Study Guide

Antonio Gramsci Files

Antonio's Organic, Free-Range Farm

You've heard it from Gramsci himself that the word "organic" in his work is more about parts-and-wholes than about farmers-market produce. That's still true. But we at Shmoop wanted to conduct this thought experiment all the same, to bring the great Gramsci's work to bear on today's food politics.

If old Antonio were a chicken farmer, here's what he'd do with the birds in his care:

  1. He'd feed them only ethically farmed, union-label feed, that's for sure. 
  2. He'd wake up every morning with the roosters, whose chants he'd have all the farm workers memorize along with their Latin conjugations and logical syllogisms. 
  3. That's right: there would be a school on the premises—and a good one, too. Subjects would include Latin, logic, history, linguistics, and cultural studies, and students would combine work experience with time spent in the classroom. We're talking vocational and theoretical training here.
  4. Workers would, of course, also be unionized.
  5. So would chickens, with one hen appointed rep for each henhouse.
  6. Hen reps would be democratically elected, but Farmer Antonio himself would serve as head of the whole union operation. He cut his teeth on labor organizing, after all, and he wrote all about leadership in his Prison Notebooks.
  7. Eggs would be distributed only to ethically and politically righteous local grocery stores. Deliveries to homes would require that all households requesting delivery be tested on civics first, and pass.
  8. Civics tests would include essay sections on philosophy.
  9. Anyone who didn't pass the test but still wanted egg deliveries would need to enroll in the farm's on-site school for one semester of civics and philosophy prior to delivery.
  10. The grass wouldn't be greener anywhere else.