Islam in Gramsci’s Journalism and Prison Notebooks: The Shifting Patterns of Hegemony

In: Historical Materialism
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  • 1 Scuola Superiore di Lingue Moderne per Interpreti e Traduttori, Università di Bologna

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Abstract

Gramsci recognised the inestimable historical contribution of Muslim and Arab civilisations, writing on these in his newspaper articles, his pre-prison letters and the Prison Notebooks. The Islamic world contemporary with him was largely rural, with the masses heavily influenced by religion, analogous in some ways to Italy whose economy was still largely oriented towards a peasantry among whom the Vatican played a leading (and highly reactionary) role. In addition to factors such as the politics-religion nexus, what Gramsci was also analysing, without saying as much explicitly, was the upheaval caused by the disintegration and dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire, and the inter-imperialist rivalries over the spoils and the construction of new states from its ruins. Here he draws attention to the first hesitant and contradictory anticolonial stances being adopted among the traditional leaders, as well recognising the basis for more popularly-based movements. In both Catholic countries and, as Gramsci knew especially from the experience of his Comintern work, in parts of the Muslim world, these movements could at times assume a left and politically radical orientation. What emerges is a picture of conflicting hegemonies involving principally religion, class, the political ambivalence of many religious leaders, and a burgeoning nationalism contraposed to the supra-nationalist claims of religion. But the factor underlying everything is the potential of the masses who, if awakened from torpor and detached from European colonialism, were judged capable of rupturing previous imperially-determined equilibria.

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  • 5.

    Devoto 1974, p. 231.

  • 6.

    Gramsci 1996, Q5§42.

  • 7.

    Gramsci 1996, Q5§123, pp. 363 and 365.

  • 8.

    Q20§4: Gramsci 1995, p. 78

  • 9.

    Q2§30: Gramsci 1995, p. 212.

  • 10.

    Gramsci, ‘L’armistizio e la pace’, in L’Avanti!, 11 February 1919; now in Gramsci 1984, p. 540.

  • 11.

    Gramsci 1992a, Q2§30; Gramsci 1995, p. 212.

  • 12.

    Gramsci 1992a, Q2§90; Gramsci 1995, p. 134.

  • 13.

    Engels 1955, p. 317, note.

  • 14.

    Kapuściński 2005, p. 209.

  • 15.

    Gellner 1984, pp. 73–81.

  • 16.

    Q5§90: Gramsci 1995, p. 135.

  • 17.

    Owen 2000, p. 18.

  • 18.

    Owen 2000, pp. 222–5.

  • 19.

    Farsoun (ed.) 1985, p. 5.

  • 21.

    For all this, see Gramsci 1992a, Q2§30, and Gramsci 1995, pp. 210–11.

  • 23.

    See again Q2§30 in Gramsci 1992a, and for this literal translation (‘Arab nation’) Gramsci 1995, p. 211.

  • 24.

    Q2§90: Gramsci 1992a.

  • 25.

    Q2§30: Gramsci 1995, p. 212.

  • 29.

    Choueiri 2000, p. 127.

  • 30.

    Gramsci, ‘Delitto e castigo [Crime and Punishment]’, L’Avanti!, 21 March 1918, now in Gramsci 1982, pp. 758–9; also in Gramsci 1975b, pp. 378–9.

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  • 31.

    Gramsci 1994, pp. 152 and 136. See the letters to his sister-in-law Tania of 21 March 1932 (Gramsci 1994) for the direct quote used and of 8 February 1932 for the question of pro-fascist and non-fascist Jewish intellectuals respectively.

  • 32.

    Sraffa 1991, p. 52; letter to Tania of 1 March 1932. Sraffa himself, though a frequent visitor to Italy, had been at Cambridge University since 1927, called there by Keynes.

  • 34.

    Q5§90 in Gramsci 1996 and Gramsci 1995, p. 136.

  • 37.

    Carr 1966, p. 329, n. 3.

  • 41.

    Q2§78 and Gramsci 1995, p. 196; translation quoted from latter version.

  • 43.

    Cf. Gran 1979.

  • 45.

    Gramsci 1995, pp. 120–1.

  • 46.

    Gramsci 1994, Q2§90; and Gramsci 1995, p. 133.

  • 47.

    Gramsci 2007, Q7§62.

  • 48.

    Gramsci 2007, Q6§32 and Q7§71 respectively.

  • 49.

    Gramsci 2007, Q7§71.

  • 50.

    Gramsci 2007, Q7§62.

  • 51.

    Gramsci 1994, Q2§86.

  • 52.

    Gramsci 1994, Q1§149, paragraph headed by Gramsci ‘North and South’.

  • 53.

    Gramsci 1994, Q2§40, dating to early June 1930.

  • 54.

    Cf. Gramsci 1994, Q1§61, dating to early 1930, on the USA, and repeated in Q22§2, for which see Gramsci 1971b, p. 286.

  • 55.

    Q15§5 in Gramsci 1995, pp. 222–3.

  • 57.

    Gramsci 2010, p. 16.

  • 58.

    Gramsci 1996, Q3§125.

  • 60.

    Gramsci, ‘Il fronte antisoviettista dell’Onorevole Treves [The Honourable Treves’s Anti-Soviet Front]’ in L’Unità, 18 May 1925 and also the following day, after seizure of the 18 May issue; now in Gramsci 1971a, p. 397; cf. again ‘La politica estera del Barnum’, Gramsci 1966, p. 219. The wording ‘republics of the Soviets’ is here preferred to ‘Soviet republics’ to emphasise the Soviets as institutions, as Gramsci and others were doing at the time, which is perhaps indicated by ‘soviettista’, used instead of ‘sovietico’, which later became dominant and took on the nature of an adjective almost of nationality. For strike action in the Middle East, see for example the fairly frequent articles from Jerusalem of ‘J.B.’, published in Inprecorr.

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  • 63.

    Carr 1966, pp. 338 and 330 respectively.

  • 64.

    Gramsci 1996, Q3§12; for its rewritten form, Q25§1, see Gramsci 1995, p. 53.

  • 67.

    Gramsci 1978, p. 316.

  • 68.

    Communist International 1929, pp. 28 and 5 respectively.

  • 69.

    Spriano 1967, p. 502.

  • 70.

    Cf. Maxime Rodinson (Rodinson 1988, p. 100), citing the ‘celebrated letter to the secretariat of their party by French communists in Sidi-Bel-Abbès, in Algeria’, published in Carrère d’Encausse and Schramm 1965, pp. 268–71.

  • 71.

    Safarov 1922.

  • 72.

    Cf. Ageron 1972, p. 31, n. 54.

  • 73.

    Gramsci 1992a, Q1§48 (pp. 160–1).

  • 74.

    Q16§37; Gramsci 1975a, p. 1646.

  • 75.

    Cf. Q16§11 in Gramsci 1995, p. 66, and its first draft in Gramsci 1996, Q4§53; see also Q25§1 in Gramsci 1995, p. 53.

  • 76.

    Gramsci 1992a, Q1§43; cf. also the rewritten version of Q19§26, in Gramsci 1971b, p. 98.

  • 77.

    Gramsci 1992a, Q1§43; cf. Gramsci 1971b, pp. 101–2.

  • 78.

    Gramsci 1992a, Q5§90; Gramsci 1995, p. 136.

  • 79.

    Gramsci 1992a, Q2§90; also Gramsci 1995, p. 133.

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