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 idea. 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 enormous determine, the breadth, coherence, and achievements of Structural Marxism as an entire have long gone mostly unrecognized. during this, the main systematic and wide-ranging review of Structural Marxism in any language, Resch presents a accomplished 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 serious research demonstrates the big importance of Althusser's modernist renewal of Marxist social concept and its ongoing problem to post-Marxist routine corresponding to postmodernism and neo-liberalism.
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Extra resources for Althusser and the Renewal of Marxist Social Theory
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.
The principal contradiction is produced by processes of displacement, but it becomes "antagonistic" or politically "decisive" only by a process of condensation that signifies the "fusion" of social contradictions into a "real unity" whose effectivity then becomes "the nodal strategic point for political practice" within which "is reflected the complex whole (economic, political, and ideological)" (Althusser 1969, 214). When condensation is the dominant mode of overdetermination, the social formation is characterized by instability rather than stability.
And we are dealing with huge numbers: in France or Britain . . " (Althusser 1976, 48). The only coherent way to think of the masses as a "subject" is to transpose the latter category onto the field of social classes and their structured relations: the class struggle as the motor of history. Conceiving things in terms of a "motor" rather than a "subject" eliminates the question of who makes history and foregrounds the idea of class struggle, a concept whose adequacy has yet to be demonstrated, but one that at least forces us to speak in terms of process (classes do not precede class struggle but are the outcome of class struggle) and the material basis of that process (class struggle exists only within determinant structures, values, and institutions).
Althusser and the Renewal of Marxist Social Theory by Robert Paul Resch