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Gramsci's Political ThoughtHegemony, Consciousness, and the Revolutionary Process$
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Joseph V. Femia

Print publication date: 1987

Print ISBN-13: 9780198275435

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198275435.001.0001

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Proletarian Hegemony and the Question of Authoritarianism

Proletarian Hegemony and the Question of Authoritarianism

(p.165) Chapter 5 Proletarian Hegemony and the Question of Authoritarianism
Gramsci's Political Thought

Joseph V. Femia

Oxford University Press

This chapter sets out Antonio Gramsci's rather sketchy ideas about the future of society and addresses the vexed question, prominent in the secondary literature, whether ‘hegemony’ constitutes a justification for bureaucratic collectivism and totalitarian thought control. It discusses Gramsci as Stalinist totalitarian. It also defends a ‘democratic’ interpretation of Gramsci; but, at the outset, it concedes that he was no liberal — certainly not in the 20th-century sense. In addition, it argues that the alternative to liberalism is not necessarily authoritarianism. Gramsci's lack of clarity and consistency on the question of dissent mirrors the ambiguity which resides in the concept of democratic centralism itself. He also never really cleared the problem of who would define the new world-view; nor did he manage to delineate clearly the appropriate region of human liberty. All his formulations are unsatisfactory to those who do not share his boundless faith in a dialectical interplay between a central authority and the aspirations of a mass movement.

Keywords:   proletarian hegemony, authoritarianism, Antonio Gramsci, society, bureaucratic collectivism, Stalinist totalitarian

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