Charging The Cavalry
Down Prison Road
Games of Shame
Our Kind of Guy
Zaps - 10/10
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Book by Antonio A. Santucci; New York: Monthly Review Press, 2010, 176 pp.
The status quo thrives in the digital age across the U.S. in 2010, fueling a toxic brew of popular fear and rage. Would Antonio Gramsci (1891 to 1937), the Sardinian activist and theorist, be surprised? I rather doubt it. Reading a biography of the author, journalist, and theorist by Antonio A. Santucci, a Gramsci scholar, drives the point home. He brings into sharp focus Gramsci and his political and prison writings.
A letter that Gramsci wrote to his wife gives us a sense of his self-critical character. In a telling incident, Gramsci encountered a divide in Italy between soldiers and workers in the north (urban) and south (rural). Santucci explores how Gramsci came to understand both sides during labor strife. The communist from Sardinia emerges as a robust thinker. For instance, he probes the causes and consequences of the participants' views of each other and themselves as a basis for future strategy. "Here, too, we can discern a significant aspect of Gramsci's method," Santucci writes. "Action and political ferment are revisited with the passing of time and turned into an object and model of science inquiry."
Gramsci's view on order and disorder under capitalism and socialism is noteworthy. This section is relevant to the current period. Think of the mainstream's oft-repeated claim that alternatives to business-as-usual are doomed to failure. "Proof" is the failures of previous attempts. The former Soviet Union and Cuba now are so-called cases in point. In any event, writing of a socialist theory and strategy, Gramsci urges proponents to be bold, to make concrete their strivings for a new society that privileges people's capacities. He continues, writing of anti-capitalist partisans: "The legal maxim that they want to realize is to make the complete realization of one's own human personality a possible for all citizens." Gramsci thinks big. In fact, he foreshadows social movements in Latin America now, i.e., Bolivia under President Evo Morales. That is, the concept of all people living well, with full bellies, spare time, and meaningful work.
Gramsci's prose after the Mussolini dictatorship imprisoned him is a treasure trove. Take the Letters from Prison. They are mainly Gramsci's missives to his family members and close friends. Santucci deftly weaves his descriptions of Gramsci's life under arduous circumstances with his familial relations. Friends also nurtured Gramsci's disciplined studies as a locked-up political prisoner who read and wrote voraciously. One friend was Piero Sraffa, the famed author and political economist. He with Gramsci's sister-in-law provided intellectual stimulus to combat his cruel isolation and deprivation at the hands of the Italian government.
In the Prison Notebooks, Gramsci digs deeply into concepts that have entered the language of resistance today, from civil society and hegemony to ideology. Consider Gramsci's analysis of a society's ruling ideas. In our time, one is the idea that the marketplace works best when government protects and regulates financial and industrial firms in their interests. Gramsci wrestles with a clearer understanding of this process, which in the U.S. sees an upper class crushing working people, while strident factions of the well-heeled fund anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim hysteria to better bolster elite control generally.
Santucci brings us a clearer picture of how Gramsci's critique of changing the status quo from the grassroots calls for a "war of position." This warfare requires patience and commitment to study to win. Here and in other areas of his study, Gramsci pays close attention to everyday details. Take his writings on culture. For example, Gramsci grasped the personal and political meanings of the popularity of African-American music among Europeans nearly a century past. Then as now such art forms can engender within people a conscience striving for a more humane future. Gramsci's analysis gives historic context to today's widespread appeal of black-inspired hip hop dress, lyrics, and rhythms in the young of many backgrounds.
Santucci ends with two appendixes. One is a biographical chronology of Gramsci. The other features biographies of main political figures. He wraps up with notes and an index. For those new and old to Gramsci, Santucci's book is a fine read.
Seth Sandronsky lives and writes in Sacramento.
Z Magazine Archive
HUMAN RIGHTS - The U.S. Human Rights Network will celebrate its 10th anniversary with the Advancing Human Rights 2013 Conference, December 6-8, in Atlanta, GA.
Contact: 250 Georgia Avenue SE, Suite 330, Atlanta, GA 30312; firstname.lastname@example.org; http:// www.ushrnetwork.org/.
AFRICAN/SOCIALIST - The Sixth Congress of the African People’s Socialist Party USA will be held December 7-11, in St. Petersburg, FL.
Contact: 1245 18th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33705; 727- 821-6620; info@aps puhuru.org; http://asiuhuru.org/.
SCHOOLS - The Dignity in Schools Campaign (DSC) will host a workshop on the DSC “Model Code on Education and Dignity: Presenting A Human Rights Framework for Schools” at the Mid-Hudson Region NY State Leadership Summit on School Justice Partnerships, December 11 in White Plains, NY.
Contact: http://www.dignityin schools.org/.
ANARCHIST/BOOKFAIR - The Humboldt Anarchist Book Fair will be held December 14, in Eureka, CA.
Contact: humboldtgrassroots @riseup.net; http://humbold tanarchist bookfair.wordpress. com/.
CLIMATE - The World Symposium on Sustainable Development at Universities is hosting a follow-up event to the 2012 Rio de Janeiro symposium. The gathering will be held in Qatar on January 28-30, 2014.
Contact: http://environment.tufts. edu/.
LABOR - The United Association for Labor Education (UALE) will host Organizing for Power: A New Labor Movement for the New Working Class in Los Angeles, March 26-29. Proposals are due December 15.
Contact: LAWCHA, 226 Carr Building (East Campus), Box 90719, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708-0719;lawcha @duke. edu; http://lawcha.org/.
MEDIA FELLOWSHIP - The Media Mobilizing Project is seeking applicants for the first annual Movement Media Fellowship Program. The Fellow will work with MMP to produce the spring season of Media Mobilizing Project TV. MMPTV is a news and talk show that tells the stories of local communities organizing to win human rights and build a movement to end poverty.
Contact: 4233 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19104; 215-821- 9632; milena@media mobilizing.org; http://www.media mobilizing.org/.
RACE - The 7th Facing Race: A National Conference will be held in Dallas, TX November 13-15, 2014. Organizers, educators, artists, funders and everyone interested in racial equity is invited to exchange best practices and learn about innovative models and successful organizing initiatives. Proposals must be submitted by January 24, 2014.
Contact: Race Forward, 32 Broadway, Suite 1801, New York, NY 10004; 212-513-7925; media @raceforward.org; http://race forward.org/.
VETERANS - They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return from America’s Wars - The Untold Story, by Ann Jones, is about the journey of veterans from the moment of being wounded in rural Afghanistan to their return home.
Contact: Haymarket Books, PO Box 180165, Chicago, IL 60618; 773-583-7884; http://www.haymarketbooks.org/.
LIBYA - Destroying Libya and World Order: The Three-Decade U.S. Campaign to Terminate the Qaddafi Revolution, by Francis A. Boyle, is a history and critique of American foreign policy from Reagan to Obama.
Contact: Clarity Press, Inc., Ste. 469, 3277 Roswell Rd. NE, Atlanta, GE 30305; 404-647-6501; email@example.com; http://www. claritypress.com/.
CHILDREN - Fannie and Freddie by Becky Z. Dernbach is about two bumbling villains who gamble away the savings of the people of Homeville.
Contact: fannieandfreddiebook @gmail.com; http://fannieand freddie.org/.
PROTEST/COMIC - Fight the Power!: A Visual History of Protest Among English Speaking Peoples, by Sean Michael Wilson and Benjamin Dickson is a graphic narrative that explains how people have fought against oppression.
Contact: Seven Stories Press, 140 Watts Street, New York, NY 10013; 212-226-8760; info@ sevenstories.com; http://www. sevenstories.com.
CHILDREN - Brave Girl by Michelle Markel and illustrated by Melissa Sweet is the true story of Clara Lemlich, a young Ukrainian immigrant who led the largest strike of women workers in U.S. history.
Contact: http://www.harpercollins childrens.com/Kids/.
FESTIVAL - The 2014 Queer Women of Color Film Festival will be held June 13-15 in San Francisco. The festival is currently accepting submissions until December 31.
Contact: QWOCMAP, 59 Cook Street, San Francisco, CA 94118-3310; 415-752-0868; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.qwocmap.org/.
IRAQ/REFUGEES - Ten years after the U.S.-led war in Iraq, thousands of displaced Iraqi refugees are still facing a crisis in the United States. The Lost Dream follows Nazar and Salam who had to flee Iraq in order to avoid threats by Al- Qaeda-affiliated groups and Iraqi insurgents that consider them “traitors” for supporting U.S. forces in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Contact: Typecast Films, 888- 591-3456; info@type castfilms. com; http://type castfilms.com/.
HUMAN RIGHTS - Lyrical Revolt! III will be held December 4 in Syracuse, NY. The event will feature hip-hop musician Anhel whose album Young, Gifted, and Brown was just released. The event is sponsored by ANSWER Syracuse, Liberation News, and SyracuseHip Hop.com. Performers and artists are encouraged to send submissions.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.answercoalition.org/syracuse/.
FOLK - Musician Painless Parker has released his album Music for miscreants, malcontents and misanthropes featuring “Fuck Yeah, the Working Class.”
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://painlessparkermusic.com/.
COMEDY - Political comedian Lee Camp’s new album Pepper Spray the Tears Away has been released.