Louis Althusser Essays On Self Criticism

5. Louis Althusser (16 October 1918 – 22 October 1990) was a French Marxist philosopher considered, along with and , one of the most prominent representatives of . He took part in World War II and was captured by German troops. As a result he remained for five years in a POW camp. Two years later, in 1947, he was diagnosed with manic-depressive psychosis and was interned in a psychiatric hospital. Due to his condition he was intermittently interned in the hospital until the day of his death.

Louis Althusser - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

On Nov. 16, 1980, Louis Althusser, the leading philosophical and political theorist of French Marxism, strangled his wife, Hélène Rytman, in their suite at the Ecole Normale Superieure, an elite institute for the training of the French professoriate where he had lived, first as a student, then as a professor, for 34 years.


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This analysis offers resources for future study. For one thing, since law is by definition the expression of class exploitation, Althusser holds that it will “[wither] away” under communism. (62) The form of communist society is notoriously under-explored in Marxism, and Althusser here provides a thesis for consideration. Communist society, far from the statist models of historical socialist regimes, will be lawless, its governing ideology secured somewhere other than in legal codes.


The English translation of Louis Althusser's presents a curiosity. , for the most part, has been rendered as forever, as if, after 1989, the promise of Althusserian Marxism had been displaced into an irretrievable or unrealizable future. One need only refer to the many recent dismissive reviews of the book to note how such judgments extend to Althusser's thought in general. Martin...Marxism is dead, as everybody knows; so is Louis Althusser. And not for the first time, in either case. In 1978, after nearly two decades as the most provocative thinker in the French Communist Party, Althusser told a friend: "My universe of thought has been abolished. I can't think anymore." (No fate closer to death than that, for a philosopher.) The mind exhausted, his body lived on until 1990—collapsing...But now for what is essential. What distinguishes the ISAs from the (Repressive) State Apparatus is the following basic difference: the Repressive State Apparatus functions ‘by violence’, whereas the Ideological State Apparatuses functionby ideology’.