Anti-politics, the early Marx and Gramsci’s ‘integral state’

SAGE Publications
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Thesis Eleven, 2018, 147 pp. 29 - 44
Issue Date:
Full metadata record
This article traces a line of theorisation regarding the state-civil society relationship, from Marx’s early writings to Gramsci’s conception of the integral state. The article argues that Marx developed, through his critique of Hegel, a valuable understanding of the state-civil society connection that emphasised the antagonism between them in capitalist societies. Alternatively, Gramsci’s conception of the ‘integral state’ posits an interconnection and dialectical unity of the state and civil society, where the latter is integrated under the leadership of the former. The article argues that while Marx and Gramsci’s positions are, at first, seemingly incongruous ideas – as to the ‘separation’ in Marx and ‘integration’ in Gramsci – this tension can be bridged when the integral state is understood as being always necessarily unstable. The article argues that this framework can help us understand the contemporary breakdown of political rule in the phenomenon known as ‘anti-politics’.
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