Politics and History: Montesquieu, Rousseau, Marx (Radical Thinkers)

Politics and History: Montesquieu, Rousseau, Marx (Radical Thinkers)

Louis Althusser

Language: English

Pages: 192

ISBN: 1844675726

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

In the first two essays of this book, Louis Althusser analyses the work of two of the greatest thinkers of the Enlightenment – Montesquieu and Rousseau. He shows that although they made considerable advances towards establishing a science of politics, particularly in comparison with the theorists of natural law, they nevertheless remained the victims of the ideologies of their day and class. Montesquieu accepted as given the political notions current in French absolutism; Rousseau attempted to impose by moral conversion an already outdated mode of production. The third essay examines Marx’s relationship to Hegel and elaborates on the discussions of this theme in Althusser’s earlier books, For Marx and Lenin and Philosophy. Althusser argues that Marx was able to establish a theory of historical materialism and the possibility of a Marxist philosophy of dialectical materialism not simply by turning his back on Hegel, but by extracting and converting certain categories from Hegel’s Logic and applying them to English political economy and French socialist political theory.

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support of well-established customs. Nothing remotely resembling the generous attitudes that other no less prudish, but more resolute or naïve theorists attributed or were to attribute to 'human nature': liberty, equality, fraternity. We really are in another world. I believe that this side of Montesquieu is not a matter of indifference. It does not amount only to one isolated concession in a set of rigorous exigencies, the tribute paid to satisfy the world's prejudices, in order to have peace.

are sound, even bad laws have the same effect as good' (SL, VIII, 11). 'A State may alter two different ways; either by the amendment, or by the corruption, of the constitution. If it has preserved its principles, and the constitution changes, this is owing to its amendment; if, upon changing the constitution, its principles are lost, this means that it has been corrupted' (SL, XI, 13). This clearly shows the transition from the case of the experimental situation of corruption to the general case

a caricature. But its object is to terrify and to edify by its very horribleness. Here is a regime in which a single individual governs, in a palace he never leaves, prey to feminine passions and the intrigues of courtesans. A caricature of Versailles and the Court. Here is a tyrant who governs through his grand vizir. A caricature of the minister[8] whom nothing, above all not his birth, entitles to that post save the prince's 7. 'The death of the last dauphin was a dreadful wound for the

in other words, the Hegelian dialectic on: Labour theory of value (R) + the class struggle (FS). R + FS = raw material, object of Marx's theoretical practice H = instruments of theoretical production, the product of the work of the Hegelian dialectic on Ricardo is then Capital = M. [What we tried to do in Reading Capital can be represented, in thoroughly indicative fashion, by the following diagram: Diagram II We took as our raw material the Marx-Hegel relationship (G'1). We set to 'work' on

naturalization. Let us note in passing that in ordinary speech the Germans, like the French use the word Prozess (procès, process) in the legal sense [i.e., trial].[5] In passing, let me draw attention to the fact that the concept of a process without a subject also underpins the whole of Freud's work. But to speak of a process without a subject implies that the notion of a subject is an ideological notion. If the following double thesis is taken seriously: 1. the concept process is scientific,

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