Antonio Gramsci 1917
Source: Il Grido del Popolo,
March 3, 1917;
Translated: by Mitchell Abidor;
CopyLeft: Creative Commons (Attribute & ShareAlike)
Our adversaries don’t worry themselves with judging the attitude of
socialists in the same way as they do principles and methods that the socialists
have always professed and followed. Doing do this would mean truly considering
them and doing something concrete. They don’t even attempt this judgment, being
incapable of it.
They lose their way when placed before men of character, grope about in the
darkness, giving up all hope in the blind alleys of gossip, of slander, of
defamation. They don’t understand a straightforward, strictly coherent demeanor.
They are hypnotized by facts, by current events. They don’t understand the man
of character, who weighs and judges facts not in and of themselves as much as in
their relationship with the past and the future; that facts are thus judged
primarily for their effect, their eternal nature. They are mystics of the fact.
And a mystic can’t judge: he can only bless or hate.
But this is the strength of Italian socialists. To have preserved character.
To have succeeded in defeating sentimentality, to have succeeded in throttling
the throbbing of the heart as a stimulus to action, as a stimulus to the
manifestations of collective life. In this period of history the Italian
Socialists have realized for historic ends humanity in its most perfect form. A
humanity that doesn’t fall into the easy traps of illusion. A humanity that has
rejected as useless and harmful the inferior forms of spiritual life: the
impulses of the tender heart and sentimentality.
They have rejected this consciously. Because they knew how to assimilate the
teachings of their greatest teachers, as well as the teachings that are
spontaneously produced by bourgeois reality, bitten into by the reagents of
socialist criticism. The Italian Socialists have remained steadfast in their
ranks determined by the demands of the social class. As a collective they are
not disturbed by the painful spectacles that are presented to them. As a
collective they don’t faint when the still breathing corpse of a murdered child
is thrown at their feet. The commotion that every individual has felt, the
heartache, the sympathy that every individual has felt hasn’t scratched the
granite-like compactness of the class.
If every individual has a heart, the class, as such, does not have a heart in
the sense that feeble humanism usually gives it. The class has a will, the class
has a character. All of its life is molded by this determination, this
character, with nothing left over. As a class it can have no other form of
solidarity than that of class, no other form of struggle than that of class, no
other nation than the class, that is, the International. Its heart is nothing
but the consciousness of its class being, the consciousness of its ends, the
consciousness of its future. Of the future that is its alone, for which it
demands the solidarity and collaboration of no one, for which it doesn’t desire
the throbbing of anyone’s heart. There only throbs, in its immense dynamic and
creative potential, its tenacious determination, implacable towards all who are
foreign to it.
Our adversaries don’t understand this. In Italy character is not understood.
And this is the only thing in which the Socialists can benefit and have
benefited Italianness. They have given Italy that which it has lacked up till
the present moment: A living and dramatically throbbing example of an adamantine
and superbly proud character.