Annals of the Fondazione Luigi Einaudi

An Interdisciplinary Journal of Economics, History and Political Science

The Annals is a forum for the free exchange of ideas
among scholars working in the field of social sciences
Volume LII 2 - 2018

Keynes in the ‘Prison Notebooks’: A Contribution to the Reconstruction of Gramsci’s Economic Thought

Giuliano Guzzone,
pp. 169-192
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The hypothesis of a presence of Keynes’ thought in the Prison Notebooks has been occasionally advanced, but not verified in satisfactory manner, by the most recent Gramscian scholarship. In my article, I will analyse three notes, written between January and February 1933, in which it is possible to recognize Keynes’ ideas despite the absence of any explicit and direct references to Keynes. I will argue that Gramsci’s knowledge of Keynes’ thought was mainly (but not only) indirect and second-hand, and that his reflection on it should be linked to the notion of “passive revolution”, which describes the twofold process of re-definition of the bourgeois hegemony in post-liberal forms (i.e. the advent of a “totalitarian politics”) and transition of the capitalist economy from individualism to planning and organization. Therefore, I will pursue two topics: firstly, I will stress the importance of the Italian debates between liberal economists and corporatist theorists as sources for Gramsci’s writings; secondly, I will show the role of Keynes’ thought in the analysis of the forms of State economic interventionism, considered by Gramsci to be a ‘creative reaction’ to the economic crisis between the two world wars and, in particular, to the Great Depression.