This is a translation into English of the Dizionario gramsciano entry ‘Collective Will” by Carlos Nelson Coutinho. The concept of and need for the creation of a collective will, sometimes qualified as ‘national-popular collective will’, finds its most extensive development in a second draft text of Notebook 14. As such it is determining in the formation of social reality and, indeed, of democracy in Gramsci’s sense of rule by the people. The emphasis placed on a collective will, ‘attained through concrete individual effort’, forms part of Gramsci’s critique of the ‘positivist and naturalist encrustations’ of the determinist forms of Marxism, both of the Second International and those expressed notably at the time by Bukharin in the Soviet Union and is a factor in Gramsci’s formulation of his ‘philosophy of praxis’. The expression of this collective will is intimately linked to another Gramscian concept, that of the ‘modern Prince’ which becomes the ‘protagonist of a real and effective historical drama’, the aim in which is to reach concrete and rational goals: expressed otherwise it plays a key role in the struggle to create a new hegemony, an ‘intellectual and moral reform’, and a genuine democracy, one of whose expressions is the ‘legislator’, understood as a person expressing a ‘specific collective will’ and attempting through that ‘to modify reality according to certain directive lines’. In conclusion the formation of such a collective will is essential in overcoming the direction-spontaneity (elsewhere ‘leaders-led’) dichotomy. (Note: Abstract written by the editors).
Recommended CitationCoutinho, Carlos Nelson, Dizionario gramsciano / Gramsci Dictionary: Collective Will, International Gramsci Journal, 4(3), 2021, 128-133.