Antonio Gramsci: The Role of Intellectuals

Antonio Gramsci was an early 20th century Italian Marxist philosopher and writer.  Imprisoned, he wrote much of his work from the jail cell (Prison Notebooks).  His theory of the intellectual and of cultural hegemony are among his two most notable ideas.  Cutting through all the Gramscian verboseness, we’ll examine Gramsci’s understanding of the intellectual and … Continue reading Antonio Gramsci: The Role of Intellectuals

Leo Strauss: The Three Waves of Modernity

Leo Strauss (1899-1973) was one of the most important historians of political philosophy in the 20th century.  A Jewish emigre to America in the 1930s, Strauss made his name as an exegete of the classics (Plato, Aristotle, and Thucydides especially; Al-Farabi, Avicenna, and Maimonides among Arab-Islamic and Jewish medieval philosophers, and Sts. Augustine and Thomas … Continue reading Leo Strauss: The Three Waves of Modernity

Marx’s Dialectical Historicism

One of the core elements to Karl Marx’s philosophy was his dialectical materialism and historicism, which come together in his dialectical historicism.  Most people are probably familiar with it.  There are five distinct stages (or epochs) of history: slavery, feudalism, capitalism, socialism, and communism.  But the movement of history is not linear-progressive, it is cyclical; … Continue reading Marx’s Dialectical Historicism

Simone de Beauvoir: The Woman in Love

“The word ‘love’ has not at all the same meaning for both sexes, and this is a source of the grave misunderstandings that separate them. Byron rightly said that love is merely an occupation in the life of the man, while it is life itself for the woman.”  This are the opening sentences to Beauvoir’s … Continue reading Simone de Beauvoir: The Woman in Love

Simone de Beauvoir: The Second Sex

Simone de Beauvoir stands alongside Jean Paul Sartre and Albert Camus as the trinity of French existentialist writers that most people will encounter in their dealings with modern 20th century existentialism after Heidegger.  Influenced by philosophers like Augustine, Hegel, Marx, and Heidegger, the French existentialists took their intellectual forebears and turned them in new directions.  … Continue reading Simone de Beauvoir: The Second Sex

Karl Marx: Song of a Sailor at Sea

"Song of a Sailor at Sea": You may frolic and beat and roll Round my boat just as you will, You must carry me to my goal; For you are my subjects still. Blue waves beneath that now, My little brother's there. You dragged him down below, His bones became your fare. I was a … Continue reading Karl Marx: Song of a Sailor at Sea

The Decline and Fall of the Internationalist Left

Edward Gibbon, in his masterful The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, rhetorically retorted that “Instead of inquiring why the Roman empire was destroyed, we should rather be surprised that it had subsisted so long.”  Should one approach the rise, influence, and fall of the Anti-Stalinist Left (or after the Cold … Continue reading The Decline and Fall of the Internationalist Left