chapter  2
On Moral and Intellectual Reform
Pages 24

Constructing the culture of communism and revolution is a daily counterhegemonic and constitutive task. As I discussed in the Introduction, the factory council movement in Turin taught Gramsci that it is all too often much easier to organize resistance than it is to translate that resistance into lasting and long-lasting results. And that is the case because without an intellectual and moral reform at the heart of autonomous and rhizomatic politics, “the power still remains under capital’s control.” It is thus not simply the case that we can change the world through perpetual activism and without taking power; it is also the case that without the subjective transformations that participatory, rhizomatic and horizontal politics make possible, we cannot take power and hope to change the world. It is in the cauldron of rhizomatic and liminal forms of politics that we find highly fertile ground for the transformation of the self, even if this terrain is also highly propitious for the process of hegemony to undo the deep work of reform. Moral and intellectual reform is thus the politics of selftransformation that prepares the terrain for a leap to the stage of the “national-popular,” that is, the level at which enduring decisions can be made. The revolution of the self is needed so that when the time to make decisions arrives, activists are not going to turn out be already rehegemonized and accordingly more trusting of the established institutions of parliamentary democracy as adequate mechanisms to reach a compromise. For what is the point of moral and intellectual reform if at the decisive moment the revolution is simply going to be entrusted to the ballot box? The consciousness of intellectuals, the very people Gramsci thinks can most adequately advance the politics of moral and intellectual reform, of course reflects the complexities and contradictions of structure and superstructure and their multiple levels, phases and combinations. In Gramsci’s terms,

A new historical situation creates a new ideological superstructure whose representatives (the intellectuals) must be regarded as ‘new intellectuals’ brought forth by the new situation and not as a continuation of the preceding intelligentsia. If the ‘new’ intellectuals position themselves as the direct continuation of the previous intelligentsia,

they are not ‘new’ at all; they are not tied to the new social group that represents the new historical situation but to the residues of the old social group of which the old intelligentsia was the expression.