Althusser and the Renewal of Marxist Social Theory by Robert Paul Resch

By Robert Paul Resch

The writings of the French Marxist thinker Louis Althusser and his affiliates have figured prominently within the improvement of up to date social conception. The Althusserian tuition 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 matters. regardless of the proven fact that Althusser himself is widely known as an immense determine, the breadth, coherence, and achievements of Structural Marxism as an entire 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 advent 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 serious examine demonstrates the big importance of Althusser's modernist renewal of Marxist social concept and its ongoing problem to post-Marxist activities akin to postmodernism and neo-liberalism.

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It is this interplay, this unevenness, which allows us to understand that something real can happen in a social formation and that through the political class struggle it is possible to get a hold on real history" (Althusser 1976, 183). " Contradiction implies not only the particularity and relative autonomy of social structures but also the fact that every social structure is itself a unity constituted by the effectivities of the unevenly developed structures that are its elements. Uneven development is thus the basic law of social formations for Althusser having "priority over [social formations] and able to account for them precisely insofar as it does not derive from their existence" (Althusser 1969, 213).

Althusser maintains that the notion of "Man" is a myth of bourgeois ideology that has insinuated itself into theory. "Far be it from me to ― 70 ― denigrate this great humanist tradition whose historical merit was to have struggled against feudalism, against the Church, and against their ideologists, and to have given man a status and dignity. But far be it from us, I think, to deny the fact that this humanist ideology which produced great works and great thinkers, is inseparably linked to the rising bourgeoisie, whose aspirations it expressed" (Althusser 1976, 198).

I]n order to conceive the "dominance" of a structure over other structures in the unity of a conjuncture it is necessary to refer to the principle of the "determination in the last instance" of the non-economic structures by the economic structure; . . this "determination in the last instance" is an absolute precondition for the necessity and intelligibility of the displacements of the structures in the hierarchy of effectivity, or of the displacement of 'dominance' between the structured levels of the whole; only this "determination in the last instance" makes it possible to escape the arbitrary relativism of observable displacements by giving these displacements the necessity of a function.

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