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Wednesday, March 10, 2021

The Modern Prince and the Jacobins

In his Prison Notebooks, the Italian communist thinker Antonio Gramsci calls Machiavelli the “precocious Jacobin” in whose work, The Prince, political ideology and political science get represented not in the form of a utopia or a scholarly treatise but in the dramatic form of a myth. He declares that the communist party is the Modern Prince and it must use Jacobin force to unleash communism in society. Bringing the Modern Prince and Jacobinism together means ending the conflict between the myth and the critique of the myth—or between the utopian (revolutionary) and the reactionary (counterrevolutionary). Gramsci exhorts the communist movements to hold together in a dialectical unity the utopian enterprise and the reaction to the utopian enterprise. The liberals can be viewed as the inheritors of Gramsci’s communism—they operate by holding in a dialectical unity the forces which can act to create the utopia (bureaucracy, financial institutions, law and order machinery, and big businesses) and the forces which can try to counter the utopia (academia, media, and entertainment industry).

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