Communist Orthodoxy: A Good Idea?

Orthodoxy?Our comrade Shinethepath has posted a particularly provocative quote (on the blog Good Morning, Revolution).

STP offers this quote as his initial response to the RCP's new synthesis (pending a more full critique which STP promises). This quote comes from Georg Lukacs, a major Communist philosopher of the Comintern generation (who is virtually unknown and unread among RCP supporters). This comes from his most famous book, History and Class Consciousness:

"Let us assume for the sake of argument that recent research had disproved once and for all every one of Marx’s individual theses. Even if this were to be proved, every serious ‘orthodox’ Marxist would still be able to accept all such modern findings without reservation and hence dismiss all of Marx’s theses in toto – without having to renounce his orthodoxy for a single moment. Orthodox Marxism, therefore, does not imply the uncritical acceptance of the results of Marx’s investigations. It is not the ‘belief’ in this or that thesis, nor the exegesis of a ‘sacred’ book. On the contrary, orthodoxy refers exclusively to method. It is the scientific conviction that dialectical materialism is the road to truth and that its methods can be developed, expanded and deepened only along the lines laid down by its founders. It is the conviction, moreover, that all attempts to surpass or ‘improve’ it have led and must lead to over-simplification, triviality and eclecticism."

* * * * *

My question is a simple one: Is this correct?


Should we accept that specific, individual Marxist theses will come and go based on new data and thinking, but simultaneously promote a explicit ORTHODOXY around Marxist METHOD?

People in this conversation

  • Guest - Quorri

    I think that there is a lot to this idea. We wouldn't want to blindly hold on to false realities, once dis-proven, no matter who we were. But there is a way to go about understanding reality that is correct, there is a reason to hold to a method that is effective and revelatory- again, no matter who you are.

  • Guest - Sean S.

    So essentially what is being said is; toe the line, because if you don't, we will throw a bunch of bullshit words at you (eclecticism? really?). This might be me being glib, but anyone unwilling to question one's point of view (which is essentially what we're arguing here; the method of how you view the world) has either a hell of alot of faith or is an idiot.

    This doesn't mean an abandonment to some sort of post-modernist navalgazing, which is equally useless. But it does mean that sometimes, taking things in from another basis can be useful and rewarding, and not merely "trivial".

  • Guest - andreimazenov

    Firstoff, let's establish what we mean by "orthodoxy". Do we mean seeing Marxism as a dogma, or are we using orthodoxy in LITERAL sense, as in the Greek word meaning "correct teaching"? If it is the latter, then yes, I consider myself an "orthodox" Maoist.

    Another thing we need to make clear: is Marxism-Leninism-Maoism mainly a <i>method</i>, or a <i>set of lines?</i>

  • Guest - jrochkind

    So, wait, your suggestion is that Lucaks was correct that individual theses may be disproved (which, I believe his main point there, challenging those who considered certain individual theses to be 'sacred')--but that he didn't go far enough, because he was still acknowleding an orthodoxy (or 'sacredness', to use my put-down from the first clause :) ) of method?

    I mean it's clear to me that Lucaks was right that the individual findings of Marx should not be held sacred. Not only was Marx not infallible (and serious communism should never assert anyone to be infallible, Marx on down), but it's over a century later now and things that were true once may no longer be so. The second question is the trickier one.

    So, we've established that one is still a scientific revolutionary communist if one rejects all of Marx's historical conclusions baesd on 'recent research'--I would in fact say that the ability to do this is what _makes_ one a scientific communist. True communism ought not to be about dogmatism. Lucaks agrees with us so far. But what are the bounds of metholody for that 'recent research'? Lucaks seems to suggests that it is dialectical materialism--and perhaps further implies that what consitutes the dialectal materialist method is clear and understood. (?) [And, let us keep this from being about Lucaks personally--it's quite possible he said the second part mainly to give himself cover for the challenge of the first part. But it can still be examined as an idea, without needing to know Lucak's personal motivations or inner conclusions].

    I think one important point is that in fact exactly what consitutes 'true' or 'correct' dialectical materialism is NOT in fact always clear and obvious. Just because someone tells you that their description of method on a particular question is the one true 'dialectical materialist' approach doesn't necessarily make it so. The undogmatic scientific communist doesn't accept such things uncritically.

    But can one abandon dialectical materialism entirely and still be a communist? Or supplement it rather than abandon it? I'm not sure, but I'm also not certain whether the answer to this question matters. What are the implications either way? As a practical matter, someone who believed it would merely claim that their methodological innovations were still within the bounds of dialectical materialism; someone who did not might say, no, this is a new methodological innovation which is not dilectical materialism, what of it?

    The important thing still seems to be that the method of scientific communism is critical, undogmatic, 'scientific', and consists of analysis informed by practice (revolutionary practice is the ultimate scientific 'experiment' of revolutionary communism), and practice informed by analysis. But what are the further limits on development of method that Lucaks believes are constrained by the "lines laid down by its founders"? I'm not certain. I suppose we'd have to be clear about what those were to discuss if we thought they were truly uncrossable lines.

  • Guest - Sean S.

    I think Jrochkind is fairly correct, especially in the bit about how someone can merely dress up their idea as being the correct outcome of the "dialectical materialist" method. Trying to be the used-car salesmen of the "Correct method" diminishes critical thinking, and more often than not, leads to a ridiculous amount of bad blood as people throw mud at each other and try to draw a line in the sand.

    Theres a certain amount of irony in this quote coming from Lukac of all people, though when he wrote it was before he would move to the USSR, considering he managed not only to survive the Soviet purges of the 30's, but managed to avoid it again in the '56 Hungarian revolt.

  • Guest - tellnolies

    A couple points should be made here to clarify what Lukacs was doing here.

    First, it is pretty clear from reading the rest of his writings in this period that his use of the term "orthodoxy" was precisely not in the sense of dogmatic or ossified, but rather "correct teaching."

    Second, while he upholds the method of "dialectical materialism" his work is in fact a pround challenge to the understanding of what that method meant in the Second International and came to mean in the Third.

    Lukacs (in particular the essays collected in History and Class Consciousness) was a critical point of departure for the Frankfurt School thinkers which, despite their despairing political impotence, remain a source of valuable insight into the problems of revolutionary politics in advanced capitalist societies.

    Like Gramsci, Lukacs had a view of the relationship between the so-called base and the so-called superstructure that was considerably more complex than that of most of his contemporaries in the communist movement. He is, I believe, a very useful starting point for developing a robust response to the challenges posed to the communist movement by post-structuralism.

    For those interested in thinking through the implications of Lukacs idea for communists today I think a comparative reading of Stalin's "Foundations of Leninism" with Lukacs's "Lenin: A Study of the Unity of His Thought" is useful.

  • Tellnolies: I appreciate the subtle comments you are making about Lukacs' body of work. (I have read some of Lukacs but not enough and not recently enough to have a sense of his overall approach).


    The main issue here is not our verdict on Lucacs, but the verdict that we will deserve ourselves. The idea of upholding orthodoxy is (imho) not a scientific approach to science itself. And not a method or stand or label we should adopt.

    Andrei: I believe that someone <em>could</em> creatively define orthodoxy in ways that imply "correct teaching" (rather than dogmatic assumptions). But I think orthodoxy has a social meaning that we can't ignore -- including among communists. It implies a specific method for identifying which "teachings" are "correct" -- i.e. by going back to the source, by defending the traditional views and "classics" of Marxism from those who would somehow "revise" them.

    * * * * *

    In fact, historically, the views received as Marxist orthodoxy have been repeatedly "revised" by BOTH those who have advanced the revolution, and by those who abandoned and betrayed it.

    Lenin took his public stand on the ground of a certain explicit "orthodoxy" (as in State and Revolution, where he reclaims buried theories of Marx) -- but this tactic had to do with the historical moment he was in. His movement had just emerged from struggle with Bernstein's literal revisionism.

    But, in fact, Lenin was departing from, criticizing, the Marxist "orthodoxy" of his time (best represented by Karl Kautsky, the leader of German socialism, the successor to Engels, the mentor of the Russian Mensheviks, and the bitter opponent of the Russian Revolution).

    * * * *

    <strong>To take the Lukacs' remark in its own right for a moment:
    Is it true that Marx's conclusions may be surpassed (or overturned) in matters of "individual thesis" but NOT regarding "method"?

    Why is method itself not a matter of thesis? Why is method different (in this regard) from other theses?

    Lukacs writes:

    <blockquote>"...orthodoxy refers exclusively to method. It is the scientific conviction that dialectical materialism is the road to truth and that its methods can be developed, expanded and deepened only along the lines laid down by its founders. It is the conviction, moreover, that all attempts to surpass or ‘improve’ it have led and must lead to over-simplification, triviality and eclecticism."</blockquote>

    Now, i think this is much better than those who think "orthodoxy" should be upheld in regard to all things. Historically communists have seen "orthodoxy" of that kind from Kautsky, the later-era Stalin, the Soviet-era Breshnevites, the Hoxhaites and so one (even as they all, typically, disagreed with each other over what, exactly, the orthodoxy was).

    So to confine "orthodoxy" to method is (i suppose) better than embracing "orthodoxy" as a guide to all things.

    But I can't see why method exists in a special box or category, and why orthodoxy applies there either.

    Is it really true that our communist theoretical methods can only be developed and deepened "along the lines laid down" by the founders of Marxism? Really?!

    Is it not possible for new and relatively correct insights to emerge that DON'T actually fit into those lines -- that actually break out of those lines?

    Is that so impossible that we should rule it out methodologically?

    Can we assume that any new theory that doesn't fit into those lines MUST be wrong, simply because it leads us outside those "lines laid down"?

    One example: I have repeatedly seen people respond that way to Badiou. After hearing that Badiou has rejected dialectics (as we know and love it), and has advanced a view of "multiples of multiples", several comrades I talked with simply suggested that Badiou is therefore wrong, and we could proceed in our discussions and analysis on the basis of that assumption-BEFORE-investigation. Now I think Lucacs' argument (in this quote at least) can lead to exactly that kind of deductive verdicts -- which are all too common among communists.

    Another negative example: There is a method (which I assume we have all encountered) that says essentially, "MLM as we know it is correct, so we know the answers, so if you have other answers, you must be wrong." And people can use that method to arrive on verdicts (or dismissals) of many things WITHOUT investigation, critical assessment, or genuine engagement. Within the RCP, for example, I have heard of Gramsci or Sartre being dismissed, casually and confidently, by people who actually had little idea what either Gramsci or Sartre thought... Or some comrades have "concerns" or "disagreement" with the Nepali Maoist strategies, and then discover that they really don't have much idea what those strategies actually are, or what the theoretical underpinnings of those strategies are. i.e. their verdicts were based on embracing some rather formulatic verdicts (eg. you can't halt a peoples' war once it has started) and then use formal deductions to make verdicts on complex situations they haven't investigated. And so on.

    To me "orthodoxy" has the smell of fundamentalism -- the assumption that truth exist in some pure form within the pages of classics (that apparently emerged from a kind of revelation). For my part, i think we need to aggressively (and self-critically) separate ourselves from that kind of fundamentalist method and its verdicts.

    A third specific example: "Negation of Negation" -- this philosophical concept (lifted from Hegel) forms a recurring part of Marx and Engels' dialectics. Some writers (from the "orthodox" Breshnev-era "Marxist" scholarship) have even claimed that negation of negation is <em>the</em> core Marxist theory of development.

    But Mao (critiquing the orthodox Marxism of his time from his own thinking and from Chinese dialectical roots like Taoism) argued that there simply is no "negation of the negation." He argued that Stalin was wrong to see several laws of dialectics and argued that they all boil down to one: the unity and struggle of opposites.

    Isn't this precisely a case of deepening dialectical materialism <em>by disputing</em> "the lines laid down by its founders"? I think it is.

    * * * * *

    To step back a bit:

    Is it true of ANY arena of human investigation that theory can only "can be developed, expanded and deepened only along the lines laid down by its founders"?

    I don't believe so. What a cramped and fundamentalist process science would become if this were true.

    Why should it be claimed that the "founders" of any field (modern physics? historical materialism? evolutionary biology?) were so comprehensive (at their founding level) that we can assume (or insist!) that they defined a <em>permanent</em> framework for creative investigation and development?

    I think it is a strange claim. A dogmatic claim. A claim asserting the mystical existence of complete and "classic" truths.

    Method is part of the theses of Marx and Engels. And there is no reason (philosophical or otherwise) to say that method should get special treatment (distinct from how any other "thesis" is treated) -- that method should be placed on a special altar and given special dispensation from ongoing critical evaluation and disruptive challenges.

    I think we need to uphold and apply the methods of Marxism that have proven correct over time.

    I think we should support the deepenings that have already been done to Marxism -- whether or not they conform to the "lines laid down by its founders." (That is the reason people focus on the revolutoinaries who actually made successful revolutions, and broke radically new theoretical ground in the process -- i.e. Lenin and Mao.)

    I think we should be alert to new insights that emerge far afield (from Marxism generally, but even from social theory).

    I think we should study the insights of people who are overall wrong (as Gould often does with the disproven thinkers in his field, like those associated with catastrophism in geology who were considered discredited by the more widely accepted, "orthodox" and supposedly more-progressive theories of geological gradualism).

    In that light I think we should critically study the observations made by thoughtful opponents of Marxism and communism. And we should even be open to the problems posed by people within Marxism or "the Left," whose overall line has generally been assumed wrong in key matters. (This includes the approach to figures like Che Guevara, Rosa Luxembourg, Antonio Gramsci etc. who have historically been summed up in negative ways within much of the organized Maoist movement, and whose evaluations have recently been reopened within that international Maoist movement).

    We must find ways to assimilate what is correct and new in human thought wherever it comes from. And I think we should do all of that using a critical and materialist method -- that doesn't accept anything as gospel truth and measures everything (in an ongoing and sophisticated way) against the test of reality.

    And these views (which are an attempt to have a "scientific approach to science itself," and a "critical dialectical materialist approach to Marxism itself" are, I believe, sharply opposed to any defense of "orthodoxy" as a posture, a self-labeling or as a method.

  • Guest - Mike S.

    I like what Mike E. just said, a lot. I know tellnolies (to take just one example) has a longstanding criticism of anarchism as reproducing a methodological orthodoxy that reflexively rejects any analysis with the words "Marxist" or "Leninist" or "Maoist" attached to it, and this is true in an awful lot of cases. On the flipside its also true that anarchism is on some level so diffuse that no coherent political ideology can be discerned within the mish mash (or should I say, to borrow from another thread, the "farrago"?); in this sense there cannot be an anarchist "orthodoxy" at the level of substantive politics -- putting method to one side.

    But to be honest, my politics have changed dramatically in the two decades that I've called myself an anarchist, and I don't feel any less at home with that term now than I did when I first used it at age 14. There are not too many revolutionary frameworks that can not just incorporate substantial insights from, but actually develop meaningful theoretical and practical relationships with feminism, green/ecological thought and queer radicalism. Amidst all the lifestylism and unexamined liberal individualism, there is still real value within anarchism.

    Not that I'm trying to recruit, mind you. I respect the 9 Letters and the Kasama project for what it is, an attempt to rethink and recontextualize a revolutionary framework (Maoism) that is foreign to me. I find myself learning a lot as I read the various posts on this website, and many of my own methodological orthodoxies have been challenged. So, I just want to second Mike E's call for an openness to critical engagement with other branches of radical thought. Keep up the good work.

  • Guest - zerohour

    "Method is part of the theses of Marx and Engels. "

    I think Lukacs is making a stronger claim, that Marxism should be equated with its methodology, otherwise what are we talking about when we talk about Marxism? He has already taken specific "theses" off the table, but I think he was a bit too hasty in separating the two.

    I haven't read <i>History and Class Consciousness</i> in a while so I'm going to diverge from Lukacs and use his quote as a springboard for my own observations.

    Marx's "theses" can be divided into three areas: concepts, analyses, hypotheses. Then can be represented by "exploitation", the Paris Commune and <i>The Critique of the Gotha Programme.</i>

    On the first point, it was precisely Marx's methodology that allowed him to connect disparate phenomena and see the unity of a system, its fundamental dynamics and the interactions of its parts. This is why he can separate out historically contingent phenomena from their deeper structures. Under capitalism, the forms of exploitation might change, but the its basic working does not. Here, the thesis depends on the methodology. To deny this is to advocate for a naive realism in which the truth about the world is given and our concepts are self-evident.

    The second point is what he seems to be speaking of. I have no disagreement about this. Even where further investigation might invalidate certain insights, we can still ask whether his methodology provided the best possible analysis given the state of knowledge and resources available at the time. This is held true of other thinkers and Marx should not be exempt from this either. Much has been discovered about the Roman Empire since Edward Gibbons's celebrated study, but his scholarship is still respected because it is contextualized.

    This last point is where Marx's [I would include Engels but alas he is often unfairly ignored, even by reactionaries] critics often attack him as a "failed prophet." Marx and Engels spent very little ink on socialism, but what little they did say was a reasonable extrapolation based on trends at the time. They were modest enough not to take it too far, but even here, methodology is what separates their grounded thinking from the utopian socialists.

    Mike is right, even Marx's methodology is a thesis and can be reified into static categories. The dialectic can be reduced to "labor-capital" making it sterile and useless. We must use methodology to interrogate methodology as well.

  • Guest - ShineThePath

    Entitling this Orthodox Communism is one of the problems here to begin with. Lukacs is not speaking about an orthodox politics, fixed and religious thought, but an orthodoxy to the dialectical method [of which he is fighting for a certain kind of understanding!].

    I posted this quote up to my site because I think it reveals something fundamentally interesting for the critical circles of Marxists out there in the most paradox of ways. I don't believe in any sense that when we speak about an Orthodoxy to the dialectical method that we conceptualize any sort of fundamentalism, I believe this is far from the case.

    In fact this might lead me to write in greater depth about my thoughts on dialectics and its history as such, but to be brief for now we have to historicize our world view of what Lukacs is speaking about when he is writing History and Class Consciousness and how his work is relating to the discourse of its time. If I dare say, this is as well is a part of a dialectical method that historicizes work and understands it in and of its time. Lukacs is writing History and Class Consciousness in the backdrop of the developing Bolshevik Revolution or and what was thought to be developing "Proletarian Revolutions" in Europe. He is also writing in a period in which most revolutionaries understanding of Dialectical Materialism proceeds from the work of Dietzgen (cryptically so), Engels, Kautsky, and Plekhanov.

    To comment on the breadth of this trend, while it did encapsulate certain key elements of a Dialectical Materialist method, that development occurs through contradiction, this was made palpable through a larger audience, it effectively greatly hindered the Marxist movement in its thought and became a sterile, impotent religious fixture for some time. Marx and Engels commented on how they turned Hegel on his feet, but largely the context of this quote of theirs is ignored, because it is Hegel himself who clearly states his philosophical work "stands on his head" in the Phenomenology of Spirit, which was the aim of that work in understanding consciousness and its development. Marx's emerging theory can't be seen as merely turning Hegel into a materialist instead of silly Idealist, but taking the dialectical method and approaching the world outside of consciousness. However the long tradition afterward treated dialectical process as outside of mind, in the natural world, and mind as a mere reflection, a mirror for the world.

    Zizek, who has taken great time and care in returning Lenin to the forefront of Left-wing academic thought, ruthlessly comments on how Materialism and Empirico-criticism is the worst philosophical text he has read. Because in the last instance Lenin keeps to a Reflection Theory of Mind. To comment on this for a second on why this is, Materialism and Empirico-criticism keeps a certain amount of fidelity to the Engels-Plekhanov concept of dialectical materialism. Zizek also comments that Lukacs should be seen as the philosopher of Lenin. Why is this? Because Lenin more or less abandons much from his early fixed religious position on dialectical materialism coming from Engels and Plekhanov after he actually reads Hegel in 1915-1916. Lenin himself comes to find Hegel's work, specifically the concept of Absolute Idealism, to be almost thorough-going materialism. It is from this view that we have to concieve Hegel not as an idealist dialectician, but an idealist who's method needed to be inversed, but as the innovator of dialectical materialism itself.

    This is what Lukacs has more or less done, even though being restricted by the Third International and continually having to defend his work against foolish dogmatism from the schools of Deborin and many who came to encompasse the Trotskyist factions (Trotsky's dialectical approach repeats much of Plekhanov's "abc's" of dialectics). Lukacs' work provides the philosophical scope of understanding the development of a Vanguard Party, and how the class consciousness of the Proletariat, this consciousness univeralizes itself in the world. Lukacs in this sense in the commentating philosopher of Leninism qua Dialectical Materialism.

  • Guest - ShineThePath

    Also Mike, you should look at how Lukcas concieves of Immanent Critique[critique from within], Lukcas never had in mind to actually keep to some terribly concieved "laws of dialectics," diamat.

    If I can say simply, I think Immanent Critique is going to be terribly important in whatever the project of "reconcieving as we regroup" will mean. As I have said before, I think it is absolutely necessary to come from the pit of MLM to constitute something that has a key fidelity to the revolutionary truth in our revolutionary science.

    Given we are in the conditions of post-Maoism and we are Maoists; however I can think of nothing much easier than to give into a certain eclecticism that substitutes phraseology and keeps to either dogmatism or goes into revisionism. How many times have we seen this in our trend?

  • It is true that I should look at Lukacs work more deeply.

    Now, a question: (setting aside Lukacs for a moment) should WE (meaning the contemporary communist movement that is now regrouping in the U.S.) uphold "orthodoxy" in our approach to method? And if you think so, what kind of orthodoxy should it be?

  • Guest - zerohour

    Mike, the way you are describing orthodoxy, as an outgrowth of dogmatism, it should be rejected but I think we do need to go back to what Lukacs to see that he uses orthodoxy in another way.

    Upon re-reading the passage, it seems that Lukacs uses the word "orthodoxy" to refer to a fidelity to Marx's critical method. This is not a simple "return to Marx" so common among anti-Leninist intellectuals, but a continual "drawing from the well". There is much richness in Marx's method that we are still uncovering, which provides us with resources to deeply investigate phenomena not deeply explored by Marx and Engels, as well as to help us deepen lines of inquiry they pioneered.

    If all Lukacs were saying was that everything we need could be found in Marx and Engels, why read Lukacs at all?

  • Guest - zerohour

    Did I just use "deep" three times in a row? We need an "edit" function here.

  • Guest - tellnolies


    Should we uphold "orthodoxy" in our approach to method? The simple answer is no. Lukacs's insistence on orthodoxy in methodology in the passage quoted above is wrong, but it is also contradicted in the rest of his work. Despite his insistence on his own orthodoxy (which is I think a reflection of both a prticular understanding of th term AND an essentially tactical move to get his decidely unorthodox views a hearing) it would be a serious mistake to regard Lukacs as a defender of methodological orthodoxy simply on the basis of this passage.

    This of course speaks only to our verdict on Lukacs. But I think its important at a moment when a new circle of revolutionaries are re-discovering him not to promote this misapprehension.

    As I understand it, the dispute you describe over the validity of "the negation of the negation" exists largely or even entirely within the confines of the orthodoxy of diamat. Is Mao's the better position? Perhaps in the sense that the fewer "laws" of dialectics the better. But I think the more important point is to recognize the overall impoverishment of dialectics represented by official diamat.

    As for Badiou's rejection of dialectics, I'm not well enough read to comment. I certainly agree that we should approach the proposition with a generally open mind. That said it is my sense that the rejection of dialectics within French philosophy overall (and in the aleatory materialism of Negri) is much more a rejection of a combination of official diamat and certain readings of Hegel than it is of Lukacs with whom they have not really bothered much.

    As for the rest of what you say regarding our tasks, I am in complete agreement with you.

    A couple books that I think would advance our own discussions of what all this actually means politically are Marcuse's "Reason and Revolution" and James and Grace Lee Boggs "Evolution and Revolution in the 20th Century" which I understand Monthly Review is bringing back into print. Marcuse challenges still widespread (mis)readings of Hegel and locates his work within the development of revolutionary theory in a manner indebted to Lukacs. The Boggs's book owes more to CLR James reading of Lenin's readings of Hegel and to Marx's early works which weren't available to Lukacs when he wrote "History and Class Consciousness." Written around 1970 its a provocative take on the unfolding process of world revolution and its implications for revolutionaries working in the US.

  • Guest - ShineThePath

    To comment on the bit of Badious' view on dialectics. Badiou comes out of the Althusserian tradition which actually reconcieved dialectical materialism completely, or in the last instance rejected it, depending on how you view Althusser's work. However I won't comment so much on that beyond that Althusser's work decidedly rejects any subject orientated philosophy, rejects Hegelianism, so dialectics of consciousness is something which he doesn't quite want to bother with. For Althusser, there is a concern instead with dialectics in praxis and in historical occurrence. Whereas Lukacs speaks to a philosophy of consciousness, Althusser speaks to a philosophy of encounter.

    On Badiou, he first takes on this tradition of anti-humanist philosophy. Badiou also comments that there is no Marxist philosophy as such, and the work of Althusser showed how there is ultimately a failure of such a project. However particularly on Badiou and the dialectic, it reveals itself in his work on multiplicity of Deleuze, which for him is ultimately reduced to the question of the Two. Badiou has a certain fixation on the axiom "One divides into Two."

  • Guest - tellnolies


    Where is the best place in Badiou's work to find his discussion of Deleuze?

  • Guest - Ulises


    I think Althusser's famous declaration that history was without a subject has been widely misunderstood. At any rate, his theory of interpellation together with the Ideological State Apparatuses is a theory of the formation of subjects, and it is one of his more relevant theoretical interventions.


    Badiou has written a book called Deleuze: The Clamour of Being

  • Guest - ShineThePath

    I think when we are speaking of the the philosophy of subject, we are speaking about a certain tradition of critical Idealism, existentialism, and Humanism, Ulises. Althusser's work proceeds in a radically different way away from the subject, or atleast away from any world view projected by an "I," Ego, consciousness, self, etc. For Althusser these concepts reveal themselves to be Ideological manifestations and have no inherent worth as such. Subject is precisely the "hailing" into the world by Ideology. Therefore Althusser proceeds not from the Subject but examines Ideology.

    His work on dialectics or encounter is a practical philosophy, whereas Lukcas' work is a critical philosophy.

  • Guest - ShineThePath

    Actually it is quite interesting, the graphic for this post IS what would be the manifestation in cartoon form of Althusser's dialectics.

    That was the first thing it reminded me of.

  • Guest - Eddy

    An observation:

    I suggest that 'dialectical materialism' and 'orthodoxy' are mutually exclusive concepts.

    "If one accepts the equation made by Marx in <I>The German Ideology</I>, that "language is real,practical consciousness", it can be seen that the boundary between the universe of (orthodox or heterodox) discourse and the universe of doxa, in the twofold sense of what goes without saying and what cannot be said for lack of an available discourse, represents the dividing line between the most radical form of misrecognition and the awakening of political consciousness." [Pierre Bourdieu, <I>Outline of a Theory of Practice</I>, 1977, 170)

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