Antonio Gramsci 1891-1937

Antonio Gramsci Reader: VI Hegemony, Relations of Force, Historical Bloc

5 [Ethico-Political History]

SCW, 104-7 (Q10,Iž7), 1932-35

Definition of the concept of ethico-political history. Note that ethico-political history is an arbitrary and mechanical hypostasis of the moment of hegemony, of political leadership, of consent in the life and activities of the state and civil society. [...]

The most important problem to discuss in this paragraph is this: whether the philosophy of praxis excludes ethico-political history, whether it fails to recognize the reality of a moment of hegemony, treats moral and cultural leadership as unimportant and really judges superstructural facts as ‘appearances’. One can say that not only does the philosophy of praxis not exclude ethico-political history but that, indeed, in its most recent stage of development, it consists precisely in asserting the moment of hegemony as essential to its conception of the state and to the ‘accrediting’ of the cultural fact, of cultural activity, of a cultural front as necessary alongside the merely economic and political ones. Croce commits the serious error of not applying to his criticism of the philosophy of praxis the methodological criteria that he applies to his study of much less important and significant philosophical currents. If he were to employ these criteria, he would be able to discover that the judgment contained in his attribution of the term ‘appearance’ to superstructures is none other than a judgment of their ‘historicity’ expressed in opposition to popular dogmatic conceptions and therefore couched in a ‘metaphorical’ language adapted to the public to whom it is destined. The philosophy of praxis thus judges the reduction of history to ethico-political history alone as improper and arbitrary, but does not exclude the latter. The opposition between Crocism and the philosophy of praxis is to be sought in the speculative character of Crocism.