"New York and the mystery of Naples"

Submitted by martin on 18 November, 2012 - 7:33

New York and the mystery of Naples: a journey through Gramsci's world: a 47 minute video on Gramsci.

Click here to view the film.

It opens with Sardinian immigrant workers in Wolfsburg, drawing an analogy between them and factory workers in Turin in Gramsci's time.

Then it reverts to Gramsci's childhood in Sardinia.

It takes us to Turin. (It describes Gramsci as studying philosophy at university; in fact his course was in linguistics, though he attended many lectures outside his subject. It describes the Italian Socialist Party as aiming for "national unification" of Italy, although that had been achieved decades earlier).

Then Gramsci's time working on the Socialist Party paper Avanti: the film focuses on his work as theatre critic rather than his political writing, which was more extensive.

There's a short interview with a worker militant, now elderly, from the 1920 factory occupations; and a short reference to Ordine Nuovo.

Then the film skips in a matter of seconds through the foundation of the Italian Communist Party (early 1921), Gramsci's time in the USSR (mid 1922 to late 1923), his period in the leadership of the Italian CP (1924-26), to Gramsci's jailing in late 1926.

The film gives some time to Gramsci's observation of his fellow-prisoners.

Then it moves to his comments in the Prison Notebooks on Americanism, Taylorism, and Fordism.

It has an American social-democratic academic, Cornel West, talking about the "creative popular spirit", and the Palestinian-American leftish academic Edward Said talking about American ideology.

It gives odd emphasis to Gramsci's scanty comments on jazz (cf http://www.nazioneindiana.com/2012/01/15/gramscession/)

And, then, for no special reason, it has an African-American pastor talking about black identity in the USA.

An Italian trade unionist from the 1980s talks about Taylorism still operating then.

Rossana Rossanda, an Italian leftist formerly of Il Manifesto, talks briefly.

Dario Fo talks on the plight of the working class in the 1990s.

Edward Said talks again, on the relevance of the idea of "hegemony" to his own analysis of Orientalism.

Gramsci's 1926 essay on the Southern Question in Italy is cited as a model for analysis of North and South (with an implication that it was a pioneer Marxist exploration of imperialism, which it surely was not).

The film concludes on the "mystery of Naples".

Gramsci wrote:

"On the so-called 'mystery of Naples': it is... right to demolish the legend of the organic vagabondry of the Neapolitans, and to point out that, on the contrary, they are very active and industrious. But the question consists in examining the actual result of their industry. It is not in itself productive... Naples is the city where the majority of Southern landowners... spend the income from their estates. Around some tens of thousands of these landowning families, of greater or lesser importance, together with their immediate retinues of servants and lackeys, is organised the practical life of a large part of the city, its artisanal industries, its itinerant trades and the incredible way in which the immediate supply of goods and services is split up among the multitude of layabouts who hang around the streets... 'Productive' industry, in the sense of one that creates and accumulates new goods, is relatively small..."

Gramsci drew conclusions about the reactionary and parasitic role of a large part of Italy's petty bourgeoisie, but the film does not expand on them.

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