Description - Hegemony and Power by Benedetto Fontana
The term "hegemony", which has a powerful currency in ongoing debates in contemporary discourse, can be traced to the Italian revolutionary theorist Antonio Gramsci. For Gramsci, political subjects and ideologies are complex "collective wills" that result from the articulation of dispersed and fragmented historical forces and agents. Power and ideology themselves are never situated above and beyond materiality but are embodied in institutions and various apparatuses. "Hegemony and Power" presents a comparative and textual exploration of Gramsci's interpretation of Machiavelli's political analyses. This valuable contribution to our understanding of Gramsci deals with the central elements of his thought that have attracted widespread attention. Specifically, Fontana compares the major Machiavellian ideas such as the nature of political knowledge, the new principality, the concept of the people, and the relation between thought and action, to Gramsci's concepts of hegemony, moral and intellectual reform, and the collective will.
Fontana argues that because Gramsci formulated his understanding of Machiavelli as a reaction to and a critique of the liberal and idealistic philosophy of Benedetto Croce, the relation between Gramsci and Machiavelli can be understood only when located within Italian culture, history, and politics. Fontana concludes that Gramsci's political theory is actually a commentary on the problem originally enunciated by Machiavelli: the transformation of a disaggregated mass into a coherent, democratic citizenry. Ultimately, "Hegemony and Power" aims to initiate a recapitulative reading of Gramsci to indicate the problems intrinsic to that (re)reading, especially from contemporary post-Marxist perspectives.
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University of Minnesota Press
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