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Gramsci and The Prince: Taking Machiavelli outside the realist courtyard?

  • Caterina Carta (a1)

In the field of political theory, few authors have spurred intellectual tirades and triggered collective fantasy as much as the sixteenth-century Florentine Secretary Niccoló Machiavelli. Despite all controversies, in the discipline of International Relations (IR) Machiavelli and his The Prince have been almost exclusively associated with classical realism. This largely unchallenged association contributed to the edification of the myth of The Prince as the ruthless symbol of raison d’état, carrying transcendental lessons about the nature of politics and a set of prescriptions on how helmsmen should behave to seize, maintain, and reinforce their power. The realist hijacking of Machiavelli is at the core of the foundation of classical realism as an IR theory and its location at the very epicentre of IR as a discipline. This appropriation has, in turn, obscured alternative myths of The Prince, which depart from Machiavelli’s reflections on the Principati nuovi to read The Prince as a radical manifesto for political change. The opening of the semantic space in the field of IR – spurred by the so-called interpretive turn – offers an opportunity to break this monochromatic reading. This article delves into two competing myths of The Prince: the classical realist myth and Gramsci’s ‘progressive’ one to demonstrate its contested nature.

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*Correspondence to: Dr Caterina Carta, Vesalius College, Pleinlaan 2, B-1050, Brussels, Belgium. Author’s email:
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1 ‘The fortune of a book depends upon the capacity of its readers’, Terentianus Maurus, De Litteris, Syllabis et Metris, v. 1286, as reported in Cassirer, Ernst, The Myth of the State (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1961 [orig. pub. 1946]), p. 116 .

2 Berlin, Isaiah, ‘A special supplement: the question of Machiavelli’, New York Review of Books, 17:7 (1971), p. 36 .

3 Baron, Hans, ‘Machiavelli: the Republican citizen and the author of The Prince ’, The English Historical Review, 75:CCXCIX (1965), pp. 217253 .

4 Respectively, Butterfield, H, The Statecraft of Machiavelli (London: G Bell and Sons, 1955); and Strauss, Leo, Thoughts on Machiavelli (Glencoe IL: Free Press, 1958), p. 10 .

5 Mattingly, Garrett, ‘Machiavelli’s Prince: Political science or political satire?’, American Scholar, 27:4 (1958), p. 488 ; Arendt, Hannah, On Revolution (London: Penguin, 1990), p. 37 ; Croce, Benedetto, ‘Sulla Storia della Filosofia Politica’, La Critica. Rivista di Letteratura, Storia e Filosofia, 22 (1924), pp. 194196 .

6 Croce, Benedetto, ‘Una questione che forse non si chiuderà mai: la questione del Machiavelli’, Quaderni di Critica, V:14 (1949), pp. 19 .

7 Althusser, Louis, Machiavelli and Us (London: Verso, 2000), p. 5 .

8 Breiner, Peter, ‘Machiavelli’s “new Prince” and the primordial moment of acquisition’, Political Theory, 36:1 (2008), pp. 6692 (p. 67).

9 Femia, Joseph V., Machiavelli Revisited (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 2002), p. 10 .

10 Cassirer, The Myth of the State, p. 118.

11 Carr, Edward H., The Twenty Years’ Crisis: 1919–1939: An Introduction to the Study of International Relations (New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1964), pp. 6365 .

12 Walker, Robert B. J., ‘The Prince and “the Pauper”: Tradition, modernity, and practice in the theory of International Relations’, in James Der Derian and Michael J. Shapiro (eds), International/Intertextual Relations: Postmodern Readings of World Politics (New York: Lexington Books, 1989), pp. 4968 (p. 50).

13 Epstein, Charlotte, ‘Theorising agency in Hobbes’ wake: the rational actor, the self or the speaking subject?’, International Organization, 67:2 (2013), pp. 287316 ; Forde, Steven, ‘International realism and the science of politics: Thucydides, Machiavelli and neorealism’, International Studies Quarterly, 39:2 (1995), pp. 141160 ; Walker, Robert B. J., ‘The Prince and “the Pauper”, pp. 4968 .

14 An ‘invented tradition’ is a set of ‘practices, normally governed by overtly or tacitly accepted rules and of a ritual of nature, which seeks to inculcate certain values and norms of behaviour by repetition, which automatically implies continuity with the past’. Hobsbawm, Eric, ‘Introduction: Inventing traditions’, in Eric Hobsbawm and Terence Ranger (eds), The Invention of Tradition (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983), p. 1 .

15 Schmidt, Brian, The Political Discourse of Anarchy: A Disciplinary History of International Relations (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1998), p. 24 .

16 Behr, Hartmut and Heath, Amelia, ‘Misreading in IR theory and ideology critique: Hans Morgenthau, Waltz and neo-realism’, Review of International Studies, 35:2 (2009), pp. 327349 ; Donnelly, Jack, Realism and International Relations (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000); Murray, A. J. H., ‘The moral politics of Hans Morgenthau’, The Review of Politics, 58:1 (1996), pp. 81107 ; Williams, Michael C., Realism Reconsidered: The Legacy of Hans Morgenthau in International Relations (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007).

17 Epstein, ‘Theorising agency in Hobbes’ wake’.

18 Also see Gill, Stephen, ‘The post-modern Prince? The battle in Seattle as a moment in the new politics of globalisation’, Millennium: Journal of International Studies, 29:1 (2000), pp. 131140 ; Morton, Adam, Unravelling Gramsci: Hegemony and Passive Revolution in the Global Economy (London: Pluto Press, 2007); Walker, ‘The Prince and “the Pauper”; Worth, Owen, Resistance in the Age of Austerity: Nationalism, the Failure of the Left and the Return of God (London: Zed Book Ltd, 2013).

19 Epstein, Charlotte, ‘Constructivism or the eternal return of universals in International Relations: Why returning to language is vital to prolonging the owl’s flight’, European Journal of International Relations, 19:3 (2013), pp. 499519 (p. 500).

20 Where not specified otherwise, all references to Gramsci’s Prisons Notebooks are taken from Gramsci, Antonio, Quaderni dal Carcere, in Valentino Gerratana (ed.), Volumes I–IV [hereafter Q19] (Turin: Einaudi, 1975). Most references to the Notebook XIII are taken from Gramsci, Antonio, ‘Quaderno 13: Noterelle sulla Politica Del Machiavelli’, in Carmine Donzelli (ed.), Il Moderno Principe, Il Partito e La Lotta per l’Egemonia [hereafter QC13] (Turin: Einaudi, 2012). In both cases the abbreviation QC applies and the author translates selected excerpts.

21 Sorel, Georges, Reflections on Violence (Illinois: Glencoe, 1950), p. 57 .

22 Cassirer, Ernst, Language and Myth (New York: Dover Publications Inc., 1953), p. 6 .

23 Barthes, Roland, Mythologies, trans. Annette Lavers (Hill and Wang: New York, 1984), p. 10 .

24 Cassirer, Language and Myth, p. 7.

25 De Saussure, Ferdinand, Cours de Linguistique Generale, Critical edition of Tullio Mauro (Paris: Grand Bibliotheque Payot, 1995), p. 30 .

26 Lévi-Strauss, Claude, ‘The structural study of the myth’, The American Political Science Review, 68:270 (1955), pp. 428444 (p. 430).

27 Barthes, Mythologies, p. 10.

28 Adorno, Theodor and Horkheimer, Max, Dialectic of Enlightenment: Philosophical Fragments, trans. Edmund Jephcott (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2002), p. 5 .

29 Cassirer, Language and Myth, p. 7.

30 Ibid., p. 8.

31 Gadamer, Hans-Georg, Truth and Method, trans. Joel Weinsheimer and Donald G. Marshall (2nd rev. edn, London: Continuum, 2004).

32 Fierke, Karin, ‘Links across the abyss: Language and logic in International Relations’, International Studies Quarterly, 46 (2002), pp. 331354 (p. 349).

33 Gramsci, QC13.

34 Gramsci, QC13, pp. 107–8.

35 Morgenthau, Hans J., ‘The evil of politics and the ethics of evil’, Ethics: An International Journal of Social, Political and Legal Philosophy, LVI:1 (1945), pp. 118 (p. 1).

36 Olschki, Leonardo, Machiavelli the Scientist (Berkeley: Gillick Press, 1945); Walker, Leslie J., The Discourses of Niccoló Machiavelli (Yale: Yale University Press, 1950).

37 Gaetano Mosca, The Ruling Class (1896) as quoted in Barbuto, Gennaro M., Machiavelli e i Totalitarismi (Naples: Alfredo Guida Editore, 2005). The credential of Machiavelli as a scientist has been severely contested. For a review, see Cochrane, Eric W., ‘Machiavelli: 1940–1960’, The Journal of Modern History, 33 (1996), pp. 113136 .

38 Morgenthau, Hans J., Scientific Man vs Power Politics (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1946), pp. 10, 225 .

39 Moore, Barrington Jr, ‘The new scholasticism and the study of politics’, World Politics, 6:1 (1953), pp. 122138 ; Carr, Edward H., Nationalism and After (London: Macmillan, 1946).

40 Machiavelli, Niccoló, The Prince (London: Penguin Classic, 1981), ch. XV, p. 90.

41 Zanzi, Luigi, Dalla Storia all’Epistemologia: Lo Storicismo Scientifico: Principi di Teoria della Storicizzazione (Milan: Jaca Books, 1991), p. 69 , author’s translation.

42 This distinction per se represented a breach of both co-eval notions of truth and the cosmological principle of emanation. For one thing, Machiavelli detached the moment of acting from the ones of being and knowing. Hence, he broke with ‘the Ciceronian and humanist equation between honestas and utilitas’ and allegedly turned prudence into ‘the amoral skill of versutia, or mere cleverness’. Kahn, Victoria, ‘Virtù and the example of Agathocles in Machiavelli’s Prince ’, Representations, 13 (1986), pp. 6383 (p. 63).

43 Carr, The Twenty Years’ Crisis, p. 5.

44 Newey, Glenn, After Politics: The Rejection of Politics in Contemporary Liberal Philosophy (Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2001), p. 7 .

45 Morgenthau, Hans J., ‘The twilight of international morality’, Ethics, 58:2 (1948a), pp. 7999 .

46 Morgenthau, Hans J., ‘The political science of Edward Carr’, World Politics, 1:1 (1948b), pp. 127134 (p. 127).

47 Thies, Cameron, ‘Progress, history and identity in International Relations theory: the case of the idealist-realist debate’, European Journal of International Relations, 8:2 (2002), pp. 147185 (p. 154).

48 Hall, Ian, ‘The triumph of anti-liberalism? Reconciling radicalism to realism in International Relations theory’, Political Studies Review, 9:1 (2011), pp. 4252 (p. 50).

49 Wilson, Peter, ‘The myth of the ‘First Great Debate’, Review of International Studies, 24:5 (1998), pp. 116 (p. 1).

50 Osiander, Andreas, ‘Rereading early twentieth-century IR theory: Idealism revised’, International Studies Quarterly, 42 (1998), pp. 409432 (p. 411).

51 Wilson, ‘The myth of the ‘First Great Debate’, p. 5.

52 Ibid., p. 10.

53 Moore, ‘The new scholasticism and the study of politics’, pp. 124–5.

54 Morgenthau, Hans J., ‘The commitments of political science’, in Hans J Morgenthau (ed.), Politics in the Twentieth Century Volume I, ‘The Decline of Democratic Politics’ (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1962b), pp. 2627 .

55 Ibid., p. 29.

56 Molloy, Sean, ‘Truth, power, theory: Hans Morgenthau’s formulation of realism’, Diplomacy and Statecraft, 15:1 (2004), pp. 134 (p. 6).

57 Morgenthau, Hans J., Politics Among Nations: The Struggle for Power and Peace (2nd edn, New York: Knopf, 1978), p. 196 .

58 Carr, The Twenty Years’ Crisis, p. 80.

59 Morgenthau, Politics Among Nations, p. 225.

60 Morgenthau, ‘The political science of Edward Carr’, p. 134.

61 Murray, ‘The moral politics of Hans Morgenthau’, p. 87.

62 Morgenthau, Hans J., In Defense of the National Interest: A Critical Examination of American Foreign Policy (New York: University Press of America, 1951), p. 34 .

63 Cox, Robert, ‘E. H. Carr and the crisis of twentieth-century liberalism: Reflections and lessons’, Millennium: Journal of International Studies, 38:3 (2010), pp. 111 ; Wong, Benjamin, ‘Hans Morgenthau’s anti-Machiavellian Machiavellianism’, Millennium Journal of International Studies, 29:2 (2000), pp. 389409 ; Williams, Michael C., Realism Reconsidered: The Legacy of Hans Morgenthau in International Relations (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007); Bell, Duncan, ‘Political realism and the limits of ethics’, in Duncan Bell (ed.), Ethics and World Politics (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), pp. 94111 .

64 Morgenthau, ‘The commitments of political science’, p. 36.

65 Carr, Edward H., What is History (London: Vintage Book, 1961), p. 27 .

66 Molloy, ‘Truth, power, theory’, p. 9.

67 Morgenthau, Hans J., ‘The intellectual and moral dilemma of politics’, in Morgenthau (ed.), Politics in the Twentieth Century, Vol. I, ‘The Decline of Democratic Politics’ (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1962a), p. 14 .

68 Russell, Greg, Hans J. Morgenthau and the Ethics of Statecraft (Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State University Press, 1990), pp. 169170 .

69 Wight, Martin, ‘Why is there no international theory?’, in H. Butterfield and Martin Wight (eds), Diplomatic Investigations: Essays in the Theory of International Politics (London: Allen and Unwin, 1966), pp. 1734 (p. 26).

70 Carr, The Twenty Years’ Crisis, p. 11.

71 Ibid., p. 89.

72 Hoffmann, Stanley, ‘Notes on the limits of realism’, Social Research, 48:4 (1981), pp. 653695 ; Williams, Michael C., The Realist Tradition and the Limits of the International (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005); Ish-Shalom, Piki, ‘The triptych of realism, elitism and conservatism’, International Studies Review, 8:3 (2006), pp. 441468 .

73 Wight, Martin, ‘Review of Dilemmas of Politics by Hans J. Morgenthau’, International Affairs, 35 (1959), pp. 199200 ; Bell, ‘Political realism and the limits of ethics’.

74 Bell, ‘Political realism and the limits of ethics’, p. 103. The concept of balance of power pledges this interpretation on the ground of its endorsement of the status quo as ‘an essential stabilising factor in a society of sovereign nations’ and its connection to the preservation of ‘the multiplicity of elements’ composing the system. Morgenthau, Politics Among Nations, pp. 174–89. Although status quo powers are not seen as ‘morally superior’, the balance of power, as imperfect as it may be, is the product of an international society: ‘And whenever a nation might tend to forget that indispensable precondition of independence and stability, the consensus of all other nations will not.’ Morgenthau, Politics Among Nations, pp. 233, 239. Hence, even if – compared to defensive neorealists – the theoretical framework provided by classical realists was more nuanced and articulated, it would still resonate with a status quo bias. Schweller, Randall L., ‘Neorealism’s status quo bias: What security dilemma?’, Security Studies, 15:3 (1996), pp. 90121 .

75 Morgenthau, Politics Among Nations, p. 10; Carr, Nationalism and After.

76 For a critical investigation of the alleged monolithic conception of statecentrism in Carr and Morgenthau, see Molloy, Sean, ‘Realism: a problematic paradigm’, Security Dialogue, 34 (2003), pp. 7185 .

77 These postures elaborate on the prudential component of Machiavelli’s theorisation: ‘Prudence consists in being able to assess the nature of a particular threat and in accepting the lesser evil’. Machiavelli, The Prince, ch. XXI, p. 123.

78 Carr, The Twenty Years’ Crisis, p. 90.

79 Machiavelli, The Prince, ch. XXV, p. 130.

80 Arendt, On Revolution; Negri, Antonio, Insurgencies: Constituent Power and the Modern State (Minneapolis: University Of Minnesota Press, 1999).

81 Wood, Neal, ‘Some reflections on Sorel and Machiavelli’, Political Science Quarterly, 83:1 (1968), pp. 7691 (pp. 85–8).

82 Naturally, not all conflict is to be praised. Machiavelli fiercely inveighed against sectarianism – a degeneration of political life associated with personal greed and the erosion of the political fibre – while praising social conflict – as ‘vital to the development of good laws and the continuity of … political founding principles’. Brudney, Kent E., ‘Machiavelli on social class and class conflict’, Political Theory, 12:4 (1984), pp. 507519 (p. 514). See, extensively, Machiavelli in Rinaldi, Rinaldo (ed.), Discorsi Sopra la Prima Decade di Tito Livio, L’Arte della Guerra e Altre Opere, Book 1, IV (Turin: Utet, 2006), pp. 445450 .

83 Machiavelli, The Prince, ch. XXV, pp. 130–1.

84 Ibid., ch. XXVI, p. 135.

85 Not dissimilarly from Plato’s philosopher-king, Machiavelli’s The Prince could be thus conceived as a tale of a mythological hero, challenging adverse fortunes. Voegelin, Eric, ‘Machiavelli’s Prince: Background and formation’, The Review of Politics, 13:2 (1951), pp. 142168 (164).

86 Machiavelli in Rinaldi (ed.), Discorsi Sopra la Prima Decade di Tito Livio, Book 1, LVIII.

87 These range from the myth of Machiavelli as a ‘republican’, ‘participatory democrat’, ‘innovator’, ‘patriot’, and ‘revolutionary’ symbol. See Pettit, Philip, Republicanism: A Theory of Freedom and Government (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999); Bock, Gisela, Skinner, Quentin, and Viroli, Maurizio, Machiavelli and Republicanism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990); Skinner, Quentin, ‘Machiavelli and the maintenance of freedom’, Politics, 18:3 (1983), pp. 315 ; McCormick, John P., ‘Machiavelli against republicanism: On the Cambridge School’s “Guicciardinian Moments”’, Political Theory, 31:5 (2003), pp. 615643 ; John G. A. Pocock, The Machiavellian Moment: Florentine Political Thought and the Atlantic Republican Tradition (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1975); Voegelin, ‘Machiavelli’s Prince’; Croce, ‘Una questione che forse non si chiuderà mai’; Georg W. F. Hegel, The German Constitution, in Laurence Dickey and H. Barry Nisbet (eds), Political Writing (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), pp. 6102 ; Gramsci, QC13.

88 Foucault, Michel, Security, Territory, Population: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1977–78 (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008), pp. 138140 .

89 Balibar, Etienne, ‘Essere principe, essere populare: the principle of antagonism in Machiavelli’s epistemology’, in Fabio Frosini, Filippo Del Lucchese, and Vittorio Morfino (eds), The Radical Machiavelli: Politics, Philosophy, and Language (Leiden: Brill, 2015), p. 351 .

90 Gramsci, respectively QC13, p. 125; Q19, p. 207.

91 The international system was undergoing epochal changes, due to the disarray of the Respublica Christiana – in which the idea of a common destiny united together the Latin West against Asian threats – and the establishment of new ‘national’ legal jurisdictions in France (1469), England (1485), and Spain (1492). Internally, Italy witnessed a volatile and unstable balance of power, characterised by an oscillating system of alliance among the four main city-states: the kingdom of Naples in the south; the aristocratic republic of Venice in the northeast; the duchy of Milan in the northwest; and Florence and the Papal States in the centre. Russell, Gregg, ‘Machiavelli’s science of statecraft’, Diplomacy and Statecraft, 16:2 (2005), pp. 227250 ; Watson, Adam, The Evolution of the International System: A Comparative Historical Analysis (2nd edn, London: Routledge 2009), pp. 116140 .

92 Rosenberg, Justin, ‘Secret origins of the state: the structural basis of raison d’état ’, Review of International Studies, 18:2 (1992), pp. 131159 (p. 132).

93 Gramsci, QC13, pp. 126–9.

94 Anderson, Perry, Passages from Antiquity from Antiquity to Feudalism (London: Western Printing Services Ltd, 1974), pp. 150151 .

95 Tilly, Charles, ‘War making and state making as organised crime’, in Peter B. Evans, Dietrich Rueschemeyer, and Theda Skocpol (eds), Bringing the State Back (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985), pp. 169191 (p. 174).

96 Derrida, Jacques, The Beast & the Sovereign (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2009), p. 84 .

97 Breiner, ‘Machiavelli’s “new Prince”’, p. 70.

98 The wide use of concessive clauses and his tendency to move from the exception to the rule in Machiavelli’s writing confirm this logic of exceptionality. See Fredi Chiappelli, Nuovi studi sul linguaggio del Machiavelli (Firenze, Le Monnier, 1969); Ginsburg, Carlo, ‘Machiavelli, l’Eccezione e la Regola: Linee di una Ricerca in Corso’, Quaderni Storici, 112:1 (2003).

99 Bobbio, Norberto, ‘Governo degli Uomini o Governo delle Leggi?’, in Norberto Bobbio (ed.), Il futuro della democrazia (Torino: Einaudi, 1984), pp. 169179 .

100 Extensively, Machiavelli, The Prince, ch. VI.

101 Ball, Terence, ‘The picaresque Prince: Reflections on Machiavelli and moral change’, Political Theory, 12:4 (1984), pp. 521536 (p. 524). In this regard, Machiavelli’s oft-quoted passage in Chapter XV – ‘a man who wishes to act entirely up to his professions of virtue soon meets with what destroys him among so much that is evil’ – is unsurprisingly similar to Weber’s considerations: ‘What is here done with good intentions but unwisely and hence with disastrous results is morally defective’. Respectively, Machiavelli, The Prince, ch. XV, p. 91; and Weber, Max, ‘Politics as a vocation’, in Hans H. Gerth and Charles W. Mills (eds), From Max Weber: Essays in Sociology (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1970), pp. 119126 .

102 Gramsci, QC13, p. 128.

103 Ball, ‘The picaresque Prince’, p. 526.

104 Necessità can be defined as ‘the point in the life of the state at which fortuna threatens to overcome virtù. Sullivan, David, ‘Machiavelli’s balance of power theory’, Social Science Quarterly, 54:2 (1997), pp. 258270 (p. 261). Pursuing a cruel behaviour may be better than indulging in ‘being too compassionate, [and] allow[ing] disorders which lead to murder and rapine’. Machiavelli, The Prince, ch. XVII, p. 95.

105 Hence, Worth comments, the Prince should forge ‘a civic bond’ with the ‘common people if he is to run a successful principality’. Worth, Resistance in the Age of Austerity, p. 4.

106 Machiavelli, The Prince, ch. VIII, p. 63; and in Rinaldi (ed.), Discorsi Sopra la Prima Decade di Tito Livio, Book 3, XL, pp. 1170–1.

107 See diffusely Machiavelli in Rinaldi (ed.), Discorsi Sopra la Prima Decade di Tito Livio, Book 1, LVIII and Book 2, LVII, pp. 742–3.

108 Ibid., Book 1, LVIII, p. 709.

109 ‘Una Moltitudine sanza Capo’ is the title of Book 1, XLIV, p. 643. The reference is to Titus Livy, Ad Urbe Condita, III, p. 51.

110 Gramsci, QC13, p. 88.

111 Ibid., p. 9.

112 Ibid., p. 104.

113 Respectively, Gramsci, QC13, p. 104; and Paggi, Leonardo, ‘Machiavelli e Gramsci’, Studi Storici, 10:4 (1969), pp. 833876 (p. 843).

114 In this direction, see Cox, Robert, ‘Multilateralism and world order’, Review of International Studies, 18:2 (1992), pp. 161180 . On the relevance of Machiavelli in Gramsci’s theorisation, see also Thomas, Peter D., ‘Gramsci’s Machiavellian metaphor: Restaging The Prince ’, in Fabio Frosini, Filippo Del Lucchese, and Vittorio Morfino (eds), The Radical Machiavelli: Politics, Philosophy, and Language (Leiden: Brill, 2015), pp. 440456 .

115 In the words of Lefort, ‘Gramsci speaks of the one and the other and of what in the discourse of the one introduces us to the discourse of the other’. Lefort, Claude, Le Travail de l’Oeuvre Machiavel (Paris: Gallimard, 1972), pp. 248250 , author’s translation.

116 Gramsci, ‘The commitments of political science’, p. 12, in Paggi, ‘Machiavelli e Gramsci’, p. 868.

117 Gramsci, QC 19, p. 34.

118 Femia, Joseph V., ‘Gramsci, Machiavelli and International Relations’, Political Quarterly, 76:3 (2005), pp. 341349 (p. 346).

119 Politics as it ought to be, in Gramsci’s understanding, should not indulge in moralism: ‘we need to see whether the “ought to be” is an arbitrary or a necessary act; concrete willingness or velleity’. Gramsci, QC13, p. 135.

120 Compare with Croce’s reference to Marx as ‘the Machiavelli of the proletariat’ in Croce, Benedetto, Materialismo storico ed economia marxistica (Rome–Bari: Laterza, 1968), p. 112 .

121 Fontana, Benedetto, Hegemony and Power On the Relation between Machiavelli and Gramsci (Minneapolis: Minnesota University Press, 1993), p. 1 .

122 Gramsci, QC13, p. 86.

123 Ibid., p. 104.

124 A revolution, in this perspective, would not stem either from the deterministic conflation of the contradictions of capitalism or from the rationalistic design of a class of enlightened intellectuals, as respectively Marx and Croce assumed. Departing from Cuoco’s distinction between passive and active revolution, Gramsci suggests that a revolution takes steps from the capacity of the intellectuals to elaborate the rudimentary ‘ideas of the people’, who ‘at times glimpse nearly instinctively, often follow with enthusiasm, but seldom are able to form by themselves’.

125 Machiavelli, The Prince, ch. XVIII, p. 101.

126 For a critical discussion of the word vulgo, see Machiavelli, Niccoló, The Prince, trans. with an Introduction and Notes by James B. Atkinson (Indianapolis/Cambridge: Hackett Publishing Company Inc., 1976), p. 284 .

127 Gramsci, QC13, p. 152.

128 Beyond Marxism, Gramsci was greatly influenced by his linguistic background and attracted by the works of scholars such as Croce’s Hegelian linguistic and Bartoli’s connection between ‘linguistic influence’ and ‘cultural power’ (Bartoli as quoted in Peter R. Ives, ‘Vernacular materialism: Antonio Gramsci and the theory of language’ (unpublished PhD thesis submitted to the Faculty of Graduate Studies of York University Toronto, Ontario, May 2008), p. 54. Gramsci saw the study of language as an integral part of studies of cultural hegemony and the Italian nation. Indeed, in Italy the question of language was no mere academic disquisition. The use of dialects in a country that underwent different foreign dominations outlived the 1870 unification. The ‘imposition’ of Italian as the national language was urged by Mussolini in 1931–2. While Croce espoused the ideal of a national language as the cradle of the nation, Gramsci warned against the perils of an elite-imposed language and advocated a common language grounded on a unified national experience.

129 For Machiavelli it is the spirit of laws, imitation of great examples, education and civic culture that make a united people strong. For Gramsci, the conditions for popular accomplishment is culture, defined as ‘the organisation, 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 historical value, one’s own function in life, one own rights and obligations’. Gramsci, Antonio, ‘Socialismo e Cultura’, in David Forgacs (ed.), The Gramsci Reader – Selected Writings 1916–1935 (New York: New York University Press, 2000), p. 57 .

130 Lefort, Le Travail de l’Oeuvre Machiavel, p. 246.

131 Bergson, Henry, Creative Evolution (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1911).

132 Gramsci, The Prince, author’s translation.

133 Alderisio, F., ‘La Politica del Machiavelli nella Rivalutazione dell’Hegel e del Fichte’, Nuova Rivista Storica, XV:3–4 (1931), pp. 273298 , as quoted in Gramsci, QC13, p. 129.

134 Lefort, Le Travail de l’Oeuvre Machiavel, pp. 248–51.

135 Althusser, Machiavelli and Us, pp. 65–6; Frosini, Fabio, ‘Luigi Russo e Georges Sorel: Sulla Genesi del “Moderno Principe” nei “Quaderni del carcere” di Antonio Gramsci’, Studi Storici, 54:3 (2013), pp. 543590 .

136 Thomas, Peter D., ‘Hegemony, passive revolution and the Modern Prince’, Thesis Eleven, 117:1 (2013), pp. 2041 (p. 27).

137 See, for example, the objections moved by Femia, ‘Gramsci, Machiavelli and International Relations’; and Germain, Randall D. and Kenny, Michael, ‘Engaging Gramsci: International Relations theory and the new Gramscians’, Review of International Studies, 24:1 (1998), pp. 321 .

138 Gill, ‘The post-modern Prince’; Owen, Resistance in the Age of Austerity.

139 Martines, Lauro, Power and Imagination: City-States in Renaissance Italy (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1979), p. 299 .

140 Jeffery, Renee, ‘Tradition as invention: the Traditions Tradition and the history of ideas in International Relations’, Millennium: Journal of International Studies, 34:1 (2005), pp. 5784 .

141 Coletta, Damon and Carrese, Paul, ‘America’s Machiavelli problem: Restoring prudent leadership in US strategy’, Strategic Studies Quarterly, Winter Edition (2015), p. 18 .

142 See, for example, Babíc, Milan, ‘Realism as critical theory: the international thought of E. H. Carr’, International Studies Review, 15:4 (2013), pp. 491514 ; Cox, Robert, ‘E. H. Carr and the crisis of twentieth-century liberalism: Reflections and lessons’, Millennium: Journal of International Studies, 38:3 (2010), pp. 111 .

143 Sayer, Andrew, Method in Social Science: A Realist Approach (London: Routledge, 1992), pp. 56 .

144 Niiniluoto, Ilkka, Critical Scientific Realism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999), p. 42 .

145 Duncan S. Bell (ed.), Political Thought and International Relations: Variations on a Realist Theme (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009).

146 For an articulation of the theory of hegemony as a project, see Thomas, ‘Hegemony, passive revolution and the Modern Prince’, p. 27.

147 Balibar, ‘Essere principe, essere populare’, p. 349.

148 Ashley, Richard, ‘Untying the sovereign state: a double reading of the anarchy problematique’, Millennium – Journal of International Studies, 17:2 (1988), pp. 227262 .

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Review of International Studies
  • ISSN: 0260-2105
  • EISSN: 1469-9044
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