September 25, 2006

Notes on "The Underground Current of the Materialism of the Encounter"

Notes on "The Underground Current of the Materialism of the Encounter" (POE 163-207)

Keywords: Marx, materialism, idealism, history of philosophy,

Halfway through this piece Althusser writes that the first half is all "historical remarks" - on the history of philosophy - and is "just a prelude" to what he is interested in discussing in Marx. (188.) This suggests that the apparatus of void, atoms, and so forth, functions as a mechanism to acquire a certain sensibility, rather than as a set of beliefs or claims about ontology. If this is so, then the historical remarks themselves are needed only insofar as they accomplish the acquisition of this sensibility. Anything that gives - or rather, anything which one can use to acquire - this same sensibility, then, should be considered of roughly equal value, judged in terms of achieving an aleatory materialist approach. Further, the use of the term "materialism" in naming this sensibility is "only for the sake of convenience" since "we need, after all, some word to designate the thing." (171.) Aleatory materialism "has been christened 'materialism' only provisionally." (189.) To quibble just a bit, Althusser's "thing" is a less than satisfactory word choice. "Thing" can imply stasis, object-hood, while aleatory materialism is more of an activity, a theoretical practice.

Central to aleatory materialism is an abandonment or bracketing out of philosophical themes of origins, final ends, and ultimate causes. (192.) This can be taken to suggest that the search for underlying causes and originating circumstances does little philosophical or other practical work: knowing where capitalism came from does not tell one how to respond to capitalism, nor does it determine a definite and determinable end to capitalism. On the other hand, if this is so, then the story of the atoms is further relativized. The series void-atoms-swerve-encounter is itself an origin story. If origin does little work, then the same must be said of the origin of worlds via collisions of atoms within some void. This suggests that the story of the encounter of the atoms is, so to speak, a negligible origin story, the purpose of which is to render origins (origin functions?) negligible. This origin story is thus something like a ladder in the sense in which Wittgenstein characterized his own ideas: having climbed up it to a new locale, one no longer needs the old ladder.

Put differently, Althusser's atomist origin story has succeeded when it makes hearers become indifferent to origin stories, and to a search for definite outcomes based on a present state of affair. This indifference means that one must act: outcomes result from interventions, not the inertial following out of an already existing trajectory. Furthermore, outcomes are only identifiable after the fact, "by working backwards from the result to its becoming, in its retroaction." (193.) It is my view that this point can be expanded to include Althusser's aleatory materialism as a whole. Aleatory materialism's content is largely negative and its salutary function is to help one shed bad habits of theoretical practice picked up elsewhere.

It is ironic to polemicize against origins while at the same time invoking Marx's remarks on the origins of capitalism in primitive accumulation. The point, however, is that the origin of capitalism is only identifiable after the fact. More strongly, the origin of capitalism is only the origin after the fact (actually a rather Hegelian thesis, in a sense), in that the result is not contained in the initial moment but may well have been averted.

Althusser himself is in tension with aleatory materialism. He writes that the encounter constitutive of capitalism, the encounter in the market between owners of labor power and owners of money, "occurred several times in history before taking hold in the West, but, for lack of an element or a suitable arrangement of the elements, failed to 'take'." (198.) This lack must not be thought of as a condition wherein capitalism could not possible have come about. To think that would reintroduce idealism within aleatory materialism. The conditions at the beginning of capitalism were more or less present at some different occasions when and where capitalism did not begin, but the point is simply that capitalism did not begin prior to its beginning. Little else can be said on this (we must pass over the rest in silence, to paraphrase Wittgenstein) without positing a certain determining causal factor which would fly in the face of Althusser's protestations against origins and final causes and which would, in doing so, become a variant of the philosophy of history Althusser finds and opposes in Marx.

Posted by at at 10:38 AM

September 21, 2006

Notes on "Correspondence about 'Philosophy and Marxism'"

Notes on "Correspondence about 'Philosophy and Marxism'" (POE 208-250)

This section consists of several letters from Althusser. One is to a Mauricio Malamud. The rest are to Fernanda Navarro, the interviewer/editor/co-author of "Philosophy and Marxism."

*

Notes on "Letter to Mauricio Malamud" (POE 209-214)

keywords: Althusserianism, earlier Althusser, philosophy, Marx, Marxism, structuralism, workers movements

I still need to write notes on the Underground Current and Marx in his Limits but I read this tonite and wanted to comment right away.

In this letter, the first of several included in the collection under the heading "Correspondence about 'Philosophy and Marxism'," Althusser characterizes his and his circle's work (NOTE: look up characterizations and membership of Althusser's group[s]). "[M]y little group and I (...) tried to make the works of Marxism, Marxism itself, and (...) the work of Marx himself, readable and thinkable." (209.) Prior to this making, "it scarcely was" for "it contained contradictions, theoretical dead-ends, misunderstandings, and huge gaps." Althusser and company "fabricated for Marx (...) the philosophy that he lacked: this rational, coherent philosophy," one which engaged (flirted, as Althusser puts it) "with the structuralist ideology at work in linguistics, ethnology, the history of philosophy" (210) and one which was "fabricated (...) imaginary" and which "had the one little disadvantage that it, too, was missing from Marx." (211.) Althusser writes that the benefit of this philosophy was that it allowed the correction and critique of some of Marx's work. He singles out Marx's philosophy of history for attack (211).

Notable in this letter is Althusser's description of a "fusion" (211) of Marxism with the workers' movement, a phrasing which seems to contradict his remarks elsewhere about Marxism being internal to the workers' movement (find reference). Althusser depicts a working class and working class movement distinct and autonomous from its representations in the Communist Parties and in Marxist theory. He calls the class/class movement 'the base' and writes that "Marxist theory" is not or "not primarily (...) at the base: it was produced in the heads of bourgeois intellectuals' who had rallied to the cause of the workers' movement and social revolution. Thus it was produced at a distance from the workers' movement, initially, and for a long time floated above it" until finally it started "to penetrate parts of the workers' movement." (212.)

In this formulation, there is an encounter between parts of the class and Marxism, and presumably between these parts of the class and others. Althusser also suggests that the encounter with Marxism may cease - the hold it takes may cease to take - and that this may not be such a big problem: it may be that "the worker' movement can be pursued in virtual independence of Marxist theory." Such a movement "is still forging ahead on its own path, despite its defeats." (212.) This is a more aleatory account of the Marxism-class relationship than is sometimes suggested elsewhere, and suggests the class may be capable - or rather, that Althusser may be beginning to recognize that the class is capable - of producing its own conditions of encounter, and that the class itself consists of ensembles of atoms and worlds which encounter, take, and dissolve. Althusser also states, with an apologetic parenthical "can you imagine...?", that previously his 'little group' "didn't really pay any attention" to the workers' movement" in part because they were confident that "we really could consider the CPs to be the authentic representatives of the revolutionary revolt of the workers, and the authentic representatives of Marxist theory." Althusser and co were apparently hobbled by their "having waited a long time before attacking the structure of the CPs, or, at any rate [their] own." (213.) Despite all of this self-criticism, Althusser still holds that the early work has a value, allowing for a better understanding of the workers' movement and capitalism. Note that in this formulation the philosophy is outside the workers' movement.

*

Notes on "Letters to Fernanda Navarro" (POE 214-250)


Keywords: materialism, philosophy, Marx, Marxism

Materialism and idealism are twins, born with one clutching the heel of the other. Idealism has been primary in the history of philosophy such that every "pronounced materialism in the history of philosophy" reproduces and thus is idealism. This manifests in a shared insistence on the principle of sufficient reason, "according to which everything that exists (...) is subject to the question of the reason for its existence." (216.) On my reading, this should not be a denial of the principle of sufficient reason. This might be attempted via asking "what is the reason that everything has a reason?", a question which the theologically minded can answer more easily than most others, but asking this question moves one onto a terrain which invites answers which are, essentially, theological in nature. (See Benjamin's remarks on theology as the hidden actor within historical materialism.) Rather, the principle of sufficient reason should not be taken as an excuse for an insistence on inquiry into causal origins and on the efficacy of the results of those types of findings. Aleatory materialism does not engage with and best other positions on the terrain of final causes, origins, and teloi, but rather shifts the field into another terrain where such questions are useless.

Aleatory materialism, then, has a relationship of discontinuity with much received materialism, which it takes as idealism, and it uses the name materialism "with suspicion" since "the word does not give us the thing." (217.) This applies as well to aleatory materialism as a theoretical practice. Regarding names with suspicion is another way to express the point that we are to "judge a work or a philosophy [not] by its self-conception, but by what it in fact is." That is to say, "[b]y its acts, its mode of action, (...) the specific mode by which a philosophy acts: by which it acts on ideology, and, by way of those ideologies, on practices." (221.)

Two questions arise here. First, how does one get at what a philosophy in fact is? The distinction is posed as that between self-conception and reality, but (*ahem*) in reality what one has is a distinction between self-conception and another conception (conception by another self). Essentially, then, aleatory materialism judges other positions not by their own self-conceptions but by aleatory materialism's conceptions. To say otherwise is to reintroduce the theme of science which is knowable a priori to be nonideological, a conception which is surely subject to being taken at other than its own self-conception and which is of questionable status as aleatory. Second, these quotes suggest that philosophy and thought is not practice. This seems to be just a clumsy wording on Althusser's part, but one which should be noted so as not to reintroduce error. Theoretical practice is a type of practice. Philosophy must be practice, for it exerts a force upon - act upon - practices via the mediation of ideologies. Ideologies are also practices, since they exert force on other practices. (This is similar to the problematic wherein mind and body are conceived as of one substance, however varied in their instantiation, since mind acts upon body and vice versa.)

"The closer a philosophy comes to the practices - the more it respects them, the more it assists them through the relay of the ideologies - the more it tends toward materialism" in the good - ie the aleatory - sense of materialism." (221.) (Praxiology?) If I had the Kant chops I'd love to try to compare this with Kant on practical reason and the technical.

Althusser's approaches Schmitt, writing of "the 'polemical' nature of all philosophy (Kant's Kampfplatz)" (221). "Every philosophy is polemical, [such] that it exists only in a state of theoretical war against another philosophy or philosophical current." (223.) This is why there is an idealist tendency in received materialism, and, presumably then a materialist tendency in every idealism. "[A]ny philosophy, idealist or materialist, contains its opposite, its enemy: it is by besieging the enemy, by encroaching on him - on his positions - that a philosophy can hope to prevail over its enemy." When "the adversary's positons are occupied in this way, it is not surprising that a philosophy should containg - but occupied in its fashion - (...) the adversary's positions." (223.) This accounts for nonaleatory moments within aleatory materialism, then. This also figures polemos as encounter (it might be worth looking over Althusser's remarks on Hobbes again in light of this.) Note that this is the only way philosophy can happen, and that it must relate to others in this way, trying to take their positions. Presumably the occupied positions can also act back upon a philosophy from inside, as a sort of fifth column, as in the case of the idealism within received materialism. This also suggests a possible reading of Schmitt, for whom polemos is similarly primary and originary, in relation to aleatory materialism. Is this origin claim - born within polemos - an aleatory one, though? How does this origin story function in comparison to other origin stories?

On 226 Althusser writes of his "shocking ignorance" of many things, such as Nietzsche, Heidegger, etc, and asserts that rather than hindering him this as actually helped him to write and accomplish what he has. He compares himself with Freud and Einstein (226-227), who made similar remarks. This is very interesting and I like it very much. It suggests another gloss on the 'ignorant' in Ranciere's Ignorant Schoolmaster. If knowledge is taken as a determinate body, ignorance then is a hole or gap in knowledge, an opening within which activity can occur against the constraining uses of solid bodies of knowledge. Ignorance is a void, an opening within which encounter can occur.

[Continue later]


Posted by at at 10:45 PM

Notes on primitive accumulation

keywords: proletariat, primitive accumulation, aleatory Marx, history telling, encounter, state

The "primitive" in primitive accumulation means "prior," in two senses. It can mean historically prior, in the sense of simply being temporally prior. It can also mean logically prior, in the sense of being necessary (but not sufficient) condition.

The heart of capitalism consists in the sale of labor power resulting from the encounter in the marketplace between the owners of money and the owners of the commodity labor power, followed by the capitalist use of the commodity when purchased. Primitive accumulation is the production of the conditions of this encounter, in the same sense in which Althusser writes of the production of the conditions for a swerve and thus an encounter (POE 171). Viewed - as Althusser entreats us to try to view everything (page ref?) - from the perspective of reproduction, primitive accumulation in the second sense continually occurs or recurs. Capitalism must continually produce the vogelfreie - free and rightless - proletarians (page ref for Fowkes' note on 'vogelfrei'?), which means continually stripping them of what they have accumulated and produced (new commons and forms of commons), including forms of organization and knowledges of the production process which allow workers more control. The production of vogelfreie proletarians is never secured in advance but rather is aleatory, and the condition of proletarians as vogelfreie is itself continually interrupted - the world that is the market wherein the encounter of capitalists and workers occurred is continually subject both to potential dissolution as it ceases to take and is historically subject to repeated near dissolution as a result of working class organization.

In the chapters on primitive accumulation Marx details some of the story of the formation of the vogelfreie proletarians in England, a process which took much time and much violence and the outcome of which was not a foregone conclusion. These chapters, particularly chapters 26-28 are the best in v1 of Capital and also earn high praise from Althusser. There is a similar remark in the chapter on the working day, chapter 10 section 5 (p271 in the Moore and Aveling translation), "It takes centuries ere the "free" labourer (...) agrees, i.e., is compelled by social conditions, to sell the whole of his active life, his birthright for a mess of pottage." There are also, I believe, discussions in the Grundrisse on vagabondage.

In the primitive accumulation chapters the role of the state, law, and violence is also foregrounded, something worth discussing in light of our discussions on the term 'dictatorship' and the state/capital relation.

I think these chapters also could offer a potential point of contact between Althusser and Benjamin, by reading these passages as Marx doing the type of history writing that Benjamin called for on occasion. This would offer a way to complicate a potentially too neat schematization of Hegelian/dialectical = nonaleatory/teleological.

Posted by at at 8:36 PM

September 11, 2006

Notes on "Letter to Merab Mardashvili"

Notes on Althusser's "Letter to Merab Mardashvili"

Keywords: class struggle at the level of theory, PCF,

I don't know Althusser's thoughts on feminism, nor do I know much at all about French feminism, but I wonder if Althusser ever heard the slogan "the personal is political." Althusser's letter closes with a reflection on "the way the world's problems get tangled up with personal fantasies" and the relationship between "the shambles the world is in" and "the obsessions of the soul." (POE, 5.) This is not intended as mere mention of an anecdotal quality to Althusser's letter and speculation on his personal life. Rather, there is a theoretical question here as to the role of the individual subject acting within a conjuncture. (To some extent, this question is one which Badiou's inquiries after Althusser pursue.)

For now, I will stay with Althusser's suggestive remarks on the time of the letter's writing, January 1978. Althusser's letter comes approximately two years after the PCF's 22nd Congress, about which Althusser had strong feelings (see his essay in Balibar's book on the dictatorship of the proletariat, also Goshgarian's introduction to POE). Althusser believed the abandonment of the category of the dictatorship of the proletariat was a theoretical and political mistake, hence his feeling of being in battle where the front has been pushed back behind one.

Althusser's sensation of having the battle now taking place "behind your back" is suggestive. First, there is the implication of loss or failure: "having struggle for a very long time on a front" one finds the front line has been pushed back. Ground has been lost. Second, there is a resonance with Marx's dictum of people making history but not as they choose, processes taking place behind the back of subjects. (Find reference.) This is the sense in which I read Althusser's remark that his project of the 1960s had been "to fabricate a little, typically French justification (...) for Marxism's pretension to being a science." Presumably this had effects which Althusser did not foresee, just as the PCF's policies would have effects unforeseen by the leadership. Third, there is the implication of now being behind enemy lines, since one is located in the same place as before, in the trench at was once the front, and the front has now moved. The battle behind your back "is everywhere" at once. (POE 3) If this applies to the PCF's decisions then in one sense the PCF is the enemy, or the battlefield, or a strategic position now occupied by the enemy. Regardless of the metaphor, it means the Party at the time of Althusser's writing is not part of the solution.

The letter is written prior to "Marx In His Limits," and expresses Althusser's uncertainty prior to the formulation of the arguments in that piece. Althusser states a lack of "enough concrete knowledge" (POE 4) of matters pertaining to world events and organizational matters, as well as a lack of "philosophical culture" adequate to the task of supplementing what he takes as "what doesn't work in [Marx's] reasoning" in Capital. (POE 5) This is precisely the task which Althusser sets himself in much of the works in the rest of POE.

He also writes of fatigue and isolation in the face of the above named inadequacies and the tasks they imply. It is easy to read these as personal, having to do with Althusser's declining mental state, and that is not unreasonable. On the other hand, it is worth looking further into Althusser's position within the Party and his relationships with individual and organized militants within the PCF, as well as his tensions with the Party's leadership.

Posted by at at 9:37 AM

Notes on Goshgarian's introduction

Notes on Goshgarian's introduction to POE

Keywords: encounter, aleatory materialism, earlier Althusser, dictatorship of the proletariat

G. M. Goshgarian's introduction to the Philosophy of the Encounter places the late work in a relationship of relative continuity with what comes before it during Althusser's active life. Goshgarian surveys Althusser's intellectual work and Party involvement, finding a few persistent themes at the conceptual level and at the level of the positions and actions of the French Communist Party (PCF). Two the main conceptual points are the category of the dictatorship of the proletariat and the polemic against the logic of the accomplished fact, defined as treating the processes of the historical production of some state of affairs in a fashion predicated on the existence of that state of affairs. Both of these enter into Althusser's attempts to shape the direction of the PCF.

Althusser was a critic of Stalinism and of Eurocommunism, both of which were persistent strains within the PCF. Stalinist Marxism was frequently quite mechanistic and determinist, with the coming of capitalism conceived as necessary, and the dissolution of capitalism into communism also necessary. Althusser's anti-determinism - the assertion that capitalism could have not happened, and that communism may well not happen - served as an attack at the level of theory against these cherished - and comforting - Stalinist gems. Althusser's insistence on the dictatorship of the proletariat was functional against Eurocommunism, which, like Stalinism, thought of the state as a neutral body existing above class struggle, rather than as the form of maintenance of the dominance of the dominant class.

These and other elements in the introduction recur throughout the book, being drawn from Althusser's work. What Goshgarian does not address, however, is Althusser's continued involvement in the PCF. Why did Althusser stay a member? (See Lukacs, intro to History and Class Consciousness re: his membership in the CP.) Was this the right decision? Did he make compromises in his thought as a result? None of this is addressed, and is related to another absence in the introduction.

While Goshgarian recognizes that late Althusser revised some of his earlier theses - for example, late Althusser conceded that Marx was a Hegelian - he argues for an underlying continuity in Althusser's thought. Goshgarian makes his case convincingly, demonstrating the presence of the elements of the late work throughout Althusser's life. This is important in that it makes the case for not treating early Althusser as a dead dog, so to speak. At the same time, given that key early Althusserian theses are revised by the late work, one wants to know how that revision changes the meaning of the early work on the early work's own terms. This is particularly important given the newness of the late work and the degree to which the early work conditions anglophone reception of Althusser. One wonders, to analogize late Althusser's claim about Marx, if it might not be that there are two Althussers, one an aleatory materialist nonphilosopher of the nonstate and one an idealist philosopher of the state. These two Althussers would not, of course, relate to each other in simple relation of historical succession and supercession, but rather would form two red threads - or perhaps, a red thread and a white thread - which chart sometimes divergent and sometimes entangled paths throughout the corpus of Althusser's theoretical life and Party activity.

Posted by at at 9:36 AM

September 10, 2006

The Underground Current of the Materialsim of the Encounter (fragment)

The Underground Current of the Materialism of the Encounter
Keywords: encounter, materialism, void, atom, clinamen, swerve, Epicurus, Lucretius, Hiedegger, Machiavelli, Spinoza, Rousseau, Hobbes, Marx

Based on Epicurean and Lucretian atomism Althusser proposes that there is a lasting strand of materialism which does not yield a teleological conception of the (human) world. This materialism is that of the encounter, of the swerve of the clinamen which as atoms—formerly falling parallel through the void—collide with one another and form worlds. First there is the void, then atoms, then swerve and finally world; all of these are, however, contingent—it is never assured that the atom will swerve or that the encounter will last. (169)

From Hiedegger Althusser isolates the ‘there is’ of being. That is to say, in the encounter a world is formed, a fact is accomplished, yet its origins remain contingent and aleatory and all that can be said is ‘there is’ world. Similarly, Althusser identifies in Machiavelli the aleatory condition of his attempt to “think, in the impossible conditions of fifteenth-century Italy, the conditions for establishing an Italian national state? (171). In Machiavelli’s nameless prince, from a nameless province, Althusser recognizes the description of a swerve meant as the initiator of an encounter which would end in an Italian national state—the void of feudal Italy, the encounter of the prince and his people. And this state, perhaps now an accomplished fact, is produced in a contingent encounter which might not have been and could still cease to be. Every encounter and the world it produces is provisional by definition as the only definite is contingency itself.

Althusser repeats this process of culling the aleatory materialism from within the work of various other philosophers. In Spinoza’s monism God forms the void and substance the ground for an infinite possibility of encounters. This is also true of Hobbe’s state of nature where the contingent (non-lasting) encounter (all against all) is the always-already of the void prior to the encounter leading to the Leviathan, just as Rousseau’s forest is the void before the social contract.—need more on this stuff (177-187)

Posted by at at 7:21 PM

So-Called Primitive Accumulation

So-Called Primitive Accumulation
Keywords: feudalism, enclosure, commons, legislation of wages and land, bourgeois, proletariat (“free and rightless?)

Primitive accumulation amounts to the “original sin? of capitalism according to Marx. Unlike its mythic model, however, capitalism’s moment(s) of origin is(are) a series of brutal events in the process of feudalism’s “decay.? These changes precede and facilitate (or at least mark the condition of possibility for) the encounter between the owners of capital and the sellers of labor. (chp. 26)

The first and perhaps most significant factor in establishing the conditions of possibility for the capitalist mode of production is the forced expropriation on land by feudal lords. At the end of the 14th century serfdom in England had largely given way, says Marx, to “free peasant proprietors? who utilized arable land held in common (877-878). These commons were forcibly turned onto private property over the following centuries by the “new nobility? for whom “money was the power of all powers? (879). Significantly it is the decline of the Catholic church and the seizure of its land following the Reformation which helped enable these feudal lords in their elimination of these “free proprietors? and their replacement by the “free and rightless? proletariat. Similarly, the fall of the corrupted guilds helped to alienate artisans and Shepard them into wage labor. Thus what is considered the triumph of “the people? against the monarchy and church is in fact the expropriation of common land by the moneyed lords and the displacement of the peasantry from self-sufficient agriculture to wage labor. (chp. 27)

With this land grab came mass displacements of these peasants who the landed bourgeois set about legislating into selling their labor. Following their forced eviction from agriculture, the now landless peasants became subject to newly enacted laws which served to subject them to the strictures of employment. By legislating, first, the possibilities outside of the selling of one’s labor—such as begging and theft—then the wages one could and would receive from capitalists. (chp. 28)

Posted by at at 7:17 PM

At each meeting

At each meeting we will write text for the bibliography, on the material we read. We will each come with 3 lines on the material we're responsible for, and add/revise it together at the meeting. The bibliography text will consist of conceptual summary and historical context as appropriate, a few keywords, and a problem/question/issue or two to return to later for additional analysis or research.

Posted by at at 1:33 PM

September 8, 2006

Primitive Accumulation section of Annotated Bibliography

Primitive Accumulation section of Annotated Bibliography

[DRAFT - Alphabetize entries]


Marx, Capital Volume 1, ch26-28

Jason Read, "Primitive Accumulation" in Rethinking Marxism

Jason Read, "A Universal History of Contingency: Deleuze and Guattari on the History of Capitalism" in Borderlands

(Read cites "Albiac, G. (1996). 'Spinoza/Marx: le sujet construit', in P-F. Moreau (ed.), Architectures de la raison: Mélanges offerts à Alexandre Matheron. Fontenay St. Cloud: Editions ENS, 11-17." in a footnote on the phrase "primitive accumulation of subjectivities.)

Jason Read, sections on primitive accumulation in his book

Sylvia Federici, Caliban and the Witch

The Commoner, debate on primitive accumulation

Massimo De Angelis, papers on enclosure

Midnight Notes Collective, new enclosures essay(s)

Peter Linebaugh, The London Hanged

Harry Cleaver's commentary on Marx ch26-28

Michael Perelman's book on primitive accumulation

David Harvey on primitive accumulation

Althusser's remarks on primitive accumulation in POE

Althusser and Balibar on prim acc in Reading Capital (quote in Read, "A Universal History"

Foucault on preconditions for surplus value (quoted in Alberto Toscano's paper on biopower/biopolitics)

My paper on Marx and biopolitics

Richard Halpern, The Poetics of Primitive Accumulation (esp ch2, p61-100)

(Halpern cites Christopher Caudwell, Illusion and Reality esp ch4 sec1)

Deleuze and Guattari make brief reference to prim acc in "Capitalism: A Very Special Delirium" an interview here - http://www.generation-online.org/p/fpdeleuze7.htm

Deleuze and Guattari, Anti-Oedipus p222-271 (Goshgarian, the POE translator, cites D&G, D&G in turn cite Balibar's remarks on primitive accumulation in Reading Capital)

Balibar's remarks on primitive accumulation in Reading Capital

Posted by at at 4:49 PM

September 6, 2006

Althusser draft reading lists

Althusser and Post-Althusserian Thought

Proposed syllabus


Week 1: Marx, Capital Part Eight: So-Called Primitive Accumulation,
chapters 26-28, pages 873-904; Althusser, Philosophy of the Encounter
"Translators Introduction" xiii-l (37pgs); "Letter to Merab
Mardashvili" 1-6; "The Underground Current of the Materialism of the
Encounter" 163-207 (POE)
Total pages=118


Week 2: Althusser, Philosophy of the Encounter "Marx in His Limits"
7-162 (155 pgs);
Total pages=155


Week 3: Althusser, Philosophy of the Encounter "Correspondence about
'Philosophy and Marxism'" 208-250 (42 pgs); "Philosophy and Marxism"
251-289 (38 pgs); "Portrait of the Materialist Philosopher" 290-292
(2pgs); Lenin and Philosophy "Ideology and Ideological State
Apparatuses" 127-188 (61 pgs)
Total pages=143


Week 4: Althusser, Reading Capital "Part I: From Capital to Marx's
Philosophy" 11-71 (60 pages); Reading Capital "Part II: The Object of
Capital" sections 1-5, pages 71-144 (73 pages)
Total pages=133


Week 5: Althusser, Reading Capital "Part II: The Object of Capital"
sections 6-9, pges 145-194 (49 pgs); Balibar, Reading Capital "Part
III: The Basic Concepts of Historical Materialism" 199-308 (109pgs)
Total pages=158


Week 6: Ranciere, "The Concept of Critique and Critique of Political
Economy: From the Manuscripts of 1844 to Capital (Ranciere's
contribution to Reading Capital), pages 74-180 in Rattansi (106 pgs);
Ranciere, "How to Use 'Lire le Capital'" pages 181-189 in Rattansi (8
pgs); Ranciere, "On the Theory of Ideology: Althusser's Politics"
pages 141-161 in Eagleton (20 pgs).
Total pages=134

optional supplementary material:
Donald Reid, Introduction to Ranciere's Nights of Labor, pages
xv-xxxvii in Nights of Labor (22 pgs);
Fields, "Maoism in France" pages 87-130 in Fields (43 pgs);


Week 7: Ranciere, The Philsopher and His Poor, "Editor's Preface",
"Editor's introduction", and "A Personal Itinerary", pages vii-xxviii
(31 pgs); chapters 1-6, pages 1-126 (126 pages).
Total pages=157


Week 8: Ranciere, The Philsopher and His Poor, chapters 7- 9, pages
127-202 (75 pgs); "For Those Who Want More", pages 203-217 (14 pgs);
"Afterword to the English-Language Edition", 219-227 (8 pgs);
Ranciere, Disagreement, "Preface" page vii-xiii (6 pgs); chapters 1-3,
pages 1-60 (60 pages)
Total pages=157

By week 8 we will produce a first draft of the annotated bibliography
encompassing all the material read for class thus far.


Week 9: Ranciere, Disagreement, chapters 4-6, pages 61-140 (79pgs);
Ranciere, "Althusser, Don Quixote, and the Stage of the Text", pages
129-145 in The Flesh of Words (18 pages); Badiou, Metapolitics,
"Translator's Introduction" and "Preface to the English Language
Edition", pages vii-xxxviii (31 pages); "Prologue" and chapter 1,
pages 1-25 (25 pages);
Total pages=153


Week 10: Badiou, Metapolitics, chapter 3-10, pages 58-152 (94 pages);
Being and Event, "Author's Preface" and "Translator's Preface", pages
xi-xxxiii (22 pages); Introduction, pages 1-22 (22 pages)
Total pages=138 pages


Week 11: Badiou, Being and Event, parts 1-3, pages 23-172 (149 pages)
Total pages=149


Week 12: Badiou, Being and Event, parts 4-6, pages 173-326 (153 pages)
Total pages=153


Week 13: Badiou, Being and Event, parts 7 and 8, pages 327-440 (113 pages)
Total pages=113

By week 13 we will produce a first draft of the annotated bibliography
encompassing all the material read for class thus far.


Week 14: Supplementary reading, review, and discussion of student writing.


Week 15: Supplementary reading, review, and discussion of student writing.

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