International Gramsci Society Newsletter
Number 10 (March, 2000): 3-5 < prev | tofc | next >  

Gramsci on the World Wide Web

Intellectuals and Bizarre Interpretations of Gramsci

Marcus Green

Before computers or the internet were ever conceived, Gramsci recognized that "All men are intellectuals." That is, all men and women have the potential to function as intellectuals within society, by participating in a particular conception of the world and by either contributing to that conception of the world or by attempting to modify it. In many ways, Gramsci's views on intellectuals--even though he did not foresee it--apply to the internet today. Daily, millions of people throughout the world participate in digital communities through the medium of the internet. People meet on-line, have conversations on-line, get news on-line, shop on-line, and even seek out sexual fantasies on-line. There is no doubt the internet fulfils many functions, and even though it has become highly commercialized, it still remains a medium where masses of people can easily exchange and distribute ideas and information throughout the world. Relatively anybody can "publish" his/her views, opinions, essays, and books on the internet. And in doing so, these people are engaging in intellectual activity. They are participating within a conception of the world and either perpetuating it or attempting to change it.

There are many individuals who have worked hard to make Gramsci accessible on the web. Currently the internet search engine identifies 3,320 web pages that contain the words "Antonio Gramsci." Approximately 200 of these pages are articles from previous IGS Newsletters and references to Fondazione Istituto Gramsci, Gramsci e o Brasil, and the invaluable Resources on Antonio Gramsci. The remaining 3120 web pages--which are mostly written in English, Italian, and German--refer to course syllabi, books for sale, reading lists, and articles. The number of articles written on Gramsci seem to be increasing as more people gain access to the internet and decide to "publish" their views. There are many interesting articles written on Gramsci available on the web, including articles by Bob Jessop and Craig Brandist, for instance. However, it is not only left intellectuals who have published articles on Gramsci; a number of rightwing and religious interpretations of Gramsci's ideas can also be found on the web.

I recently discovered four rightwing articles that discuss Gramsci in detail: [END PAGE 3]

(1) "The Gramscian Roots of America's Culture War" by Ace--with a discussion

(2) "Who are the Real Radicals?" by Jennifer King

(3) "The Ghost of Antonio Gramsci" by Gary DeMar

(4) "Toward the Total State" by William Norman Grigg

All four of these articles view Gramsci's conceptions of hegemony and war of position as strategies used by Leftists to undermine American culture, subvert the foundation of American values, and destroy fundamental Jewish and Christian beliefs. In the broad sense, these authors claim that Gramscian ideas are responsible for everything wrong with America: the rise in violent crime, increases in felony incarceration, the rise in premarital sex and teen age pregnancy, high divorce rates, and the increase in sexually transmitted diseases [1 & 2]. The Gramscian strategy, according to these authors, is to create instability by destroying American society from within and then to replace it with an authoritarian or totalitarian state [especially 1 & 4].

All four authors have a conception of the world and they believe it is under attack. They contend that the Left is winning or has won the "cultural war," and their purpose is to inform readers of this fact. In many ways, all four articles are outright attacks on Gramsci and his ideas. Gramsci's ideas are equated with those of Hitler, Mussolini, and Stalin [1, 2, 4]. Leftist progressives informed by Gramscian ideas are portrayed as self-interested, power seeking, elitists. Ironically, Ace describes the leftist progressive elite as I would describe multinational capitalists, as having "no home or loyalty other than their quest for power, their urge to control labor and resources around the globe" [1]. Ace continues to say that although America's constitutional republic has been weakened and has many faults, "it's a paradise compared to the concentration camp culture of the Gramscian, Machiavellian Marxists" [1]. And Grigg states that "In order to preserve our existing freedoms, and to restore those that have been stolen from us, it is necessary for Americans to understand the tactics, strategies, and objectives of the Gramscian conspirators who are waging a culture war against us" [4].

It is apparent that none of the authors have actually read Gramsci's texts, since they misinterpret his ideas and his politics. All of their distorted summaries of Gramsci's ideas come [END PAGE 4] from second and third hand sources. In a paradoxical but positive sense, however, these articles signify that there are non-professional intellectuals, outside of the academy, who are interested in Gramsci's ideas to the extent that they will "publish" and distribute their interpretations of Gramsci to others over the internet. In Gramscian terms--even though these articles misinterpret Gramsci and his ideas--the authors are engaged in the intellectual activity of contributing to a conception of the world. Hopefully more non-professional and non-academic intellectuals will bring Gramscian ideas to the forefront of political debate, and hopefully those people who are coming across Gramsci for the first time over the internet will go to one of the many web sites that portray Gramsci as he actually was, an intellectual devoted to a new conception of the world based upon an ethical state and social and political equality.

Note: All of the web sites mentioned above are available at the Gramsci Links Archive:

Important Websites for Readers of Gramsci

GRAMSCI E O BRASIL--this website which is edited by Luiz Sergio Henriques, with the collaboration of several active Gramsci scholars from Brazil, contains a wealth of bibliographical information, news about relevant events, and links to other useful websites. It also contains a remarkable collection of essays and shorter articles on Gramsci and on a wide range of political and social issues. Definitely worth visiting regularly at:


For a comprehensive searchable Gramsci bibliography (compiled by John Cammett) go to:

The International Gramsci Society website provides complete texts of all issues of the Newsletter (that can be downloaded in their original format) and enables users to search quickly and easily for information in each of them. Look it up at:

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