Digital Gramsci

by Carl Dyke

Since I betched awhile back about the unavailability of Antonio Gramsci’s writings online, I am now happy to report the International Gramsci Society’s new effort to digitize his oeuvre. Spinoza, Kant and Nietzsche are online, so why not Gramsci too? For those whose Italian is rustier than mine here’s a rusty translation of the rationale:

The site is intended as a means of democratic diffusion of Gramsci’s works for an increasingly vast global public of readers increasingly less able to invest money in the purchase of books. Indeed, today’s demand for culture and education coming from below has characteristics and forms that must be intercepted and guided. Further, the site is intended to address recent new research methods, which need electronic supports unlike books and offer distinct research opportunities.

Well good for them. But still the old Leninism and just barely getting this newfangled technowhatsis, eh? In my mind there’s always been something retro, nostalgic, not hidebound exactly but sort of genially out-of-touch about the Gramsci scholarship which produces anxious claims of the Master’s enduring relevance (attualita’) with ritual frequency while sternly guarding the Gramscian essence in all the ways guaranteed to keep the cult small. Of course as a historian I’m fine with a past-tense Gramsci. It will be interesting to see if the current effort creates conditions that, intended or not, change the ethos any.

The new portal will be at and is promised within months.

3 Responses to “Digital Gramsci”

  1. I should say that of course the scholarship issue is more complicated than this: the various worldly uses to which Gramsci has been put over the years, including lots of wifty buzzword appropriations, official extractions, and disturbing rationalizations of fringe bad behavior, and the difficulty of deriving a straightforward revolutionary recipe from a huge, fragmentary and non-linear oeuvre, make an assertively cautious / cautiously assertive scholarship fully understandable. Not to mention that there’s nothing unique about that pattern in academic Marxism more generally.

    Just as the Vulgate had consequences for Christianity, I expect easy access to the texts themselves will have some consequences for Gramscism.

  2. Meh, I don’t really think that either. I think Gramscism will keep being a culty little cottage industry with dissipating ripples of fuzzy influence. But I also think Gramsci is good and interesting enough (and the core scholarship likewise) that keeping it all alive and available just in case is a net plus. So, yay digital Gramsci.


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