The Campaigner

The Campaigner

fantasies into reality, it appeals to a mechanistic force to council. The workers thus found themselves

effect the transformation. It appeals to a more drastic faced with a vacuum and continued to perform the

magic. Underlying all of Gramsci's theoretical writings is suicidally limited anarchosyndicalist dance. What was

this profound belief in magic, in the notion that words, lacking was a sense of exponential expansion of the

once ordered on a page, may become "flesh" in the struggle in a form the soviet capable of

dynamics of the class struggle. In essence, what is the concretizing and carrying that potential to ever vaster

factory council? Simply, the projection on a sociological layers of the class.

plane of the secret self, the scared impotent self hiding Gramsci sabotaged the one great moment for his own

its fear under the mask of cazzista bravado and creativity by saying no to the workers' itch for something

militance! more. Masochistically, he censored his own incipient

Withdrawing into its own precisely articulated limits, creativity in order to preserve the suffering self. By

it nurtures the fantasy that it can magically make the sabotaging the objective situation which could have freed

revolution. It never can, because, like the secret self, it him, he doomed hundreds of thousands of workers to

cannot tolerate a relation with reality on pain of death -- misery and despair.

the destruction of the fantasy itself. Gramsci in 1920, indeed in all his life, was incapable

Gramsci's writings on revolutionary organizing, of love.

already cited, are full of this sense of magic; the

"inevitable" flow of history is supposed to make the How many times have I asked myself if it was possible

to bind oneself to the masses when one had never loved

factory council the "primary cell" of the revolution, etc.,

anyone, not even one's own relatives, if it was possible

etc. Nowhere in his writings is there any indication of to lovethecollectivityifonehadnot deeply loved single

how this is to come about, nor would it be possible for human creatures. Wouldn't that have had reflexes on

Gramsci to pose the question in terms of dynamic my life as a militant, wouldn't it have made my

revolutionary quality sterile, reduced it to a pure inprocesses

because the essence of magic is precisely tellectual fact, a mathematical calculation?...(118)

this mechanist notion of reality as governed by unseen

forces propitiated into action by incantation. Gramsci could not love in the necessary sense of

When Gramsci got annoyed at workers who asked him encouraging the development of man's capacities to

what to do he was actually saying this: the councils are develop further. In the mass-strike ferment, he was

there, so they should act as my theory dictates. The incapable of forcing working-class leaders to develop

councils, on paper, were expected to translate the new, conscious, revolutionary formations. The shriveled

symmetrical, mechanistic plan into reality, despite the connection to his wife Gramsci hints at in his letter does

stubborn sociological and psychological nature of that indeed exist; it is the very basis of his social relations and

reality. When the magic didn't work, Gramsci was politics. What Gramsci sees, though, is only the formal

annoyed, and he fled the scene. Later he covered up for indication of a link, almost a romantic reflection on his

the misfire by pretending it had never happened that personal torment as somehow related to the decimation

way, by calling the occupation a success. Still later, in of the working class under fascism.

1924, he went so far as to say that the chances for What Gramscimisses is the content of the relationship

revolution were better under fascism than before! between interpersonal love and love in a socialist, social

I am persuaded that the current situation is more sense.

favorable to the success of the revolution than in 1919- Hysterically protecting the integrity of the council, the

1920. Then, after the revolution, with a party like the

PSI, with a working class that in general...preferred isolated, terrified, alienated self -- his own mind,

songs and fanfares to sacritices, we would have had intellectuality -- Gramsci in effect denied the existence

counterrevolutionary attempts which would have of the other, the rest of the working class, and denied the

whisked us away totally... (117) possibility for this class to develop itself as a class.

In the occupation of the factories, the social forces in That he has no conception of program is perfectly

play moved lawfully in the mass-strike process beyond coherent with his refusal to see production as a

the pre-established limits of the trade-union struggle, developing, expanding process. Thus he could not

The workers, though as ignorant as Gramsci of the supersede the other cripples of his generation and

principles of classwide revolutionary organizing, achieve an understanding of the content of revolutionary

chaotically pressured trade-union and party formations organizing as centered around a program for expanded

from the inside, blindly, anarchistically reaching out. social reproduction. Gramsci could only retreat into his

Gramsci, terrified by this chaos of potential expan- internal hell of fantasy and pain, striving to ward off the

sion, clung to the old familiar formation, the factory giant spider.


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