The Revolutionary Party: Architect of the New Hegemony
This chapter describes Antonio Gramsci's theory of the revolutionary party, the agency entrusted with the task of formulating and building the new proletarian hegemony. It also considers the following questions: How does he picture its (the party's) internal structure and operations? How does he picture its relationship with the masses? The chapter also tries to illustrate that Gramsci, even at the height of his infatuation with factory councils, always believed that a vanguard party could have a significant co-ordinative role to play, and that the abrupt end of the biennio rosso convinced him of the unsuitability and historical specificity of the consiliar theory he had so strenuously fought for. It is stated, with Davidson, that the ‘displacement of the problem of revolution in the West from the party (theory) and the masses (practice) to the relations and links between them is what constitutes Gramsci's novelty’ — at least with respect to his theory of the party. It is also stressed how this theory blends together insights from various sources. Croce's wish for cultural renewal is combined with Machiavelli's fascination for ‘the political’; Sorel's theory of spontaneous proletarian morality is combined with Lenin's practice of disciplined party leadership.
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