[OPE-L:4318] Re: Althusser and Hegel

Gerald Lev (glevy@pratt.edu)
Sat, 8 Mar 1997 06:59:01 -0800 (PST)

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Paul Z wrote in [OPE-L:4317]:

> I am not sure what Jerry meant by "Hegelian-Marxism" as it can be a
> wide field, [...]

True enough, but there are divisions within Althusserianism as well. Is it
not so? (see Callari & Ruccio ed book for examples).

Shortly afterwards, Paul Z quotes Althusser:

> "There are other difficulties in Marx, and also many enigmas. For example
> the enigma of philosophy, and in particular of the dialectic, [,,,]
> There is the
> question of the relation between the dialectic in Marx and in Hegel.
> There is a lot a stake in this question, in spite of its apparently very
> abstract and philosophical character: it concerns the conception of
> necessity and of history, and of the forms of history (does it have a
> meaning and an end? Is the collapse of capitalism inevitable? etc.),
> i.e., the conception of the class struggle and of revolutionary action.
> Marx's silence, and the difficulty of reconstituting his philosophical
> positions on the basis of his writings, did in fact-- [...]
> --open the road to positivism and evolutionism, whose
> forms were fixed and frozen for thirty years by Stalin's chapter on
> 'Dialectical and Historical Materialism' in the SHORT HISTORY OF THE
> CPSU(B)."

While there are significant disagreements among what I lumped together
under the title of "Hegelian Marxists", I think that just about all of
those divergent perspectives would *agree* with the above (although,
obviously, the answers given to those questions would tend to be different
from the answers suggested by Althusser).

Also, I think that the end of the last sentence in the Althusser quote
highlights the point I made before, i.e. a common point of *departure*
based on a rejection of "diamat."

> Note that Althusser is basically opening up an issue by saying that Marx
> is not at all conclusive in any respect on these issues and we have to
> think them through anew.

I think that Geert and Mike W (and Mike L and Tony and Massimo and Ian and
many others on the list) would agree (even if some might take issue with
the idea that it was Althusser who basically opened-up that issue).

> And in an important sense that is why OPE came
> into existence in the first place--to move forward even as we deepen our
> understanding of Marx himself.

Yes, I agree (and also note in passing that I agree with Paul C's desire
for us to move forward). [BTW, Paul C: a few days ago, on 3/5, we had
without notice or celebration our 1.5 birthday -- not our 2nd].

> But do I have an answer? No.

Well ... as I have said repeatedly since our conception ... I don't have
all the answers either. In fact, I am highly suspicious of anyone who
claims to have all of the answers (folks of that type can be found with
frequency on some of the marxism lists, right Paul Z?). And it is
precisely because we can learn from each other that we have gone out of
our way to make OPE-L a *diverse* list in terms of theoretical
perspectives (and international representation, areas of expertise, etc).

In solidarity, Jerry


Antonio Callari and David F. Ruccio ed. _Postmodern Materialism and the
Future of Marxist Theory: Essays in the Althusserian Tradition_,
Wesleyan University [... hi Gil!...] Press, 1996 (articles by our
own Steve C and Bruce are included).