By Robert Paul Resch
The writings of the French Marxist thinker Louis Althusser and his affiliates have figured prominently within the improvement of latest social idea. The Althusserian university of Structural Marxism is a startlingly unique synthesis of Marxism and Modernism, which has produced a wide physique of paintings that extends around the human sciences and the arts to interact a large number of cultures, theoretical difficulties, and political matters. regardless of the incontrovertible fact that Althusser himself is well known as an important determine, the breadth, coherence, and achievements of Structural Marxism as a complete have long gone mostly unrecognized. during this, the main systematic and wide-ranging evaluate of Structural Marxism in any language, Resch offers a complete and thematic advent to the paintings of Althusser, Nicos Poulantzas, Pierre Macherey, Etienne Balibar, Emmanuel Terray, Terry Eagleton, Gran Therborn, Rene Balibar, Perry Anderson, Pierre- Philippe Rey, Michel Pchaux, man Bois, and others. Resch's sympathetic and serious research demonstrates the big value of Althusser's modernist renewal of Marxist social idea and its ongoing problem to post-Marxist events resembling postmodernism and neo-liberalism.
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Extra info for Althusser and the Renewal of Marxist Social Theory
Althusser would not disagree that such a conclusion follows logically from Spinoza's concept of God or Nature, which does not permit inadequacy or uneven development. Althusser might even accept this proposition as an ultimate conclusion of a realist and materialist position within philosophy. However, Althusser would insist that such a "speculative-rationalist" philosophical conclusion is of little use to scientific practice. Spinoza maintains that insofar as we reflect on our ideas— that is, insofar as we remain within the realm of pure logic—we participate in the same relationship of adequacy/certainty as God, although at an infinitely lower level.
The concept of overdetermination is Althusser's way of expressing the historical effect of the ensemble of contradictions on each individual contradiction: "the reflection in contradiction itself of its conditions of existence, that is, of its situation in the structure in dominance of the complex whole" (Althusser 1969, 209).  The ensemble of contradictions assigns a place and a function to individual practices, but the contradictions within each individual practice will exercise in turn an effect on the ensemble and hence back eventually on each individual practice and contradiction, including its own.
It is economism . . that sets up the hierarchy of instances once and for all, assigns each its essence and role and defines the universal meaning of these relations. . It is economism that identifies eternally in advance the determinant contradiction in the last instance with the role of the dominant contradiction, which forever assimilates such and such an "aspect" (forces of production, economy, practice) to the principal role, and such and such another "aspect" (relations of production, politics, ideology, theory) to the secondary role—whereas in real history determination in the last instance by the economy is exercised precisely in the permutations of the principal role between the economy, politics, theory, etc.