Philosophy of the Encounter: Later Writings, 1978-1987
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From Althusser's most prolific period, this book is destined to become a classic.
In the late 1970s and 1980s, Louis Althusser endured a period of intense mental instability during which he murdered his wife and was committed to a psychiatric hospital. Spanning this deeply troubling period, this fourth and final volume of political and philosophical writings reveals Althusser wrestling in a creative and unorthodox fashion with a whole series of theoretical problems to produce some of his very finest work. In his profound exploration of questions of determinism and contingency, Althusser developed a "philosophy of the encounter," which he links to a hidden and subterranean tradition in the history of Western thought which stretches from Epicurus through Spinoza and Machiavelli to Marx, Derrida and Heidegger.
Marx' have turned him into a revolutionary by moral indignation, humanism or religion; they too have buried him, but beneath their high praise and ideological exploitation. g; todqy, we talk about the 'crisis of Marxism', we are notproviding our adver saries with a single weapon that they themselves have not already used a hundred times over. Nor shall we talk about it as they do, in order to supply them Philosophy I!f the Encounter 12 with fresh arguments, but, rather, in order to wrest
that 'everyone counts for one';12 well, then, let 'everyone count on his own strength',13 and, all together, we can help the Party overcome the crisis of Marxism, which is also, today, across the globe, the crisis of the Communist parties: their internal crisis. 2. The Theoretical Crisis of Marxism It is 1978. It was 130 years ago that there appeared a little pamphlet which went virtually unnoticed in the revolutions of The Communist Manifesto, 1848 in Europe: 1 10 years ago by Marx and
introduced into the proletarian class struggle from without within [von aujlen Hineingetragenes] and it spontaneously [UIWUChsig] Y not something that arose If this were not the case, Kautsky adds, it would be impossible to understand why England, the country in which 'capitalism is the most highly developed', is the country in which 'this socialist consciousness is the most remote'. Philosophy qf the Encounter 22 It is well known that, only a few months after this text appeared in Die
thinking with his concrete activity and political struggle, con ducted, from start to fmish, in the interests of the international working class. We can, then, affIrm that in his theoretical work, as well as in his political batdes, Marx never once,jrom his initial commitment qf 1843 on, left the terrain qf working-class struggle. Thus it is not particu larly difficult not only to reject Kautsky's formulas, unfortunately repeated verbatim by Lenin (whose defence based on 'the context' is not,
clear to anyone who has even a nodding acquaintance with the history of Marx's thought. This theory was by no means 'introduced into the workers' movement from without'. It expandedftom within the workers' movement, from the fIrst Marxist circles - at the price of great struggles and contradictions - to the big mass parties. If this thesis is admissible, then all the literature about the 'bour geois intellectuals who are the guardians of the science' that 'is introduced into the Workers'