How Is Gramsci Relevant to People’s Struggles Today?

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Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research’s latest dossier features a discussion with MST leader Neuri Rossetto about what contemporary social struggles can learn from Gramsci’s thought.

Tricontinental Institute of Social Research’s dossier no. 54Gramsci in the Midst of Brazil’s Landless Workers’ Movement (MST), seeks to bring the work of the Italian communist Antonio Gramsci to the trenches of contemporary struggles, reinforcing the central role of the Battle of Ideas.

Gramsci was aware of the role of new intellectuals who, in actively participating in political organisations, dedicate themselves to developing popular consciousness and creating space for popular struggles to thrive, since the struggles within various cultural and intellectual institutions are as important as the struggles in the streets.

In order to shed light on contemporary social struggles that are planting seeds of hope towards building a new world, we turned to Neuri Rosseto, a national coordinator of the MST. In this interview, Rossetto reflects on Gramsci’s legacy and its current contributions, considering three main challenges ahead of us: 1) accurately identifying the adversaries who impede efforts to address the dilemmas of humanity; 2) establishing an ongoing dialogue with the working class to build a political project for each country; and 3) strengthening the organisational and political capacity of the main forces who advance our struggles.

For Rossetto, ‘overcoming the bourgeoisie requires an ever clearer and more contemporary understanding of bourgeois society’s functioning and reproduction. Furthermore, paths to political action for subaltern classes must be uncovered based on an understanding of bourgeois society’s own contradictions’.

Rossetto takes up Gramscian ideas based on an analysis of Brazil and of the world, taking into account the current period of global instability that, he says, ‘foreshadow[s] the changing of eras. These crises open up historic possibilities for the subaltern classes to challenge bourgeois society and to consolidate victories from the perspective of a socialist society’.

Brazil’s Landless Workers’ Movement (MST) – the largest militant, popular movement in Latin America – emerged at the start of the 1980s, rapidly transforming the peasant struggle into a tool to challenge authoritarianism in the midst of the military dictatorship which ruled Brazil at the time. Its actions, which go well beyond the struggle for land, include the pursuit of agrarian reform in order to democratise access to land and produce healthy foods, as well as the fight for social justice. Today, approximately 500,000 households in Brazil’s countryside are members of the MST. Some live on encampments (acampamentos) – land occupations in the throes of demanding access to fallow land – while others live on settlements (assentamentos) ­­– meaning that they have already won land ownership through struggle. These families continue to organise themselves in a participatory, democratic, and inclusive structure on local, regional, state, and national levels.
Don’t miss our latest dossierGramsci in the Midst of Brazil’s Landless Workers’ Movement (MST).