Tag Archives: louis althusser

Life After Capitalism? A Document From Another Time

The French Marxist philosopher Louis Althusser, who perhaps reflected most on the question of ‘ideology’, once wrote that “ideology moves, but with an immobile motion that keeps it where it is”. Althusser did not make any claim about the truth or falsity of ideology. At a certain level, ideology undoubtedly refers to something that is real or true. What interested Althusser instead, was the relationship of ‘ideology’ to what he called ‘science’ – namely, that critical activity, which continuously works to take knowledge forward. Science, according to him, always lived by focusing on that which it did not know; ideology on the other hand, was that which remained with the obviousness of the already-known. Every new question that a science poses is effectively subsumed by ideology to give us something that we already knew. That is why science, he believed, was always  pursued, beseiged and occupied by ideology and had to continuously struggle to free itself from its grasp in order to live.

The CPI(M)’s ‘Draft Resolution on Some Ideological Issues’ prepared by the party for discussion and adoption at the party’s 20th Congress that began in Kozhikode today, is truly an ideological document in Althusser’s sense. It claims to move with the times and update the party thought apparatus but in reality, moves in order to stay where it is. It works to relentlessly re-present all the difficult questions of our times as if they were already known to the founders of something called ‘Marxism-Leninism’.

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Interview with Jacques Ranciere

Interview with Jacques Rancière
Conducted by Lawrence Liang
Lodi Gardens, Delhi, 5th February 2009

Jacques Rancière (born Algiers, 1940) is Emeritus Professor, Philosophy, at the University of Paris (St. Denis). He came to prominence when he co-authored Reading Capital (1968), with Louis Althusser, the Marxist philosopher. He subsequently broke away from Althusser and wrote The Nights of Labour, a work that examined the philosophical and poetical writings of workers in 19th century France. Through an examination of the lives of these worker autodidacts, Rancière introduced a new way of thinking about the idea of the worker, and of the injunction that divides between those entitled to a life in thought and those born to do manual labour.

He went on to write The Philosopher and His Poor which looks at the figure of the poor artisan from classical philosophy down to Marx and Sartre. In The Ignorant Schoolmaster, inspired by the experiences of a radical early 19th century teacher, Joseph Jacotot, Rancière sought to rethink the idea of pedagogy away from the idea of moving form the unknown to the known and from those who possess knowledge to those who don’t, to look at how all forms of ignorance are also conditions of knowledge.

He was in Delhi recently, on the occasion of the release of the Hindi language edition of The Nights of Labour.

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