Anybody into the commie strangler around these parts? I just started reading pic related, about halfway in and I'm digging it.

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cant find a pdf of the english translation of that

I studied Althusser's works quite a bit from 2013-2014. What do you want to discuss?

just read Pour Marx first, then Lire le Capital, then Lenin & Philosophy and other essays. He's most known for "interpellation into a subject of ideological apparatus", but i don't know if it's the part of his opus I'm most impressed with.

That said, his reading truly is incomprehensible at times and he says for himself that "he is writing in a didactic style".

I don't get the hate he gets on here.

I was just actually planning to read Althusser for the first time over this spring break starting this Thursday for me, I saw you posted this PDF in the reading thread - thanks for that, OP. Would be cool to be able to discuss it with someone here

I think his essay on ISAs is his best work. His antihumanism is confusing, like sure socialism is the science and humanism is ideology, but a humanist angle just is so useful for active labor movements and pushing anticapitalism, his antihumanism really kills agency at the start.

But it seems he says teachers in schools are the front guard and reproducers of capitalism, which means youll end up opposing teachers as functionaries and youll alienate all ur less radical marxist friends :p

Why has structural marxism totally fallen out of vogue btw?


Althusser was the one who first came up with the marxist idea of ideology right?

here i got you

I like this one,

the idea of marxist ideology came first from marx. I think he had two definitions but imo his primary one was 'ideology' = 'false consciousness'

Later marxists like Althusser softened that a little bit, and suggested ideology was only an illusory relationship with the material world, where it was perhaps coherent, and even had some truth, but still reproduced current relations.

Althusser sort of controversially suggested that ideology, which is usually thought of as an ideal 'thing', is actual a 'material thing' that 'grips the body' that becomes part of the body and is enacted by the body in the material world, and ideology arises from the material in the last instance always.

I think a strong point that can be drawn from Althusser on ideology is that it literally doesn't even need to be believed to still be followed. For example, the most class conscious proletariat worker will still go to college, compete against other workers, work for a boss, try to live the america dream while believing none of it, and their belief no longer matters, b/c there they are - living it.

frustrated brainlets

Correct. Ideology is a live-practice, not just "brainwashing".

I posted one in the new reading list thread.

Hmm… Is Althusser a Spinozist? (Ideology = affects)

That's more of a Zizekian take isn't it? We reproduce ideology even while keeping a cynical distance

For the record I don't believe ideology can be overcome, much less alienation, insofar as a separation between being and the world exists "men start by seeing things only such as they appear to them and not such as they are; by seeing not the things themselves but the idea they have of them" this act of seeing is always ideological and cannot be otherwise. To paraphrase Mao: "where's ideology in a communist country? In the communist party itself."

Would love to be proven wrong, of course.

althusser is marx + lacan. So Zizek writes and follows a lot of what althusser taught. zizek includes althusser's essay on ISA in his verso reader on ideology.

he read althusser and I think was informed by him, I don't know anything about spinoza or if even althusser mentions him

sorry, althusser read spinoza lol

If you're a "Maoist", you're pretty well stuck being a Spinozaist.

Yes, what I meant is that the notion of the cynical distance comes from Zizek, Althusser impresses me as being more mechanistic (the subject is interpellated by ideology and from then on he ipso facto becomes subject)

lel no. Althusser was friends with Lacan and taught and the same university. If anything,
Althusser = Marx - Hegel + Spinoza

He was open about being a Spinozian.

I'm pretty sure that comes from Adorno. If you are looking for Zizek's original insights into ideology it's introducing the Lacanian mathemes and ontology into its analysis.

this can be pretty good


that site has p. good resource on critical theory

Who should I read first before Althusser and what concepts should one be familiar with beforehand? Also requesting that "le althusser face" pic is anyone has it.


unironically gramsci

What were the similarities between Gramsci and Althusser?

Chaya, what do you think of Althusser's later philosophy (philosophy of the encounter, 1980s), where he talks about alreatory materialism? What do you think of Cockshott's interpretation of it?

I got from source related that what Althusser was doing was transcribing Gramsci's ideas of hegemony into the scientific language of Capital.



specifically, gramsci invents hegemony by going back to hegel's analysis in "the philosophy of right" about how the burgliche gesselschaft "condenses" (solves it's internal contradictions) in a state (althusser would add: apparatus). hegel is , of ocurse, not talking about bourgeois society. gramsci, however, notes that the state (political society) evolves directly from the contradiction of bourgeois civil society not as its conclusion, but as one of its "wings".

this, althusser calls the state apparatus, the difference being in how they act on a subject. for gramsci, the subject is already there as a part of civil society (a "group" with a corresponding "time"), but for althusser the subject comes to be through interpellation by the apparatus.

the point is, as much as althusser was critical of gramsci, he (probably consciously) elaborated on his thought.

the gramsci part about the state solving the contradiction is leninist too I suppose.

At some points I think gramsci seems to say that civil society is like a trench around the state, and sometimes it is the center that the state forms out of?

I can't really understand how he positions it

A few shared interests (Machiavelli, theory of ideology, base - superstructure interaction). IMO Althusser is far more important a theorist than Gramsci is.

I took my time to getting around to reading this and it's really interesting, I highly reccomend it.

Cockhott seems to take a Markovian approach to history and motivates it with Althusser's "objection to teleology": The Po valley in Italy, where conditions were such that capitalism might have emerged, but didn't. His (and Althusser's) conclusion is that history is radically contingent in the sense that events follow in a gives causality, but a "rule" or "system" is absent from this movement. Instead of a Theory of history (in Althusser's sense of the word), he proposes a retrospective modelling, an example being Markov chains in pic related.

He further speculates on the basis of quantum and classical theories possesing time-reversal symmetry, that the vulgar Marxists' teleology is fundamentally false and instead one could even imagine history as an illusion. Events then have no causality between them and the "story" of history is emergent from a random process.

Anyway, thanks for sharing.

It's worth pointing out that his explanation for why capitalism didn't take hold earlier is that general conditions across europe weren't favourable to capitalism, so while a kind of protocapitalism was able to emerge at times, it was unable to spread and as a result collapsed back into feudalism (there's parallels to 20th century socialism here). It's more of a probabilistic process than a truly random one (as such referring to it as "aleatory materialism" is something of a misnomer).


Can you elaborate on this? Nick Land believes capitalism as a closed system possesses time reversal symmetry and thus it can be said to be teleological, guess I should just read the pdf.

what now?

If the development of Capitalism was a movie you could play backwards and forward, how can you know which is the correct order? Is entropy inside the system increasing or decreasing over time?

You might find this of use.

If A(t) is an operator then T is a time reversal operator, that acts as
T A(t) T^-1=e_A A(-t)
for e_A in {-1,1} the signature of the operator A(t). In a "normal" system (no spins, no magnetic field), T is anti-unitary and can be expressed as T=KU, K being the operator of complex conjugation (K:i-> -i) and U being some unknown unitary operator (unitarity follows from conservation of normalization).

For example, in classical mechanics a Hamiltonian system is time-reversible, which means it posseses no time-arrow by itself. Entropy can not increase in such a system, therefore there's no direction in time and you cannot have teleological arguments about such a system.

If you want entropy production, you need to either part with the system being Liouville integrable or you need non-stationarity. Not sure how these two apply to capitalism.

Putting aside the obvious (which in this case we should) like people walking backwards, products entering the factories rather than leaving them, etc. – so rather imagining an abstract animation of sorts that captures vectors, movements, generated and disappearing spaces in a structuralist manner – a Marxist would still claim that you can indeed detect the original timeline by looking at specific trends (concentration of capital, technological complexity [of products, of MoP], dead labor embodied, scarcity of resources, etc.).

Even if we imagine a sort of fluctuating bricolage showing only the cultural sphere, a stronger case could be made ("How do we know if blues or rock, Chaplin or Madonna came first?"), and even generously disregard the techné invested (color/black and white, silent/talkie pictures, electronic/acoustic music, etc.), there still would be detectable eras and shifts (just as there are eras of capitalism there are corresponding eras of culture with their own distinguishing logic of representations) that follow each other, develop their own potential in a rather mundane fashion. Now if we limit ourselves to the post-modern, to its logic, not looking at its starting point, I believe the strongest case could be made for your claim, but still, only if we do a one-sided (cultural) analysis (or, 'movie screening').

IMO Badiou makes a better formulated, in a way more moderate, claim about the sphere of politics being frozen in time, an overarching ahistoricity, a sort of atonal world.

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non-equilibrium state*

But still, if only you look at postmodern's incessant cannibalization and recycling of previous cultural products (dozens of music remixes, movie reboots, etc.) you'd be able to draw up tree graphs leading to obvious conclusions regarding the original timeline.

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(Trying to argue against myself:) if we take the strongest assertion, that there are absolutely no original or novel cultural products under postmodernity, that is, we have a fixed number of given 'cultural lego bricks' available for constant reordering into 'new' cultural products – that is the above tree graph rather looks like a non-hierarchical, never-ending net of nodes [le deluzian faggotry] –, by looking at larger sets we could still detect shifts in fashionable modes of rearrangements (say, in music) that would indicate that even though there are finite number of 'cultural lego bricks' the logic of rearrangements wouldn't show true randomness – the dice would be loaded periodically differently. IMO this could be a good starting point for reconstructing the original timeline.

This would be to say that (under this non-Marxist analysis) although the market could be considered ahistorical, exactly against this ahistoricity it produces stacks of faux-novel modes of rearrangements (basically: fashion, trend) that eventually wear out (consumers lose interest in Skrillexkssxs and Justin Biebers), forcing it to create a new recognizable pattern of reorganization. Between these shifts there's a recognizable – not historicity, but – spasms of an organism. Sorry for the multiple posts, I'm improvising.

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What's the difference between Althusser and Adorno's thought? Give me the TL;DR version.

Here's a movie made using commercials that illustrates this: vimeo.com/218908974

The clips go from infancy to old age, with the second to the last one representing late capitalism - an inverted image of the first clip.

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Are you the maker of these videos by chance?

I really liked the one on memes vimeo.com/129609470

I think it should end with the contest of aeons from FFX youtu.be/6gdRia4Ans4

The idea is that there's a way out of the memetic time loop, we have to kill our memes after they have served their purpose and before they become the instruments of our domination.

This is a great question and I'm not entirely qualified to answer (I've read more Althusser than Adorno), but I will try, nevertheless.

They weirdly take up different starting points (theoretical problematics) and eventually arrive at very similar if not identical conclusions (albeit, and, obviously, expressed in different terminology), utilizing the same core branches of philosophy (ontology, epistemology, hermeneutics).

From these starting points they move in the opposite direction, towards each other. With Althusser: from Marxist orthodoxy to the problems of modern life (i.e. from the ontology of late Marx/Engels to the ideology of contemporary capitalism); with Adorno: from modern "facts of life" [and especially: fascism] to Marxist orthodoxy (e.g. from capitalist superstructure to the capitalist base [Marxist orthodoxy]). IMO both of them make very convincing arguments anchored in and faithful to Marx while supplanting the arguments with (different interpretations of) freudianism.

This difference in starting points and movement is detectable in their texts consistently. A typical Althusser text will start with the base (and general ontology) and move on to the superstructure (and the theory of ideology). A typical Adorno text will start with the superstructure (especially the general state of culture) and move on to provide proofs for it based on Marxist ontology.

The differences. Althusser is an unabashed and open Leninist, Adorno is a secret Leninist (we have some personal letters where we can basically pin him down). Since Althusser is open about the fact he also writes pragmato-philosophical texts on Lenin and Mao. Adorno is too much occupied with the fall of civilization to give us this.

Also, and probably most importantly: they have radically different understandings of dialectical-materialism. Althusser spends his time with re-establishing Marx on a Spinozist footing, openly against Hegel, while Adorno embraces a kind of neutered Hegel he detects in Marx.

If you wish I could go on, but this I must say: you can not understand contemporary communist theory without reading them both.

So basically you disregard everything that has been said here and resort to posting aesthetics:

That, mein friends, is pathetic.

That's totally my jam, where does Adorno elaborate on this?

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(Godly quads.)

Start with his The Culture Industry ( libgen.io/book/index.php?md5=A556DFE0B25FA47094DCE9C6B1EFFA77 ) and move onto Minima Moralia (available on marxists.org).

and when you progressed (or optimally: done) get back to me ITT.

Also: subtext (in Verso edition) and cover image is very much related.

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Thanks user, I have too much on my plate right now tbh, but I'll try to get back to you.


honestly, tell me, u cuck, what's on your reading list, above in priority of Althusser/Adorno?

muh deek

Ginjeet, or whoever other obnoxious fool you are, go away.

Geez, I am reading it, give me a break.

What I've gotten so far was that Adorno expected high and low art to abolish themselves, by overturning the alienation that makes their existence necessary in the first place, just as the proletariat abolishes itself by overturning their conditions of existence in social revolution, instead what happened was that low and high art fused themselves under the tutelage of the value form. Thus as the Fukuyamaist end of history society offers us a false universality (the bourgeoisie being the universal class, there are rich porkies, middle class porkies, and temporarily embarrassed porkies) so does postmodern art offers us a false universality in the form of low and high art merging, while covering up the suffering intrinsic to class society.

See I can read, so fuck off lmao

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Read Zizek

Althusser' conception of the processes of ideology became the basis for Zizek

this, zizek and badiou take alot from althusser