The Dialectic of Position and Maneuver

Understanding Gramsci’s Military Metaphor


In The Dialectic of Position and Maneuver, Daniel Egan examines the role that the military metaphors of war of position and war of maneuver play in Antonio Gramsci’s social theory. The foundation for this analysis is the different ways in which Marxists have understood war and military strategy since the mid-nineteenth century. In doing so, Egan argues that the distinction between war of position and war of maneuver which is so central to Gramsci’s work as well as contemporary interpretations of his work must be understood in a more dialectical manner. This conclusion is important not only in terms of Gramsci’s social theory, but also for understanding the limits and possibilities of contemporary political strategies for the left worldwide.
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Biographical Note

Daniel Egan, Ph.D. in Sociology, Boston College, 1994, is Professor of Sociology at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. His major research and teaching areas are social theory, political sociology, and globalization. His current work focuses on the intersection between military doctrine and social theory.

Table of contents

Acknowledgments 1. Introduction: Marxism and the Military Metaphor 2. Gramsci’s Marxism Working Class Organization and Revolutionary Politics Political Relations of Power 3. War of Maneuver and War of Position War as Metaphor Analysis of the Metaphor 4. Marxism and Insurrection Engels and Insurrection Lenin, Trotsky and Insurrection The Communist International and Insurrection The Gramscian Nature of Insurrection 5. Soviet Military Doctrine Creating the Red Army Soviet Military Science: Tactics, Operational Art, Strategy Deep Battle and Gramsci’s War of Position 6 Marxism and Guerrilla Warfare People’s War The Foco The Gramscian Character of Guerrilla Warfare 7. Conclusion: Lessons for Socialist Political Strategy The Dialectic of Position and Maneuver The Gramscian War of Position and Twenty-First Century Socialism References Index


Anyone interested in Gramsci, Marxist theory more generally, or contemporary left political strategy.