The dual perspective : an examination of the origins, development and theoretical significance of Antonio Gramsci's theory of the state
This thesis evaluates Antonio Gramsci's political thought by focusing on the origins, development and theoretical significance of his theory of the State. It is shown that an important influence on Gramsci was an Italian tradition of political thought the main feature of which is the realistic acceptance that all political power rests on a fusion of force and consent. Also discussed are relevant aspects of the thought of Hegel and Marx and attention is paid to the contribution made by Second International Marxists to the ambiguous foundations upon which Gramsci's thought is partly based. The central concern of the thesis is Gramsci's prison writing. First, his theory of the State is examined in the context of his general conception of politics. Second, his expanded notion of the State based on a distinction between political and civil society is subjected to more thorough investigation. This is developed in a discussion of the analytical applicability of Gramsci's distinction to the Scottish political condition. It is argued that the distinction may be seen to be more than methodological and to be formalised in certain circumstances. Gramsci's theory of the State thus indicates a contradiction in human society which is not reducible to economic factors. Many of his arguments are consistent with those of Marx if not with Second International Marxist orthodoxy. His theory of the State, however, reveals how influenced he was by the "dual perspective" of the Italian tradition. The political realism which Gramsci inherited from the Italian tradition ensures that his comments on the nature of political power in the West are more original and stimulating than his ideas about the revolutionary party and the future socialist society. It is this analysis of the dualism of political power in the West that represents Gramsci's major contribution to the history of political ideas.