A Dialectical Pedagogy of Revolt

Gramsci, Vygotsky, and the Egyptian Revolution

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In A Dialectical Pedagogy of RevoltBrecht De Smet offers an intellectual dialogue between the political theory of Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci and the cultural psychology of Soviet thinker Lev Vygotsky within the framework of the Egyptian 25 January Revolution. Their encounter affirms the enduring need for a coherent theory of the revolutionary subject in the era of global capitalism, based on a political pedagogy of subaltern hegemony, solidarity, and reciprocal education.

Investigating the political and economic lineages and outcomes of the mass uprising of Tahrir Square, De Smet discusses the emancipatory achievements and hegemonic failures of the Egyptian workers’ and civil democratic movements from the perspective of their (in)ability to construct a genuine dialectical pedagogy.

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Biographical Note

Brecht De Smet, Ph.D. (2012), Ghent University, is a post-doctoral researcher and lecturer at that university. He has published on Gramsci, subject formation, and the Egyptian workers’ movement, including “Revolution and Counter-Revolution in Egypt” ( Science & Society 78(1), 2014).

Table of contents

Foreword by Andy Blunden
Preface
Acknowledgments
Abbreviations

Introduction

PART I: SUBJECT AND ACTIVITY

1. In Want of the People
People and Population
The People and the Régime

2. Individual and Collective
Mind and Body
Transcendental Subject
Activity
Collective Subjectivity

3. Concept of the Subject
Gestalt, Bildung, Urphänomen
Formation of Consciousness, Concept
Practical-Critical Activity
Social Formation, Cell-Form

4. Cultural-Historical Activity Theory
Unit of Analysis
Learning and Development
Activity as Collaboration
Conclusions

PART II: SUBJECT AND STRUGGLE

5. Class as Subject
Political and Human Emancipation
The Proletariat as Subject
Actual and Logical Development

6. The Modern Prince
The Strike as Cell-Form
Trade Unionism
The Economic and the Political
Demonstration and Party
Proletarian Hegemony

7. A Pedagogy of Revolt
Learning and Instruction
Philosophy of Praxis
Intellectuals and Assistance

8. Revolution
Growth and Crisis
Revolution
The Mass Strike
Movement, Position, Underground

9. Pathologies
Iron Law of Oligarchy?
Revolution-Restoration
Inadequate Instruction
Substitutionism

PART III: HISTORICAL LINEAGES

10. Roots of the 25 January Uprising
Surprised by the Expected
Original Accumulation and Extended Reproduction
Uneven and Combined Development
Permanent Revolution

11. Colonial Subjects
At the Doorstep of Capitalism
A Colonial Historical Bloc
Development of the Strike
Revolution

12. Colonial Crisis
Dependent Development
The Road to Trade Unionism
The Muslim Brotherhood
The Second Wave of Communism
Organic Crisis

13. Nasserism
The Nasserist Intervention
Escaping Colonialism
Officers and Workers
The Concept of Nasserism
A Caesarist Pathology

PART IV: NEOLIBERAL CAPITALISM

14. Sadat’s Infitah
Crisis of Nasserism
Capitalist Offensive
Strikes and Demonstrations
Islamic Fascism?
Crisis and Defeat

15. Mubarak’s Détente
Politics of a Rentier Economy
Absorption of the Brotherhood
Absorption of the Left
Absorption of the Workers

16. Neoliberal War of Movement
Neoliberal Counter-Reform
Subordinating the Subaltern
Subordinating the Elites

17. The Civildemocratic Project
Crisis of the ‘Legal Left’
A New Left
Rise of Street Politics
Brothers and Comrades
The End of the Political Line

PART V: THE WORKERS’ MOVEMENT

18. The Mahalla Strikes
Ghazl al-Mahalla
On the Offensive
Insurrection

19. Development of the Strike
Systematization
Interiorization
Projection
Mahalla’s Defeat
The First Independent Trade Union
Snowball Trade Unionism

20. The Strike’s Intellectuals
Organic Intellectuals
A Return to Class
The Old Left
The New Left
Muslim Brothers
Journalists
Artists
Human Rights Activists

21. Pedagogies of Revolt
Forms of Assistance
Modes of Assistance
Colonization
Commodification
Solidarity
Educating the Educators

22. Adequate Assistance
Boundaries of Instruction
Limits of the Economic Line
Limits of the Political Line


PART VI: TAHRIR

23. Story of an Uprising (I)
The Tension Mounts
Tunisian Prolepsis
25 January
Keeping the Fire Going
Friday of Anger

24. Story of an Uprising (II)
Gaining Confidence
Battle of the Camel
Remaining Steadfast
Day of Departure

25. The Activity of Tahrir
Extended Reproduction
Demonstration
Occupation
The Whip of Counterrevolution

26. the Organization of Tahrir
Spontaneous Organization
Technical Assistance
Cultural Instruction
Leadership
Immanence and Teleology
Projection

27. The Mass Strike
Workers as National-Popular Actors
Workers as Class Actors
The Economic and the Political

28. Revolutionary Pathologies
Lack of a Center
Caesarism Again?
The End of the People
Soviets?

29. Revolution beyond Tahrir
From Cell-Form to Symbol
A Civil Counterrevolution
Popular Uprising and Military Coup
Many Princes
Popular or Proletarian?

CONCLUSIONS

Permanent Deflections of Revolution
Class Formation and Anti-Imperialism
Independent Trade Unionism
Nasserist Deflection
Neoliberal War of Movement
Uprising and Deflection

A Pedagogy of Revolt
Interiorization
Forms and Modes of Assistance
Zone of Proximal Development
A Self-Reflecting Note

References
Interviews
Literature

Index

Readership

Political scientists, philosophers, activists, and post-graduate students interested in Gramsci or subject theory; area experts and post-graduate students concerned with contemporary Egypt; specialists in cultural studies, education, and activity theory engaged with Vygotsky; specialists in labour studies.

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