I mentioned in pt. 3 that Gramsci’s goal of a homogeneous collective revolutionary consciousness might itself be what he called an ‘Enlightenment’ error. And in pt. 4 I poked some fun at the distinctive wigglings of Left intellectuals hoist on this petard. The problem is a fundamentally doomed and therefore frustrated command-and-control model of political action. With Actor Network Theory we get closer to something that can illuminate politics’ unintended consequences by showing how multiple actors in various modes at various scales bump and ooze their way into particular emergent configurations and trajectories.
Emergence is not linear. What you can hope for in non-linear dynamics is outcomes (themselves moments in longer-term emergent processes) somewhere within a range of possibility. Momentum builds, tipping points are reached, little causes produce big effects. In the more ‘ethnographic’ notes in the Notebooks Gramsci shows this happening for capitalism and begins to theorize it for communism. But because in the more synthetic notes he premises capitalism and communism as the procrustean beginning and ending points, there’s only so far he can get with it before defaulting to stretching and cutting expedients. This is a cautionary tale for ANT/Gramscian blogging praxis. The trick would be to keep your options open and your feet moving, that is, to build links across a range of sites and to nudge it all toward tendential assemblages with lots of little angular pushes. Sort of like herding cats.