Reading Material from: Richard Bellamy, Croce, Gramsci, Bobbio and the Italian Political Tradition, ECPR Press, 2014
“I am, or rather was, an expert on Gramsci, but I am not a political sociologist. My writings on Gramsci date back to the mid-1980s to the early 1990s, and reflect a very different world – one where the cold war was on-going, the Soviet bloc still existed (or had only just passed away), and the Italian Communist Party was (or had only recently been) the largest political party in Italy. Against this background two groups of Marxist thinkers in the UK sought to theorise the economic crisis and the crisis of the left of the mid-1980s and early 1990s, an era dominated by Mrs Thatcher and the decline of both the Labour Party and the traditional working class, based in heavy and manufacturing industry, which were in the process of being privatised and closed down. On the one hand, Stuart Hall and Eric Hobsbawm saw Gramsci as articulating a third way between social democracy and Leninism for a more truly socialist Labour Party in the UK that would be capable of taking on Mrs Thatcher’s post-Fordist ‘authoritarian-populism’. On the other hand, thinkers such as Ernest Laclau and Chantal Mouffe saw Gramsci as a post-Marxist thinker, capable of providing a libertarian strategy for the new social movements that were emerging, reflecting a different form of activism. I disagreed with both these analyses at the time and the first two attached articles, originally published in the late 80s and early 90s , are critiques respectively of these two views, developed through a close reading of Gramsci and a comparison with Croce. I should say I was at this time also quite close to Norberto Bobbio and edited translations of his Quale Socialismo and Il Futuro della Democrazia. I also attach my introduction to the former. All three of these pieces have recently been republished in a collection of my old pieces on Italy (as Richard Bellamy, Croce, Gramsci, Bobbio and the Italian Political Tradition, ECPR Press, 2014). The versions that are attached are the pre-copyedited texts” R. B.