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

in Historical Materialism
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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.

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

in Historical Materialism

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References

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Carrère d’EncausseHélèneSchrammStuart Le Marxisme et L’Asie 1853–1964 1965 Paris Armand Colin

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5.

Devoto 1974p. 231.

6.

Gramsci 1996Q5§42.

7.

Gramsci 1996Q5§123 pp. 363 and 365.

8.

Q20§4: Gramsci 1995p. 78

9.

Q2§30: Gramsci 1995p. 212.

10.

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

11.

Gramsci 1992aQ2§30; Gramsci 1995 p. 212.

12.

Gramsci 1992aQ2§90; Gramsci 1995 p. 134.

13.

Engels 1955p. 317 note.

14.

Kapuściński 2005p. 209.

15.

Gellner 1984pp. 73–81.

16.

Q5§90: Gramsci 1995p. 135.

17.

Owen 2000p. 18.

18.

Owen 2000pp. 222–5.

19.

Farsoun (ed.) 1985p. 5.

21.

For all this see Gramsci 1992aQ2§30 and Gramsci 1995 pp. 210–11.

23.

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

24.

Q2§90: Gramsci 1992a.

25.

Q2§30: Gramsci 1995p. 212.

29.

Choueiri 2000p. 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.

31.

Gramsci 1994pp. 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 1991p. 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 1995p. 136.

37.

Carr 1966p. 329 n. 3.

41.

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

43.

Cf. Gran 1979.

45.

Gramsci 1995pp. 120–1.

46.

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

47.

Gramsci 2007Q7§62.

48.

Gramsci 2007Q6§32 and Q7§71 respectively.

49.

Gramsci 2007Q7§71.

50.

Gramsci 2007Q7§62.

51.

Gramsci 1994Q2§86.

52.

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

53.

Gramsci 1994Q2§40 dating to early June 1930.

54.

Cf. Gramsci 1994Q1§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 1995pp. 222–3.

57.

Gramsci 2010p. 16.

58.

Gramsci 1996Q3§125.

60.

Gramsci‘Il fronte antisoviettista dell’Onorevole Treves [The Honourable Treves’s Anti-Soviet Front]’ in L’Unità18 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.

63.

Carr 1966pp. 338 and 330 respectively.

64.

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

67.

Gramsci 1978p. 316.

68.

Communist International 1929pp. 28 and 5 respectively.

69.

Spriano 1967p. 502.

70.

Cf. Maxime Rodinson (Rodinson 1988p. 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 1972p. 31 n. 54.

73.

Gramsci 1992aQ1§48 (pp. 160–1).

74.

Q16§37; Gramsci 1975ap. 1646.

75.

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

76.

Gramsci 1992aQ1§43; cf. also the rewritten version of Q19§26 in Gramsci 1971b p. 98.

77.

Gramsci 1992aQ1§43; cf. Gramsci 1971b pp. 101–2.

78.

Gramsci 1992aQ5§90; Gramsci 1995 p. 136.

79.

Gramsci 1992aQ2§90; also Gramsci 1995 p. 133.

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