Journal of Romance Studies

Reformation, Renaissance and the state: the hegemonic fabric of modern sovereignty

Journal of Romance Studies (2012), 12, (3), 63–77.

Abstract

For Gramsci the specific unity of modernity is the result of division: identity is a kind of difference with subordination based on a presupposed freedom. In its form the ‘culture’ of modern Europe repeats the antagonisms of society, and re-establishes a no longer immediately given substantiality. This formal correspondence between culture and society explains Gramsci’s thoroughgoing reformulation of categories like ‘Reformation’ and ‘Renaissance’. The former expresses the need for the national aggregation of the masses, and the latter the autonomous development of the intellectuals, while together they express the two sides of modern state power, synthesized only in German Idealism. Following Hegel, Gramsci sees the modern state as a (partial) fusion of ‘reason’ and ‘mass’, ‘philosophy’ and ‘religion’ and, as such, bourgeois culture’s most powerful source of hegemony. The crisis following the First World War did not change this structure decisively: fascism, too, had to produce consent and hegemony. Shifting from law to power relations, Gramsci’s comparative analyses of fascism and liberalism, of Italy and the USSR, show that communist politics and fascism are opposed not in constitutional law, where both are equally opposed to liberalism, but in the ‘principles’ that are the abstract expression of the material relations of force in civil society.

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Consiglio, Franco (1991) ‘Libertà e fanatismo in Hegel’, Critica marxista 29.3, 155–69. Libertà e fanatismo in Hegel Critica marxista 29.3 155 69 Google Scholar

Croce, Benedetto (1929) Storia dell’età barocca in Italia. Pensiero – poesia e letteratura – vita morale (Bari: Laterza). Storia dell’età barocca in Italia. Pensiero – poesia e letteratura – vita morale Google Scholar

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Gramsci, Antonio (1992) Prison Notebooks, Vol. 1, ed. Joseph A. Buttigieg and Antonio Callari (New York: Columbia University Press). Prison Notebooks Google Scholar

Gramsci, Antonio (1996) Prison Notebooks, Vol. 2, ed. Joseph A. Buttigieg (New York: Columbia University Press). Prison Notebooks Google Scholar

Gramsci, Antonio (2007) Prison Notebooks, Vol. 3, ed. Joseph A. Buttigieg (New York: Columbia University Press). Prison Notebooks Google Scholar

Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich (1986) ‘Grundlinien der Philosophie des Rechts oder Naturrecht und Staatswissenschaft im Grundrisse’, in Werke, ed. E. Moldenhauer and K. M. Michel, Vol. 7 (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp). Grundlinien der Philosophie des Rechts oder Naturrecht und Staatswissenschaft im Grundrisse Werke Google Scholar

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Longhi, Silvio (1929) ‘I motivi del Gran Consiglio del fascismo’, Gerarchia 9.2, 117–23. I motivi del Gran Consiglio del fascismo Gerarchia 9.2 117 23 Google Scholar

Marx, Karl and Friedrich Engels (1969) ‘Manifest der Kommunistischen Partei’, in Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, Werke, Vol. 4 (Berlin: Dietz). Manifest der Kommunistischen Partei Werke Google Scholar

Pombeni, Paolo (1984) Demagogia e tirannide. Uno studio sulla forma-partito del fascismo (Bologna: il Mulino). Demagogia e tirannide. Uno studio sulla forma-partito del fascismo Google Scholar

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Frosini, Fabio