Gramsci’s critique of Croce on the Catholic Church

Takahiro Chino*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Antonio Gramsci rigorously analysed the modern transformation of the Catholic Church and its strategy to spread its worldview to the Italian masses through secular means. His critique of the Church largely drew on his examination of the grounds that ensured Croce’s critique was doomed to failure. Despite its harshness, Croce’s critique failed because he did not grasp that the main target of the Church’s strategy was the common sense of the masses, while Croce pursued his critique in a highly idealist manner, appealing only to his fellow intellectuals. He thereby, according to Gramsci, helped to reinforce the Church’s strategy by endorsing the rigid separation between the intellectuals and the masses. In contrast, unlike Croce and orthodox Marxism, Gramsci did not dismiss religion as a mere absurdity, recognising it as a source of people’s common sense that, albeit confusing in nature, informed their worldview. Gramsci considered that even the common sense of the masses constituted an appropriate grasp of the world, or ‘good sense’. In this sense, Gramsci’s critique of religion echoed his preoccupation with the longstanding division of Italian society between the intellectuals and the masses, which prevented mass participation in politics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)175-189
Number of pages15
JournalHistory of European Ideas
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Feb 17


  • Catholicism
  • Croce
  • Gramsci
  • common sense
  • religion
  • superstructure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Philosophy


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