Althusser

eugeneh 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
          seen one.)

          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.

          Gene Holland


     ------------------



More information about the Marxism mailing list