Gramsci or Lenin ?

Gramsci or Lenin ?

I was trying to decide whether to start reading Lenin or start to read Gramsci to understand the political economy, labour, the state, trade unions, political parties in Canada (or I guess the USA/West would work too).

They both have tons of written work, and even more written about them. I feel like I don't have time for both right now, and would like to at least really understand one of them completely. Who would you pick?

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Unironically, if you want to understand Canada read De Leon: his american experiences are far closer.
Also some Bookchin; his critique of the American libleft applies to Canada too.

Lenin is a prerequisite for Gramsci. A lot of Gramsci's philosophy is fundamentally Leninist.


what's your problem man?

Read lenin first.

Read Ilyenkov first, comrade. And I say that as someone who isn't even a humanist.

Is de Leon even relevant in the developed west? For example the teachers pension plan here is worth $175bil (500k/teacher)much of it in real estate development and landownership and in the markets. How could u do a de Leonist or Leninist reading of civil society developing to the point of being capitalists?

Gramsci was a Leninist, so start with Lenin. Don't be convinced by the anti-Leninist Gramscians, they're either just post-structuralists who adopted Gramsci's language but not his ideas, or social-democrats who confuse Leninism with economic determinism.

Ilyenkov wasn't a humanist. He was a soviet writer.

>De Leon or Bookchin
>over Lenin or Gramsci
get the fuck out

Alright I'm going to start with Lenin. I'm thinking maybe a few primary sources and some summaries for the majority of it - so I can get the ideas but not be a total expert. - Then I'll do the more in depth study of gramsci

Any suggestions on the best secondary source to understand Lenin's main thoughts?

I've done a close reading of The State and Revolution already.

Check this out after reading Imperialism.

are there any symbols related to gramscian marxism?

Should I still call myself an ML if I read Marxists beyond Lenin and agree with their additions to Lenin?


Most of the Marxist theories on the state are centred around the class struggle of the proletariat, and in the context in the class struggle. Keep that in mind the question of state power when observing the unfolding of the class struggle, because that's how the Marxist theories of the state where developed. Gramsci, for instance, constructed his theory of counter-hegemony with the Leninist Party, a potential organ of state power, in mind.

For material written by others, I would recommend Lenin Rediscovered and Lih's biography of Lenin, but the prior is really, really big. It contains a translation of What is to Be Done? and a commentary. Only warning, Lih is a Kautskyite and tends to overestimate the influence of Kautsky on Leninism. Stalin's Foundations of Leninism can also clarify a few things, and Lukac's Lenin: a Study on the Unity of his Thought is a classic.If you want a book on Russia's dictatorship, Trotsky's Terrorism and Communism is great.

There's also these sets of articles by Lars Lih on Hegemony:

If you want more of a Marxist theory of the state, you have Engel's Origins of the Family, Private Property, and the State, and, for analysis of the state in terms of the class struggle Marx's 18 Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte and Civil War in France (the latter deals with the Paris Commune)

If you want more of Lenin, you have Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky and Two Tactics, where Lenin polemics Kautsky and the Mensheviks, respectively on the nature of the dictatorship of labor. Zizek's collection of Lenin's writings in 1917, Revolution at the Gates is pretty good. Lenin's Imperialism plays a large role in the perspective of international state politics in the context of the epoch of finance capital.


Gramsci is bad.

Gramsci is the theoretician of the united front par excellence.

he's really the theorist du jour though right now right?

Nuclear take. Read Gramsci

I can't read Gramsci as anything but an anti-Leninist.

Gramsci frequently refers to Lenin using euphemisms you dingus. Unless you're a Trot who thinks Stalinism is anti-Leninist because Gramsci was a hardcore Stalinist, there's no justification for interpretating Gramsci as anything but a Leninist.

they smuggled gramsci's writing into the ussr, and only published it when stalin died. it's considered that gramsci wasn't assassinated by stalin only b/c he was being guarded in jail.

This doesn't negate the fact that Gramsci was an avid supporter of Stalin and held a proactive influence of the purging of the Italian Communists of Trotskyists.

There's also the fact that Gramsci's assumption throughout his writings on counter-hegemony, that the counter-hegemony was to be the Leninist Party.

Like I said, the reading of Gramsci in an anti-Marxist, that is to say anti-Leninist, manner, is result of the post-structuralist Edward Said's use of Gramsci's language under a Foucaltian guise. That and the association of Marxism with economic determinism lead revisionists creatively interpreting Gramsci as an anti-Leninist rather than assert the truth - that authentic Leninism is not an economic determinism.

I think he is the rightful successor to marxist-leninism in the west, but no one actual works within the superstructure to allow for the later more important war of movement to take place, the war of position is only fought in the west by liberals and succdems and doesn't have the character to build a proletariat hegemony.

Gramsci's entire notion of revolution is opposite to that of Lenin's. Gramsci is definitely Marxist but he doesn't make sense as anything but a Marxist alternative to Leninism.

And no one gives a fuck about Said. I'm talking about respectable Marxist thinkers like Paul Piccone and Kolakowski.

No thanks

Care to elaborate?

sounds about right


sauce, pls

When I made the prior list, I should have included Lukac's study of Lenin given it's brevity and importance

Firstly, Kolakowski isn't a respectable Marxist.

Secondly, I was refering to two seperate phenomena, the prior being how Gramsci is popularly (mis)interpreted. The latter was of social-democrats understanding Leninism to be stagist economic determinism, which is a fundamental misunderstaning of Leninism. Only if you consider Leninism an economic determinism can you interpret Gramsci as an anti-Leninist.

To quote Gramsci himself from the Notebooks, "In this field, the struggle can and must be carried on by developing the concept of hegemony - as has been done in practice in the development of the theory of the political party (By Lenin, What is to Be Done?, etc)" Prior to this Gramsci conflates economic determinism with "economism". To Gramsci, the fight against economic determism is the same fight of the Leninist against "spontaneity".

The only way to interpret Gramsci as an anti-Leninist is to purposefully ignore Gramsci's Leninism.

Great analysis of one of Gramsci's works, give it a read.


I hope these books do a good job at explaining how Lenin personally killed and ate 20000000000 gorillion innocent orphans and why this makes Marxism equivalent to fascism.

Sounds good to me. I can't wait to read Gramsci now.

obviously they're looking at more than democide and looking at the methods of control and governance used by the two. why is it hard to accept that two contemporaneous states made use of the same novel methods of control?


well i won't defend gregor, i looked up on amazon for reviews and a reviewer points out that gregor's agenda is suspect. i still don't think it discredits the whole book list.

and of course he didn't. but he did have a personal hand in setting up the prison regime and suppressing dissent of other socialists, among other violent actions. i like lenin but you have to accept that he and stalin set up a police state and saw violence as a means to an end.

you are like a little kid hitting toy superheroes and trains together, but instead you use words.

yet you have absolutely not read Lenin, go do that and lurk more.

regime has more than one meaning. i'm using it in the sense of "system"

I never said I have. I've read about him as a historical figure a bit though.
eventually i will

Lenin's first ever decrees consisted in giving all land to the peasants and calling for a democratic end to WWI. How's that for a police state?

buddy, stfu and read a book

Lenin wanted a system where workers can instantly recall who they elect, and the state sould instantly whither away.

But then Germany didnt have their revolution to come help the russian proletariat develop + a civil war + war against foreign capital (socialism in one country is against marxism) + russia didnt have the first necessary bourgeois rev. which includes the necessary industrialization that must proceed socialism I think all lead to a reverse of Lenins land distribution and replaced it with dispossesing the land from the peasants and collectivizing which all meant the state couldnt instantly begin to whither away b/c the state still had work to do - which is all to say the bolshevik rev might been forcing the revolutionary moment. Lenin took a risk, Gramsci called it Revolution against Kapital, as lenin tried to skip an epoch.

It's time to read.

"All officials, without exception, elected and subject to recall at any time, their salaries reduced to the level of ordinary "workmen's wages" — these simple and "self-evident" democratic measures, while completely uniting the interests of the workers"\



Marx forgot to describe the State and way to communism, Lenin expands Marx and writes some plans, and you're just going to ignore the theory and idea?

why so hostile?

first decree does not hide or justify all the subsequent actions that followed. if you have to give an excuse, the correct one would be that from day one the bolsheviks were under attack and so dissent could not be tolerated while the war effort was going on.

But that's not an excuse, it's what happened. Are you saying bolsheviks should've done nothing against sabotaging and counterrevolution?

it's an "excuse" (aka justification) for why lenin did not follow up on his ambitious first decree, yes.
no. the question is, could they have fought counterrevolutionaries with a little less repression of other socialists? was the fear of "sabotage" as big a deal as they made of it to excuse red terror and setting up a prison system? I can't answer these questions really, because i still haven't read enough into the subject to come decisively on one side or another, though i feel more sympathetic for lenin than his enemies.