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August 12, 2007

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Paul Flynn

Thanks again. That really brings it home. I had a family holiday last week the first for years. I went to Carrara when the rest of my famly went to Florence. It was a great visit.

John

Yes, Gramsci was a key thinker.

Look again at Gwyn A. Williams' writings, eg the volume of essays "The Welsh in their History", and you'll see the debt to Gramsci

Carrara marble -- the finest choice for the sculptor, was used for the monumental Welsh Heroic Sculptures scheme at Cardiff City Hall; the gift of D. A. Thomas http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Alfred_Thomas , Lord Rhondda of Llanwern, MP for Merthyr Tydfil 1888 - 1910 (aka Czar of the Coalfield - you'll look in vain in his wikipedia bio for a ref to the connection between Cambrian Coal Combine + Tonypandy Riots, but see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tonypandy_Riot)

One could say that the Welsh Heroic Sculptures scheme was an exercise in cultural hegemony and articulation of the national-popular culture ... to make a Gramsci connection ;)

Paul Flynn

That is absolutely fascinating and very informative to me. The place is beautiful and Gramsci is still honoured in Carrara both in marble and the lively radical movements that are still very active. thanks for references. I look forward to looking them up.

Many thanks.

John

Paul, you wrote:

"He spent almost his entire life in prison. Although his ideas play little part in modern politics, his sacrifice and those of followers remains an inspiration."

Gramsci http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antonio_Gramsci was, on the contrary, a key influence on the post-'68 European "New Left":

"Gramsci is seen by many as one of the most important Marxist thinkers of the twentieth century, in particular as a key thinker in the development of Western Marxism". [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antonio_Gramsci ]

His "Prison Notebooks" - yes he continued thinking in prison! - had a seminal impact, in their revision of the Marxist theory of ideology and power (and development of the concept of cultural hegemony, in departure from the Second International "base-superstructure" approach to ideaology).

Three interesting examples closer to home:

* One may say that cultural critic and writer Raymond Williams http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raymond_Williams
was influenced by Gramsci (eg. see his chapter on Hegemony in Marxism and Literature, 1977)

* Historian Gwyn Williams published the first English language essay on Gramsci, entitled "The idea of egemonia" published in The Journal of the History of Ideas in 1960 (if memory serves me correct)

* The group Scritti Politti http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scritti_Politti named themselves after Gramsci's Prison Notebooks, and the group's Green Gartside hails from Newport (and there was a link with the art college).

Gramsci's theory of hegemony and the national-popular culture was used to get a handle on the Thatcherist regime's radical populist strategy.

Gramsci has tended to become de-politicized by a generation of theory-laden academics, some of who have been oblivious to the fact that he was leader of the Italian Communist Party.

Paul Flynn

Thank you very much Mr Angliss. I did not know that.

This week's slaughter has been especially distressing coming at the time when the MOD is trying to suppress news from Iraq and Afghanistan.

John Angliss

Wilfred Owen and the like did "blog", albeit with the technology available. They sent their poems in to the national newspapers by the score. Censorship stifled that criticism, and now we see our government branching into internet censorship in the same way.

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