By Robert Paul Resch
The writings of the French Marxist thinker Louis Althusser and his affiliates have figured prominently within the improvement of latest social thought. The Althusserian university of Structural Marxism is a startlingly unique synthesis of Marxism and Modernism, which has produced a wide physique of paintings that extends around the human sciences and the arts to interact a large number of cultures, theoretical difficulties, and political concerns. regardless of the proven fact that Althusser himself is widely known as an enormous determine, the breadth, coherence, and achievements of Structural Marxism as a complete have long past principally unrecognized. during this, the main systematic and wide-ranging overview of Structural Marxism in any language, Resch offers a finished and thematic creation to the paintings of Althusser, Nicos Poulantzas, Pierre Macherey, Etienne Balibar, Emmanuel Terray, Terry Eagleton, Gran Therborn, Rene Balibar, Perry Anderson, Pierre- Philippe Rey, Michel Pchaux, man Bois, and others. Resch's sympathetic and severe examine demonstrates the large importance of Althusser's modernist renewal of Marxist social concept and its ongoing problem to post-Marxist routine comparable to postmodernism and neo-liberalism.
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Extra resources for Althusser and the Renewal of Marxist Social Theory
Borrowing from Montesquieu the idea that in a historical totality all concrete determinations, whether economic, political, moral, even military, express one single principle, Hegel conceives history in terms of the category of the expressive totality. For Marx, differences are real, and they are not simply differences in spheres of activity, practices, and objects: they are differences in efficacy " (Althusser 1976, 182). For Hegel, history is made up of "circles within circles, spheres within spheres," wherein each sphere is a "total part, each expressing the internal unity of the totality which is only ever, in all its complexity, the objectification-alienation of a simple principle" (Althusser 1976, 182).
Given his assertion that contradiction is the "motive force" in both fields, Althusser is fully justified in concluding that class struggle is the motor of history—a scandalous thesis that is not only consistent with his less controversial concept of economic determination in the last instance, but also identical to it. " However, because of the very nature of overdetermination, Althusser insists that we can never speak of the undifferentiated nature of the general contradiction, even at the moment of a revolutionary transformation of the social formation.
That sets up the hierarchy of instances once and for all, assigns each its essence and role and defines the universal meaning of these relations. . It is economism that identifies eternally in advance the determinant contradiction in the last instance with the role of the dominant contradiction, which forever assimilates such and such an "aspect" (forces of production, economy, practice) to the principal role, and such and such another "aspect" (relations of production, politics, ideology, theory) to the secondary role—whereas in real history determination in the last instance by the economy is exercised precisely in the permutations of the principal role between the economy, politics, theory, etc.