Subalterns Religion and the Philosophy of Praxis in Gramsci s Prison Notebooks


Posted on IGS Archive: 28 Nov 2019

Originally published in Rethinking Marxism | 2016

The purpose of this essay is to reconstruct the relationship between subalterns, religion, and philosophy in Antonio Gramsci’s Prison Notebooks. With the birth of mass society—that is, with the entry onto the political scene of the popular masses, and above all of the peasantry—politics entered directly into relation with irrational passions bound up with the religious mentality, and hegemony was constructed not thanks to the institution of a “filter” for the passions (as was the parliament of “notables”) but through the mastering of those “passions” using forms of Caesarist and charismatic democracy. In Gramsci’s view, the political action of the subaltern classes had to confront this new form of hegemony by recognizing the value of the profound content of religious ideas (which always indicate the need for a unification of theory and practice) and by working on a “translation” of those ideas into the forms of self-organization and self-emancipation.