Gramsci, Education and Power



Antonio Gramsci (born in Ales, Sardinia, 1891; died in Rome, 1937) is widely regarded as one of the foremost social and political theorists of the twentieth century. Raised in Sardinia, he subsequently moved to Turin to take up a scholarship at the University of Turin. The city was a hotbed of political mobilisation and was part of the industrial heartland of the Italian North. Despite his great promise as a philologist, having been heralded by one of his teachers, Matteo Bartoli, as ‘the archangel’ set to ‘defeat the grammarians’,(Gramsci, 1973, 80),1 Gramsci never completed his studies. He dropped out of university to engage in revolutionary socialist politics being prominent in workers’ education circles and in socialist journalism, among other things. He eventually emerged as one of the most prominent figures in the radical left of the Italian Socialist Party and later the first Secretary General of the Italian Communist Party, following the split which occurred in Leghorn (Livorno) in 1921. Arrested in 1926 following the Fascist rise to power, he would spend the rest of his life in prison. According to the chief prosecutor, his brain was meant to be ‘stopped from functioning’ for 20 years (Hoare and Nowell Smith, in Gramsci, 1971, p. lxxxix) in a ruthless, clinical process publically described by Enrico Berlinguer, fellow Sardinian and successor as PCI Secretary General, as intended to ‘assassinate’ the Communist leader ‘scientifically’2.


Civil Society Critical Pedagogy Public Intellectual Powerful Knowledge Chief Prosecutor 
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© Peter Mayo 2015

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