The Time Of Monsters | Antonio Gramsci, 1891-1937

Antonio Gramsci, 1891-1937


 “The old world is dying, and the new world struggles 
to be born: now is the time of monsters.”

“The crisis creates situations which are dangerous in the short run, since the various 
strata of the population are not all capable of orienting themselves equally swiftly, 
or of reorganizing with the same rhythm. The traditional ruling class, which has 
numerous trained cadres, changes men and programmes and, with greater speed than 
is achieved by the subordinate classes, reabsorbs the control that was slipping from 
its grasp. Perhaps it may make sacrifices, and expose itself to an uncertain future 
by demagogic promises; but it retains power, reinforces it for the time being, and
 uses it to crush its adversary and disperse his leading cadres, who cannot be be
 very numerous or highly trained.”

“The discipline imposed on citizens by the bourgeois state makes them into subjects, 
people who delude themselves that they exert an influence on the course of events.”

“Man is above all else mind, consciousness -- that is, 
he is a product of history, not of nature.”

“The challenge of modernity is to live without illusions and without becoming disillusioned. 
I’m a pessimist because of intelligence, but an optimist because of will.”

“Culture is a privilege. Education is a privilege. And we do not want it to be so. 
All young people should be equal before culture.”

“Culture is something quite different. It is organization, discipline of one’s inner self, 
a coming to terms with one’s own personality; it is the attainment of a higher awareness,
 with the aid of which one succeeds in understanding one’s own historical value, 
one’s own function in life, one’s own rights and obligations.”

“We need to free ourselves from the habit of seeing culture as encyclopedia knowledge, 
and men as mere receptacles to be stuffed full of empirical data and a mass of unconnected 
raw facts, which have to be filed in the brain as in the columns of a dictionary, enabling 
their owner to respond to the various stimuli from the outside world. This form of culture
 really is harmful, particularly for the proletariat. It serves only to create maladjusted people,
 people who believe they are superior to the rest of humanity because they have memorized
 a certain number of facts and dates and who rattle them off at every opportunity, so turning
 them almost into a barrier between themselves and others.”

“Is it better to work out consciously and critically one's own conception of the world and 
thus, in connection with the labours of one's own brain, choose one's sphere of activity, 
take an active part in the creation of the history of the world, be one's own guide, refusing 
to accept passively and supinely from outside the moulding of one' own personality?”

“The popular element "feels" but does not always know or understand; the intellectual 
element "knows" but does not always understand and in particular does not always feel.”

“History teaches, but has no pupils.”

“The principle must always rule that ideas are not born of other ideas, philosophies of 
other philosophies; they are a continually renewed expression of real historical 
development. The unity of history (what the idealists call unity of the spirit) 
is not a presupposition, but a continuously developing process.”

“Man can affect his own development and that of his surroundings only so far as he has 
a clear view of what the possibilities of action are open to him. To do this he has to 
understand the historical situation in which he finds himself: and once he does this,
 then he can play an active part in modifying that situation.
The man of action is the true philosopher: and the philosopher must 
of necessity be a man of action.”

“Common sense is not a single unique conception, identical in time and space.
 It is the "folklore" of philosophy, and, like folklore, it takes countless different 
forms. Its most fundamental character is that it is a conception which, even in 
the brain of one individual, is fragmentary, incoherent and inconsequential.”


Antonio Gramsci, 1891-1937
philosopher, journalist, linguist and politician


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