Subversive Historian – 05/28/09

The Show Trial of Antonio Gramsci

Back in the day on May 28th, 1928, the show trial of the influential Italian intellectual Antonio Gramsci commenced. As a journalist, political activist and parliamentarian, Gramsci was arrested in November 1926 after the fascist government of Mussolini issued so-called “Exceptional decrees.” As a person who helped co-found the Italian Communist Party, Gramsci was deemed a threat to public security and was subsequently banished to the island of Ustica. When the fascist government finally set up its pseudo-legal apparatus known as the Special Tribunal for the Defense of the State, Gramsci was tried in Rome where the prosecutor stated “we must prevent this brain from functioning for twenty years.” The prison sentence given to him – surprise, surprise – was twenty years, four months and five days.

Despite the imprisonment, the fascists failed to incarcerate Gramsci’s mind which flourished behind bars. His prison notebooks continue to be highly influential today in terms of understanding politics and culture.

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