New PDF release: Althusser's Lesson

By Jacques Rancière, Emiliano Battista

Jacques Rancière's first significant paintings Althusser's Lesson seemed in 1974, simply because the energies of may perhaps sixty eight have been wasting floor to the demands a go back to reserve. Rancière's research of Althusserian Marxism unfolds by contrast history: what's the dating among the go back to reserve and the passion which greeted the book of Althusser's <em>Reply to John Lewis</em> in 1973? easy methods to clarify the rehabilitation of a philosophy that were declared ‘dead and buried at the barricades of might 68'? What had replaced? the reply to this question takes the shape of a family tree of Althusserianism that's, concurrently, an account of the emergence of militant pupil activities within the ‘60s, of the coming of Maoism in France, and of the way might sixty eight rearranged all the things anew. Encompassing the book's specified mix of theoretical research and old description is a query that has guided Rancière's suggestion ever considering that: how do theories of subversion develop into the explanation for order? >

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23 ALTHUSSER’S LESSON These political effects were not produced in spite of theoreticism, or alongside it. Certainly, we must distinguish between Althusser’s politics and the politics of Althusserianism; Althusser may very well always have kept his distance from the latter, but that very distance was a political position. The supposed ‘theoreticism’, in other words, didn’t forget politics for a minute; quite the contrary: it was an actual partisanship, and not only ‘in philosophy’. Differently put, theoreticism was the meeting point for a number of political contradictions, all of which harboured the possibility for contradictory political effects.

This is not a philosophical thesis in which a ‘simple’ subject – man – is confronted with a more complex subject that essentially explodes the concept of ‘subject’. The thesis does, indeed, reject bourgeois ideology, but in a completely different way: it rejects the idea that the oppressed must be assisted, either by the charity of philanthropists who relieve them of their misery, or by the science of philosophers who dispel their illusions. 37 This new intelligence, forged over there, obliges every ‘Marxist philosopher’ over here to rethink the question of his practice and his knowledge; it obliges him to reconsider his place in the distribution of the spaces of power and knowledge that reproduce bourgeois domination.

He does not defend the ‘good’ thesis that ‘It is the masses which make history’ against the ‘bad’ thesis that ‘It is man who makes history’. He is satisfied to pit against Man ‘empirical’ individuals, that is, the men who are brought into specific social relations as a result of their need to reproduce their existence. In other words, it is not Man who makes history, but men – concrete individuals, those who produce the means of their existence, the ones who fight in the class struggle. That is as far as Marx goes in his critique of Feuerbach.

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Althusser's Lesson by Jacques Rancière, Emiliano Battista


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