to think for theoretical convenience). He thought you’ve got to work with what’s out there, not what you wish was out there, which is pretty much the main thing I like about him. For more on this you could start here (pdf).
Even so, I would not say that I consider myself a gramscian exactly. He was a revolutionary and I’m not. And although I’m on the listserv I’m not part of that dedicated cadre of aficionados who labor assiduously to keep Gramsci’s work and memory alive. I’ve read just about every word he ever wrote and back when I was writing my dissertation I probably knew as much about him and his thought as anyone in the world. I think he was wicked smart, I learned a lot from him and he’s part of my conceptual toolbox. But when there’s something I want to understand or talk about I don’t go to Gramsci as my default source, or try to shoehorn every issue into something he said. It is possible to do that of course, but I’d rather go to someone who got at the issue directly than try to reconstruct what Gramsci might have thought about it. In short, I am not religious about Gramsci in the way that earns a disciple label.
Still, when it comes time to pony up some piece of ephemeral scholarship Gramsci is indeed my go-to guy, so when Mikhail suggested that the always-interesting Rethinking Marxism conference might be a good occasion to meet for some beverage and chat I shot out a proposal for a paper on Gramsci, ANT and the practice of bloggery. I think it might possibly be interesting (and very helpful to me) if I rero (release early, release often) stuff from that paper here as I work through it. So after this post has had a chance to settle I’ll start by sketching out what I think Gramsci, ANT and blogging might have to do with each other. Hint: it has something to do with the ‘journalistic’ mode of conceptual micropractice discussed in the comments on the Latour/Bloom post.