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 institution 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 have interaction a large number of cultures, theoretical difficulties, and political matters. regardless of the proven fact that Althusser himself is well known as an important 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 review of Structural Marxism in any language, Resch presents a complete 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 research demonstrates the big value of Althusser's modernist renewal of Marxist social idea and its ongoing problem to post-Marxist pursuits akin to postmodernism and neo-liberalism.
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Additional info for Althusser and the Renewal of Marxist Social Theory
The difference between the empiricist and essentialist forms of the historical present is that where the empiricist sees a series of events deployed on the linear continuum of time, the essentialist sees so many moments or expressions of the evolution of the totality. Both of these approaches are unacceptable from the standpoint of structural causality and uneven development: "The ideology of a simple time falls with the ideology of a simple history, to be replaced by the notion of a complex historical time constituted by the 'differential times' of the different levels" (Althusser and Balibar 1970, 104-5).
At such a moment, a "vast accumulation of contradictions comes into play in the same court, some of which are radically heterogeneous—of different origins, different senses, different levels and points of application—but which nevertheless 'merge' into a ruptural unity; we can no longer speak of the sole, unique power of the general contradiction. Of course, the basic contradiction dominating the period . . is active in all these contradictions even in their fusion. But, strictly speaking, it cannot be claimed that these contradictions and their fusion are merely the pure phenomena of the general contradiction" (Althusser 1969, 100).
Their independence is relative, not absolute, and inseparable from the overdetermining structure of the social formation. , to the typical dependence which establishes them in the articulation of the levels of the whole" (Althusser and Balibar 1970, 100). It is not enough, in other words, merely to note the existence of differential times; one must also be able to reconvene them within the "plenary time" of a given conjuncture, that is, the "complex combination" of these times "which constitutes the peculiar time of the [social formation's] development" (Althusser and Balibar 1970, 104).