eugeneh at HUMANITIES1.COHUMS.OHIO-STATE.EDU
Thu Aug 11 14:27:21 MDT 1994
(That was a back-handed defense of Althusser, if I've ever
Phil is right when he says that "Althusser made Marxism
scientific," or that he tried to, anyway -- but *this* is
precisely the part of his reformulations of Marxism that "no
one [has taken up] in a serious way" and that Althusser
himself "recanted" in a later work.
In fact, Althusser had almost *nothing* whatsoever to say
about reformulating Marx's *economic* doctrine; at most he
suggested a new way of understanding the *place* of "the
economic" in a non-Hegelian ("structuralist") totality. But
this had no perceivable bearing on Marxist economics per se.
What he *did* do (or at least what he put on the agenda and
launched as a project) was to excise Hegelian philosophy of
history from Marxism -- which enables Marx's economic
doctrine to shine forth "uncontaminated" by Hegelian
residues. (Among those who continue to use and improve upon
Althusser in productive ways are Teresa de Lauretis and
Resnick and Wolff.)
One of Althusser's mistakes, it seems to me, was to try to
locate a *moment* (textual and/or biographical) at which
Marx finally abandoned Hegel and became Marx himself: such
an "epistemological break" is an inconvenient fiction.
Marx's entire oeuvre is in fact riddled with Hegelianisms,
and one perennial task for Marxists -- following yet
surpassing Althusser -- is to weed out the baleful Hegelian
influences from the fruitful ones. Hegelian philosophy of
history, as Francois Furet as well as Althusser have shown,
has got to go.
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