Home/Rod Dreher/Catechism By Gramsci

Catechism By Gramsci

The tomb of Antonio Gramsci, influential Italian Marxist (NICOLA MESSANA PHOTOS / Shutterstock.com)

Here’s a bit from Catholic theologian Tracey Rowland:

Thus, in order to destroy their power [i.e., the power of the ruling classes in Christian countries], it followed that one had to undermine the so-called cultural hegemony of Christianity itself.

Different Marxist factions had different ideas about how best to go about this. The Italian Communist Antonio Gramsci drew a distinction between what he called a “war of manoeuvre” and a “war of position.” The war of manoeuvre was the Stalinist model. One simply used political violence to achieve one’s ends. But Gramsci thought this would not work in the more highly developed Western countries. For these countries, he recommended a war of position. A war of position is one in which one first identifies “switch-points of social power” and then one seeks to peacefully take control of those switch-points. The switch-points all relate to the field of cultural values – in particular, the arts and education. The most important switch-points of power are positions like school principal, university professor, government policy maker, education department bureaucrat and journalist.

In 1967, Rudi Dutschke, a German student leader, reformulated Antonio Gramsci’s philosophy of cultural hegemony with the phrase, “The long march through the institutions.” Instead of a long military march, such as the one undertaken by the Chinese Marxist Maoist Tse-Tung, in the highly developed western countries the long march would be through the most culturally significant of our social institutions – that is, through schools, universities, courts, parliaments and through the media, through newspapers and television.

Here, from Villanova theologian Katie Grimes, is an example of this long march. She’s teaching this course in the fall:

22481 THL 4490-002 RACISM and the CATHOLIC CHURCH TR 4:00-5:15 Grimes

Although the Catholic church understands itself as the Body of Christ, the lived history of the church in the United States shows that the church has not been able to bring blacks and whites together as members of one body. This course will explore the way in which the church has operated as an instrument of not racial unity and justice but racial segregation and white supremacy. This course seeks to empower students to draw upon the vast resources of the Catholic theological tradition in order to supply solutions to the theological problem of white supremacy.

Now, it would be really interesting to take a course on how Roman Catholic Christianity has historically dealt — and failed to deal — with issues of race and racism. Just not one taught by über-SWPL Prof. Grimes — we have noted her rich theological and social views here, here, here, and here — whose scholarship includes advocacy for the street theology of gangsta rapper Tupac “A smokin ass nigga robbed me blind/I got a tech nine now his smokin ass is mine” Shakur. A glimpse of her views on Catholicism and racism:

Since the racially segregated space of the United States operates as a habitat of white supremacy, the vice of white supremacy pervades the church’s corporate body and thereby permeates all of its practices, including those of baptism and the Eucharist. Rather than turning to the church’s sacraments as an antidote to the vices of a presumed external culture, this paper chronicles the way in which these very practices have been corrupted by it. The church cannot reform itself from within. In order to enable these sacraments to build the body of Christ, the church must work to dismantle regnant patterns of white supremacist racial segregation in the world.

In other words, the hopelessly corrupt, in Grimes’s view, Catholic Church did not betray itself by supporting white supremacy. The Catholic Church, rather, was being what it is:

Indeed, the vice of white supremacy entered the church’s corporate body not just when the church was acting in un-Catholic ways; the church acquired this vice even by being itself. 

She goes on to say that white people (such as herself) must not be persuaded to do what she considers to be the right thing, they must be compelled to act on behalf of “Black Power,” which, she says, puts the interests of black people first:

Theologians need to learn to care less about how to persuade whites to do the right thing and more on what they need to be made to do. Rather than intensifying projects of moral suasion, the church ought to begin devising strategies of white corporate coercion. At stake is not just the justice of the church but its very identity as the body of Christ.

Just so you know, the “Racism And The Catholic Church” course at Villanova, a Catholic university, will be taught by a theologian who believes that the Catholic Church is, in its very essence, a racist institution, and that its theologians ought to be trained not to make better arguments to convert people away from racist views and practices, but to coerce whites against their will.

It seems to me that we can explain Katie Grimes’s employment one of two ways:

1. The theology department at Villanova is so politically correct that it foolishly hired a racist white theologian who wants to destroy the Catholic Church; or

2. The theology department at Villanova knows exactly what it’s doing

UPDATE: Comes the complaint that Women In Theology, the collective blog for culturally leftist female theology professors, does not explicitly invite transgendered women to participate. To which Villanova Catholic theologian Grimes responds:

Katie from Women In Theology here. Thanks for calling this to our attention. We are currently discussing ways to better avoid any form of transphobia or gender policing, and we particularly welcome advice from those who identify as genderqueer or transgender on how to do this.

For myself personally, I would consider trans women to be women full stop. I sincerely regret not realizing the exclusionary character of the language we chose and take full responsibility for it.

Oh. OK.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

leave a comment