Query on Althusser

Andrew Kliman Andrew_Kliman at email.msn.com
Tue Jun 2 16:28:23 PDT 1998

IMO, Jim Heartfield's assessment of Althusser,

Date: Tuesday, June 02, 1998 1:03 PM Subject: Re: Query on Althusser

hit the nail squarely on the head.

Bravo, Jim!

I've read other good critiques of Althusser, but none that managed to be both concise and comprehensive, the way his was. It is worthy of serious discussion and study.

I too have been amazed at the adulation Althusser has received for his self-alleged "rigor" and "science." I suspect that what lies behind this is mostly a belief that freedom is somehow an unscientific concept! And what lies behind that is mostly an attempt to legitimize Russian and Chinese state-capitalism by trying to turn the concept of socialism into a matter of "objective" property forms and relations of distribution.

How anyone could consider _Lire Le Capital_ a rigorous reading of _Capital_ is beyond me. On the other hand, it is certainly "scientific" -- *if* one means by science the attempt to denude Marx's concepts of their non-positivist, critical character. As Jim noted, this project led Althusser into the error of representing _Capital's_ analysis of individuals as being at the mercy of forces beyond their control as a description of human existence sans phrase, rather than the critique of capitalism that it was.

Andrew ("Drewk") Kliman Home: Dept. of Social Sciences 60 W. 76th St., #4E Pace University New York, NY 10023 Pleasantville, NY 10570 (914) 773-3951 Andrew_Kliman at msn.com

"... the *practice* of philosophy is itself *theoretical.* It is the *critique* that measures the individual existence by the essence, the particular reality by the Idea." -- K.M.

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