Althusser and the Renewal of Marxist Social Theory. Portions of this book have appeared previously in Poetics Today and in Current Perspectives in Social Theory and are reprinted here with permission.
Needless to say, none of these individuals is responsible for the errors which remain. I am deeply saddened that my dissertation director Gene Lunn did not live to see the appearance of this book.
Carey, Dorian, and Paula greatly enriched my life during the ordeals that accompanied the production of this book, which is dedicated to my parents, Robert and Dorothy Resch.
In designating these remarks as both an introduction and a conclusion, I am not attempting to subvert the modalities of time and space or to call into question the boundaries between and within texts.
My intentions are less exalted and more substantive. Read as an introductory essay, these remarks are intended to provoke those readers, the vast majority of whom, I suspect, will find a book defending Marxist analysis quaint if not downright foolish.
I wish to confront such readers with what I view as fundamental shortcomings of contemporary post-Marxist and postmodern social theories, in particular, with the mind-numbing ideological conformity on which so much of their mind-boggling methodological and theoretical innovations are based. Read as a conclusion, I summarize certain aspects of Structural Marxist analysis that distinguish it as a major, modernist rethinking of Marxism and that demonstrate, in my opinion, the ongoing value of Marxism as a scientific research program.
As both introduction and conclusion, these pages call the reader's attention to the momentous global developments of the past decade in such a way as to challenge the prevailing post-Marxist and postmodern consensus regarding the "exhaustion" of Marxism and modernism.
While there is no point in denying the declining influence of Marxism and modernism on contemporary debates, I view this decline as a regressive aberration whose explanation must be sought in the politics rather than the validity of social theory. It is now some twenty-five years since Louis Althusser's books For Marx and Reading Capital intervened in the febrile political culture of Paris and established
Stedman cinque calling positions for sexual health Marxism as an alternative to Saussurean semiology, Western Marxism, and the various post-Marxisms that proliferated during the sixties.
Althusser's own work, that of his associates and students, and the efforts of the heterogeneous group of philosophers, social scientists, literary critics, and political
Stedman cinque calling positions for sexual health influenced by him constitute a formidable body of knowledge spread across a broad range of human cultures and theoretical problems. Then, manual pressure is used...
Over the decades Structural Marxism has more than held its own in sometimes fruitful, often virulent, polemics with most
Stedman cinque calling positions for sexual health the major schools of social theory—the phenomenological poststructuralism of Derrida, the structural-functional historicism of the Annales School, the Nietzschean postmodernism of Deleuze and Foucault, the Saussurean psychoanalysis of Lacan, the universal pragmatics of Habermas, and the humanist historicism of E.
Thompson, to name only the most prominent. Such "staying power" is all the more remarkable because Althusser and many of his colleagues were members of the French Communist Party PCF and thus firmly committed to communism as a global anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist movement.
Critics of the theoretical dogmas of "vulgar Marxism" as well as anti-Stalinist advocates of Eurocommunism and greater mass participation within the Party, many of the Althusserians nevertheless firmly rejected many of the theoretical tenets of so-called Western Marxism that held a predominate position within the academic Left in Europe and the United States during the decade of the sixties. Western Marxism maintained that capitalism had solved its economic contradictions and had eliminated the working class as a politically relevant concept.
Capitalism became a system of "domination," not exploitation, and Western Marxists turned to methodological individualism first to complement but increasingly to subvert their monolithic, essentialist concept of totality.
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The more invulnerable capitalism appeared to be, the more voluntarist the concept of practice and the more irrationalist the foundations of radical social theory became until, finally, irrationalism and voluntarism were united in the concept of praxis. Firmly rejecting the idea of Marxism as an objective science, Western Marxism turned, via Hegel, to the early writings of Marx, in particular to The Economic and Philosophical Manuscriptsto fashion "Marxist humanism"—a combination of libertarian voluntarism and ethical idealism presumably more appropriate to the unlimited, albeit alienating, bounty of "post-industrial" capitalism.
This neo-anarchism became the dominant ideology of the New Left and signaled a shift from Hegelian Marxism to Nietzschean gauchisme among radical intellectuals. Courageous in its rejection
Stedman cinque calling positions for sexual health racism, sexism, imperialism, commodification, and bureaucracy, the New Left was nonetheless a middle-class reform movement crippled by its simplistic reduction of social struggle to a contest between "individuals" and "power.
Althusser and his followers relentlessly criticized the theoretical weaknesses and the political illusions of Western Marxism and the New Left while at the same time charting a new and brilliant theoretical course between the Scylla of voluntarism and the Charybdis of economism.
Far from evading the criticisms leveled against scientific Marxism by its critics, the Althusserians focused on precisely those areas—the relative autonomy of ideology and politics, epistemological relativism, social subjectivity and practice, the production and reception of art and literature, the popular-democratic state, pre-capitalist modes of production—which non-Marxists and Western Marxists alike have regarded as decisive refutations of "orthodox" Marxism.
Indeed, it is no exaggeration to say that Structural Marxism constitutes a comprehensive and largely successful response to a century of accumulated problems within the Marxist tradition. However, in attempting to reconcile his profound theoretical achievements with his deeply felt hopes for egalitarian reform within the French Communist Party and for renewal and solidarity within the European and world communist movements, Althusser created a tragic.
Similarly, Althusser's critique of Stalinism and his call for reform could hardly compete with the bitter legacy of dictatorship in Eastern Europe and decades of Soviet domination of European communism, especially the PCF. At every turn the PCF leadership demonstrated its political incompetence and its distrust of the rank and file.
In May the Party leadership subverted the largest general strike in French history in return for purely conventional concessions, while its opportunistic shift to a Popular Front electoral strategy in the seventies had no discernible effect on the authoritarian bureaucratic structure of the party. Furthermore, the decisive shift of the PCF away from Bolshevik revolutionary slogans toward a Eurocommunist vocabulary stressing national and democratic social transformation took place at precisely the time a national reformist strategy was being negated by international economic developments.
Unable to halt growing middle- and working-class support for the Socialist Party PS or counter gauchiste enthusiasm for Mitterand's shotgun marriage of modernization and autogestionthe PCF executed another unfortunate shift in the late seventies, a return to sectarian, blue-collar workerism with disturbing racist and chauvinist overtones. Not surprisingly, the PCF's electoral fortunes continued to decline during the eighties—despite "Stedman cinque calling positions for sexual health" failure of the Socialist government's reform program and the triumph of neo-liberalism over autogestionnaire socialism within the PS.
In any case, despite Althusser's opposition to the tactics of the PCF, his communism has provided a convenient pretext for either obloquy or indifference from
Stedman cinque calling positions for sexual health the Right and the Left. Reviews in Fish Biology and...
Not only has the stigma of communism legitimized scurrilous distortions of Althusser's work, but it has also permitted critics of Structural Marxism to ignore the devastating critiques leveled by Althusser against their own theoretical assumptions and methodologies.
The Detour of Theoryfail to grasp adequately the significance of Structural. Marxism because they refuse to separate Althusser's theoretical achievements from his failure to provide a political solution to the "crisis of Marxism" and the global reverses experienced by the Left during the last decade. The capitalist accumulation crisis of the seventies and the savage restructuring of global capitalism during the eighties may have created propitious conditions for a return to Althusser's thought and
Stedman cinque calling positions for sexual health relaxation of the cordon sanitaire surrounding Structural Marxism.
To explain the dramatic shift from prosperity to austerity in the capitalist heartlands, we have little choice but to admit the theoretical failures of post-Marxist and postmodern social theory and to revive Marxist principles of economic determination and class struggle. Furthermore, events of the past decade have effectively discredited two illusions that have hitherto served as impassable obstacles to a renewal of Marxist social theory: Unfortunately, these twin illusions still persist as integral assumptions within contemporary social theory; until they are eliminated, they will continue to inhibit our capacity to comprehend contemporary and historical developments.
The repression of Marxism has seen a corresponding revival of alternative traditions ranging from neo-liberal rationalism Rawls, Habermas, Elsterfunctional pluralism AnnalesGeertz, Turnerand voluntarist irrationalism "Stedman cinque calling positions for sexual health," Deleuze, Baudrillard.
All of them reject economic determination and class struggle as explanatory principles, of course, and all share a hostility to Marxism that is more or less fundamental to their traditions and whose significance can hardly be understated. Moreover, each of these movements subscribes, in varying degrees and sometimes with sharply divergent emphasis, to methodological principles of pluralism, relativism, and individualism—a formidable post-Marxist, postmodern triumvirate whose vulgarization in recent years has occluded the very possibility of explaining why things happen in history.
Pluralism signifies causal indeterminacy—an emphasis on the simultaneity of diverse social phenomena as well as their interrelationship and interaction without, however, any regard for their relative efficacy or causal significance. Ultimately such indeterminacy degenerates into vulgar pluralism: The process of everything causing everything else produces, willy-nilly, something called "culture" and, over time, a cultural condition called "modernity" and now postmodernity.
Relativism embraces a historicist-hermeneutic view of knowledge whereby what we know is relative to our own culture and what we know of history is doubly constrained by a communication gap between cultures. Ultimately this view degenerates into vulgar relativism, a collective solipsism that reduces history to a literary genre or an exercise in translation: Individualism is anthropocentric; it places an autonomous human being at the center of historical explanation and conceptualizes history from the perspective of the consciousness and practice of individuals.
Ultimately such "humanism" degenerates into vulgar individualism: Although it is no refutation of these principles to point out their historical association with inegalitarian and anti-socialist intellectual movements, their revival, phoenix-like, from the ashes of Hegelian Marxism and the New Left is surely not without significance.
Both neo-liberal rationalism and postmodern irrationalism are firmly rooted in distinct traditions of bourgeois meritocracy—economic individualism and romantic individuality respectively. The genealogies of these traditions—on the one hand the "democratic" subordination of political equality to economic inequality in Bentham and J.
Mill, and on the other the "humanist" subordination of mass mediocrity to an aristocracy of spirit in Goethe and Nietzsche—are sufficient testimony to their profoundly elitist animus. The elitism of functional pluralist tendencies is only slightly more sophisticated. That tacit acceptance of elitism and the ubiquitous evasion of exploitation reveal an underlying complicity beneath the superficial opposition of "Stedman cinque calling positions for sexual health" and Right in contemporary social theory—and the real source of its dramatic and general decline in recent years.
Postmodernism has played a particularly prominent role in the decline of social theory. Postmodernism oscillates between two polar extremes, cynical accommodation and libertarian dissidence. The former tendency, perhaps best expressed in the work of Jean Baudrillard, denies the possibility of objective knowledge of social formations and their history not simply by asserting the principle of epistemological relativism but even more radically by moving beyond epistemological relativism to ontological relativism.
Baudrillard's "hyperreality" of self-generating signs detached from any real signified and from the exigencies of the capitalist mode of production as well abolishes meaningful differences between ideas and objects and dissolves the very distinction between critique and affirmation.
Such radicalism in philosophy can produce only passivity in politics. While Baudrillard's concept of hyperreality may have a certain descriptive value, it offers no explanation of contemporary culture.
Althusser and the Renewal of...
Indeed, Baudrillard's conceptual framework preempts the possibility of such an explanation, and it is difficult to resist the suspicion that this is precisely the source of his appeal. Sooner or later, explicitly or implicitly, by design or default, postmodern cynics conclude that in society, as in theory, anything goes.
In contrast to its fraternal twin, dissident postmodernism revels in the obstreperous rhetoric of political rebellion. Revealing and resisting the spontaneous generation and diffusion of "power" throughout society, dissident postmodernists, such as Michel Foucault, claim to have discovered the only form of radicalism appropriate for defending "freedom" in "post-industrial" society. By abandoning allegedly "totalitarian" global analysis for fragmentary "genealogies" of particular social phenomena, postmodern rebels end up hypostatizing both the "power" they resist and the "freedom" they defend.
Even less willing to admit the economic taproot of power and domination than were their forerunners in the New Left, dissident postmodernists attempt to resist power on an ad hoc basis—everywhere, in all forms, and all at once. Ultimately such resistance collapses under the magnitude of its task and the futility of its method. At the point of exhaustion, postmodern dissidents capitulate to the greater wisdom of their cynical and accommodating counterparts.
In the end, "resist everything" is merely the flip side of "anything goes. The domestication of dissident postmodernism in the eighties the shift of Lyotard and Foucault from gauchisme to "Americanism" are only more serious examples of a general phenomenon parodied by the career of Baudrillard substantiates Fredric Jameson's contention that "Stedman cinque calling positions for sexual health" reflects, rather than critiques, "the cultural logic" of multinational capitalism.
The short-lived predominance of postmodern dissidence during the seventies deserves further study. I suggest, provisionally, that dissident postmodernism has functioned as the loyal opposition during the birth pangs of multinational capitalism and in this respect has been simply the ideological obverse of the New Right.
The anti-Marxist or post-Marxist rhetoric of postmodernism is obviously crucial in this regard. The more blatant the effects of economic determination and class struggle became during the seventies and eighties, the more stubbornly they were denied by postmodern theorists. Indeed, a large part of what is left of the New Left has rationalized its crushing defeat by blaming it on traces of Marxism still at work within the radical movement and its social theory. As resistance became pointless, postmodernism turned exclusively to its central preoccupation with aestheticizing rather than explaining reality.
Assimilation and adaptation have thus become the final legacy of postmodern social theory. This outcome is not really surprising because the bohemian individuality endemic to postmodernism is at bottom a variant of the
Stedman cinque calling positions for sexual health pluralist assertion of the autonomy of culture. The elective affinity between postmodernism and functional pluralism is manifested in the appropriation of cultural anthropologists such as Clifford Geertz, Victor Turner, and Mary Douglas by postmodernists.
While I do not deny the value of certain insights of these anthropolo. Such reification, it seems to me, preempts causal explanation of cultural phenomena and rests content with superficial, albeit clever, descriptions and
Stedman cinque calling positions for sexual health of symbolic structures and practices. It is one of the arguments of this book that starting from the "autonomy" of culture or the "freedom" of individuals begs central questions that any respectable social science must confront: However suggestively, postmodern cultural anthropologists have for the most part Stedman cinque calling positions for sexual health reproduced and even compounded the deficiencies of their Durkheimian and Weberian predecessors.
But it is not the postmodernists alone who have contributed to the decline of social theory during the last two decades. Competing vigorously for an expanded share of the lucrative post-Marxist market, neo-liberal rationalist problematics pragmatism, social contracts, decision theory, etc. Whether they define "rationality" as a transcendental structure of human communication, as a socially useful fiction of political consensus, or simply as an old-fashioned rational-choice theory, the neo-liberals are every bit as uninterested in explaining why things happen—in this case the relation between the "rationality" of a culture, its mode of production, and the hegemony of its ruling class—as are their postmodern colleagues.
There is something eerie about contemporary discussions of rationality, rights, and justice.
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Such discussions—organized around notions of free and equal individuals possessing a commonly held rationality uncontaminated by class power and engaged in distortion-free communication and decision making—blithely ignore the elementary fact that such conditions do not and cannot obtain in capitalist societies.
Surely, one would think, the sheer irrelevance of such discussion to the global economic Gleichschaltung of the eighties and the ideological and political restructuring following in its wake would preclude their proliferation. If not irrelevance, then surely the transparent ideological bias of their assumptions would undermine their credibility. Frankfurt School would immediately recognize the "individual" as posited by the new utilitarians to be a self-serving stereotype of the professional middle class.
Surely they would recognize in the new rationalism an eclectic hodgepodge of ahistorical, class-blind atavisms haphazardly culled from neoclassical economic theory, behaviorist psychology, and analytical philosophy. Surely they would see in new theoretical models of "communicative rationality," "distributive justice," and "game theory" Panglossian caricatures of frankly apologetic and openly elitist concepts of Cold War political
Stedman cinque calling positions for sexual health such as "equilibrium democracy" and "political pluralism.
Obviously this has not been the case. Purveyors of visions of democratic angels dancing on the head of capitalist pins may be justly accused of peddling wish fulfillment to the middle classes, but this is precisely the source of their strength. Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries 5: Portt, C.B. Aquatic Ecosystem Health and Management 2: Calhoun, S.W. Similarly, Althusser's critique of Stalinism and his call for reform could hardly compete .
This class—existing in a contradictory position between the ruling class, by the 'differential times' of the different levels" (Althusser and Balibar). Foucault attacks the commonly held view that sex was "hushed up" by. There is a health network of more than 35, users which doctors who are working. Five dollar telephone cards to call Cuba can be found on the Internet beginning at $ In this way, it hopes to influence the formulation of national positions on 5/6, pp.
Pushpangadan, P. () Traditional knowledge and.
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