Ambivalence in Gramsci’s Historiography of the Risorgimento
This article explores an ambivalence in Gramsci’s account of the Risorgimento (Italian Unification). Was it the result of some exceptional weakness in Italy’s liberal democratic culture or was it in line with the convergence of capitalist state formation from the mid-nineteenth century? I explore this question in relation to Gramsci’s key concepts and Marx’s The Eighteenth Brumaire of Napoleon Bonaparte. I also look at Gramsci’s thinking around intellectuals. The goal of the article is to rescue Gramsci from readings that amount to apologetics for liberalism. Liberalism is the political culture of the historical bloc in capitalism and any substantive extension of democracy beyond liberal parameters will provoke attempts to suspend democracy from the extreme right.
Roadmaps After Corbyn
Developing my analysis of British political cultures in England’s Discontents, this essay in New Left Review analyses why Corbynism failed in the Labour Party and why the Left cannot win inside it.
The Dialectical Image
This video essay is a philosophical exploration of ‘experience’ and how Marxism and aesthetic cultural thinking around the ‘dialectical image’ can help us recover experience in meaningful ways in the context of what happens to experience under capitalism.
Going Forwards, Facing Backwards
This is the final chapter from my book England’s Discontents, Political Cultures and National Identities. Drawing on the preceding analysis within the book, this chapter tries to assess the prospects of constructing a new historic bloc (Gramsci) out of the crisis of the Neo-liberal, conservative and liberal power bloc that has fractured but not yet been dislodged as the dominant policy paradigm.
This essay explores the social and political role and significance of the intellectuals within capitalist society. It sets out to define the intellectual and the nature of what they produce (ideas) and their relationship to broader class relations. It shows how key Marxist thinkers provide the basis for a socio-economic understanding of the activities and products of the intellectual. At the heart of transforming the current role of the intellectual within the existing divisions of labour, lies the project to democratise the social role of the intellectuals.
The Dialectical Image: Kant, Marx and Adorno.
This chapter from the anthology Marx at the Movies explores the origins of the dialectical image in the philosophical architecture of Kant and the implications of his aesthetic turn in the Third Critique. I then trace the importance of cognitive metaphor in the work of Marx before turning to the way ‘images’ and concepts were dialectically reworked in the philosophy of Benjamin and Adorno. I connect these debates to film by thinking about how the figure of the zombie in the work of George Romero dialectically reconfigured the thematics of alienation around the living and the dead.
Beneath the Bias, the Crisis: The Press, the Independent Media and the Scottish Referendum
This essay examines the coverage of the Scottish referendum of 2014 by the press in the context of a multi-nation state with diverging political cultures. Evidence of press bias is assessed but the essay argues that the more interesting question is why, despite the bias, there was some neutrality or even pro-independence views, given that the referendum posed an existential threat to the British state? The essay argues that the political crisis was also a crisis for some sections of the press, who in a complex and contradictory context had their un-reflexive Unionism mitigated. Signs of historic re-alignments amongst the Scottish electorate – especially the working class vote – threw the press on the defensive. The essay also considers the role of the independent media and the use of the internet and social media to facilitate a grassroots campaign for independence, which again made the press look out of touch with popular currents. The political and media crisis is situated in the context of the contest between neo-liberalism and social democracy and draws on the work of Gramsci to theorise the relationship between media and politics.