Louis Althusser’s renowned short text ‘Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses’ radically transformed the concept of the subject, the understanding of the state and even the very frameworks of cultural, political and literary theory. The text has influenced thinkers such as Judith Butler, Ernesto Laclau and Slavoj Žižek.
The piece is, in fact, an extract from a much longer book, On the Reproduction of Capitalism, until now unavailable in English. Its publication makes possible a reappraisal of seminal Althusserian texts already available in English, their place in Althusser’s oeuvre and the relevance of his ideas for contemporary theory. On the Reproduction of Capitalism develops Althusser’s conception of historical materialism, outlining the conditions of reproduction in capitalist society and the revolutionary struggle for its overthrow.
Written in the afterglow of May 1968, the text addresses a question that continues to haunt us today: in a society that proclaims its attachment to the ideals of liberty and equality, why do we witness the ever-renewed reproduction of relations of domination? Both a conceptually innovative text and a key theoretical tool for activists, On the Reproduction of Capitalism is an essential addition to the corpus of the twentieth-century Left.
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About the Author
Louis Althusser was born in Algeria in 1918 and died in France in 1990. He taught philosophy for many years at the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris, and was a leading intellectual in the French Communist Party. His books include For Marx; Reading Capital (with Étienne Balibar); Essays in Ideology; Politics and History: Montesquieu, Rousseau, Marx; Machiavelli and Us; and The Spectre of Hegel.
Table of Contents
Foreword: Althusser and the 'Ideological State Apparatuses' Etienne Balibar vii
Introduction: An Invitation to Reread Althusser Jacques Bidet xix
Editorial Note Jacques Bidet xxix
Translator's Note G. M. Goshgarian xxxiii
To My Readers 1
1 What Is Philosophy? 10
2 What Is a Mode of Production? 18
3 The Reproduction of the Conditions of Production 47
4 Base and Superstructure 53
5 Law 57
6 The State 70
7 Brief Remarks on the Political and Associative Ideological State Apparatuses of the French Capitalist Social Formation 94
8 The Political and Associative Ideological State Apparatuses 103
9 The Reproduction of the Relations of Production 140
10 The Reproduction of the Relations of Production and Revolution 148
11 Further Remarks on Law and Its Reality, the Legal Ideological State Apparatus 164
12 On Ideology 171
Appendix 1 On the Primacy of the Relations of Production over the Productive Forces 209
Note on the ISAs 218
Appendix 2 Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses 232