Gramsci, Antonio antôn´yô gräm´shē [key], 1891–1937, Italian political leader and theoretician. Originally a member of the Socialist party and a cofounder (1919) of the left-wing paper L'Ordine Nuovo, Gramsci helped to establish (1921) the Italian Communist party. When Benito Mussolini outlawed the party, Gramsci was imprisoned (1926–37). His posthumously published prison writings, Lettere del carcere (1947), present his theory of hegemony, which explains how a dominant class controls society and emphasizes a less dogmatic form of Communism that many intellectuals preferred to the increasingly ossified version represented by the Soviet Union.
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