McInerney for Beginners

Ralph Dumain rdumain at
Mon Feb 19 23:01:59 MST 1996

Sometime ago I read one of those comic book introductions to the
great thinkers of our time.  You know the series: _Marx for
Beginners_, Trotsky for Beginners_, _Malcolm X for Beginners_,
etc.  While I found the Marx volume especially objectionable, I
really really enjoyed _Heidegger for Beginners_.  I laughed my ass
off reading it.  Reducing Heidegger to comic book form only helps
to bring out the comic book nature of his very philosophy.

I now propose that David McInerney do a volume called _Althusser
for Beginners_.  I urge him to include the following gems most
suitable for the comic book format:

>I had some very interesting dialogue with a lesbian feminist
>over 'lesbian nation' and the spatio-temporal matrix of
>capitalism and its relation to the body of the mother-citizen at
>a conference the other day which brought home to me the close
>relationship between citizenship, gender, and nation in

>"The class struggle is the motor of history" a wise Marxist once
>was heard to say.  This is a process without a Subject or Goal,
>he also said.

>There are good reasons to (1) take the State/Civil Society
>distinction seriously (i.e. to read it symptomatically) and (2)
>to reject it as ideological.  This distinction is internal to
>bourgeois law and its disntiction between public and private.

>I will just suggest that the rejection of this is tied in with
>the rejection of the theory of the subject as external to
>material reality and of the problem of knowledge in epistemology
>(i.e. who can this subject have knowledge of what exists in this
>reality), which is based in idealist bourgeois juridical

>He uses Spinoza as an antidote to Marxology -- to the
>interpretive or hermenuetical approach (characteristic of
>scholasticism, which Althusser was familiar with)

>The difficulty for people reading Althusser is that they try to
>put Althusser (and his theory of the epistemological break) into
>the Stalinist camp (or, even better, the Maoist camp).  In fact,
>this is not possible.

>Althusser and his associates (e.g. Balibar, Labica) do not
>merely dismiss the early Marx as "bourgeois" in Stalinist
>fashion, they return to the early Marx (and to Feuerbach, Hegel,
>Stirner, etc) in order to understand better the corpus of
>writings subsequent to the break.  It is true that they do not
>see these works as "Marxist" and nor do they see them as of any
>great value.

>I don't think Marx wanted to accept neither mechanistic
>materialism of the 18th century (Enlightenment) variety nor
>idealism of the Kantian/Hegelian varieties.  He tried to get
>around interpretative ways of acting in the world and to adopt
>interventionist ones.

Thanks, David, I haven't laughed so hard since the last episode of
"Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist."  Your material is great: you
should consider being a guest patient.

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