This article argues that the writings of Antonio Gramsci should be situated in their rightful social, philosophical, political, in short, 'historical' context. This is particularly true of his prison writing which is a rich resource but one which calls for delicate archaeological handling. It appears that Gramsci’s Marxism is unapologetically eclectic but this results in an integrated and surprisingly harmonious theoretical and practical approach to history and society. This can be brought to sharp focus only by close examination of the educational properties of Gramsci’s historical environment, the suggestions it makes, the perceptible possibilities it entails, that which blocks or impedes movement and progress, and so on. That is to say, Gramsci was not an abstract thinker. His thinking is grounded in the class war of the Italy of his time and, in turn, this was attuned to the broader struggle against capitalism in and beyond Italy's borders. This is arguably the way Gramsci would prefer to be remembered and indeed the context in which he would perhaps prefer to be utilised today. Reading Gramsci, therefore, requires knowing Gramsci. The problems encountered are an unfortunate consequence of the conditions in which he wrote but they can be overcome if we apply ‘Gramsci to Gramsci’.

Abstract Format