Re: (OPE-L) Derrida on Althusser

From: antonio callari (antonio.callari@FANDM.EDU)
Date: Fri Nov 12 2004 - 15:13:09 EST

I am both an althusserian and someone who likes derrida, and I do
think there is something to what derrrida said about althusserianism
in its theoreticism moments, although I think that althusser, in his
later years,  moved much closer to the type of concerns that Derrida
is expressing here (his--Althusser's--increasing attention to the
process of historical change opens vistas quite different from the
vistas opened by the attention to structures; and, by the way, I
think that Wolff and Resnick's attention to '"overdetermination"
sits felicitously just right at the intersection of structure and

>  > I don't have my own copy of this book. But I think this interview is
>>  in the Althusserian Legacy, ed. Michael Sprinker and E.Ann Kaplan.
>Thanks.  You pointed me in the right direction:
>This review gives the citation and it comes from an article/
>interview called "Politics and Friendship."  Regarding Althusserian
>Marxists, Derrida commented:
>"there was, let's say, a sort of theoretical intimidation: to formulate
>questions in style that appeared, shall we say, phenomenological,
>transcendental or ontological was immediately considered
>suspicious, backward, idealistic, even reactionary."
>McHoul summarizes Derrida as saying "In particular Derrida
>argues that Althusser's critique of historicism moves on too
>quickly, refusing to engage with 'the history of the meaning of
>being of which Heidegger speaks' (193) and this, Derrida goes
>on, is the ultimate reason why Marxism in France was
>washed up by the early 1970s -- too simplistic a theory of being,
>hence too simplistic a conception of science and what would
>constitute 'real' politics.  Particularly shaky was its party
>manifestation -- the PCF.  'The two alternatives were: either it
>hardened and lost out or else it softened and blended with the
>Socialist Party and there would be no more need for it.' (211)".
>Derrida also commented: "Marxist discourse at the time, including
>its Althusserian branch, was incapable of analysing the socio-political-
>economic reality of that time and regulating its practice based on
>that analysis."  [More can be found at the above site.]
>Are these fair criticisms by Derrida of  Althusser and Althusserians?
>In solidarity, Jerry

Antonio Callari
Sigmund M. and Mary B. Hyman Professor of Economics
F&M Local Economy Center
P.O. Box 3003
713 College Avenue
Lancaster PA 17604-3003
phone: (717) 291-3947
FAX:  (717) 291-4369

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