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New Left Review I/72, March-April 1972

André Glucksmann

A Ventriloquist Structuralism

The aim of this article is to question the structuralist finery in which Althusser has decked Marxism, and to demonstrate the weakness of its seams. If we find that Althusser’s theory comes apart philosophically, it will be by measuring what he says against what he says, and not against what Marx may have said, or what other readings of Marx expound as the truth of Marxism. Hence we shall restrict ourselves to Althusserian texts alone. The focus of our procedure will be the internal consistency of the texts examined; our aim will be to locate the central contradiction under which the whole system can be seen to collapse. In order to do this, an understanding of the Althusserian programme as a whole is needed. Althusser’s project (his interrogation of Marx) is to be found in the function that two key concepts—production and theory—play in it. The realization of his project (how he makes Marx talk) involves two different types of structural analysis. The ensuing ‘duplicity’ will reveal the lines of fracture in his structuralism, which will furnish the specific object of our criticism. [1] The following abbreviations have been used throughout the article: FM = For Marx, London 1969. RC = Reading Capital, London 1970.

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