The Great Gramsci
Jayatilleka calls for the construction of a new public imagination from Antonio Gramsci’s thinking. As with every serious revolutionary from Mao and Ho Chi Minh to Fidel Castro and Amilcar Cabral, Gramsci combined class, mass, and nation into a “majoritarian” bloc. The left learned from what he wrote on hegemony and culture but missed important themes of the nation, nation building, and state building. On the left, there is an absence of global public imagination, leaving competing blocs of opinion containing legitimate and justifiable elements. All round the compass, nationalist populism, even when it doesn’t enjoy an arithmetical majority, seems to embody the Rousseauvian general will. A neo-progressive project needs to grapple with the crisis of neoliberalism, learning from the Latin American left to reject hegemonic liberal-“humanitarian” interventionism. It must acknowledge that whenever violence is wittingly used against the innocent, against unarmed civilians, be it by states or movements, it is terrorism and is therefore wrong and must be opposed. It must eschew rightwing nationalism and refuse to concede the nation and patriotism to the right. Thus, it is time for neo-progressives to occupy the moral high ground, while always grasping the order and realities of politics and power.