To the Pillars of Hercules? C.B. Macpherson, Antonio Gramsci, and the pandemic as an “organic crisis” of the global neoliberal order


C.B. Macpherson developed the concepts of «possessive individualism» and «transfer of powers» in his highly influential work on seventeenth-century English political thought, wherein he found core elements of doctrines of property that exerted a lasting influence over the global liberal order. Antonio Gramsci devoted many pages in his Prison Notebooks to the contradictions inherent in that order, which if combined in a given conjuncture, might constitute its «organic crisis», in which capitalism’s consistent contradictions are qualitatively transformed by new elements so that the entire system itself is placed in question. Covid-19 can be represented as an organic crisis of the global neoliberal order which, since the 1970s, has made possessive individualism a veritable secular religion: it presages, although it does not itself inaugurate, a systemic challenge to bourgeois civilization.

Macpherson; Possessive Individualism; Gramsci; Organic Crisis; Covid-19.

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