Gramsci’s Political Thought

Buy hardcover (Brill)
Published Nov 2016
ISBN: 9789004228665

Carlos Nelson Coutinho, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro

In Gramsci’s Political Thought, Carlos Nelson Coutinho offers an analysis of the evolution of the political thought of Antonio Gramsci. Focusing on central concepts of the Prison Notebooks and relating them to the history of modern political ideas, the book also demonstrates that Gramsci’s ideas continue to be relevant resources for understanding the controversies of our present time. Written by a leading Brazilian Marxist theorist, Gramsci’s Political Thought provides one of the most succinct and theoretically focused introductions to the thought of Antonio Gramsci available internationally.

Biographical note

Carlos Nelson Coutinho is Professor Emeritus of Political Theory at Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Brasil. He is the author of several books on political theory, such as: Marxismo e política (São Paulo, Cortez, 2008; Santiago de Chile, Lom Ediciones, 2011) and De Rousseau a Gramsci (São Paulo, Boitempo, 2011). Professor Coutinho is editor of the Brazilian version of The Complete Works of Antonio Gramsci (Obras de Antonio Gramsci), published in ten volumes (1999-2004).


The book offers a critical analysis of the political thought of Antonio Gramsci – the author of Letters from Prison.


Gramsci’s Political Thought […] offers a unique vantage point into South American Gramscian studies not previously afforded to the Anglophone scholar.
Chris Walsh, Communiqué, published by the International Socialist Group, 19th December, 2012

[This publication] provides a wonderful opportunity to draw some attention to the debates on Gramsci in Latin America […]. and is an essential window through which to view debates in and beyond Brazil.
Adam David Mortom, For the Desk Drawer

Table of contents


Introduction by Joseph A. Buttigieg
1. Youth, a Contradictory Formation: 1910–18
1.1. Sardinia
1.2. The encounter with Croce and Gentile
1.3. Gramsci turns away from the Marxism of the Second International

2. Workers’ Democracy and Factory-Councils: 1919–20
2.1. L’Ordine Nuovo
2.2. Gramsci and Bordiga
2.3. The defeat of the councils

3. The Passage to Maturity: 1921–6
3.1. From the foundation of the PCd’I to the fight against Fascism
3.2. The struggle against sectarianism
3.3. The first formulations of the concept of hegemony

4. Methodological Observations on the Prison Notebooks
4.1. The systematic nature of the Notebooks
4.2. Gramsci’s place in the evolution of Marxism
4.3. Gramsci as a critic of politics
4.4. On the relations between politics, economics and social totality
4.5. Gramsci’s philosophical conceptions

5. The ‘Extended’ Theory of the State
5.1. The concept of ‘civil society’
5.2. ‘Regulated society’ and the end of the state

6. Socialist Strategy in the ‘West’
6.1. War of movement and war of position
6.2. On the concept of passive revolution
6.3. From Gramsci’s proposal of a ‘constituent assembly’ to Togliatti’s ‘progressive democracy’

7. The Party as ‘Collective Intellectual’

8. The Current Relevance and Universality of Gramsci
8.1. Another socialist model
8.2. A radical conception of democracy
8.3. With Gramsci, beyond Gramsci

Appendix One: General Will and Democracy in Rousseau, Hegel and Gramsci
1.1. The priority of the public
1.2. Rousseau and the general will
1.3. Hegel and the determinations of will
1.4. Gramsci and hegemony as contract

Appendix Two: The Neoliberal Age: Passive Revolution or Counter-Reformation?
2.1. Passive revolution
2.2. Counter-reformation
2.3. The welfare-state as passive revolution
2.4. Neoliberalism as counter-reformation
2.5. Transformism

Appendix Three: Gramsci and Brazil
3.1. Reception
3.2. Uses