ALTHUSSER UP THE WAZOO

Ralph Dumain rdumain at igc.apc.org
Mon Nov 27 06:56:18 MST 1995


>My guess is that its not the formalist, idealist aspects of _For
>Marx_ that you have trouble with, but rather it is
>Althusser's rejection of "Marxist humanism" as non-Marxist

Re the former: I find Althusser's grand scheme of scientific
knowledge a monumental triviality, a hollow generality.  Somebody
I read recently (maybe Jack Lindsay?) sums up Althusser as no more
than a lengthy footnote to Engels's 1890 letter to Bloch.  I
concur.  As for the latter point, you are dead on target.  I don't
bother with French petty bourgeois snobs.  Althusser has nothing
at all to say about Marx's concrete intellectual development,
unlike the painstaking work of Labica for instance, and subjects
it to the most tortuous distortions and abstractions to make it
fit into his arbitrary scheme.  Althusser has done more harm than
anyone, and that is because Stalinism so underdeveloped Marxism
that a mediocre little twit like Althusser was forced to develop a
little bit more theoretical sophistication to drag the French
Communist Party, whom I hold responsible for his crimes, out of
its doldrums.  All you have to do is take a gander at the sort of
people who admire Althusser and that is enough to condemn him.

>The sad fact is, however, that there are many formulations in
>Althusser's work which lend support to many of the positions you
>defend on the list (such as your interventions against Father
>Burns and Professor Rosser).

Meaning what?

>the work of those inspired by him also provides support to most
of
>your positions against attribution of Lysenkoism to Lenin and
your
>arguments against the work of Sean Sayers on dialectics

Proving what?

>The Althusserian's reject theoretical humanism because they see
it
>as idealist.  They see Marxist philosophy not as a practice of
>pronouncing the Truth about the world, but rather is showing the
>truth implied in such idealism as being the defence of the
>dominant ideology

This makes no sense to  me.

>They defend a Leninist position on philosophy.

What is that?  I've read mountains of worthless crap from the USSR
on this theme.

>Philosophy for Althusser (after 1967) is the continuous drawing
of >a line of demarcation between idealism and materialism.

This doesn't give me enough information to go on.

>I know that this would leave a sour taste in the mouths of Rosser
>and Burns.  But I fail to understand why it does in yours.

Maybe it's not the "this" that is the problem.  Your mode of
argumentation is rather peculiar.  You vaguely mention certain
isolated remarks of Althusser that would cohere with certain
positions I might hold.  And so what I am to conclude from such
congruences?   I eat theoretical anti-humanists for breakfast,
because they always find a way of becoming practical
anti-humanists.  I can't wait until the last vestiges of every
Communist Party on the planet are obliterated forever.  And I hope
the Maoists, Trotskyists, and anarchists vanish along with them.
Good riddance to bad rubbish.


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