dialectic

Ralph Dumain rdumain at igc2.igc.apc.org
Mon Feb 20 22:50:05 MST 1995


I just finished reading ALTHUSSER'S MARXISM by Alex Callinicos, an
exceptionally tight exposition.  I'm not really into this subject
these days but I needed some interesting toilet reading.
Althusser had some interesting early ideas about
structure-in-dominance and science, but he only dug himself deeper
into the slime pit during the course of his career as he committed
one abomination after another trying to extricate himself from his
initial errors.  Callinicos deftly exposes Althusser's weaknesses
and contraditions at several points, not to mention his odious
Stalinism, but leaves the root of Althusser's evil untouched, to
wit: (1) theoretical anti-humanism, (2) the epistemological break,
(3) Althusser's pack of lies about THE GERMAN IDEOLOGY.  Evidently
Callinicos is sympathetic to Althusser here, and so his Achilles
heel becomes apparent too.

There is an interesting discussion of the historical rifts in
Marxist philosophy, and of the Hegel-Marx relation, which lead up
to Althusser's particular resolution for himself of these
dilemmas.  More should have been said about Hegel's dialectic: the
only problem mentioned was teleology.  The treatment was too
anemic.  Callinicos himself is anti-Hegelian.

I started out with the very interests in philosophy and science
that animate folks like Althusser and Callinicos, but I see no
need to suppress other things in order to hold onto these things.
I don't buy from the gitgo this dichotomous bag of structure vs.
agency that creates false constructs like Gouldner's two marxisms,
western vs. orthodox marxism, humanist vs. scientific marxism,
young Marx vs. old Marx, Marx vs. Engels, old Lenin vs. young
Lenin, reading Capital politically vs. reading Capital
scientifically (Harry Cleaver), Paul Gilroy vs. Callinicos, ad
nauseam.  What a bloody waste!


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