Kerim Friedman on Gramsci

by johnmccreery

Carl, this should be right up your alley. Kerim Freidman has written an interesting piece on misreadings of Gramsci on Savage Minds. Since you are our resident Gramsci expert, I would like to hear what you have to say about it.

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One Comment to “Kerim Friedman on Gramsci”

  1. I liked Kerim’s piece very much, and generally appreciate his work. That said, he’s doing something a lot different with Gramsci than I do, which is to use him as a resource and inspiration for scholarly activism. I think that’s consistent with Gramsci’s own practice, so it’s entirely appropriate. But I have no interest in activism, and I don’t like the way an activist agenda truncates and flattens quality analysis, which would be where I’d take issue with Kerim’s remarks if I cared to do so. I think there’s need for understanding that doesn’t leap to hand-wringing and side-taking.

    Gramsci’s prison notebooks are interesting to me because they quite consciously enact the latter ethic, and in doing so create a rich analytical network that doesn’t work very well for targeting movement politics. I remember getting in an argument at a conference some years back with Kate Crehan, one of the real shining stars of the Gramscian anthropological set, about whether there was any basis for comparison of Bourdieu and Gramsci. She thought it was obvious there wasn’t, and I thought it was obvious there was. This disagreement was diagnostic. Bourdieu was certainly nothing like Gramsci in his political commitments. But their analytical approaches overlapped in some fascinating and productive ways, as I’ve outlined here in the past. To the political Gramscists, therefore, it’s tremendously important to intercept the comparison, because it shows that there’s nothing necessary about the political conclusions they (and Gramsci himself) draw from the analysis.

    But. I teach a 4/4 load to mostly underclassmen who have never even heard of Marx, and getting them up to a speed where it becomes barely possible to have satisfying conversations about how stuff works chews through most of my bandwidth. I’m just not in a material situation that enables responsible engagement in these sectarian discussions. I know plenty to feel confident that I’ve got some things right, but no time or headspace (or sense of payoff, frankly) to actually construct the arguments it would take to be ‘in the game’. So rather than eat my heart out about it, I just appreciate that they’re up to a project that despite its superficial similarities to mine is actually orthogonal to it, and wish them well.

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