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Antonio Gramsci’s Contribution to a Critical Economics

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According to conventional wisdom, Antonio Gramsci is a political philosopher lacking in, and who avoids, a serious interest in political economy. That is a serious misrepresentation of Gramsci’s works and thought. Equally wrong is the widespread view that anything Gramsci had to say about political economy is to be found in his scattered notes on ‘Americanism and Fordism’. On the contrary, a careful rereading of Gramsci’s Prison Notebooks shows that Marx’s great and unfinished project of the critique of political economy plays a crucial rôle for Gramsci’s efforts to come to grips with the basics of a critical social science that could live up to the aspirations of a ‘scientific socialism’. As Gramsci was fully aware of the everyday battles of ideas in capitalist societies to be fought about the notions and tenets of popular or vulgar political economy, he did the best he could in order to understand and clarify the bases of a ‘critical’ and ‘scientific’ political economy. A political economy that was and still is urgently needed in order to fight the strongest of the strongholds of bourgeois hegemony - the ideas of vulgar economics in everybody’s heads.

Affiliations: 1: Lancaster University, Email: m.kraetke@lancaster.ac.uk

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