This is the work in which Louis Althusser formulated some of his most influential ideas. For Marx, first published in France in 1968, has come to be regarded as the founding text of the school of “structuralist Marxism” which was presided over by the fascinating and enigmatic figure of Louis Althusser. Structuralism constituted an intellectual revolution in the 1960s and 1970s and radically transformed the way philosophy, political and social theory, history, science, and aesthetics were discussed and thought about. For Marx was a key contribution to that process and it fundamentally recast the way in which many people understood Marx and Marxism.
This book contains the classic statements of Althusser's analysis of the young Marx and the importance of Feuerbach during this formative period, of his thesis of the “epistomological break” between the early and the late Marx, and of his conception of dialectics, contradiction and “overdetermination.” Also included is a study of the materialist theater of Bertolazzi and Brecht and the critique of humanist readings of Marxism. Since his death in 1990, Althusser's legacy has come under renewed examination and it is increasingly recognized that the influence of his ideas has been wider and deeper than previously thought: reading For Marx, in its audacity, originality and rigor, will explain why this impact was so significant.
Louis Althusser, one of the most influential Marxists of the twentieth century, died on this day in 1990. To celebrate his work we've made one of his most famous early essays, 'Marxism and Humanism' (from For Marx, 1969), freely available.
In it, Althusser formulates the idea of a radical break or rupture in the work of Marx that occurred in 1845. Before this date Marx's work is based on a Feuerbachian humanism, rooting in the German Idealist tradition. After 1845, Marx's work is based upon the rejection of all philosophical anthropology as ideology, and is now founded upon the scientific theory based upon radically new concepts.
The following review, by Abhijeet Paul, was originally published in Critical Inquiry.
In the three chapters—more like three theses—Lordon explores the reasons for our general desire to be enslaved by modern work and the workplace. This justifies the title of the book: we are willing slaves of capital—it would not be otherwise. Further, Lordon emphasizes, there is no voluntary, but only passionate, servitude.