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HIS330H5 Chapter Notes -Antonio Gramsci, Prison Notebooks, Spanish Requirement Of 1513


Department
History
Course Code
HIS330H5
Professor
Kevin P.Coleman

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Gramsci Excerpt Online Response
Word Count: 465
1/12/2013
The excerpt from Selections from Prison Notebooks: The Intellectuals by Antonio Gramsci
divulges into many different themes and ideas of his. The overall focus is on “intellectuals” and toward
the end on how they contribute to hegemony. Gramsci’s understanding of hegemony is “that the state
maintains its dominance (and that of social and economic elites) thanks to the consent of those it
dominates. Where it does not win consent, this theory suggests, the state resorts to coercion” (From
Beasley-Murray’s “Posthegemony: Political Theory and Latin America” published in 2011).
It starts by discussing the two forms of intellectuals: Organic intellectuals and Traditional
Intellectuals.. The main focus appears to be on the latter of the two. Gramsci states that the traditional
intellectuals are the Intellectuals that already exist and continue to exist throughout history.
The focus of the excerpt becomes about who is an intellectual and who isn’t. Gramsci
interestingly states that all men are actually intellectuals but that everyone performs an intellectual task
to society. The argument is thus not who is an intellectual (since he states we all are) but who performs
intellectual function in society.. Gramsci gives a great example to explain what he means by all men are
intellectuals but not all contribute intellectual functions to society, “everyone at some time fries a
couple of eggs or sews up a tear in a jacket, we do not necessarily say that everyone is a cook or a
tailor”.
It continues to then discuss how schooling attempts to increase intellectuality of its members
and often in the process of doing so they specialize the members (He uses the difference between
Northern and Southern Italy as an example of the common specialization of members depending on the
economic environment of each area). The resulting effects of schooling include an improved quality of
members able to contribute in societies and also a greater quantity of middle intellectuals.
Disadvantages also arise including creating unemployment for the increasing middle level of
intellectuals.
The article ends by examining how intellectuals contribute to hegemony. Gramsci labels
intellectuals as the “deputies” (basically the ones who are responsible) to creating hegemony. As
mentioned earlier, hegemony, according to Gramsci, is maintained by “spontaneous” consent given by
the majority of the population. This additionally contributes to increasing hegemony by increasing
prestige (because of consent) and by legally forcing those who don’t consent to accept the dominance.
A historical example of consent and forced consent in hegemony is found in Beasley-Murray’s
“Posthegemony: Political Theory and Latin America” book where he talks about the Requerimiento.
Requerimiento was written Juan Lopez Palacios Rubios in 1512/1513. It was a document that was
intended to be read to the indigenous people by conquistadors when they crossed paths giving them
two options; to either submit peacefully or be forced to submit.
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