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Louis Althusser

Essays in
Self-Criticism

Translated by Grahame Lock


Rponse John Lewis was published by Franois Maspero,
1973
Louis Althusser, 1973
Elments d'Autocritique was published by Librairie Hachette,
1974
Louis Althusser, 1974
Est!l "imple d'Etre #ar$iste en %hilosophie& was published
in
La %ense, ctober 197!
Louis Althusser, 197!
"his edition, Essays in "el'(riticism, #irst published 197$
%L&, 197$

'repared #or the (nternet by )a*id +, -o.a/nolo,
d0r1.ar23.ao,or/ 4+uly 35536

Contents


're#ace *ii

(ntroduction

1

1. Reply to John Lewis

33
7Forward8

7348

-eply to +ohn Lewis 3!
%ote on 9"he :riti;ue o# the 'ersonality :ult9 7<
-e.ar= on the :ate/ory> 9'rocess without a
?ub0ect or @oal4s6

94

2. Elements of Self-Criticism

151

7Forward8

71538

Ale.ents o# ?el#B:riticis. 15!
n the A*olution o# the Coun/ Mar2

1!1

3. Is it Simple to e a !ar"ist in #hilosophy$

1$3

9?o.ethin/ %ew9

35<

&iblio/raphy

317

(nde2 333

%ii

#reface

(n 1975 ( was in*ited to lecture at Mar2 House in London on the wor= o# Althusser, +ohn
Lewis was sittin/ in the #ront row o# the audience, (n the discussion he e2pressed his
disa/ree.ent with what he had heard, and, later, his intention to co.bat it, Aarly in 1973
he published his article on 9"he Althusser :ase9 in #ar$ism Today) +a.es Dlu/.ann, the
editor o# the 0ournal, as=ed Althusser to reply, and this reply appeared in ctober and
%o*e.ber o# the sa.e year,
"his latter te2t was then rewritten and e2panded, and appeared in a French edition in
1973, to/ether with two other pieces, "he French edition is translated in its entirety in the
present *olu.e, which also includes a translation o# Elments d'autocritique, published in
France in 1974, and o# the te2t 9AstB(l ?i.ple dEAtre Mar2iste en 'hilosophieF9,
published in La %ense, ctober 197!, (n total, then, this *olu.e contains so.e #i*e
ti.es the *olu.e o# .aterial contained in the ori/inal #ar$ism Today article,
(t is preceded by an (ntroduction in which ( atte.pt to show so.ethin/ about the
political inspiration behind AlthusserEs writin/s by applyin/ certain o# his concepts to a
speci#ic and contro*ersial political ;uestion,
"he biblio/raphy o# wor=s by and on Althusser to be #ound at the end o# the boo=
builds on that pro*ided by ?aGl DarsH in his Thorie et %olitique 4'aris, 19746, but adds
.ore than twenty new titles,
For help#ul discussions in the preparation o# this (ntroducB tion ( .ust than= Althusser
hi.sel#, to/ether with Atienne &alibar, For help with the translation ( a. /rate#ul to Ann,

%iii
+eanB+ac;ues and Franois Lecercle, and #or the typin/, to Maria 'eine,
@raha.e Loc=,
Leyden, Holland, 197!,


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Intro'uction

Louis Althusser beca.e a contro*ersial #i/ure in France with the publication o# his essay
9:ontradiction and *erdeter.ination9 in 19$3, He beca.e a politically contro*ersial
#i/ure when the essay 9Mar2is. and Hu.anis.9 appeared in 19$4,718 "he reason was his
attac= on the notion o# humanism) 9"en years a/o9, he wrote at the ti.e, 9socialist
hu.anis. only e2isted in one #or.> that o# class hu.anis., "oday it e2ists in two #or.s>
class hu.anis., where the dictatorship o# the proletariat is still in #orce 4:hina, etc,6, and
4socialist6 personal hu.anis. where it has been superseded 4the I??-69, &ut while 9the
concept Esocialis.E is indeed a scienti#ic concept , , , the concept Ehu.anis.E is no .ore
than an ideolo*ical one9, His purpose at this ti.e was thus, 'irst, to distin/uish between
the sciences and the ideolo/iesJ and second to show that while Mar2is. is a science, all
#or.s o# hu.anis. .ust be classed a.on/ the ideolo/ies,
"his was the basis o# what he called 9theoretical antiBhu.anis.9, 4AlthusserEs use o#
the ter. 9hu.anis.9 is speci#ic, and it has o# course nothin/ to do with
9hu.anitarianis.9,6 "he reaction to his ar/u.ents, howe*er, went #ar beyond the real.s
o# theory, and into the political world itsel#, ( will try to outline this political reaction and
AlthusserEs response to it, because this is one o# the best ways o# approachin/ his
philosophical wor=, and also o# learnin/ so.ethin/ about a .an who. the French
wee=ly Le +ou,el -bser,ateur thou/ht it use#ul

1, &oth articles are reprinted in .or #ar$ 4Allen Lane, 19$96,

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to describe as 9one o# the .ost .ysterious and least EpublicE #i/ures in the world9K
(t was clearly i.possible #or the French :o..unist 'arty, o# which Althusser has been
a .e.ber since 194< to endorse all o# his writin/s as they appeared, since on certain
points they put its own positions in ;uestion, %e*ertheless, these writin/s were intended
as an inter*ention in the debate within the party, and the enor.ous interest which they
raised did not re.ain without an echo there, Articles, so.e o# the. hesitantly #a*ourable,
be/an to appear in 'arty 0ournals,738 Lucien ?L*e, in so.e ways the 'artyEs senior
philosopher, de*oted a lon/ note to Althusser in his wor= La Thorie mar$iste de la
personnalit, outlinin/ certain points o# disa/ree.ent, &ut Althusser stuc= to his position,
738 Maldec= -ochet, 'arty @eneral ?ecretary at the ti.e, /a*e encoura/e.ent to his
research wor=, while distancin/ the :entral :o..ittee #ro. its conclusions,
Meanwhile the row between the philosopher -o/er @araudy and the 'arty o# which he
had so lon/ been a .e.ber was blowin/ up, "he situation was already chan/in/, An
article by +ac;ues Milhau #or e2a.ple, published in the 'arty 0ournal La +ou,elle
(ritique in 19$9, .ade it clear, re#errin/ to @araudy and Althusser, that 9there can be no
su//estion o# puttin/ on the sa.e le*el 7@araudyEs8 outBandBout re*isionis., whose
theoretical pre.ises /o bac= ten years, and what can be considered as te.porary
.ista=es 7*auchissements8 .ade in the course o# research wor= which always in*ol*es
ris=s9, "he lectureBarticle 9Lenin and 'hilosophy9 419$<6 see.s to ha*e been ;uite well
recei*ed in the 'arty, but the article 9(deolo/y and (deolo/ical ?tate Apparatuses9 419756
caused an2iety in so.e circles, which .isinterpreted it as i.plyin/ a si.plistic
conde.nation o# the ideolo/ical role o# the education syste. in the ser*ice o# the rulin/
class,
Mhen the Reply to John Lewis appeared in a French edition in 1973, it pro*o=ed so.e
e2cite.ent, ne news 0ournal ran a story 4thou/h without any #oundation6 to

3, ?ee #or e2a.ple :hristine @luc=s.ann, 9La 'rati;ue lNniniste de la philosophie9, in La +ou,elle
(ritique, April 19$9,
3, ?L*e has replied to Althusser in the third edition o# the sa.e wor=,

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the e##ect that a copy o# the boo= was bein/ sent to e*ery 'arty :entral :o..ittee
.e.ber and o##icial so that they could prepare their answers, A re*iew by +oe MetH/er in
the 'arty wee=ly .rance +ou,elle 4ctober 9, 19736 praised Althusser #or ha*in/ 9raised
the essential ;uestions9, but ar/ued that he had supported the 9dan/erous9 thesis o# the
sharpenin/ o# the class stru//le under socialis., a thesis which 90usti#ies priority bein/
/i*en to ad.inistrati*e and repressi*e .easures o*er ideolo/ical con#rontation9, "his
re.ar=, howe*er, see.s to be in contradiction with the sense o# the te2t,
"he reaction to AlthusserEs writin/s in the (nternational :o..unist Mo*e.ent was
also .i2ed, A critical 4but not o*erBcritical6 article by ", A, ?a=haro*a appeared in the
?o*iet .a/aHine /oprosy .iloso'ii, #ollowin/ the debate carried by La +ou,elle (ritique
in 19$!B$$, &ut the &ul/arian ?, An/elo* too= a .uch harsher line in an article in 0orld
#ar$ist Re,iew in 1973, characteriHin/ AlthusserEs antiBhu.anis. as an 9e2tre.e9 *iew,
and i.plyin/ 4thou/h indirectly6 its conne2ion with 9barrac=s co..unis.9, a ter. used
to describe the line o# the :hinese :o..unist 'arty, "he Cu/osla* Oel0=o Dorac, writin/
in the 0ournal %ra$is in 19$9 on 9"he 'heno.enon o# E"heoretical AntiBhu.anis.E9, went
e*en #urther> AlthusserEs boo= .or #ar$, he said, was written 9in the na.e o# inherited
?talinist sche.es9J it was 9?talinist do/.atis.9 to re0ect as 9abstract9 hu.anis.
e*erythin/ that could not be used as an ideolo/ical tool,
n a .ore serious le*el, AndrN @luc=s.ann atte.pted in 19$7 to 9de.onstrate the
wea=ness9 o# AlthusserEs wor= #ro. a rather traditional philosophical standpoint 4see
+ew Le't Re,iew no, 736, while in &ritain %or.an @eras o##ered a serious i# li.ited
criti;ue o# .or #ar$ and Readin* (apital 4+ew Le't Re,iew no, 71J see also +ohn
Mepha.Es reply in Radical %hilosophy no, $6, &ut these articles contained little politics,
(t see.s that the reaction to Althusser was, in /eneral, either a real but rather narrow
theoretical interest, or political hysteria,748 "he article by LesHe=

4, ?ee #or e2a.ple the article by AlthusserEs e2Bcollaborator +ac;ues 7cont) onto p, 4, 1JR8 -anciLre, 9?ur la
thNorie politi;ue dEAlthusser9, in L'2omme et la "ocit, no, 37, +anuaryBMarch 1973, His criti;ue was
e2panded to boo= len/th as La Le3on d'Althusser 4@alli.ard, 19746, Accordin/ to -anciLre, AlthusserEs
philosophy per#or.s a 9police9 #unction, -anciLre pre#ers the standpoint o# 9antiBauthoritarianis.9, 9antiB
?tate sub*ersion9, etc,

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Dola=ows=i in "ocialist Re*ister 4564 49AlthusserEs Mar296 .i/ht see. to be an
e2ceptionJ its len/th at least would suit it #or a serious treat.ent, &ut his
.isunderstandin/ o# the sub0ect is so se*ere that Dola=ows=i ne*er co.es near to
constructi*e criticis., He accuses Althusser o# 9reli/ious thin=in/9, and attac=s hi. #or
9#ailin/ to re.e.ber9 how lon/ a/o it was disco*ered that =nowled/e 9has nothin/ to do
with pure, i..ediate, sin/ular ob0ects, but always with abstractions9, so lon/ a/o that it
had beco.e 9a co..onplace in conte.porary philosophy o# science9 4Dola=ows=i, p,
13!6, &ut Althusser had pointed out, in blac= and white 4Readin* (apital, p, 1<46 that the
theses accordin/ to which 9an ob0ect cannot be de#ined by its i..ediately *isible or
sensuous appearance9, so that a detour .ust be .ade ,ia its concept in order to /rasp it,
9ha*e a #a.iliar rin/ to the. BB at least they are the lesson o# the whole history o# .odern
science, .ore or less re#lected in classical philosophy, e*en i# this re#lection too= place in
the ele.ent o# an e.piricis., whether transcendent 4as in )escartes6, transcendental
4Dant and Husserl6 or Eob0ecti*eEBidealist 4He/el69, "his is 0ust one e2a.ple o# the =ind o#
criticis. le*elled at Althusser,
"he un#ortunate #ailure o# AlthusserEs critics to produce reasoned ar/u.ents .ust ha*e
its political causes, whether or not these are e2plicit, ?o.eti.es the .oti*es are rather
clear, as in (, MNsHProsE co..ent that the cate/ory o# sy.pto.atic readin/ is a *eil #or
9the sterile do/.atis. o# bureaucraticBconser*ati*e wish#ul thin=in/9 4#ar$'s Theory o'
Alienation, p, 9$6, At other ti.es the lac= o# a serious approach see.s to be based on a
si.ple lac= o# ability to understand his wor=, as in the case o# )a*id McLellan, who
co..ents that .or #ar$ 9.ay well be pro#ound, but is certainly obscure9 4Encounter,
%o*e.ber 1975, 9Mar2 and the Missin/ Lin=96, n occasion e*en the bac=/round #acts
are wron/ly reported, as in the case o# Maurice

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:ranstonEs article in the Inited ?tates (n#or.ation ?er*ice 0ournal %roblems o'
(ommunism 4MarchBApril 19736, which .ista=enly pro.otes Althusser to the :entral
:o..ittee o# the French :o..unist 'artyK :ranston also attributes so.e stran/e
philosophical positions to hi.> 9For Althusser9, he says, 9.e.bership o# the proletariat is
deter.ined by the e2istence o# certain attitudes in the .inds o# indi*iduals, , , , "he
e2ternal econo.ic situation 4whether a person is in the lowerB, .iddleB, or upperBclass
inco.e /roup6 hardly .atters,9 &ut whether or not :ranstonEs study can be counted a
use#ul contribution to the debate, it .ust ha*e #lattered Althusser to #ind hi.sel# the
sub0ect o# a #ullBlen/th article in a I? @o*ern.ent 0ournal,
Fro. the other side o# the political spectru., the 9ultraBle#t9, co.e the attac=s o# the
no*elist 'hilippe ?ollers and the Tel 7uel /roup, inspired by their own interpretation o#
9Mao "seB"un/ thou/ht9, An article in the 0ournalEs ?prin/ 1973 issue 49Le 1o*matisme
8 la rescousse du r,isionnisme 96 accuses Althusser o# e*adin/ and suppressin/ the
notion o# stru//le, and in an inter*iew with the 0ournal %einture ?ollers describes his
thesis that philosophy has no ob0ect as 9ultraBre*isionist9 and 9hyperBre*isionist9 49"ac au
tac9, %einture nos, 3Q36,
(n the .iddle o# this #er.ent the Reply to John Lewis appeared, (n a re*iew in the daily
paper (ombat 4+une 19, 19736, &ernardBHenri LN*y su..ed up the situation> 9"here has
been a lot o# speculation in the salons about AlthusserEs Eco..it.entsE, (s he a Maoist or
an orthodo2 :o..unistF (s he a product o# ?talinis. or a consistent antiB?talinistF9 At
last Althusser inter*enes on these ;uestions BB 9he puts his cards on the table, in order to
clari#y the political .eanin/ o# his philosophical inter*entions9, First> .or #ar$ and
Readin* (apital are placed in their historical conte2t BB the "wentieth :on/ress o# the
?o*iet :o..unist 'arty and 9deB?taliniHation9J in a sense, Dhrushche*Es deB?taliniHation
ca.e 'rom the ri*ht) And it led, as .i/ht ha*e been e2pected, to a shi#t to the ri/ht in the
theoretical wor= o# :o..unist intellectuals,
(t also le#t the :o..unist 'arties open to attac= #ro. those, either to the ri/ht or le#t,
who wanted to clai. that

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their Mar2is. was more consistently humanist) "his would presu.ably be true o# #i/ures
otherwise as di##erent as @araudy, Marcuse, Dola=ows=i, and e*en Mandel with his
9Mar2ist theory o# alienation9,7!8
&ut AlthusserEs criti;ue /oes bac= #urther than 19!$, bac= to ?talin hi.sel#, "he ?talin
period does indeed haunt the :o..unist .o*e.ent, and not only because antiB
co..unis. will always e*o=e the spectre o# 9?talinis.9, (t will continue to haunt the
.o*e.ent, says Althusser, until a le#t criti;ue o# the period replaces the 9ri/htist9
analysis do.inant in certain circles, And he su//ests that such a criti;ue .ust treat it as
an e2a.ple o# a de*iation characteriHed by the ter.s economism and humanism) He
su**ests as .uch, but could not in the space a*ailable /o on to spell the .utter out,

((,
How then are we to understand the eni/.atic re#erences to ?talin which occur in
AlthusserEs Reply to John Lewis F (t is true that he says little enou/h on the sub0ect, and
this has led certain co..entators to clai. that the #unction o# his re.ar=s is purely
political, -anciLre, #or e2a.ple, thin=s that their role is to allow hi. to adapt to his own
use BB or rather, to the pro#it o# 9orthodo2 :o..unis.9 BB so.e 9currently #ashionable
ideas about ?talinis.97$8 4abo*e all, presu.ably, those o# certain 9proB:hinese9 writers,
includin/ :harles &ettelhei.7786, &ut -anciLreEs ar/u.ents are the.sel*es all too
ob*iously .oti*ated by directly political considerations, (n .y opinion, what Althusser
says in this te2t, to/ether with what he has said elsewhere, allows us to constitute a
/enuinely new theory o# the ?talin period,

!, (t .ay e*en e2plain the #act that a recent collection o# "rots=yist essays a/ainst Althusser resurrects
Darl Dorsch and @eor/ Lu=Pcs as sources #or its theoretical criti;ue 4(ontre Althusser, +,BM, Oincent and
othersJ 15Q1<, 19746,
$, -anciLre, La Le3on d'Althusser, p, 11,
7, :#, especially &ettelhei.Es Luttes de classes in the 9R"" 4?euilQMaspero, 19746, 7Transcriber's +ote> ?ee
(lass "tru**les in the 9""R: .irst %eriod; 454645<=, BB 1JR8

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(t there#ore see.ed use#ul to de*ote this (ntroduction to 0ust this ;uestion, so that the
reader can at least /et an idea o# what =ind o# politics lies behind AlthusserEs
9philosophy9,
?i.ple as the #ollowin/ scenario .ay be, and inco.plete as it is 4it only atte.pts to
pro*ide so.e ele.ents o# an e2planation6, it contradicts alternati*e accounts, "hat is
enou/h to be /oin/ on with,

Accordin/ to the Reply to John Lewis, 9the ?talinian de*iation can be considered as a
'orm , , , o# the posthu.ous re,en*e o' the "econd !nternational > as a re*i*al o# its .ain
tendency9J it is based on 9an econo.istic conception and line , , , hidden by declarations
which were in their own way cruelly Ehu.anistE9,7<8 "o tal= about ?talinEs humanism is not
to tal= about a si.ple philosophical or theoretical .ista=e, (t is to tal= about so.ethin/
with political causes and political e##ects, "hese can be .ore easily understood i# we
/lance at certain aspects o# ?o*iet history,
Mhen the wor=in/ class and peasantry too= power in -ussia in 1917, /reat hopes were
raised a.on/ e2ploited peoples throu/hout the world, 'erhaps they e2pected too .uch,
too soon, At any rate, when the euphoria had /i*en way to practical tas=s, and especially
to the :i*il Mar and to the %ew Acono.ic 'olicy, it beca.e clear that there could be no
strai/ht, unsullied path to :o..unis., "here would ha*e to be detours, so.eti.es steps
bac=J there would be .ista=es and e*en disasters,
"he ?o*iet Inion #aced two .a0or proble.s on the econo.ic #ront> industrialiHation
and the resolution o# the a/rarian ;uestion, "hese were not si.ply econo.ic, but also
ideolo/ical and political proble.s, "he peasant ;uestion, #or e2a.ple, #ollowin/ the
relati*ely short %A' period, was handled by the introduction o# collecti*iHation, but at an
enor.ous cost, "his cost was o# course not the result o# purely 9technical9 econo.ic
.ista=es, "he rich peasants, #or e2a.ple, resisted collecti*iHation, %o a.ount o#
a/itation or o# socialist propa/anda could con*ince the. that they

<, (n the 9%ote on E"he :riti;ue o# the 'ersonality :ultE9,

pa&e ,
should ,oluntarily hand o*er their lands and property,
(ndustrialiHation was *ital, "he .achinery had to be pro*ided to acco.pany the
de*elop.ent o# a/riculture, and weapons had to be .ade a*ailable to enable the ar.y to
resist any #urther atte.pt at capitalist inter*ention, (t was in /eneral a ;uestion o#
/eneratin/ the surplus necessary #or in*est.ent in a country where the .ost basic
ser*ices were still lac=in/ in .any areas, where a lar/e part o# the population was
illiterate, and where the towns and industrial re/ions contained only a *ery s.all
proportion o# that population,
)urin/ the %A' 'eriod the resolution o# certain political and ideolo*ical proble.s was
postponed in the interest o# sur*i*al, "he new econo.ic syste. represented a retreat, "he
econo.y was decentraliHedJ enterprises were /i*en #inancial and co..ercial
independenceJ certain s.all enterprises were denationaliHedJ #orei/n co.panies were
/ranted concessionsJ pri*ate shops appeared, to/ether with pri*ate .erchantsJ the lin=s
between a/riculture and industry beca.e .ar=etBoriented once a/ain, Lenin called this a
9transitional .i2ed syste.9 BB that is, not so.ethin/ stable in itsel#, but a state o# a##airs
to be superseded either 4it was hoped6 by a de*elop.ent towards co..unis., or BB and
this was a real possibility BB by a re*ersion to capitalis., i# the kulaks and +epmen /rew
too power#ul,
"he possibility o# counterBre*olution was thus reco/niHed, "he dan/er was seen as
twoB#old> on the one hand, the capitalist states .i/ht atte.pt an inter*entionJ on the other
hand, the old and new capitalist and kulak classes .i/ht atte.pt to o*erthrow the rN/i.e
#ro. within, "hese were indeed the i..ediate dan/ers, &ut another, deeper threat was
not clearly reco/niHed, "o understand why we can use#ully be/in by loo=in/ at one
particular problem #aced by the ?o*iet state, which then throws li/ht on a more *eneral
contradiction)
(t was *ery ;uic=ly realiHed, #ollowin/ the ctober -e*olution, that industry and
a/riculture ur/ently re;uired the ser*ices o# wor=ers o# all le*els o# =nowled/e and s=ill,
and also o# .ana/ers, technical e2perts, etc, "hese latter /roups BB which on the one hand
ob*iously did not constitute

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a capitalist class, but on the other hand could not be said to #or. part o# the wor=in/ class
BB presented special proble.s, A*en in the .idBtwenties, be#ore the #irst Fi*eBCear 'lan
was put into e##ect, these specialist /roups nu.bered so.e tens o# thousands o# persons,
totallin/ perhaps 155,555,
ne proble. about the specialists 4( use the ter. in a /eneral sense, to include
.ana/ers6 was that .any o# the. were opponents o# the rN/i.e, (n 193!, Dalinin,
'resident o# the :entral A2ecuti*e :o..ittee o# the ?o*iet Inion, e2plained that
9:o..unis. is bein/ created in the pro*inces by the .an who says> E( a. a/ainst
:o..unis.E9, Moreo*er, these /roups were not particularly popular a.on/ the wor=in/
class, A, H, :arr reports #or e2a.ple in his .oundations o' a %lanned Economy that a
nu.ber o# 9e2cesses9 were said to ha*e ta=en place in this period a/ainst en/ineers and
technicians, #or which ordinary wor=ers were responsible,798 ?e*eral atte.pts were
actually .ade a/ainst the li*es o# specialists in the I=rainian .ines durin/ the su..er
o# 1937, Mhat =ind o# contradictions were at wor= hereF
"he /o*ern.entEs policy towards the specialists, at least up to 193< or so, was not
based on the use o# repressi*e .easures, A*en a#ter the ?ha=hty trial o# 193<, when
nu.bers o# technical personnel were e2ecuted and i.prisoned #or alle/ed 9sabota/e9 in
the .ines o# the )onbass re/ion, o##icial pronounce.ents continued to be .ade a/ainst
9baitin/ the specialists9, At this ti.e it see.s that .onetary incenti*es were the .ain
instru.ent used in =eepin/ the. in line, "here was a serious shorta/e o# specialists, o#
course, and .any had to be i.ported #ro. A.erica, @er.any and &ritain, # the
e2istin/ nati*e specialists, .oreo*er, less than one per cent were 'arty .e.bers,
"he #irst and second Fi*eBCear 'lans did re;uire and pro*ide an enor.ously increased
pool o# e2perts and s=illed wor=ers o# all =inds, "hose in the population e;uipped with at
least secondary technical school education were esti.ated to ha*e increased by two and a
hal# ti.es durin/ the li#e o# the #irst 'lan, and speci#ic #i/ures #or teachin/, .edicine, etc,
show si.ilar ad*ances, Fro. 193<B39 on, we can in

9, .oundations o' a %lanned Economy, 'art (, :, ch, 31> 9"he ?pecialists9,

pa&e 1.
#act tal= o# an enor.ous e##ort to train a new /eneration o# 9red e2perts9, "he proble.
was, howe*er, not only that this could not be done all at once, but also that the new
/eneration had to be educated by the old, with all the ideolo/ical conse;uences that this
i.plied, (n #act there was, durin/ the plans, a tendency #or wa/e di##erentials in /eneral
to rise, and in particular #or the salaries o# the e2perts to rise disproportionately when
co.pared with those o# .anual wor=ers, "his pheno.enon see.s to re#lect the #act that
the new /eneration o# specialists was not prepared to wor= #or pri.arily ideolo/ical
rewards, "he new ?o*iet .an was not to be born in a sin/le /eneration,
Let .e halt there #or a .o.ent, ( ha*e raised certain proble.s posed by the role o# the
specialists in the early years o# the ?o*iet state, ( wanted to .a=e it clear that these
proble.s were not si.ply 9technical9, but also political and ideolo*ical BB that is, in #act,
proble.s o# class stru**le) &ut, secondly, these particular proble.s .a=e up only one
aspect o# a more *eneral question > that o# the continued operation under socialism o' the
wa*e system)
Me .ust there#ore /o bac= #or a .o.ent and loo= at the wa/e syste. in capitalism)
Me =now that the *ery e2istence o# this syste. is lin=ed to distinctions in the de/rees o#
s=ill or ;uali#ication o# labour power, Me also =now that the di##erence between the price
o# s=illed and uns=illed labour power rests on the #act that the #or.er 9has cost .ore ti.e
and labour, and , , , there#ore has a hi/her *alue9 4Mar2 in (apital, *ol, (6, &ut it also
rests on so.ethin/ else, because this *alue .ust be realiHed, "he di##erence in price 4that
is, the e2istence o# wa/e di##erentials6 also rests on the ideolo*ical and political
conditions which enable and cause the s=illed wor=er to de.and BB nor.ally with success
BB that he be paid more than the uns=illed wor=er, "he sa.e holds #or the di##erentials
which separate the e2pert on the one hand and the wor=er 4includin/ the s=illed wor=er6
on the other,
"hese ideolo/ical and political conditions are actually a.on/ the conditions #or the
reproduction o# capitalist relations o# production, there#ore o# 4capitalist6 e2ploitation BB
that is, o# the e2traction o# surplusB*alue, "hey are

pa&e 11
#ul#illed by the operation o# the (deolo/ical ?tate Apparatuses,7158 "hese apparatuses help
to /uarantee the continuin/ do.ination o# one class, the capitalist class, o*er another
class, the wor=in/ class, &ut, as we shall see, this they do BB and can only do BB in a
contradictory .anner, by also reproducin/ class stru**le) "hus, #inally, we can say that
the e2istence o# the wa/eBsyste. in capitalis. is lin=ed to the e2istence both o#
e2ploitation and o# class stru//le,
Me can /o #urther, howe*er, "he process o# the creation o# *alue in /eneral 4what Mar2
calls 0ertbildun*6 is itsel# bound up with the process o# the realiHation o# surplusB*alue
4/erwertun*6J indeed, the latter is nothin/ but the #or.er, says Mar2, continued 9beyond
a certain point9 4(apital, *ol, (, 'art (((, ch, O((6, (t is there#ore not only the wa/e syste.
4the production and e2chan/e o# labour power as a co..odity6 but commodity
production in *eneral 4i)e), the *alue creatin/ process6 which is bound up with the
process o# the realiHation o# surplusB*alue, that is, with e$ploitation)
"he creation o# *alue ta=es place within the labour process, which is both 9technical9
4a process o# the production o# useB*alues6 and 9social9 4a process o# the production o#
co..odities6, "hus the socioBtechnical di*ision o# labour is at the heart o# the process o#
e2ploitation,
"his process in #act depends on the #act that labour power itsel# #unctions as a
co..odity, with o# course the special characteristic that its useB*alue is a source o# .ore
4e2chan/e6 *alue than it has itsel#, "hus the socioBtechnical di*ision o# labour is lin=ed to
the syste. o# di##erentiation between the prices o# .ore or less co.ple2 #or.s o# labour
power,
Me can in this way establish a nu.ber o# *eneral conne2ions> between co..odity
production, the wa/e syste., the socioBecono.ic di*ision o# labour, and the e2traction o#
surplusB*alue,
Me ou/ht #inally to /lance at the special situation in capitalis. o# what are o#ten
re#erred to as the 9.iddle

15, ?ee AlthusserEs 9(deolo/y and (deolo/ical ?tate Apparatuses9, in Lenin and %hilosophy and -ther
Essays 4%L&, 19716,

pa&e 12
strata9, "he *arious /roups which are a//re/ated under this headin/ are in #act o# *ery
di##erent character,7118 (t is true that, in /eneral, they are distin/uished #ro. the wor=in/
class by the #act that the reproduction o# their labour power ta=es place separately #ro.
that o# the wor=in/ class 4its .e.bers co.pete on a di##erent labour .ar=et6, (n the
course o# the de*elop.ent o# capitalis., certain o# these /roups BB especially the soB
called 9e.ployees9 BB tend to beco.e 9proletarianiHed9, that is, thrown onto the sa.e
labour .ar=et as the wor=ers, &ut not all are in this position> #ar #ro. it, ?o.e re.ain
;uite outside o# the process o# proletarianiHation, Moreo*er, while the 9e.ployees9,
thou/h not producti*e wor=ers, tend to beco.e sub0ect to e2ploitation, other /roups not
only are not so e2ploited, but actually co.bine their producti*e #unction with the tas= o#
.ana/in/ the process o# production and circulation BB i)e), o# e2ploitation,7138
"he abo*e detour throu/h capitalis. was necessary to our understandin/ o# socialis.,
Me shall see later .ore e2actly why, Meanwhile, howe*er, we are at least in a position to
pose a #ew ;uestions, For e2a.ple> why does the wa/eBsyste. continue to operate a'ter
the proletarian re*olutionF Mhy does co..odity production continue BB in a di##erent
#or. BB to ta=e placeF )oes the persistence o# co..odity production i.ply the continued
operation, in socialis.,

11, "he 9.iddle strata9 do not constitute a social class) "he de*elop.ent o# capitalis. tends to reduce
the e2istin/ social classes to two only, the bour/eoisie and the proletariat 4(') A, &alibar, (inq Etudes du
matrialisme historique, p, 134,6 "he anta/onis. between the. is an ele.ent o# the de'inition o# the
capitalist .ode o# productionJ whereas the character o# the relations between the 9.iddle strata9 on the one
hand, and the bour/eoisie and proletariat respecti*ely on the other, are not so /i*en, (n particular, the
;uestion o# whether an alliance between the proletariat and .iddle strata is possible in an /i*en situation
can only be answered in concrete political practice, and not by a #or.al de#inition o# a new 9.iddle class9
or 9pettyBbour/eoisie, ?ee also LeninEs co..ents on the )ra#t 'ro/ra..e o# the -?)L', 1953> 9!n the
'irst place it is essential to draw a line o' demarcation between oursel*es and all others, to sin/le out the
proletariat alone and e$clusi,ely, and only then declare that the proletariat will e.ancipate all, that is call
on all, in*ite all9 4(ollected 0orks, *ol, $, p, 736 7Transcriber's +ote> ?ee LeninEs #aterial 'or the %reparation
o' the %ro*ramme, p, 7!, BB 1JR8,
13, (') A, &alibar, (inq Etudes du matrialisme historique, pp, 144, 1!5,

pa&e 13
o# a *alueBcreatin/ process, and there#ore, indeed, also o# a process o# production o#
surplusB*alueF Finally> we =now that, a#ter the proletarian re*olution, the wor=in/ class
.ust ta=e o*er #ro. the bour/eoisie the #unction o# or/aniHin/ production, &ut, on the
one hand, .ust it not also, at the sa.e ti.e, stru//le continuously a*ainst the #or.s in
which it is #orced to or/aniHe production, since its /oal is the co.plete eli.ination o# the
conditions o# e2ploitation 4there#ore the eli.ination o# the wa/eBsyste., co..odity
production, etc,6F And, on the other hand, .ust it not at one and the sa.e ti.e make use
o# the old bour/eois specialists, and yet stru**le a*ainst the.F
"hese were so.e o# the ;uestions #acin/ the youn/ ?o*iet state, &ut, o# course, they
did not present the.sel*es spontaneously in this #or., ?talin, #or e2a.ple, #or.ulated
the ;uestions rather di##erently, And, curiously enou/h, he o#ten chan/ed his .ind about
the answers, For e2a.ple, he was apparently unable to .a=e up his .ind about the
internal class stru//le in the I??-, (n 193! he was tal=in/ about the need to stru//le
a/ainst a 9new bour/eoisie9, (n 193$, on the occasion o# the introduction o# the %ew
:onstitution, he considered the class stru//le to be at an end, &ut in 1937 he was a/ain
tal=in/ about the need to co.bat 9sharper #or.s o# stru//le9 by the old e2ploitin/
classes, "hen, in 1939 he was once a/ain spea=in/ o# the I??- as 9#ree o# all class
con#licts9,
?talin in #act reco/niHed two threats to the de*elop.ent o# socialis., He reco/niHed a
stru//le between the ?o*iet state and the i.perialist statesJ and he reco/niHed 4thou/h it
disappeared sporadically #ro. his speeches6 a stru//le between the ?o*iet wor=in/ class
and peasantry on the one hand and the 'ormer e2ploitin/ classes on the other, &ut he did
not 4or rarely, and in distorted #or. BB #or e2a.ple in 19!36 reco/niHe a threat which
.i/ht be #or.ulated in ter.s o# the ;uestions which ( posed, (n particular, he tended to
displace the proble.s resultin/ #ro. the contradictory de*elop.ent o# class relations
within the I??- onto the two #or.s o# class stru//le which he did reco/niHe, thus
e2plainin/ the. as e##ects either o# the international class stru//le or o# the stru//le
a/ainst the #or.er e2ploitin/

pa&e 1(
classes, "his perhaps e2plain his *acillations> whene*er the class stru//le between the
*arious classes and /roups inside the ?o*iet Inion beca.e intense, ?talin would pull
9i.perialis.9 or the 9old e2ploitin/ classes9 out o# the ba/,
Me ha*e said that the 9?talin de*iation9 .ay be characteriHed by the ter.s economism
and humanism) MhyF And what is the lin= between these two #or.s o# a sin/le
de*iationF (n order to answer these ;uestions we .ust .a=e use o# a nu.ber o#
theoretical concepts o# Mar2is., includin/ those o# the mode o' production and o# the
social 'ormation) A .ode o# production is characteriHed primarily by a /i*en syste. o#
production relations, and secondarily by the 9le*el o# the .aterial producti*e #orces, "he
reproduction o# a syste. o# production relations is not a #unction o# the operation o# the
.ode o# production alone, but o# the social #or.ation as a whole, includin/ its
9superstructural #or.s9,
"o 9#or/et about9 the role o# the 9superstructure9 in the reproduction o# production
relations, to want to e2plain e*erythin/ 4#or e2a.ple, crises in capitalis. or the transition
to co..unis. by re#erence to the econo.ic in#rastructure alone, is o# course
economism) &ut to 9#or/et about9 the role o# the superstructure is also to #or/et how the
superBstructure operates, (t operates throu/h apparatuses which .aintain the do.ination
o# the rulin/ class, but at the cost o# continuously reproducin/ class stru**le) "o #all into
econo.is. is there#ore also to #or/et about class stru//le and to #or/et about class
stru//le is humanism) ?talin #ell into both econo.is. and hu.anis. when he ar/ued, #or
e2a.ple, that the proble. o# the transition to socialis. was pri.arily a proble. o# the
de*elop.ent o# the producti*e #orces, Atienne &alibar has pointed out that 9this
interpretation o# Mar2is. was already do.inant a.on/ certain ?ocialist leaders o# the
?econd (nternational 4li=e Dauts=y6, and was de*eloped and plainly stated by ?talin on
se*eral occasions9,7138
?talin, in #act, did tend to 9#or/et about9 class stru//le,

13, (n Les "ciences de l'conomie 4eds, A, Oanoli and +,B', +anuard6, article on 9La For.ations sociales
capitalistes9, p, 3<7,

pa&e 1)
"his clai. .ay surprise so.e readers, since, a#ter all, he is =nown #or the thesis that the
class stru//le sharpens as socialis. de*elops, (ndeed, it is precisely this thesis which is
o#ten held responsible #or the 9e2cessEs9 and 9cri.es9 o# the ?talin period, &ut the class
stru//le which he reco/niHed was, as we ha*e seen, either the stru//le a/ainst
international capitalis. or the stru//le a/ainst the old e2ploitin/ classes, "here is a lo/ic
to his position, For e2a.ple, i# these classes ha*e been de#eated, i# only remnants still
e2ist, then the ob*ious course o# action #or the. would be to resort to terroris., sabota/e
etc, in collaboration with their natural ally, i.perialis., "he ob*ious way o# dealin/ with
such acts o# terroris. would be to use the -epressi*e ?tate Apparatus 4police, courts, and
so on6, "hus the i.portance #or ?talin o# the show trial, in which the accused are treated
as cri.inals, and in particular as #orei/n a/ents,
A scienti#ic treat.ent o# the ?talin period will, in .y opinion, show that the e*ents
which characteriHed it 4trials, pur/es, etc,6 were, in spite o# 9appearances9, e##ects o# 4a
speci#ic6 class stru//le #ou/ht out in the econo.ic, political and ideolo/ical spheres, (t is
o# course true that BB #or e2a.ple BB the /reat trials o# 193$B3< were not, le/ally spea=in/,
directed a/ainst the representati*es o# a particular class, but a/ainst certain senior 'arty
.e.bers, A/ain #ro. a le/al point o# *iew, they contained .any absurd alle/ations, &ut
that does not .ean that they can be e2plained BB and written o## BB as si.ple 9*iolations o#
socialist le/ality9, "he trials and pur/es played a role determined in the last instance by
the class stru**le inside the 9""R, e*en i# in practice their *icti.s were the 9wron/9
ones, &ut this was ine*itable, since the .ethods used were the 9wron/9 ones, too> they
were bour*eois methods used a/ainst the bour/eoisie, and they bac=#ired disastrously,
"his too, howe*er, is not surprisin/, since 9?talinis.9 BB the de*iation #ro. Leninis. BB
is, a#ter all, a conse;uence o# the penetration o# Mar2is. by bour/eois theory
4econo.is.Qhu.anis.6 and bour/eois practice,
"o illustrate the ar/u.ent, let us co.pare the ?o*iet situation with its 9opposite9> the
case in which the capitalist class resorts, #or whate*er reasons, to the use o# lar/eBscale

pa&e 1*
physical repression, ?uch a policy is o# course ne*er the result o# a 9decision9 on the part
o# so.e 9e2ecuti*e co..ittee o# the bour/eoisie9 as a whole, n the contrary> in practice
it tends to result in lar/eBscale splits inside bour/eois political or/aniHations, "he %aHi
rN/i.e, #or e2a.ple, suppressed not only the or/aniHations o# the wor=in/ class
4:o..unists, ?ocialB)e.ocrats, trades unions6 but also the old bour/eois and 9pettyB
bour/eois9 parties, to/ether with cultural, artistic and scienti#ic institutions and o# course
racial /roups, "he .illions which it .urdered ca.e 'rom all classes) (t is precisely this
#act which .a=es it easy to misunderstand the %aHi rN/i.e, e*en to suppose that there is
so.e essential rese.blance between it and ?talinEs /o*ern.ent, ne can ha*e li*ed
throu/h #ascis., #ou/ht #or years a/ainst it, e*en died in the #i/ht, without =nowin/ that
its roots lay in the class stru**le between labour and capital)
"his e2a.ple is not intended, let .e repeat, to i.ply a si.ilarity between the ?talin
and %aHi rN/i.es 4one o# the tric=s o# antiBco..unis.6, nor any .irror relation between
the., n the contrary> it is intended as a warnin/ a/ainst e.piricis., a/ainst the
te.ptation o# assu.in/ that in order to locate the cause o# an e*ent one need not loo=
.uch #urther than the e##ects, Hitler =illed and i.prisoned the leaders o# the capitalist
parties, Mas he there#ore an antiBcapitalist, a traitor to the capitalist classF (s the case o#
?talin so .uch si.plerF
( ar/ued that behind ?talinEs 9cri.es9 was hidden a speci#ic class stru//le, &ut what
were its roots F Mhy do we clai. that in spite o' the disappearance o# the old e2ploitin/
classes, such a stru//le continued to e2ist in the I??-F "he answer to this ;uestion
de.ands #urther theoretical clari#ication,
Me arri*e here at a critical point in the ar/u.ent, Me =now that the Mar2ist orthodo2y
o# the ?talin period concei*ed o# the relation between base and superstructure under
socialis. by analo/y with capitalis.> whereas capitalis. is based on the capitalist .ode
o# production, which is o# course socially deter.ined in the last instance, socialis. is
based on the socialist mode o' production 4state ownership,

pa&e 1+
and so on6, "his too is ulti.ately deter.inant, in that it tends, perhaps slowly but still
ine2orably, to produce a population steeped in the 9socialist ideolo/y9 whose
de*elop.ent is a necessary superstructural condition #or the transition to co..unis.,
"he in#rastructural condition is o# course satis#ied by the de*elop.ent o# the producti*e
#orces, a conse;uence o# the e##iciency o# the socialist econo.y,
%ow this picture BB which e##ecti*ely eli.inates the ;uestion o# class stru//le under
socialis. BB is or/aniHed around one =ey concept, precisely that o# the socialist mode o'
production) (t is howe*er this concept which un#ortunately constitutes the principal
obstacle to understandin/ socialis., &ecause there is no socialist mode o' production)7148
"he nearest way o# #or.ulatin/ this point is perhaps to say that social #or.ations o# the
transition period called socialis. are based not on a sin/le, socialist .ode o# production
4sta.ped perhaps with the birth .ar=s o# the old, capitalist society6, but on a
contradictory combination o' two modes o' production, the capitalist and communist)71!8
Me .ust howe*er not #or/et that these .odes o# production do not 4co6e2ist in a 9pure9
#or., and that no concrete re*olutionary transition can be e2plained by re#erence to the
contradictory presence o# the /eneral #or. o# two .odes o# production, Mhat we #ind in
any /i*en socialist system is in #act a speci#ic co.bination o# a concrete, deter.inate
#or. o# the capitalist .ode o# production, trans#or.ed and 9e.asculated9 by the
proletarian re*olution, and a si.ilar #or. o# the co..unist .ode o# production, as it
e.er/es and de*elops on the basis o# the *ictories o# that re*olution and o# the
continuin/ class stru//le,71$8
&ut what characteriHes the capitalist .ode o# production 4LeninEs 9capitalist #or. o#
social econo.y96F Accordin/

14, 9"here is no socialist .ode o# production9 BB thesis ad*anced by Althusser in a course on Mar2Es >ur
?ritik der politischen -ekonomie, /i*en at the Acole %or.ale ?upNrieure, rue dEIl., 'aris in +une 1973,
1!, (') the interestin/ ?ection ( o# LeninEs Economics and %olitics in the Era o' the 1ictatorship o' the
%roletariat 419196, (ollected 0orks, *ol, 35,
1$, (') &alibar, op, cit, p, 35!> 9(n all e2istin/ Esocialist countriesE, capitalist relations o# production BB and
thus the structure o# classes the.sel*es BB ha*e been pro#oundly trans#or.ed, &ut in no case ha*e they
totally disB 7cont) onto p, 1<, 1JR8 appeared9, %aturally, the reproduction o# these relations o# production also
depends on the e2istence o# correspondin/ superstructural #or.s, "he contradictory coe2istence o# two
.odes o# production under socialis. thus also i.plies contradictory superstructural relations 4#or e2a.ple,
at the le*el o# the "tate, as we shall see6,

pa&e 1,
to Mar2 and Lenin, it is the e2traction o# surplusB*alue &ut to obtain surplusB*alue you
need not si.ply a syste. o# co..odily production and e2chan/e, but 9a co..odity
whose process o# consu.ption is at the sa.e ti.e a process o# the creation o# *alue, ?uch
a co..odity e2ists BB hu.an labour power9,7178 "he capitalist .ode o# production cannot
e2ist e2cept where labour power itsel# is produced and e2chan/ed as a co..odity,
Me =now howe*er that the wa/e syste. BB precisely, the production and e2chan/e o#
labour power as a co..odity BB continues to operate a#ter the proletarian re*olution, and
that /eneral co..odity production in Mar2Es )epart.ent ( 4production o# .eans o#
production6 and )epart.ent (( 4production o# .eans o# consu.ption6 also continues to
ta=e place,
Let us now loo= at ?talinEs atte.pt to deal with the ;uestion o# the role o# the
co..odily under socialis. 4in his Economic %roblems o' "ocialism, 19!36, He ar/ues
*ery clearly that 9co..odity circulation is inco.patible with the prospecti*e transition
to co..unis.9, And he concludes that 9the transition #ro. socialis. to co..unis. and
the co..unist principle o# distribution o# products accordin/ to needs precludes all
co..odity e2chan/e9 4in the 9-eply to ?anina and OenHber96, &ut how does ?talin
understand the abolition o# co..odity e2chan/eF Assentially in ter.s o# the abolition o#
collecti*eB#ar. 4socialist, but nonBpublic6 property, in ter.s o# its con*ersion into state BB
or, .ore e2actly public BB property, "hus, 9when instead o# two basic production sectors,
the state sector and the collecti*eB#ar. sector, there will be only one allBe.bracin/
production sector, with the ri/ht to dispose o# all the consu.er /oods produced in the
country, co..odity circulation, with its E.oney econo.yE, will disappear9 4ch, 36,
"wo thin/s can be said a/ainst ?talin here, .irst, the

17, Lenin, 9Darl Mar29, "elected 0orks 4Moscow, 19$76, *ol, (, p, 1<,

pa&e 1-
abolition o# the role o# the co..odity is certainly not si.ply a ;uestion o# brin/in/ all
sectors o# production into public ownership, :entraliHed state control and plannin/ can
itsel# be a #or. o# co..odity circulation, "econd, the sale o# .eans o# consu.ption to
the public i.plies its ability to buy the., &ut the #act that the public can buy such
products BB e*en #ro. a sin/le 9allBe.bracin/9 publiclyBowned production sector BB
i.plies that it can pay, i)e), that it earns wa/es, (t i.plies, in other words, the e2istence o#
a wa*e system)
?talin, howe*er, speci#ically ar/ues that 4in the I??- o# 19!36 9the syste. o# wa/e
labour no lon/er e2ists and labour power is no lon/er a co..odity9 4ibid)6 BB a rather
curious clai., His reasonin/ is that tal= o# labour power bein/ a co..odity 9sounds
rather absurd9, as thou/h the wor=in/ class 9sells its labour power to itsel#9, &ut in that
case why was it BB i# not because o# the operation o# the 9law o# *alue9 BB that those
.e.bers o# the wor=in/ population whose trainin/ had been relati*ely len/thy and costly
were able to co..and a hi/her inco.eF71<8
For ?talin the socialist co..odity is not 9o# the ordinary 7capitalist8 type9, but
9desi/ned to ser*e , , , socialist production9, "he socialist co..odity is a re.nant o#
capitalis., but 9essentially9 not a 9capitalist cate/ory9,7198 For hi., indeed, the lin=
between the process o# the creation o# *alue 40ertbildun*6 and that o# the realiHation o#
surplusB*alue 4/erwertun*6 is bro=en, He belie*es in socialist co..odity production, a
distinct #or., thou/h it is a remnant o# capitalis., 0ust as so.e econo.ists belie*e in a
mode o' production called 9si.ple co..odity production9 distin/uished #ro. capitalis.
because it preceded it)7358
?talinEs political positions are consistent with his theoretical

1<, Mith so.e e2ceptions 4relati*ely low rewards #or doctors, relati*ely hi/h rewards #or .iners and so
on6, "hese e2ceptions are indices o# the stren/th o# the wor=in/ class, and o# the de*elop.ent o#
co..unist relations o# production, &ut we should add that the transition to co..unis. is by no .eans
e;ui*alent to a si.ple process o# wa/e e;ualiHationK
19, (n the 9-eply to A, (, %ot=in9,
35, (') &alibar, (inq Etudes, p, 13!J also Mar2, %re(apitalist Economic .ormations 4(nternational
'ublishers, 19736, p, 114> 9"he rule o# e2chan/eB 7cont) onto p, 35, 1JR8 *alues, and o# production producin/
e2chan/eB*alues presupposes alien labour power as itsel# an e2chan/eB*alue, "hat is, it presupposes the
separation o# li*in/ labour power #ro. its ob0ecti*e conditions, a relationship , , , to the. as capital)9

pa&e 2.
standpoint, His atte.pt to sol*e the proble. o# the specialists is an e2a.ple, &ecause he
had no theory o# class stru//le under socialis. with which to orient his policy, it was
always decided on an ad hoc basis, "hus it *acillated constantly between the use o#
.onetary incenti*es and political repression,7318
Another e2a.ple is the pri.acy which he attributed to the ;uestion o# the de*elop.ent
o# the producti*e #orces, 9Mhy9, he as=s 4in his %roblems o' Leninism6, 9can socialis.,
.ust socialis., will socialis. necessarily *an;uish the capitalist econo.ic syste.F
&ecause , , , it can .a=e society richer than the capitalist econo.ic syste. can do,97338
?uch econo.ic pro/ress would o# course be possible only on the basis o# socialism J but
socialis., here, .eans abo*e all public ownership and plannin*) Li=e .any another
Mar2ist, he si.ply contrasts capitalist commodity production with socialist planned
production, #or/ettin/ that co..odity production and plannin/ are in principle
co.patible, and that the re;uired distinction there#ore cannot lie there)
"he co..on belie# in a #unda.ental inco.patibility between co..odity production
and plannin/ has in #act distinct humanist connotations, (n 'aul ?weeHyEs #or.ulaB

31, &y 1939 BB when, as we saw, ?talin was 4a/ain6 clai.in/ that the I??- was 9#ree o# all class
con#licts9 BB he could also spea= o# a 9new, socialist intelli/entsia9 which was 9ready to ser*e the interests
o# the people o# the I??- #aith#ully and de*otedly9 4Report to the 4@th %arty (on*ress6,
33, Dhrushche* too= o*er this position as his own, (t is dan/erous BB not #or any 9.oral9 reason 4because
it 9alienates9, 9rei#ies9, etc,6, but because o# its political e##ects, ?o.e o# the proposals #or econo.ic re#or.
in the socialist world are in#luenced by this standpoint, ne e2a.ple is MlodHi.ierH &rusE proposed
recti#ication o# ?talinEs econo.ic policies, He says that ?talinEs picture o# a 9co.plete con#or.ity9 between
socialist production relations and producti*e #orces is #alse, (n #act, he ar/ues, socialist production relations
.ay cease to meet the needs o# the de*elop.ent o# the producti*e #orces, "he theoretical #ra.ewor= here is
identical with that o# ?talin 4pri.acy o# the producti,e 'orces6, nly its application is di##erent> /rowth now
de.ands o# course, the e2tension o# .ar=et 4co..odity6 relations, ?ee &rus, The #arket in a "ocialist
Economy 4-outled/e, 19736,

pa&e 21
tion, #or instance, when the law o# *alue is =in/, the econo.y is re/ulated only by that
law, while plannin/ .eans that 9the allocation o# producti*e acti*ity is brou/ht under
conscious control9 4The Theory o' (apiralist 1e,elopment, p, !36 (n his Reply to John
Lewis Althusser contrasts the hu.anist thesis, man makes history, with the 4Mar2ist6
thesis> the motor o' history is class stru**le) Me can contrast the hu.anist thesis on
socialis.> man makes socialism BB by conscious planin/, and so on BB with the 4Mar2ist6
thesis>the motor o' socialism is class stru**le)
(# the pro/ress o# socialis. cannot be .easured 4si.ply6 in ter.s o# the de*elop.ent
o# the producti*e #orcesJ i# it .ust be .easured instead in ter.s o# the de*elop.ent o#
the contradiction between speci#ic #or.s o# the capitalist and co..unist .odes o#
production, then it beco.es clear that it depends on the de*elop.ent o# the class
stru//le, (t .ay there#ore be that, in the case o# two socialist states, the one which is
behind in buildin/ its producti*e #orces is ahead in buildin/ co..unis., ( thin=, #or
instance, that undue opti.is. was ori/inally placed in so.e o# the 'eopleEs )e.ocracies
o# Aastern Aurope, at least as #ar as the te.po o# the ad*ance to co..unis. was
concerned, an opti.is. based on their relati*ely de*eloped econo.ic in#rastructure, &ut
it is ;uite li=ely that :uba 4to ta=e an e2a.ple6, which did not contain such a stron/ BB
and ideolo/ically #or.ed BB educated 9.iddle class9 as, say, :Hechoslo*a=ia, is
ne*ertheless at least e;ually ad*anced politically)
"he thesis that there is no socialist mode o' production, that socialis. rests on the
contradictory co.bination o# speci#ic #or.s o# two .odes o# production, capitalist and
co..unist, allows us to understand the roots o# the class stru//le under socialis., (t also
allows us to deal with the ine*itable ;uestion> i# there is class stru//le under socialis.,
where are the classes in stru//leF Mhere, in particular, is the capitalist class F
Me could o# course answer the ;uestion 4answerin/ that there is no capitalist class6 and
lea*e it at that, &ut we ha*e not yet reached the heart o# the .atter, "he reason is that
social classes do not precede the class stru//le> on the contrary, the class stru**le creates
classes) Me .ust

pa&e 22
there#ore rephrase the ;uestion, "he proble. is not to #ind a capitalist class, but to #ind
out under what conditions a capitalist class is *enerated)
"hat is not such a curious way o# posin/ the proble., Lenin, a#ter all, had ar/ued that
9e*en in -ussia capitalist co..odity production is ali*e, operatin/, de*elopin/ and
*i,in* rise to a bour*eoisie 9 4.y e.phasis6,7338 "he di##iculty is that Lenin thou/ht that
this new bour/eoisie was e.er/in/ mainly #ro. a.on/ the peasants and handicra#ts.en,
"hus ?talin, #ollowin/ the letter o# Lenin, was able to clai. that collecti*iHation and
nationaliHation had at the sa.e ti.e put a stop to the process by which the new
bour/eoisie was bein/ produced,
&ut we .ust /o #urther, Me .ust add that the capitalist class does not precede the
production o# surplusB*alueJ on the contrary, it is the production o' surplus,alue which
creates the capitalist class) "he conse;uence should be ob*ious, (# socialis. rests on a
contradictory co.bination o# speci#ic #or.s o# the capitalist and co..unist .odes o#
production, it #ollows that certain conditions #or the /eneration o# a new bour/eoisie are
#ul#illed, and that only class stru//le on the part o# the proletariat can pre*ent it, "he
.odalities o# its /eneration 4out o# which social /roups does it e.er/eF and so on6 cannot
be dealt with here, Mhat we can say, howe*er, is that 0ust as the (deolo/ical ?tate
Apparatuses o# the capitalist ?tate reproduce the do.ination o# the capitalist class only at
the cost o# reproducin/ class stru//le, so too, in the sa.e way the (deolo/ical ?tate
Apparatuses o# the proletarian ?tate only reproduce the do.ination o# the proletariat at
the cost o# reproducin/ class stru//le BB a class stru//le whose sta=e is the /eneration o# a
new bour/eoisie, and ulti.ately counterBre*olution and the restoration o# capitalis., "hat
is why Lenin was ri/ht when he clai.ed that 9the transition #ro. capitalis. to
co..unis. ta=es an entire historical epoch9, &ut Lenin

33, At the <th :on/ress o# the -:'4&6, Lenin, (ollected 0orks, *ol, 39, p, 1<9, (') his Theses %resented
to the .irst (on*ress o' the (omintern> 9"he entire content o# Mar2is. , , , re*eals the econo.ic
ine*itability, where*er co..odity econo.y pre*ails, o# the dictatorship o# the bour/eoisie9 4(ollected
0orks, *ol, 3<, p, 4$46,

pa&e 23
was .ost concerned with the threat #ro. the old e2ploitin/ classes, and it is not clear
how he would otherwise ha*e wanted to establish his clai.,
(t should now be rather clearer why Althusser characteriHes the ?talin period in ter.s
o# a de*iation #ro. Mar2is. which too= the #or. o# economism and humanism) (t is not
o# course that the e*ents o# this period were the si.ple conse;uence o# a theoretical
.ista=e, "he de*iation was itsel# not only theoretical, but also political, &ut in any case
its roots lay in the class stru//le BB in the class stru//le under capitalis., which had
allowed bour/eois ideolo/y to penetrate deeply into the Mar2is. o# the early ?ocialB
)e.ocratic 'arties, and in the class stru//le under socialis., which pre*ented ?talin
#ro. castin/ o## that in#luence,
( ou/ht to say a #ew words at this point about alternati*e conceptions o# the ?talin
period,7348 .irst, it should by now be e*ident that what ( ha*e said con#licts in the sharpest
possible way with e*ery e2planation couched either in ter.s o# le/al ideolo/y 4?talinis.
is essentially a 9*iolation o# socialist le/ality96 or psycholo/y 4?talin was .ad, a
cri.inal, or both6,
"econdly, it is inco.patible with "rots=yEs accounts, ( a/ree with :harles &ettelhei.
that in spite o# the political stru//les which he wa/ed a/ainst ?talin, "rots=yEs theoretical
positions coincide with those o# ?talin in two i.portant respects> on the one hand he too
thou/ht that the disappearance o# 9pri*ate property9 e2cluded the de*elop.ent o# a new
capitalist classJ and on the other hand he too a##ir.ed that 9the root o# all social
or/aniHation is in the producti*e #orces9,73!8 As a conse;uence, his account o# the soB
called 9de/eneration9 o# socialis. in the I??-

34, ( will not .ention the .any 9bour/eois9 accounts here, Mhat they naturally cannot see is that
?talinis. was a result #irst, o# the penetration o# bour*eois theory and bour*eois .ethods into internal
?o*iet politics, and second, o# the isolation o# the new and still e2tre.ely wea= socialist state in a capitalist
world, 9?talinis.9 is not the price o# co..unis.J it is a price paid by the ?o*iet people, but e$torted:
ultimately, by i.perialis.,
3!, &ettelhei., Luttes de classes en 9R"", pp, 3!B37, Accordin/ to the author, 9the two theses 4on the
disappearance o# anta/onistic classes in the I??- and on the pri.acy o# the de*elop.ent o# the producti*e
#orces6 were a =ind o# Ecommonpolace E #or EAuropean Mar2is.E in the 1935s9,

pa&e 2(
is in any case unilaterally political, especially as #ar as his co..ents on the role o# the
9bureaucracy9 are concerned,73$8
&ut, thirdly, what ( ha*e said also con#licts with &ettelhei.Es positions, "his beco.es
clear i# one considers his account not only o# the ?talin but also o# the postB?talin period,
(t is true that &ettelhei. correctly cites ?talinEs econo.is. and his belie# in the
disappearance o# the ob0ecti*e basis #or the e2istence o# classes, &ut he adds that these
doctrinal wea=nesses led not only the e2istence o# class stru//le but also the rise o# a new
class, the "tate Aour*eoisie, to be o*erloo=ed,
(t is this cate/ory o# the ?tate &our/eoisie which presents the #irst di##iculty 4( spea=
only o# theoretical di##iculties here6, (t is that the cate/ory is not su##iciently speci#ic,
E,ery bour/eoisie, a#ter all, is a 9state bour/eoisie9 in the sense that the action o# the state
is inte/ral to the process o# its constitution and reproduction as a uni#ied rulin/ class,7378
&ettelhei. .eans o# course that this bour/eoisie is constituted by a body o# #unctionaries
and ad.inistrators 9which beco.e in e##ect the proprietors 4in the sense o# a relation
production6 o# the .eans o# production9,73<8 ?ince he is con*inced that the e.er/ence o#
this new class has at so.e ti.e since ?talinEs death, resulted in the restoration o#
capitalis. in the I??-, we =now that it .ust now be not si.ply a bour/eoisie but a
capitalist class in the strict sense 4the two thin/s are not e2actly the sa.e6,
ne reason #or &ettelhei.Es conclusion 4a theoretical reason BB ( say nothin/ o# the
political reason6 .ay lie in his treat.ent o# the distinction between the le/al and real
appropriation o# the .eans o# production, His *ersion o# this distinction contrasts
property 4in the le/al sense6 and possession) He uses it, howe*er, in such a way that
property so.eti.es appears to be little .ore than an illusion, For e2a.ple, it appears that
the new capitalist class establishes

3$, (') %icos 'oulantHasE ar/u.ent that the proble.s o# bureaucracy always concern the state apparatus
and not the state power9 4%olitical %ower and "ocial (lasses, p 333 6 n this distinction, see below,
37, (') &alibar, (inq Etudes, p, 177,
3<, &ettelhei., (alcul conomique et 'ormes de proprit, p, <7, 7Transcriber's +ote> ?ee Economic
(alculation and .orms o' %roperty, BB 1JR8

pa&e 2)
its possession o# the .eans o# production not so .uch by creatin/ new le/al relations BB
by constitutin/ its property in the .eans o# production BB but rather by reducin/ state
property to 9a .erely le/al relation9, there#ore a #iction, "he conse;uence is that it
beco.es rather easier #or &ettelhei. to conclude BB li=e the :hinese :o..unist 'arty BB
that, in spite o# the #act that there has been no #unda.ental trans#or.ation in property
relations in the ?o*iet Inion, the class stru//le has ended not si.ply in the /eneration o#
a new bour/eoisie and a new capitalist class but also in the restoration o# capitalis. itsel#,
And this, #ro. a 9:hinese9 standpoint, which &ettelhei. is apparently stru//lin/ to
respect, would .ean precisely the abolition o# 9socialist production relations9, ur
disa/ree.ent with this =ind o# account will be ob*ious,
(n #act, the subsistence o# capitalist relations o# production within socialis. i.plies a
tendency to the /eneration o# a new bour/eoisie, but whether or not this tendency is
realiBed depends on the outco.e o# the class stru//le, ?uch a bour/eoisie may be
/enerated, it may trans#or. itsel# into a #ullB#led/ed capitalist class and it may succeed in
restorin/ capitalis., &ut, as we shall see, a nu.ber o# conditions, political as well as
econo.ic, .ust be #ul#illed be#ore such a thin/ can ta=e place, And BB to ta=e a concrete
e2a.ple, the e2a.ple BB there is a.ple e*idence, as #ar as the ?o*iet Inion is concerned
4especially o# its re.ar=able stability6, to re#ute the clai. that it is rushin/ headlon/
toward such a restoration,
&e that as it .ay, it is no /round #or co.placency, n the contrary, :Hechoslo*a=ia in
19$<, 'oland in 1975 are the proo#, (# the principal contradiction do.inatin/ the
co.ple2ity o# the :Hech e*ents clearly lay in the relation to the I??- 4as Althusser and
the French :o..unist 'arty belie*e6, it is 0ust as clear that secondary contradictions
operated which were internal to :Hech society, &ut these internal contradictions were by
no .eans speci#ic to the :Hech situation, "hey also touched the I??-, "his is no secret,
"he :a.brid/e econo.ist Michael All.an, #or e2a.ple, has pointed out that 9in
:Hechoslo*a=ia in the early 19$5s the distribution o# inco.es was e2ceptionally

pa&e 2*
e;ual, , , , A .a0or ob0ecti*e o# the aborti*e :Hech re#or. was to o*erco.e this situation,
?i.ilarly one o# the #eatures o# econo.ic re#or. in the I??- has been to i.pro*e the
position o# the specialists relati*e to that o# the wor=ers9,7398
"he 'olish e*ents de.onstrate so.ethin/ i.portant, too, "he wor=ersE protest itsel#
was not BB contrary to a co..on opinion BB directed a/ainst 9?talinis.9> rather the
opposite, (t was the result o# econo.ic re#or.s, especially in pricin/ policy, which in
e##ect constituted one step in the abandon.ent o# the relati,e e;uality o# the ?talin years,
"he #act that the protest had to ta=e the 'orm o# riots was, on the other hand, in all
probability a result o# the le/acy o# the 9ad.inistrati*e .ethods9 pre#erred in those years,
&ut that is a di##erent ;uestion,
(t is there#ore i.possible to paint the ?talin period in wholly blac= or white ter.s, and
it is e;ually i.possible to pretend that its #aults can be eli.inated si.ply by
9de.ocratiHin/9 or 9liberaliHin/9 the political structures 4#or the sa=e o# 9liberty96 and
9re#or.in/9 the econo.y 4#or the sa=e o# 9producti*ity96, "he e##ects o# ?talinEs
humanism and economism cannot be recti#ied by a more consistent humanism and a more
consistent economism)
?o.ethin/ ou/ht perhaps to be said here BB since the e2a.ple will ha*e occurred to the
reader BB about the policies o# the :hinese :o..unist 'arty, (t is true that these policies
ha*e been consciously antiBhu.anist and antiBecono.ist, "his is certainly true o# the
:ultural -e*olution o# 19$$B$9 4which was howe*er widely .isrepresented in the Mest
as a utopian, hu.anist pro0ect, whate*er it was, it was not that6, &ut, as #ar as it is
possible to deter.ine, the :hinese criti;ue o# ?talin su##ers #ro. an inade;uate supply o#
alternati*e theses, "hus two recently published te2ts o# Mao 4datin/ #ro. 19!< and
19!9R6 on ?talinEs Economic %roblems o' "ocialism .a=e the #ollowin/ criticis.s> ?talin
#ailed to deal with the political and ideolo/ical conditions o# the transition to
co..unis.J he put the accent on the 9e2pert9

39, Michael All.an, 9Mhat Dind o# Acono.ic -e#or. )oes the ?o*iet Inion %eedF9, in (ambrid*e
Re,iew, May, 1971, p, 315,
7R Transcriber's +ote> ?ee MaoEs 9:oncernin/ Economic %roblems o' "ocialism in the 9""R 9 and 9:riti;ue
o# ?talinEs Economic %roblems o' "ocialism in the 9""R 9 in the collection A (ritique o' "o,iet Economics,
BB 1JR8

pa&e 2+
and not the 9redEE side o# the specialistJ and he relied on the cadres and not on the .asses,
Mao also ar/ues, correctly, that one .ust not con#use the de.arcation line between
socialis. and co..unis. with that which distin/uishes collecti*eB#ar. property #ro.
public property, &ut his reasonin/ actually relies on ?talinEs thesis that co..odity
production under socialis. is a conse;uence o# the e2istence o# a nonBpublic, collecti*e
#ar. sector, ?ince the abolition o# this sector is not e;ui*alent to the transition to
co..unis., the two lines o# de.arcation are not identical, "hus #or Mao, as #or ?talin,
9labour 7under socialis.8 is not a co..odity9, Finally, he so.eti.es tends to identi#y
the principle o# the supremacy o' politics 4antiBecono.is.6 with plannin*)7358
%one o# these positions 4to 0ud/e #ro. the pa/es o# %ekin* Re,iew6 appears to ha*e
been .odi#ied up to the present day,7318 Inless e*idence to the contrary beco.es
a*ailable, it .ust be considered that the :hinese still share certain o# ?talinEs #unda.ental
theses,7338 And they certainly appear

35, #ao TsToun* et la construction du socialisme, ed, Hu :hiBhsi 4?euil, 197!6, pp, 39, 41, !<,
31, ?ee #or e2a.ple an article by %an :hin/, who ar/ues that 9co..odity production and co..odity
e2chan/e still e2ist in socialist society , , , because two =inds o# socialist ownership, na.ely, ownership by
the whole people and collecti*e ownership, e2ist side by side, , , , Howe*er, the socialist type o#
co..odity production di##ers #ro. the capitalist type, "his is .ani#ested chie#ly by the #act that there no
lon/er is the econo.ic relation o# e2ploitation o# wor=ers by the capitalists, anarchis. in production has
been eli.inated and the scope o# co..odity production has been reduced9 4%ekin* Re,iew, May 35,197!,
p, 136,
33, Mhat the :hinese ha,e re0ected BB and this they did early on BB is the thesis o# the pri.acy o# the
producti*e #orces, "hus they no lon/er de#ine co..unis. in ter.s o# .aterial superabundance, (nterestin/
in this conne2ion is an episode which too= place in :hina in 19!< concernin/ the translation o# the soB
called 9#unda.ental principles9 o# socialis. and co..unis., "he co..unist principle> 9Fro. each
accordin/ to his ability, to each accordin/ to his needs9, had been .istranslated in :hinese, said :han/
:hun/Bshih 4)eputy )irector o# the ::' :entral :o..ittees translation &ureau6 to i.ply that anyone
could ta=e #or hi.sel# whate*er he wanted and as .uch o# it as he li=ed, "his was wron/ said :han/, "he
re*ised translation indicated that the .e.bers o# a co..unist society would ha*e to wor= as hard as they
could and would /et what was distributed to the.,

pa&e 2,
to accept the e2istence o# a socialist .ode o# production,
?o .uch #or alternati*e interpretations o# the ?talin period and o# socialist construction
in /eneral, Me ha*e seen that they #ail to /rasp so.e o# the essential characteristics o# the
construction process, Ip to now we ha*e loo=ed .ainly at the ;uestion o# the socialist
econo.y, &ut we ou/ht also to /lance ;uic=ly at the political sphere, As we ha*e seen,
the ?tate .ust play a =ey role in the /eneration within a socialist syste. o# any new
bour/eoisie, (t is not si.ply a site o# stru//le between the wor=in/ class and its potential
ene.iesJ it is also itsel# an obstacle to the *ictory o# the wor=in/ class,
"his ;uestion really .ust be clari#ied, since it is the source o# .uch con#usion,
:o..unists belie*e, as e*eryone =nows, in the 9dictatorship o# the proletariat9, Mhat
e*eryone does not =now is the .eanin/ o# this e2pression, ne *ery co..on
interpretation considers it to be a dictatorship indeed, but not o# the =ind su//ested by the
:o..unists, (t in*ol*es, in this interpretation, the e2istence o# an enor.ously power#ul
?tate .achine capable o# crushin/ all opposition to the rule, not o# the wor=ers, but o# a
hand#ul o# 'arty bosses, "his is #or e2a.ple how not only openly bour/eois thin=erEs but
also .ost ?ocial )e.ocrats understand the dictatorship o# the proletariat,
"hey are wron/, "he ter. dictatorship, in the Mar2ist sense, is not contrasted with 4or
identi#ied with6 de.ocracy, (t #unctions in a di##erent 4thou/h connected6 theoretical
space, Mar2ists also tal= about the dictatorship o# the bour/eoisie, and this ter. they
apply to the .ost 9de.ocratic9 o# bour/eois nations, "hey .ean that the bour/eoisie
rulesJ but not necessarily 4or pri.arily6 by repression) (t rules throu/h the ?tate, that is
true, but .ainly 4at least in the 9#ree Mest96 by the use o# the !deolo*ical Apparatuses BB
thus precisely not by the .ethod o# 9dictatorship9, in the bour*eois sense o# the ter., "he
ter. 9dictatorship o# the proletariat9, si.ilarly, i.plies that the proletariat rules, &ut not
4necessarily6 pri.arily by the use o# the -epressi*e Apparatus, "he bour/eoisie can in
principle rule inde#initely in this way, but the proletariat, as we shall see, cannot)
# course, e*eryone who has read LeninEs "tate and

pa&e 2-
Re,olution =nows that 9the proletariat needs the ?tate as a special #or. o# or/aniHation o#
*iolence a/ainst the bour/eoisie9, &ut it needs a ?tate 9which is witherin/ away, i)e), a
?tate so constituted that it be/ins to wither away i..ediately9, MhyF
"he witherin/ away o# the ?tate .eans, here, the abolition o# the ?tate Apparatus) An
uninterrupted stru//le to abolish the ?tate Apparatus is in #act a condition o# the
rein#orce.ent o# proletarian ?tate power) 7338 "he reason is that to stren*then the
9'roletarian ?tate Apparatus9 BB e*en when it must be stren/thened, in order to #unction
as a .eans o# repression a/ainst the bour/eoisie BB is always at the sa.e ti.e,
tendentially, to weaken the control o# the proletariat o*er its political, i)e) 4here6 ?tate
representati*es, "his is because e,ery ?tate is .ore or less bureaucratic, and there#ore
distant #ro. the .asses 4Lenin in The "tate and Re,olution > bureaucrats are 9pri*ile/ed
persons di*orced #ro. the people and standin/ abo,e the people96, "hat is precisely why
Mar2ists insist on the #inal abolition o# the ?tate,
(n #act the 4necessary6 e2istence o# a proletarian "tate Apparatus parado2ically
constitutes one o# the conditions o# the e.er/ence o# a new bour/eoisie, &ut this
condition, let it be noted, is only one condition, and certainly not a su##icient one, (ndeed,
the e2istence o# a 9bureaucracy9 under socialis. is not itsel# e*en e*idence o# the
9de/eneration9 o# the syste., unless e*ery #or. o# socialis. is de/enerate, &ecause
some bureaucratis. under socialis. is ine*itable 4that is one o# the reasons why
socialis. is not co..unis.6, Lenin, by the way, see.s to ha*e ad.itted as .uch when
ar/uin/ in 1931 that 9it will ta=e decades to o*erco.e the e*ils o# bureaucracy9
4(ollected 0orks, *ol, 33, p, !$R6, &ut this is bureaucracy in the narrow sense, (n a wider
and more 'undamental sense it is ine*itable because, as Lenin also ad.itted a year earlier
in an ar/u.ent with "rots=y, 9the dictatorship o# the proletariat cannot be e2ercised by a
.ass proletarian or/aniHation, (t cannot wor= without a nu.ber o# Etrans.ission beltsE
runnin/ #ro. the *an/uard to the .ass o# the wor=in/ people,9

33, :#, &alibar, (inq Etudes, p, 9!,
7R Transcriber's +ote> ?ee LeninEs 9"he ?econd AllB-ussia :on/ress o# Miners9, BB 1JR8

pa&e 3.
r, in other words, the ?tate 4the dictatorship o# the proletariat6 subsists, as a necessary
e*il, under socialis. BB not only because o# the need to repress the old e2ploitin/ classes,
etc,, but also because the wor=in/ class e.er/es #ro. capitalis. and i.perialis.
9di*ided9 and e*en 9corrupted9 4(ollected 0orks, *ol, 33, p, 31R6,
Me ha*e already said that the subsistence o# capitalist production relations under
socialis. i.plies a tendency to the /eneration o# a new bour/eoisie, ne o# the
conditions #or the realiHation o# this tendency is a pro/ressi*e bureaucratiHation o# the
?tate Apparatus, "hat is why the stru//le a/ainst bureaucratiHation is not si.ply a
stru//le #or e##iciency, or a/ainst abuses, but a class stru//le #or co..unis., nce
a/ain, there#ore, the tendency BB in this case to bureaucratis. BB cannot be a*oided, but
the e2tent to which this tendency is realiHed depends on the class stru//le,
Me ou/ht to add, #inally, that it is this sa.e class stru//le which will deter.ine
whether these two tendencies 4to capitalis. in the econo.y, to bureaucracy in politics6
are allowed not only to de*elop but also to con,er*e and to unite in a critical con0uncture,
"he new proletarian ?tate .ust there#ore not only destroy the old bour/eois ?tateJ it
.ust itsel# be o# a new type, a 9?tate which is no lon/er a ?tate9 4Lenin6, How can this
beF (t can be because the proletarian ?tate is both a ?tate o# the old type9 4this is
especially true o# its -epressi*e Apparatus6 and also an 9antiB?tate9, (t is an antiB?tate in
so #ar as certain o# its (deolo/ical Apparatuses BB especially the 'arty, the "rades Inions,
and .ass popular or/aniHations o# all =inds BB are trans#or.ed into non"tate
or*aniBations capable o# 9controllin/9 and e*entually o# replacin/ the ?tate,7348
(t is, ,ery schematically, with the ?tate that the proletariat wa/es class stru//le a/ainst
the old bour/eoisie and a/ainst i.perialis., (t is with its nonB?tate or/aniHations that it

7R Transcriber's +ote> ?ee LeninEs 9"he "rade Inions, "he 'resent ?ituation and "rots=yEs Mista=es9, BB 1JR8
34, (t would o# course be absurd simply to contrast state and 'arty in this respect, "he 'arty, li=e other
.ass or/aniHations, is also a site o# class stru//le, "he history o# this stru//le cannot be e2a.ined in the
space a*ailable here,

pa&e 31
wa/es class stru//le a/ainst the e.er/ence o# a new bour/eoisie,
"hat is the proletarian 9?tate which is no lon/er a ?tate9, %ot only the #or.ulation is
contradictory, but also the reality, "o put it another way> the two =inds o# class stru//le
which the proletariat .ust wa/e can ne*er be in per#ect har.ony with one another, "he
conditions #or the success o# one .ay be obstacles to the success o# the other,
?talin, in this conne2ion, #ound hi.sel# #aced with a rather co.ple2 set o# dile..as,
"he threat posed by the old bour/eoisie 4includin/ the old intelli/entsia6 was countered
by the use o# the -epressi*e ?tate Apparatus, 4"hat was lo/ical,6 "he threat posed by the
new /eneration o# specialists BB thou/h ?talin was not sure what =ind o# threat it was, or
e*en, so.eti.es, whether it was a threat at all BB was .et by a co.bination o# #inancial
induce.ent and the use o# the sa.e Apparatus, "he .easures had two ob*ious e##ects,
n the one hand they perpetuated the dan/er, by reproducin/ the specialists as a
pri*ile/ed social /roupJ on the other hand they encoura/ed the /rowth and independence
o# the -epressi*e ?tate Apparatus and its #unctionaries,
As we saw, ?talin all but i/nored the proble. o# the /eneration o# a new bour/eoisie,
He considered the class stru//le under socialis. to be pri.arily a stru//le a/ainst the old
e2ploitin/ classes, Mhen that di##iculty was resol*ed, he there#ore tended 4only tended,
howe*er, because he was ne*er quite sure6 to consider that class stru//le had ceased to
e2ist in the I??-, "hus the dictatorship o# the proletariat could be rela2ed, "hat was a
9ri/ht de*iation9, (n #act, howe*er, it could not be rela2ed without puttin/ socialis. at
ris=, And a .echanis. see.s to ha*e operated which substituted itsel# #or this absent
dictatorship, #or the absent theoretical, political and ideolo/ical stru//les o# the %arty
and masses) r, rather, the dictatorship o# the proletariat was .aintained, but by the use
o# the -epressi*e ?tate Apparatus, by 9ad.inistrati*e .ethods9, "his was a 9le#t9
de*iation 4rhetoric o# the political police as a weapon o# the proletarian .asses, and so
on6, "he cost was enor.ous not only in ter.s o# hu.an su##erin/, but also in ter.s o#

pa&e 32
the da.a/e caused to the stru//le #or co..unis., &ecause in buildin/ such a ?tate,
which was, it is true, a 9proletarian ?tate9, but a ?tate *ery .uch o' the old type 4that is,
without ade;uate correspondin/ nonB?tate or/aniHations6, ?talin sol*ed one set o#
proble.s at the cost o# /eneratin/ a whole new set,

"he 9?talin de*iation9 was a de*iation abo*e all because it i.plied that the road to
co..unis. lay not so .uch throu/h class stru//le as throu/h the de*elop.ent o# the
producti*e #orces, "hat is why it can be characteriHed in ter.s o# humanism and
economism) &ut it is precisely ?talinEs hu.anis. and his econo.is. which Dhrushche*
did not touch, which he did not recti'y) :an we, in these circu.stances, conclude that
?talinEs /host has been laidF :an the errors o# so .any years o# :o..unist history be
wiped out by in0ectin/ Mar2is. with a bi**er dose o# hu.anis.F "hese are the political
;uestions which lie behind AlthusserEs Reply to John Lewis)


pa&e 33

1.
Reply to
John Lewis



pa&e 3(

/orewor'

"he reader will #ind an article and a note here, datin/ #ro. +une 1973,
"he article, 9-eply to +ohn Lewis9, appeared, translated by @raha.e Loc=, in two
nu.bers o# the theoretical and political 0ournal o# the :o..unist 'arty o# @reat &ritain,
#ar$ism Today, in ctober and %o*e.ber 1973,
9-eply9> because, a #ew .onths earlier 4in its +anuary and February nu.bers o# 19736,
the sa.e 0ournal had published a lon/ critical article by +ohn Lewis 4a &ritish :o..unist
philosopher =nown #or his inter*entions in politicalBideolo/ical ;uestions6 under the title>
9"he Althusser :ase9,
"he present te2t o# the Reply to John Lewis #ollows the An/lish *ersion o# the article,
e2cept that ( ha*e .ade so.e corrections, added a #ew para/raphs #or purposes o#
clari#ication, and also added a -e.ar=,
"o this te2t ( ha*e 0oined an unpublished +ote, which was to ha*e been part o# .y
Reply, but which was cut to a*oid e2tendin/ the li.its o# an article which had already
/rown too lon/,
1 May 1973
L,A,


pa&e 3)

Reply to John Lewis
0Self-Criticism1

(,
( want to than= #ar$ism Today #or ha*in/ published +ohn LewisEs article about the boo=s
( ha*e written on Mar2ist philosophy> .or #ar$ and Readin* (apital, which appeared in
France in 19$!, He too= care to treat .e in a special way, in the way a .edical specialist
treats a patient, "he whole #a.ily, as it were, to/ether with his silent collea/ues, stood
.otionless at the bedside, while )r +ohn Lewis leaned o*er to e2a.ine 9the Althusser
case9,718 A lon/ wait, "hen he .ade his dia/nosis> the patient is su##erin/ #ro. an attac=
o# se*ere 9do/.atis.9 BB a 9.ediae*al9 *ariety, "he pro/nosis is /ra*e> the patient
cannot last lon/,
(t is an honour #or this attention to be paid to .e, &ut it is also an opportunity #or .e to
clear up certain .atters, twel*e years a#ter the e*ent, For .y #irst article 7reprinted in .or
#ar$ 8, which was concerned with the ;uestion o# the 9youn/ Mar29, actually appeared
in 19$5, and ( a. writin/ in 1973,
A /ood deal o# water has #lowed under the brid/e o# history since 19$5, "he Mor=ersE
Mo*e.ent has li*ed throu/h .any i.portant e*ents> the heroic and *ictorious resistance
o# the Oietna.ese people a/ainst the .ost power#ul i.perialis. in the worldJ the
'roletarian :ultural -e*olution in :hina 419$$B$96J the /reatest wor=ersE stri=e in world
history 4ten .illion wor=ers on stri=e #or a .onth6 in May 19$< in France BB a stri=e
which was 9preceded9

1, "he title o# +ohn LewisEs article is The Althusser (ase) %ot surprisin/ly> in his conclusion, +ohn Lewis
co.pares Mar2is. to , , , .edicine,

pa&e 3*
and 9acco.panied9 by a deep ideolo/ical re*olt a.on/ French students and pettyB
bour/eois intellectualsJ the occupation o# :Hechoslo*a=ia by the ar.ies o# the other
countries o# the Marsaw 'actJ the war in (reland, etc, "he :ultural -e*olution, May 19$<
and the occupation o# :Hechoslo*a=ia ha*e had political and ideolo/ical repercussions in
the whole o# the capitalist world,
Mith hindsi/ht one can 0ud/e thin/s better, Lenin used to say> the criterion o# practice
is only really *alid i# it bears on a 9process9 which is o# so.e len/th, Mith the help o# the
9practical test9 o# the twel*e, ten or e*en se*en years which ha*e passed since the
ori/inal articles were written, one can loo= bac= and see .ore clearly whether one was
ri/ht or wron/, (t is really an e2cellent opportunity,
+ust one s.all point in this conne2ion, +ohn Lewis, in his article, ne*er #or one
.o.ent tal=s about this political history o# the Mor=ersE Mo*e.ent, (n .or #ar$ BB that
is, in 19$! BB ( was already writin/ about ?talin, about the "wentieth :on/ress o# the
?o*iet :o..unist 'arty, and about the split in the (nternational :o..unist Mo*e.ent,
+ohn Lewis, on the other hand, writes as i# ?talin had ne*er e2isted, as i# the "wentieth
:on/ress and the split in the (nternational :o..unist Mo*e.ent had ne*er occurred, as
i# May 19$< had ne*er ta=en place, nor the occupation o# :Hechoslo*a=ia, nor the war in
(reland, +ohn Lewis is a pure spiritJ he pre#ers not to tal= about such concrete thin/s as
politics,
Mhen he tal=s about philosophy, he tal=s about philosophy, +ust that, Full stop, (t has
to be said that this is precisely what the .a0ority o# soBcalled philosophy teachers do in
our bour/eois society, "he last thin/ they want to tal= about is politicsK "hey would
rather tal= about philosophy, Full stop, "hat is 0ust why Lenin, ;uotin/ )ietH/en, called
the. 9/raduated #lun=ies9 o# the bour/eois state, Mhat a wretched si/ht they .a=eK For
all the /reat philosophers in history, since the ti.e o# 'lato, e*en the /reat bour/eois
philosophers BB not only the .aterialists but e*en idealists li=e He/el BB ha*e tal=ed about
politics, "hey .ore or less reco/niHed that to do philosophy was to do politics in the #ield
o# theory, And they had the coura/e to do their politics openly, to talk about politics)

pa&e 3+
Hea*en be than=ed, +ohn Lewis has chan/ed all that, +ohn Lewis is a Mar2ist and we
are in 1973, He does not #eel the need to tal= about politics, Let so.eone wor= that one
out,
&ut to #ar$ism Today ( .ust e2press .y than=s #or /i*in/ an i.portant place to a
discussion about philosophy, (t is ;uite correct to /i*e it this i.portant place, "he point
has been .ade not only by An/els and o# course by Lenin, but by ?talin hi.sel#K And, as
we =now, it has also been .ade by @ra.sci and by Mao> the wor=in/ class needs
philosophy in the class stru//le, (t needs not only the Mar2ist science o# history
4historical .aterialis.6, but also Mar2ist philosophy 4dialectical .aterialis.6, MhyF
( should li=e to reply by usin/ a #or.ula, ( will ta=e the 4personal6 ris= o# puttin/ it this
way> the reason is that philosophy is, in the last instance,738 class stru**le in the 'ield o'
theory)738
All this is, as +ohn Lewis would say, per#ectly 9orthodo29,

3, +)A); in the last instance) ( do not want to be .isunderstood, Mhat ( a. sayin/ is that philosophy is, in
the last instance, class stru//le in the #ield o# theory, ( a. not sayin/ that philosophy is simply class
stru//le in the #ield o# theory,
3, "his #or.ula, which is e2tre.ely condensed, .i/ht .islead the reader, ( would there#ore li=e to add
three points to help orient hi., 416 &ecause o# its abstraction, its rationality and its syste., philosophy
certainly #i/ures 9in9 the #ield o# theory, in the nei/hbourhood o# the sciences, with which it stands in a
speci#ic set o# relations, &ut philosophy is not 4a6 science, 436 Inli=e the sciences, philosophy has an
especially inti.ate relation with the class tendency o# the ideolo*ies J these, in the last instance, are
practical and do not belon/ to theory 49theoretical ideolo/ies9 are in the last instance 9detach.ents9 o# the
practical ideolo/ies in the theoretical #ield6, 436 (n all these #or.ulations, the e2pression 9in the last
instance9 desi/nates 9deter.ination in the last instance9, the principal aspect, the 9wea= lin=9 o#
determination > it there#ore i.plies the e2istence o# one or .ore secondary, subordinate, o*erdeter.ined
and o*erdeter.inin/ aspects BB other aspects, 'hilosophy is there#ore not si.ply class stru//le in theory,
and ideolo/ies are not si.ply practical> but they are practical 9in the last instance9, 'erhaps there has not
always been a #ull understandin/ o# the theoretical si/ni#icance o# LeninEs political thesis o# the 9wea=
lin=9, (t is not si.ply a ;uestion o# choosin/ the 9wea= lin=9 #ro. a nu.ber o# preBe2istin/ and already
identi#ied lin=s> the chain is so .ade that the process .ust be re*ersed, (n order to reco/niHe and identi#y
the other lin=s o# the chain, in their turn, one .ust 'irst seiHe the chain by the 9wea= lin=9,

pa&e 3,
An/els, who. Lenin ;uotes on the point in 0hat is to be 1one&, wrote in 1<74 in his
're#ace to The %easant 0ar that there are three #or.s o# the class stru//le, "he class
stru//le has not only an econo.ic #or. and a political #or. but also a theoretical #or.,
r, i# you pre#er> the sa.e class stru//le e2ists and .ust there#ore be #ou/ht out by the
proletariat in the econo.ic #ield, in the political #ield and in the theoretical 'ield, always
under the leadership o# its party, Mhen it is #ou/ht out in the theoretical #ield, the
concentrated class stru//le is called philosophy,
%ow so.e people will say that all this is nothin/ but words, &ut that is not true, "hese
words are weapons in the class stru//le in the #ield o# theory, and since this is part o# the
class stru//le as a whole, and since the hi/hest #or. o# the class stru//le is the political
class stru//le, it #ollows that these words which are used in philosophy are weapons in
the political stru//le,
Lenin wrote that 9politics is econo.ics in a concentrated #or.9, Me can say>
philosophy is, in the last instance,748 the theoretical concentrate o# politics, "his is a
9sche.atic9 #or.ula, %o .atterK (t e2presses its .eanin/ ;uite well, and brie#ly,
A*erythin/ that happens in philosophy has, in the last instance, not only political
conse;uences in theory, but also political conse;uences in politics > in the political class
stru//le,
Me will show in a .o.ent why that is so,
# course, since ( cite An/els and Lenin in support o# .y point, +ohn Lewis will surely
say, once a/ain, that ( a. tal=in/ li=e 9the last cha.pion o# an orthodo2y in /ra*e
di##iculties9,7!8 ,D,K ( a. the de#ender o# orthodo2y, o# that 9orthodo2y9 which is called
the theory o# Mar2 and Lenin, (s this orthodo2y in 9/ra*e di##iculties9F Ces, it is and has
been since it ca.e to birth, And these /ra*e di##iculties are the di##iculties posed by the
threat o# bour/eois ideolo/y, +ohn Lewis will say that ( a. 9cryin/ in the wilderness9, (s
that soF %o, it is notK

4, ?ee note 3 abo*e,
!, ( cite the e2pressions o# +ohn Lewis hi.sel#,

pa&e 3-
For :o..unists, when they are Mar2ists, and Mar2ists when they are :o..unists,
ne*er cry in the wilderness, A*en when they are practically alone,
MhyF Me shall see,
( there#ore ta=e .y stand on this theoretical basis o# Mar2is. BB a basis which is
9orthodo29 precisely in so #ar as it is in con#or.ity with the theory o# Mar2 and Lenin,
And it is on this basis that ( want to ta=e issue both with +ohn Lewis and with my own
past errors, on the basis o# the need to carry on the class stru//le in the #ield o# theory, as
An/els and Lenin ar/ued, and on the basis o# the de#inition o# philosophy which ( a.
now proposin/ 4in +une, 19736> philosophy is, in the last instance, class stru**le in the
'ield o' theory)
( will there#ore lea*e aside all the rather i.prudent re.ar=s, so.e o# the.
9psycholo/ical9, which +ohn Lewis thou/ht it worth .a=in/ at the end o# his article,
about AlthusserEs 9whole style o' li'e and writin*9, +ohn Lewis is #or e2a.ple *ery
worried, *ery put out, ;uite upset BB /ood 9hu.anist9 that he is BB by the #act that
Althusser 9ar/ues e2hausti*ely and with an e2tre.e do/.atis.9, in a way which .a=es
hi. thin= not so .uch o# the ?cholastics, who were /reat philosophers o# the Middle
A/es, but o# the schoolmen, co..entators o# co..entators, erudite splitters o#
philosophical hairs, who could not rise abo*e the le*el o# ;uotation, "han= youK &ut
really, this =ind o# ar/u.ent has no place in a debate between :o..unists in the 0ournal
o# a :o..unist 'arty, ( will not #ollow +ohn Lewis onto this /round,
( approach +ohn Lewis as a co.rade, as a .ilitant o# a #raternal party> the :o..unist
'arty o# @reat &ritain,
( will try to spea= plainly and clearly, in a way that can be understood by all our
co.rades,
?o as not to .a=e .y reply too lon/, ( will only ta=e up those theoretical ;uestions
which are .ost i.portant, politically spea=in/, #or us today, in 1973,

((,
"o understand .y reply, the reader .ust ob*iously =now what +ohn Lewis, in his
9radical9 criti;ue o# .y

pa&e (.
9philosophical writin/s9, essentially holds a/ainst .e,
(n a #ew words, we can su. this up as #ollows, +ohn Lewis holds>
1, that ( do not understand Mar2Es philosophy J
3, that ( do not understand the history o# the 'ormation o# Mar2Es thou/ht,
(n short, his reproach is that ( do not understand #ar$ist theory)
"hat is his ri/ht,
( will consider these two points in succession,

(((,
First 'oint> Althusser does not understand #ar$'s philosophy)
"o de.onstrate this point, +ohn Lewis e.ploys a *ery si.ple .ethod, First he sets out
Mar2Es real philosophy, which is Mar2 as he understands hi., "hen, beside this, he puts
AlthusserEs interpretation, Cou 0ust ha*e to co.pare the., it see.s, to see the di##erenceK
Mell, let us #ollow our /uide to Mar2ist philosophy and see how +ohn Lewis su.s up
his own *iew o# Mar2, He does it in three #or.ulae, which ( will call three Theses)7$8
1, Thesis no) 4) 9(t is .an who .a=es history,9
John Lewis's ar*ument > no need o# ar/u.ent, since it is ob*ious, it is ;uite e*ident,
e*eryone =nows it,
John Lewis's e$ample > re*olution, (t is .an who .a=es re*olution,
3, Thesis no) <) 9Man .a=es history by re.a=in/ e2istin/ history, by Etranscendin/E,
throu/h the Ene/ation o# the ne/ationE, already .ade history,9
John Lewis's ar*ument > since it is .an who .a=es history,

$, (n a %hilosophy (ourse 'or "cientists 419$7, to be published6, ( proposed the #ollowin/ de#inition>
9'hilosophy states propositions which are Theses 9, 4(t there#ore di##ers #ro. the sciences> 9A science states
propositions which are )e.onstrations9,6

pa&e (1
it #ollows that in order to .a=e history .an .ust trans#or. the history which he has
already .ade 4since it is .an who has .ade history6, "o trans#or. what one has already
.ade is to 9transcend9 it, to ne/ate what e2ists, And since what e2ists is the history which
.an has already .ade, it is already ne/ated history, "o .a=e history is there#ore 9to
ne/ate the ne/ation9, and so on without end,
John Lewis's e$ample > re*olution, "o .a=e re*olution, .an 9transcends9 49ne/ates96
e2istin/ history, itsel# the 9ne/ation9 o# the history which preceded it, etc,
3, Thesis no) =) 9Man only =nows what he hi.sel# does,9
John Lewis's ar*ument > no ar/u.ent, probably because o# lac= o# space, ?o let us wor=
one out #or hi., He could ha*e ta=en the case o# science and said that the scientist 9only
=nows what he hi.sel# does9 because he is the one who has to wor= out his proo#, either
by e2peri.ent or by de.onstration 4.athe.atics6,
John Lewis's e$ample > no e2a.ple, ?o let us pro*ide one, +ohn Lewis could ha*e ta=en
history as an e2a.ple> .anEs =nowled/e o# history co.es #ro. the #act that he is the one
who .a=es it, "his is li=e the "hesis o# @ia.battista Oico> ,erum 'actum)778
"hese then are the three "heses which su. up +ohn LewisEs idea o# Mar2Es philosophy>
Thesis no) 4 > (t is .an who .a=es history,
Thesis no) < > Man .a=es history by transcendin/ history,
Thesis no) = > Man only =nows what he hi.sel# does,
"his is all *ery si.ple, A*eryone 9understands9 the words in*ol*ed> man, make,
history, know) "here is only one word which is a bit co.plicated, a 9philosopherEs9 word>
9transcendence9, or 9ne/ation o# the ne/ation9, &ut i# he wanted to, +ohn Lewis could say
the sa.e thin/ .ore si.ply, (nstead o# sayin/> .an .a=es history, in

7, 9Mhat is true is what has been done,9 Mar2 cites Oico in (apital, in conne2ion with the history o#
technolo/y,

pa&e (2
transcendin/ it, by the 9ne/ation o# the ne/ation9, he could say that .an .a=es history by
9trans#or.in/9 it, etc, MouldnEt that be .ore si.pleF
&ut a little di##iculty still re.ains, Mhen +ohn Lewis says that it is .an who .a=es
history, e*eryone understands, r rather, e*eryone thin=s he understands, &ut when it is a
;uestion o# /oin/ a bit #urther in the e2planation, when +ohn Lewis honestly as=s hi.sel#
the ;uestion> 9what is it that .an does when he .a=es historyF9, then you realiHe that a
nasty proble. appears 0ust when e*erythin/ see.ed si.ple, that there is a nasty
obscurity 0ust in the place where e*erythin/ see.ed clear,
Mhat was obscureF "he little word make, in the "hesis that 9it is .an who .a=es
history9, Mhat can this little word make possibly .ean, when we are tal=in/ about
history F &ecause when you say> 9( .ade a .ista=e9 or 9( .ade a trip around the world9,
or when a carpenter says> 9( .ade a table9, etc,, e*eryone =nows what the ter. 9.a=e9
.eans, "he sense o# the word chan/es accordin/ to the e2pression, but in each case we
can easily e2plain what it .eans,
For e2a.ple, when a carpenter 9.a=es9 a table, that .eans he constructs it, &ut to
make historyF Mhat can that .eanF And the man who .a=es history, do you =now that
indi*idual, that 9species o# indi*idual9, as He/el used to sayF
?o +ohn Lewis sets to wor=, He does not try to a*oid the proble.> he con#ronts it, And
he e2plains the thin/, He tells us> to 9.a=e9, in the case o# history, that .eans to
9transcend9 4ne/ation o# the ne/ation6, that .eans to trans#or. the raw .aterial o#
e2istin/ history by /oin/ beyond it, ?o #ar, so /ood,
&ut the carpenter who 9.a=es9 a table, he has a piece o# 9raw .aterial9 in #ront o# hi.
too> the wood, And he trans#or.s the wood into a table, &ut +ohn Lewis would ne*er say
that the carpenter 9transcends9 the wood in order to 9.a=e9 a table out o# it, And he is
ri/ht, For i# he said that, the #irst carpenter who ca.e alon/, and all the other carpenters
and all the other wor=in/ people in the world would send hi. pac=in/ with his
9transcendence9, +ohn Le*is uses the ter. 9transcendence9 4ne/ation o# the ne/ation6
only

pa&e (3
#or history, MhyF Me ha*e to wor= out the answer, #or +ohn Lewis hi.sel# does not
pro*ide any e2planation,
(n .y opinion, +ohn Lewis holds on to his 9transcendence9 #or the #ollowin/ reason>
because the raw .aterial o# history is already history) "he carpenterEs raw .aterial is
wood) &ut the carpenter who 9.a=es9 the table would ne*er say that he was the one who
CmadeC the wood, because he =nows *ery well that it is nature which produces the wood,
&e#ore a tree can be cut up and sold as plan=s, it #irst has to ha*e /rown so.ewhere in
the #orest, whether in the sa.e country or thousands o# .iles away on the other side o#
the e;uator,
%ow, #or +ohn Lewis it is .an who has made the history with which he makes history)
(n history .an produces e*erythin/> the result, the product o# his 9labour9, is history> but
so is the raw material that he trans#or.s, Aristotle said that .an is a twoBle//ed,
reasonin/, spea=in/, political ani.al, Fran=lin, ;uoted by Mar2 in (apital, said that .an
is a 9toolB.a=in/9 ani.al, +ohn Lewis says that .an is not only a toolB.a=in/ ani.al,
but an ani.al which .a=es history, in the stron/ sense, because he makes e,erythin*) He
9.a=es9 the raw .aterial, He .a=es the instru.ents o# production, 4+ohn Lewis says
nothin/ about these BB and #or /ood reasonK &ecause otherwise he would ha*e to tal=
about the class stru**le, and his 9.an who .a=es history9 would disappear in one #lash,
to/ether with his whole syste., And he .a=es the #inal product> history,
)o you =now o# any bein/ under the sun endowed with such a powerF Ces BB there
does e2ist such a bein/ in the tradition o# hu.an culture> God) nly God 9.a=es9 the
raw .aterial with which he 9.a=es9 the world, &ut there is a *ery i.portant di##erence,
+ohn LewisEs @od is not outside o# the world> the .anB/od who creates history is not
outside o# history BB he is inside) "his is so.ethin/ in#initely .ore co.plicatedK And it is
0ust because +ohn LewisEs little hu.an /od BB .an BB is inside history 49en situation 9, as
+eanB'aul ?artre used to say6 that Lewis does not endow hi. with a power o# absolute
creation 4when one creates e*erythin/, it is relati*ely easy> there are no li.itationsK6 but
with so.ethin/ e*en .ore stupe#yin/ BB the power o# 9transcendence9, o# bein/ able to
pro/ress by inde#initely ne*atin*supersedin*

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the constraints o# the history in which he li*es, the power to transcend history by human
liberty)7<8
+ohn LewisEs .an is a little lay /od, Li=e e*ery li*in/ bein/ he is 9up to his nec=9 in
reality, but endowed with the prodi/ious power o# bein/ able at any .o.ent to step
outside o# that reality, o# bein/ able to chan/e its character, A little ?artrian /od, always
9en situation 9 in history, endowed with the a.aHin/ power o# 9transcendin/9 e*ery
situation, o# resol*in/ all the di##iculties which history presents, and o# /oin/ #orward
towards the /olden #uture o# the hu.an, socialist re*olution> .an is an essentially
re*olutionary ani.al because he is a 'ree ani.al,
'lease e2cuse all this i# you are not a philosopher, Me philosophers are well ac;uainted
with this =ind o# ar/u.ent, And we :o..unist philosophers =now that this old tune in
philosophy has always had its political conse;uences,
"he #irst people who tal=ed about 9transcendence9 in philosophy were the idealistB
reli/ious philosophers o# 'latoEs school> the 'latonic and neoB'latonic philosophers, "hey
had an ur/ent need o# the cate/ory o# 9transcendence9 in order to be able to construct
their philosophical or reli/ious theolo/y, and this theolo/y was then the o##icial
philosophy o# the sla*e state, Later, in the Middle A/es, the Au/ustinian and "ho.ist
theolo/ians too= up the sa.e cate/ory a/ain and used it in syste.s whose #unction was
to ser*e the interests o# the :hurch and #eudal state, 4"he :hurch is a ?tate Apparatus,
and the nu.ber one (deolo/ical ?tate Apparatus o# the #eudal state,6 (s there any need to
say .oreF
Much later, with the rise o# the bour/eoisie, the notion o# 9transcendence9 recei*ed, in
He/elian philosophy, a new #unction> the sa.e cate/ory, but 9wrapped9 in the *eil o# the
9ne/ation o# the ne/ation9, "his ti.e it ser*ed the bour/eois state, (t was ;uite si.ply the
philosophical name #or bour*eois liberty) (t was then re*olutionary in relation to the
philosophical syste.s o# #eudal 9transcenB

<, ( do not =now +ohn LewisEs personal philosophical history, &ut ( a. not stic=in/ .y nec= out .uch in
bettin/ that he has a wea=ness #or +eanB'aul ?artre, LewisEs 9Mar2ist 'hilosophy9 in #act bears a
re.ar=able rese.blance to a copy o# ?artrian e2istentialis., in a sli/htly He/elianiHed #or., no doubt
desi/ned to .a=e it .ore acceptable to :o..unist readers,

pa&e ()
dence9, &ut it was one hundred per cent bour*eois, and it stays that way,
?ince that ti.e, +eanB'aul ?artre has ta=en up the sa.e idea once .ore, in his theory
o# .an 9en situation 9> the pettybour*eois *ersion o# bour*eois liberty) And this is to cite
only one e2a.ple, #or ?artre is not alone BB 9transcendence9, in its authoritarian or
eschatolo/ical #or., is still #lourishin/ today a.on/ lar/e nu.bers o# theolo/ians, so.e
reactionary, so.e *ery pro/ressi*e, #ro. @er.any and Holland to ?pain and Latin
A.erica, "he bour/eois no lon/er has the sa.e need to belie*e BB and anyway has #or the
thirty years since 1945 no lon/er been able to belie*e BB that his liberty is allBe.bracin/,
&ut the pettyBbour/eois intellectual> he is ;uite a di##erent =ind o# ani.alK "he .ore his
liberty is crushed and denied by the de*elop.ent o# i.perialist capitalis., the .ore he
e2alts the power o# that liberty 49transcendence9, 9ne/ation o# the ne/ation96, An isolated
pettyBbour/eois can protest> he does not /et *ery #ar, Mhen the pettyBbour/eois masses
re*olt, howe*er, they /et .uch #urther, &ut their re*olt is still li.ited by the ob0ecti*e
conditions o# the class stru//le, whether it is helped or hindered by the., (t is here that
pettyBbour/eois liberty .eets necessity)
+ohn Lewis now, in 1973, ta=es up the old ar/u.ents in his turn, in the theoretical
0ournal o# the &ritish :o..unist 'arty, He can, i# ( .ay say so, rest assured> he is not
9cryin/ in the wilderness9K He is not the only person to ta=e up this the.e, He is in the
co.pany o# .any :o..unists, A*eryone =nows that, &ut why should it be that since the
nineteenBsi2ties .any :o..unists ha*e been resurrectin/ this wornBout philosophy o#
pettyBbour/eois liberty, while still clai.in/ to be #ar$ists F Me shall see,

(O,
&ut #irst, ( shall #ollow the procedure used by +ohn Lewis, ( shall co.pare his 9Mar2ist9
"heses with the "heses o# Mar2istBLeninist philosophy, And e*eryone will be able to
co.pare and 0ud/e #or hi.sel#,

pa&e (*
( will /o o*er the points in +ohn LewisEs order, "hat way thin/s will be clearer, ( a.
.a=in/ an enor.ous concession to hi. by ta=in/ his order, because his order is idealist,
&ut we will do hi. the #a*our,
"o understand what #ollows, note that in the case o# each "hesis 41, 3, 36 ( be/in by
repeatin/ LewisEs "hesis and then state the Mar2istBLeninist "hesis,
1, "HA?(? %o, 1
John Lewis > 9(t is man who .a=es history9,
#ar$ismLeninism > 9(t is the masses which .a=e history9,
Mhat is this 9.an9 who 9.a=es9 historyF A .ystery,798
Mhat are the 9.asses9 which .a=e history9F (n a class society they are the e$ploited
.asses, that is, the e2ploited social classes, social strata and social cate/ories, /rouped
around the e2ploited class capable o# unitin/ the. in a .o*e.ent a/ainst the do.inant
classes which hold state power,
"he e2ploited class capable o# doin/ this is not always the most e2ploited class, or the
most wretched social 9stratu.9,
(n Anti;uity, #or e2a.ple, it was not the sla*es 4e2cept in a #ew periods BB ?partacus6
who 9.ade9 history in the stron/, political sense o# the ter., but the .ost e2ploited
classes a.on/ the 9#ree9 .en 4at -o.e, the urban or rural 9plebs96,7158
(n the sa.e way, under capitalis. the 9lu.penproletariat9,

9, For us, stru//lin/ under the rule o# the bour/eoisie, 9.an9 who .a=es history is a .ystery, &ut this
9.ystery9 did ha*e a sense when the re*olutionary bour/eoisie was stru//lin/ a/ainst the #eudal re/i.e
which was then do.inant, "o proclai. at that time, as the /reat bour/eois Hu.anists did, that it is man
who .a=es history, was to stru//le, 'rom the bour*eois point o' ,iew 4which was then re*olutionary6,
a/ainst the reli/ious "hesis o# #eudal ideolo/y> it is God who .a=es history, &ut we are no lon/er in their
situation, Moreo*er, the bour/eois point o# *iew has always been idealist as #ar as history is concerned,
15, (t is not certain BB here ( shall ha*e to bow to the 0ud/e.ent o# Mar2ist historians BB that the sla*e
class did not, in spite o# e*erythin/, ;uietly but /enuinely 9.a=e history9, "he transition #ro. the s.allB
property sla*e syste. to the lar/eBscale syste. at -o.e is perhaps si/ni#icant here,

pa&e (+
as Mar2 called it, /roups to/ether the .ost wretched o# .en, the 9laHarusBlayers o# the
wor=in/Bclass9,11 &ut it is around the proletariat 4the class which is e2ploited in capitalist
production 6 that you will #ind /rouped the .asses which 9.a=e history9, which are
/oin/ to 9.a=e history9 BB that is, who are /oin/ to .a=e the re*olution which will brea=
out in the 9wea=est lin=9 o# the world i.perialist chain,
A/ainst +ohn LewisEs "hesis BB it is .an who .a=es history BB Mar2is.BLeninis. has
always opposed the "hesis> it is the .asses which .a=e history, "he .asses can be
de#ined, (n capitalis., the masses does not .ean 9the mass 9 o# aristocrats o# the
9intelli/entsia9, or o# the ideolo/ists o# #ascis.J it .eans the set o# e2ploited classes,
strata and cate/ories /rouped around the class which is e2ploited in lar*escale
production, the only class which is capable o# unitin/ the. and directin/ their action
a/ainst the bour/eois state> the proletariat, :o.pare this with LewisEs "hesis,
3, "HA?(? %o, 3
John Lewis > 9Man .a=es history by Etranscendin/E history9,
#ar$ismLeninism >9"he class stru//le is the .otor o# history9 4"hesis o# the (ommunist
#ani'esto, 1<476,
Here thin/s beco.e e2tre.ely interestin/, &ecause Mar2is.BLeninis. blows up +ohn
LewisEs whole philosophical syste., HowF
+ohn Lewis said> it is .an who .a=es history, "o which Mar2is.BLeninis. replied> it
is the masses)
&ut i# we said no .ore, i# we went no #urther, we would /i*e the i.pression that
Mar2is.BLeninis. /i*es a di''erent reply to the same ;uestion, "hat ;uestion bein/> who
makes historyF "his ;uestion there#ore supposes that history is the result o# the action o#
4what is done by6 a subDect 4who6F For +ohn Lewis, the sub0ect is 9.an9, )oes Mar2is.B
Leninis. propose a di''erent subDect, the .assesF

11, (apital, 'art O((, :h, SSO, sec, 4, A2cluded #ro. production, without #i2ed wor= or co.pletely
une.ployed, 4o#ten6 in the street, the subBproletarians are part o# the reser*e ar.y, the ar.y o#
une.ployed, which capitalis. uses a*ainst the wor=ers,

pa&e (,
Ces and no, Mhen we started to s=etch out a de#inition o# the .asses, when we tal=ed
about this idea o# the .asses, we saw that the whole thin/ was rather co.plicated, "he
.asses are actually se,eral social classes, social strata and social cate/ories, /rouped
to*ether in a way which is both co.ple2 and chan*in* 4the positions o# the di##erent
classes and strata, and o# the #ractions o# classes within classes, chan*e in the course o#
the re*olutionary process itsel#6, And we are dealin/ with hu/e nu.bers> in France or
&ritain, #or e2a.ple, with tens o# .illions o# people, in :hina with hundreds o# .illionsK
Let us do no .ore here than as= the si.ple ;uestion> can we still tal= about a 9sub0ect9,
identi#iable by the unity o# its 9personality9F :o.pared with +ohn LewisEs sub0ect, 9.an9,
as si.ple and neat as you can i.a/ine, the .asses, considered as a sub0ect, pose *ery
e2actin/ proble.s o# identity and identi#ication, Cou cannot hold such a 9sub0ect9 in your
hand, you cannot point to it, A sub0ect is a bein/ about which we can say> 9thatEs itK9,
How do we do that when the .asses are supposed to be the 9sub0ect9J how can we say>
9thatEs it9F
(t is precisely the "hesis o# the (ommunist #ani'esto BB 9the class stru//le is the .otor
o# history9 BB that displaces the question, that brin/s the proble. into the open, that
shows us how to pose it properly and there#ore how to sol*e it, (t is the .asses which
9.a=e9 history, but 9it is the class stru//le which is the .otor o# history9, "o +ohn LewisE
;uestion> 9how does .an .a=e historyF9, Mar2is.BLeninis. replies by replacin/ his
idealist philosophical cate/ories with cate/ories o# a ;uite di##erent =ind,
"he ;uestion is no lon/er posed in ter.s o# 9.an9, "hat .uch we =now, &ut in the
proposition that 9the class stru//le is the .otor o# history9, the ;uestion o# 9.a=in/9
history is also eli.inated, (t is no lon/er a ;uestion o# who .a=es history,
Mar2is.BLeninis. tells us so.ethin/ ;uite di##erent> that it is the class stru**le 4new
concept6 which is the motor 4new concept6 o# history, it is the class stru//le which .o*es
history, which ad*ances it> and brin/s about re*olutions, "his "hesis is o# *ery /reat
i.portance, because it puts the class stru**le in the 'ront rank)

pa&e (-
(n the precedin/ "hesis> 9it is the .asses which .a=e history9, the accent was put 416
on the e2ploited classes /rouped around the class capable o# unitin/ the., and 436 an
their power to carry throu/h a re*olutionary trans#or.ation o# history, (t was there#ore
the .asses which were put in the #ront ran=,
(n the "hesis ta=en #ro. the (ommunist #ani'esto, what is put in the #ront ran= is no
lon/er the e2ploited classes, etc,, but the class stru//le, "his "hesis .ust be reco/niHed
as decisi*e #or Mar2is.BLeninis., (t draws a radical de.arcation line between
re*olutionaries and re#or.ists, Here ( ha*e to si.pli#y thin/s *ery .uch, but ( do not
thin= that ( a. betrayin/ the essential point,
For re'ormists 4e*en i# they call the.sel*es Mar2ists6 it is not the class stru//le which
is in the #ront ran=> it is si.ply the classes, Let us ta=e a si.ple e2a.ple, and suppose
that we are dealin/ with 0ust two classes, For re#or.ists these classes e2ist be'ore the
class stru//le, a bit li=e two #ootball tea.s e2ist, separately, be#ore the .atch, Aach class
e2ists in its own ca.p, li*es accordin/ to its particular conditions o# e2istence, ne class
.ay be e2ploitin/ another, but #or re#or.is. that is not the sa.e thin/ as class stru//le,
ne day the two classes co.e up a/ainst one another and co.e into con#lict, (t is only
then that the class stru//le be/ins, "hey be/in a handBtoBhand battle, the battle beco.es
acute, and #inally the e2ploited class de#eats its ene.y 4that is re*olution6, or loses 4that
is counterBre*olution6, Howe*er you turn the thin/ around, you will always #ind the sa.e
idea here> the classes e2ist be'ore the class stru//le, independently o# the class stru//le,
"he class stru//le only e2ists a'terwards)7138

13, "o clari#y this point, this re#or.ist 9position9 .ust be related to its bour/eois ori/ins, (n his letter to
Meyde.eyer 4! March 1<!36, Mar2 wrote> 9%o credit is due to .e #or disco*erin/ the e2istence o# classes
in .odern society, nor yet the stru//le between the., Lon/ be#ore .e bour/eois historians had described
the historical de*elop.ent o# this stru//le o# the classes, and bour/eois econo.ists the econo.ic anato.y
o# the classes9, "he thesis o# the reco/nition o# the e$istence o' social classes, and o# the resultin* class
stru**le is not proper to Mar2is.BLeninis.> #or it puts the classes in the #ront ran=, and the class stru//le
in the second, !n this 'orm it is a bour/eois thesis, which re#or.is. naturally #eeds on, "he Mar2istB 7cont)
onto p, !5, 1JR8 Leninist thesis, on the other hand, puts the class stru**le in the #ront ran=, 'hilosophically,
that .eans> it a##ir.s the prirnacy o' contradiction o*er the terms o# the contradiction, "he class stru//le is
not a product o# the e2istence o# classes which e2ist pre,ious 4in law and in #act6 to the stru//le> the class
stru//le is the historical #or. o# the contradiction 4internal to a .ode o# production6 which di,ides the
classes into classes,

pa&e ).
Re,olutionaries, on the other hand, consider that it is i.possible to separate the classes
#ro. class stru//le, "he class stru//le and the e2istence o# classes are one and the sa.e
thin/, (n order #or there to be classes in a 9society9, the society has to be di,ided into
classes> this di*ision does not co.e later in the story J it is the e2ploitation o# one class
by another, it is there#ore the class stru//le, which constitutes the di*ision into classes,
For e2ploitation is already class stru//le, Cou .ust there#ore be/in with the class stru//le
i# you want to understand class di*ision, the e2istence and nature o# classes, The class
stru**le must be put in the 'ront rank)
&ut that .eans that our "hesis 1 4it is the masses which make history 6 .ust be
subordinated to "hesis 3 4the class stru**le is the motor o' history 6, "hat .eans that the
re*olutionary power o# the .asses co.es precisely #ro. the class stru**le) And that
.eans that it is not enou/h, i# you want to understand what is happenin/ in the world,
0ust to loo= at the e2ploited classes, Cou also ha*e to loo= at the e2ploitin/ classes,
&etter, you ha*e to /o beyond the #ootball .atch idea, the idea o# two anta/onistic /roups
o# classes, to e2a.ine the basis o# the e2istence not only o# classes but also o# the
anta/onis. between classes> that is, the class stru**le) Absolute pri.acy o# the class
stru//le 4Mar2, Lenin6, %e*er #or/et the class stru//le 4Mao6,
&ut beware o# idealis.K "he class stru//le does not /o on in the air, or on so.ethin/
li=e a #ootball pitch, (t is rooted in the .ode o# production and e2ploitation in a /i*en
class society, Cou there#ore ha*e to consider the material basis o# the class stru//le, that
is, the .aterial e$istence o# the class stru//le, "his, in the last instance, is the unity o# the
relations o# production and the producti*e #orces under the relations o# production o# a
/i*en .ode o# production, in a concrete historical social #or.ation, "his

pa&e )1
.ateriality, in the last instance, is at the sa.e ti.e the 9base9 4Aasis > Mar26 o# the class
stru//le, and its .aterial e2istenceJ because e2ploitation ta=es place in production, and it
is e2ploitation which is at the root o# the anta/onis. between the classes and o# the class
stru//le, (t is this pro#ound truth which Mar2is.BLeninis. e2presses in the wellB=nown
"hesis o# class stru//le in the in#rastructure, in the 9econo.y9, in class e2ploitation BB
and in the "hesis that all the 'orms o' the class stru**le are rooted in economic class
stru**le) (t is on this condition that the re*olutionary thesis o# the pri.acy o# the class
stru//le is a .aterialist one, ,
Mhen that is clear, the ;uestion o# the 9sub0ect9 o# history disappears, History is an
i..ense naturalhuman syste. in .o*e.ent, and the .otor o# history is class stru//le,
History is a process, and a process without a subDect)7138 "he ;uestion about how 9man
.a=es history9 disappears alto/ether, Mar2ist theory re0ects it once and #or allJ it sends it
bac= to its birthplace> bour/eois ideolo/y,
And with it disappears the 9necessity9 o# the concept o# 9transcendence9 and o# its
sub0ect, .an,
"hat does not .ean that Mar2is.BLeninis. loses si*ht #or one .o.ent o# real .en,
Tuite the contraryK (t is precisely in order to see the. as they are and to #ree the. #ro.
class e2ploitation that Mar2is.BLeninis. brin/s about this re*olution, /ettin/ rid o# the
bour/eois ideolo/y o# 9.an9 as the sub0ect o# history, *ettin* rid o' the 'etishism o'
CmanC)
?o.e people will be annoyed that ( dare to spea= about the #etishis. o# 9.an9, ( .ean
those people who interpret Mar2Es chapter in (apital on 9"he Fetishis. o# :o..odities9
in a particular way, drawin/ two necessarily co.ple.entary idealist conclusions> the
conde.nation o# 9rei#ication97148 and the e2altation o# the person) 4&ut the pair o# notions
personEthin* is at the root o# e*ery bour/eois ideolo/yK

13, ( put this idea #orward in a study called 9Mar2 and Lenin be#ore He/el9 4February 19$<6, published
with Lenin and %hilosophy, Maspero, 'aris, 1973 7An/lish translation in Louis Althusser, 'olitics and
History, %L&, 19738, For .ore details, see below the Remark on the (ate*ory; C%rocess without a "ubDect
or GoalFsG 9,
14, "rans#or.ation into a thin* 4res 6 o# e*erythin/ which is human, that is, a nonthin* 4.an U nonB
thin/ U 'erson6,

pa&e )2
"ocial relations are howe*er not, e2cept #or the law and #or bour/eois le/al ideolo/y,
9relations between persons9K6, Cet it is the sa.e .echanis. o# social illusion which is at
wor= BB when you start to thin= that a social relation is the natural ;uality, the natural
attribute o# a substance or a subDect) Oalue is one e2a.ple> this social relation 9appears9
in bour/eois ideolo/y as the natural ;uality, the natural attribute o# the co..odity or o#
.oney, "he class stru//le is another e2a.ple> this social relation 9appears9 in bour/eois
ideolo/y as the natural ;uality, the natural attribute o# 9.an9 4liberty, transcendence6, (n
both cases, the social relation is 9con0ured away9> the co..odity or /old ha*e natural
*alueJ 9.an9 is by nature #ree, by nature he .a=es history,
(# +ohn LewisEs 9.an9 disappears, that does not .ean that real .en disappear, (t si.ply
.eans that, #or Mar2is.BLeninis., they are so.ethin/ ;uite di##erent #ro. copies
4.ultiplied at will6 o# the ori/inal bour/eois i.a/e o# 9.an9, a #ree sub0ect by nature,
Ha*e the warnin/s o# Mar2 been heededF 9My analytical .ethod does not start 'rom
man, but #ro. the econo.ically /i*en social period9 4+otes on Adolph 0a*ner's
CTe$tbookC 6, 9?ociety is not composed o' indi,iduals 9 4Grundrisse 6,
ne thin/ is certain> one cannot be*in with .an, because that would be to be/in with a
bour/eois idea o# 9.an9, and because the idea o# be*innin* with .an, in other words the
idea o# an absolute point o# departure 4U o# an 9essence96 belon/s to bour/eois
philosophy, "his idea o# 9.an9 as a startin/Bpoint, an absolute point o# departure, is the
basis o# all bour/eois ideolo/yJ it is the soul o# the /reat :lassical 'olitical Acono.y
itsel#, 9Man9 is a .yth71!8 o# bour/eois ideolo/y> Mar2is.BLeninis. cannot start #ro.
9.an9, (t starts 9#ro. the econo.ically /i*en social period9J and, at the end o# its
analysis, when it 9arri*es9, it may 'ind real men) "hese .en are thus the point o' arri,al
o# an analysis which starts #ro. the social relations o# the e2istin/ .ode

1!, "he word 9.an9 is not si.ply a word, (t is the place which it occupies and the #unction which it
per#or.s in bour/eois ideolo/y and philosophy that /i*e it its sense)

pa&e )3
o# production, #ro. class relations, and #ro. the class stru//le, "hese .en are ;uite
di##erent .en #ro. the 9.an9 o# bour/eois ideolo/y,
9?ociety is not composed o' indi,iduals 9, says Mar2, He is ri/ht> society is not a
9co.bination9, an 9addition9 o# indi*iduals, Mhat constitutes society is the syste. o# its
social relations in which its indi*iduals li*e, wor= and stru//le, He is ri/ht> society is not
.ade up o# indi*iduals in /eneral, in the abstract, 0ust so .any copies o# 9.an9, &ecause
each society has its own indi*iduals, historically and socially deter.ined, "he sla*eB
indi*idual is not the ser#Bindi*idual nor the proletarianBindi*idual, and the sa.e /oes #or
the indi*idual o# each correspondin/ rulin/ class, (n the sa.e way, we .ust say that e*en
a class is not 9co.posed9 o# indi*iduals in /eneral> each class has its own indi*iduals,
#ashioned in their indi*iduality by their conditions o# li#e, o# wor=, o# e2ploitation and o#
stru//le BB by the relations o# the class stru//le, (n their .ass, real .en are what class
conditions .a=e o# the., "hese conditions do not depend on bour/eois 9hu.an nature9>
liberty, n the contrary> the liberties o# .en, includin/ the #or.s and li.its o# these
liberties, and includin/ their will to stru//le, depend on these conditions,
(# the ;uestion o# 9.an9 as 9sub0ect o# history9 disappears, that does not .ean that the
;uestion o# political action disappears, Tuite the contraryK "his political action is actually
/i*en its stren/th,by the criti;ue o#,the bour/eois #etishis. o# 9.an9> it is #orced to
#ollow the conditions, o# the class stru//le, For class stru//le is not an indi*idual
stru//le, but an or*aniBed .ass stru//le #or the con;uest and re*olutionary
trans#or.ation o# state power and social relations, %or does it .ean that the ;uestion o#
the re*olutionary party disappears BB because without it the con;uest o# state power by
the e2ploited .asses, led by the proletariat, is i.possible, &ut it does .ean that the 9role
o# the indi*idual in history9, the e2istence, the nature, the practice and the ob0ecti*es o#
the re*olutionary party are not deter.ined by the o.nipotence o# 9transcendence9, that
is, the liberty o# 9.an9, but by ;uite di##erent conditions> by the state o# the class
stru//le, by the state o# the labour .o*e.ent, by the ideolo/y o# the labour .o*e.ent
4pettyBbour/eois or proB

pa&e )(
letarian6, and by its relation to Mar2ist theory, by its .ass line and by its .ass wor=,
3, "HA?(? %o, 3
John Lewis > 9Man only =nows what he hi.sel# does9,
#ar$ismLeninism > 9ne can only =now what e$ists 9 4ce ;ui est6,
( a. deliberately puttin/ these propositions into such direct opposition> so that
e*eryone can see the di##erence,
For +ohn Lewis, 9.an9 only =nows what he 9does9, For dialectical .aterialis., the
philosophy o# Mar2is.BLeninis., one can only =now what e2ists, "his is the
#unda.ental "hesis o# .aterialis.> 9the pri.acy o# bein/ o*er thou/ht9,
"his "hesis is at one and the sa.e ti.e a "hesis about e2istence, about .ateriality and
about ob0ecti*ity, (t says that one can only =now what e$ists J that the principle o# all
e2istence is materiality J and that all e2istence is obDecti,e, that is, 9prior9 to the
9sub0ecti*ity9 which =nows it, and independent o# that sub0ecti*ity,
ne can only =now what e$ists) "his "hesis, di##icult to understand, and easy to
.isrepresent, is the basis o# all Mar2ist "heses about =nowled/e, Mar2 and Lenin ne*er
denied the 9acti*ity9 o# thou/ht, the wor= o# scienti#ic e2peri.ent, #ro. the natural
sciences to the science o# history, whose 9laboratory9 is the class stru//le, (ndeed, they
insisted on this acti*ity, "hey e*en, now and a/ain, said and repeated that certain idealist
philosophers 4He/el, #or e2a.ple6 had understood this 9acti*ity9 better, thou/h in
9.ysti#ied9 #or.s, than certain nonBdialectical .aterialist philosophers, "his is where we
/et to the dialectical "heses o# Mar2ist philosophy, &ut BB and this is where it di##ers
#unda.entally #ro. +ohn Lewis BB #ar$ismLeninism has always subordinated the
dialectical Theses to the materialist Theses) "a=e the #a.ous "hesis o# the pri.acy o#
practice o*er theory> it has no sense unless it is subordinated to the "hesis o# the pri.acy
o# bein/ o*er thou/ht, therwise it #alls into sub0ecti*is., pra/.atis. and historicis., (t
is certainly than=s to practice 4o# which scienti#ic practice

pa&e ))
is the .ost de*eloped #or.6 that one can =now what e2ists> pri.acy o# practice o*er
theory, &ut in practice one only e*er =nows what e2ists> pri.acy o# bein/ o*er thou/ht,
9ne can only =now what e2ists,9 As #ar as nature is concerned, there ou/ht not to be
.uch proble.> who could clai. that 9.an9 had 9.ade9 the natural world which he
=nowsF nly idealists, or rather only that craHy species o# idealists who attribute @odEs
o.nipotence to .an, A*en idealists are not nor.ally so stupid,
&ut what about historyF Me =now that the "hesis> 9it is .an who .a=es history9 has,
literally, no sense, Cet a trace o# the illusion still re.ains in the idea that history is easier
to understand than nature because it is co.pletely 9hu.an9, "hat is @ia.battista OicoEs
idea,
Mell, Mar2is.BLeninis. is cate/orical on this point> history is as di##icult to
understand as nature, r, rather, it is e*en .ore di##icult to understand, MhyF &ecause
9the .asses9 do not ha*e the sa.e direct practical relation with history as they ha*e with
nature 4in producti*e wor=6, because they are always separated #ro. history by the
illusion that they understand it) Aach rulin/ e2ploitin/ class o##ers the. 9its own9
e2planation o# history, in the #or. o# its ideolo/y, which is do.inant, which ser*es its
class interests, ce.ents its unity, and .aintains the .asses under its e2ploitation,
Loo= at the Middle A/es> the :hurch and its ideolo/ists o##ered all its #loc= BB that is to
say, pri.arily the e2ploited .asses, but also the #eudal class and itsel# BB a *ery si.ple
and clear e2planation o# history, History is .ade by @od, and obeys the laws, that is, the
ends, o# 'ro*idence, An e2planation #or the 9.asses9,
Loo= at the ei/hteenth century in France, "he situation is di##erent> the bour/eoisie is
not yet in power, it is critical and re*olutionary, And it o##ers e*eryone 4without
distinction o# classK not only to the bour/eoisie and its allies, but also to the .asses it
e2ploits6 a 9clear9 e2planation o# history> history is .o*ed by -eason, and it obeys the
laws or #ollows the ends o# "ruth, -eason and Liberty, An e2planation #or the 9.asses9,
(# history is di##icult to e2plain scienti#ically, it is because

pa&e )*
between real history and .en there is always a screen, a separation> a class ideolo*y o'
history in which the hu.an .asses 9spontaneously9 belie*e> because this ideolo/y is
pu.ped into the. by the rulin/ or ascendin/ class, and ser*es it in its e2ploitation, (n the
ei/hteenth century the bour/eoisie is already an e2ploitin/ class,
"o succeed in piercin/ this ideolo/ical and idealist 9s.o=e screen9 o# the rulin/
classes, the special circu.stances o# the #irst hal# o# the nineteenth century were re;uired>
the e2perience o# the class stru//les #ollowin/ the French -e*olution 417<9, 1<356 and
the #irst proletarian class stru//les, plus An/lish political econo.y, plus French
socialis., "he result o# the con0uncture o# all these circu.stances was Mar2Es disco*ery,
He was the #irst to open up the 9:ontinent o# History9 to scienti#ic =nowled/e,
&ut in history, as in nature, one can only =now what e$ists) "he #act that, in order to /et
to =now what really does e$ist, an enor.ous a.ount o# scienti#ic wor= and /i/antic
practical stru//les were necessary, does not dispro*e the point, ne can only =now what
e$ists, e*en i# this is chan*in*, under the e##ect o# the .aterial dialectic o# the class
stru//le, e*en i# what e$ists is only =nown on condition that it is trans'ormed)
&ut we .ust /o #urther, Cou will notice that ( said that the Mar2istBLeninist "hesis is
not 9.an can only =now what e2ists9, but> 9one can only =now what e2ists9,71$8 Here too
the ter. 9.an9 has disappeared, Me are #orced to say in this conne2ion that scienti#ic
history, li=e all history, is a process without a subDect, and that scienti#ic =nowled/e 4e*en
when it is the wor= o# a particular indi*idual scientist, etc,6 is actually the historical result
o# a process which has no real sub0ect or /oal4s6, "hat is how it is with Mar2ist science, (t
was Mar2 who 9disco*ered9 it, but as the result o# a dialectical process, co.binin/
@er.an philosophy, An/lish political econo.y and French socialis., the whole thin/
based on the stru//les between the bour/eoisie and the wor=in/ class, All :o..unists
=now that,

1$, ( wrote 9one can only =now what e2ists9, in order not to co.plicate thin/s, &ut it .i/ht be ob0ected
that this i.personal 9one9 bears the traces o# 9.an9, ?trictly spea=in/, we should write> 9only what e2ists
can be known 9,

pa&e )+
?cientists, in /eneral, do not =now it, &ut i# they are prepared to, and i# they ha*e
enou/h =nowled/e o# the history o# the sciences, :o..unists can help scientists
4includin/ natural scientists and .athe.aticians6 to understand its truth, &ecause all
scienti#ic =nowled/e, in e*ery #ield, really is the result o# a process without any sub0ect or
/oal4s6, A startlin/ "hesis, one which is doubtless di##icult to understand, &ut it can /i*e
us 9insi/hts9 o# a certain i.portance, not only into scienti#ic wor=, but also into the
political stru//le,

O,
For all these philosophical "heses, these philosophical positions 4"hesis U position6
produce e''ects in the social practices, A.on/ the., e##ects in political practice and
scienti#ic practice,
&ut we ha*e to /eneraliHe> it is not only the philosophical "heses which we ha*e
already discussed that produce these e##ects, but all philosophical "heses, &ecause i#
there is one idea which is popular today BB e*en a.on/ so.e Mar2ists BB it is the idea o#
philosophy as pure conte.plation, pure disinterested speculation, %ow this do.inant
idea is actually the *ery sel#Binterested representation o# idealis. created by idealis.
itsel#, (t is a .ysti#ication o# idealis., necessary to idealis., to represent philosophy as
purely speculati*e, as a pure re*elation o# &ein/, ri/in and Meanin/, A*en speculati*e
ideolo/ies, e*en philosophies which content the.sel*es with 9interpretin* the world 9,
are in #act acti*e and practical> their 4hidden6 /oal is to act on the world, on all the social
practices, on their do.ains and their 9hierarchy9 BB e*en i# only in order to 9place the.
under a spell9, to sancti#y or .odi#y the., in order to preser*e or re#or. 9the e2istin/
state o# thin/s9 a/ainst social, political and ideolo/ical re*olutions or the ideolo/ical
repercussions o# the /reat scienti#ic disco*eries, 9?peculati*e9 philosophies ha*e a
political interest in .a=in/ belie*e that they are disinterested or that they are only
9.oral9, and not really practical and political> this in order to /ain their practical ends, in
the shadow o# the rulin/ power which they support

pa&e ),
with their ar/u.ents, Mhether this strate/y is 9conscious9 and deliberate or
9unconscious9 .eans little> we =now that it is not consciousness which is the .otor o#
history, e*en in philosophy,
Cou will re.e.ber the de#inition o# philosophy which ( proposed abo*e, Me can apply
this de#inition to e*ery philosophy> philosophy is, in the last instance, class stru//le in
the #ield o# theory,
(# philosophy is class stru**le in theory, i# it depends in the last instance on politics,
then BB as philosophy BB it has political e##ects> in political practice, in the way in which
9the concrete analysis o# the concrete situation9 is .ade, in which the .ass line is
de#ined, and in which .ass wor= is carried out, &ut i# it is class stru//le in the #ield o#
theory, then it has theoretical e##ects> in the sciences, and also within the #ield o# the
ideolo/ies, (# it is class stru**le in the 'ield o' theory, it has e##ects on the union o# theory
and practice> on the way in which that union is concei*ed and realiHed, (t there#ore has
e##ects, o# course, not only in political practice and scienti#ic practice, but also in e,ery
social practice,7178 #ro. the 9stru//le #or production9 4Mao6 to art, etc,71<8
&ut ( cannot deal with e*erythin/ here, ( will 0ust say that philosophy, as class stru//le
in the #ield o# theory, has two .ain e##ects> in politics and in the sciences, in

17, +ohn Lewis is ri/ht to criticiHe .e on this point> philosophy is not only 9concerned9 with politics and
the sciences, but with all social practices,
1<, How are these e##ects producedF "his ;uestion is *ery i.portant, Let us li.it oursel*es to the
#ollowin/ co..ent> 416 'hilosophy is not Absolute Dnowled/eJ it is neither the ?cience o# ?ciences, nor
the ?cience o# 'ractices, Mhich .eans> it does not possess the Absolute "ruth, either about any science or
about any practice, (n particular, it does not possess the Absolute "ruth about, nor power o*er, political
practice, n the contrary, Mar2is. a##ir.s the pri.acy o# politics o*er philosophy, 436 &ut philosophy is
ne*ertheless not 9the ser*ant o# politics9, as philosophy was once 9the ser*ant o# theolo/y9> because o# its
position in theory, and o# its 9relati,e autonomy 9, 436 Mhat is at stake in philosophy is the real proble.s o#
the social practices, As philosophy is not 4a6 science, its relation to these proble.s is not a technical
relation o' application) 'hilosophy does not pro*ide #or.ulae to be 9applied9 to proble.s> philosophy
cannot be applied, 'hilosophy wor=s in a ;uite di##erent way> by .odi#yin/ the position o# the proble.s,
by .odi#yin/ the relation between the practices and their ob0ect, ( li.it .ysel# to statin/ the principle,
which would re;uire a lon/ e2planation,

pa&e )-
political practice and in scienti#ic practice, A*ery :o..unist =nows that, or ou/ht to
=now it, because Mar2is.BLeninis. has ne*er ceased to repeat it and ar/ue #or it,
?o let us now set out our sche.atic 9proo#9, by co.parin/ +ohn LewisEs "heses with
the "heses o# Mar2is.BLeninis., "hat will allow us to show a little .ore clearly how
philosophy 9#unctions9,
John Lewis's Thesis > 9(t is .an who .a=es history9,
Thesis o' #ar$ismLeninism > 9(t is the .asses which .a=e historyJ the class stru//le
is the .otor o# history9,
Let us loo= at the e''ects o# these "heses,
1, E''ects in the .ield o' "cience
Mhen so.eone, in 1973, de#ends the idealist "hesis that 9it is .an who .a=es
history9, what e##ect does that ha*e as #ar as the science o# history is concernedF More
precisely> can one .a=e use o# it to produce scienti#ic disco*eriesF
(t is a *ery re/rettable #act, no doubt, but it is in #act no use at all #ro. this point o#
*iew, +ohn Lewis hi.sel# does not /et anythin/ out o# it which .i/ht help us to see how
the class stru//le wor=s, Cou .i/ht say that he didnEt ha*e the space in a sin/le article,
"hat is perhaps true, ?o let us turn to his 4una*owed6 Master, +eanB'aul ?artre, to the
philosopher o# 9hu.an liberty9, o# .anBpro0ectin/Bhi.sel#BintoBtheB#uture 4+ohn LewisEs
transcendence6, o# .an 9en situation 9 who 9transcends9 his place in the world by the
liberty o# the 9pro0ect9, "his philosopher 4who deser*es the praise /i*en by Mar2 to
-ousseau> that he ne*er co.pro.ised with the powersBthatBbe6 has written two enor.ous
boo=s BB Aein* and +othin*ness 419396, and the (ritique o' 1ialectical Reason 419$56,
the latter de*oted to proposin/ a philosophy #or Mar2is., More than two thousand pa/es,
%ow, what did ?artre /et out o# the "hesis> 9it is .an who .a=es history9F7198 Mhat did it
contribute to the science o# historyF )id the in/enious de*elop.ents o# the ?artrian
positions #inally per.it the production o# a #ew pieces o# scienti#ic

19, ?artreEs "heses are ob*iously .ore subtle, &ut +ohn LewisEs *ersion o# the., sche.atic and poor as it
is, is not basically un#aith#ul to the.,

pa&e *.
=nowled/e about the econo.y, the class stru//le, the state, the proletariat, ideolo/ies, etc,
BB =nowled/e which .i/ht help us to understand history, to act in historyF Me ha*e,
un#ortunately, reason to doubt it,
&ut then so.eone is /oin/ to say> here is an e2a.ple which pro*es 0ust the opposite o#
your "hesis about the e##ects o# philosophy, because, as you reco/niHe, this 9hu.anist9
philosophy has no e''ect at all on scienti#ic =nowled/e, ?orryK ( clai. that "heses li=e
those de#ended by +ohn Lewis and +eanB'aul ?artre really do ha*e such an e##ect, e*en
thou/h it is a ne*ati,e one> because they 9pre*ent9 the de*elop.ent o# e2istin/ scienti#ic
=nowled/e, Lenin said the sa.e o# the idealist philosophies o# his own ti.e, "hese
"heses are an obstacle to the de*elop.ent o# =nowled/e, (nstead o# helpin/ it to
pro/ress, they hold it bac=, More precisely, they dra/ =nowled/e bac= to the state it was
in be'ore the scienti#ic disco*eries .ade by Mar2 and Lenin, "hey ta=e us bac= to a preB
scienti#ic 9philosophy o# history9,
(t is not the #irst ti.e that this has happened in the history o# hu.anity, For e2a.ple,
hal# a century a#ter @alileo BB that is, hal# a century a#ter physics had been #ounded as a
science BB there were still philosophers who de#ended Aristotelian 9physics9K "hey
attac=ed @alileoEs disco*eries and wanted to dra/ =nowled/e o# the natural world bac= to
its preBscienti#ic Aristotelian state, "here are no lon/er any Aristotelian 9physicists9J but
the sa.e process can be obser*ed in other #ields, For e2a.ple> there are antiBFreudian
9psycholo/ists9, And there are antiBMar2ist philosophers o# history, who carry on as i#
Mar2 had ne*er e2isted, or had ne*er #ounded a science, "hey .ay be personally honest,
"hey .ay e*en, li=e ?artre, want to 9help9 Mar2is. and psychoanalysis, &ut it is not
their intentions that count, Mhat count are the real e''ects o# their philosophies in these
sciences, "he #act is that althou/h he co.es a'ter Mar2 and Freud, ?artre is,
parado2ically, in .any respects a preBMar2ist and preBFreudian ideolo/ian #ro. the
philosophical point o# *iew, (nstead o# helpin/ to build on the scienti#ic disco*eries o#
Mar2 and Freud, he .a=es a spectacular appearance in the ran=s o# those whose wor=
does .ore to hinder Mar2ist research than to help it,

pa&e *1
"hat is how, in the end, philosophy 9wor=s9 in the sciences, Either it helps the. to
produce new scienti#ic =nowled/e, or it tries to wipe out these ad*ances and dra/
hu.anity bac= to a ti.e when the sciences did not e2ist, 'hilosophy there#ore wor=s in
the sciences in a pro/ressi*e or retro/ressi*e way, ?trictly spea=in/, we should say that it
tends to act in one way or another BB #or e*ery philosophy is always contradictory,7358
Cou can see what is at sta=e, (t is not enou/h to say that what +ohn Lewis or ?artre says
does not help us to produce any scienti#ic =nowled/e o# history, (t is not e*en enou/h to
ar/ue that what they say represents an 9episte.olo/ical obstacle9 4to use &achelardEs
ter.6, Me are #orced to say that their "hesis produces or can produce e##ects which are
e2tre.ely har.#ul to scienti#ic =nowled/e, retro/ressi*e e##ects, because instead o#
helpin/ us, in 1973, to understand the /reat scienti#ic treasure that we possess in the
=nowled/e /i*en us by Mar2, and to de*elop it,7318 it /oes bac= to Hero, (t ta=es us bac= to
the /ood old days o# )escartes, or Dant and Fichte, o# He/el and Feuerbach, to the ti.e
be'ore Mar2Es disco*ery, be#ore his 9episte.olo/ical brea=9, "his idealist "hesis .i2es
e*erythin/ up, and thus it paralyses re*olutionary philosophers, theoreticians and
.ilitants, (t disar.s the., because in e##ect it depri*es the. o# an irreplaceable weapon>
the ob0ecti*e =nowled/e o# the conditions, .echanis.s and #or.s o# the class stru//le,
(# you now loo= at the Mar2istBLeninist "heses BB 9it is the .asses which .a=e
history9, 9the class stru//le is the .otor o# history9 BB the contrast is stri=in/, "hese
"heses do not paralyse research> they are on the side o' a scienti#ic understandin/ o#
history, "hey do not wipe out the science o# history #ounded by Mar2 BB #or these two
philosophical

35, "here is no absolutely pure idealist or .aterialist philosophy, e*en i# only because e*ery philosophy
.ust, in order to ta=e up its own theoretical class positions, surround those o# its principal ad*ersary, &ut
one .ust learn to reco/niHe the dominant tendency which results #ro. its contradictions, and .as=s the.,
31, Lenin said> Mar2 has /i*en us the 9cornerBstones9 o# a theory which we .ust 9de*elop in e*ery
direction9,

pa&e *2
"heses are at the sa.e ti.e pro*en propositions o# the science o# history, o# historical
.aterialis.,7338
"hese "heses, then, ta=e account o# the e$istence o# the science o# history, &ut at the
sa.e ti.e they help the wor=in/ out o# new concepts, o# new scienti#ic disco*eries, For
e2a.ple, they lead us to de#ine the .asses which .a=e history BB in class ter.s, For
e2a.ple, they lead us to de#ine the #or. o# union between the classes which .a=e up the
.asses, As #ar as the class stru//le under capitalis. is concerned, they put the ;uestion
o# ta=in/ state power, the lon/ transition 4to co..unis.6 and the proletariat in the
#ore#ront, For e2a.ple, they cause us to concei*e the unity o# the class stru//le and o#
class di*ision, and all their conse;uences, in the material 'orms o# e2ploitation and o# the
di*ision and or/aniHation o# labour, and there#ore to study and co.e to understand these
#or.s, For e2a.ple, they lead us to de#ine the proletariat as a class whose conditions o#
e2ploitation render it capable o# directin/ the stru//le o# all the oppressed and e2ploited
classes, and to understand the proletarian class stru//le as a #or. o# class stru//le
without precedent in history, inau/uratin/ a 9new practice o# politics9,7338 which is the
secret o# .any still eni/.atic or e*aded ;uestions,
"he theoretical conse;uences o# these ;uestions are ob*ious, "hey #orce us abo*e all to
brea= with the bour/eois BB that is, the economist conception BB o# political econo.y
49criticiHed9 as such by Mar2 in (apital 6, with the bour/eois conception o# the state, o#
politics, o# ideolo/y, o# culture, etc, "hey prepare the /round #or new research and new
disco*eries, so.e o# which .i/ht cause a #ew surprises,
n the one side, then, we ha*e idealist philosophical "heses which ha*e theoretically
retro/rade e##ects on the science o# history, n the other side we ha*e .aterialist
philosophical "heses which ha*e theoretically pro/ressi*e e##ects in the e2istin/ #ields o#
the Mar2ist science o# history, and which can ha*e re*olutionary e##ects in those #ields

33, "he #act that scienti#ic propositions .ay also, in the conte2t o# a philosophical debate, 9#unction
philosophically9 is worthy o# thou/ht,
33, (') Atienne &alibar, 9La -ecti#ication du #ani'este communiste 9, La %ense, Au/ust 1973,

pa&e *3
which ha*e not yet been really /rappled with by the science o# history 4#or e2a.ple in the
history o# the sciences, o# art, o# philosophy, etc,6,
"his is what is at sta=e as #ar as the class stru//le in the theoretical #ield is concerned,
3, %olitical e''ects
( thin= that, as #ar as political e##ects are concerned, thin/s are rather clear,
How could one carry on the class stru//le on the basis o# the philosophical "hesis> 9it
is .an who .a=es history9F (t .i/ht be said that this "hesis is use#ul in #i/htin/ a/ainst a
certain conception o# 9History9> history in sub.ission to the decisions o# a )eity or to the
Ands o# 'ro*idence, &ut, spea=in/ seriously, that is no lon/er the proble.K
(t .i/ht be said that this "hesis ser*es e,eryone, without distinction, whether he be a
capitalist, a pettyBbour/eois or a wor=er, because these are all 9.en9, &ut that is not true,
(t ser*es those whose interest it is to tal= about 9.an9 and not about the .asses, about
9.an9 and not about classes and the class stru//le, (t ser*es the bour/eoisie, abo*e allJ
and it also ser*es the pettyBbour/eoisie, (n his (ritique o' the Gotha %ro*ramme, Mar2
wrote> 9"he bour/eois ha*e *ery /ood /rounds #or #alsely ascribin/ supernatural
creati,e power to 7hu.an8 labour9,7348 MhyF &ecause by .a=in/ 9.en9 thin= that 9labour
is the source o# all wealth and all culture9, the bour/eoisie can =eep ;uiet about the power
o# 9nature 9, about the decisi*e i.portance o# the natural, material conditions o# hu.an
labour, And why does the bour/eoisie want to =eep ;uiet about the naturalB.aterial
conditions o# labourF &ecause it controls them) "he bour/eoisie =nows what it is doin/,
(# the wor=ers are told that 9it is .en who .a=e history9, you do not ha*e to be a /reat
thin=er to see that, sooner or later, that helps to disorient or disar. the., (t tends

34, Mar2Es e.phasis, Mar2 was there#ore criticiHin/ the #or.ula o# the socialist +ohn Lewises o# his
ti.e, inscribed in the Inity 'ro/ra..e o# the @er.an ?ocialB)e.ocratic 'arty and LassalleEs 'arty>
9Labour is the source o' all wealth and all culture 9,

pa&e *(
to .a=e the. thin= that they are allBpower#ul as .en, whereas in #act they are disar.ed
as wor=ers in the #ace o# the power which is really in co..and> that o# the bour/eoisie,
which controls the .aterial conditions 4the .eans o# production6 and the political
conditions 4the state6 deter.inin/ history, "he hu.anist line turns the wor=ers away #ro.
the class stru//le, pre*ents the. #ro. .a=in/ use o# the only power they possess> that o#
their or*aniBation as a class and their class or*aniBations 4the trade unions, the party6, by
which they wa/e their class stru//le,
n the one hand, there#ore, we ha*e a philosophical "hesis which, directly or
indirectly, ser*es the political interests o# the bour/eoisie, e*en inside the labour
.o*e.ent 4that is called re#or.is.6, and e*en within 9Mar2ist9 theory 4that is called
re*isionis.6, with all the conse;uent political e##ects,
n the other hand we ha*e "heses which directly help the wor=in/ class to understand
its role, its conditions o# e2istence, o# e2ploitation and o# stru//le, which help it to create
or/aniHations which will lead the stru//le o# all e2ploited people to seiHe state power
#ro. the bour/eoisie,
%eed ( say .oreF
%one o# this is a##ected by the #act that these bour/eois or pettyBbour/eois "heses are
de#ended, in 1973, by a .ilitant o# a :o..unist 'arty, -ead chapter 3 o# the (ommunist
#ani'esto) Cou will see that in 1<47 Mar2 distin/uished three =inds o# socialis.>
reactionary 4#eudal, pettyBbour/eois, humanist 73!86 socialis., conser*ati*e or bour/eois
socialis., and criticalButopian socialis. and co..unis., Cou ha*e the choiceK -ead the
/reat pole.ical writin/s o# An/els and Lenin about the in#luence o# bour/eois ideolo/y
in the wor=ersE parties 4re#or.is., re*isionis.6, Cou ha*e the choiceK
Mhat we want to =now now is how, a#ter so .any sole.n warnin/s and so, .any
testin/ e2periences, it is possible #or a :o..unist BB +ohn Lewis BB to present his
9"heses9 as Mar2ist,
Me shall see,

3!, "hen called 9"rue9 or 9@er.an9 socialis.,

pa&e *)
O(,
?o as not to hold thin/s up, ( will be brie# in dealin/ with +ohn LewisEs second reproach>
that CAlthusserC does not understand anythin* o' the history o' the 'ormation o' #ar$'s
thou*ht)
Here ( .ust .a=e .y sel#Bcriticis., and /i*e way to +ohn Lewis on one precise point,
(n .y #irst essays, ( su//ested that a#ter the 9episte.olo/ical brea=9 o# 1<4! 4a#ter the
disco*ery by which Mar2 #ounded the science o# history6 the philosophical cate/ories o#
alienation and the ne*ation o' the ne*ation 4a.on/ others6 disappear, +ohn Lewis replies
that this is not true, And he is ri/ht, Cou certainly do #ind these concepts 4directly or
indirectly6 in the German !deolo*y, in the Grundrisse 4two te2ts which Mar2 ne*er
published6 and also, thou/h .ore rarely 4alienation6 or .uch .ore rarely 4ne/ation o# the
ne/ation> only one e2plicit appearance6 in (apital)
n the other hand +ohn Lewis would ha*e a hard 0ob #indin/ these concepts in the
(ommunist #ani'esto, in the %o,erty o' %hilosophy, in 0a*e Labour and (apital, in his
(ontribution to the (ritique o' %olitical Economy, in the (ritique o' the Gotha
%ro*ramme or in the +otes on 0a*ner's Te$tbook) And this is to cite only so.e o# Mar2Es
te2ts, As #ar as the political te2ts are concerned BB and this o# course is e;ually true o# the
te2ts o# Lenin,73$8 @ra.sci or Mao BB well, he can always tryK
&ut in any case, #or.ally spea=in/ +ohn Lewis is ri/ht, And so, e*en i# his ar/u.ent in
#act depends on lea*in/ aside all the te2ts which could bother hi., ( .ust reply,
Here, in a #ew words, is .y reply,
1, (# you loo= at the whole o# Mar2Es wor=, there is no doubt that there does e2ist a
9brea=9 o# so.e =ind in 1<4!, Mar2 says so hi.sel#, &ut o# course no one should be
belie*ed si.ply on his word, not e*en Mar2, Cou ha*e to 0ud/e on the e*idence,
%e*ertheless, the whole wor= o# Mar2

3$, He can certainly cite An/elsEs use o# the ne/ation o# the ne/ation in Anti1Hhrin* BB which can be
#ound in LeninEs 0hat the C.riends o' the %eopleC Are) &ut it is a rather 9peculiar9 de#ence> an antiB
He/elian one,

pa&e **
shows hi. to be ri/ht on this point, (n 1<4! Mar2 be*an to lay down the #oundations o# a
science which did not e2ist be#ore he ca.e alon/> the science o# history, And in order to
do that he set out a nu.ber o# new concepts which cannot be #ound anywhere in his
hu.anist wor=s o# youth> mode o' production, producti,e 'orces, relations o' production,
in'rastructuresuperstructure, ideolo*ies, etc, %o one can deny that,
(# +ohn Lewis still doubts the reality o# this 9brea=9, or rather BB since the 9brea=9 is
only the e##ect BB o# this irruption o# a new science in a still 9ideolo/ical9 or preBscienti#ic
uni*erse, he should co.pare two 0ud/e.ents .ade by Mar2 on Feuerbach and 'roudhon,
Feuerbach is described in the 4@II #anuscripts as a philosopher who has .ade
e2traordinary disco*eries, who has disco*ered both the basis and the principle o# the
criti;ue o# political econo.yK &ut a year later, in the Theses on .euerbach, and in the
German !deolo*y, he is ob0ect o# an allBout attac=, A#ter that he si.ply disappears,
'roudhon is described in the 2oly .amily 4end o# 1<446 as so.eone who 9does not
si.ply write in the interest o# the proletariat, but is hi.sel# a proletarian, a wor=er, His
wor= is a scienti'ic mani'esto o' the .rench proletariat,97378 &ut in 1<47, in the %o,erty o'
%hilosophy, he /ets a hidin/ #ro. which he will ne*er reco*er, A#ter that he si.ply
disappears,
(#, as +ohn Lewis says, nothin* really happened in 1<4!, and i# e*erythin/ that ( ha*e
said about the 9episte.olo/ical brea=9 is 9a co.plete .yth9, then (Ell be hun/ #or it,
3, ?o so.ethin/ irre,ersible really does start in 1<4!> the 9episte.olo/ical brea=9 is a
point o# no return) ?o.ethin/ be/ins which will ha*e no end,73<8 A 9continuin/ brea=9, (
wrote, the be/innin/ o# a lon/ period o# wor=, as in e*ery other science, And althou/h the
way ahead is open, it is di##icult and so.eti.es e*en dra.atic, .ar=ed by e*ents BB
theoretical e*ents 4additions, recti#ications, corrections6 BB

37, The 2oly .amily, An/lish translation, Moscow 19!$,
3<, Lenin spea=in/ o# the study o# i.perialis.> 9"his study is only be/innin/, and it is without an end,
by its *ery nature, li=e science in /eneral9, 4The (ollapse o' the "econd !nternational)6

pa&e *+
which concern the scienti#ic =nowled/e o# a particular ob0ect> the conditions, the
.echanis.s and the #or.s o# the class stru//le, (n si.pler ter.s, the science o# history,
Me can say, then, that this science does not e.er/e, readyB.ade, #ro. Mar2Es head, (t
.erely has its be*innin* in 1<4!, and has not yet /ot rid o# all its past BB o# all the
ideolo/ical and philosophical prehistory out o# which it has e.er/ed, "here is nothin/
astonishin/ in the #act that #or so.e ti.e it continues to contain ideolo/ical notions or
philosophical cate/ories which it will later /et rid o#,
Me can also say> loo= at Mar2Es te2ts, loo= at the birth and de*elop.ent o# his
scienti#ic concepts, and BB since +ohn Lewis insists on tal=in/ about the. BB you will at
the sa.e ti.e see the /radual disappearance o# these two philosophical cate/ories
inherited #ro. the past and still subsistin/ as re.nants, =nown as alienation and the
ne*ation o' the ne*ation) %ow in #act, the .ore we ad*ance in ti.e, the .ore these
cate/ories disappear, (apital spea=s only once o# the ne/ation o# the ne/ation in e2plicit
ter.s, (t is true that Mar2 se*eral ti.es uses the term 9alienation9, &ut all that disappears
in Mar2Es later te2ts and in Lenin, :o.pletely,7398 Me could there#ore si.ply say> what is
i.portant is the tendency > and Mar2Es scienti#ic wor= does tend to /et rid o# these
philosophical cate/ories,
3, &ut this is not su##icient, And here is .y sel#Bcriticis.,
( was not attenti*e enou/h to the 'act which +ohn Lewis points out, that is, to the #act
o# the continuin/ presence o# the said philosophical cate/ories a'ter the 9episte.olo/ical
brea=9, And that was because ( identi#ied the 9episte.olo/ical 4 U scienti'ic 6 brea=9 with
Mar2Es philosophical re*olution, More precisely, ( did not separate Mar2Es philosophical
re*olution #ro. the 9episte.olo/ical brea=9, and ( there#ore tal=ed about philosophy as i#
it were science, and ;uite lo/ically wrote that in 1<4! Mar2 .ade a double brea=,
scienti#ic and philosophical,

39, ne really .ust be short o# ar/u.ents to ha*e to use, as a proo# o# LeninEs 9hu.anist philosophy9, a
#ew lines #ro. The German !deolo*y 41<446 which Lenin copied into his noteboo=K +ohn Lewis is
ob*iously not worried about /ainin/ the reputation o# 9school.an9 hi.sel#,

pa&e *,
"hat was a .ista=e, (t is an e2a.ple o# the theoreticist 4 U rationalistBspeculati*e6
de*iation which ( denounced in the brie# sel#Bcriticis. contained in the 're#ace to the
(talian edition o# Readin* (apital 419$76, reproduced in the An/lish edition,7358 Oery
sche.atically, this .ista=e consists in thin=in/ that philosophy is a science, and that, li=e
e*ery science, it has> 416 an obDect J 436 a be*innin* 4the 9episte.olo/ical brea=9 occurs
at the .o.ent when it looms up in the preBscienti#ic, ideolo/ical cultural uni*erse6J and
436 a history 4co.parable to the history o# a science6, "his theoreticist error #ound its
clearest and purest e2pression in .y #or.ula> 'hilosophy is 9"heory o# theoretical
practice9,7318
?ince that ti.e, ( ha*e be/un to 9put thin/s ri/ht9, (n a philosophy course #or
scientists, datin/ #ro. 19$7, and then in Lenin and %hilosophy 4February 19$<6, ( put
#orward other propositions>
1, 'hilosophy is not 4a6 science,
3, 'hilosophy has no ob0ect, in the sense in which a science has an ob0ect,
3, 'hilosophy has no history, in the sense in which a science has a history,
4, 'hilosophy is politics in the #ield o# theory,
Mhat are the conse;uencesF
1, (t is i.possible to reduce philosophy to science, and 4it is i.possible to reduce Mar2Es
philosophical re*olution to the 9episte.olo/ical brea=9,
3, Mar2Es philosophical re*olution preceded Mar2Es 9episte.olo/ical brea=9, (t made the
break possible)
ne can o# course put #orward serious ar/u.ents to the e##ect that there is a sense in
which philosophy, as He/el said, and as ( repeated in Lenin and %hilosophy, always

35, And in the edition o# Readin* (apital published in the 'etite :ollection Maspero, 19$<, *ol, 1,
31, "he corrections which ( later .ade to this #or.ula 4#or e2a.ple> 'hilosophy is 9"heory o# theoretical
practice in its distinction #ro. the other practices9, or 9"heory o# the processes o# the production o#
=nowled/e9, or 9 , , , o# the .aterial and social conditions o# the processes o# production o# =nowled/e9,
etc,, in .or #ar$ and Readin* (apital 6 do not touch the root o# this error,

pa&e *-
9la/s behind9 science or the sciences, &ut #ro. another point o# *iew, which is i.portant
here, one has to say the opposite, and ar/ue that in the history o# Mar2Es thou/ht the
scienti#ic brea=throu/h is based on the philosophical re*olution, which /i*es the
brea=throu/h its #or.> that o# a re,olutionary science)
(n the case o# other sciences, we o#ten lac= e*idence and proo# o# what happened, &ut
in the case o# Mar2, we are able to say that while both the philosophical re*olution and
the episte.olo/ical brea= ta=e place 9at the sa.e ti.e9, the scienti#ic brea= is based on
the philosophical re*olution,
(n practical ter.s, that .eans the #ollowin/, "he youn/ Mar2, born o# a /ood
bour/eois #a.ily in the -hineland, entered public li#e as editor o# a liberal newspaper o#
the sa.e land, "hat was in 1<41, A youn/ and brilliant intellectual, he was, within three
or #our years, to under/o an astonishin/ e*olution in politics) He was to pass #ro. radical
bour/eois liberalis. 41<41B436 to pettyBbour/eois co..unis. 41<43B446, then to
proletarian co..unis. 41<44B4!6, "hese are incontestable #acts, &ut parallel to this
political e*olution you can obser*e an e*olution in philosophy, !n philosophy, o*er the
sa.e period, the youn/ Mar2 was to pass #ro. a position o# sub0ecti*e neoBHe/elianis.
4o# a DantBFichte type6 to theoretical hu.anis. 4Feuerbach6, be#ore re0ectin/ this to pass
o*er to a philosophy which would no lon/er .erely 9interpret9 the world> a co.pletely
new, .aterialistBre*olutionary philosophy,
(# you now co.pare Mar2Es political e*olution with his philosophical e*olution, you
will see>
1, that his philosophical e*olution is based on his political e*olutionJ and
3, that his scienti#ic disco*ery 4the 9brea=96 is based on his philosophical e*olution,
"hat .eans, in practice, that it is because the youn/ Mar2 had 9settled accounts9 with
his pre*ious philosophical consciousness 41<4!6, because he had #inally abandoned his
bour/eois liberal and pettyBbour/eois re*olutionary positions to adopt 4e*en i# only in
principle, at a .o.ent when he was lettin/ /o the ropes6 new re*olutionaryBproletarian
class positions in theory, it was because o# all this that

pa&e +.
he was able to lay down the #oundations o# the scienti#ic theory o# history as history o#
the class stru//le, !n principle > because the process o# reco/niHin/ and occupyin/ these
new positions in theory needed ti.e, "i.e, in a ceaseless stru//le to contain the pressure
o# bour/eois philosophy,
4, n the basis o# these points it should be possible to account #or the inter.ittent
sur*i*al o# cate/ories li=e those o# alienation and o# the ne*ation o' the ne*ation) %ote
that ( tal= about inter.ittent sur*i*al, For alon/side their tendency to disappear in Mar2Es
wor=, considered as a whole, there is a stran/e pheno.enon which .ust be accounted
#or> their total disappearance in certain wor=s, then their subsequent reappearance, For
e2a.ple, the two cate/ories in ;uestion are absent #ro. the (ommunist #ani'esto as well
as #ro. the %o,erty o' %hilosophy 4published by Mar2 in 1<476, "hey see. to be hidden
in his (ontribution to the (ritique o' %olitical Economy 4which he published in 1<!96,
&ut there are .any re#erences to alienation in the Grundrisse 4preparatory notes .ade by
Mar2 in the years 1<!7B!<, and which he did not publish 6, Me =now, because o# a letter
sent to An/els, that Mar2 had 9by chance9 reBread He/elEs Lo*ic in 1<!< and had been
#ascinated by it, (n (apital 41<$76 alienation co.es up a/ain, but .uch .ore rarely, and
the ne/ation o# the ne/ation appears 0ust once, And so on,7338

33, ne .ust be care#ul with philosophical cate/ories ta=en one by one > #or it is less their na.e than
their #unction in the theoretical apparatus in which they operate that decides their 9nature9, (s a particular
cate/ory idealist or .aterialistF (n .any cases we ha*e to reply with Mar2Es answer> 9"hat depends9, &ut
there are li.itBcases, For e2a.ple, ( do not really see that one can e2pect anythin/ positi*e #ro. the
cate/ory o# the ne*ation o' the ne*ation, which contains within it an irreparable idealist char/e, n the
other hand it see.s to .e that the cate/ory o# alienation can render pro,isional ser*ices, /i*en a double
and absolute condition> 416 that it be 9cut9 #ro. e*ery philosophy o# 9rei#ication9 4or o# #etishis., or o#
sel#Bob0ecti*iHation6 which is only an anthropolo/ical *ariant o# idealis.J and 436 that alienation is
understood as secondary to the concept o# e2ploitation, n this double condition, the cate/ory o# alienation
can, in the 'irst instance 4since it disappears in the #inal result6 help to a*oid a purely economic, that is,
econo.ist conception o' surplus,alue > it can help to introduce the idea that, in e2ploitation, surplus,alue
is inseparable 'rom the concrete and material 'orms in which it is e$torted) 7cont) onto p, 71, 1JR8 A nu.ber
o# te2ts #ro. the Grundrisse and #ro. (apital /o, in .y opinion, in this sense, &ut ( =now that others /o in
a di##erent and .uch .ore a.bi/uous sense,

pa&e +1
Howe*er that .i/ht be, and without anticipatin/ other studies which .ust be .ade i#
the contradictory dialectic o# Mar2Es de*elop.ent and the elaboration o# his wor= is to be
understood, one #act is clear, "he Mar2ist science o# history did not pro/ress in a si.ple
strai/ht line, accordin/ to the classic rationalist sche.e, without proble.s or internal
con#licts, and under its own power, #ro. the .o.ent o# the 9point o# no return9 BB the
9episte.olo/ical brea=9, "here certainly is a 9point o# no return9, but in order not to be
#orced to retreat, it is necessary to ad*ance BB and to ad*ance, how .any di##iculties and
stru//les there areK For i# it is true that Mar2 had to pass o*er to proletarian class
positions in theory in order to #ound the science o# history, he did not .a=e that leap all at
once, once and #or all, #or e*er, (t was necessary to work out these positions, to ta=e the.
up o*er and a/ainst the ene.y, "he philosophical battle continued within Mar2 hi.sel#,
in his wor=> around the principles and concepts o# the new re*olutionary science, which
was one o# the sta=es o# the battle, Mar2ist science only /ained its /round little by little,
in theoretical stru//le 4class stru//le in theory6, in close and constant relation to the class
stru//le in the wider sense, "his stru//le lasted all o# Mar2Es li#e, (t continued a#ter his
death, in the labour .o*e.ent, and it is still /oin/ on today, A stru//le without an end,
(t is there#ore possible to understand, at least in principle, the partial disappearance and
reappearance o# certain cate/ories in Mar2Es wor= as indicati*e o# sur*i*als o# old ideas
or atte.pts to wor= out new ones, o# ad*ances and retreats in the lon/ dual stru//le to
ta=e up class positions in theoretical wor= and to #ound the science o# history,
Mhen ( said that it was the 9episte.olo/ical brea=9 which was pri.ary, and when (
said that it was at the sa.e ti.e a philosophical 9brea=9, ( there#ore .ade two .ista=es,
(n the case o# Mar2 it is the philosophical re*olution which is primary BB and this
re*olution is not a 9brea=9, "he theoretical ter.inolo/y itsel# is i.portant here> i# one can
le/iti.ately

pa&e +2
=eep the ter. 9brea=9 to denote the be/innin/ o# the science o# history, the clear e##ect o#
its irruption in the cultural uni*erse, the point o# no return, one cannot e.ploy the sa.e
ter. in tal=in/ about philosophy, (n the history o# philosophy, as in *ery lon/ periods o#
the class stru//le, one cannot really tal= about a point o# no return, ?o ( shall use the
ter.> philosophical 9re*olution9 4in the stron/ sense in Mar2Es case6, "his e2pression is
.ore correct> #or BB to e*o=e once a/ain the e2periences and ter.s o# the class stru//le BB
we all =now that a re*olution is always open to attac=s, to retreats and re*erses, and e*en
to the ris= o# counterBre*olution,
%othin/ in philosophy is radically new, #or the old "heses, ta=en up a/ain in new
#or., sur*i*e and return in a new philosophy, %or is anythin/ e*er settled de'initi,ely >
there is always the stru//le o# anta/onistic tendencies, there are always 9co.eBbac=s9,
and the oldest philosophies are always ready to .ount an o##ensi*e dis/uised in .odern
BB e*en the .ost re*olutionary BB trappin/s, MhyF
&ecause philosophy is, in the last instance, class stru//le in the #ield o# theory,
&ecause the re*olutionary classes are always opposed by the old conser*ati*e and
reactionary rulin/ classes, who will ne*er /i*e up their a.bition #or re*en/e, e*en when
they no lon/er hold state power, Accordin/ to the state o# a##airs, these classes will either
de#end their power or, i# they ha*e lost power, they will try to re/ain it, usin/ a.on/
other thin/s the ar/u.ents o# suchBandBsuch a philosophy> that which ser*es the. best
politically and ideolo/ically, e*en i# it co.es out o# the depths o# history, (t only has to be
done up a bit and /i*en a .odern coat o# paint, 'hilosophical "heses, in the end, ha*e
9no a/e9, "hat is the sense in which ( too= up Mar2Es co..ent in the German !deolo*y
that 9philosophy has no history9,
(n practice, when the state o# the class stru//le enables it to put on enou/h pressure,
bour/eois ideolo/y can penetrate Mar2is. itsel#, "he class stru//le in the #ield o# theory
is not 0ust a phrase> it is a reality, a terrible reality, Mithout understandin/ that, it is
i.possible to understand either the dra.atic history o# the #or.ation o# Mar2Es thou/ht

pa&e +3
or the 9/ra*e di##iculties9 which e*en today, in 1973, wei/h on the 9orthodo2y9 de#ended
by a certain nu.ber o# :o..unists,
"he dra.atic history o# Mar2 and o# his thou/ht can be reduced, i# we #ollow +ohn
Lewis, to a peace#ul and proble.B#ree uni*ersity careerK A certain Mar2 appears on the
literary and philosophical scene, Tuite naturally, he be/ins to tal= about politics in the
(ommunist #ani'esto, then about econo.ics in (apital) He #ounds and directs the First
(nternational, opposes the insurrection in 'aris, then in the space o# two .onths, ta=es a
#ir. stand on the side o# the 'aris :o..une, He wa/es a battle to the death a/ainst the
anarchists and #ollowers o# 'roudhon, etc,, etc, All this without the hint o# a proble., o# a
dra.a, aside #ro. all the assaults o# the stru//le, with no re/ard to the di##iculties, the
;uestions, all the tor.ents o# the search #or 9truth9 in that stru//le itsel#, Li=e a /ood
bour/eois intellectual, as well installed in his thou/ht as he is in the co.#ort o# his
e2istence, Mar2, in this *iew, always thou*ht the same thin*, without any re*olution or
9brea=9 in his thin=in/> he always tau/ht that 9.an .a=es history9, by the 9ne/ation o#
the ne/ation9, etc, ( thin= ( a. 0usti#ied in sayin/ here that only so.eone who has no
e2perience o# the class stru//le, includin/ class stru//le in the #ield o# theory BB or e*en
si.ply o# the way in which scienti#ic research is done BB could ar/ue such nonsense, and
thus insult the li#e and su##erin/s not only o# Mar2 hi.sel# but o# all :o..unists 4and
also o# all those scientists who succeed in 'indin* somethin* out 6, %ow, not only did
Mar2 9#ind so.ethin/ out9 4and at what ris=, and o# what i.portanceK6, but he was also a
leader o# the labour .o*e.ent #or thirtyB#i*e years, He always did his thin=in/ and his
9in*esti/atin/9 in and throu*h the stru**le)
"he whole history o# the labour .o*e.ent is .ar=ed by endless crises, dra.as and
stru//les, "here is no need #or .e to /o o*er the. here, &ut as #ar as philosophy is
concerned, we ou/ht at least to .ention the /reat stru//les o# An/els and Lenin a/ainst
the inter*ention o# the idealis. o# )Ghrin/ and o# &ernstein, both o# the. declared neoB
Dantians and hu.anists, whose theoretical re*isionis.

pa&e +(
co*ered their political re#or.is. and political re*isionis.,
+ohn Lewis would do well to reBread the #irst pa/es o# 0hat is to be 1one& (n this te2t
a pettyBbour/eois intellectual na.ed Lenin is de#endin/ Mar2Es 9orthodo2y9, which is 9in
/ra*e di##iculties9, Mith 9e2tre.e do/.atis.9 4( use LewisEs ter.s6, Ces, Lenin declared
hi.sel# proud to be attac=ed as a 9do/.atist9 by the international coalition o# 9critical9
re*isionists, with the 9An/lish Fabians9 and 9French Ministerialists9 at their headK 4( a.
;uotin/ Lenin,6 Ces, Lenin declared hi.sel# proud to de#end this old proble.Bridden
9orthodo2y9, the orthodo2y o# Mar2Es teachin/, Ces, he thou/ht it was 9in /ra*e
di##iculties9, "he cause> re#or.is. and re*isionis.K
?o.e :o..unists, today, are thin=in/ and doin/ the sa.e, "here certainly are not too
.any o# the.,
"hat is how thin/s are, MhyF Me shall see,

O((,
Me ha*e to answer two ;uestions,
1, Mhy are there :o..unists li=e +ohn Lewis 4and there are ;uite a lot o# the.6 who, in
1973, can openly ar/ue in :o..unist 0ournals #or a philosophy which they call Mar2ist,
but which is in #act si.ply a *ariant o# bour/eois idealis.F
3, Mhy are the :o..unist philosophers who de#end Mar2Es philosophy so #ew in
nu.berF
"o answer these two ;uestions, which are really one and the sa.e, we .ust BB all
apolo/ies to +ohn Lewis BB brie#ly enter the #ield o# political history,
( ha*e .ade the basic points in .or #ar$) &ut +ohn Lewis does not see. to ha*e read
the political pa/es o# .or #ar$) +ohn Lewis is a pure spirit,
And yet ( was rather clear in e2plainin/ that the articles collected in .or #ar$ had to
be considered as a philosophical inter*ention in a political and ideolo/ical con0uncture
do.inated by the "wentieth :on/ress and the 9split9 in the (nternational :o..unist
Mo*e.ent,7338 "he #act that

33, (') the (ntroduction to .or #ar$)

pa&e +)
( was able to .a=e such an inter*ention is a conse;uence o# the "wentieth :on/ress,
&e#ore the "wentieth :on/ress it was actually not possible #or a :o..unist
philosopher, certainly in France, to publish te2ts which would be 4at least to so.e e2tent6
rele*ant to politics, which would be so.ethin/ other than a pra/.atist co..entary on
consecrated #or.ulae, "hat is the /ood side o# the "wentieth :on/ress, #or which we
.ust be /rate#ul, Fro. that ti.e on it was possible to publish such te2ts, "he French
'arty, to ta=e only one e2a.ple, e2plicitly reco/niHed 4at the Ar/enteuil :entral
:o..ittee .eetin/ in 19$$6 the ri/ht o# party .e.bers to carry out and publish their
philosophical research,
&ut the 9criticis. o# ?talinEs errors9 was #or.ulated at the "wentieth :on/ress in ter.s
such that there ine*itably #ollowed what we .ust call an unleashin/ o# bour*eois
ideolo/ical and philosophical the.es within the :o..unist 'arties the.sel*es, "his was
the case abo*e all a.on/ :o..unist intellectuals, but it also touched certain leaders and
e*en certain leaderships, MhyF
&ecause the 9criticis. o# ?talinEs errors9 4so.e o# which BB and rather a lot BB turned
out to be cri.es6 was .ade in a nonBMar2ist way,
"he "wentieth :on/ress criticiHed and denounced the 9cult o# personality9 4the cult in
/eneral, personality in /eneral , , , 6 and su..ed up ?talinEs 9errors9 in the concept o#
9*iolation o# ?ocialist le*ality 9, "he "wentieth :on/ress there#ore li.ited itsel# to
denouncin/ certain 'acts about what went on in the le*al superstructure, without relatin/
the. BB as e*ery Mar2ist analysis .ust do BB #irstly, to the rest o# the ?o*iet superstructure
4abo*e all, the state and party6, and secondly, to the in#rastructure, na.ely the relations o#
production, class relations and the #or.s o# the class stru//le in the I??-,7348

34, Lenin> 9(n theory there is undoubtedly a certain period o# transition between capitalis. and
co..unis., (t .ust necessarily co.bine the traits or particularities o# these two econo.ic structures o#
society, "his transitory period can only be a period o# stru//le between the death a/ony o# capitalis. and
the birth o# co..unis., or, in other ter.s> between *an;uished, but not yet eli.inated capitalis., and
already born, but still wea= co..unis., 7cont) onto p, 7$, 1JR8 7, , ,8 :lasses re.ain and will re.ain in the
era o# the dictatorship o# the proletariat, 7, , ,8 :lasses re.ain, but each class has under/one a chan/e in the
era o# the dictatorship o# the proletariat, the relations between the classes ha*e also chan/ed, "he class
stru//le does not disappear under the dictatorship o# the proletariat, it si.ply ta=es other #or.s9
4Economics and %olitics in the Era o' the 1ictatorship o' the %roletariat 6,

pa&e +*
(nstead o# relatin/ the 9*iolations o# socialist le/ality9 to> 1, the state, plus the party,
and> 3, the class stru//le, the "wentieth :on/ress instead related the. to , , , the 9cult o#
personality9, "hat is, it related the. to a concept which, as ( pointed out in .or #ar$,
cannot be 9#ound9 in Mar2ist theory, ( now *enture to say that it can per#ectly well be
9#ound9 elsewhere> in bour*eois philosophy and psychoBsociolo/ical ideolo/y,
(# you ta=e :o..unist philosophers and other :o..unist 9intellectuals9 and set the.
o##icially on a bour/eois ideolo/ical and philosophical line, in order to 9criticiHe9 a
re/i.e under which they 4a.on/ others6 ha*e su##ered deeply, you .ust not be surprised
when the sa.e :o..unist philosophers and intellectuals ;uite naturally ta=e the road o#
bour/eois philosophy, (t has been opened up ri/ht in #ront o# the.K Cou .ust not be
surprised when they .a=e up their own little bour/eois Mar2ist philosophy o# the -i/hts
o# Man, e2altin/ Man and his -i/hts, the #irst o# which is liberty, whose re*erse is
alienation) (t is ;uite natural #or the. to lean on Mar2Es early wor=s BB that is what they
are there #or BB and then on hu.anis. in all its #or.sK ?hall it be @araudyEs socialist
hu.anis., the pure hu.anis. o# +ohn Lewis, the 9true9 or 9real9 socialis. o# others, or
e*en 4why notF6 9scienti#ic9 hu.anis. itsel#F &etween these di##erent *arieties o# the
philosophy o# hu.an liberty, each philosopher can o# course 'reely ta=e his choiceK All
that is per#ectly nor.al,
Ha*in/ said that, we .ust add that it is i.portant not to .i2 thin/s up which,
politically spea=in/, ou/ht not to be con#used, thin/s which are ;uite di##erent #ro. one
another, "he hu.anist reactions o# western :o..unist theoreticians, and e*en o# so.e
#ro. eastern Aurope, are one thin/, (t would howe*er be an e2tre.ely serious political
.ista=e, #or e2a.ple, to clai. to 0ud/e and conde.n BB on account o# an ad0ecti*e
49hu.an96 BB so.ethin/ li=e the

pa&e ++
slo/an 9socialism with a human 'ace 9, a slo/an under which the :Hech .asses let
e*eryone =now BB e*en i# the #or. was so.eti.es con#used BB about their class and
national /rie*ances and aspirations, (t would be an e2tre.ely serious political .ista=e to
con#use this national .ass .o*e.ent, this i.portant historical #act, with the hu.anist
pedantry o# our western, so.eti.es :o..unist philosophers 4or o# suchBandBsuch a
philosopher o# eastern Aurope6, "here were intellectuals in the :Hech national .ass
.o*e.ent, but it was not a 9.o*e.ent o# intellectuals9, Mhat the :Hech people wanted
was socialis., and not hu.anis., (t wanted a socialis. whose #ace 4not the body> the
body does not #i/ure in the #or.ula6 would not be dis#i/ured by practices unworthy both
o# itsel# 4the :Hech people> a people o# a hi/h political culture6 and o# socialis., A
socialis. with a hu.an #ace, "he ad0ecti*e is in the ri/ht place, "he national .ass
.o*e.ent o# the :Hech people, e*en i# it is no lon/er to be heard o# 4and the stru//le is
ne*ertheless still /oin/ on6 .erits the respect and support o# all :o..unists, A2actly as
the 9hu.anist9 philosophies o# western intellectuals 4at ease in their acade.ic chairs or
where*er6, the philosophies o# 9Mar2ist hu.anis.9, whether they are called 9true9 or
9scienti#ic,9 .erit the criticis. o# all :o..unists,
(t is #or all the reasons outlined abo*e, then, that there are cases li=e +ohn Lewis in the
western :o..unist 'arties BB and that there are rather a lot o# the.,
(t is #or the sa.e reasons that, in these parties, there e2ists a certain nu.ber o#
:o..unist philosophers who are #i/htin/ a/ainst a certain current BB and that there are
rather #ew o# the.,
And it is #or these reasons BB directly political reasons BB that ( want to repeat .y than=s
to #ar$ism Today, 0ournal o# the :o..unist 'arty o# @reat &ritain, #or acceptin/ to
publish .y reply,
'aris, +uly 4 1973

pa&e +,

2ote on 34he
Criti5ue of the
#ersonality Cult3

%ot #or one .o.ent does the idea stri=e +ohn Lewis that 9philosophy is as close to
politics as the lips are to the teeth9, that, 9in the last instance9, what is at sta=e BB
indirectly, but also *ery directly BB where philosophical Theses are concerned is always a
nu.ber o# political proble.s or ar/u.ents o# real history, and that e*ery philosophical
te2t 4includin/ his own6 is 9in the last instance9 also a political inter*ention in the
theoretical con0uncture as well as, throu/h one o# its e##ects, today the .ain e##ect, a
theoretical inter*ention in the political con0uncture, %ot #or a .o.ent does the idea stri=e
hi. o# wonderin/ about the political con0uncture in which .y te2ts 4and his own6 were
written, about what theoreticalBpolitical 9e##ects9 ( had in .ind when thin=in/ the. out
and publishin/ the., about the #ra.ewor= o# theoretical ar/u.ent and political con#licts
in which the enterprise was underta=en, or about the reactions it caused,
( a. not e2pectin/ +ohn Lewis to ha*e a detailed =nowled/e o# French political and
philosophical history, o# the stru//le o# ideas 4e*en uni.portant or erroneous ideas6
within the French :o..unist 'arty since the war, and especially between 19$5 and
19$!, &ut all the sa.eK :o..unists ha*e a history in co..on> a lon/, di##icult, happy
and unhappy history, one which to a lar/e e2tent is lin=ed to the "hird (nternational, itsel#
do.inated since the thirties by ?talinEs political 9line9 and leadership, Me ha*e a co..on
past, as :o..unists, in the 'opular Fronts, the ?panish Mar, the ?econd Mar and the
antiB#ascist resistance, and the :hinese -e*olution, &ut we also ha*e Lysen=oEs
9science9,

pa&e +-
which was no .ore than ideolo/y, and a #ew #or.ulae and slo/ans which were clai.ed to
be 9scienti#ic9 but were no .ore than 9ideolo/ical9, and which concealed *ery stran/e
practices,718 Me all share, as :o..unists, a past which includes Dhrushche*Es 9criticis.
o# the personality cult9 at the "wentieth :on/ress o# the ?o*iet 'arty, and the ordeal o#
the split in the (nternational :o..unist Mo*e.ent, Me ha*e the :hinese :ultural
-e*olution in co..on, whate*er we thin= o# it, and May E$< in France, A #ew ups and
downs, in short, #ro. which one ou/ht to be able to abstract so as to 9tal= philosophy9
between :o..unists in 1973, , ,
(t is not too serious a .atter, &ecause one day we really shall ha*e to try and call
thin/s by their name, and to do that, as Mar2ists, we ha*e to loo= #or that name J ( .ean
the ri/ht concept 4e*en i# we ha*e to do it while we ad*ance6, so that we can co.e to
understand our own history, ur history is not li=e a peace#ul strea. #lowin/ between
secure ban=s, its course .ar=ed out in ad*ance, any .ore than Mar2Es own history was,
or the tra/ic and /lorious history o# the #irst two decades o# the century, A*en i# we do
not /o bac= so #ar, e*en i# we only spea= o# the recent past BB whose .e.ory, whose
shadow e*en, still reaches o*er us today BB no one can deny that #or thirty years we li*ed
throu/h a period o# ordeals, herois. and dra.as under the do.ination o# a political line
and political practices which, #or lac= o# a concept, we ha*e to call by a proper na.e> that
o# ?talin, )o we ;uite si.ply lea*e all this behind as a conse;uence o# ?talinEs death and
on the stren/th 4and throu/h the e##ects6 o# a little phrase> 9the personality cult,9
pronounced at the "wentieth :on/ress o# the :o..unist 'arty o# the ?o*iet Inion as the
9last word9 4in e*ery possible sense6 in the a##airF ( wrote, durin/ the 19$5s, in a

1, A #ew e2a.ples, re.ainin/ at the theoretical le*el> the econo.ist e*olutionis. o# ?talinEs 1ialectical
#aterialism and 2istorical #aterialismJ the con0urin/ away o# the historical role o# "rots=y and others in
the &olshe*i= -e*olution 4"hort 2istory o' the (%"9 7A86J the thesis o# the sharpenin/ o# the class stru//le
under socialis.J the #or.ula> 9e*erythin/ depends on the cadres9, etc, A.on/ oursel*es> the thesis o#
9bour/eois scienceQproletarian science9, the thesis o# 9absolute pauperiHation9, etc,

pa&e ,.
philosophical te2t which +ohn Lewis has ri/ht in #ront o# hi., that the concept o# the
9personality cult9 was a concept which 9cannot be 'ound in #ar$ist theory 9, that it had
no *alue in ter.s o# =nowled/e, that it e2plained nothin/ and le#t us in the dar=, "his was
;uite clear> it still is,
9A concept which cannot be #ound in Mar2ist theory,9 "his .ust be reco/niHed, (n the
#or. in which it was put #orward and used, both theoretically and politically, the concept
o# the 9personality cult9 was not si.ply the na.e o# so.ethin/> it did not satis#y itsel#
with si.ply pointin/ out the 'acts 4the 9abuses9, the 9*iolations o# ?o*iet le/ality96, (t
clai.ed at the sa.e ti.e BB this was openly stated BB theoretical pretensions> it was
supposed to /i*e an account o# the 9essence9 o# the #acts which it re*ealed, And this is
how it was used politically,
%ow this pseudoBconcept, the circu.stances o# whose sole.n and dra.atic
pronounce.ent are well =nown, did indeed e2pose certain practices> 9abuses9, 9errors9,
and in certain cases 9cri.es9, &ut it e2plained nothin/ o# their conditions, o# their causes,
in short o# their internal deter.ination, and there#ore o# their #or.s,738 Cet since it
claimed to e2plain what in #act it did not e2plain, this pseudoBconcept could only .islead
those who. it was supposed to instruct, Must we be e*en .ore e2plicitF "o reduce the
/ra*e e*ents o# thirty years o# ?o*iet and :o..unist history to this pseudoBe2planation
by the 9cult9 was not and could not ha*e been a si.ple .ista=e, an o*ersi/ht o# an
intellectual hostile to the practice o# di*ine worship> it was, as we all =now, a political act
o# responsible leaders, a certain onesided way o# puttin/ #orward the proble.s, not o#
what is *ul/arly called 9?talinis.9, but o# what .ust, ( thin=, be

3, For Mar2is. the e2planation o# any pheno.enon is in the last instance internal; it is the internal
9contradiction9 which is the 9.otor9, "he e2ternal circu.stances are acti*e> but 9throu/h9 the internal
contradiction which they o*erdeter.ine, Mhy the need to be precise on this ;uestionF &ecause certain
:o..unists, #indin/ the 9e2planation9 in ter.s o# the 9cult9 inade;uate, thou/ht o# the idea o# addin/ a
supplement, which could only be e$ternal; #or e2a.ple, the e2planation by capitalist encircle.ent, whose
reality no one can deny, Mar2is., howe*er, does not li=e supple.ents> when you need a supple.ent too
.uch, you ha*e probably .issed the internal cause,

pa&e ,1
called 4unless one ob0ects to thinkin* about it6 by the na.e o# a concept> pro*isionally,
the C"talinianC de,iation)738 And, at the sa.e ti.e, it was a certain way o# not posin* the
proble.s, More precisely, it was 4and still is6 a way o# see=in/ the causes o# /ra*e e*ents
and o# their #or.s in certain de#ects o# the #unctionin/ o# the le*al superstructure
49*iolations o# socialist le/ality96, without 4e*en in the #or. o# a hypothesisK6 loo=in/
into the whole o# the ?tate Apparatuses constitutin/ the ?uperstructure 4the -epressi*e
Apparatus, the (deolo/ical Apparatuses, includin/ the 'arty6, and abo*e all without
/ettin/ to the root o# the proble. 4one which was so serious and lasted so lon/6> the
contradictions o# the construction o# socialis. and o# its line, that is, without dealin/
with the e2istin/ #or.s o# production relations, class relations and the class stru//le, the
last o# which is then said BB in a #or.ula which has not yet been withdrawn BB to ha*e
been 9transcended9 in the I,?,?,-, Cet this is where the internal causes o# the #acts o# the
9cult9 .ust be sou/ht BB at the ris= o# #indin/ other #acts,
# course, it is not true that e*erythin/ is always connected with e*erythin/ else BB this
is not a Mar2ist thesis and one does not need to in*o=e the whole in#rastructure and
superstructure to sort out a si.ple le/al detail, i# it is only a detail,

3, "he ter. 9?talinis.9, which the ?o*iet leaders ha*e a*oided usin/, but which was widely used by
bour/eois ideolo/ians and the "rots=yists, be#ore penetratin/ into :o..unist circles, o##ers in /eneral the
sa.e 9disad*anta/es9 as the ter. 9personality cult9, (t desi/nates a reality which innu.erable :o..unists,
abo*e all, ha*e e2perienced, either in direct and tra/ic #or., or less directly and with .ore or less serious
conse;uences, %ow this ter.inolo/y also has theoretical pretensions> a.on/ bour/eois ideolo/ists and
.any "rots=yists, (t e$plains nothin/, "o set out on the road o# a Mar2ist e2planation, to be able to pose the
proble. o# the e2planation o# these #acts, the least that is re;uired is to put #orward #ar$ist concepts, and
to see whether they are suitable, "hat is why ( a. proposin/ the concept o# 9de,iation 9, which is a concept
that can certainly be 9#ound9 in Mar2istBLeninist theory, "hus one .i/ht, #irst o# all, tal= o# a C"talinianC
de,iation > #irst o# all, because to tal= o# a de*iation necessarily re;uires that it should ne2t be quali'ied,
that one should e2plain in what it consisted, and always in Mar2ist ter.s, ne thin/, at the present sta/e,
.ust be .ade clear> to spea= o# a 9?talinian9 de*iation is not to e2plain it by an indi*idual, who would be
its 9cause9, "he ad0ecti*e certainly re#ers to a .an in history, but abo*e all to a certain period in the history
o# the (nternational Labour Mo*e.ent,

pa&e ,2
and only le*al) &ut is the 9?talin9 de*iation a detailF A si.ple le/al detailFK # course,
one cannot, at any and e*ery .o.ent, in a .o.ent, re.a=e what .any years ha*e
un.ade BB this is not a Mar2ist thesis, "here are o# course historical constructions which
are so interconnected with nei/hbourin/ buildin/s, which are so .uch propped up by
these latter that one cannot si.ply and brutally chop down their surroundin/s to /i*e
the. so.e air> one .ust so.eti.es proceed 9cautiously9, &ut the precautions o# the
"wentieth :on/ress , , , K
"he 9?talinian9 de*iation, in the #or. re*ealed to us by the ter.s o# the o##icial
declarations, pointed out certain #acts, without BB #or lac= o# Mar2ist e2planations BB
a*oidin/ the trap o# repeatin/ .uch earlier denunciations> those o# the .ost antiB
:o..unist bour/eois ideolo/y, and those o# the 9antiB?talinist9 theory o# "rots=yis., As
it was re,ealed to us, li.ited in its scope to 9*iolations o# socialist le*ality 9 alone BB
while the :o..unists o# the I,?,?,-, and o# the world had an in#initely .ore
9e2tensi*e9 e2perience o# it BB this de*iation could, #inally, only pro*o=e two possible
reactions 4lea*in/ aside its 9classical9 e2ploitation by antiB:o..unist and antiB?o*iet
ele.ents6, Either a le'twin* critique, which accepts the ter. 9de*iation9, e*en i# in a
*ery contradictory sense, and which, in order to account 'or it, underta=es serious
research into its basic historical causes> that is, i# +ohn Lewis will e2cuse .e, not into
Man 4or 'ersonality6, but into the ?uperstructure, relations o# production, and there#ore
the state o# class relations and the class stru//le in the I,?,?,-, ?uch a criti;ue .ay then,
but only then, be 0usti#ied in tal=in/ not only about a *iolation o# the law but also about
the reasons #or this *iolation, -r a ri*htwin* critique, which attac=s only certain aspects
o# the le*al superstructure, and o# course can then in*o=e Man and his -i/hts, and
oppose Man to the *iolation o# his -i/hts 4or si.ple 9wor=ersE councils9 to the
9bureaucracy96,
"he #act is> one practically ne,er hears anythin/ but the second criti;ue, And the
o##icial #or.ulation o# the criti;ue o# the 9cult9, o# the 9*iolations o# socialist le/ality9,
#ar #ro. =eepin/ the .ost *iolent bour/eois antiB:o..unis.

pa&e ,3
and "rots=yist antiB?talinis. at ar.Es len/th, actually pro*ides the. with a historical
ar/u.ent they could hardly ha,e hoped 'or > it /i*es the. a 0usti#ication, a second wind,
a second li#e, Mhich e2plains, let it be said in passin/, a /ood nu.ber o# apparently
parado2ical pheno.ena> #or e2a.ple, the resur/ence #i#ty years a#ter the ctober
-e*olution and twenty years a#ter the :hinese -e*olution o# r/aniHations which ha*e
lasted #orty years without winnin* a sin*le historical ,ictory 4because, unli=e so.e o# the
presentBday 9ultraBle#t9, they are or/aniHations, and they also ha*e a theory6> the
"rots=yist r/aniHations, And that is not to spea= o# the 9e##ecti*eness9 o# bour/eois antiB
?o*ietis., thirty years a#ter ?talin/radK
Howe*er that .ay be, we did not need to wait lon/ be#ore seein/ the o##icial criti;ue
o# the 9?talinian9 de*iation, that o# the 9personality cult9, produce BB in the special
circu.stances BB its ine*itable ideolo/ical e##ects, A#ter the "wentieth :on/ress an openly
ri/htist wa*e carried o## 4to spea= only o# the.6 .any Mar2ist and :o..unist
9intellectuals9, not only in the capitalist countries, but also in the socialist countries, (t is
not o# course a ;uestion o# puttin/ the intellectuals o# the socialist countries and Mestern
Mar2ists into the sa.e ba/ BB and especially not o# con#usin/ the .ass political protest o#
our co.rades in 'ra/ue, =nown as 9socialis. with a hu.an #ace9, with @araudyEs
9inte/ral hu.anis.9, etc, (n 'ra/ue they did not ha*e the sa.e choice o# words 4the
words did not ha*e the sa.e sense6 nor the sa.e choice o# roads, &ut here , , , K Here we
see :o..unists #ollowin/ the ?ocialB)e.ocrats and e*en reli/ious thin=ers 4who used
to ha*e an al.ost /uaranteed .onopoly in these thin/s6 in the practice o# e$ploitin* the
wor=s o# Mar2Es youth in order to draw out o# the. an ideolo/y o# Man, Liberty,
Alienation, "ranscendence, etc, BB without as=in/ whether the system o# these notions was
idealist or .aterialist, whether this ideolo/y was pettyBbour/eois or proletarian,
9rthodo2y9, as +ohn Lewis says, was al.ost sub.er/ed> not ?talinEs 9thou/ht9, which
continued and continues to hold itsel# co.#ortably abo*e the uproar, in its bases, its
9line9 and certain o# its practices BB but ;uite si.ply the theory o# Mar2 and Lenin,

pa&e ,(
(t was in these conditions that ( ca.e to inter*ene, let us say 9accidentally9, in the #or.
o# a critical re*iew ( wrote o# a nu.ber o# ?o*iet and Aast @er.an articles which had
been translated into French, "his re*iew, 9n the Coun/ Mar29, appeared in the .a/aHine
La %ense in 19$5,7R8 ( was tryin/, to the best o# .y ability and with the .a=eshi#t tools
at .y disposal, by criticiHin/ a #ew recei*ed ideas and as=in/ a #ew ;uestions, to co.bat
the conta/ion which was .enacin/9 us, "hat is how it was, At the be/innin/ there were
not *ery .any o# us, and +ohn Lewis is ri/ht> 9we9 were cryin/ 9in the wilderness9, or in
what certain people .i/ht call 9the wilderness9, &ut one .ust be *ery wary o# this =ind
o# 9wilderness9J or rather, =now how not to be #ri/htened by it, (n reality 9we9 ha*e ne*er
been alone, :o..unists are ne*er alone,
?o, a/ainst the ri/htistBidealist interpretations o# Mar2ist theory as a 9philosophy o#
.an9, o# Mar2is. as a theoretical hu.anis.J a/ainst the tendentious con#usion BB
whether positi*ist or sub0ecti*ist BB o# science and Mar2ist 9philosophy9J a/ainst the
e*olutionist reduction o# the .aterialist dialectic to the 9He/elian9 dialecticJ and in
/eneral a/ainst bour/eois and pettyBbour/eois positions, ( ha*e tried to de#end, we ha*e
tried to de#end, co.e what .ay, at the cost o# rash actions and errors, a #ew *ital ideas
which can be su..ed up in a sin/le idea> that which is special and speci#ic to Mar2,
which is re*olutionary in both the theoretical and political senses, and this in the #ace o#
bour/eois and pettyBbour/eois ideolo/y, with which he had to break in order to beco.e a
:o..unist and #ound the science o# history, the sa.e ideolo/y with which e*en today
we .ust still and always will ha*e to break, to beco.e, re.ain or beco.e a/ain
Mar2ists,
"he #or.s .ay ha*e chan/ed> but the root o# the ;uestion has re.ained, #or 1!5 years
or so, substantially the sa.e, "his bour/eois ideolo/y, which is the dominant ideolo/y,
and which wei/hs so hea*ily on the labour .o*e.ent and threatens its .ost *ital
#unctions BB unless the .o*e.ent #i/hts resolutely bac= on the basis o# its own positions,
;uite e2terior to bour/eois ideolo/y because proletarian BB this

R -eprinted in .or #ar$ 7"ranslatorEs note8,

pa&e ,)
bour/eois ideolo/y is actually, in its deepest essence, constituted by the ideolo/ical pair
economismEhumanism) &ehind the abstract cate/ories o# the philosophy which pro*ides it
with titles and airs, it was this pair o# notions which ( was ai.in/ at when ( .ade a 0oint
attac=, both on theoretical hu.anis. 4( repeat> theoreticalJ not on a word, or a #ew
phrases, or e*en an inspired idea o# the #uture, but on a philosophical lan/ua/e in which
9.an9 is a cate/ory with a theoretical 'unction6 and, passin/ by the *ul/ar #or.s o#
He/elianis. or e*olutionis. which 0oin with it, on economism)
For no one 4at least, no re*olutionary Mar2ist6 can #ail to see that when, in the .idst o#
the class stru//le, the litanies o# hu.anis. hold the theoretical and ideolo/ical sta/e, it is
econo.is. which is ;uietly winnin/, A*en under #eudalis., when hu.anist ideolo/y
was re*olutionary, it was still pro#oundly bour/eois, (n a bour/eois class society it always
has played and still does play the role o# hidin/ the classBdeter.ined econo.ic and
econo.istic practices /o*erned by the relations o# production, e2ploitation and e2chan/e,
and by bour/eois law, (n a bour/eois class society there is always the ris= that hu.anist
ideolo/y BB when it is not 0ust a slip o# the pen or an i.a/e o# political rhetoric, when it is
o# a lastin/ and or/anic character BB ser*es as a co*er #or an economistic de*iation in the
wor=ersE or/aniHations, which are not i..une to the conta/ion o# the do.inant ideolo/y,
"his de*iation is in principled contradiction to proletarian class positions, "he whole
history o# the -i/hts o# Man pro*es it> behind Man, it is &entha. who co.es out the
*ictor,748 Much o# the history o# the ?econd (nternational, whose do.inant tendency
Lenin denounced, also /oes to pro*e it> behind &ernsteinEs neoBDantian idealis., it is the
econo.ist current which co.es out on top, Mho can seriously clai. that the whole o#
this lon/ history, with all its con#licts and dan/ers, is behind us, and that it will ne*er
a/ain .enace us, that we shall ne*er a/ain be at ris=F
( a. tal=in/ about the ideolo/ical pair econo.is.Q hu.anis., (t is a pair in which the
two ter.s are co.ple.entary, (t is not an accidental lin=, but an or/anic and

4, Darl Mar2, (apital, *ol, 1, 'art 1, section 3,

pa&e ,*
consubstantial one, (t is born spontaneously, that is to say necessarily, o# the bour/eois
practices o# production and e2ploitation, and at the same time o# the le/al practices o#
bour/eois law and its ideolo/y, which pro*ide a sanction #or the capitalist relations o#
production and e2ploitation and their reproduction,
And it is ;uite true that bour/eois ideolo/y is #unda.entally economist, that the
capitalist sees e*erythin/ #ro. the point o# *iew o# co..odity relations and #ro. the
point o# *iew o# the .aterial conditions 4.eans o# production are also co..odities6
which allow hi. to e2ploit that *ery special 9co..odity9, the labour power o# the
wor=ers, "hus, he sees thin/s #ro. the point o# *iew o# the techniques o# the e2tortion o#
surplusB*alue 4which are lin=ed to/ether with capitalist or/aniHation and di*ision o#
labour6, #ro. the point o# *iew o# the technolo/y o# e2ploitation, o# econo.ic
9per#or.ance9 and de*elop.ent> #ro. the point o# *iew o# capitalist accu.ulation, And
what does the &our/eois Acono.ist doF Mar2 showed that, e*en when he raised hi.sel#
to the point o# thin=in/ in ter.s o# capitalis., he did no .ore than theoriHe the
econo.istic *iewpoint o# the capitalist, Mar2 criticiHed the *ery pro0ect o# 9'olitical
Acono.y9, as such, because it was economistic)
&ut at the sa.e ti.e it is true that the re*erse side o# the sa.e coin, the necessary
9co*er9, the alibi, the 9point o# honour9 o# this econo.is. is hu.anis. or bour/eois
liberalis., "his is because ideas #ind their #oundations in the cate/ories o# &our/eois
Law and the le/al ideolo/y .aterially indispensable to the #unctionin/ o# &our/eois Law>
liberty o# the 'erson, that is, in principle, his ri/ht #reely to dispose o# hi.sel#, his ri/ht to
his property, his #ree will and his body 4the proletarian> a 'erson 9#ree9 to sell hi.sel#K6,
and his other /oods 4pri*ate property> real property BB which abolishes others BB that o# the
.eans o# production6,
"his is the breedin/ /round o# econo.is.Qhu.anis.> the capitalist .ode o#
production and e2ploitation, And this is the precise lin= by which, the precise place in
which these two ideolo/ies 0oin to/ether as a pair > Aour*eois Law, which at the sa.e
ti.e both pro*ides a real support #or

pa&e ,+
capitalist relations o# production, and lends its cate/ories to liberal and hu.anist
ideolo/y, includin/ bour/eois philosophy,
"he ;uestion then arises> when this bour/eois ideolo/ical pair penetrates into Mar2is.,
9when it pursues the stru//le, not on its own terrain but on the /eneral terrain o#
Mar2is., as re*isionis.9 4Lenin6, what does it beco.eF (t re.ains what it was be#ore> a
bour*eois point o# *iew, but this ti.e 9#unctionin/9 within Mar2is., As astonishin/ as
this .ay see., the whole history o# the Labour Mo*e.ent and LeninEs theses are witness
to it>7!8 Mar2is. itsel# can, in certain circu.stances, be considered and treated as, e,en
practised as a bour*eois point o' ,iew) %ot only by 9ar.chair Mar2ists9, who reduce it to
acade.ic bour/eois sociolo/y, and who are ne*er anythin/ but 9#unctionaries o# the
do.inant ideolo/y9 BB but also by sections o# the Labour Mo*e.ent, and their leaders,
"his is so.ethin/ which depends on the relations o# power in the class stru//le, and, at
the sa.e ti.e, on class position in the class stru//le, in the 9line9, the or/aniHation and
the #unctionin/ o# the class stru//le #ou/ht by the Labour Mo*e.ent, "hat is to say that
it is a historical #or. in which the 'usion between the Labour Mo*e.ent and Mar2ist
theory BB which alone can assure the obDecti,ely 9re*olutionary9 character o# the
9.o*e.ent9 4Lenin6 BB is held up or re*ersed, in the #ace o# what .ust perhaps, #or
purposes o# understandin/, also be called a 9#usion9> but ;uite another =ind o# 9#usion9,
that between the Labour Mo*e.ent and bour/eois ideolo/y,
"he econo.is.Qhu.anis. pair, when it is introduced into Mar2is., does not really
chan/e in #or., e*en i# it is #orced to .a=e so.e chan/es 4only so.e6 in its *ocabulary,
Hu.anis. re.ains hu.anis.> it ta=es on a ?ocialB)e.ocratic accent, one which raises
not the ;uestion o# the class stru**le and its abolition, throu/h the e.ancipation o# the
workin* class, but that o# the de#ence o# Hu.an -i/hts, o# liberty and 0ustice, e*en o# the
liberation and #ree de*elopB

!, (') #ar$ism and Re,isionism, The (ollapse o' the "econd !nternational, The Rene*ade ?autsky, etc,

pa&e ,,
.ent o# the 9personality9 or the 9inte/ral personality9, Acono.is. re.ains econo.is.>
#or e2a.ple, in the e2altation o# the de*elop.ent o# the 'roducti*e Forces, o# their
9socialiHation9 4what =ind o# socialiHationF6, o# the , 9scienti#ic and technical re*olution9,
o# 9producti*ity9, etc,
:an we .a=e a co.parisonF Ces, we can, And we disco*er the #actor which per.its us
to identi#y the ideolo/ical pair economismEhumanism and its practices as bour/eois> it is
the eli.ination o# so.ethin/ which ne*er #i/ures in econo.is. or hu.anis., the
elimination o' the relations o' production and o' the class stru**le)
"he #act that the bour/eoisie, in its own ideolo/y, =eeps silent about the relations o#
production and the class stru//le, in order to e2alt not only 9e2pansion9 and
9producti*ity9 but also Man and his liberty BB that is its own a##air, and it is ;uite in order,
in bour*eois order > because it needs this silence, which allows econo.is.Qhu.anis.,
e2pressin/ the bour*eois point o' ,iew, to wor= at the conceal.ent o# the relations o#
production while helpin/ to /uarantee and reproduce the., &ut when the Mor=ersE
'arties, be#ore the re*olution, or e*en a#ter, the.sel*es =eep silent 4or se.iBsilent6 about
the relations o# production, the class stru//le, and their concrete #or.s,7$8 while e2altin/
both the 'roducti*e Forces and Man BB this is ;uite a di##erent .atterK &ecause, unless it
is only a ;uestion o# words or o# a #ew speeches, i# it is really a ;uestion o# a consistent
political line and practice, then you can bet BB as Lenin did, when he spo=e about the preB
1914 ?econd (nternational BB that this bour/eois point o# *iew is a conta.inatin/ a/ent
which can threaten or e*en o*erco.e the proletarian point o' ,iew within #ar$ism itsel')
And since we ha*e been tal=in/ about the ?econd (nternational, let us say a brie# word
about the "hird, about the last ten years o# its e2istence, A#ter all, why be silent about a
;uestion which is burnin/ to be e2pressedF Mhy .eet the o##icial silence with nothin/
but another silence, and thus /i*e it sanctionF For an o##icial silence does still rei/n BB

$, Lenin> in the 9transition9 between capitalis. and co..unis., classes re.ain, the class stru//le
re.ains, but takes on new 'orms)

pa&e ,-
beneath a #acade o# #ei/ned or e.barrassed 9e2planations9 BB o*er this period, one whose
herois., whose /reatness, whose dra.as we ha*e li*ed throu/h or =nown, Mhy should
we not try to understand, whate*er the ris=s o# what we say, not only the .erits o# the
(nternational but also the ine*itable contradictions o# its positions and its line 4and how
could it ha*e a*oided the., especially /i*en the tra/ic ti.es with which it had to deal6F (
a. rather a#raid that we .ay one day ha*e to reco/niHe the e2istence within it o# a
certain tendency which, held in bounds by LeninEs e##orts, could not #inally be .astered,
and ended up by ;uietly ta=in/ o*er the leadin/ role, ( a. rather a#raid that a lon/ ti.e
.i/ht be allowed to /o by BB #or apparently pra/.atic reasons, which doubtless ha*e
deeper roots BB be#ore a 9hypothesis9 such as that which ( want to put #orward today could
hope to be stated in blac= and white, and put to the test o' a *enuine #ar$ist analysis) (
shall ta=e the personal ris= o# ad*ancin/ this hypothesis now, in the #or. o# necessarily
sche.atic propositions>
1, "he (nternational :o..unist Mo*e.ent has been a##ected since the 1935s, to di##erent
de/rees and in *ery di##erent ways in di##erent countries and or/aniHations, by the e##ects
o# a sin*le de*iation, which can pro*isionally be called the 9?talinian de*iation9,
3, Deepin/ thin/s well in proportion, that is to say, respectin/ essential distinctions, but
ne*ertheless /oin/ beyond the .ost ob*ious pheno.ena BB which are, in spite o# their
e2tre.ely serious character, historically secondary> ( .ean those which are /enerally
/rouped to/ether in :o..unist 'arties under the headin/ 9personality cult9 and
9do/.atis.9 BB the ?talinian de*iation can be considered as a 'orm 4a special 'orm,
con*erted by the state o# the world class stru//le, the e2istence o# a sin/le socialist ?tate,
and the ?tate power held by the &olshe*i= 'arty6 o# the posthumous re,en*e o' the
"econd !nternational > as a re*i*al o# its .ain tendency,
3, "his .ain tendency was, as we =now, basically an econo.istic one,

pa&e -.
"his is only a hypothesis, and ( a. si.ply layin/ down its re#erence points, (t naturally
poses *ery /reat proble.s, "he .ost ob*ious o# these proble.s can be stated in the
#ollowin/ way> how could a basically econo.istic tendency ha*e co.bined with the
superstructural e##ects we =now so well, e##ects which it produced as the trans#or.ation
o# its own #or.sF 0hat were the .aterial #or.s o# e2istence o# this tendency, which
enabled it to produce these e##ects in the e2istin/ con0unctureF 2ow did this tendency,
centred #ro. a certain ti.e onwards on the I??-, spread throu/h the whole (nternational
:o..unist Mo*e.ent, and what special BB and so.eti.es di##erin/ BB #or.s did it ta=eF
(# so.e readers are disconcerted by the co.parison between the econo.is. o# the
?econd (nternational and that o# the 9?talinian de*iation9, ( will 'irst o# all reply> you
.ust loo= and see what is the #irst principle o# analysis reco..ended and used by Lenin
at the be/innin/ o# :hapter 7 o# The (ollapse o' the "econd !nternational to help
understand a de,iation in the history o# the Labour Mo*e.ent, "he #irst thin/ you ha*e to
do is to see i# this de*iation is not 9lin=ed with some 'ormer current o' socialism9, %ot
because o# so.e *ul/ar 9historicis.9, but because there e2ists a continuity, in the history
o# the Labour Mo*e.ent, o# its di##iculties, its proble.s, its contradictions, o# correct
solutions and there#ore also o' its de,iations, because o# the continuity o# a sin/le class
stru//le a/ainst the bour/eoisie, and o# a sin/le class stru//le 4econo.ic, political and
ideolo*icaltheoretical6 o# the bour/eoisie a/ainst the Labour Mo*e.ent, "he possibility
o# cases o# 9posthu.ous re*en/e9, o# 9re*i*als9, is based on this continuity,
&ut ( would li=e to add so.ethin/ else, "here are o# course serious political ;uestions
at sta=e in the su..ary and sche.atic hypotheses which ( a. proposin/ BB but, abo*e all,
there e2ists the possibility o# serious a.bi/uities which .ust at all costs be /uarded
a/ainst, Loo= how Lenin BB who was unco.pro.isin/ in his denunciation o# the idealistB
econo.ist tendency o# the ?econd (nternational BB treated this *ery or/aniHation> he ne*er
reduced the ?econd (nternational to its de*iation, He reco/niHed the di##erent periods in
its history, he distin/uished the .ain ;uestion #ro. the

pa&e -1
secondary one BB and, #or e2a.ple, he always /a*e the (nternational credit #or ha*in/
de*eloped the or/aniHations o# the proletarian class stru//le, the trade unions and
wor=ersE partiesJ nor did he e*er re#use to cite Dauts=y, or to de#end 'le=hano*Es
philosophical wor=, (n the sa.e way, and #or in#initely .ore ob*ious and power#ul
reasons, ?talin cannot be reduced to the de*iation which we ha*e lin=ed to his na.eJ
e*en less can this be done with the "hird (nternational which he ca.e in the thirties to
do.inate, He had other historical .erits, He understood that it was necessary to abandon
the .iraculous idea o# an i..inent 9world re*olution9 and to underta=e instead the
9construction o# socialis.9 in one country, And he drew the conse;uences> it .ust be
de#ended at any cost as the #oundation and last line o# de#ence o# socialis. throu/hout
the world, it .ust be .ade into an i.pre/nable #ortress capable o# withstandin/ the
i.perialist sie/eJ and, to that end, it .ust be pro*ided with a hea*y industry, (t was this
*ery industry that turned out the ?talin/rad tan=s which ser*ed the heroic stru//le o# the
?o*iet people in their #i/ht to the death to liberate the world #ro. %aHis., ur history
also passed in that direction, And in spite o# the de#or.ations, caricatures and tra/edies
#or which this period is responsible, it .ust be recalled that .illions o# :o..unists also
learned, e*en i# ?talin 9tau/ht9 the. in do/.atic #or., that there e2isted %rinciples o'
Leninism)
"hus, i# it see.s possible, =eepin/ e*erythin/ in proportion, to tal= about the
posthu.ous re*en/e o# the ?econd (nternational, it .ust be added that it is a re*en/e
which too= place in other ti.es, in other circu.stances, and o# course in other 'orms,
which cannot be the sub0ect o# a literal co.parison, &ut in spite o# these considerable
di##erences one can tal= about the re*en/e, or the re*i*al, or the resur/ence o# a tendency
which is basically the sa.e> o# an econo.istic conception and 9line9, e*en when these
were hidden by declarations which were, in their own way, cruelly 9hu.anist9 4the
slo/an 9Man, the .ost precious capital9, the .easures and dispositions, which re.ained
a dead letter, o# the ?o*iet :onstitution o# 193$6,
(# this is true, i# the 9?talinian9 de*iation cannot be

pa&e -2
reduced to 9*iolations o# ?o*iet le/ality9 aloneJ i# it is related to .ore pro#ound causes in
history and in the conception o# the class stru//le and o# class position J and e*en
supposin/ that the ?o*iet people are now protected #ro. all *iolations o# le*ality BB it
does not #ollow that either they or we ha*e co.pletely o*erco.e the 9?talinian9
de*iation 4neither the causes, nor the .echanis.s, nor the e##ects o# which ha*e been the
ob0ect o# a 9concrete analysis9 in the Leninist sense, that is to say, o# a scienti#ic Mar2ist
analysis6 simply on account o' the denunciation o' the 9personality cult 9, or by a patient
wor= o# recti#ication unenli/htened by any analysis, (n these conditions, with all the
in#or.ation, past and present, a*ailable to us 4includin/ the o##icial silence, which re#uses
to pronounce a/ainst these #acts6, we can bet that the ?talinian 9line9, pur/ed o#
9*iolations o# le/ality9 and there#ore 9liberaliHed9 BB with econo.is. and hu.anis.
wor=in/ to/ether BB has, #or better or worse, sur*i*ed ?talin and BB it should not be
astonishin/K BB the "wentieth :on/ress, ne is e*en 0usti#ied in supposin/ that, behind
the tal= about the di##erent *arieties o# 9hu.anis.9, whether restrained or not, this 9line9
continues to pursue an honourable career, in a peculiar =ind o# silence, a so.eti.es
tal=ati*e and so.eti.es .ute silence, which is now and a/ain bro=en by the noise o# an
e2plosion or a split,
?o that ( do not ha*e to lea*e anythin/ out o# consideration, ( will ad*ance one .ore
ris=y hypothesis which will certainly 9say so.ethin/9 to +ohn Lewis, specialist o#
:hinese politics, (# we loo= bac= o*er our whole history o# the last #orty years or .ore, it
see.s to .e that, in rec=onin/ up the account 4which is not an easy thin/ to do6, the only
historically e$istin* 4le#t6 9criti;ue9 o# the #unda.entals o# the 9?talinian de*iation9 to be
#ound BB and which, .oreo*er, is contemporary with this *ery de*iation, and thus #or the
.ost part precedes the "wentieth :on/ress BB is a concrete criti;ue, one which e2ists in
the #acts, in the stru//le, in the line, in the practices, their principles and their #or.s, o#
the :hinese -e*olution, A silent criti;ue, which spea=s throu/h its actions, the result o#
the political and ideolo/ical stru//les o# the -e*olution, #ro. the Lon/ March to the
:ultural -e*olution and its results, A criti;ue 'rom a'ar) A criti;ue

pa&e -3
9#ro. behind the scenes9, "o be loo=ed at .ore closely, to be interpreted, A
contradictory criti;ue, .oreo*er BB i# only because o# the disproportion between acts and
te2ts, Mhate*er you li=e> but a criti;ue #ro. which one can learn, which can help us to
test our hypotheses, that is, help us to see our own history .ore clearly, &ut here too, o#
course, we ha*e to spea= 0n ter.s o# a tendency and o# speci#ic #or.s BB without lettin/
the #or.s .as= the tendency and its contradictions,
(# ( ha*e been able BB with the .eans at .y disposal, and #ro. a#ar BB e*en *ery #eebly
to echo these historic stru//les and to indicate, behind their ideolo/ical e##ects, the
e2istence o# so.e real proble.s> this, #or a :o..unist philosopher, is no .ore than his
duty,
"hese, to /o no #urther, are so.e o# the *ery concrete 9;uestions9 BB where politics
stares you in the #ace BB which haunt the .ar/ins o# the si.ple philosophical wor=
underta=en by .e, #or better or worse, .ore than ten years a/o,
As #ar as +ohn Lewis is concerned, it see.s that it ne*er occurred to hi. to as= such
;uestionsK Fro. our point o# *iew ( hope that it is so, &ecause the .atter would be that
.uch .ore serious i#, ha*in/ understood what was at sta=e, he had =ept silent about it> so
as not to /et his #in/ers burned,
+une 1973


pa&e -(

Remar6 on the Cate&ory7
3#rocess without
a Su8ect or 9oal0s13

"his #or.ula 79process without a ?ub0ect9, 9process without a ?ub0ect or @oal4s698 has
e*erythin/ re;uired to o##end a/ainst the 9e*idence9 o# co..on sense, that is 4@ra.sci6
o# the do.inant ideolo/y, and thus without any trouble at all to .a=e so.e deter.ined
ene.ies,
For e2a.ple, the ob0ection will be raised that 9the .asses9 and 9classes9 are, when all
is said and done, 9.ade up o#9 men K And that, i# Man 4a cate/ory which is then si.ply
declared to be , , , an 9abstraction9, or, to add wei/ht, a 9speculati*e abstraction96 cannot
be said to .a=e history, at least men do so BB concrete, li*in/ .en, hu.an sub0ects, (n
support o# this idea Mar2 hi.sel# will be cited as witness, his testi.ony bein/ the
be*innin* o# a little re.ar= in the Ei*hteenth Arumaire > 9Men .a=e their own
history , , ,9 Mith the bac=in/ o# e*idence and ;uote, the conclusion is ;uic=ly drawn>
history has 9sub0ects9J these sub0ects are ob*iously 9.en9J 9.en9 are there#ore, i# not the
?ub0ect o# history, at least the subDects o# history , , ,
"his =ind o# reasonin/ un#ortunately only stands up at the cost o# con#usions, slidin/
.eanin/s and ideolo/ical wordB/a.es> on ManB.en, ?ub0ectBsub0ects, etc,
Let us be care#ul, there#ore, not to play with words, and let us loo= at the thin/ a bit
closer,
(n .y opinion> .en 4plural6, in the concrete sense, are necessarily sub0ects 4plural6 in
history, because they act in history as sub0ects 4plural6, &ut there is no ?ub0ect 4sin/ular6
o' history, And ( will /o e*en #urther> 9.en9 are not 9the sub0ects9 o' history, Let .e
e2plain,
"o understand these distinctions one .ust de#ine the nature o# the ;uestions at issue,
"he ;uestion o# the constituB

pa&e -)
tion o# indi*iduals as historical subDects, acti*e in history, has nothin/ in principle to do
with the ;uestion o# the 9"ubDect o# history9, or e*en with that o# the 9subDects o#
history9, "he #irst ;uestion is o# a scienti'ic =ind> it concerns historical .aterialis., "he
second ;uestion is o# a philosophical =ind> it concerns dialectical .aterialis.,
First ;uestion> scienti'ic)
"hat hu.an, i,e, social indi*iduals are acti,e in history BB as a*ents o# the di##erent
social practices o# the historical process o# production and reproduction BB that is a #act,
&ut, considered as a*ents, hu.an indi*iduals are not 9#ree9 and 9constituti*e9 sub0ects in
the philosophical sense o# these ter.s, "hey wor= in and throu/h the deter.inations o#
the 'orms o' historical e$istence o# the social relations o# production and reproduction
4labour process, di*ision and or/aniHation o# labour, process o# production and
reproduction, class stru//le, etc,6, &ut that is not all, "hese a/ents can only be a/ents i'
they are subDects) "his ( thin= ( showed in .y article on 9(deolo/y and (deolo/ical ?tate
Apparatuses9, 7?ee Lenin and %hilosophy and other Essays, London %L&, 19718 %o
hu.an, i,e, social indi*idual can be the a/ent o# a practice i# he does not ha*e the 'orm o'
a subDect) "he 9sub0ectB#or.9 is actually the #or. o# historical e2istence o# e*ery
indi*idual, o# e*ery a/ent o# social practices> because the social relations o# production
and reproduction necessarily co.prise, as an inte*ral part, what Lenin calls 940uridicoB6
ideolo*ical social relations 9, which, in order to #unction, i.pose the sub0ectB#or. on
each a/entBindi*idual, "he a/entBindi*iduals thus always act in the sub0ectB#or., as
sub0ects, &ut the #act that they are necessarily sub0ects does not .a=e the a/ents o#
socialBhistorical practices into the subDect or subDects o# history 4in the philosophical
sense o# the ter.> subDect o'6, "he sub0ectBa/ents are only acti*e in history throu/h the
deter.ination o# the relations o# production and reproduction, and in their #or.s,
?econd ;uestion> philosophical)
(t is #or precise ideolo/ical ends that bour/eois philosophy

pa&e -*
has ta=en the le/alBideolo/ical notion o# the subDect, .ade it into a philosophical
cate/ory, its nu.ber one philosophical cate/ory, and posed the ;uestion o# the ?ub0ect o#
=nowled/e 4the e*o o# the co/ito, the Dantian or Husserlian transcendental sub0ect, etc,6,
o# .orality, etc,, and o# the "ubDect o' history, "his illusory ;uestion does o# course ha*e
a purpose, but in its position and #or. it has no sense as #ar as dialectical .aterialis. is
concerned, which purely and si.ply re0ects it, as it re0ects 4#or e2a.ple6 the ;uestion o#
@odEs e2istence, (n ad*ancin/ the "hesis o# a 9process without a ?ub0ect or @oal4s69, (
want si.ply but clearly to say this, "o be dialecticalB.aterialist, Mar2ist philosophy .ust
brea= with the idealist cate/ory o# the 9?ub0ect9 as ri/in, Assence and :ause,
responsible in its internality #or all the deter.inations o# the e2ternal 9b0ect9,718 o#
which it is said to be the internal 9?ub0ect9, For Mar2ist philosophy there can be no
?ub0ect as an Absolute :entre, as a -adical ri/in, as a Ini;ue :ause, %or can one, in
order to /et out o# the proble., rely on a cate/ory li=e that o# the 9e2B:entration o# the
Assence9 4Lucien ?L*e6, since it is an illusory co.pro.ise which BB usin/ a #raudulently
9radical9 ter., one whose root is per#ectly con#or.ist 4e2Bcentration6 BB sa#e/uards the
u.bilical cord between Assence and :entre and there#ore re.ains a prisoner o# idealist
philosophy> since there is no :entre, e*ery e$Bcentration is super#luous or a sha., (n
reality Mar2ist philosophy thin=s in and accordin/ to ;uite di##erent cate/ories>
deter.ination in the last instance BB which is ;uite di##erent #ro. the ri/in, Assence or
:ause unes BB deter.ination by -elations 4idem6, contradiction, process, 9nodal points9
4Lenin6, etc,> in short, in ;uite a di##erent con#i/uration and accordin/ to ;uite di##erent
cate/ories #ro. classical idealist philosophy,
%aturally, these philosophical cate/ories do not only concern history,
&ut i# we restrict oursel*es to history 4which is what concerns us here6, the
philosophical ;uestion presents itsel# in the #ollowin/ ter.s, "here is no ;uestion o#
contestin/ the

1, "he cate/ory o# 9process without a ?ub0ect or @oal4s69 can there#ore ta=e the #or.> 9process without a
"ubDect or -bDect 9,

pa&e -+
/ains o# historical .aterialis., which says that indi*iduals are a/entBsub0ects in history
under the deter.ination o# the #or.s o# e2istence o# the relations o# production and
reproduction, (t is a ;uestion o# so.ethin/ ;uite di##erent> o# =nowin/ whether history
can be thou/ht philosophically, in its .odes o# deter.ination, accordin/ to the idealist
cate/ory o# the "ubDect) "he position o# dialectical .aterialis. on this ;uestion see.s
;uite clear to .e, ne cannot seiHe 4be*rei'en > concei*e6, that is to say, think real history
4the process o# the reproduction o# social #or.ations and their re*olutionary
trans#or.ation6 as i# it could be reduced to an ri/in, an Assence, or a :ause 4e*en
Man6, which would be its ?ub0ect BB a ?ub0ect, a 9bein/9 or 9essence9, held to be
identi'iable, that is to say e2istin/ in the #or. o# the unity o# an internality, and
4theoretically and practically responsible identity, internality and responsibility are
constituti*e, a.on/ other thin/s, o# e*ery sub0ect6, thus accountable, thus capable o#
accountin* 'or the whole o# the 9pheno.ena9 o# history,
"he .atter is ;uite clear when we are con#ronted with classical idealis., which, within
the openly stated cate/ory o# liberty, ta=es Man 4U the Hu.an -ace U Hu.anity6 to be
the ?ub0ect and the @oal o# historyJ c# the Enli*htenment, and Dant, the 9purest9
philosopher o# bour/eois ideolo/y, "he .atter is also clear when we are con#ronted with
the philosophical pettyBbour/eois co..unitarian anthropolo*y o# Feuerbach 4still
respected by Mar2 in the 4@II #anuscripts6, in which the Assence o# Man is the ri/in,
:ause and @oal o# history,
&ut the sa.e position e*idently ta=es on a .ore decepti*e air in the postBHusserlian
and preBDantian 4:artesian6 pheno.enolo/ical interpretations, li=e those o# ?artre, where
the Dantian "heses o# the "ranscendental "ubDect, uni;ue because one, and o# the Liberty
o# 2umanity, are .i2ed up and 9s;uashed to/ether9, and where the ?ub0ect is .ultiplied
within a theory o# the ori*inatin* Liberty o# an in#inity o# 9concrete9 transcendental
sub0ects 4"ran )uc "hao said, e2plainin/ Husserl> 9Me are all, you and (, each one o# us,
Etranscendental e/osE and Etranscendental e;ualsE 7Ee*os E and Ee*au$ E89, which brin/s us
bac= to the

pa&e -,
"hesis that 9.en9 4the concrete indi*iduals6 are the sub0ects 4transcendental, constituti*e6
o# history6, "his is the basis o# ?artreEs special interest in a 9little phrase9 #ro. the
Ei*hteenth Arumaire, and a si.ilar phrase #ro. An/els, which #it hi. li=e a /lo*e, %ow
this position BB which brin/s the Dantian cate/ories down to the le*el, no lon/er o# an
anthropolo/ical philosophy 4Feuerbach6, but o# a *ul/ar philosophical psychoBsociolo/y
BB not only has nothin/ to do with Mar2is., but actually constitutes a ;uite dubious
theoretical position which it is practically i.possible to concei,e and to de#end, Cou 0ust
ha*e to read the (ritique o' 1ialectical Reason, which announces an Athics that ne*er
appeared, to be con*inced o# this point,
(n proposin/ the cate/ory o# the 9process without a ?ub0ect or @oal4s69, we thus draw a
9de.arcation line9 4Lenin6 between dialecticalB.aterialist positions and bour/eois or
pettyBbour/eois idealist positions, %aturally, one cannot e2pect e,erythin* #ro. a #irst
inter*ention, "his 9de.arcation line9 .ust be 9wor=ed on9, &ut, as Lenin said #or his
part, a de.arcation line BB i# it is correct BB is in principle su##icient, 0ust as it is, to de#end
us #ro. idealis. and to .ar= out the way #orward,
"hese philosophical positions are o# course not without their conse;uences, %ot only,
#or e2a.ple, do they i.ply that Mar2is. has nothin/ to do with the 9anthropolo/ical
;uestion9 49Mhat is .anF96, or with a theory o# the realiHationBob0ecti#icationBalienationB
disalienation o# the 2uman Essence 4as in Feuerbach and his heirs> theoreticians o#
philosophical rei#ication and #etishis.6, or e*en with the theory o# the 9e2centration o#
the Hu.an Assence9, which only criticiHes the idealis. o# the ?ub0ect #ro. within the
li.its o# the idealis. o# the ?ub0ect, dressed up with the attributes o# the 9ense.ble o#
social relations9 o# the si2th Thesis on .euerbach BB but they also allow us to understand
the sense o# Mar2Es #a.ous 9little phrase9 in the Ei*hteenth Arumaire)
"his co..ent, in its complete #or., reads as #ollows> 9Men .a=e their own history,
but they do not .a=e it out o# #reely chosen ele.ents 4aus 'reien "tHcken6, under
circu.stances chosen by the.sel*es, but under circu.sB

pa&e --
tances 49mstJnde6 directly encountered 4,or*e'undene6, /i*en by and trans.itted #ro.
the past,9 And BB as i# he had #oreseen the e2ploitation o# these #irst #i*e words, and e*en
these 9circu.stances9 #ro. which ?artre draws out such daHHlin/ e##ects o# the 9practicoB
inert9, that is, o# liberty BB Mar2, in the 're#ace to the Ei*hteenth Arumaire, written
se*enteen years later 4in 1<$9, two years a#ter (apital6, set down the #ollowin/ lines> 9(
show so.ethin/ ;uite di##erent 4di''erent #ro. the ideolo/y o# Hu/o and o# 'roudhon,
who both hold the indi*idual %apoleon ((( to be the 7detestable or /lorious8 cause
9responsible 9 #or the coup d'tat6, na.ely how the class stru**le 4Mar2Es e.phasis6 in
France created the circu.stances 49mstJnde6 and the relations 4/erhJltnisse6 which
allowed 4ermK*licht6 a person 4a sub0ect6 so .ediocre and /rotes;ue to play the role o# a
hero9,
ne .ust read oneEs authors closely, History really is a 9process without a ?ub0ect or
@oal4s69, where the /i*en circumstances in which 9.en9 act as sub0ects under the
deter.ination o# social relations are the product o# the class stru**le) History there#ore
does not ha*e a ?ub0ect, in the philosophical sense o# the ter., but a motor > that *ery
class stru//le,
1 May 1973


pa&e 1.. 7blan=8
pa&e 1.1

2.
Elements of
Self-Criticism



pa&e 1.2

/orewor'

"he reader will #ind two pre*iously unpublished essays here,
"he #irst dates #ro. +une 1973, (t was to be included in the Reply to John Lewis, thus
addin/ to the ele.ents o# sel#Bcriticis. to be #ound there, which in #act, it .ay be
re.e.bered, were li.ited to a recti#ication o# the de#inition o# philosophy, &ut in the end
it could not be included in that te2t, which had to be =ept to the len/th o# what was
actually only a .a/aHine article, and also because ( wanted to preser*e the unity o# the
sa.e te2t when it was published in French,
(n this essay there can be #ound, #or the #irst ti.e, a critical e2a.ination o# the
positions ( too= in .or #ar$ and Readin* (apital BB positions which, two years a#ter the
publication o# these wor=s, in the 're#ace to the (talian edition o# Readin* (apital, (
characteriHed as a##ected by a 9theoreticist tendency9,
( ha*e ta=en the opportunity o# addin/ to these Elements o' "el'(riticism, as a
supple.ent, an earlier essay 4#ro. +uly 19756, which deals with the de*elop.ent o# the
youn/ Mar2, and indicates in what direction ( was then wor=in/, "his sel#Bcriticis.,
whose 9lo*ic 9 and internal ar/u.ents ( present here, in the #or. in which they ca.e to
disturb our course o# thou/ht on the sub0ect, is naturally not a purely internal
pheno.enon, (t can only be understood as the e##ect o# a quite di''erent, e$ternal Clo*icC,
that o# the political e*ents which ( re#erred to in the Reply to John Lewis)

pa&e 1.3
"he reader will wor= out #or hi.sel# the necessary relation between these two 9lo*ics
9, without #or/ettin/ the pri.acy o# practice o*er theory BB that is, the pri.acy o# the
class stru//le in econo.ics and politics o*er the class stru//le in theory,
May 35, 1974


pa&e 1.(

"o Maldec= -ochet
who ad.ired ?pinoHa
and spent a lon/ day with .e
tal=in/ about hi., in +une 19$$,


pa&e 1.)

Elements of
Self-Criticism

( really thin= that, a#ter +ohn Lewis has /i*en his point o# *iew on .y essays 4which are
now between se*en and twel*e years old, since the #irst article collected in .or #ar$
dates #ro. 19$56, a#ter so .any critics, indeed, ha*e /i*en their points o# *iew, that (
should now present my own)
( ha*e ne*er disowned .y essays> there was no /ood reason to do so, &ut, in 19$7, two
years a#ter their publication, ( ad.itted 4in an (talian edition o# Readin* (apital, as well
as in other #orei/n editions6 that they were .ar=ed by an erroneous tendency, ( pointed
out the e2istence o# this error, and ( /a*e it a na.e> theoreticism) "oday, ( thin= ( can /o
#urther, and de#ine the special 9ob0ect9 o# the error, its essential #or.s and its
re*erberations,
( should add that instead o# tal=in/ about an,error it would be better to tal= about a
de*iation, A theoreticist de*iation, Cou will see why ( a. su//estin/ a chan/e o#
ter.inolo/y BB that is, in this case, a chan/e o# cate/ory BB and what is at sta=e
philosophically and politically when ( stress this nuance)
"he whole thin/ can be su..ed up in a #ew words,
( wanted to de#end Mar2is. a/ainst the real dan/ers o# bour*eois ideolo/y> it was
necessary to stress its re*olutionary new characterJ it was there#ore necessary to 9pro*e9
that there is an anta/onis. between Mar2is. and bour/eois ideolo/y, that Mar2is.
could not ha*e de*eloped in Mar2 or in the labour .o*e.ent e2cept /i*en a radical and
unre.ittin/ break with bour/eois ideolo/y, an unceasin/ stru//le a/ainst the assaults o#
this ideolo/y, "his thesis was correct, (t still is correct,

pa&e 1.*
&ut instead o# e2plainin/ this historical #act in all its di.ensions BB social, political,
ideolo/ical and theoretical BB ( reduced it to a si.ple theoretical #act> to the
episte.olo/ical 9break 9 which can be obser*ed in Mar2Es wor=s #ro. 1<4! onwards, As
a conse;uence ( was led to /i*e a rationalist e2planation o# the 9brea=9, contrastin/ truth
and error in the #or. o# the speculati*e distinction between science and ideolo*y, in the
sin/ular and in /eneral, "he contrast between Mar2is. and bour/eois ideolo/y thus
beca.e si.ply a special case o# this distinction, -eduction V interpretation> #ro. this
rationalistBspeculati*e dra.a, the class stru//le was practically absent,
All the e##ects o# .y theoreticis. deri*e #ro. this rationalistBspeculati*e
interpretation,
"hus, to strai/hten thin/s out, ( .ust reBe2a.ine the situation #ro. a critical
perspecti*e> not in order to introduce new sub0ects o# discussion 4which would create a
di*ersion6, but in order to co.e bac= to that departure point, to that special 9ob0ect9, on
which .y theoreticist tendency too= the opportunity to #i2 itsel# BB in short, to the
;uestion o# the 9brea=9, to that e2traordinary politicalBtheoretical ad*enture which too=
#or. and de*eloped, #ro. 1<4! onwards, in Mar2Es wor= BB so that ( can show how (
interpreted it when ( carried out this reduction,


pa&e 1.+

1. 4he 3:rea63
"he 9brea=9 is not an illusion, nor a 9co.plete .yth9, as +ohn Lewis clai.s, ( a. sorry> (
will not /i*e way on this point, "hat one .ust e2plain the 9brea=9 without reducin/ it, (
ha*e 0ust ad.itted, &ut loo= at the situation> ( reduced the 9brea=9 to a si.ple rationalistB
speculati*e antithesisJ but .ost o# .y critics reduced it to nothin* K "hey rubbed it out,
obliterated it, erased it, denied it, And how passionately they carried out this wor= o#
proscription and destructionK Let us be e2plicit> there really does e2ist, in the history o#
Mar2Es theoretical re#lection, so.ethin/ li=e a 9brea=9, which is not a nullity, but o# *ital
i.portance #or the history o# the whole labour .o*e.ent, And between those who
reco/niHe the #act o# the 9brea=9 and those who want to reduce it to nothin/, there e2ists
an opposition which, it .ust be ac=nowled/ed, is ulti.ately political)
Let us loo= at this ;uestion a little .ore closely,
(t is clear to e*ery reader who =nows the theoretical wor=s which preceded those o#
Mar2 BB and which one can list 4#ollowin/ Lenin6 as> @er.an 'hilosophy, includin/ the
'hilosophy o# Law and o# HistoryJ An/lish 'olitical Acono.yJ and French ?ocialis.
4utopian or proletarian6 BB it is clear and undeniable, because e.pirically *eri#iable by a
process o# co.parison 4as lon/ as what is analysed is not this or that isolated #or.ula, but
the structure and .ode o# #unctionin/ o# the te2ts6 that, with The German !deolo*y,
so.ethin/ new and unprecedented appears in Mar2Es wor=, so.ethin/ which will ne*er
disappear, An historical e*ent in the stron/ sense, but one which concerns the #ield o#
theory, and within theory what ( called, usin/ a .etaphor, 9the openin/ o# the :ontinent
o# History9, "hus, usin/ .etaphors which we shall retain 4and we .ust retain both, and
play on the distinction between the.6,718 we .ay spea= o# this

1, And later create .ore 9correct9 ones, and play a/ain on the distinction between the. and .a=e it
#unction, &ecause in philosophy you can only thin= BB i)e), ad0ust e2istin/, borrowed cate/ories and produce
new ones within the ter.s re;uired by the theoretical position ta=en up BB by the use o' .etaphors,

pa&e 1.,
e*ent as the 9openin/ o# the :ontinent o# History9, or 4and6 o# the irruption, o# the sudden
appearance o# the :ontinent o# History within scienti#ic theory,
(n #act, so.ethin/ radically new BB thou/h in an o#ten *ery unstable #or., clu.sy in
wor=in/ out its new ob0ect and ter.inolo/y,738 or e*en still trapped in the old
philosophical cate/ory,738 and yet terribly an2ious to .a=e its appearance in the world BB
really did arri*e on the theoretical scene> it had ne*er been seen be#ore, it was in #act
unprecedented, and, as we now =now, with the bene#it o# hindsi/ht, it was destined to
re.ain there,
"his thesis, which .y critics ha*e not spared, ( .aintain, (t is o# course *ery
sche.atic, both in the #or. in which ( ori/inally had to present it and in the #or. in
which ( now ta=e it up a/ain, (t would need to be bac=ed up by len/thy research and
analysis, #or which it is only the hypothesis, &ut none o# the ob0ections which ha*e been
raised to the thesis, e*en a.on/ the .ore or less serious ones, see.s to .e to ha*e
wea=ened it in principle, &ecause, bare and sche.atic as it was, it did in the last resort
si.ply re/ister a #act,
Mhat ( said was that it is possible to locate, e*en a.on/ the a.bi/uities and
hesitations o# The German !deolo*y, a set o# #unda.ental theoretical concepts, which
cannot be #ound in Mar2Es earlier te2ts, and which present the special characteristic o#
bein/ able to #unction in ;uite another .anner than in their prehistory, ( will not enter
here into a study o# these new concepts, whose no*el or/aniHation /a*e the. a ;uite new
.eanin/ and #unction> .ode o# production, relations o# production, producti*e #orces,
social classes rooted in the unity o# the producti*e #orces and relations o# production,
rulin/ classQoppressed class, rulin/

3, (') the ter. 9/erkehrs,erhJltnisse 9, which, in The German !deolo*y, is the theoretical centre around
which all the new concepts /ra*itate> yet which itsel# 9turns9 around a so #ar absent concept, which has not
yet been produced in its de#initi*e #or.> the concept o# relations o' production)
3, (') the 9di*ision o# labour9, which, in The German !deolo*y, in #act #unctions as a substitute #or the
concept o# alienation) "hus the theory o# the indi*idual, o# the hu.an 9personality9 and o# co..unis.
which is #ound in this te2t,

pa&e 1.-
ideolo/yQoppressed ideolo/y, class stru//le, etc, "o ta=e only one e2a.ple, which can be
pro*ed beyond doubt by a process o# co.parison, ( repeat that the theoretical syste. o#
the 4@II #anuscripts rested, in contrast, on three basic concepts> Hu.an
AssenceQAlienationQAlienated Labour,748 And it should be noted that the 9.ode o#
#unctionin/9 o# this new syste. or

4, +ohn Lewis, li=e so .any other critics, .ay well ob0ect that one can #ind in the 4@II #anuscripts
.ost o# the concepts o# :lassical 'olitical Acono.y BB #or e2a.ple> capital, accu.ulation, co.petition,
di*ision o# labour, wa/es, pro#it, etc, A2actly, "hese are concepts o# :lassical 'olitical Acono.y, which
Mar2 borrows Dust as he #inds the. there, without chan/in/ the. one iota, without addin/ to the. any new
concept, and without .odi#yin/ anythin/ at all o# their theoretical or/aniHation, (n the 4@II #anuscripts,
Mar2 actually spea=s o# the Acono.ists as ha*in/ said the last word on Acono.ics, He does not .odi#y
their concepts, and when he criticiHes the., he does so 9philosophically9, there#ore #ro. outside, and in the
na.e o# a philosophy which ad.its its inspiration> 9%ositi,e criticism 7o' political economy 8 owes its true
'oundation to the disco,eries o' .euerbach 9, author o# a 9real theoretical re,olution 9, which Mar2 then
considered decisi*e 4(') the 4@II #anuscripts, Moscow 19$7, pp, 19B356,
"o .easure what we .i/ht call the di##erence, we need only to consider the brea= with Feuerbach which
too= place a #ew .onths later 4see the Theses on .euerbach 6, and to note this #act> nowhere in the
#anuscripts does the entirely new triadic conception appear, which #or.s the basis o# the hitherto
un=nown theoretical syste. that be/ins to co.e into *iew in The German !deolo*y BB Mode o# 'roduction,
-elations o# 'roduction, 'roducti*e Forces, "he appearance o# this new syste. produces, #ro. the .o.ent
o# The German !deolo*y, a new arran/e.ent o# the concepts o# :lassical 'olitical Acono.y, "hey chan/e
their place, and also their .eanin/ and #unction, ?oon, the 9disco*ery9 4An/els6 o# surplusB*alue, placed in
the centre o# the theory o# the capitalist .ode o# production 4surplusB*alue U capitalist e2ploitation U class
stru//le6 produces a co.plete uphea*al a.on/ these concepts, A ;uite di##erent #or. o# the critique o#
'olitical Acono.y then appears, which bears no relation to the 4Feuerbachian6 9philosophical criti;ue9 o#
the #anuscripts, a criti;ue based not on 9FeuerbachEs /reat disco*eries9, but on the reality o# the
contradictory process o# the capitalist .ode o# production and o# the anta/onistic class stru//le o# which it
is the site, that is, both cause and e##ect, "he :riti;ue o# 'olitical Acono.y 4subBtitle o# (apital 6 now
beco.es a denunciation o# the econo.is. o# :lassical 'olitical Acono.y, o# political econo.y as such
4which does not ta=e account o# relations o# e2ploitation and class stru//le6 BB and at the sa.e ti.e it
beco.es an internal account o# the contradictions o# the capitalist .ode o# production, a criti;ue o# the
capitalist .ode o# production #ro. the standpoint o# its own tendential laws, which announce its #uture
disappearance under the blows o# the proletarian class stru//le, All this can be pro*ed, te2tually,

pa&e 11.
conceptual apparatus pro*ed to be ;uite si.ply di''erent 4without any relation in its
9nature9, without either a continuity or an 9in*ersion96 #ro. the 9.ode o# #unctionin/9 o#
the earlier syste.s, &ecause what we are seein/ here is a 9chan/e o# terrain9 4( proposed,
early on, the use o# this i.portant .etaphor6, there#ore a 9new terrain9 on which the new
concepts, a#ter .uch elaboration, can lay down the #oundations o# a scienti'ic theory, or
4another .etaphor6 9open the road9 to the de*elop.ent o# what will, irresistibly, beco.e
a science, an unusual science, a re,olutionary science, but a theory which contains what
we reco/niHe in the sciences, because it pro*ides obDecti,e knowled*e 7connaissances
obDecti,es 8, As a .atter o# #act, it is possible on this new terrain to pose, little by little
and #or the #irst ti.e, by usin/ the new concepts, the real proble.s o# concrete history, in
the #or. o# scienti#ic proble.s, (t is possible to produce 4as Mar2 does in (apital 6
pro*en theoretical results, that is, results which can be *eri#ied by scienti#ic and political
practice,7!8 and are open to .ethodical recti#ication,
%ow, the historical appearance7$8 o# this new ?cienti#ic :ontinent, o# this new
apparatus o# #unda.ental theoretical concepts, went to/ether BB as you can see
e.pirically in Mar2, e*en i# the process is clearly contradictory BB with the theoretical
reDection o# the old basic notions and 4or6 o#

!, "his little 9and9 4scienti#ic and political practice6 naturally poses i.portant proble.s which cannot be
dealt with here, "he proble.s and their solution can be ascribed to what is called the 9union9 or 9#usion9 o#
the Labour Mo*e.ent with Mar2ist theory> Lenin, @ra.sci and Mao ha*e written crucial te2ts on these
;uestions,
$, A .o.ent a/o ( drew a contrast BB in order to brin/ ho.e the 9reduction9 which ( had .ade BB
between the si.ple 9theoretical #act9 o# the 9brea=9 7coupure 8, and the 9historical #act9 o# the brea=
7rupture 8 between Mar2is. and bour/eois ideolo/y, &ut, considered in itsel#, the brea= is also an historical
#act, Historical> because we ha*e the ri/ht to spea= o# theoretical e*ents in history, Historical> because it is
a case o# an e*ent o' historical importance, o# such /reat i.portance that we could, supposin/ that such a
co.parison .a=es any sense, tal= o# Mar2Es disco*ery as the /reatest e*ent in the history o# =nowled/e
since the 9appearance9 o# .athe.atics, so.ewhere in @reece associated with the na.e o# "hales, And we
are as yet #ar #ro. ha*in/ appreciated the #ull i.portance o# this theoretical e*ent and o# its political
conse;uences,

pa&e 111
their or/aniHation, which were reco/niHed and re0ected as erroneous)
:aution> we ha*e reached a *ery sensiti*e theoretical and political point,
"his process o# e2plicit reDection be/ins in 1<4! in The German !deolo*y, but it is
dis/uised by its *ery /eneral and abstract #or., which contrasts 9positi*e science 9,
dealin/ in e.pirical realities, with the .ista=es, the illusions and drea.s o# ideolo*y, and
*ery precisely o# philosophy, which is at this ti.e concei*ed o# si.ply as ideolo/y>
better, as ideolo/y par e$cellence) &ut in 1<47, in The %o,erty o' %hilosophy, the
9settlin/ o# accounts9 ta=es place directly on the new scienti#ic terrain, and it is the
pseudoBscienti#ic concepts o# 'roudhon BB who three years earlier, in The 2oly .amily,
had been celebrated as the scienti#ic theoretician o# the proletariat BB which now ha*e to
pay the price,
Mhat is decisi*e in all this is the .anner in which the accounts are settled, Me no
lon/er ha*e a philosophical 9criti;ue9, which wor=s in part, or can in case o# need wor=
by 9in*ersion9J778 we ha*e instead the scienti#ic denunciation o# errors as errors, and their
eli.ination, their re.o*al pure and si.ple> Mar2 puts an end to the rei/n o# conceptual
errors, which he can call errors because he is ad*ancin/ 9truths9, scienti#ic concepts, "his
*ery special way o# 9settlin/ accounts9 is repeated a/ain and a/ain, (t reappears
throu/hout Mar2Es wor=, in (apital and later 4c') the showers o#

7, ?el#Bcriticis. on the ;uestion o# the 9in*ersion9, (n .y #irst essays ( tended to reduce philosophy to
science, and, in conse;uence, ( re#used to reco/niHe that the #i/ure o# the 9in*ersion9 had its place in the
history o# philosophical relations, ( be/an to recti#y .y position in an article o# February 19$<, 9Mar2Es
-elation to He/el9 7contained in the collection %olitics and 2istory, %L&, 1973J "ranslatorEs note8, (t .ust
be said, howe*er, that philosophy is not 4a6 science, and that the relation between philosophical positions in
the 9history9 o# philosophy does not reproduce the relation between a body o# scienti#ic propositions and
their 4preBscienti#ic6 prehistory, "he 9in*ersion9 is one o# the necessary #or.s o# the internal dialectic
between philosophical positions> but only in certain well de#ined conditions, For there e2ist .any other
#or.s o# the sa.e relation, /i*en other conditions, "o reco/niHe only one #or. 49in*ersion96 is to be cau/ht
in speculati*e idealis., Materialis. ta=es *ery seriously the plurality o# #or.s o# relation, and their
deter.inate conditions,

pa&e 112
criticis. directed at the ?ocialB)e.ocratic leaders #or their theoretical errors, contained
in the @otha 'ro/ra..e, and at Ma/ner #or the He/elian theoretical nonsense which he
tal=ed about the concept o# *alue and its 9di*ision9 into e2chan/eB*alue and useB*alue6, (t
is repeated in Lenin 4pole.ic with the %arodni=s, the 9ro.antics9, with -osa Lu2e.bur/
o*er (apital, with Dauts=y on the ?tate and (.perialis., etc,6, in @ra.sci 4pole.ic with
&u=harin o*er historical .aterialis., etc,6, and in Mao, (t ne*er co.es to an end, A
science 4Lenin repeats it a/ain and a/ain when he tal=s about historical .aterialis.6
ne*er co.es to an end,
&ut e*ery science7<8 be/ins, # course, it always has a prehistory, out o# which it
e.er/es, &ut it does e.er/e, in two senses> in the ordinary sense, and in another sense,
its own special sense, which distin/uishes it abo*e all #ro. the philosophy with which it
coe2ists within theory, but also #ro. other realities, li=e the practical and theoretical
ideolo/ies,
(t e.er/es in the ordinary sense> this .eans that it is not born out o# nothin/, but out o#
a process o# labour by which it is hatched, a co.ple2 and .ultiple process, so.eti.es
bri/htened by a #lash o# li/htnin/, but which nor.ally operates blindly, in the dar=,
because 9it9 ne*er =nows where it is headed, nor, i# e*er it arri*es, where it is /oin/ to
sur#ace, (t is born out o# the unpredictable, incredibly co.ple2 and parado2ical BB but, in
its contin/ency, necessary BB conDunction o# ideolo/ical, political, scienti#ic 4related to
other sciences6, philosophical and other 9elements 9, which at so.e .o.ent798 9disco,er
9, but a'ter the e,ent, that they needed each other,

<, Mhat #ollows should not be understood as a relapse into a theory o# science 4in the sin/ular6, which
would be ;uite speculati*e, but as the minimum o' *enerality necessary to be able to /rasp a concrete
ob0ect, "cience 4in the sin/ular6 does not e2ist, &ut nor does 9production in /eneral9> and yet Mar2 tal=s
about 9production in /eneral9, and deliberately, consciously, in order to be able to analyse concrete .odes
o# production,
9, %ot necessarily at any precise .o.ent 4thou/h, in e2ceptional circu.stances this 0ust could be>
certain scientists, #ollowin/ 'ascal, tal= about their 9ni/ht9, that is, about the sudden proo# which co.es at
9daybrea=9 when they are suddenly blessed with 9si/ht96, but at a .o.ent which can still be rou/hly #i2ed
in historical ti.e and its periods,

pa&e 113
since they co.e to/ether, without howe*er reco/niHin/ one another, in the theoretical
shape o# a newBborn science, "his is the #irst sense in which a science e.er/es #ro. its
prehistory, li=e e*erythin/ that co.es into the world, #ro. ato.s to li*in/ thin/s and to
.en, includin/ the code #or their /enetic reproduction,
&ut a science also e.er/es #ro. its prehistory in its own special way> in ;uite another
.anner which, at least in theory, is proper to itsel#, since it distin/uishes it, a.on/ other
thin/s, #ro. the way in which a philosophy 9e.er/es9 #ro. its history, (n this second
sense, you can al.ost say that a science e.er/es #ro. its prehistory in the sa.e way as
Mar2 e.er/ed #ro. the roo. o# the :o..unist Meitlin/, with the #a.ous re.ar=>
9(/norance will ne*er be an ar/u.entK9, ta=in/ hold o# the door and sla..in/ it,
-e0ectin/ all or part o# its prehistory, callin/ it erroneous> an error) And, at least in the
*ery be/innin/, it is not too bothered with the 9detail9, (t hardly .atters that its
0ud/e.ent is, strictly spea=in/, 9un0ust9 BB it is not a ;uestion o# .orality, And it hardly
.atters BB on the contraryK BB that ideolo/ists arri*e on the scene .uch later, when it is
clear that this #atherless in#ant can no lon/er be /ot rid o#, and pro*ide it with an o##icial
/enealo/y which, in order to con0ure the child away,7158 loo=s into its prehistory, chooses
#or it and i.poses on it The #ather who had to ha*e this child 4to =eep it a bit ;uiet6, (t
hardly .atters BB or, on the contrary, it .atters *ery .uchK BB that /enuine scholars, rather
heretically o# course, co.e on the scene *ery .uch later to reBestablish the e2istence o#
lines o# descent so co.ple2 and so contin/ent in their necessity that they #orce the
conclusion that the child was born without a 4sin/leBidenti#iable6 'ather > but one .ust

15, "hus the bour/eois ideolo/ists> they ha*e disco*ered that Mar2 is nothin/ else than -icardo, that
(apital is nothin/ else than the chapter o# He/elEs %hilosophy o' Ri*ht on "ittlichkeit 4#a.ily apart6> :i*il
?ociety V ?tate, in*erted 4o# course6, 9Find the lady9, says the con*entional Misdo. o# detecti*e no*els,
Mhen the slo/an is 9#ind the #ather9, it is ob*iously out o# interest in the child> in order to .a=e it
disappear, Lenin, at all e*ents, without /oin/ into detail, said, as i# in passin/, that Mar2is. had three
9sources9, no lessK BB a way, which has hardly been understood, o# re0ectin/ the ;uestion o# "HA #ather,

pa&e 11(
ne*ertheless accept the e*idence and try to ta=e account o# this #act, A*ery reco/niHed
science not only has e.er/ed #ro. its own prehistory, but continues endlessly to do so
4its prehistory re.ains always conte.porary> so.ethin/ li=e its Alter E*o 6 by reDectin*
what it considers to be error, accordin/ to the process which &achelard called 9the
episte.olo/ical break 7rupture 89,
( owe this idea to hi., but to /i*e it 4to use a .etaphor6 the sharpest possible cuttin/B
ed/e, ( called it the 9episte.olo/ical brea= 7coupure 89, And ( .ade it the central
cate/ory o# .y #irst essays,
Mhat a #uss ( raisedK "he use o# this e2pression caused a real Holy Alliance to be
#or.ed a/ainst .eJ it united #irst those BB bour/eois BB who will de#end to the death the
:ontinuity o# History, o# which they are the .asters, and o# :ulture, which pro*ides the.
with the #acade that they need in order to belie*e in their e.pire and its uninterrupted
#utureJ it also included those :o..unists who =now that accordin/ to Lenin, all the
resources o# hu.an =nowled/e are re;uired in order to construct socialis. once the
re*olution is .ade, but who thin= BB li=e the Mar2ists o# the @otha 'ro/ra..e BB that it is
not worth ris=in/ the loss o# their political allies #or a #ew 9displaced9 scienti#ic concepts
in the unity plat#or.J and it included too those .ore or less anarchist ele.ents which,
usin/ di##erent political ar/u.ents, accused .e o# ha*in/ introduced 9bour/eois9
concepts into Mar2is., because ( tal=ed about it in ter.s o# a 9brea=9,
&ut ( shall continue to de#end .y theses, while o# course recti#yin/ the., at least until
others BB better suited and thus .ore correct BB are proposed, ( repeat> ( shall continue to
de#end the., both #or clear political reasons and #or co.pellin/ theoretical reasons,
Let us not try to #ool oursel*es> this debate and ar/u.ent are, in the last resort,
political, "his is not only the case with .y openly bour/eois critics, but also with the
others, Mho, really, is naW*e enou/h to thin= that the e2pressions> Mar2ist theory, Mar2ist
science BB sanctioned, .oreo*er, ti.e and ti.e a/ain by the history o# the Labour
Mo*e.ent, by the writin/s o# Mar2, An/els, Lenin and Mao BB would ha*e produced the
stor.s, the denunciations, the passions which

pa&e 11)
we ha*e witnessed,7118 i# nothin/ had been at sta=e e2cept a si.ple ;uarrel o*er wordsF
"his is not a debate about philolo/yK "o han/ on to or to re0ect these words, to de#end
the. or to destroy the. BB so.ethin/ real is at sta=e in these stru//les, whose ideolo/ical
and political character is ob*ious, (t is not too .uch to say that what is at sta=e today,
behind the ar/u.ent about words, is Leninism) %ot only the reco/nition o# the e2istence
and role o# Mar2ist theory and science, but also the concrete #or.s o# the #usion between
the Labour Mo*e.ent and Mar2ist theory, and the conception o# .aterialis. and the
dialectic,
( =now that it is not always easy to be #air, ( a/ree that the ideolo/ical stru//le is o#ten
con#used, that the ca.ps in this stru//le are partly .i2ed up, and that ar/u.ents
so.eti.es /o on abo*e the heads o# the co.batants, ( reco/niHe that not e*eryone who
declares hi.sel# #or one side really ta=es up all its positions, and that he .ay while tryin/
#or one result produce another, "he attac=s a/ainst the idea o# a Mar2ist science .ay
e*en, as a result o# certain o# the ar/u.ents used, =noc= down by ricochet certain de#inite
errors, Let us say that public positions .ust always be 0ud/ed a/ainst the syste. o#
positions actually held and a/ainst the e##ects they produce, For e2a.ple, to loo= at only
one side o# the ;uestion, you .ay declare yoursel# #or Mar2ist theory and yet de#end this
theory on the basis o# positi,ist, there#ore nonBMar2ist positions BB with all the
conse;uences, &ecause you cannot really de#end Mar2ist theory and science e2cept on
the basis o# dialecticalB.aterialist 4there#ore nonBspeculati*e and nonBpositi*ist6
positions, tryin/ to appreciate that ;uite e$traordinary, because unprecedented, reality>
Mar2ist theory as a re,olutionary theory, Mar2ist science as a re,olutionary science,
Mhat is really unprecedented in these e2pressions is the co.bination o# the ter.s
9re*olutionary9 and 9theory9 49Mithout an ob0ecti*elyQre*olutionaryQtheory there can

11, %eed it be recalled that these are not recent , , , "hat lon/ be#ore the arri*al o# -ay.ond Aron,
&enedetto :roce 4and he was not the #irst6 denied all scienti'ic *alue to (apital& "hat 4without /oin/ bac=
to ?tirnerEs 9antiBtheoretical9 reactions6 the 9le#t9 criti;ue o# the idea o# a #ar$ist science can already be
#ound in the youn/ Lu=Pcs, in Dorsch, in 'anne=oe=, etc,F

pa&e 11*
be no ob0ecti*elyQre*olutionaryQ.o*e.ent9> Lenin6, and, since science is the inde2 o#
ob0ecti*ity o# theory, the co.bination o# the ter.s 9re*olutionary9 and 9science9, &ut in
these co.binations, which, i# ta=en seriously, upset the recei*ed idea o# theory and o#
science, the ter.s 9theory9 and 9science9 ne*ertheless re.ain, "his is neither 9#etishis.9
nor bour/eois 9rei#ication9, nor is it a slip o# the pen, 'olitically and theoretically, we
cannot do without these words> because until it is pro*ed otherwise, within the bounds o#
e2istin/ practices we ha,e no others, and we ha,e no better) And i# Mar2, An/els and
Lenin, throu/hout their political battles and theoretical wor=, ne*er abandoned the. as
/uides and as weapons, that is because they considered the. indispensable to their
political and theoretical stru//le> to the re*olutionary liberation o# the proletariat,
Me there#ore ha*e the ri/ht, and the duty, to spea= 4as all the classics ha*e done6 o#
Mar2ist theory, and, within Mar2ist theory, o# a science and a philosophy> pro*ided that
we do not thereby #all into theoreticis., speculation or positi*is., And, to touch
i..ediately on the .ost delicate point> yes, we ha*e the ri/ht, as #ar as theory is
concerned, and the duty, politically, to use and de#end BB by #i/htin/ #or the word BB the
philosophical cate/ory o# 9science9, with re#erence to Mar2is.BLeninis., and to tal=
about the #oundation by Mar2 o# a re,olutionary science) &ut we .ust then e2plain the
reason #or, the conditions and sense o# this unprecedented co.bination, which brin/s
about a decisi*e 9shi#t9 in our conception o# science, "o use and de#end the word
9science9 in the conte2t o# this pro/ra..e is a necessity, in order to resist the bour/eois
sub0ecti*e idealists and the pettyBbour/eois Mar2ists who, all o# the., shout 9positi*is.9
as soon as they hear the ter., no doubt because the only picture they can con0ure up o#
the practice and history o# a science, and a 'ortiori o# Mar2ist science, is the classical
positi*ist or *ul/ar, bour/eois picture, (t is a necessity i# we want to resist the pettyB
bour/eois ideolo/ists, Mar2ists or not, who li=e to weep o*er the 9rei#ication9 and
9alienation9 o# ob0ecti*ity 4as ?tirner used to weep o*er 9the Holy96, no doubt because
they attach the.sel*es without any e.barrass.ent to the *ery antithesis which

pa&e 11+
constitutes the basis o# bour/eois le/al and philosophical ideolo/y, the antithesis between
%erson 4Liberty U Free Mill U Law6 and Thin*)7138 Ces, it is ;uite correct #or us to spea=
o# an uni.peachable and undeniable scienti'ic core in Mar2is., that o# Historical
Materialis., in order to draw a *ital, clear and une;ui*ocal line 4e*en i# you .ust BB and
you .ust indeed BB continue #ore*er to 9wor=9 on this line, to a*oid #allin/ into
positi*is. and speculation6 between> on the one hand the wor=ers, who need ob0ecti*e,
*eri#iable and *eri#ied BB in short scienti#ic BB =nowled/e, in order to win *ictory, not in
words, but in #acts, o*er their class opponentsJ and, on the other hand, not only the
bour/eoisie, which o# course re#uses Mar2is. any clai. to be scienti#ic, but also those
who are willin/ to content the.sel*es with a personal or #a=e theory, put to/ether in their
i.a/ination or accordin/ to their pettyBbour/eois 9desire9, or who re#use the *ery idea o#
a scienti#ic theory, e*en the word 9science9, e*en the word 9theory9, on the prete2t that

13, ne only has to open a te2tboo= o# law or 0urisprudence, to see clearly that Law 71roit 8 BB which,
uni;uely, wor=s as one with its ideolo/y, because it needs it to be able to 9#unction9 BB and there#ore le/al
ideolo/y, is, in the last instance, and usually surprisin/ly transparently, the basis o# all bour/eois ideolo/y,
ne needs a Mar2ist lawyer to de.onstrate it, and a Mar2ist philosopher to understand it, As #ar as
philosophers in /eneral are concerned, they ha*e not yet cut throu/h the #o/ that surrounds the., and they
hardly suspect the presence o# Law and o# le/al ideolo/y in their ru.inations> in philosophy itsel#,
Howe*er, the e*idence is there> the do.inant classical bour/eois philosophy 4and its byBproducts, e*en the
.odern ones6 is built on le/al ideolo/y, and its 9philosophical ob0ects9 4philosophy has no ob0ect, it has its
ob0ects6 are le/al cate/ories or entities> the ?ub0ect, the b0ect, Liberty, Free Mill, 'roperty 4'roperties6,
-epresentation, 'erson, "hin/, etc, &ut those thin=ers, those Mar2ists, who ha*e reco/niHed the bour/eois
le/al character o# these cate/ories and who criticiHe the., .ust still #ind their way out o# the trap o# traps>
the idea and pro/ra..e o# a 9theory o# knowled*e 9, "his is the =eystone o# classical bour/eois
philosophy, which is still do.inant, %ow unless 4li=e Lenin and Mao6 we use this e2pression in a conte2t
which indicates where to *et out o' the circle, in the philosophical rather than the scienti#ic sense, then the
idea .ay be ta=en as constituti*e o# philosophy, and e*en o# 9Mar2ist philosophy9, and you re.ain cau/ht
in bour/eois ideolo/yEs trap o# traps, For the si.ple question to which the 9theory o# =nowled/e9 replies is
still a question o' Law, posed in ter.s o# the *alidity o# =nowled/e,

pa&e 11,
e*ery science or e*en e*ery theory is essentially 9rei#yin/9, alienatin/ and there#ore
bour/eois,7138
And ( should add> we also ha*e the ri/ht to spea= about an 9episte.olo/ical brea=9 and
to use this philosophical cate/ory to .ar= the historicalBtheoretical 'act o# the birth o# a
science, includin/, in spite o# its uni;ue character, Mar2ist re*olutionary science, by the
*isible sy.pto. o# its e.er/ence #ro. its prehistory, its reDection o' the errors o# that
prehistory, n condition, o# course, that what are only e##ects are not ta=en #or the cause
BB but instead that the si/ns and e##ects o# the 9brea=9 are considered as the theoretical
pheno.enon o# the appearance o# a science in the history o# theory, which brin/s up the
;uestion o# the social, political, ideolo/ical and philosophical conditions o# this irruption,


13, ne day it will be necessary to clear up the proble. o# the theory which ser*es as a philosophical
alibi #or all this 9rei#ication9 literature> the theory o# co..odity #etishis. in &oo= (, 'art ( o# (apital)
Meanwhile it .ay be hoped that all those who, in spite o# their a*ersion to the idea o# Mar2ist science and
e*en Mar2ist theory, ne*ertheless /o out o# their way to call the.sel*es Mar2ists, will not satis#y
the.sel*es with the bad passa/es #ro. -eich 4who also wrote so.e /ood ones6 and Marcuse 4who did not6
and others, but will ta=e the trouble to read ?tirner, a real .an o# the 4'arisian6 .o.ent, and Mar2Es reply
to hi. in The German !deolo*y) "hese are te2ts which, on the ;uestion o# 9theory9, do not lac= a certain
bite,

pa&e 11-

2. 3Science an' I'eolo&y3
%ow this is the *ery point at which ( .ust BB since noBone else has really rendered .e the
ser*ice BB7148 declare .y theoreticist error> on the ;uestion o# the 9brea=9,
(n the end, and in spite o# all .y precautions, ( concei*ed and de#ined this 9brea=9 in
the rationalist ter.s o# science and nonBscience, %ot openly in the 9classical9 ter.s o# the
opposition between truth and error 4o# a :artesian type, reproducin/ an antithesis 9#i2ed9
#ro. its ori/ins, #ro. 'latonis. onwards6, %ot in ter.s o# an opposition between
knowled*e and i*norance 4that o# Anli/hten.ent philosophy6, &ut, i# ( .ay say so,
worse> in ter.s o# an opposition between science 4in the sin/ular6 and ideolo*y 4in the
sin/ular6,
Mhy was this worseF
&ecause in this way a *ery i.portant but *ery e;ui*ocal BB and thus .isleadin/ BB
notion was brou/ht into play, based on its contrast with that o# science, a notion which
appears in The German !deolo*y, where one and the sa.e ter. plays two di##erent roles,
desi/natin/ a philosophical cate/ory on the one hand 4illusion, error6, and a scienti#ic
concept on the other 4#or.ation o# the superstructure6> the notion o# ideolo*y) And
althou/h The German !deolo*y encoura/es this con#usion, Mar2 did a#ter all o*erco.e it,
and so .ade it easier #or us to a*oid the trap, &ut this e;ui*ocal notion o# ideolo/y was
brou/ht into play within the rationalist conte$t o# the antithesis between truth and error,
And so ideolo/y was reduced to error, and error called ideolo/y, and this whole
rationalist /a.e was /i*en a #raudulent Mar2ist appearance,
( do not need to say what this led to, ideolo/ically and

14, (t .ay be that so.eone has done it, and that ( si.ply ha*e not heard, My e2cuses, (n what ( ha*e
been able to read, ( ha*e o#ten co.e across absolute conde.nations, *ery stron/ reser*ations and also so.e
se*ere but correct re.ar=s> and yet no coherent criticis. which /oes to the root o# the .atter, nothin/
really enli/htenin/ and con*incin/, &ut perhaps ( ha*e si.ply been dea# and blind , , ,

pa&e 12.
practically,71!8 And in #act this dis/uise, which dis/uised nothin*, did ha*e its
conse;uences, &ut Mar2is., althou/h it is rational, is not -ationalis., not e*en
9.odern9 -ationalis. 4o# which so.e o# our predecessors, be#ore the war, drea.ed, in
the heat o# the stru//le a/ainst %aHi irrationalis.6, And, in spite o# e*erythin/ which (
said in another conne2ion about the basically practical, social and political #unction o#
ideolo/y, because 4encoura/ed by The German !deolo*y 6 ( used one and the sa.e ter.
in two senses, the i.portance which ( placed in its #irst use, a philosophical and de#initely
rationalist one 4 U the e2posure o# illusions, o# errors6 caused .y interpretation,
ob0ecti*ely, to #all into theoreticis. on this point,
%e*ertheless, and e*en in the e;ui*ocal ter.s o# The German !deolo*y, this dis/uise
o# error as ideolo/y could ta=e on and in #act did ta=e on another .eanin/, (deolo/y was
only the Mar2ist 9na.e9 #or error, &ut e*en in The German !deolo*y, which itsel# carried
out this reduction, you could #eel that behind the contrast between 9positi*e truth9 and
ideolo/ical illusion, a ;uite di##erent brea= with the past BB not si.ply theoretical, but
political and ideolo/ical, and on a ;uite di##erent scale BB was .a=in/ its appearance and
wor=in/ itsel# out, "his brea= was the one which Mar2 .ade not with ideolo/y in
/eneral, not only with the e2istin/ ideolo/ical conceptions o# history, but with bour*eois
ideolo/y, with the do.inant, rei/nin/ bour*eois conception o# the world, which held
sway not only o*er social practices but also within the practical and theoretical
ideolo/ies, in philosophy, and e*en in the products o# 'olitical Acono.y and utopian
socialis., "he #act that this do.ination was

1!, ( will .ention only one na.e as an e2a.ple and as an e2e.plary case> that o# Lysen=o, And with it,
his decepti*e contrast> 9bour/eois scienceQ proletarian science9, (n short, two .e.ories o# a certain period
4to say no .ore6, A nu.ber o# .y critics, :o..unists and others, understood *ery well at the time 419$5B
$!6 when ( published .y #irst essays, that e*en at the *ery .odest le*el at which they inter*ened political
;uestions were also at sta=e, :ertain were ;uite correct, at least at the ti.e, For what is o#ten #or/otten is
that the 9con0uncture9 has chan/ed in the last ten years, in so.e o# its least apparent aspects, and, in its
contin/ent respects, the #ront o# the theoretical stru//le has .o*ed, 0ust li=e the #ront o# the political
stru//le, &ut the basis has re.ained lar/ely unchan/ed,

pa&e 121
not absolute, but the result o# a stru//le a/ainst sur*i*als o# the #eudal conception o# the
world and a/ainst the #ra/ile #oundations o# a new, proletarian conception o# the world BB
this too is a #act o# *ital i.portance #or understandin/ Mar2Es position, .or he was only
able to break with bour*eois ideolo*y in its totality because he took inspiration 'rom the
basic ideas o' proletarian ideolo*y, and 'rom the 'irst class stru**les o' the proletariat, in
which this ideolo*y became 'lesh and blood) "his is the 9e*ent9 which, behind the
rationalist #acade o# the contrast between 9positi*e truth9 and ideolo/ical illusion, /a*e
this contrast its real historical di.ension, ( certainly 9sensed9 that what was at sta=e in
this debate was the brea= with bour*eois ideolo/y, since ( set to wor= to identi#y and
characteriHe this ideolo/y 4in ter.s o# hu.anis., historicis., e*olutionis., econo.is.,
idealis., etc,6, &ut #or want o# understandin/ at that ti.e the .echanis.s o# ideolo/y, its
#or.s, its #unctions, its class tendencies, and its necessary relations with philosophy and
the sciences, ( was not really able to clari#y the lin= e2istin/ between, on the one hand,
Mar2Es brea= with bour/eois ideolo/y, and on the other hand, the 9episte.olo/ical
brea=9,
"his latter 9brea=9 is not an illusion,
&ehind this dis/uise o# error as ideolo/y, there stood a #act> the declaration o#
opposition between truth and error which is ob0ecti*ely one o# the sy.pto.s o# the birth,
o# the appearance o# a science 4when this really is what has ta=en place6, Mhate*er has
been clai.ed, there is no doubt that ( did not hold to a 9nonBdialectical9 opposition
between science and ideolo/y> #or ( showed that this opposition was recurrent, there#ore
historical and dialectical, since it is only i# the truth has been 9disco*ered9 and
9ac;uired9, and then alone, that the scientist can loo= bac= #ro. this established position
towards the prehistory o# his science, and declare that it consists in part or whole o# error,
o# a 9tissue o# errors9 4&achelard6, e*en i# he reco/niHes within it partial truths which he
e2e.pts or anticipations which he retains 4#or e2a.ple> :lassical 'olitical Acono.y,
utopian socialis.6, &ut this *ery e2e.ption is only possible because the partial truths and
anticipations o# its prehistory are now reco/niHed and identi#ied as such, on the basis o#
the

pa&e 122
#inally disco*ered and established truth, 92abemus eni. ideam ,eram , , ,9 4?pinoHa6, (t
is 0ust because 4enim 6 we possess 4habemus 6 a true idea that , , , that we can also say>
9/erum inde$ sui et 'alsi 9J what is true is the si/n both o# itsel# and o# what is #alse, and
the reco/nition o# error 4and o# partial truths6 depends on startin/ #ro. what is true,
(t is still the case, howe*er, that in reducin/ and e2tendin/ the 9brea=9 to this si.ple
opposition between science and ideolo/y BB e*en i# ( did call it recurrent, e*en
9perpetual9 and 9endless9 BB ( uncritically adopted the point o# *iew which 9science9 4in
the sin/ular6 holds about itsel# 4and, all too clearly, not only about itsel#K6J or rather BB
since this #or.ula is still idealist BB ( adopted the point o# *iew which the 9a/ents9 o#
scienti#ic practice hold about their own practice and the history o# its resultsJ or rather BB
since this #or.ula is e*en now still idealist BB 71$8 the point o# *iew o# the 9spontaneous
philosophy o# scientists9 4Lenin6 who see, in the be/innin/s o# a science, only the
#inished contrast between be#ore and a#ter, between the truth 4or truths6 disco*ered and
the errors re0ected, %ow ( ha*e since 4in a 'hilosophy :ourse #or ?cientists, 19$76 tried
to show precisely that this 9spontaneous philosophy o# scientists9 is not spontaneous, and
does not at all deri*e #ro. the philosophical i.a/ination o# the scientists as such> #or it is
;uite si.ply the repetition, by these scholars and scientists, o# "heses o# contradictory
tendencies de*eloped publicly by philosophy itsel# BB that is, ulti.ately, by the
9philosophy o# philosophers9,
( did, then, note the e2istence o# the 9brea=9, but since ( treated it in ter.s o# the
Mar2ist dis/uise o# error as ideolo/y, and BB in spite o# all the history and dialectics which
( tried

1$, (') on this sub0ect all the a.bi/uities which arise BB li=e a bird at the #ootsteps o# the hunts.an BB
#ro. the si.ple use o# &achelardEs #or.ula> 9les tra,ailleurs de la preu,e 9, especially when they are
/athered into the 9cit des sa,ants 9, &ut the 9cit des sa,ants 9 only e2ists in the bour/eois di*ision
between .anual and intellectual labour, and in the bour/eois ideolo/y o# 9science and techni;ue9 which
helps this di*ision to #unction by appro*in/ it and 0usti#yin/ it #ro. a si.ply bour/eois point o# *iew, "he
proletarian point o# *iew on the ;uestion is ;uite di##erent> the suppression o# the 9cit des sa,ants 9, the
9union9 o# the scientists with the wor=ers and .ilitants, and onwards to co..unist #or.s o# the di*ision o#
labour totally un=nown and uni.a/inable #ro. the bour/eois *iewpoint,

pa&e 123
to 9in0ect97178 into it BB in cate/ories which in the last resort were rationalist, ( could not
e2plain what was the basis o# this brea=J and i#, deep down, ( sensed it, ( was incapable o#
/raspin/ it71<8 and e2pressin/ it,
"hus in #act ( reduced the brea= between Mar2is. and bour/eois ideolo/y to the
9episte.olo/ical brea=9, and the anta/onis. between Mar2is. and bour/eois ideolo/y
to the anta/onis. between science and ideolo/y,
"his #alse position, li=e any correct one, had its conse;uences, (t .i/ht not ha*e done
so i# ( had been satis#ied with li.itin/ its e2pression to a #ew phrases, &ut ( was naW*e
enou/h 4or lo/ical enou/h6 to .a=e a theoretical ar/u.ent out o# it, and to insert it into a
line o# ar/u.ent ri/orous enou/h #or .e to ha*e to pay the price,
( theoriBed this 9error9 o# the rationalist opposition between science 4truths6 and
ideolo/y 4errors6, in spite o# all =inds o# necessarily inoperati*e reser*es, in ter.s o#
three #i/ures which e.bodied and su..ed up .y theoreticist 4i)e) rationalistBspeculati*e6
tendency>
1, A 4speculati*e6 s=etch o# the theory o# the di##erence between science 4in the sin/ular6
and ideolo/y 4in the sin/ular6 in /eneral,
3, "he cate/ory o# 9theoretical practice9 4in so 'ar as, in

17, For the ine*itable BB and ine*itably ne/ati*e BB results o# the atte.pt to 9in0ect9 dialectics into all
=inds o# theses and theories, co.pare Mar2Es e2perience with 'roudhon> 9( tried to in0ect hi. with the
He/elian dialectic , , , 9 Mithout success, (ndeed, i# we ta=e the word o# The %o,erty o' %hilosophy,
criticiHin/ The %hilosophy o' %o,erty, we should perhaps e*en spea= o# a catastropheK "he dialectic cannot
be 9in0ected9, nor, #ollowin/ the technical .etaphor strictly, can it be 9applied 9, He/el pointed this out
#orce#ully, n this point at least we .ust #ollow He/el, n this point BB which still lea*es others to be
debated BB Mar2 and Lenin are He/elians, ne cannot tal= o# the in0ection or application o# the dialectic,
Here we touch on a *ery sensiti*e philosophical point 4indicated by two si.ple words6, (n philosophy
9lines o# de.arcation9 .eet and intersect at points, which thus beco.e sensiti*e points> an encounter at the
crossroads,
1<, ( say> incapable o# *raspin* it, &ecause it is not possible, i# you want to do serious wor=, to re.ain
satis#ied with /eneral and established #or.ulae, which, parasitic on others, /i*e you the i.pression and
con*iction o# bein/ on the ri/ht road and o# ha*in/ #ound 0ust the ri/ht word #or the thin/,

pa&e 12(
the e2istin/ conte2t, it tended to reduce philosophical practice to scienti#ic practice6,
3, "he 4speculati*e6 thesis o# philosophy as 9"heory o# theoretical practice9 BB which
represented the hi/hest point in the de*elop.ent o# this theoreticist tendency,7198
# course, this last thesis on philosophy was not without its secondary e##ects on the
Mar2ist conception o# science,

19, Cou only need to brin/ these three theses to/ether to understand the ter. by which ( ha*e na.ed .y
de*iation> theoreticis., "heoreticis. here .eans> prirnacy o# theory o*er practiceJ oneBsided insistence on
theoryJ but .ore precisely> speculati,erationalism) "o e2plain only the pure #or.> to concei*e .atters in
ter.s o# the contrast between truth and error was in #act rationalism) &ut it was speculation to want to
concei*e the contrast between established truths and ac=nowled/ed errors within a @eneral "heory o#
?cience and (deolo/y and o# the distinction between the., # course ( a. si.pli#yin/ and #orcin/ thin/s to
the e2tre.e, reasonin/ the. out to their ulti.ate conclusions BB #or our analyses ne*er actually went so #ar,
certainly not reachin/ these conclusions, &ut the tendency is undeniable,
(t was or/aniHed, as is o#ten the case, around the .ani#est #or. o# a word, whose credentials see.ed
beyond doubt> Epistemolo*y) "hus we went bac= to &achelard, who .a=es constant use o# the ter., and
also to :an/uilhe. who, thou/h we did not notice it, uses it *ery little, Me 4especially (6 used it and abused
it, and did not =now how to control that use, ( point this out because a whole nu.ber o# our readers 0u.ped
on to this, rein#orcin/ by their own philosophical inclinations the theoreticist tendency o# our essays
Mhat did we understand by Epistemolo*y F Literally> the theory o# the conditions and #or.s o# scienti#ic
practice and o# its history in the di##erent concrete sciences, &ut this de#inition could be understood in two
ways, (n a materialist way, which could lead us to study the .aterial, social, political, ideolo/ical and
philosophical conditions o# the theoretical 9.odes o# production9 and 9production processes9 o# already
e2istin/ =nowled/e> but this would properly #all within the do.ain o# Historical Materialis.K r in a
speculati,e way, accordin/ to which Apiste.olo/y could lead us to #or. and de*elop the theory o#
scienti#ic practice 4in the sin/ular6 in distinction to other practices> but how did it now di##er #ro.
philosophy, also de#ined as 9"heory o# theoretical practice9F Me were now within the do.ain o#
9)ialectical Materialis.9, since philosophy was and is nothin/ but Apiste.olo/y, "his was the crossroads,
(# Apiste.olo/y is philosophy itsel#, their speculati*e unity can only rein#orce theoreticis., &ut i#
Apiste.olo/y is based on Historical Materialis. 4thou/h naturally possessin/ a .ini.u. o# concepts
which are its own and speci#y its ob0ect6, then it .ust be placed within itJ and, at the sa.e ti.e, the illusion
and deception in*ol*ed in the *ery pro0ect .ust be reco/niHed, (t #ollows 4as we ha*e since pointed out6
that one .ust /i*e up this pro0ect, and criticiHe the idealis. or idealist connotations o# all Apiste.olo/y,

pa&e 12)
o# historical .aterialis., not so .uch because o# the use to which ( put the distinction
4correct in principle6 between science and Mar2ist 9philosophy9 as because o# the way in
which ( treated this relation 4philosophy bein/, ulti.ately, treated as theory li=e science,
.ade o# the sa.e stu##, with the added capital letter> "heory6, Oery un#ortunate
conse;uences resulted as #ar as the presentation o# the modality o# Mar2ist science, o#
Historical Materialis., was concerned BB especially in Readin* (apital)
(t was no doubt on this occasion that the accidental byBproduct o# .y theoreticist
tendency, the youn/ pup called structuralis., slipped between .y le/s , , ,


pa&e 12*

3. Structuralism$
(t .ust be ad.itted that it thus beca.e te.ptin/ to #lirt 4kokettieren 6, not with the
structure and its ele.ents, etc, 4because all these concepts are in Mar26, but #or e2a.ple
with the notion o# the 9e##ecti*ity o# an absent cause9 BB which is, it .ust be said, .uch
.ore ?pinoHist than structuralistK BB in order to account at one and the sa.e ti.e #or
:lassical 'olitical Acono.yEs 9.ista=es9, #or the -elations o# 'roduction, and e*en #or
#etishis. 4but ( did not do so> the theory o# #etishis. always see.ed to .e ideolo/ical6 BB
and to herald, by the ter. structural causality 4c') ?pinoHa6, so.ethin/ which is in #act an
9i..ense theoretical disco*ery9 o# Mar2 but which can also, in the Mar2ist tradition, be
ter.ed dialectical materialist causality, 'ro*ided that their critical e##ects are =ept under
control, these notions are not entirely useless BB an e2a.ple is the notion o# the 9absent
cause9,7358 &ut we were not always able to restrain oursel*es,

35, (n three senses>
1, %olitical) For e2a.ple, it is di##icult to 9put your #in/er9 on 9the9 cause o# what so.e ha*e called
9?talinis.9 and others 9the personality cult9, "he e##ects were certainly present, but the cause was absentJ
3, "cienti'ic) ?upposin/ that, by scienti#ic analysis, 9the9 cause was #ound, and that we call it 4in order
to call it so.ethin/6 the 9?talinian de*iation9, e*en so this cause is itsel# only one lin= in the dialectic o# the
class stru//le o# the Labour Mo*e.ent in a situation do.inated by the construction o# socialis. in one
country, itsel# a .o.ent o# the history o# the (nternational Labour Mo*e.ent, in the worldBwide class
stru//les o# the i.perialist sta/e o# capitalis., the whole thin/ bein/ deter.ined 9in the last instance9 by
the 9contradiction9 between the -elations o# 'roduction and 'roducti*e Forces,
&ut it is also not possible to 9put your #in/er9 on this contradiction, deter.inant 9in the last instance9, as
the cause, ne can only /rasp it and understand it within the #or.s o# the class stru//le which constitutes,
in the strict sense, its historical e2istence, "o say that 9the cause is absent9 thus .eans, in Historical
Materialis., that the 9contradiction deter.inant in the last instance9 is ne,er present in person on the scene
o# history 49the hour o# the deter.ination in the last instance ne*er stri=es96 and that one can ne*er /rasp it
directly, as one can a 9person who is present9, (t is a 9cause9, but in the dialectical sense, in the sense that it
deter.ines what, on the sta/e o# the class stru//le, is the 9decisi*e lin=9 which .ust be /raspedJ 7cont) onto p,
137, 1JR8
3, %hilosophical) (t is true that the dialectic is a thesis o# the 9absent9 cause, but in a sense which .ust
be understood as ;uite distinct #ro. the supposed structuralist connotation o# the ter., "he dialectic .a=es
the rei/nin/ cause disappear, because it destroys, surpasses and 9transcends9 the .echanistic, preBHe/elian
cate/ory o# cause, concei*ed as the billiard ball in person, so.ethin/ which can be /rasped, cause
identi#ied with substance, with the sub0ect, etc, "he dialectic .a=es .echanical causality disappear, by
puttin* 'orward the thesis o# a ;uite di##erent 9causality9,

pa&e 12+
in certain pa/es o# Readin* (apital, in that ?prin/ o# 19$!, and our 9#lirt9 with
structuralist ter.inolo/y ob*iously went beyond acceptable li.its, because our critics,
with a #ew e2ceptions, did not see the irony or parody intended, For we had in .ind ;uite
another 'ersona/e than the anony.ous author o# structuralist the.es and their *o/ueK Me
shall soon see who,
"here were howe*er certain indications in our essays which .i/ht ha*e /i*en cause
#or re#le2ion, ( ha*e #or e2a.ple always wondered how structuralis. could swallow and
di/est cate/ories li=e 9deter.ination in the last instance9, 9do.inationQsubordination9, to
.ention only these, &ut what did it .atterF For #la/rant reasons o# con*enience, we were
called 9structuralists9, and it was in a co##in .ar=ed 9structuralis.9 that the /reat #a.ily
o# ?ocialB)e.ocrats #ro. all parties and lands sole.nly bore us to our /ra*e and buried
us, in the na.e o# Mar2is. BB that is, o# their Mar2is., "he spade#uls o# earth BB o#
9history9, o# 9practice9, o# the 9dialectic9, o# the 9concrete9, o# 9li#e9, and o# course o#
9Man9 and 9Hu.anis.9 BB #ell thic= and #ast, For a #uneral, it was a nice one, Mith this
rather special characteristic> that the years ha*e passed, but the cere.ony is still /oin/
on,
( will say no .ore about these episodes, #or while they are not lac=in/ in interest 4it
still re.ains to show why6, they can distract us #ro. the essential point, and #or a *ery
si.ple reason, "his is that the criticis.s which were then addressed to us put thin/s in
the wron/ order> they called us structuralists, but they said little about our theoreticis.,
(n a sense, they certainly did bury so.ethin/> the .ain de*iation, theoreticis., was
buried beneath a secondary de*iation 4and proble.atic6, structuralis., And it is easy

pa&e 12,
to understand why> the point is that the Mar2ist thesis o# theoretical antiBhu.anis., the
#or.ulation o# which .ay ha*e 9o*erlapped9 with certain /ood 9structuralist9 4antiB
psycholo/istic, antiBhistoricist6 re#le2es o# so.e i.portant thin=ers 4?aussure and his
school6, who o# course were no Mar2ists, ca.e directly into con#lict with their hu.anist
ideolo/y, Mhat our critics, #ascinated by the pseudoBanta/onis. between structuralis.
and hu.anis., and #i2ed within an antithesis which suited the., could neither see nor
understand, was that certain de.arcation lines can o*erlap in this way, can .eet at certain
sensiti*e pointsJ that in the philosophical battle you so.eti.es ha*e to ta=e o*er a certain
=ey point occupied by others 4who .ay be ene.ies6 in order to .a=e it part o# your own
de#ensi*e positions 4it .ay then chan/e its si/ni#icance, because it will then be part o# a
;uite di##erent syste.6J that this inte/ration procedure is not /uaranteed by anyone in
ad*ance, and that it in*ol*es ris=s, precisely those ris=s to which Mar2 draws attention
when, in &oo= ( o# (apital, he 9#lirts9 with He/el and his ter.inolo/y, "hat is why thin/s
.ust be put bac= in their proper order, Mith hindsi/ht, and bene#itin/ #ro. the criticis.s
which were .ade o# .e 4( did not i/nore the.> so.e were *ery .uch to the point6 and
#ro. #urther thou/ht, ( belie*e that si2 years later ( can stand by the ter.s o# .y brie# but
precise sel#Bcriticis. o# 19$7 and identi#y a #unda.ental theoreticist 4 U rationalistB
speculati*e6 de*iation in .y #irst essays 4.or #ar$, Readin* (apital 6 and also, in
Readin* (apital, its circu.stantial byBproduct, a *ery a.bi/uous 9#lirtation9 with
structuralist ter.inolo/y,
&ut since the ;uestion o# structuralis. has arisen, ( should li=e to say a #ew words
about it,
"his *ery French speciality is not a 9philosophersE philosophy9> no philosopher /a*e it
its na.e, nor its seal, and no philosopher has ta=en up its *a/ue and chan/in/ the.es in
order to create the unity o# a syste.atic conception out o# the., "his is not an accident,
?tructuralis., born o# theoretical proble.s encountered by scientists in their practical
wor= 4in lin/uistics #ro. the ti.e o# ?aussure, in social anthropolo/y #ro. the ti.e o#
&oas and LN*iB?trauss, in

pa&e 12-
psychoanalysis, etc,6, is no 9philosophersE philosophy9, but a 9philosophy9 or
9philosophical ideolo/y o# scientists9, "hat its the.es are *a/ue and chan/in/, that their
boundary is *ery illBde#ined, does not .ean that its *eneral tendency cannot be
characteriHed> as rationalist, .echanistic, and abo*e all 'ormalist) Ilti.ately 4and this
can be seen in certain o# the te2ts o# Le*iB?trauss, and a.on/ lin/uists or other
philosophiHin/ lo/icians6 structuralis. 4or rather> certain structuralists6 tends towards the
ideal o# the production o' the real as an e''ect o' a combinatory o' elements) &ut o# course
since 9it9 uses a whole lot o# concepts drawn #ro. e2istin/ disciplines, we could not
honestly accuse structuralis. o# bein/ the #irst to use the concept o# structureK
At this point it is i.portant to re.e.ber that structuralis. is not a co.pletely wor=edB
out philosophy, but a 0u.ble o# *a/ue the.es which only realiBes its ulti.ate tendency
under certain de#inite conditions, Accordin/ to what you 9understand9 by structuralis.
4e)*), antiBpsycholo/is.6, accordin/ to what you see in it when you co.e up a/ainst
concepts which it has in #act borrowed, and accordin/ to whether you #ollow the e2tre.e
lo/ic which inspires it, either you are not a structuralist or you are one .ore or less, or
you really are one, %ow noBone can clai. that we e*er /a*e way to the craHy #or.alist
idealis. o# the idea o# producin/ the real by a co.binatory o# ele.ents, Mar2 does spea=
o# the 9co.bination9 o# ele.ents in the structure o# a .ode o# production, &ut this
co.bination 4/erbindun* 6 is not a #or.al 9co.binatory9> we e2pressly pointed that out,
'urposely, (n #act this is where the .ost i.portant de.arcation line is drawn,
For e2a.ple, there is no ;uestion o# deducin/ 4there#ore o# predictin/6 the di##erent
9possible9 .odes o# production by the #or.al play o# the di##erent possible co.bination
o# ele.entsJ and in particular, it is not possible to construct in this way, a priori , , , the
co..unist .ode o# productionK Mar2 constantly uses the concepts o# position and
#unction, and the concept o# TrJ*er 49supports 96, .eanin/ a support o# relations > but
this is not in order to .a=e concrete realities disappear, to reduce real .en to pure
#unctions o# supports BB it is in order to .a=e .echanis.s intelli/ible by /raspin/ the.

pa&e 13.
throu/h their concept, and be*innin* with these 4since this is the only possible way6 to
.a=e intelli/ible the concrete realities which can only be /rasped by .a=in/ a detour
throu/h abstraction, &ut 0ust because Mar2 uses the concepts o# structure, ele.ents,
point, #unction, TrJ*er, relations, deter.ination by relations, #or.s and trans#or.ed
#or.s, displace.ent, etc,, that does not .a=e hi. a structuralist, since he is not a
'ormalist) Here the second de.arcation line is drawn,
Mar2Es concepts are actually used and con#ined within precise li.itsJ and they are
sub0ected to other concepts which de#ine their limits o' ,alidity > the concepts o# process,
contradiction, tendency, li.it, do.ination, subordination, etc, Here a third de.arcation
line is drawn,
For there are those who ha*e said, or will one day say, that Mar2is. is distin/uished
#ro. structuralis. by the primacy o' the process o,er the structure) For.ally, this is not
#alseJ but it is also true o# He/elK (# you want to /o to the heart o# the .atter, you .ust /o
.uch deeper, For it is possible to concei*e o# a 'ormalism o' the process 4o# which the
bour/eois econo.ists o##er us daily a caricature6, there#ore a structuralis. , , , o# the
processK (n truth what we need to loo= at is the stran/e status o# a decisi*e concept in
Mar2ist theory, the concept o# tendency 4tendential law, law o# a tendential process, etc,6,
(n the concept o# tendency there appears not only the contradiction internal to the process
4Mar2is. is not a structuralis., not because it a##ir.s the pri.acy o# the process o*er the
structure, but because it a##ir.s the pri.acy o# contradiction o*er the process> yet e*en
this is not enou/h6 but so.ethin/ else, which politically and philosophically is .uch
.ore i.portant BB the special, uni;ue status which .a=es Mar2ist science a re,olutionary
science, %ot si.ply a science which re*olutionaries can use in order to .a=e re*olution,
but a science which they can use because it rests on re,olutionary class theoretical
positions)
# course we did not see this last point clearly in 19$!, Mhich .eans that we had not
yet appreciated the e2ceptional i.portance o# the role o# the class stru//le in Mar2Es
philosophy and in the theoretical apparatus o# (apital itsel#, (t

pa&e 131
is a #act> althou/h we suspected that Mar2ist science was not 9a science li=e the others9,
we did #inally treat it as 9a science li=e the others9, thus #allin/ into the dan/ers o#
theoreticis., &ut we were ne*er structuralists,


pa&e 132

(. ;n Spino<a
(# we ne*er were structuralists, we can now e2plain why> why we see.ed to be, e*en
thou/h we were not, why there ca.e about this stran/e .isunderstandin/ on the basis o#
which boo=s were written, Me were /uilty o# an e;ually power#ul and co.pro.isin/
passion> we were "pinoBists) (n our own way, o# course, which was not &runsch*ic/EsK
And by attributin/ to the author o# the Tractatus Theolo*ico%oliticus and the Ethics a
nu.ber o# theses which he would surely ne*er ha*e ac=nowled/ed, thou/h they did not
actually contradict hi., &ut to be a heretical ?pinoHist is al.ost orthodo2 ?pinoHis., i#
?pinoHis. can be said to be one o# the /reatest lessons in heresy that the world has seenK
(n any case, with *ery #ew e2ceptions our blessed critics, i.bued with con*iction and
swayed by #ashion, ne*er suspected any o# this, "hey too= the easy road> it was so si.ple
to 0oin the crowd and shout 9structuralis.9K ?tructuralis. was all the ra/e, and you did
not ha*e to read about it in boo=s to be able to tal= about it, &ut you ha*e to read ?pinoHa
and =now that he e2ists> that he still e2ists today, "o reco/niHe hi., you .ust at least
ha*e heard o# hi.,
Let us clari#y this business in a #ew words, A#ter all, to lu.p structuralis. and
theoreticis. to/ether is hardly satis#actory or illu.inatin/, because so.ethin/ in this
co.bination is always 9hidden9> 'ormalism, which happens to be essential to
structuralis.K n the other hand, to brin/ structuralis. and ?pinoHis. to/ether .ay
clari#y certain points, and certain li.its, as #ar as the theoreticist de*iation is concerned,
&ut then co.es the i.portant ob0ection> why did we .a=e re#erence to ?pinoHa, when
all that was re;uired was #or us si.ply to be Mar2istsF Mhy this detourF Mas it
necessary, and what price did we ha*e to pay #or itF "he #act is> we did .a=e the detour,
and we paid dearly, &ut that is not the ;uestion, "he ;uestion is> what is the .eanin/ o#
the ;uestionF Mhat can it .ean to say that we should simply be Mar2ists 4in philosophy6F
(n #act ( had #ound out 4and ( was not

pa&e 133
the only one, but the reasons which ( /a*e at the ti.e are still al.ost all rele*ant6 0ust
how hard it was in practice to be a Mar2ist in philosophy, Ha*in/ #or years ban/ed our
heads a/ainst a wall o# eni/.atic te2ts and wretched co..entaries on the., we had to
decide to step bac= and .a=e a detour,
(n itsel#, nothin/ scandalous, (t is not si.ply accidental, personal #actors which are
rele*ant here> we all be/in #ro. a /i*en point o# *iew, which we do not chooseJ and to
reco/niHe it and understand it we need to ha*e .o*ed on #ro. this point, at the cost o# so
.uch e##ort, (t is the wor= o# philosophy itsel# which is at sta=e here> 'or it requires steps
back and detours) Mhat else did Mar2 do, throu/hout his endless research, but /o bac= to
He/el in order to rid hi.sel# o# He/el and to #ind his own way, what else but redisco*er
He/el in order to distin/uish hi.sel# #ro. He/el and to de#ine hi.sel#F :ould this really
ha*e been a purely personal a##air BB #ascination, re0ection, then a return to a youth#ul
passionF ?o.ethin/ was wor=in/ in Mar2 which went beyond the indi*idual le*el> the
need #or e*ery philosophy to .a=e a detour ,ia other philosophies in order to de#ine itsel#
and /rasp itsel# in ter.s o# its di##erence> its di,ision) (n reality 4and whate*er its
pretensions6 no philosophy is /i*en in the simple, absolute #act o# its presence BB least o#
all Mar2ist philosophy 4which in #act ne*er .ade the clai.6, (t only e2ists in so #ar as it
9wor=s out9 its di##erence #ro. other philosophies, #ro. those which, by si.ilarity or
contrast, help it sense, percei*e and /rasp itsel#, so that it can ta=e up its own positions)
LeninEs attitude to He/el is an e2a.ple> wor=in/ to separate out #ro. the 9debris9 and
useless 9rubbish9 those 9ele.ents9 which .i/ht help in the e##ort to wor= out a
di##erential de#inition, Me are only now be/innin/ to see a little .ore clearly into this
necessary procedure,7318 How can it be denied that this procedure is indispensable to e*ery
philosophy, includin/ Mar2ist philosophy itsel#F Mar2, it has o#ten been pointed out, was
not content with .a=in/ a sin/le detour, ,ia He/elJ he also constantly and e2plicitly, in
his insistent use o#

31, (') ), Lecourt, 9ne (rise et son enDeu, Maspero, 1973,

pa&e 13(
certain cate/ories, .easured hi.sel# a/ainst Aristotle, 9that /reat thin=er o# the For.s9,
And how can it be denied that these detours, indispensable as they were, ne*ertheless had
to be paid #or, that we do not yet =now 4thou/h we ha*e our suspicions6 what the
theoretical cost really is, and that we can only #ind out by oursel,es workin* on these
detours F
"his BB =eepin/ the .atter 4o# course6 in proportion BB is how we approached ?pinoHa,
coura/eously or i.prudently 4as you pre#er6, (n our sub0ecti*e history, and in the e2istin/
ideolo/ical and theoretical con0uncture, this detour beca.e a necessity,
MhyF
(# a reason, one sin/le and there#ore #unda.ental reason .ust be /i*en, here it is> we
.ade a detour ,ia ?pinoHa in order to i.pro*e our understandin/ o# Mar2Es philosophy,
"o be precise> since Mar2Es .aterialis. #orced us to think out the .eanin/ o# the
necessary detour ,ia He/el, we made the detour ,ia "pinoBa in order to clari'y our
understandin* o' #ar$'s detour ,ia 2e*el) A detour, there#oreJ but with re/ard to another
detour, At sta=e was so.ethin/ enor.ously i.portant> the better understandin/ o# how
and under what conditions a dialectic borrowed #ro. the 9.ost speculati*e9 chapters o#
the Great Lo*ic o# Absolute (dealis. 4borrowed conditionally on an 9in*ersion9 and a
9de.ysti#ication9, which also ha*e to be understood6 can be .aterialist and critical, %ow
this astonishin/ and eni/.atic /a.e o# .anoeu*res between idealis. and .aterialis.
had already ta=en place once in history, in other #or.s 4with which He/el typically
identi#ied6 two centuries earlier, under astonishin/ conditions> how could this philosophy
o# ?pinoHa ha*e been .aterialist and critical BB a philosophy terri#yin/ to its own ti.e,
which be/an 9not with the spirit, not with the world, but with @od9, and ne*er de*iated
#ro. its path, whate*er #or. or appearance o# idealis. and 9do/.atis.9 it .i/ht ta=e
onF (n ?pinoHaEs anticipation o# He/el we tried to see, and thou/ht that we had succeeded
in #indin/ out, under what conditions a philosophy .i/ht, in what it said or did not say,
and in spite o# its #or. BB or on the contrary, 0ust because o# its #or., that is, because o#
the theoretical apparatus o# its theses, in short because o#

pa&e 13)
its positions BB produce e##ects use#ul to .aterialis., "hus, so.e li/ht would be thrown
on what philosophy really is, there#ore on what a philosophy is, and on .aterialis., And
then other thin/s would be/in to beco.e clear,
( .entioned He/el and the Great Lo*ic, and not without reason, He/el be*ins with
Lo/ic, 9@od be#ore the creation o# the world9, &ut as Lo/ic is alienated in %ature, which
is alienated in the ?pirit, which reaches its end in Lo/ic, there is a circle which turns
within itsel#, without end and without be/innin/, "he #irst words o# the be/innin/ o# the
Lo*ic tell us> &ein/ is %othin/ness, "he posited be/innin/ is ne/ated> there is no
be/innin/, there#ore no ori/in, ?pinoHa #or his part be/ins with @od, but in order to deny
Hi. as a &ein/ 4?ub0ect6 in the uni*ersality o# His only in#inite power 41eus L +atura 6,
"hus ?pinoHa, li=e He/el, re0ects e*ery thesis o# ri/in, "ranscendence or an
In=nowable Morld, e*en dis/uised within the absolute interiority o# the Assence, &ut
with this di##erence 4#or the ?pinoHist ne/ation is not the He/elian ne/ation6, that within
the *oid o# the He/elian &ein/ there e2ists, throu/h the ne/ation o# the ne/ation, the
conte.plation o# the dialectic o# a Telos 4"elos U @oal6, a dialectic which reaches its
@oals in history> those o# the ?pirit, sub0ecti*e, ob0ecti*e and absolute, Absolute 'resence
in transparency, &ut ?pinoHa, because he 9be/ins with @od9, ne*er /ets in*ol*ed with
any @oal, which, e*en when it 9.a=es its way #orward9 in i..anence, is still #i/ure and
thesis o# transcendence, "he detour ,ia ?pinoHa thus allowed us to .a=e out, by contrast,
a radical ;uality lac=in/ in He/el, (n the ne/ation o# the ne/ation, in the Au'hebun* 4 U
transcendence which conser*es what it transcends6, it allowed us to disco*er the @oal>
the special #or. and site o# the 9.ysti#ication9 o# the He/elian dialectic,
(s it necessary to add that ?pinoHa re#used to use the notion o# the @oal, but e2plained
it as a necessary and there#ore wellB#ounded illusionF (n the Appendi2 to &oo= ( o# the
Ethics, and in the Tractatus Theolo*ico%oliticus, we #ind in #act what is undoubtedly the
#irst theory o# ideolo*y e*er thou/ht out, with its three characteristics> 416 its ima*inary
9reality9J 436 its internal in,ersion J 436 its 9centre9> the illusion o# the subDect) An abstract
theory

pa&e 13*
o# ideolo/y, it will be said, ( a/ree> but try to #ind so.ethin/ better be#ore Mar2, who
hi.sel# said little on the sub0ect BB e2cept in The German !deolo*y, where he said too
.uch, And abo*e all> it is not su##icient to spell out the letter o# a theory, one .ust also
see how it operates, that is, since it is always an apparatus o# theses, what it re#uses and
what it accepts, ?pinoHaEs 9theory9 re0ected e*ery illusion about ideolo/y, and especially
about the nu.ber one ideolo/y o# that ti.e, reli/ion, by identi#yin/ it as i.a/inary, &ut
at the sa.e ti.e it re#used to treat ideolo/y as a si.ple error, or as na=ed i/norance,
because it based the syste. o# this i.a/inary pheno.enon on the relation o# .en to the
world 9e2pressed9 by the state o# their bodies, "his materialism o' the ima*inary opened
the way to a surprisin/ conception o# the First Le*el o# Dnowled/e> not at all, in #act, as a
9piece o# =nowled/e9, but as the .aterial world o# .en as they li,e it, that o# their
concrete and historical e2istence, (s this a #alse interpretationF (n certain respects,
perhaps, but it is possible to read ?pinoHa in such a way, (n #act his cate/ories do
#unction, darin/ly, in this way in the history o# the +ewish people, o# its prophets, o# its
reli/ion, and o# its politics, where the pri.acy o# politics o*er reli/ion stands out clearly,
in the #irst wor= which, a#ter Machia*elli, o##ered a theory o# history,
&ut this theory o# the i.a/inary went still #urther, &y its radical criticis. o# the central
cate/ory o# i.a/inary illusion, the "ubDect, it reached into the *ery heart o# bour/eois
philosophy, which since the #ourteenth century had been built on the #oundation o# the
le/al ideolo/y o# the ?ub0ect, ?pinoHaEs resolute antiB:artesianis. consciously directs
itsel# to this point, and the #a.ous 9critical9 tradition .ade no .ista=e here, n this point
too ?pinoHa anticipated He/el, but he went #urther, For He/el, who criticiHed all theses o#
sub0ecti*ity, ne*ertheless #ound a place #or the ?ub0ect, not only in the #or. o# the
9beco.in/B?ub0ect o# ?ubstance9 4by which he 9reproaches9 ?pinoHa #or 9wron/ly9
ta=in/ thin/s no #urther than ?ubstance6, but in the interiority o# the Telos o# the process
without a sub0ect, which by *irtue o# the ne/ation o# the ne/ation, realiHes the desi/ns
and destiny o# the (dea, "hus ?pinoHa showed us the secret

pa&e 13+
alliance between ?ub0ect and @oal which 9.ysti#ies9 the He/elian dialectic,
( could /o on, ( will howe*er deal with one last the.e> that o# the #a.ous 9,erum
inde$ sui et 'alsi 9, ( said that it see.ed to us to allow a recurrent conception o# the
9brea=9, &ut it did not only ha*e that .eanin/, (n a##ir.in/ that 9what is true is the si/n
o# itsel# and o# what is #alse9, ?pinoHa a*oided any proble.atic which depended on a
9criterion o' truth 9, (# you clai. to 0ud/e the truth o# so.ethin/ by so.e 9criterion9, you
#ace the proble. o# the criterion o# this criterion BB since it also .ust be true BB and so on
to in#inity, Mhether the criterion is e2ternal 4relation o# ade;uacy between .ind and
thin/, in the Aristotelian tradition6 or internal 4:artesian sel#Be*idence6, in either case the
criterion can be re0ected> #or it only represents a #or. o# +urisdiction, a +ud/e to
authenticate and /uarantee the *alidity o# what is "rue, And at the sa.e ti.e ?pinoHa
a*oids the te.ptation o# tal=in/ about the "ruth> as a /ood no.inalist 4no.inalis., as
Mar2 reco/niHed, could then be the antecha.ber o# .aterialis.6 ?pinoHa only tal=s
about what is 9true9, (n #act the idea o# "ruth and the idea o# the +urisdiction o# a
:riterion always /o to/ether, because the #unction o# the criterion is to identi#y the "ruth
o# what is true, nce he has set aside the 4idealist6 te.ptations o# a theory o# =nowled/e,
?pinoHa then says that 9what is true9 9identi#ies itsel#9, not as a 'resence but as a 'roduct,
in the double sense o# the ter. 9product9 4result o# the wor= o# a process which
9disco,ers 9 it6, as it e.er/es in its own production, %ow this position is not unrelated to
the 9criterion o# practice9, a .a0or thesis o# Mar2ist philosophy> #or this Mar2ist
9criterion9 is not e2terior but interior to practice, and since this practice is a process
4Lenin insisted on this> practice is not an absolute 9criterion9 BB only the process is
conclusi*e6 the criterion is no #or. o# +urisdictionJ ite.s o# =nowled/e 7connaissances 8
e.er/e in the process o# their production,
"here a/ain, by the contrast between the., ?pinoHa allows us to percei*e He/elEs
.ista=e, He/el certainly did rule out any criterion o# truth, by considerin/ what is true as
interior to its process, but he restored the credentials o# the "ruth as "elos within the
process itsel#, since each

pa&e 13,
.o.ent is only e*er the 9truth o#9 the .o.ent which precedes it, Mhen, in a pro*ocati*e
#or.ula which too= up LeninEs words 49Mar2Es doctrine is allBpower#ul because it is
true96 directed a/ainst the do.inant pra/.atis. and e*ery 4idealist6 idea o# +urisdiction,
( 9de#ined9 =nowled/e as 9production 9 and a##ir.ed the interiority o# the #or.s o#
scienti#icity to 9theoretical practice9, ( based .ysel# on ?pinoHa> not in order to pro*ide
The answer, but to counter the do.inant idealis. and, ,ia ?pinoHa, to open a road where
.aterialis. .i/ht, i# it runs the ris=, #ind so.ethin/ other than words,
(t is understandable that, behind these reasonin/s, we #ound other theses in ?pinoHa
which supported the., and that we put these to use too, e*en at the cost o# o*erdoin/
thin/s,
?pinoHa helped us to see that the concepts ?ub0ectQ@oal constitute the 9.ysti#yin/
side9 o# the He/elian dialectic> but is it enou/h to /et rid o# the. in order to introduce the
.aterialist dialectic o# Mar2is., by a si.ple process o# subtraction and in*ersionF "hat
is not at all sure, because, #reed o# these #etters, the new dialectic can re*ol*e endlessly in
the *oid o# idealis., unless it is rooted in new 'orms, un=nown to He/el, and which can
con#er on it the status o# .aterialis.,
%ow, what does Mar2 de.onstrate in the %o,erty o' %hilosophy, in the (ontribution to
a (ritique o' %olitical Economy and in (apital F 'recisely that the #unctionin/ o# the
materialist dialectic is dependent on the apparatus o# a =ind o# Topo*raphy 7Topique 8, (
a. alludin/ to the #a.ous .etaphor o# the edi#ice, in which, in order to /rasp the reality
o# a social #or.ation, Mar2 instals an in#rastructure 4the econo.ic 9structure9 or 9base96
and, abo*e it, a superstructure, ( a. alludin/ to the theoretical proble.s posed by this
apparatus> 9the deter.ination in the last instance 4o# the superstructure6 by the econo.y
4the in#rastructure69, 9the relati*e autono.y o# 4the ele.ents o#6 the superstructure9, their
9action and reaction on the in#rastructure9, the di##erence and the unity between
deter.ination and do.ination, etc, And ( a. alludin/ to the decisi*e proble., within the
in#rastructure #or e2a.ple, o# the

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unity o# the relations o# production and producti*e #orces under the dominance o' the
relations o# production, there#ore the proble. o# the determination by relations on the
one hand 4you #ind the trace o# this proble. e*erywhere in Mar2> c') the concepts o#
structureQele.ents, o# position, #unction, support, etc,6 and on the other hand the proble.
o# domination)
%ow, we are not tal=in/ here about a #ew #or.ulae which .i/ht ha*e slipped #ro.
Mar2Es pen by accident, but about a necessity, so.ethin/ which e2presses a position
essential to .aterialis. and which .ust be ta=en seriously, For nowhere do you see
He/el thin=in/ within the structure o# a Topo*raphy) (t is not that He/el does not propose
topo/raphical distinctions> to ta=e only one e2a.ple, he does indeed tal= about abstract
ri/ht, sub0ecti*e ri/ht 4.orality6, and ob0ecti*e ri/ht 4the #a.ily, ci*il society, the ?tate6,
and tal=s about the. as spheres) &ut He/el only e*er tal=s about spheres in order to
describe the. as 9spheres within spheres9, about circles in order to describe the. as
9circles within circles9> he only ad*ances topo/raphical distinctions in order later to
suspend the., to erase the. and to transcend the. 4Au'hebun* 6, since 9their truth9
always, #or each o# the., lies beyond itsel#, Me =now the conse;uences o# this idealist
retreat> it is abstract ri/ht which co.es #irstK Morality is 9the truth o#9 lawK "he #a.ily,
ci*il society and the ?tate are 9the truth o#9 .oralityK And, within this last sphere
4"ittlichkeit 6, ci*il society 4let us say> Mar2Es in#rastructure6 is 9the truth o#9 the #a.ilyK
And the ?tate is 9the truth o#9 ci*il societyK "he Au'hebun* is at wor= here> Au'hebun* o'
e,ery Topo*raphy) &ut there is worse> the 9spheres9 which ha*e been introduced are
arran/ed in the order which allows the /reatest possibility o# this retreat, All the spheres
o# the %hilosophy o' Ri*ht are only #i/ures o# the law, the e2istence o# Liberty, And, in
order to 9de.onstrate9 it, He/el buries the econo.y between the #a.ily and the ?tate,
a#ter abstract ri/ht and .orality, "his allows us to /li.pse what .i/ht co.e o# a dialectic
abandoned to the absolute deliriu. o# the ne/ation o# the ne/ation> it is a dialectic which,
9startin/9 #ro. &ein/ U %othin/ness, itsel# produces, by the ne/ation o# the ne/ation,

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all the #i/ures in which it operates, o# which it is the dialecticJ it is a dialectic which
produces its own 9spheres9 o# e2istenceJ it is BB to put it bluntly BB a dialectic which
produces its own material substance) A thesis which #aith#ully transposes and translates
the #unda.ental thesis o# bour/eois ideolo/y> it is 4the capitalistEs6 labour which has
produced capital,
(t is now possible to understand the .aterialist sta.p o# the Mar2ist "opo/raphy, "he
#act that the .etaphor o# the structure is a .etaphor .atters little> in philosophy you can
only thin= throu/h .etaphors, &ut throu/h this .etaphor we co.e up a/ainst theoretical
proble.s which ha*e nothin/ .etaphorical about the., &y the use o# his "opo/raphy,
Mar2 introduces real, distinct spheres, which only #it to/ether throu/h the .ediation o#
the Au'hebun* > 9below9 is the econo.ic in#rastructure, 9abo*e9 the superstructure, with
its di##erent deter.inations, "he He/elian order is o*erthrown> the ?tate is always 9up
abo*e9, law is no lon/er either pri.ary or o.nipresent, and the econo.y is no lon/er
s;ueeHed between the #a.ily and the ?tate, its 9truth9, "he position o# the in#rastructure
desi/nates an una*oidable reality> the deter.ination in the last instance by the econo.ic,
&ecause o# this, the relation between in#rastructure and superstructure no lon/er has
anythin/ to do with the He/elian relation> 9the truth o# , , ,9, "he ?tate is indeed always
9up abo*e9, but not as 9the truth o#9 the econo.y> in direct contradiction to a relation o#
9truth9, it actually produces a relation o# mysti'ication, based in e2ploitation, which is
.ade possible by #orce and by ideolo/y,
"he conclusion is ob*ious> the position o' the #ar$ist Topo*raphy protects the
dialectic a*ainst the delirious idealist notion o' producin* its own material substance > it
i.poses on it, on the contrary, a #orced reco/nition o# the .aterial conditions o# its own
e##icacy, "hese conditions are related to the de#inition o# the sites 4the 9spheres96, to their
li.its, to their .ode o# deter.ination in the 9totality9 o# a social #or.ation, (# it wants to
/rasp these realities, the .aterialist dialectic cannot rest satis#ied with the residual #or.s
o# the He/elian dialectic, (t needs other #or.s, which cannot be #ound in the He/elian
dialectic, (t is here that ?pinoHa

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ser*ed us as a 4so.eti.es direct, so.eti.es *ery indirect6 re#erence> in his e##ort to /rasp
a 9nonBe.inent9 4that is, nonBtranscendent6 not si.ply transiti*e 4X la )escartes6 nor
e2pressi*e 4X la LeibniH6 causality, which would account #or the action o# the Mhole on
its parts, and o# the parts on the Mhole BB an unbounded Mhole, which is only the acti*e
relation between its parts> in this e##ort ?pinoHa ser*ed us, thou/h indirectly, as a #irst and
al.ost uni;ue /uide,
A Mar2ist cannot o# course .a=e the detour ,ia ?pinoHa without payin/ #or it, For the
ad*enture is perilous, and whate*er you do, you cannot #ind in ?pinoHa what He/el /a*e
to Mar2> contradiction) "o ta=e only one e2a.ple, this 9theory o# ideolo/y9 and this
interpretation o# the 9First Le*el o# Dnowled/e9 as a concrete and historical world o#
.en li*in/ 4in6 the .ateriality o# the i.a/inary led .e directly to the conception 4to
which The German !deolo*y can lend support6> .aterialityQi.a/inaryQin*ersionQ sub0ect>
&ut ( saw ideolo/y as the uni*ersal ele.ent o# historical e2istence> and ( did not at that
ti.e /o any #urther, "hus ( disre/arded the di##erence between the re/ions o# ideolo/y
and the anta/onistic class tendencies which run throu/h the., di*ide the., re/roup the.
and brin/ the. into opposition, "he absence o# 9contradiction9 was ta=in/ its toll> the
;uestion o# the class stru//le in ideolo/y did not appear, "hrou/h the /ap created by this
9theory9 o# ideolo/y slipped theoreticis.> scienceQideolo/y, And so on,
&ut in spite o# e*erythin/, it see.s to .e that the bene#it was not nil, Me wanted to
understand Mar2Es detour ,ia He/el, Me .ade a detour ,ia ?pinoHa> loo=in/ #or
ar/u.ents #or .aterialis., Me #ound so.e, And throu/h this detour, une2pected i# not
unsuspected by .any, we were able, i# not to pose or to articulate, at least to 9raise9 4as
you .i/ht raise an ani.al, une2pectedly disturbin/ it6 so.e ;uestions which otherwise
.i/ht ha*e re.ained dor.ant, sleepin/ the peace#ul sleep o# the eternally ob*ious, in the
closed pa/es o# (apital) Mhile waitin/ #or others either to show the #utility o# these
;uestions or to answer the. .ore correctly, we shall continue, you can bet, to be accused
o# structuralis. , , ,

pa&e 1(2

). ;n 4en'encies in #hilosophy
( spo=e earlier about a theoreticist error) %ow ( want to spea= o# a theoreticist tendency) (
used the #irst ter. in order not to shir= .y duty or spare .ysel# in any way, &ut the
second, i# ( .ay say so, has e*en .ore da.a/in/ i.plications, because it is correct> an
erroneous tendency, or .ore correctly still, a wron/ly oriented, there#ore de*iant
tendency, A de,iation) For you can ulti.ately only tal= about an error in philosophy, #ro.
a Mar2ist point o# *iew i# you thin= o# philosophy itsel# in the cate/ories o# rationalis.
4truthQerror6, that is to say accordin/ to nonBMar2ist philosophical theses, (# ( si.ply
tal=ed about .y philosophical 9error9, without recti#yin/ this e2pression by the use o# the
ter.s tendency and de*iation, ( would #all into the trap o# the rationalist antithesis
between truth and error, and would then be denouncin/ .y past 9error9 in the na.e o# a
9truth9 which ( now possess> without =nowin/ why ( was .ade a present o# it, and
without re/ard to the *ery special dialectic which is at wor= in the practice o# philosophy,
which is not 4a6 science, but class stru//le in theory,7338 Let us ad*ance a thesis> strictly
spea=in/ all theoretical errors are scienti#ic ones, in the recurrent relation which lin=s a
science to its own prehistory 4which re.ains its conte.porary and always acco.panies
it, its historyEs Alter A/o6, (n philosophy we are dealin/ with tendencies which con#ront
each other on the e2istin/ theoretical 9battle#ield9, "hese tendencies /roup the.sel*es in
the last instance around the anta/onis. between idealis. and .aterialis., and they
9e2ist9 in the #or. o# 9philosophies9 which realiHe the tendencies, their *ariations and
their co.binations, as a #unction o# class theoretical positions, in which it is the social
practices 4political ideolo/ical, scienti#ic, etc,6 which are at stake) "hus, in order to .ar=
this distinction, you ha*e to introduce a cate/ory which plays an allBi.portant role in
Mar2ist political practice and theoretical re#le2ion on philosophical theses and
tendencies> the cate/ory o# correctness) "hat

33, A #or.ula which ( proposed in .y Reply to John Lewis)

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is why ( proposed 4in .y %hilosophy (ourse 'or "cientists, 19$76 the e2press use o# this
cate/ory to characteriHe the special 9nature9 o# philosophical propositions, theses 4or
positions > a position which is marked out, thus takes up position, by occupyin* a
position on the basis o# and a/ainst other positions 6, sayin/> 9'hilosophy states
propositions which are theses> a thesis is said to be correct or not 9, Cou can say the sa.e
o# tendencies, which are the e##ect o# an apparatus o# theses, A tendency is correct or
de*iant 4it #ollows a correct line or .ore or less departs #ro. a correct line, e*en to the
point o# beco.in/ anta/onistic to it6, :orrectness does not #all #ro. the s=y> it has to be
wor=ed #or, and .ay in*ol*e considerable e##ort, and it .ust be continually rewor=ed>
there .ust be adDustment) "here is no doubt that philosophy also has a theoretical
#unction, but the ;uestion is> o# what =ind and under what conditionsF Cou would need an
e2tensi*e treat.ent o# the sub0ect in order to answer this ;uestion, "he point that (
wanted to brin/ ho.e, and which see.s to .e, as thin/s are, decisi*e #or Mar2is., is not
only the 9.i2edBup9 character o# the theoretical and practical #unctions o# philosophy, but
the primacy o' the practical 'unction o,er the theoretical 'unction in philosophy itsel#, (t
was to .ar= the decisi*e i.portance o# this position 4"hesis6 and to clari#y the pri.acy
o# the practical #unction that ( put #orward the thesis> 9'hilosophy is, in the last instance,
class stru//le in theory9,
:orrect theses, correct tendency, de*iation , , , "hese cate/ories allow us to /i*e a ;uite
di##erent account than the rationalist one o# what happens in a 9philosophy9, (t is not a
Mhole, .ade up o# ho.o/eneous propositions sub.itted to the *erdict> truth or error, (t
is a syste. o# positions 4theses6, and, throu/h these positions, itsel# occupies positions in
the theoretical class stru//le, (t ta=es up these positions in the stru//le, with re#erence to
the ene.y and a/ainst the ene.y, &ut the ene.y is also not a uni#ied body> the
philosophical battle#ield is thus not a reproduction, in the #or. o# opposed 9syste.s9, o#
the si.ple rationalist antithesis between truth and error, (t is not a ;uestion o#, on the one
hand, a ho.o/eneous /ood side, and on the other a bad side, "he positions o# the two
sides are usually

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.i2ed up to/ether BB not all ene.ies are e;ually ene.ies, and in the heat o# the stru//le it
is not always easy to identi#y in the crowd the main ene.y, and to reco/niHe that there
also e2ist secondary ene.ies, which .ay be #i/htin/ #or old positions 4as i# the #ront line
had not chan/ed6, or #or 9partial9 or .isplaced sta=es, (t is there#ore necessary to #i/ht, i#
not e*erywhere at the sa.e ti.e, at least on se*eral #ronts, ta=in/ account both o# the
principal tendency and o# the secondary tendencies, both o# the principal sta=e and o# the
secondary sta=es, while all the ti.e 9wor=in/9 to occupy correct positions, All this will
ob*iously not co.e about throu/h the .iracle o# a consciousness capable o# dealin/ with
all proble.s with per#ect clarity, "here is no .iracle, A Mar2ist philosopher able to
inter*ene in the theoretical class stru//le .ust start out #ro. positions already reco/niHed
and established in the theoretical battles o# the history o# the Labour Mo*e.ent BB but he
can only understand the e2istin/ state o# the theoretical and ideolo/ical 9terrain9 i# he
co.es to =now it both theoretically and practically> in and throu/h stru//le, (t .ay be
that in the course o# his endea*ours, e*en when he starts out #ro. already established
positions in order to attac= open or dis/uised ene.ies, he will ta=e up positions which in
the course o# stru//le are shown to be de,iant positions, out o# step with the correct line
which he is ai.in/ #or, "here is nothin/ astonishin/ in that, "he essential thin/ is that he
should then reco/niHe his de*iation and recti#y his positions in order to .a=e the. .ore
correct,
&ut let us /o #urther, (# it is true that philosophy, 9class stru//le in theory9, is, in the
last instance, this interposed con#lict between tendencies 4idealis. and .aterialis.6
which An/els, Lenin and Mao spo=e about, then since this stru//le does not ta=e place in
the s=y but on the theoretical /round, and since this /round chan/es its #eatures in the
course o# history, and since at the sa.e ti.e the ;uestion o# what is at sta=e also ta=es on
new #or.s, you can there#ore say that the idealist and .aterialist tendencies which
con#ront one another in all philosophical stru//les, on the #ield o# battle, are ne,er
realiBed in a pure 'orm in any CphilosophyC , (n e*ery 9philosophy9, e*en when it
represents as e2plicitly and 9coherently9 as possible one o# the two /reat anta/onistic

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tendencies, there e2ist .ani#est or latent ele.ents o# the other tendency, And how could
it be otherwise, i# the role o# e*ery philosophy is to try to besie/e the ene.yEs positions,
there#ore to interioriHe the con#lict in order to .aster itF %ow this .astery .ay escape
precisely whoe*er is tryin/ to establish it, For a si.ple reason> the #ate o# philosophical
theses does not depend only on the position on which they stand BB because the class
stru//le in theory is always secondary in relation to the class stru//le in /eneral, because
there is somethin* outside o' philosophy which constitutes it as philosophy, e*en thou/h
philosophy itsel# certainly does not want to reco/niHe the #act,
"hat is why both in order to tal= about and in order to 0ud/e a philosophy it is correct
to start out #ro. MaoEs cate/ories on contradiction, %ow Mao tal=s abo*e all about
politics, e*en in his philosophical te2ts BB and in this he is correct, .ore so than .i/ht be
i.a/ined BB and he /i*es reasons #or belie*in/ what An/els and Lenin su//ested, which
is the theoretical #oundation o# the Leninist 9.aterialist readin/9 not only o# He/el, the
absolute idealist, but o# all philosophers without e2ception 4includin/ An/els, Lenin and
Mao the.sel*es6> that in e*ery philosophy, in e*ery philosophical position, you .ust
consider the tendency in its contradiction, and within this contradiction the principal
tendency and the secondary tendency o# the contradiction, and within each tendency the
principal aspect, the secondary aspect, and so on, &ut it is not a ;uestion o# an in#inite
and #or.al 'latonic di*ision, Mhat .ust be understood is how this di*ision is #i2ed in a
series o# meetin*points, in which the politicalBtheoretical con0uncture de#ines the central
meetin*point 49the decisi*e lin=96 and the secondary .eetin/BpointsJ or, to chan/e the
.etaphor> the principal 9#ront9 and the secondary 9#ronts9, the .ain point o# attac= and
de#ence, the secondary points o# attac= and de#ence, "his is indeed, in its present #or.,
*ery sche.atic, and perhaps e*en scholasticK 9)istin/uo9, said MoliLreEs philosopher,
thus caricaturin/ di,ision 4a .a0or operation in philosophical practice, which by its
de.arcations realiBes a tendency in the stru//le6 by trans#or.in/ it into si.ple
distinctions, which establish obDects and essences) LeninEs and MaoEs

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9distinctions9, howe*er, are actually not distinctions, which deter.ine a result, but
di*isions, the lines o# which open up a path, n this basis, wor= can be/in BB the tools are
o# course always open to i.pro*e.ent BB on a better understandin/ o# what happens in
9philosophy9 and in 9a9 philosophy,
Mhy these /eneral re.ar=sF (n order to be able to characteriHe .ore ade;uately than
be#ore the 9tendency9 o# .y #irst essays, As #ar as their principal tendency is concerned,
and in spite o# the se*ere criticis. which ( .ust .a=e o# the., ( thin= that they do in
their own way, with the a*ailable .eans and in a precise con0uncture, de#end positions
use#ul to Mar2ist theory and to the proletarian class stru//le> a/ainst the .ost threatenin/
#or.s o# bour/eois ideolo/y BB hu.anis., historicis., pra/.atis., e*olutionis.,
philosophical idealis., etc, &ut as #ar as their secondary, theoreticist tendency is
concerned, these sa.e essays e2press a de*iation har.#ul to Mar2ist positions and the
class stru//le,
&ut it is not enou/h to tal= about a balance> on the one sideQon the other, Cou .ust at
the sa.e ti.e reassess the e##ect o# the whole, that is, the e##ects o# each tendency on the
other and the /lobal result, Cou can then tal= about a contradictory unity 4between the
principal, basically correct tendency, and the secondary, de*iant tendency6, Mithin this
unity the theoreticist tendency has not been without conse;uences #or the theses o# the
principal tendency, "he .ore politicallyBoriented o# .y critics saw this> the class stru//le
does not #i/ure in its own ri*ht in .or #ar$ and Readin* (apital J it only .a=es an
appearance when ( tal= about the practical and social #unction o# ideolo/yJ and o# course
4this is certainly the bi//est .ista=e ( .ade in .y essays on Mar2ist philosophy6 there
was no .ention o# class position in theory, &ut, on the other hand, one can also not
i/nore, within their contradiction, the e##ects o# the principal 4correct6 tendency on the
secondary 4de*iant6 tendency, :ertain o# .y theoreticist theses, .odi#ied by their relation
to the principal tendency, and especially those drawn #ro. ?pinoHa, also played a role in
the stru//le,
(t is not .y place to say what the result o# this enterprise was, what proble.s were
brou/ht to li/ht, which others

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were clari#ied, what cate/ories and concepts were proposed which perhaps allowed us a
better understandin/ o# what is o##ered and reser*ed to us by the e2traordinary theory
bearin/ the na.e o# Mar2, &ut ( thin= that ( can say that a 9#ront9 was openedJ and that
e*en i# it was not held and de#ended all alon/ the line in the sa.e .anner, with e;ually
correct ar/u.ents, it re.ains true that in its essentials 4as #ar as the principal tendency
was concerned6 it was held on the basis o# dialecticalB.aterialist principles, My
opponents did certainly reco/niHe the wea= points, And e*en i# they were not able to ta=e
an 9o*erall *iew9 4#or so.e o# the. this did not .atter6, they did turn to their ad*anta/e
those details which could be so used, and the rest they in*ented, (t was a #air #i/ht, &ut,
what is .ore i.portant, certain o# the theses which we attac=ed were #orced to retreat>
#or e2a.ple, the hu.anist and historicist theses, etc,
&ut now that ( ha*e learned the lesson o# 9practice9, and =nowin/, as Lenin said, that it
is .ore serious not to reco/niHe an error than si.ply to co..it it, ( can loo= to the past,
reassess .y theses in the li/ht o# the contradiction which haunted the., and 9sort thin/s
out9,
"here are theses which ob*iously .ust be /ot rid o#, because, in their e2istin/ state,
they are #alse 4wron/ly oriented6 and there#ore har.#ul, For e2a.ple the de#inition o#
philosophy as 9"heory o# theoretical practice9 see.s to .e ;uite inde#ensible, and .ust
be done away with, And it is not enou/h to suppress a #or.ula> it is a ;uestion o#
recti#yin/, within their theoretical apparatus, all the e##ects and echoes o# its
re*erberation, (n the sa.e way, the cate/ory o# 9theoretical practice9, which was *ery
use#ul in another conte2t, is ne*ertheless dan/erous in its a.bi/uity, since it uses one and
the sa.e ter. to co*er both scienti#ic practice and philosophical practice, and thus
induces the idea that philosophy can be 4a6 science> but in a conte2t which does not cause
the a.bi/uity to beco.e speculati*e con#usion, this cate/ory .ay still, on occasion, play
a role, since it ser*es as a .aterialist re.inder to 9theory9 o# practice) As #ar as the
antithesis scienceQideolo/y is concerned, ( ha*e said enou/h about it #or it to be
understood that in its *eneral, rationalistBspeculati*e #or., it .ust be re0ected,

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and 9rewor=ed9 #ro. another point o# *iew, which .ust split it up into the ele.ents o#
the co.ple2 process o# the 9production9 o# =nowled/e, where the class con#licts o# the
practical ideolo/ies co.bine with the theoretical ideolo/ies, the e2istin/ sciences and
philosophy,
&ut there are other theses and cate/ories which can, e*en in their old #or., render
theoretical and political ser*ices in stru//le and in research, thou/h they .ay so.eti.es
ha*e to be displaced, e*en i# i.perceptibly 4LeninEs 9shades o# opinion96, and inserted
into a .ore correct theoretical apparatus> a better ad0usted one, ( will not /o throu/h all
the e2a.ples now> anyone who wishes .ay wor= out the proo#, "he whole point is that
the /uide .ar=s o# the theoretical class stru//le .ust be ta=en seriously, so that it is
easier to reco/niHe and to =now the class ene.y BB that is, on the e2istin/ theoretical
terrain 4which itsel# .ust be better /rasped6 the philosophical ene.ies BB and possible to
ta=e up .ore correct theoretical class positions, in order to hold and de#end a better
ad0usted #ront,
Mhat was essentially lac=in/ in .y #irst essays was the class stru//le and its e##ects in
theory BB to realiHe this is to allow certain o# the cate/ories which ( be/an with to be
replaced in 4.ore6 correct positions, An e2a.ple, to return to it #or a .o.ent, is the
#a.ous 9brea=9, ( want to =eep it in ser*ice, usin/ the sa.e ter., but displacin/ it, or
rather assi/nin/ it a place on the #ir. /round o# the #ront o# dialectical .aterialis.,
instead o# lettin/ it #loat dan/erously in the at.osphere o# a perilously idealist
rationalis., &ut what does it .ean to tal= about assi/nin/ it a place in a better ad0usted
apparatusF (t .eans, abo*e all, to reco/niHe BB which ( #ailed to do BB that i# there is
indeed so.ethin/ at sta=e here, in conne2ion with those speci#ic and indisputable #acts o#
which the brea= is the inde2, this brea= is itsel# not the last word in the a##air, For not
only .ust it be ad.itted that the brea= does not e2plain itsel#, since it actually only
records the si.ple #act that certain sy.pto.s and e##ects were produced by a certain
theoretical e*ent, the historical appearance o# a new scienceJ it .ust also be said that this
e*ent in theoretical history has to be e2plained by the con0unction o# the .aterial,
technical, social, political

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and ideolo/ical conditions which deter.ine it, And, a.on/ these conditions, the .ost
i.portant in certain cases, and indisputably in the case o# Mar2, is the inter*ention o#
class theoretical positions, or what could be called the inter*ention o# the philosophical
9instance9,7338
(n the case o# Mar2ist theory, the e*ent which can be called a 9brea=9, as ( de#ined it
abo*e, in #act see.s to ha*e been produced li=e a 9#atherless child9 by the meetin* o#
what Lenin called the "hree Main ?ources, or, to use a .ore accurate ter., by the
intersection or conDunction, a/ainst the bac=/round o# the class stru//les o# 1<45B4< 4in
which the class stru//le between bour/eoisie and proletariat was .ore i.portant than the
historical class stru//le between the #eudal class and the bour/eoisie6, o# lines o#
de.arcation and o# e2tre.ely co.ple2 theoretical and ideolo/ical linea*es, which,
ai.lessly and each #or itsel#, crisscross in the resultant #ield o# their intersection,
%ow it is possible and necessary to distin/uish as dominant in this contradictory
process what we .i/ht call the chan*e in the class theoretical position o# the historical
9indi*idual9 Mar2BAn/els, "his chan/e o# class theoretical position too= place, under the
in#luence o# the political class stru//les and o# their lessons, in philosophy) "his clai. is
not at all stran/e i#, as ( su//est, philosophy really is, in the last instance, class stru//le in
theory,
( .ust insist on this point> in #act it ta=es .e directly bac= to .y #irst essays, At that
ti.e ( said> the essential ;uestion is that o# Mar2ist philosophy) ( still thin= so, &ut, i# (
did see 4in 19$5B$!6 what the essential ;uestion was, ( now see that ( did not understand
it *ery well , , , ( de#ined philosophy as 9"heory o# theoretical practice9, thus conB

33, A/ain a precise e2a.ple, ( a. indeed usin/ the ter. instance intentionally, "his a/ain is a cate/ory
which, until a better adapted one co.es alon/, .ust be =ept in use but put to wor= in its ri/ht place, %ow
recently a wind has been blowin/, a.on/ :o..unist philosophers, stron/ enou/h to turn e*ery instance
upsideBdown , , , &ut 0ust because so.e use the ter. 9instance9 on e*ery .enu, whether it has any
rele*ance or not, we do not need to #ollow the., For .y pan, ( certainly did .a=e a rather #ree use o#
9instances9, because at the ti.e ( had nothin/ betterJ and ( will now stop tal=in/ about the 9econo.ic
instance9, but will .aintain the *aluable ter. o# instance #or the ?uperstructure> the ?tate, Law and
%hilosophy)

pa&e 1).
#errin/ on it, by the use o# the sin/le ter. 9theory9, the sa.e status as a science, (n
theoretically o*eresti.atin/ philosophy, ( underesti.ated it politically, as those who
correctly accused .e o# not 9brin/in/ in9 the class stru//le were ;uic= to point out,
Another proo# o# this is the introduction, in Lenin and %hilosophy, where ( did recti#y the
essential point o# .y de*iation in proposin/ a new de#inition o# philosophy 49politics in
theory96, o# the syste. o# 9double, equal representation9 at the le*el o# the ?ciences and
o# 'olitics, and the "hesis borrowed, not accidentally, #ro. He/el> philosophy always
rises when dus= has #allen, in the historical period #ollowin/ a uni;ue e*ent BB not the
e*ent o# a politicalBideolo/ical re*olution, but the e*ent o# the birth or .odi#ication o# the
?ciences themsel,es) "his was still an i.pro*ised solution, that is, a se.iBco.pro.ise,
which, while .a=in/ so.e allowance #or the e*ents o# the history o# the sciences and #or
the philosophical reactions to the., did not really do the. 0ustice, because a priori it did
the. 0ustice too well, (# ( now propose a di##erent #or.ula> 9philosophy is, in the last
instance, class stru//le in theory9, it is precisely in order to be able to /i*e both the class
stru//le 4the last instance6 and the other social practices 4a.on/ the. scienti#ic practice6
their due in their 9relation9 to philosophy,
n this basis, new #ields o# research are opened up,


pa&e 1)1

;n the E%olution
of the
=oun& !ar"

(,
(# ( were as=ed to su. up in a #ew words the essential Thesis which ( wanted to de#end in
.y philosophical essays, ( would say> Mar2 #ounded a new science, the science o#
History, ( would add> this scienti#ic disco*ery is a theoretical and political e*ent
unprecedented in hu.an history, And ( would speci#y> this e*ent is irre*ersible,
A theoretical e*ent, &e#ore Mar2, what one could call the 9History :ontinent9 was
occupied by ideolo/ical conceptions deri*ed #ro. the reli/ious, .oral or le/alBpolitical
sphere BB in short, by philosophies o# history, "hese clai.ed to o##er a representation o#
what happens in societies and in history, (n #act they only succeeded in .as=in/, within
distortin/ and .isleadin/ concepts, the .echanis.s which really do /o*ern societies and
history, "his .ysti#ication was not an accident> it was lin=ed to their #unction, "hese
conceptions were in #act only the theoretical detach.ent o# practical ideolo/ies 4reli/ion,
.orality, le/al ideolo/y, politics, etc,6 whose essential #unction is to reproduce the
relations o# production 4 U o# e2ploitation6 in class societies, Mar2 9opened9 the 9History
:ontinent9 by brea=in/ with these ideolo/ical conceptions, He opened it> by the
principles o# historical .aterialis., by (apital and his other wor=s, He opened it> #or, as
Lenin says, Mar2 only laid the 9cornerBstones9 o# an i..ense do.ain which his
successors continued to e2ploit, and the *ast e2tent o# the #ield and the new proble.s
posed de.and an unre.ittin/ e##ort,
A political e*ent, For Mar2Es scienti#ic disco*ery has been since the *ery be/innin/ and
has beco.e .ore and

pa&e 1)2
.ore the ob0ect and the sta=e o# a #ierce and i.placable class stru//le, Mhen he
de.onstrated that hu.an history is the history o# class societies, there#ore o# e2ploitation
and o# class do.ination, and thus #inally o# class stru//le, when he de.onstrated the
.echanis.s o# e2ploitation and o# capitalist do.ination, Mar2 collided directly with the
interests o# the rulin/ classes, "heir ideolo/ists let #ly a/ainst hi., and e*en now are still
intensi#yin/ their attac=s, &ut the e2ploited classes, and abo*e all the wor=ers, reco/niHed
9their9 truth in Mar2Es scienti#ic theory> they adopted it, and .ade it a weapon in their
re*olutionary class stru//le, "his reco/nition bears a na.e in history> it is the 9nion 4or,
as Lenin said, the Fusion6 o' the Labour #o,ement and #ar$ist Theory) "his Ancounter,
this Inion, this Fusion, ha*e ne*er ta=en place spontaneously or easily, For the Labour
Mo*e.ent, which e2isted lon/ be#ore the appearance and spread o# Mar2ist theory, ca.e
under the in#luence o# pettyBbour/eois ideolo/ical conceptions, li=e utopian socialis.,
anarchis., etc, A /reat deal o# wor= and a *ery lon/ ideolo/ical and political stru//le
were needed be#ore the Inion could ta=e place and ac;uire a historical e2istence, "he
*ery conditions o# its realiHation and e2istence .ean that this Inion cannot be a onceB
andB#orBall *ictory, (t does not e2ist in isolation #ro. the class stru//le, and .ust be
incessantly de#ended in the course o# a bitter class stru//le a/ainst the de*iations and
crises which threaten it> the e*idence is the treachery, yesterday, o# the ?econd
(nternational, and today the split in the (nternational :o..unist Mo*e.ent,
ne #act is indisputable> #or a hundred years the whole history o# hu.anity has
depended on the Inion o# the Labour Mo*e.ent 4and o# the oppressed peoples6 and
Mar2ist "heory 4which beca.e Mar2istBLeninist "heory6, Me only need to step bac= a
little to see that, in di##erent but con*er/ent #or.s, this reality now easily do.inates the
scene o# world history> the stru//le o# the proletariat and o# the oppressed peoples a/ainst
(.perialis., "his #act is irre,ersible)

((,
Me could satis#y oursel*es with these re.ar=s, &ut i# we

pa&e 1)3
wish 4whate*er our place in this stru//le6 to ad*ance in the e2ploration o# the 9History
:ontinent9, or 4what, in one precise respect, co.es to the sa.e thin/6 to arri*e at an
acti*e understandin/ o# the #or.s o# the presentBday proletarian class stru//le, we .ust
/o #urther, Me .ust as= oursel*es> under what conditions was Mar2Es scienti#ic disco*ery
possibleF
"his ;uestion .ay loo= li=e a detour, &ut it is not, (t .ay loo= li=e a theoretical
;uestion, (n #act it has political i.plications which are clearly *ital,

(((,
Mhen in .y earlier essays ( showed that Mar2Es scienti#ic disco*ery represented a
9brea=9 7coupure or rupture 8 with pre*ious ideolo/ical conceptions o# history, what did (
doF Mhat did ( do when ( spo=e o# a 9brea=9 between science and ideolo/yF Mhat did (
do when ( spo=e o# ideolo/yF
( de*eloped a #or.al analysis, whose si/ni#icance .ust now be indicated and whose
li.its .ust be traced,
Abo*e all, ( arri*ed at a conclusion) ( too= co/niHance o# a #act, o# a theoretical e*ent>
the appearance o# a scienti#ic theory o# History in a do.ain hitherto occupied by
conceptions which ( called ideolo/ical, Let us lea*e aside #or a .o.ent this description>
ideolo*ical)
( showed that there e2isted an irreducible di##erence between Mar2Es theory and these
conceptions, "o pro*e it, ( co.pared their conceptual content and their .ode o#
#unctionin/,
Their conceptual content > ( showed that Mar2 had replaced the old basic concepts
4which ( called notions6 o# the philosophies o# History with absolutely new, unheardBo#
concepts, not to be #ound in the old conceptions, Mhere the philosophies o# History
tal=ed about .an, the econo.ic sub0ect, need, the syste. o# needs, ci*il society,
alienation, the#t, in0ustice, spirit, liberty BB where they tal=ed about 9society9 itsel# BB
Mar2 be/an to tal= about the .ode o# production, social #or.ation, in#rastructure,
superstructure, ideolo/ies, classes, class stru//le, etc, ( concluded that there was no
continuity 4e*en in the case o# :lassical 'olitical Acono.y6 between

pa&e 1)(
the syste. o# Mar2ist concepts and the syste. o# preBMar2ist notions, "his absence o# a
relation o# continuity, this theoretical di##erence, this dialectical 9leap9, ( called an
9episte.olo/ical brea=9 7coupure or rupture 8,
Their mode o' 'unctionin* > ( showed that in practice Mar2ist theory #unctioned ;uite
di##erently #ro. the old preBMar2ist conceptions, (t see.ed to .e that the syste. o# basic
concepts o# Mar2ist theory #unctioned li=e the 9theory9 o# a science> as a 9basic9
conceptual apparatus, opened to the 9in#initude9 4Lenin6 o# its ob0ect, that is, desi/ned
ceaselessly to pose and con#ront new proble.s and ceaselessly to produce new pieces o#
=nowled/e, Let us say> it #unctioned as a 4pro*isional6 truth, 'or the 4endless6 con;uest o#
new =nowled/e, itsel# capable 4in certain con0unctures6 o# renewin/ this #irst truth, (n
co.parison, it appeared that the basic theory o# the old conceptions, #ar #ro. #unctionin/
as a 4pro*isional6 truth, 'or the production o# new pieces o# =nowled/e, actually tried in
practice to operate as the truth o' History, as co.plete, de#initi*e and absolute =nowled/e
o# History, in short as a closed syste., e2cludin/ de*elop.ent because lac=in/ an ob0ect
in the scienti#ic sense o# the ter., and thus only e*er #indin/ in reality its own .irror
re#lection, Here too ( concluded that there was a radical di##erence between Mar2Es theory
and earlier conceptions, and ( tal=ed about the 9episte.olo/ical brea=9 7coupure or
rupture 8,
Finally, ( called these earlier conceptions ideolo*ical, and understood the
9episte.olo/ical brea=9, the proo# o# which ( had established, as a theoretical
discontinuity between Mar2ist science on the one hand, and its ideolo*ical prehistory on
the other, ( should speci#y> not between science in /eneral and ideolo/y in /eneral, but
between Mar2ist science and its own ideolo/ical prehistory,
&ut what allowed .e to say that the preBMar2ist conceptions were ideolo/icalF r,
what co.es to the sa.e thin/, what sense did ( /i*e to the ter. ideolo*y F
An ideolo/ical conception does not carry the inscription ideolo*y on its #orehead or on
its heart, whate*er sense you /i*e to the word, n the contrary, it presents itsel# as the
"ruth, (t can only be identi#ied #ro. outside, a#ter the e*ent> #ro. the standpoint o# the
e2istence o# a Mar2ist science

pa&e 1))
o# History, ( repeat> not si.ply #ro. the standpoint o# the e2istence o# Mar2ist science as
science, but #ro. the standpoint o# Mar2ist science as the science o# History,
(n #act, e*ery science, as soon as it arises in the history o# theories and is shown to be a
science, causes its own theoretical prehistory, with which it brea=s, to appear as ;uite
erroneous, #alse, untrue, "hat is how it treats it in practice> and this treat.ent is a .o.ent
in its history, %e*ertheless there always e2ist philosophers who will draw edi#yin/
conclusionsJ who will draw out o# this recurrent 4retrospecti*e6 practice an idealist theory
o# the opposition between "ruth and Arror, between Dnowled/e and (/norance, and e*en
4pro*ided that the ter. 9ideolo/y9 is ta=en in a nonBMar2ist sense6 between ?cience and
(deolo/y, in /eneral,
"his e##ect o# recurrence 4retrospection6 is also a #actor in the case o# Mar2ist science>
when this science appears, it necessarily shows up its own prehistory as erroneous, but at
the sa.e ti.e it also shows it up as ideolo*ical in the Mar2ist sense o# the ter., &etter, it
shows up its own prehistory as erroneous because ideolo/ical, and in practice treats it as
such, %ot only does it indicate error BB it e2plains the historical reason #or error, "hus it
rules out the e2ploitation o# the 9brea=9 between the science and its prehistory as an
idealist antithesis o# "ruth and Arror, o# Dnowled/e and (/norance,
n what principle does this di##erence, this unprecedented ad*anta/e restF n the #act
that the science #ounded by Mar2 is the science o# the history o# social #or.ations,
&ecause o# this it /i*es, #or the #irst ti.e, a scienti#ic content to the concept o# ideolo*y)
(deolo/ies are not pure illusions 4Arror6, but bodies o# representations e2istin/ in
institutions and practices> they #i/ure in the superstructure, and are rooted in class
stru//le, (# the science #ounded by Mar2 shows up the theoretical conceptions o# its own
prehistory as ideolo/ical, it is there#ore not si.ply to denounce the. as #alse> it is also to
point out that they clai. to be true, and were accepted and continue to be accepted as true
BB and to show why this is so, (# the theoretical conceptions with which Mar2 bro=e 4let
us say, to si.pli#y .atters> the philosophies o# history6 deser*e to be called ideolo/ical, it
is because they were the theoretical detachments o# practical ideolo*ies

pa&e 1)*
which per#or.ed necessary #unctions in the reproduction o# the relations o# production o#
a /i*en class society,
(# this is true, then the 9brea=9 between Mar2ist science and its ideolo/ical prehistory
re#ers us to so.ethin/ ;uite di##erent #ro. a theory o# the di##erence between science and
ideolo/y, to so.ethin/ ;uite di##erent #ro. an episte.olo/y, (t re#ers us on the one hand
to a theory o# the superstructure, in which the ?tate and (deolo/ies #i/ure 4( ha*e tried to
say a #ew words about this in the article on (deolo/ical ?tate Apparatuses6, (t re#ers us on
the other hand to a theory o# the .aterial 4production6, social 4di*ision o# labour, class
stru//le6, ideolo/ical and philosophical conditions o# the processes o# production o#
=nowled/e, "hese two theories are based in the last instance on historical .aterialis.,
&ut i# this is true, Mar2Es scienti#ic theory itsel# .ust answer the ;uestion o# the
conditions o# its own 9irruption9 in the #ield o# ideolo/ical conceptions with which it
bro=e,

(O,
"he /reat Mar2ists 4Mar2 abo*e all, An/els, then Lenin6 certainly #elt that it was not
enou/h to note the appearance o# a new science, but that an analysis .ust also be
pro*ided, in con#or.ity with the principles o# Mar2ist science, o# the conditions o# its
appearance, "he #irst ele.ents o# this analysis can be #ound in An/els and Lenin, in the
#or. o# the 9"hree ?ources9 o# Mar2is.> @er.an philosophy, An/lish political econo.y
and French socialis.,
&ut this old .etaphor o# 9sources9, which contains in itsel# idealist notions 4ori/in,
interiority o# the current, etc,6, .ust not lead us into error, Mhat is ;uite re.ar=able about
this 9classical9 theory is, #irst, that it atte.pts to understand Mar2Es disco*ery not in
ter.s o# indi*idual or ori/inal /enius, but in ter.s o# a conDunction o# di##erent and
independent theoretical ele.ents 4Three sources6, (t then presents this con0unction as
ha*in/ produced a #unda.entally new e##ect in respect o# the ele.ents which entered
into the con0unction> an e2a.ple o# a 9leap9 or 9;ualitati*e chan/e9, an essential cate/ory
o# the .aterialist dialectic,

pa&e 1)+
&ut An/els and Lenin do not stop there, "hey do not de#end a purely internal, purely
9episte.olo/ical9 conception o# the appearance o# Mar2ist science, "hey recall that these
three theoretical ele.ents e2ist a/ainst a historical bac=/round> a .aterial, social and
political history, do.inated by decisi*e trans#or.ations in the #orces and relations o#
production, by centuries o# class stru//le pittin/ the risin/ bour/eoisie a/ainst the #eudal
aristocracy, and #inally do.inated by the #irst /reat actions o# the proletarian class
stru//le, (n a word, they re.ind us that it is practical 4econo.ic, political, ideolo/ical6
realities which are represented theoretically, in .ore or less abstract #or., in @er.an
philosophy, An/lish political econo.y and French socialis.,
"hey are represented, but at the sa.e ti.e they are also de'ormed, .ysti#ied and
.as=ed, because these theoretical ele.ents are by nature pro#oundly ideolo/ical, (t is
here that the decisi*e ;uestion arises,
(n #act it is not enou/h to point out that the con0unction o# these three theoretical
ele.ents caused Mar2ist science to appear, Me .ust also as= how this ideolo/ical
conDunction could produce a scienti#ic disDunction, how this encounter could produce a
9brea=9, (n other words, we .ust as= how and why, when this con0unction too= place,
Mar2ist thou/ht was able to lea,e ideolo*y > or, a/ain, what the displacement was that
produced such a prodi/ious trans#or.ation, what the chan/e was that could brin/ to li/ht
what was hidden, o*erturn what was accepted, and disco*er an un=nown necessity in the
#acts,
( want to propose the #irst ele.ents o# an answer to this ;uestion, by proposin/ the
#ollowin/ thesis> it was by mo,in* to ta=e up absolutely new, proletarian class positions
that Mar2 realiHed the possibilities o# the theoretical con0unction #ro. which the science
o# history was born,

O,
"his can be de.onstrated by runnin/ throu/h the .ain lines o# the 9.o.ents9 o# the
9e*olution9 o# the youn/ Mar2Es thou/ht, Four years separate the liberalBradical

pa&e 1),
articles o# the Rheinische >eitun* 41<416 #ro. the re*olutionary brea= 7rupture 8 o# 1<4!,
recorded in the Theses on .euerbach and The German !deolo*y, in the #a.ous phrases
proclai.in/ the 9settlin/ o# accounts with our erstwhile philosophical consciousness9,
and the arri*al o# a new philosophy which will no lon/er 9interpret the world9 but
9chan/e it9, (n these #our years we see a youn/ son o# the -henish bour/eoisie .o*e
#ro. bour/eoisBradical political and philosophical positions to pettyBbour/eoisBhu.anist
positions, then to co..unistB.aterialist positions 4an unprecedented re*olutionary
.aterialis.6,
Let .e speci#y the aspects o# this 9e*olution9,
Me see the youn/ Mar2 at the sa.e ti.e chan/e the obDect o# his thou/ht 4rou/hly, he
.o*es #ro. Law to the ?tate, then to 'olitical Acono.y6, chan/e his philosophical
position 4he .o*es #ro. He/el to Feuerbach, then to a re*olutionary .aterialis.6, and
chan/e his political position 4he .o*es #ro. radical bour/eois liberalis. to pettyB
bour/eois hu.anis., then to co..unis.6, Althou/h these chan/es are not co.pletely in
phase, there are pro#ound lin=s between the., &ut they should not be #used into a sin/le,
#or.less unity, because they inter*ene at di##erent le*els, and each plays a distinct role in
the process o# trans#or.ation o# the youn/ Mar2Es thou/ht,
Me can say that, in this process, in which the obDect occupies the #ront o# the sta/e, it is
the 4class6 political position that occupies the deter.inant placeJ but it is the
philosophical position that occupies the central place, because it /uarantees the
theoretical relation between the political position and the ob0ect o# Mar2Es thou/ht, "his
can be *eri#ied e.pirically in the history o# the youn/ Mar2, (t was indeed politics which
allowed hi. to .o*e #ro. one ob0ect to another 4sche.atically> #ro. 'ress Laws to the
?tate, then to 'olitical Acono.y6, but this .o*e was realiHed and e2pressed each ti.e in
the #or. o# a new philosophical position, n the one hand the philosophical position
appears to be the theoretical e2pression o# the political 4and ideolo/ical6 class position,
n the other hand this translation o# the political position into theory 4in the #or. o# a
philosophical position6 appears to be the condition o# the theoretical relation to the ob0ect
o# thou/ht,

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(# this is true, and i# philosophy really does represent politics in theory, we can say that
the philosophical position o# the youn/ Mar2 represents, in its *ariations, the class
theoretical conditions o' his thou/ht, (# this is true, then it is no surprise that the brea= o#
1<4!, which ushered in a new science, is #irst e2pressed in the #or. o# a philosophical
brea= 7rupture 8 , o# a 9settlin/ o# accounts9 with an erstwhile philosophical
consciousness, and in ter.s o# the procla.ation o# an unprecedented philosophical
position,
"his astonishin/ dialectic can be seen at wor= in the 4@II #anuscripts) Mhen you
e2a.ine the. closely, you appreciate the e2tent o# the theoretical dra.a which Mar2
.ust ha*e li*ed throu/h in this te2t 4he ne*er published it, he ne*er re#erred to it a/ain6,
"he crisis o# the #anuscripts is su..ed up in the untenable contradiction between
political and philosophical positions which con#ront one another in the treat.ent o# the
ob0ect> 'olitical Acono.y, 'olitically, Mar2 wrote the #anuscripts as a :o..unist, and
thus .ade the i.possible theoretical /a.ble o# atte.ptin/ to use, in the ser*ice o# his
con*ictions, the notions, analyses and contradictions o# the bour/eois econo.ists, puttin/
in the #ore#ront what he calls 9alienated labour9, which he could not yet /rasp as capitalist
e2ploitation, "heoretically, he wrote these .anuscripts on the basis o# pettyBbour/eois
philosophical positions, .a=in/ the i.possible political /a.ble o# introducin/ He/el
into Feuerbach, so as to be able to spea= o# labour in alienation, and o# History in Man,
"he #anuscripts are the .o*in/ but i.placable sy.pto. o# an unbearable crisis> the
crisis which brin/s an ob0ect enclosed in its ideolo/ical li.its up a/ainst inco.patible
political and theoretical class positions,
Me #ind the solution o# this crisis in the Theses on .euerbach and in The German
!deolo*y > or at least we #ind a clai. that it is sol*ed, the 9/er.9 o# a 9new conception o#
the world9 4An/els6, "he chan/e which the Theses brie#ly indicate is a chan/e, not in
Mar2Es political position, but in his philosophical position, Mar2 #inally abandons
Feuerbach, brea=s with the whole philosophical tradition o# 9interpretin/ the world9, and
ad*ances into the un=nown territory o# a re*olutionary .aterialis., "his new position
now e2presses

pa&e 1*.
Mar2Es political position in philosophy, (n other words> Mar2 was ta=in/ a #irst step, but a
decisi*e and irre*ersible one, towards proletarian class theoretical 4philosophical6
positions,
Here a/ain it is politics which is the deter.inant ele.ent> the e*er deeper en/a/e.ent
in the political stru//les o# the proletariat, Here a/ain it is, #ro. the theoretical point o#
*iew, philosophy which occupies the central place, (t is as a conse;uence o# this class
theoretical position that Mar2Es treat.ent o# his ob0ect, 'olitical Acono.y, ta=es on a
radically new character> brea=in/ with all ideolo/ical conceptions to lay down and
de*elop the principles o# the science o# History,
"his is how ( ta=e the liberty o# interpretin/ the theory o# the 9"hree sources9, "he
con0unction o# the three theoretical ele.ents 4@er.an philosophy, An/lish political
econo.y, French socialis.6 could only produce its e##ect 4Mar2Es scienti#ic disco*ery6 by
.eans o# a displacement which led the youn/ Mar2 not only onto proletarian class
positions but also onto proletarian theoretical positions, Mithout the politics nothin/
would ha*e happenedJ but without the philosophy, the politics would not ha*e #ound its
theoretical e2pression, indispensable to the scienti#ic =nowled/e o# its ob0ect,
( will add 0ust a #ew words .ore, First to say that the new philosophical position
announced in the Theses is only announcedJ it is not there#ore /i*en to us at a stro=e or
readyB.adeJ it continues to be de*eloped, silently or e2plicitly, in the later theoretical and
political wor= o# Mar2 and his successors, and .ore /enerally in the history o# the Inion
between the Labour Mo*e.ent and Mar2ist "heory, And this de*elop.ent is deter.ined
by the double e##ect o# Mar2istBLeninist science and practice,
?econd, to point out that it is no surprise that the adoption o# a proletarian
philosophical position 4e*en 9in /er.96 is essential to the #oundation o# a science o#
History, that is, to an analysis o# the .echanis.s o# class e2ploitation and do.ination, (n
e*ery class society these .echanis.s are co*eredBupB.as=edB.ysti#ied by an enor.ous
coatin/ o# ideolo/ical representations, o# which the philosophies

pa&e 1*1
o# History, etc,, are the theoretical #or., For the .echanis.s to beco.e *isible, it is
necessary to lea,e these ideolo/ies, that is, to 9settle accounts9 with the philosophical
consciousness which is the basic theoretical e2pression o# these ideolo/ies, (t is there#ore
necessary to abandon the theoretical position o# the rulin/ classes, and ta=e up a position
#ro. which these .echanis.s can beco.e *isible> the proletarian standpoint, (t is not
enou/h to adopt a proletarian political position, "his political position .ust be wor=ed
out into a theoretical 4philosophical6 position so that the causes and .echanis.s o# what
is *isible #ro. the proletarian standpoint .ay be /rasped and understood, Mithout this
displacement, the science o# History is unthin=able and i.possible,

O(,
( will add, #inally, to co.e bac= to where ( be/an, that this detour ,ia the conditions o#
the appearance o# the science o# History is not a .atter o# scholasticis., n the contrary>
it brin/s us bac= to earth, For what was de.anded o# the youn/ Mar2 is still, and .ore
than e*er, de.anded o# us, More than e*er, in order to 9de*elop9 Mar2ist theory, that is,
in order to analyse the new capitalistBi.perialist #or.s o# e2ploitation and do.ination,
.ore than e*er, in order to .a=e possible a correct Inion between the Labour Mo*e.ent
and Mar2istBLeninist "heory, we need to stand on proletarian positions in theory 4in
philosophy6> to stand on such positions, which .eans to wor= the. out, on the basis o#
proletarian political positions, by .eans o# a radical criti;ue o# all the ideolo/ies o# the
rulin/ class, Mithout re*olutionary theory, said Lenin, there can be no re*olutionary
.o*e.ent, Me can add> without a proletarian position in theory 4in philosophy6, there
can be no 9de*elop.ent9 o# Mar2ist theory, and no correct Inion between the Labour
Mo*e.ent and Mar2ist "heory,


pa&e 1*2 7blan=8
pa&e 1*3

3.
Is it Simple
to e a !ar"ist
in #hilosophy$



pa&e 1*( 7blan=8
pa&e 1*)
The 'ollowin* te$t contains the main ar*uments with which Louis Althusser accompanied
his submission, at the 9ni,ersity o' %icardy: o' certain o' his earlier writin*s 718 'or the
de*ree o' doctorat dE Atat,
9"he dialectical #or. o# e2position is only
correct when it =nows its li.its,9
Mar2, A (ontribution to the (ritique o'
%olitical Economy)
( thin= that ( shall neither surprise nor upset anyone when ( con#ess that ( wrote none
o# these te2ts BB the little #ontesquieu, the articles in .or #ar$, the two chapters in
Readin* (apital BB with a *iew to presentin/ the. as a uni*ersity thesis, (t is howe*er
true that 3$ years a/o, in 1949B!5, ( did place be#ore Mr Hyppolite and Mr +an=NlN*itch a
pro0ect #or a *rande thMse 4as it used to be called6 on politics and philosophy in the
ei/hteenth century in France with a petite thMse on +eanB+ac;ues -ousseauEs "econd
1iscourse) And ( ne*er really abandoned this pro0ect, as .y essay on Montes;uieu
shows, Mhy do ( .ention this pointF &ecause it concerns the te2ts placed be#ore you, (
was already a :o..unist, and ( was there#ore tryin/ to be a Mar2ist as well BB that is, (
was tryin/ to the best o# .y ability to understand what Mar2is. means) "hus ( intended
this wor= on philosophy and politics in the ei/hteenth century as a necessary
propaedeutic o# an understandin/ o# Mar2Es thou/ht, (n #act, ( was already be/innin/ to
practice philosophy in a certain way, a way which ( ha*e ne*er abandoned,
First o# all ( was be/innin/ to .a=e use o# the ei/hteenthBcentury authors as a
theoretical detour, a process which see.s to .e indispensable not only to the
understandin/ o# a philosophy but to its *ery e2istence, A philosophy does not .a=e its
appearance in the world as Miner*a appeared to the society o# @ods and .en, (t only
e2ists in so #ar as it occupies a position, and it only occupies this position in so #ar as it
has con;uered it in the thic= o# an already occupied world,

1, #ontesquieu; %olitics and 2istoryN .euerbach's C%hilosophical mani'estoesCN .or #ar$N the
contribution to Readin* (apital 7translator's note 8,

pa&e 1**
(t there#ore only e2ists in so #ar as this con#lict has .ade it so.ethin/ distinct, and this
distincti*e character can only be won and i.posed in an indirect way, by a detour
in*ol*in/ ceaseless study o# other, e2istin/ positions, "his detour is the #or. o# the
con#lict which deter.ines what side a philosophy ta=es in the battle and on the
9Da.p#platH9 4Dant6, the battle#ield which is philosophy, &ecause i# the philosophy o#
philosophers is this perpetual war 4to which Dant wanted to put an end by introducin/ the
e*erlastin/ peace o# his own philosophy6, then no philosophy can e2ist within this
theoretical relation o# #orce e2cept in so #ar as it .ar=s itsel# o## #ro. its opponents and
lays sie/e to that part o# the positions which they ha*e had to occupy in order to
/uarantee their power o*er the ene.y whose i.press they bear, (# BB as Hobbes says,
spea=in/ perhaps to e.pty benches, and with re#erence as .uch to philosophy as to the
society o# .en BB war is a /eneraliHed state, and lea*es nowhere in the world #or a shelter,
and i# it produces its own condition as its own result, which .eans that e*ery war is
essentially pre*enti*e, it is possible to understand that the war o# philosophies, in which
syste.s co.e into con#lict, presupposes the pre,enti,e stri=e o# positions a/ainst one
another, and thus the necessary use by a philosophy o# a detour ,ia other philosophies in
order to de#ine and de#end its own positions, (# philosophy is, in the last instance, class
stru//le at the le*el o# theory, as ( ha*e recently ar/ued, then this stru//le ta=es the #or.,
proper to philosophy, o# theoretical de.arcation, detour and production o# a distincti*e
position, "o pro*e it, ( need only re#er, aside #ro. the whole o# philosophical history, to
Mar2 hi.sel#, who was only able to de#ine hi.sel# by re#erence to He/el and by .ar=in/
hi.sel# o## #ro. He/el, And ( thin= that, #ro. a#ar, ( ha*e #ollowed his e2a.ple, by
allowin/ .ysel# to re#er bac= to ?pinoHa in order to understand why Mar2 had to re#er
bac= to He/el,
# course this conception o# philosophy as stru//le, and, in the last instance, as class
stru//le in theory, i.plied a re*ersal o# the traditional relation between philosophy and
politics, ?o ( went to wor= on a study o# political philosophers and 9ordinary9
philosophers, #ro. Machia*elli to He/el,

pa&e 1*+
,ia Hobbes, ?pinoHa, Loc=e, Montes;uieu, -ousseau and Dant, ( clai.ed that it was
necessary to /et rid o# the suspect di*ision between philosophy and politics which at one
and the sa.e ti.e treats the political #i/ures as in#erior, that is, as nonBphilosophers or
?undayBa#ternoon philosophers, and also i.plies that the political positions o#
philosophers .ust be sou/ht e$clusi,ely in the te2ts in which they tal= e2plicitly about
politics, n the one hand ( was o# the opinion that e*ery political thin=er, e*en i# he says
al.ost nothin/ about philosophy, li=e Machia*elli, can ne*ertheless be considered a
philosopher in a stron/ senseJ and on the other hand ( held that e*ery philosopher, e*en i#
he says al.ost nothin/ about politics, li=e )escartes, can ne*ertheless be considered a
political thin=er in a stron/ sense, because the politics o# philosophers BB that is, the
politics which .a=e philosophies what they are BB are so.ethin/ ;uite di##erent #ro. the
political ideas o# their authors, For i# philosophy is in the last instance class stru//le at
the le*el o# theory, the politics which constitute philosophy 4li=e the philosophy which
supports the thou/ht o# political thin=ers6 cannot be identi#ied with suchBandBsuch an
episode o# the political stru//le, nor e*en with the political inclinations o# the authors,
"he politics which constitute philosophy bear on and turn around a ;uite di##erent
;uestion> that o' the ideolo*ical he*emony o' the rulin* class, whether it is a ;uestion o#
or/aniHin/ it, stren/thenin/ it, de#endin/ it or #i/htin/ a/ainst it, Here ( a. usin/
#or.ulae which ( was not earlier in a position to put #orward, &ut i# ( .ay say so, ( was
little by little disco*erin/, as ( challen/ed so.e accepted ideas, so.ethin/ rese.blin/
what ( later called a 9new practice o# philosophy9, and ha*in/ disco*ered the need #or
this new practice, ( strai/htaway started, #or better or worse, to put it into practice BB with
the result, in any case, that it did later pro*ide .e with a special way o# approachin/
Mar2,
(# ( see.ed to abandon this ei/hteenthBcentury theoretical propaedeutic, which in #act
continued to inspire .e, it was certainly not e2clusi*ely #or personal reasons, Mhat are
called circu.stances, those which ( .ention in the 're#ace to .or #ar$, what a#ter the
"wentieth :on/ress o# the

pa&e 1*,
:'?I was baptised by the na.e 4without a concept6 o# the 9personality cult9, to/ether
with the ri/htist interpretations which then en/ul#ed Mar2is., celebratin/ or e2ploitin/
liberation or the hope o# its co.in/ in philosophies o# .an, o# his #reedo., o# his
desi/ns, o# transcendence, etc, BB these circu.stances obli/ed .e to throw .ysel# into the
battle, Deepin/ e*erythin/ in proportion, you .i/ht say that li=e the youn/ Mar2, writin/
#or the Rheinische >eitun*, who was 9#orced to /i*e an opinion on so.e practical
;uestions9 4the the#t o# wood or the 'russian censorship6, ( too was soon #orced BB on pain
o# bein/ .isunderstood on account o# .y silence BB to 9/i*e an opinion9 on so.e burnin/
;uestions o# Mar2ist theory, "he occasion #or .e to do so was accidentalJ that is, it
happened that in 19$5 ( had to write a si.ple re*iew #or the 0ournal La %ense o# an
international collection o# articles on the youn/ Mar2, "his re*iew beca.e a counterB
attac=, which did not si.ply ta=e the accepted theses to tas= but attac=ed the. #ro. the
#lan=J thus ( displaced the /round o# the debate and to this end proposed a certain nu.ber
o# theses which since that ti.e ( ha*e continued to ar/ue, to wor= on and then to recti#y,
"he reason that ( recall these circu.stances is that ( want to .a=e a second re.ar=
about the pole.ical or BB to put it bluntly BB the political character o# .y philosophical
essays, "hose essays which are now placed be#ore you had to declare openly that stru//le
is at the heart o# e*ery philosophy, # course, what ( ha*e 0ust said should .a=e it clear
that they are not .ade up o# politics in the raw, since they are philosophical, nor are they
si.ply pole.ical, a war o# words, since they co.e out o# a reasoned ar/u.ent, and
because the whole .eanin/ o# the e##ort is to put #orward and de#end the si.ple idea that
a Mar2ist cannot #i/ht, in what he writes or in what he does, without thinkin* out the
stru**le, without thin=in/ out the conditions, the .echanis.s and the sta=es o# the battle
in which he is en/a/ed and which en/a/es hi., "hese te2ts are thus e2plicit inter*entions
in a de#inite con0uncture> political inter*entions in the e2istin/ world o# Mar2ist
philosophy, directed at one and the sa.e ti.e a/ainst do/.atis. and the ri/htist critiB

pa&e 1*-
;ue o# do/.atis.J and also philosophical inter*entions in politics, a/ainst econo.is.
and its hu.anist 9appendi29, &ut since they appealed to the history o# the Labour
Mo*e.ent and to Mar2, they could not be reduced to a si.ple co..entary on the
con0uncture, And ( want to say this> whate*er .i/ht be thou/ht about its wea=nesses and
its li.its, this philosophical inter*ention was the wor= o# a .e.ber o# the :o..unist
'arty, actin/ BB e*en i# ( was at #irst isolated, e*en i# ( was not always listened to, e*en i# (
was then and still a. criticiHed #or what ( said BB within the Labour Mo*e.ent and #or it,
thus the wor= o# a .ilitant tryin/ to ta=e politics seriously in order to thin= out its
conditions, li.its and e##ects within theory itsel#, tryin/ in conse;uence to de#ine the line
and #or.s o# inter*ention, (t cannot be denied that such an initiati*e in*ol*ed /reat
e##orts and ris=s, And since ( a. tal=in/ about ris=s, ( .ay be allowed to tal= about one
o# the. 4lea*in/ the others undiscussed6, the one which concerns the theoretical position
o# .y essays,
Here it is, (n the debate in which ( beca.e in*ol*ed, ( chose, with respect to certain
politically and theoretically strate/ic points, to de#end radical theses, "hese, literally
stated, loo=ed parado2ical and e*en theoretically pro*ocati*e, "wo or three e2a.ples, to
illustrate this choice,
( ar/ued and wrote that 9theory is a practice9, and proposed the cate/ory o# theoretical
practice, a scandalous proposal in so.e peopleEs eyes, %ow this thesis, li=e e*ery thesis,
has to be considered in ter.s o# its e##ect in drawin/ a de.arcation line, that is, in
de#inin/ a position o# opposition, (ts #irst e##ect was, in opposition to all 'orms o'
pra*matism, to 0usti#y the thesis o# the relati*e autono.y o# theory and thus the ri/ht o#
Mar2ist theory not to be treated as a sla*e to tactical political decisions, but to be allowed
to de*elop, in alliance with political and other practices, without betrayin/ its own needs,
&ut at the sa.e ti.e this thesis had another e##ect, in opposition to the idealism o' pure
theory, o# sta.pin/ theory with the .aterialis. o# practice,
Another radical #or.ulation> the internal character o# the criteria o# *alidation o#
theoretical practice, ( was able to cite Lenin, who hi.sel# put #orward this pro*ocati*e

pa&e 1+.
thesis 4a.on/ so .any others6> 9Mar2Es theory is allBpower#ul because it is true9 4it is not
because it is *eri#ied by its successes and #ailures that it is true, but because it is true that
it is *eri#iable by its successes and #ailures6, &ut ( brou/ht in other ar/u.ents> that
.athe.atics do not re;uire the application o# their theore.s in physics and che.istry in
order to pro*e the.J that the e2peri.ental sciences do not re;uire the technical
application o# their results in order to pro*e the., For de.onstration and proo# are the
product o# de#inite and speci#ic .aterial and theoretical apparatuses and procedures,
internal to each science, "here a/ain it is the relati*e autono.y o# theory which was at
sta=e, not this ti.e in opposition to theoretical idealis., but in opposition to the
pra/.atic and e.piricist lac= o# discri.ination which .ade it i.possible to distin/uish
practices #ro. one another, li=e the cows in the He/elian ni/ht,
ne last e2a.ple> ( ar/ued the thesis o# Mar2Es theoretical antiBhu.anis., A precise
thesis, but one whose precise .eanin/ so.e people did not want to understand, and
which roused a/ainst .e all the worldEs bour/eois and socialBde.ocratic ideolo/y, e*en
within the (nternational Labour Mo*e.ent, Mhy did ( ta=e up such radical positionsF (
shall not shelter behind the ar/u.ent o# .ani#est i/norance, which can still be use#ul, but
at the proper ti.e, ( want #irst o# all to de#end the principle o# ta=in/ up these radical
positions, &ecause ob*iously they were .et with cries o# do/.atis., speculation, scorn
#or practice, #or the concrete, #or .an, etc, "his indi/nation was not without a certain
pi;uancy,
For .y part, since ( was not unaware o# the relation which ( .entioned abo*e between
philosophy and politics, ( re.e.bered Machia*elli, whose rule o# Method, rarely stated
but always practised, was that one .ust thin= in e$tremes, which .eans within a position
#ro. which one states borderBline theses, or, to .a=e the thou/ht possible, one occupies
the place o# the i.possible, Mhat does Machia*elli doF (n order to chan/e so.ethin/ in
his countryEs history, there#ore in the .inds o# the readers who. he wants to pro*o=e into
thou/ht and so into *olition, Machia*elli e2plains, o##Bsta/e as it were, that one .ust rely
on oneEs own stren/th,

pa&e 1+1
that is in #act not rely on anythin*, neither on an e2istin/ ?tate nor on an e2istin/ 'rince,
but on the nonBe2istent i.possibility> a new 'rince in a new 'rincipality,
( #ound an echo o# and a basis #or this ar/u.ent in Lenin, He o# course, a #ew years
a#ter 0hat is to be 1one&, in response to certain criticis.s which had been .ade o# his
#or.ulae, replied in the #or. o# the theory o# the bendin/ o# the stic=, Mhen a stic= is
bent in the wron/ direction, said Lenin, it is necessary i# you want to put .atters ri/ht BB
that is, i# you want to strai/hten it and =eep it strai/ht BB to /rasp it and bend it durably in
the opposite direction, "his si.ple #or.ula see.s to .e to contain a whole theory o# the
e##ecti*eness o# spea=in/ the truth, a theory deeply rooted in Mar2ist practice, :ontrary
to the whole rationalist tradition, which only re;uires a strai/ht, true idea in order to
correct a bent, #alse idea, Mar2is. considers that ideas only ha*e a historical e2istence in
so #ar as they are ta=en up and incorporated in the .ateriality o# social relations, &ehind
the relations between si.ple ideas there thus stand relations o# #orce, which place certain
ideas in power 4those which can be sche.atically called the rulin/ ideolo/y6 and hold
other ideas in sub.ission 4which can be called the oppressed ideolo/y6, until the relation
o# #orce is chan/ed, (t #ollows that i# you want to chan/e historically e2istin/ ideas, e*en
in the apparently abstract do.ain called philosophy, you cannot content yoursel# with
si.ply preachin/ the na=ed truth, and waitin/ #or its anato.ical ob*iousness to
9enli/hten9 .inds, as our ei/hteenthBcentury ancestors used to say> you are #orced, since
you want to #orce a chan/e in ideas, to reco/niHe the #orce which is =eepin/ the. bent,
by applyin/ a counterB#orce capable o# destroyin/ this power and bendin/ the stic= in the
opposite direction so as to put the ideas ri/ht,
All this outlines the lo/ic o# a social process whose scope is ob*iously wider than any
written te2t, &ut in a written te2t li=e 0hat is to be 1one& the only #or. which this
relation o# #orces can ta=e is its presence, its reco/nition and its anticipation in certain
radical #or.ulae, which cause the relation o# #orce between the new ideas and the
do.inant ideas to be #elt in the *ery state.ent o# the theses the.sel*es, (# ( .i/ht, in .y
own .odest way, allow .ysel# to be inspired

pa&e 1+2
and e.powered by these e2a.ples, ( would say> yes, ( did consciously con#ront and deal
with the relation between ideas as a relation o# #orce, and yes, ( did consciously 9thin= in
e2tre.es9 about so.e points which ( considered i.portant and bend the stic= in the
opposite direction, %ot #or the pleasure o# pro*ocation, but to alert .y readers to the
e2istence o# this relation o# #orces, to pro*o=e the. in this conne2ion and to produce
de#inite e##ects, not in #unction o# so.e belie# in the o.nipotence o# theory, #or which (
ha*e been reproached by certain 9head.asters9 o# the school o# philosophy, but on the
contrary in the .aterialist =nowled/e o# the wea=ness o# theory le#t to itsel#, that is, in
the consciousness o# the conditions o# #orce which theory .ust reco/niHe and to which it
.ust de#er i# it is to ha*e a chance o# trans#or.in/ itsel# into a real power,
As a proo# o# what ( ha*e been sayin/, ( would be happy, when the opportunity o##ers
itsel#, to ar/ue the point that this relation o# #orce, counterBbendin/ and bendin/, this
e$tremism in the #or.ulation o# theses, belon/s ;uite properly to philosophy, and that
e*en i# they did not ad.it as .uch, as Lenin did in passin/ and #ro. behind the shelter o#
a co..on .a2i., the /reat philosophers always practised it, whether they hid this #act
behind an idealist disclai.er or brou/ht it out into the #ull li/ht o# day in their treat.ent
o# the 9scandals9 o# .aterialis.,
(t re.ains true that in bendin/ the stic= in the opposite direction, you run a ris=> o#
bendin/ it too little, or too .uch, the ris= which e*ery philosopher ta=es, &ecause in this
situation, in which social #orces and interests are at sta=e, but can ne*er be untan/led
with absolute certainty, there is no court o# #inal appeal, (# you inter*ene too abruptly you
run the ris= o# not i..ediately #indin/ the .ar=J i# you bend the stic= too little or too
.uch you run the ris= o# #indin/ yoursel# bein/ pulled bac= into error, "his, as you
perhaps =now, is what ( publicly ad.itted to ha*e happened to so.e e2tent in .y own
case, when ( reco/niHed in 19$7 and e2plained .ore recently in the Elements o' "el'
criticism that .y writin/s o# 19$!, which ha*e been laid be#ore you, were i.paired by a
theoreticist tendency and 0ust a little co.pro.ised by a #lirt with structuralist
ter.inolo/y, &ut

pa&e 1+3
to be able to e2plain these #ailin/s ( needed the perspecti*e o# ti.e BB not 0ust a ten years
inter*al, but the e2perience o# the e##ects caused by .y writin/s, o# #urther wor= and o#
sel#Bcriticis., (t has been written> you need to understand, ( would add> especially to
understand what you yoursel# ha*e written,

&e#ore discussin/ the detailed ar/u.ent o# .y essays, a word about their *ery /eneral
ob0ecti*e,
"his ob0ecti*e can be .ade out #ro. the titles o# .y boo=s> .or #ar$, Readin*
(apital) For these titles are slo/ans, ( thin= that ( can spea= here #or #i/ures o# .y
/eneration, who ha*e li*ed throu/h %aHis. and #ascis., the 'opular Front, the ?panish
Mar, the Mar and the -esistance, and the ?talin period, :au/ht up in the /reat class
stru//les o# conte.porary history, we had en/a/ed oursel*es in the stru//les o# the
Labour Mo*e.ent and wanted to beco.e Mar2ists, %ow it was not easy to be a Mar2ist
and to #ind oneEs #eet within Mar2ist theory, e*en a#ter the "wentieth :on/ress, since the
do/.atis. o# the precedin/ period li*ed on, now in con0unction with its counterpoint, all
that 9Mar2ist9 philosophical twaddle about .an, And since this twaddle was based on the
letter o# the wor=s o# the youn/ Mar2, it was necessary to return to Mar2 in order to
throw a little li/ht on ideas clouded o*er by the trials o# history, ( do not want to lay
stress on the political i.portance o# this operationJ it did howe*er ha*e so.ethin/
ori/inal about it, #or which ( ha*e ne*er been #or/i*en, in the #act that it criticiHed
do/.atis. not #ro. the ri/htBwin/ positions o# hu.anist ideolo/y, but #ro. the le#tB
win/ positions o# theoretical antiBhu.anis., antiBe.piricis. and antiBecono.is., ( was
not alone in the operation> as ( later #ound out, others BB not only della Oolpe in (taly but
also certain youn/ ?o*iet thin=ers whose writin/s ha*e not been widely published BB had
also, in their own .anner, set out on the sa.e path, Me were atte.ptin/ to /i*e bac= to
Mar2ist theory, which had been treated by do/.atis. and by Mar2ist hu.anis. as the
#irst a*ailable ideolo/y, so.ethin/ o# its status as a theory, a re*olutionary theory, Mar2
had

pa&e 1+(
e2pressed the hope, in the 're#ace to (apital, #or 9a reader who is willin/ , , , to thin= #or
hi.sel#9, ln order to try to understand what Mar2 had thou/ht, the *ery least that we had
to do was to return to Mar2 and 9thin= #or oursel*es9 about what he had thou/ht,
"hus, in opposition to the sub*ersion to which Mar2Es thou/ht had been sub0ected, it
see.ed to .e indispensable to lay stress on one si.ple idea> the unprecedented and
re*olutionary character o# this thou/ht, 9nprecedented, because Mar2 had BB in a wor= o#
conceptual elaboration which be/ins with The German !deolo*y and cul.inates in
(apital BB #ounded what we .i/ht call, as a #irst appro2i.ation, the science o# history,
Re,olutionary, because this scienti#ic disco*ery which ar.ed the proletariat in its
stru//le caused a co.plete upset in philosophy> not only by causin/ philosophy to re*ise
its cate/ories in order to brin/ the. into line with the new science and its e##ects, but also
and abo*e all by /i*in/ philosophy the .eans, in the ter. o# an understandin/ o# its real
relation to the class stru//le, o# ta=in/ responsibility #or and trans#or.in/ its own
practice,
(t is this inno*ation, this radical di##erence between Mar2 and his predecessors, that (
wanted not only to brin/ out but also to clari#y and i# possible to e2plain, because (
considered it to be politically and theoretically ,ital #or the Labour Mo*e.ent and its
allies and still do consider it *ital 'or this di''erence to be *rasped) "o this end ( had to
establish .ysel# at the le*el o# the new philosophy, produced by Mar2 in the course o# his
scienti#ic re*olution, and in a .o*e.ent o# thou/ht close to ?pinoHa and sanctioned by
Mar2 to try to /rasp this di##erence on the basis o# the newly ac;uired truth, &ut to the
sa.e end ( had to /rasp the philosophy capable o# /raspin/ the di##erence, that is, ( had to
obtain a clear *iew o# Mar2Es own philosophy, %ow e*eryone =nows that the .ature
Mar2 le#t us nothin/ in this line e2cept the e2traordinary 1<!7 (ntroduction to A
(ontribution to the (ritique o' %olitical Economy and the intention, which he ne*er
realiHed, o# writin/ a doHen pa/es on the dialectic, %o doubt Mar2Es philosophy is, as
Lenin said, contained in (apital, but in a practical state, 0ust as it is also contained in the
/reat stru//les o# the Labour Mo*e.ent, ( decided

pa&e 1+)
that it had to be e2tracted, and basin/ .ysel# on the a*ailable #ra/.ents and e2a.ples, (
tried to /i*e it a #or. rese.blin/ its concept, "hat is why the ;uestion o# Mar2ist
philosophy naturally occupied the centre o# .y attention, ( did not .a=e it the centre o#
the world, ( did not raise philosophy to the le*el o# co..and, but ( had to .a=e this
philosophical detour in order to /rapple with the radical character o# Mar2Es wor=,
"his con*iction has always been with .e, ( would now #or.ulate it di##erently than in
.or #ar$ and Readin* (apital, but ( consider that ( .ade no .ista=e in locatin/
philosophy as the place #ro. which Mar2 can be understood, because that is where his
position is su..ed up,
The 9Last !nstance ) ) )C
( now su//est to you that .y essays should be approached by three rou/h paths which
tra*el across the. and intersect,
( will #irst ta=e the path o# the 9last instance9,
Me =now that Mar2 and An/els ar/ued the thesis o# the deter.ination by the econo.y
in the last instance) "his little phrase, which see.s li=e nothin/ at all, in #act upsets the
whole rulin/ conception o# society and o# history, %ot enou/h attention has been paid to
the #i/ure or .etaphor in which Mar2 presents his conception o# a society in the 're#ace
to the 1<!9 (ontribution) "his #i/ure is that o# a topo*raphy, that is, o# a spatial
apparatus which assi/ns positions in space to /i*en realities,
"he Mar2ist topo/raphy presents society in ter.s o# the .etaphor o# an edi#ice whose
upper #loors rest, as the lo/ic o# an edi#ice would ha*e it, on its #oundation, "he
#oundation is in @er.an die Aasis or die "truktur, which is traditionally translated as
base or .ore o#ten in'rastructure > it is the econo.y, the unity o# the producti*e #orces
and relations o# production under the do.inance o# the relations o# production, Fro. the
base o# the /round #loor rise the upper #loor or #loors o# the Oberbau, in translation the
le/alBpolitical and ideolo/ical superstructure,
A si.ple i.a/e, it will be said, representin/ realities, A/reed> but it also distin*uished
these realities, which is

pa&e 1+*
*ery i.portant, #or e2a.ple by placin/ positi*e law, which He/el includes within ci*il
society, in the cate/ory o# the superstructure, and thus distin/uishin/ so.ethin/ *ery
di##erent #ro. si.ple realities> their e''icacy and its dialectic)
Mhen Mar2 says that the base or in#rastructure is deter.inant in the last instance, he
i.plies that what it deter.ines is the superstructure,
For e2a.ple> 9"he speci#ic econo.ic #or., in which unpaid surplusBlabour is pu.ped
out o# direct producers, deter.ines the relationship o# rulers and ruled, as it /rows
directly out o# production itsel# and in turn, reacts upon it as a deter.inin/ ele.ent9,738
&ut the deter.ination which Mar2 is thin=in/ o# here is only deter.ination in the last
instance) As An/els wrote 4in a letter to &loch6> 9Accordin/ to the .aterialist conception
o# history, the ultimately deter.inin/ ele.ent in history is the production and
reproduction o# real li#e, More than this neither Mar2 nor ( ha*e e*er asserted, Hence i#
so.ebody twists this into sayin/ that the econo.ic ele.ent is the only deter.inin/ one,
he trans#or.s that proposition into a .eanin/less, abstract, senseless phrase,9738
(n the deter.ination o# the topo/raphy, the last instance really is the last instance, (# it
is the last one, as in the le/al

3, Mar2 continues> 9Ipon this, howe*er, is #ounded the entire #or.ation 7Gestaltun* 8 o# the econo.ic
co..unity which /rows up out o# the production relations the.sel*es, thereby si.ultaneously its own
speci#ic political #or. 7Gestalt 8, (t is always the direct relationship o# the owners o# the conditions o#
production to the direct producers BB a relation always naturally correspondin/ to a de#inite sta/e in the
de*elop.ent o# the .ethods 7Art und 0eise 8 o# labour and thereby its social producti*ity BB which re*eals
the inner.ost secret 7innerste Geheimnis 8, the hidden basis 7Grundla*e 8 o# the entire social structure
7?onstruktion 8, and with it the political #or. o# the relation o# so*erei/nty and dependence, in short, the
correspondin/ speci#ic #or. o# the ?tate,9 4(apital, *ol, (((, p, 773, Moscow edition, 19$3,6
3, An/els continues> 9"he econo.ic situation is the basis, but the *arious ele.ents o# the superstructure>
political #or.s o# the class stru//le and its results, to wit> constitutions established by the *ictorious class
a#ter a success#ul battle, etc,, 0uridical #or.s, and e*en then the re#le2es o# all these actual stru//les in the
brains o# the participants, political, 0uristic, philosophical theories, reli/ious *iews and their #urther
de*elop.ent into syste.s o# do/.as, also e2ercise their in#luence upon the course o# the historical
stru//les and in .any cases preponderate in deter.inin/ their 'orm)9

pa&e 1++
i.a/e which it in*o=es 4court o# the last instance6, that is because there are others, those
which #i/ure in the le/alBpolitical and ideolo/ical superstructure, "he .ention o# the last
instance in deter.ination thus plays a double role> it di*ides Mar2 sharply o## #ro. all
.echanistic e2planations, and opens up within deter.ination the #unctionin/ o# di##erent
instances, the #unctionin/ o# a real di##erence in which the dialectic is inscribed, "he
topo/raphy thus si/ni#ies that the deter.ination in the last instance by the econo.ic base
can only be /rasped within a di##erentiated, there#ore co.ple2 and articulated whole 4the
9Gliederun* 96, in which the deter.ination in the last instance #i2es the real di##erence o#
the other instances, their relati*e autono.y and their own .ode o# reactin/ on the base
itsel#,
&e#ore drawin/ the conse;uences, ( would li=e to underline the decisi*e theoretical
i.portance o# this cate/ory o# the 9last instance 9, too o#ten considered as a philosophical
appro2i.ation or populariHation, "o ar/ue #or the deter.ination in the last instance by
the economy is to .ar= onesel# o## #ro. all idealist philosophies o# history, it is to adopt a
.aterialist position, &ut to tal= about the deter.ination by the econo.y in the last
instance is to .ar= onesel# o## #ro. e*ery .echanistic conception o# deter.inis. and to
adopt a dialectical position, Howe*er, when you are wor=in/ in He/elEs shadow you .ust
be on your /uard a/ainst the idealist te.ptations in*ol*ed in the dialectic, And Mar2 is
on his /uard, because when he inscribes the dialectic within the #unctionin/ o# the
instance o# a topo/raphy, he e##ecti*ely protects hi.sel# #ro. the illusion o# a dialectic
capable o# producin/ its own .aterial content in the spontaneous .o*e.ent o# its sel#B
de*elop.ent, (n sub.ittin/ the dialectic to the constraints o# the topo/raphy, Mar2 is
sub.ittin/ it to the real conditions o# its operation, he is protectin/ it #ro. speculati*e
#olly, he is #orcin/ it into a .aterialist .ould, #orcin/ it to reco/niHe that its own #i/ures
are prescribed by the .aterial character o# its own conditions, "hat this inscription and
this prescription are not in the.sel*es su##icient to pro*ide us with the #i/ures o# the
.aterialist dialectic in person, ( a/ree, but they do sa*e us #ro. at least one te.ptation>
that o# see=in/ these #i/ures readyB.ade in He/el,

pa&e 1+,
(n this .anner we co.e bac= to the the.es de*eloped in .y essays, whose ob0ect was
to di##erentiate between Mar2 and He/el, ( ha*e stated elsewhere what debt Mar2 owed
to He/el, and also why he was constantly #orced to .a=e the detour ,ia He/el in order to
#ind his own way #orward,748
Ces, Mar2 was close to He/el, but abo*e all 'or reasons which are not mentioned, #or
reasons which /o bac= #urther than the dialectic, #or reasons which relate to He/elEs
critical position in respect to the theoretical presuppositions o# classical bour/eois
philosophy, #ro. )escartes to Dant, "o su. it up in a word> Mar2 was close to He/el in
his insistence on re0ectin/ e*ery philosophy o# the ri/in and o# the ?ub0ect, whether
rationalist, e.piricist or transcendentalJ in his criti;ue o# the co/ito, o# the sensualistB
e.piricist sub0ect and o# the transcendental sub0ect, thus in his criti;ue o# the idea o# a
theory o# =nowled/e, Mar2 was close to He/el in his criti;ue o# the le/al sub0ect and o#
the social contract, in his criti;ue o# the .oral sub0ect, in short o# e*ery philosophical
ideolo/y o# the ?ub0ect, which whate*er the *ariation in*ol*ed /a*e classical bour/eois
philosophy the .eans o# *uaranteein* its ideas, practices and /oals by not si.ply
reproducin/ but philosophically elaboratin/ the notions o# the do.inant le/al ideolo/y,
And i# you consider the /roupin/ o# these critical the.es, you ha*e to ad.it that Mar2
was close to He/el 0ust in respect to those #eatures which He/el had openly borrowed
#ro. ?pinoHa, because all this can be #ound in the Ethics and the Tractatus Theolo*ico
%oliticus) "hese deepBrooted a##inities are nor.ally passed o*er in pious silenceJ they
ne*ertheless constitute, #ro. Apicurus to ?pinoHa and He/el, the pre.ises o# Mar2Es
.aterialis., "hey are hardly e*er .entioned, #or the si.ple reason that Mar2 hi.sel# did
not .ention the., and so the whole o# the Mar2BHe/el relationship is .ade to han/ on
the dialectic, because this Mar2 did tal= aboutK As i# he would not be the #irst to a/ree
that you .ust ne*er 0ud/e so.eone on the basis o# his own sel#Bconscious i.a/e,

4, (') 9Mar2Es -elation to He/el9 4in PROBLEM %olitics and 2istory, %ew Le#t &oo=s, 19736 and the
Elements o' "el'criticism)

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but on the basis o# the whole process which, behind this consciousness, produces it,
( hope ( shall be e2cused #or layin/ so .uch stress on this point, but it is the =ey to the
solution o# *ery .any proble.s, real or i.a/inary, concernin/ Mar2Es relation to He/el,
and within Mar2 concernin/ the relation o' the dialectic to materialism) (n #act ( belie*e
that the ;uestion o# the Mar2ist dialectic cannot be properly posed unless the dialectic is
subDected to the primacy o' materialism, and a study is .ade o# what #or.s this dialectic
.ust ta=e in order to be the dialectic o# this .aterialis., Fro. this point o# *iew it is
easy to understand how the idea o# the dialectic could ha*e i.posed itsel# on a
philosophy li=e that o# He/el, not only because the dra.atic tur.oil o# the French
-e*olution and its a#terBe##ects pro*ided the hard lesson, but also because the dialectic
was the only .eans o# thin=in/ within a philosophy which had *ery /ood reasons #or
ori/inally re#usin/ 4e*en i# it later trans#or.ed and reintroduced the.6 the use and
/uarantee o# the cate/ories o# ri/in and ?ub0ect, # course, He/el did not apply hi.sel#
to the search #or the dialectic only a#ter re0ectin/ ri/in and ?ub0ect, (n a sin/le
.o*e.ent he created the dialectic which he needed to di##erentiate hi.sel# #ro. the
classical philosophies, and, to #orce it to ser*e his ends, he 9.ysti#ied the dialectic9, to
use Mar2Es words, &ut that does not .ean that the He/elian .ysti#ication itsel# is not
witness to a relation constant since the ti.e o# Apicurus, and perhaps be#ore hi.,
between materialism, which can only play its role by drawin/ a de.arcation line between
itsel# and e*ery philosophy o# the ri/in, whether o# &ein/, o# the ?ub0ect or o#
Meanin/, and the dialectic) "o .a=e the .atter clearer in a #ew words> when you re0ect
the radical ori/in o# thin/s, whate*er the #i/ure used, you need to create ;uite di##erent
cate/ories #ro. the classical ones in order to /et a /rasp on those notions BB essence,
cause or liberty BB whose authority is drawn #ro. this ori/in, Mhen you re0ect the
cate/ory o# ori/in as a philosophical issuin/ ban=, you ha*e to re#use its currency too,
and put other cate/ories into circulation> those o# the dialectic, "hat is in outline the
pro#ound relation lin=in/ the pre.ises o# the .aterialis. to be #ound in Apicurus,
?pinoHa and He/el, which /o*erns

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not only e*erythin/ about the dialectic but also the dialectic itsel#,
(t is this which see.s to .e i.portant, .uch .ore than the 9conclusions without
pre.ises9 which are the only 0ud/e.ents .ade by Mar2 on He/el and where he raises
only and 'or its own sake the ;uestion o# the dialectic, He does this, o# course, in order to
reco/niHe in He/el the .erit o# ha*in/ BB ( ;uote BB 9been the #irst to e2press the /eneral
.o*e.ent o# the dialectic9, which is correct and certainly a rather reser*ed state.ent, but
also in order to ar/ue, this ti.e without any reser*ations, that He/el had 9.ysti#ied9 it,
and that Mar2Es own dialectic was not only not that o# He/el, but 9its e2act opposite9, &ut
we also =now that accordin/ to Mar2 it was enou/h, in order to de.ysti#y the He/elian
dialectic, to in*ert it, ( ha*e ar/ued enou/h in the past about the #act that this idea o#
in*ersion did not do the 0ob and was only a .etaphor #or a real .aterialist trans#or.ation
o# the #i/ures o# the dialectic, about which Mar2 pro.ised us a doHen pa/es which he
ne*er wrote, "his silence was surely not accidental, (t was doubtless a conse;uence o# the
need to trace a line bac= #ro. the conclusions to the .aterialist pre.ises o# the dialectic,
and on the basis o# these pre.ises to thin= out, in the stron/ sense, the new cate/ories
which they i.ply and which can be #ound in operation in (apital and in LeninEs writin/s,
but which do not always or do not yet clearly bear their na.e,
( beca.e in*ol*ed in this proble. when ( started to loo= #or the di##erence, in their
*ery pro2i.ity, between Mar2 and He/el, (t is ;uite ob*ious that i# Mar2 borrowed #ro.
He/el the word and the idea o# the dialectic, he ne*ertheless could not possibly ha*e
accepted this doubly .ysti#ied dialectic BB .ysti#ied not only in the idealist atte.pt to
produce its own .aterial content, but also and abo*e all in the #i/ures which realiHe the
.iracle o# its sel#Bincarnation> ne/ation and the ne/ation o# the ne/ation, or Au'hebun*)
&ecause i# the He/elian dialectic re0ects e*ery ri/in, which is what is said at the
be/innin/ o# the Lo*ic, where &ein/ is i..ediately identi#ied with %othin/ness, it
pro0ects this into the And o# a "elos which in return creates, within its own process, its
own ri/in and its own ?ub0ect, "here is

pa&e 1,1
no assi/nable ri/in in He/el, but that is because the whole process, which is #ul#illed in
the #inal totality, is inde#initely, in all the .o.ents which anticipate its end, its own
ri/in, "here is no ?ub0ect in He/el, but that is because the beco.in/B?ub0ect o#
substance, as an acco.plished process o# the ne/ation o# the ne/ation, is the ?ub0ect o#
the process itsel#, (# Mar2 too= o*er the idea o# the dialectic #ro. He/el, he not only
9in*erted9 it in order to rid it o# the pretension or #antasy o# sel#Bproduction, but also had
to trans#or. its #i/ures so that they should cease to produce the i.plied e##ects, Lenin
.ade the point a/ain and a/ain durin/ the years 191<B33 that i# socialis. does not
succeed in trans#or.in/ petty co..odity production, then, as lon/ as it is allowed to
e2ist, petty co..odity production will continue to /i*e rise to capitalis., ne .i/ht say,
in the sa.e .anner> as lon/ as Mar2is. does not succeed in trans#or.in/ the #i/ures o#
the dialectic .ysti#ied by He/el, these #i/ures will continue to /i*e rise to He/elian,
.ysti#ied e##ects, %ow this trans'ormation was not to be #ound in .y head, nor only in
the #uture, but out in the open in the te2ts o# Mar2 and Lenin and the practice o# the
proletarian class stru//le,
( was there#ore si.ply tryin/ to #or.ulate conceptually what already e2isted in the
practical state,
"hat, to approach the .atter #ro. this direction, is why ( clai.ed that Mar2 did not
ha*e the sa.e idea o# the nature o# a social #or.ation as He/el, and ( belie*ed that (
could de.onstrate this di##erence by sayin/ that He/el thou/ht o# society as a totality,
while Mar2 thou/ht o# it as a co.ple2 whole, structured in do.inance, (# ( .ay be
allowed to be a little pro*ocati*e, it see.s to .e that we can lea*e to He/el the cate/ory
o# totality, and clai. #or Mar2 the cate/ory o# the whole) (t .i/ht be said that this is a
*erbal ;uibble, but ( do not thin= that this is entirely true, (# ( pre#erred to reser*e #or
Mar2 the cate/ory o# the whole rather than that o# the totality, it is because within the
totality a double te.ptation is always present> that o# considerin/ it as a per*asi*e
essence which e2hausti*ely e.braces all o# its .ani#estations, and BB what co.es to the
sa.e thin/ BB that o# disco*erin/ in it, as in a circle or a sphere 4a .etaphor which .a=es
us thin= o# He/el once a/ain6, a centre which would be its essence,

pa&e 1,2
n this point ( belie*ed that ( had #ound an i.portant di##erence between Mar2 and
He/el, For He/el, society, li=e history, is .ade up o# circles within circles, o# spheres
within spheres, )o.inatin/ his whole conception is the idea o# the e2pressi*e totality, in
which all the ele.ents are total parts, each e2pressin/ the internal unity o# the totality
which is only e*er, in all its co.ple2ity, the ob0ecti#icationBalienation o# a si.ple
principle, And in #act, when you read the Rechtsphilosophie, you #ind that He/el is
deployin/, in the dialectic o# the b0ecti*e ?pirit which produces the., the spheres o#
abstract law, o# #oralitJt and "ittlichkeit, so that each produces the other throu/h the
ne/ation o# the ne/ation so as to #ind their truth in the ?tate, "here are .any di##erences
between the., but since their relation is always one o# 9truth9, these di##erences are
always a##ir.ed only to be denied and transcended in other di##erences, and this is
possible because in each di##erence there is already present the inBitsel# o# a #uture #orB
itsel#, And when you read the (ntroduction to the %hilosophy o' 2istory, you #ind the
sa.e process, one .i/ht e*en say the sa.e procedure> each .o.ent o# the de*elop.ent
o# the (dea e2ists in its ?tates, which realiHe a si.ple principle BB the beauty o#
indi*iduality #or ancient @reece, the le/al spirit #or -o.e, etc, And borrowin/ #ro.
Montes;uieu the idea that in a historical totality all concrete deter.inations, whether
econo.ic, political, .oral or e*en .ilitary, e2press one sin/le principle, He/el concei*es
history in ter.s o# the cate/ory o# the e2pressi*e totality,
For Mar2, the di##erences are real, and they are not only di##erences in spheres o#
acti*ity, practices and ob0ects> they are di##erences in e''icacy) "he last instance operates
here in such a way that it e2plodes the peace#ul #iction o# the circle or the sphere, (t is not
an accident that Mar2 abandons the .etaphor o# the circle #or that o# the edi#ice, A circle
is closed, and the correspondin/ notion o# totality presupposes that one can /rasp all the
pheno.ena, e2hausti*ely, and then reasse.ble the. within the si.ple unity o# its centre,
Mar2 on the other hand presents us with an edi#ice, a #oundation, and one or two upper
#loors BB e2actly how .any is not stated, %or does he say that e*erythin/ .ust #all into

pa&e 1,3
these cate/ories, that e*erythin/ is either in#rastructure or superstructure, Cou could e*en
ar/ue #or the idea, essential to (apital, that the Mar2ist theory o# societies and o# history
i.plies a whole theory o# their incidental costs and their #ailures, Mar2 only says that you
.ust distin/uish, that the distinctions are real, irreducible, that in the order o#
deter.ination the share o# the base and that o# the superstructure are une;ual, and that
this ine;uality or une*enness in do.inance is constituti*e o# the unity o# the whole,
which there#ore can no lon/er be the e2pressi*e unity o# a si.ple principle all o# whose
ele.ents would be the pheno.ena,
"hat is why ( tal=ed about a whole, to .a=e it clear that in the Mar2ist conception o# a
social #or.ation e*erythin/ holds to/ether, that the independence o# an ele.ent is only
e*er the #or. o# its dependence, and that the interplay o# the di##erences is re/ulated by
the unity o# a deter.ination in the last instanceJ but that is why ( did not tal= about a
totality, because the Mar2ist whole is co.ple2 and une*en, and sta.ped with this
une*enness by the deter.ination in the last instance, (t is this interplay, this une*enness,
which allow us to understand that so.ethin/ real can happen in a social #or.ation and
that throu/h the political class stru//le it is possible to /et a hold on real history, ( .ade
the point in passin/> no politics ha*e e*er been seen in the world which were inspired by
He/el, For where can you /et a hold on the circle when you are cau/ht in the circleF
For.ally, the Mar2ist topo/raphy /i*es an answer when it says> this is what is
deter.inant in the last instance BB the econo.y, there#ore the econo.ic class stru//le,
e2tended into the political class stru//le #or the seiHure o# ?tate power BB and this is how
the class stru//le in the base is lin=ed 4or is not lin=ed6 to the class stru//le in the
superstructure, &ut that is not all, (n pointin/ this out, the Mar2ist topo/raphy re#ers any
;uestioner to his place in the historical process> this is the place which you occupy, and
this is where you .ust .o*e to in order to chan/e thin/s, Archi.edes only wanted a
sin/le #i2ed point in order to li#t up the world, "he Mar2ist topo/raphy na.es the place
where you .ust #i/ht because that is where the #i/ht will ta=e place #or the
trans#or.ation o# the world, &ut this place is no lon/er a point, nor is it

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#i2ed BB it is an articulated syste. o# positions /o*erned by the deter.ination in the last
instance,
All this re.ains #or.al, noBone will deny it, in the 're#ace to the (ontribution to which
( ha*e alluded, &ut the (ommunist #ani'esto called thin/s by their na.es and (apital
repeated the., (apital is #ull o# e2a.ples o# the topo/raphical #i/ure, (t is throu/h the
use o# this #i/ure that theoretical deter.ination can beco.e practical decision, because it
arran/es thin/s in such a way that the wor=ers, who Mar2 was tal=in/ to, can seiHe the.,
"he concept which is /rasped 4Ae*ri'' 6 beco.es in Mar2 the theoreticalBpractical
apparatus o# a topo/raphy, a .eans o# practically /raspin/ the world,
(t is easy to see that, in this new whole, the dialectic at wor= is not at all He/elian, (
tried to show this in conne2ion with the ;uestion o# contradiction, by pointin/ out that i#
you ta=e seriously the nature o# the Mar2ist whole and its une*enness, you .ust co.e to
the conclusion that this une*enness is necessarily re#lected in the #or. o# the
o,erdetermination or o# the underdetermination o# contradiction, # course, it is not a
;uestion o# treatin/ o*erdeter.ination or underdeter.ination in ter.s o# the addition or
subtraction o# a ;uantu. o# deter.ination, a ;uantu. added or subtracted #ro. a preB
e2istin/ contradiction, that is, one leadin/ a de Dure e2istence so.ewhere,
*erdeter.ination or underdeter.ination are not e2ceptions in respect to a pure
contradiction, +ust as Mar2 says that .an can only be alone within society, 0ust as Mar2
says that the e2istence o# si.ple econo.ic cate/ories is an e2ceptional product o# history,
in the sa.e way a contradiction in the pure state can only e2ist as a deter.inate product
o# the i.pure contradiction,
"he e##ect o# this thesis is ;uite si.ply to chan/e the re#erence points #ro. which we
loo= at contradiction, And, in particular, it warns us a/ainst the idea o# what ( ha*e called
si.ple contradiction, or .ore e2actly contradiction in the lo/ical sense o# the ter.,
whose ter.s are two e;ual entities each si.ply bearin/ one o# the contrary si/ns V or B, A
or notBA, (# ( .i/ht now /o a little #urther than ( did in .y #irst essays, but in the sa.e
direction, ( should say that contradiction, as you #ind it in (apital, presents the surprisin/
characteristic o# bein/ une,en, o# brin/in/ contrary

pa&e 1,)
ter.s into operation which you cannot obtain 0ust by /i*in/ the second a si/n obtained by
ne/atin/ that o# the #irst, "his is because they are cau/ht up in a relation o' une,enness
which continuously reproduces its conditions o# e2istence 0ust on account o# this
contradiction, ( a. tal=in/ #or e2a.ple about the contradiction within which the capitalist
.ode o# production e2ists and which, tendentially, conde.ns it to death, the
contradiction o# the capitalist relation o' production, the contradiction which di*ides
classes into classes, in which two ;uite une;ual classes con#ront each other> the capitalist
class and the wor=in/ class, &ecause the wor=in/ class is not the opposite o# the capitalist
class, it is not the capitalist class ne/ated, depri*ed o# its capital and its powers BB and the
capitalist class is not the wor=in/ class plus so.ethin/ else, na.ely riches and power,
"hey do not share the sa.e history, they do not share the sa.e world, they do not lead
the sa.e class stru//le, and yet they do co.e into con#rontation, and this certainly is a
contradiction since the relation o' con'rontation reproduces the conditions o'
con'rontation instead o# transcendin/ the. in a beauti#ul He/elian e2altation and
reconciliation,
( thin= that i# you =eep in si/ht this special characteristic o# Mar2ist contradiction, that
it is une,en, you will co.e up with so.e interestin/ conclusions, not only about (apital
but also about the ;uestion o# the stru//le o# the wor=in/ class, o# the so.eti.es
dra.atic contradictions o# the Labour Mo*e.ent and o# the contradictions o# socialis.,
For i# you want to understand this une*enness, you will ha*e to #ollow Mar2 and An/els
in ta=in/ seriously the conditions which .a=e the contradiction une*en, that is, the
.aterial and structural conditions o# what ( ha*e called the structured whole in
do.inance, and here you will /et a /li.pse into the theoretical #oundations o# the
Leninist thesis o# une*en de*elop.ent, &ecause in Mar2 all de*elop.ent is une*en, and
here a/ain it is not a ;uestion o# additions to or subtractions #ro. a soBcalled e*en
de*elop.ent, but o# an essential characteristic, A*ery de*elop.ent is une*en, because it
is contradiction which dri*es de*elop.ent, and because contradiction is une*en, "hat is
why, alludin/ to the 1iscourse on the -ri*in o' !nequality by -ousseau,

pa&e 1,*
who was the principal theoretician o# alienation be#ore He/el, ( once added as a subBtitle
to .y article 9n the Materialist )ialectic9 the phrase> 9n the Ine*enness o# ri/ins9,
si/ni#yin/ by the plural, ori*ins, that there is no ri/in in the philosophical sense o# the
ter., and that e*ery be/innin/ is .ar=ed with une*enness,
( ha*e only s=etched out a #ew the.es, si.ply to indicate the critical i.portance o# the
thesis o# the last instance #or understandin/ Mar2, And it is o# course true that e*ery
interpretation o# Mar2ist theory in*ol*es not only theoretical sta=es but also political and
historical, "hese theses on the last instance, on the structured whole in do.inance, on the
une*enness o# contradiction, had an i..ediate principal ob0ecti*e, which /o*erned the
way in which they were e2pressed> that o# reco/niHin/ and indicatin/ the place and the
role o# theory in the Mar2ist Labour Mo*e.ent, not 0ust by ta=in/ note o# LeninEs #a.ous
slo/an, 9Mithout re*olutionary theory there can be no re*olutionary .o*e.ent9, but by
/oin/ into detail in order to #ree theory #ro. con#usions, .ysti#ications and
.anipulations, &ut beyond this pri.ary ob0ecti*e, .y theses had other, .ore i.portant
ai.s, bearin/ on the te.ptations #aced by the Labour Mo*e.ent> the te.ptation o# a
.essianic or critical idealis. o# the dialectic, which has haunted intellectuals in re*olt
#ro. the ti.e o# the youn/ Lu=Pcs and e*en o# the old and new Coun/ He/eliansJ the
te.ptation o# what ( called the poor .anEs He/elianis., the e*olutionis. which has
always, in the Labour Mo*e.ent, ta=en the #or. o# econo.is., (n both cases, the
dialectic #unctions in the old .anner o# preBMar2ist philosophy as a philosophical
/uarantee o# the co.in/ o# re*olution and o# socialis., (n both cases, .aterialis. is
either 0u//led away 4in the case o# the #irst hypothesis6 or else reduced to the .echanical
and abstract .ateriality o# the producti*e #orces 4in the case o# the second hypothesis6, (n
all cases the practice o# this dialectic runs up a/ainst the i.placable test o# the #acts> the
re*olution did not ta=e place in nineteenthBcentury &ritain nor in early twentiethBcentury
@er.anyJ it did not ta=e place in the ad*anced countries at all, but elsewhere, in -ussia,
then later in :hina and :uba, etc, How can we understand this displace.ent o# the
principal contradiction o# i.perialis. onto the

pa&e 1,+
wea=est lin=, and correlati*ely how can we understand the sta/nation in the class stru//le
in those countries where it appeared to be triu.phant, without the Leninist cate/ory o#
une*en de*elop.ent, which re#ers us bac= to the une*enness o# contradiction and its
o*erB and underdeter.inationF ( a. deliberately stressin/ underdeter.ination, because
while certain people easily accepted a si.ple supple.ent to deter.ination, they could not
accept the idea o# underdeter.ination, that is, o# a threshold o# deter.ination which, i# it
is not crossed, causes re*olutions to .iscarry, re*olutionary .o*e.ents to sta/nate or
disappear, and i.perialis. to rot while still de*elopin/, etc, (# Mar2is. is capable o#
re/isterin/ these #acts, but not capable o# understandin/ the., i# it cannot /rasp, in the
stron/ sense, the 9ob*ious9 truth that the re*olutions which we =now are either pre.ature
or .iscarried, but #ro. within a theory which dispenses with the nor.ati*e notions o#
pre.aturity and o# .iscarria/e, that is, with a nor.ati*e standpoint, then it is clear that
so.ethin/ is wron/ on the side o# the dialectic, and that it re.ains cau/ht up in a certain
idea which has not yet de#initi*ely settled accounts with He/el,
"hat is why ( thin= that, in order to see .ore clearly what .a=es Mar2 di##erent, one
.ust put into its proper perspecti*e the i..ediate #or.ulation in which he e2pressed his
relation to the He/elian dialectic, "o do so, one .ust #irst consider how Mar2Es
.aterialis. is e2pressed, because the ;uestion o# the dialectic depends on this, And there
does e2ist a rather /ood way o# dealin/ with this proble., which ( ha*e 0ust tried to
#ollow> that which uses the cate/ory o# deter.ination in the last instance,
-n The %rocess -' ?nowled*e
( now want, .uch .ore brie#ly, to ta=e another path across .y essays in order to loo= at
another /roup o# theses de*eloped there on the ;uestion o# 9=nowled/e9,
( cannot hide the #act that in this .atter ( depended hea*ily on ?pinoHa, ( said a
.o.ent a/o that Mar2 was close to He/el in his criti;ue o# the idea o# a theory o#
=nowled/e, &ut this He/elian criti;ue is already present in ?pinoHa, Mhat does ?pinoHa
in #act .ean when he writes, in a #a.ous

pa&e 1,,
phrase, 92abemus enim ideam ,eram , , ,9F "hat we ha*e a true ideaF %o> the wei/ht o#
the phrase lies on the 9enim 9, (t is in 'act because and only because we ha*e a true idea
that we can produce others, accordin/ to its nor., And it is in 'act because and only
because we ha*e a true idea that we can =now that it is true, because it is 9inde$ sui 9,
Mhere does this true idea co.e #ro.F "hat is ;uite a di##erent ;uestion, &ut it is a #act
that we do ha*e it 4habemus 6, and whate*er it .ay be that produces this result, it /o*erns
e*erythin/ that can be said about it and deri*ed #ro. it, ( "hus ?pinoHa in ad,ance .a=es
e*ery theory o# =nowled/e, which reasons about the Dusti'ication o# =nowled/e,
dependent on the 'act o# the =nowled/e which we already possess, And so e*ery ;uestion
o# the ri/in, ?ub0ect and +usti#ication o# =nowled/e, which lie at the root o# all theories
o# =nowled/e, is re0ected, &ut that does not pre*ent ?pinoHa #ro. tal=in/ about
=nowled/e> not in order to understand its ri/in, ?ub0ect and +usti#ication, but in order to
deter.ine the process and its .o.ents, the #a.ous 9three le*els9, which .oreo*er
appear *ery stran/e when you loo= at the. close up, because the #irst is properly the
li*ed world, and the last is specially suited to /raspin/ the 9sin/ular essence9 BB or what
He/el would in his lan/ua/e call the 9uni*ersal concrete9 BB o# the +ewish people, which
is heretically treated in the Theolo*ico%olitical Treatise)
( a. sorry i# so.e people consider, apparently out o# theoretical opportunis., that (
thus #all into a heresy, but ( would say that Mar2 BB not only the Mar2 o# the 1<!7
!ntroduction, which in #act opposes He/el throu/h ?pinoHa, but the Mar2 o# (apital,
to/ether with Lenin BB is in #act on close ter.s with ?pinoHaEs positions, For while they
too re0ect e*ery theory o# the ri/in, ?ub0ect and +usti#ication o# =nowled/e, they too
talk about =nowled/e, And the #act that Lenin clai.s #or Mar2is. the e2pression 9theory
o# =nowled/e9 is not an e.barrass.ent when you realiHe that he de#ines it as , , , the
dialectic, (n #act Mar2 and Lenin tal= about =nowled/e in *ery /eneral ter.s, to describe
the /eneral aspects o# its process, ne .ust be suspicious o# those passa/es in which
Mar2 states such /eneralities, "here is at least one case, a.on/ others, with respect to

pa&e 1,-
which he did e2plain hi.sel#> that o# 9production 9, At one and the sa.e ti.e he outlines
the /eneral characteristics o# production and yet ar/ues that /eneral production and, a
'ortiori, production in /eneral do not e2ist, because only particular .odes o# production
e2ist within concrete social #or.ations, "his is one way o# sayin/ that e*erythin/ ta=es
place within the concrete structure o# particular processes, but that in order to be able to
/rasp what is happenin/ you need the help o# that .ini.u. o# nonBe2istent /enerality
without which it would be i.possible to percei*e and understand what does e2ist, Mell, (
thin= that the 1<!7 !ntroduction is in this *ein, ( thin= that it introduces neither a 9theory
o# =nowled/e9 nor its surro/ate, an episte.olo/y> ( thin= that it only e2presses that
.ini.u. o# /enerality without which it would be i.possible to percei*e and understand
the concrete processes o# =nowled/e, &ut 0ust li=e the /eneral concept o# production, the
/eneral concept o# =nowled/e is there only to disappear in the concrete analysis o#
concrete processes> in the co.ple2 history o# the processes o# =nowled/e,
(n the whole o# this a##air ( based .ysel# as closely as possible on Mar2Es 1<!7
!ntroduction, and i# ( used it to produce so.e necessary e##ects o# theoretical pro*ocation,
( thin= that ( did ne*ertheless re.ain #aith#ul to it,
( was directly and literally inspired by Mar2, who se*eral ti.es uses the concept o# the
9production 9 o# =nowled/e, to ar/ue .y central thesis> the idea o# =nowled/e as
production) ( ob*iously also had in .ind an echo o# ?pinoHist 9production9, and ( drew
on the double sense o# a word which bec=oned both to labour, practice, and to the display
o# truth, &ut essentially BB and in order to pro*o=e the reader BB ( held closely, ( would
e*en say .echanically, to the Mar2ist concept o# production, which literally su//ests a
process and the application o# tools to a raw .aterial, ( e*en outbid Mar2 by presentin/ a
/eneral concept o# 9practice9, which reproduced the concept o# the labour process to be
#ound in (apital, and, re#errin/ bac= to theoretical practice, ( used and no doubt #orced a
little Mar2Es te2t in order to arri*e at the distinction between the three /eneralities,7!8 the
#irst

!, (') .or #ar$, 9n the Materialist )ialectic9J An/lish edition, pp, 1<3B195 7translator's note 8,

pa&e 1-.
o# which #unctioned as the theoretical raw .aterial, the second as the instru.ents o#
theoretical labour, and the third as the concreteBinBthou/ht or =nowled/e, ( ad.it that
?pinoHa was in*ol*ed in this a##air, too, because o# his 9three le*els o# =nowled/e9, and
the central role o# the second> scienti#ic abstraction,
Mhat interested .e abo*e all else in Mar2Es te2t was his radical double opposition to
e.piricis., and to He/el, (n opposition to e.piricis., Mar2 ar/ued that =nowled/e does
not proceed #ro. the concrete to the abstract but #ro. the abstract to the concrete, and
that all this ta=es place, ( ;uote, 9in thou*ht 9, while the real ob0ect, which /i*es rise to
this whole process, e2ists outside o# thou/ht, (n opposition to He/el, Mar2 ar/ued that
this .o*e.ent #ro. the abstract to the concrete was not a .anner o# producin/ reality
but o# co.in/ to =now it, And what #ascinated .e in all this ar/u.ent was that one had
to be*in with the abstract) %ow Mar2 wrote that =nowled/e is 9a product o' thinkin*, o'
comprehension ) ) ) a product o' the assimilation and trans'ormation Fein %rodukt der
/erarbeitun*G o# perceptions and i.a/es into concepts 9, and also that 9it would see. to
be the proper thin/ to start with the real and concrete elements ) ) ) e)*) to start in the
sphere o# econo.y with population , , , :loser consideration shows, howe*er, that this is
wron/, %opulation is an abstraction,97$8 ( concluded that perceptions and i.a/es
4Anschauun* und /orstellun* 6 were treated by Mar2 as abstractions, And ( attributed to
this abstraction the status o# the concrete or o# e2perience as you #ind it in ?pinoHaEs #irst
le*el o# =nowled/e, that is, in .y lan/ua/e, the status o# the ideolo/ical, # course ( did
not say that @eneralities ((, wor=in/ on @eneralities (, only wor= on ideolo/ical .aterial,
because they could also be wor=in/ on abstractions which are already scienti#ically
elaborated, or on both to/ether, &ut there did re.ain this borderBline case o# a purely
ideolo/ical raw .aterial, a hypothesis which allowed .e to introduce the
scienceQideolo/y antithesis, and the episte.olo/ical brea=, which ?pinoHa, lon/ be#ore
&achelard,

$, (ntroduction to A (ontribution to the (ritique o' %olitical Economy, Moscow, 1971, p, 35!
7translator's note 8,

pa&e 1-1
inserted between his #irst and second le*els o# =nowled/e, and thus ( produced a certain
nu.ber o# ideolo/ical e##ects which, as ( ha*e pointed out in .y Elements o' "el'
criticism, were not #ree o# all theoreticis.,
&ut, o# course, since ( su##er #ro. what -ousseau called so.ethin/ li=e 9the wea=ness
o# belie*in/ in the power o# conse;uences9, ( did not stop there, but drew an i.portant
distinction> that between the real obDect and the obDect o' knowled*e) "his distinction is
contained in the *ery phrases in which Mar2 deals with the process o# =nowled/e, As a
.aterialist, he ar/ues that =nowled/e is =nowled/e o# a real ob0ect 4Mar2 says> a real
sub0ect6, which 4( ;uote6 9re.ains, a#ter as be#ore, outside the intellect and independent
o# it9,778 And, a little later, in re#erence to the sub0ect o# in*esti/ation, society, he writes 4(
;uote6 that it 9.ust always be en*isa/ed there#ore as the preBcondition o#
co.prehension9, Mar2 there#ore poses, as a preBcondition o# the whole process o#
=nowled/e o# a real ob0ect, the e2istence o# this real ob0ect outside o# thou/ht, &ut this
e2teriority o# the real ob0ect is a##ir.ed at the sa.e ti.e as he a##ir.s the speci#ic
character o# the process o# =nowled/e, which is 9the product o# the assi.ilation and
trans#or.ation9 o# perceptions and i.a/es into concepts, And, at the end o# the process,
the thou/htBconcrete, the thou/htBtotality, which is its result, presents itsel# as =nowled/e
o# the realBconcrete, o# the real ob0ect, "he distinction between the real ob0ect and the
process o# =nowled/e is indubitably present in Mar2Es te2t, as is the re#erence to the wor=
o# elaboration and the di*ersity o# its .o.ents, and the distinction between the thou/htB
concrete and the real ob0ect, o# which it /i*es us =nowled/e,
( used this te2t not in order to construct a 9theory o# =nowled/e9 but in order to, stir
so.ethin/ within the world o# the blindly ob*ious, into which a certain =ind o# Mar2ist
philosophy retreats in order to protect itsel# #ro. its ene.ies, ( su//ested that i# all the
=nowled/e which we possess really is =nowled/e o# a real ob0ect which re.ains 9a#ter as
be#ore9 independent o# the intellect, there was perhaps so.e point

7, -p) cit), p, 357, translation .odi#ied 7translator's note 8,

pa&e 1-2
in thin=in/ about the inter*al separatin/ this 9be'ore 9 #ro. the 9a'ter 9, an inter*al which
is the process o# =nowled/e itsel#, and in reco/niHin/ that this process, de#ined by the
9wor= o# elaboration9 o# successi*e #or.s, was inscribed precisely, #ro. be/innin/ to
end, in a trans#or.ation which bears not on the real ob0ect,7<8 but only on its standBins,
#irst o# all on the perceptions and i.a/es, then on the concepts which co.e out o# the.,
"hus ( arri*ed at .y thesis> i# the process o# =nowled/e does not trans#or. the real
ob0ect, but only trans#or.s its perception into concepts and then into a thou/htBconcrete,
and i# all this process ta=es place, as Mar2 repeatedly points out, 9in thou*ht 9, and not in
the real obDect, this .eans that, with re/ard to the real ob0ect, in order to =now it,
9thou/ht9 operates on the transitional #or.s which desi/nate the real ob0ect in the process
o# trans#or.ation in order #inally to produce a concept o# it, the thou/htBconcrete, (
re#erred to the set o# these #or.s 4includin/ the last one6 produced by this operation in
ter.s o# the cate/ory 9ob0ect o# =nowled/e9, (n the .o*e.ent which causes the
spontaneous perceptions and i.a/es to beco.e the concept o# the real ob0ect, each #or.
does indeed relate to the real ob0ect, but without beco.in/ con#used with it, &ut neither
can the thou/htBconcrete which is #inally produced be con#used with the real, and Mar2
attac=s He/el precisely #or allowin/ this con#usion to ta=e place, nce a/ain ?pinoHa
ca.e to .ind, and the .e.ory o# his hauntin/ words> the idea o# a circle is not the circle,
the concept o# a do/ does not bar= BB in short, you .ust not con#use the real thin/ and its
concept,
# course, i# this necessary distinction is not solidly supported, it .ay lead to
no.inalis., e*en to idealis., (t is /enerally a/reed that ?pinoHa #ell into no.inalis.,
&ut he did in any case ta=e .easures to protect hi.sel# #ro. idealis., both in de*elopin/
his theory o# a substance with in#inite attributes, and in ar/uin/ #or the parallelis. o# the

<, 9"hat is, so lon/ as the intellect adopts a purely speculati*e, purely theoretical attitude9 4Mar26, He
distin/uishes between the theoretical attitude 4knowled*e o# the real ob0ect6 and the practical attitude
4trans'ormation o# the real ob0ect6,

pa&e 1-3
two attributes e$tension and thou*ht) Mar2 protects hi.sel# in another way, .ore
securely, by the use o# the thesis o# the primacy o' the real obDect o,er the obDect o'
knowled*e, and by the primacy o' this 'irst thesis o,er the second; the distinction
between the real obDect and the obDect o' knowled*e) Here you ha*e that .ini.u. o#
/enerality, that is, in the case in ;uestion, o# .aterialist theses, which, by drawin/ a line
between the.sel*es and idealis., open up a #ree space #or the in*esti/ation o# the
concrete processes o# the production o# =nowled/e, And #inally, #or whoe*er wants to
.a=e the co.parison, this thesis o# the distinction between real ob0ect and ob0ect o#
=nowled/e 9#unctions9 in a *ery si.ilar .anner to LeninEs distinction between absolute
truth and relati*e truth, and to a *ery si.ilar purpose,
Lenin wrote> 9Cou will say that this distinction between relati*e and absolute truth is
inde#inite, And ( shall reply> it is su##iciently Einde#initeE to pre,ent science 'rom
becomin* a do*ma in the bad sense o' the term, #ro. beco.in/ dead, #roHen, ossi#iedJ
but at the sa.e ti.e it is su##iciently Ede#initeE to enable us to draw a di,idin*line in the
most emphatic and irre,ocable manner between oursel*es and #ideis. and a/nosticis.,
between oursel*es and philosophical idealis. and the sophistry o# the #ollowers o# Hu.e
and Dant,9798 Mhich .eans, to put it bluntly> our thesis is precise enou/h not to #all into
idealis., precise enou/h to draw a line between itsel# and idealis., that is, correct
enou/h in its /enerality to pre*ent the li*in/ #reedo. o# science #ro. bein/ buried under
its own results,
"he sa.e is true, =eepin/ e*erythin/ in proportion, o# .y thesis on the di##erence
between the real ob0ect and the ob0ect o# =nowled/e, "he sta=es were considerable, (t was
a ;uestion o# pre*entin/ the science produced by Mar2 #ro. bein/ treated 9as a do/.a in
the bad sense o# the ter.9, it was a ;uestion o# brin/in/ to li'e the prodi/ious wor= o#
criticis. and elaboration carried out by Mar2, without which he would ne*er ha*e been
able BB to put it in his way, which re.ains classical BB to disco*er behind the appearance

9, #aterialism and Empiriocriticism, Moscow, 19$7, p, 133 7translator's note 8,

pa&e 1-(
o# thin/s, and in dia.etrical opposition to this appearance, their unreco/niHed 9inti.ate
relations9, (t was a ;uestion o# /ettin/ people to understand and to appreciate the
unprecedented brea= which Mar2 had to .a=e with the accepted world o# appearances,
that is, with the o*erwhel.in/ly 9ob*ious truths9 o# the do.inant bour/eois ideolo/y,
And since we were oursel*es in*ol*ed in the .atter, it was a ;uestion o# turnin/ this truth
into a li*in/ and acti*e truth #or us, because we had to brea= with other 9ob*ious truths9,
so.eti.es couched in Mar2Es own *ocabulary, whose .eanin/ the do.inant ideolo/y or
de*iations in the Labour Mo*e.ent had distorted, (t was a ;uestion o# recallin/ that i#, as
Lenin said, 9the li*in/ soul o# Mar2is. is the concrete analysis o# a concrete situation9,
then =nowled/e o# the concrete does not co.e at the be/innin/ o# the analysis, it co.es
at the end, and the analysis is only possible on the basis o# Mar2Es concepts, and not on
the basis o# the i..ediate, 9ob*ious9 e*idence o# the concrete BB which one cannot do
without, but which cannot really be understood #ro. the .ar=s which it bears on its #ace,
Finally BB and this was not the least i.portant aspect BB it was a ;uestion o# recallin/
with Mar2 that =nowled/e o# reality chan/es so.ethin/ in reality, because it adds to it
precisely the #act that it is =nown, thou/h e*erythin/ .a=es it appear as i# this addition
cancelled itsel# out in its result, ?ince =nowled/e o' reality belon/s in ad*ance to reality,
since it is =nowled/e o' nothin* but reality, it adds so.ethin/ to it only on the
parado2ical condition o# addin/ nothin* to it,7158 and once produced it re*erts to it without
need o# sanction, and disappears in it, "he process o# =nowled/e adds to reality at each
step its own =nowled/e o# that reality, but at each step reality puts it in its poc=et,
because this =nowled/e is its own, The distinction between obDect o' knowled*e and real
obDect presents the parado$ that it is a''irmed only to be annulled) Aut it is not a nullity >
because in order to be annulled it .ust be constantly a##ir.ed, "hat is nor.al, it is the
in#inite cycle o# all =nowled/e, which

15, (') An/els> 9Dnowled/e o# nature 0ust as it is, without any 'orei*n addition 9, (') also the Leninist
theory o# re#lection,

pa&e 1-)
adds so.ethin/ to reality BB precisely, =nowled/e o# reality BB only to /i*e it bac=, and the
cycle is only a cycle, and there#ore li*in/, as lon* as it reproduces itsel', because only the
production o# new =nowled/e =eeps old =nowled/e ali*e, "hese thin/s happen .ore or
less as in Mar2Es te2t, which says> li*in/ labour .ust 9add new *alue to .aterials9 in
order that the *alue o# the 9dead labour9 contained in the .eans o# production should be
preser*ed and trans#erred to the product, since 4( ;uote6 it is 9by the si.ple addition o# a
certain ;uantity o# labour that , , , the ori/inal *alues o# the .eans o# production are
preser*ed in the product9 4(apital, 'art (((, ch, O(((, 9:onstant :apital and Oariable
:apital96,
Mhat is at sta=e with re/ard to these thesesF Let us ta=e Mar2ist science and suppose
that political conditions are such that noBone wor=s on it any .ore, noBone is addin/ any
new =nowled/e, "hen the old =nowled/e that reality has poc=eted is there, within it, in
the #or. o# enor.ous and dead 9ob*ious9 #acts, li=e .achines without wor=ers, no
lon/er e*en .achines but thin/s, Me could no lon/er in this case be sure, as Lenin puts it,
o# pre*entin/ science 9#ro. beco.in/ a do/.a in the bad sense o# the ter., #ro.
beco.in/ dead, #roHen, ossi#ied9, Mhich is another way o# sayin/ that Mar2is. itsel#
ris=s repeatin/ truths which are no lon/er any .ore than the na.es o# thin/s, when the
world is de.andin/ new =nowled/e, about i.perialis. and the ?tate and ideolo/ies and
socialis. and the Labour Mo*e.ent itsel#, (t is a way o# recallin/ LeninEs astonishin/
re.ar=, that Mar2 only laid the 'oundation stones o# a theory which we .ust at all costs
de*elop in e*ery direction, (t is a way o# sayin/> Mar2ist theory can #all behind history,
and e*en behind itsel#, i# e*er it belie*es that it has arri*ed,
#ar$ and Theoretical 2umanism
( now want, *ery brie#ly, to #ollow one last path across .y essays, in order to test out
another pro*ocati*e thesis> that o# Mar2Es theoretical antiBhu.anis., ( would say that,
0ust #or the pleasure o# watchin/ the ideolo/ical #irewor=s with which it was .et, ( would
ha*e had to in*ent this thesis i# ( had not already put it #orward,

pa&e 1-*
(t is a serious thesis, as lon/ as it is seriously read, and abo*e all as lon/ as serious
attention is paid to one o# the two words which .a=e it up, and not the diabolical one, but
the word 9theoretical 9, ( said and repeated that the concept or cate/ory o# .an did not
play a theoretical role in Mar2, &ut un#ortunately this ter. 9theoretical9 was i/nored by
those who did not want to understand it,
Let us try to understand it,
And, to that end, let .e #irst say a word about Feuerbach, so.e o# whose te2ts (
translated, %oBone will deny that FeuerbachEs philosophy is openly a theoretical
hu.anis., Feuerbach says> e*ery new philosophy announces itsel# under a new na.e,
"he philosophy o# .odern ti.es, .y philosophy, he says, announces itsel# under the
na.e 9Man9, And in #act .an, the hu.an essence, is the central principle o# the whole o#
FeuerbachEs philosophy, (t is not that Feuerbach is not interested in nature, because he
does tal= about the sun and the planets, and also about plants, dra/onB#lies and do/s, and
e*en about elephants in order to point out that they ha*e no reli/ion, &ut he is #irst o# all
preparin/ his /round, i# ( .ay put it in that way, when he tal=s about nature, when he
cal.ly tells us that each species has its own world, which is only the .ani#estation o# its
essence, "his world is .ade up o# ob0ects, and a.on/ the. there e2ists one ob0ect par
e$cellence in which the essence o# the species is acco.plished and per#ected> its essential
ob0ect, "hus each planet has the sun as an essential ob0ect, which is also the essential
ob0ect o# the planet, etc,
%ow that the /round is prepared, we can turn our attention to .an, He is the centre o#
his world as he is at the centre o# the horiHon that bounds it, o# his 9mwelt) "here is
nothin/ in his li#e which is not his > or rather, nothin/ which is not him, because all the
ob0ects o# his world are only his ob0ects in so #ar as they are the realiHation and pro0ection
o# his essence, "he ob0ects o# his perception are only his .anner o# percei*in/ the., the
ob0ects o# his thou/ht are only his .anner o# thin=in/ the., and the ob0ects o# his
#eelin/s are only his .anner o# #eelin/ the., All his ob0ects are essential in so #ar as what
they /i*e hi. is only e*er his own essence, Man is always in .an, .an ne*er lea*es the
sphere o# .an,

pa&e 1-+
because BB in a si.ple little phrase which the youn/ Mar2 too= o*er #ro. Feuerbach, and
which pro*o=ed so.e scholarly discussion a.on/ the participants in last su..erEs He/el
:on/ress in Moscow BB the world is the world o# .an and .an is the world o# .an, "he
sun and the stars, the dra/onB#lies, perception, intelli/ence and passion are only so .any
transitions on the road to the decisi*e truths> .anEs speci#ic characteristic, unli=e the stars
and the ani.als, is to ha*e his own species, the essence o# his species, his whole /eneric
essence as the ob0ect, and in an ob0ect which owes nothin/ to nature or reli/ion, &y the
.echanis. o# ob0ecti#ication and in*ersion, the /eneric essence o# .an is /i*en to .an,
unreco/niHable in person, in the #or. o# an e2terior ob0ect, o# another world, in reli/ion,
(n reli/ion, .an conte.plates his own powers, his producti*e #orces as powers o# an
absolute other be#ore who. he tre.bles and =neels down to i.plore pity, And this is
per#ectly practical, because out o# it ca.e all the rituals o# reli/ious worship, e*en the
ob0ecti*e e2istence o# .iracles, which really do ta=e place in this i.a/inary world since
they are only, in FeuerbachEs words 4and ( ;uote6, 9the realiHation o# a desire9
40unscher'Hllun* 6, "he absolute ob0ect which is .an thus co.es up a/ainst the absolute
in @od, but does not realiHe that what he co.es up a/ainst is himsel') "he whole o# this
philosophy, which does not li.it itsel# to reli/ion, but also deals with art, ideolo/y,
philosophy, and in addition BB a #act which is too little =nown BB with politics, society, and
e*en history, thus rests on the identity o# essence between sub0ect and ob0ect, and this
identity is e2plained by the power o# .anEs essence to pro0ect itsel# in the sel#BrealiHation
which constitutes its ob0ects, and in the alienation which separates ob0ect #ro. sub0ect,
.a=es the ob0ect e2terior to the sub0ect, rei#ies it, and in*erts the essential relation, since
scandalously enou/h the ?ub0ect #inds itsel# do.inated by itsel#, in the #or. o# an b0ect,
@od or the ?tate, etc,, which is howe*er nothin/ but itsel#,
(t .ust not be #or/otten that this discourse, o# which ( can only s=etch the pre.ises
here, had a certain /randeur, since it called #or the in*ersion produced by reli/ious or
political alienation to be itsel# in*ertedJ in other words, it

pa&e 1-,
called #or an in*ersion o# the i.a/inary do.ination o# the attributes o# the hu.an
sub0ectJ it called on .an #inally to clai. bac= possession o# his essence, alienated in his
do.ination by @od and the ?tateJ it called on .an #inally BB no lon/er in the i.a/inary
world o# reli/ion, in the 9hea*en o# the ?tate9, or in the alienated abstraction o# He/elian
philosophy, but on the earth, here and now, in real society BB to realiHe his true hu.an
essence which is the hu.an co..unity, 9co..unis.9,
Man at the centre o# his world, in the philosophical sense o# the ter., the ori/inatin/
essence and the end o# his world BB that is what we can call a theoretical hu.anis. in the
stron/ sense,
(t will be a/reed, ( thin=, that Mar2, ha*in/ ori/inally espoused FeuerbachEs
proble.atic o# the /eneric essence o# .an and o# alienation, later bro=e with hi., and
also that thisBbrea= with FeuerbachEs theoretical hu.anis. was a radical e*ent in the
history o# Mar2Es thou/ht,
&ut ( would li=e to /o #urther, For Feuerbach is a stran/e philosophical personality
with this peculiarity 4i# ( .ay be allowed the e2pression6 o# 9blowin/ the /a##9,
Feuerbach is a con'essed theoretical hu.anist, &ut behind hi. stands a whole row o#
philosophical precursors who, while they were not so bra*e as to con#ess it so openly,
were wor=in/ on a philosophy o# .an, e*en i# in a less transparent #or., Far be it #ro.
.e to deni/rate this /reat hu.anist tradition whose historical .erit was to ha*e stru//led
a/ainst #eudalis., a/ainst the :hurch, and a/ainst their ideolo/ists, and to ha*e /i*en
.an a status and di/nity, &ut #ar be it #ro. us, ( thin=, to deny the #act that this hu.anist
ideolo/y, which produced /reat wor=s and /reat thin=ers, is inseparably lin=ed to the
risin/ bour/eoisie, whose aspirations it e2pressed, translatin/ and transposin/ the
de.ands o# a co..ercial and capitalist econo.y sanctioned by a new syste. o# law, the
old -o.an law re*ised as bour/eois co..ercial law, Man as a #ree sub0ect, #ree .an as a
sub0ect o# his actions and his thou/hts, is #irst o# all .an #ree to possess, to sell and to
buy, the sub0ect o# law,
( will cut .atters short and put #orward the clai. here that, with so.e unti.ely
e2ceptions, the /reat tradition o#

pa&e 1--
classical philosophy has reproduced in the cate/ories o# its syste.s both the ri/ht o# .an
to =now, out o# which it has .ade the sub0ect o# its theories o# =nowled/e, #ro. the
co*ito to the e.piricist and the transcendental sub0ectJ and the ri/ht o# .an to act, out o#
which it has .ade the econo.ic, .oral and political sub0ect, ( belie*e, but ob*iously
cannot pro*e it here, that ( ha*e the ri/ht to clai. the #ollowin/> in the #or. o# the
di##erent sub0ects in which it is both di*ided up and dis/uised, the cate/ory o# .an, o# the
hu.an essence, or o# the hu.an species, plays an essential theoretical role in the
classical preBMar2ist philosophies, And when ( tal= about the theoretical role which a
cate/ory plays, ( .ean that it is inti.ately bound up with the other cate/ories, that it
cannot be cut out o# the set without alterin/ the #unctionin/ o# the whole, ( thin= ( can say
that, with a #ew e2ceptions, the /reat classical philosophy represents, in i.plicit #or., an
indisputably hu.anist tradition, And i# in his own way Feuerbach 9blows the /a##9, i# he
puts the hu.an essence s;uarely at the centre o# the whole thin/, it is because he thin=s
that he can escape #ro. the constraint which caused the classical philosophies to hide
.an behind a di*ision into se*eral sub0ects, "his di*ision, let us say into two sub0ects, in
order to si.pli#y .atters, which .a=es .an a sub0ect o# =nowled/e and a sub0ect o#
action, is a characteristic .ar= o# classical philosophy and pre*ents it #ro. co.in/ out
with FeuerbachEs #antastic declaration, Feuerbach hi.sel# thin=s that he can o*erco.e
this di*ision> #or the plurality o# sub0ects he substitutes the plurality o# attributes in the
hu.an sub0ect, and he thin=s that he can settle another politically i.portant proble., the
distinction between indi*idual and species, in ter.s o# se2uality, which suppresses the
indi*idual because it re;uires that there should always be at least two o# the., which
already .a=es a species, ( thin= that it beco.es ob*ious #ro. the .anner in which
Feuerbach proceeds that e*en be#ore hi. the .ain concern o# philosophy was .an, "he
di##erence was that .an was di*ided up between se*eral sub0ects, and between the
indi*idual and the species,
(t #ollows that Mar2Es theoretical antiBhu.anis. is .uch .ore than a settlin/ o#
accounts with Feuerbach> it is directed

pa&e 2..
at one and the sa.e ti.e both a/ainst the e2istin/ philosophies o# society and history and
a/ainst the classical tradition o# philosophy, and thus throu/h the. a/ainst the whole o#
bour/eois ideolo/y,
( would say that Mar2Es theoretical antiBhu.anis. is abo*e all a philosophical antiB
hu.anis., (# what ( ha*e 0ust said has any truth in it, you only ha*e to co.pare it with
what ( said earlier about Mar2Es a##inities with ?pinoHa and He/el in their opposition to
philosophies o# the ri/in and the ?ub0ect to see the i.plications, And in #act i# you
e2a.ine the te2ts which .i/ht be considered the authentic te2ts o# Mar2ist philosophy,
you do not #ind the cate/ory o# .an or any o# its past or possible dis/uises, "he
.aterialist and dialectical theses which .a=e up the whole o# what little Mar2ist
philosophy e2ists can /i*e rise to all =inds o# interpretations, &ut ( do not see how they
can allow any hu.anist interpretation> on the contrary, they are desi/ned to e2clude it, as
one *ariety o# idealis. a.on/ others, and to in*ite us to thin= in a quite di''erent .anner,
&ut we still ha*e not #inished, because we still ha*e to understand the theoretical antiB
hu.anis. o# historical .aterialis., that is, the eli.ination o# the concept o# .an as a
central concept by the Mar2ist theory o# social #or.ations and o# history,
'erhaps we ou/ht #irst o# all to deal with two ob0ections, (n #act, we certainly ou/ht to
try, because they co.e up a/ain and a/ain, "he #irst concludes that any Mar2ist theory
concei*ed in the abo*e .anner ends by despisin/ .en and paralysin/ their re*olutionary
stru//le, &ut (apital is #ull o# the su##erin/s o# the e2ploited, #ro. the period o#
pri.iti*e accu.ulation to that o# triu.phant capitalis., and it is written #or the purpose
o# helpin/ to #ree the. #ro. class ser*itude, "his howe*er does not pre*ent Mar2 but on
the contrary obli*es hi. to abstract #ro. concrete indi*iduals and to treat the.
theoretically as si.ple 9supports9 o# relations, and this in the sa.e wor=, (apital, which
analyses the .echanis.s o# their e2ploitation, "he second ob0ection opposes to Mar2Es
theoretical antiBhu.anis. the e2istence o# hu.anist ideolo/ies which, e*en i# they do in
/eneral ser*e the he/e.ony o# the bour/eoisie, .ay also, in certain

pa&e 2.1
circu.stances and within certain social strata, and e*en in a reli/ious #or., e2press the
re*olt o# the .asses a/ainst e2ploitation and oppression, &ut this raises no di##iculty, as
soon as you realiHe that Mar2is. reco/niHes the e2istence o# ideolo/ies and 0ud/es the.
in ter.s o# the role which they play in the class stru//le,
Mhat is at sta=e here is so.ethin/ ;uite di##erent> the theoretical pretensions o# the
hu.anist conception to e2plain society and history, startin/ out #ro. the hu.an essence,
#ro. the #ree hu.an sub0ect, the sub0ect o# needs, o# labour, o# desire, the sub0ect o#
.oral and political actionJ ( .aintain that Mar2 was only able to #ound the science o#
history and to write (apital because he bro=e with the theoretical pretensions o# all such
*arieties o# hu.anis.,
(n opposition to the whole o# bour/eois ideolo/y, Mar2 declares> 9A society is not
co.posed o# indi*iduals9 4Grundrisse 6, and> 9My analytic .ethod does not start #ro.
Man but #ro. the econo.ically /i*en period o# society9 4+otes on 0a*ner's Te$tbook 6,
And a/ainst the hu.anist and Mar2ist socialists who had proclai.ed in the Gotha
%ro*ramme that 9labour is the source o# all wealth and all culture9, he ar/ues> 9"he
bour/eois ha*e *ery /ood /rounds #or #alsely ascribin/ supernatural creati*e power to
labour9, :an one i.a/ine a .ore distinct brea=F
"he e##ects can be seen in (apital) Mar2 shows that what in the last instance
deter.ines a social #or.ation, and allows us to /rasp it, is not any chi.erical hu.an
essence or hu.an nature, nor .an, nor e*en 9.en9, but a relation, the production
relation, which is inseparable #ro. the &ase, the in#rastructure, And, in opposition to all
hu.anist idealis., Mar2 shows that this relation is not a relation between .en, a relation
between persons, nor an intersub0ecti*e or psycholo/ical or anthropolo/ical relation, but
a double relation> a relation between /roups o# .en concernin/ the relation between these
/roups o# .en and thin/s, the .eans o# production, (t is one o# the /reatest possible
theoretical .ysti#ications that you can i.a/ine to thin= that social relations can be
reduced to relations between .en, or e*en between /roups o# .en> because this is to
suppose that social relations are relations which only in*ol*e, men, whereas actually

pa&e 2.2
they also in*ol*e thin*s, the .eans o# production, deri*ed #ro. .aterial nature, "he
production relation is, says Mar2, a relation o# distribution> it distributes .en a.on/
classes at the sa.e ti.e and accordin/ as it attributes the .eans o# production to a class,
"he classes are born out o# the anta/onis. in this distribution which is also an
attribution, %aturally, hu.an indi*iduals are parties to this relation, there#ore acti*e, but
#irst o# all in so #ar as they are held within it, (t is because they are parties to it, as to a
#reely a/reed contract, that they are held within it, and it is because they are held within it
that they are parties to it, (t is *ery i.portant to understand why Mar2 considers .en in
this case only as 9supports9 o# a relation, or 9bearers9 o# a #unction in the production
process, deter.ined by the production relation, (t is not at all because he reduces .en in
their concrete li#e to si.ple bearers o# #unctions> he considers the. as such in this respect
because the capitalist production relation reduces the. to this si.ple #unction within the
in#rastructure, in production, that is, in e2ploitation, (n e##ect, the .an o# production,
considered as an a/ent o# production, is only that #or the capitalist .ode o# productionJ
he is deter.ined as a si.ple 9support9 o# a relation, as a si.ple 9bearer o# #unctions9,
co.pletely anony.ous and interchan/eable, #or i# he is a wor=er he .ay be thrown into
the street, and i# he is a capitalist he .ay .a=e a #ortune or /o ban=rupt, (n all cases he
.ust sub.it to the law o# a production relation, which is a relation o# e2ploitation,
there#ore an anta/onistic class relationJ he .ust sub.it to the law o# this relation and its
e##ects, (# you do not sub.it the indi*idual concrete deter.inations o# proletarians and
capitalists, their 9liberty9 or their personality to a theoretical 9reduction9, then you will
understand nothin/ o# the terrible practical 9reduction9 to which the capitalist production
relation sub.its indi*iduals, which treats the. only as bearers o# econo.ic #unctions and
nothin/ else,
&ut to treat indi*iduals as si.ple bearers o# econo.ic #unctions has conse;uences #or
the indi*iduals, (t is not Mar2 the theoretician who treats the. as such, but the capitalist
production relationK "o treat indi*iduals as bearers

pa&e 2.3
o# interchan/eable #unctions is, within capitalist e2ploitation, which is the #unda.ental
capitalist class stru//le, to mark them irreparably in their #lesh and blood, to reduce the.
to nothin/ but appendices o# the .achine, to cast their wi*es and children into the hell o#
the #actory, to e2tend their wor=in/ day to the .a2i.u., to /i*e the. 0ust enou/h to
reproduce the.sel*es, and to create that /i/antic reser*e ar.y #ro. which other
anony.ous bearers can be drawn in order to put pressure on those who are in
e.ploy.ent, who are luc=y enou/h to ha*e wor=,
&ut at the sa.e ti.e it is to create the conditions #or an or/aniHation o# stru//le o# the
wor=in/ class, For it is the de*elop.ent o# the capitalist class stru//le, that is, o#
capitalist e2ploitation, which itsel# creates these conditions, Mar2 continually insisted on
the #act that it was the capitalist or/aniHation o# production which 'orcibly tau*ht the
workin* class the lesson o' class stru**le, not only in concentratin/ .asses o# wor=ers in
the place o# wor=, not only in .i2in/ the. to/ether, but also and abo*e all in i.posin/
on the. a terrible discipline o# labour and daily li#e, all o# which the wor=ers su##er only
to turn it bac= in co..on actions a/ainst their .asters,
&ut in order #or all this to happen, the wor=ers .ust be party to and held within other
relations)
"he capitalist social #or.ation, indeed, cannot be reduced to the capitalist production
relation alone, there#ore to its in#rastructure, :lass e2ploitation cannot continue, that is,
reproduce the conditions o# its e2istence, without the aid o# the superstructure, without
the le/alBpolitical and ideolo/ical relations, which in the last instance are deter.ined by
the production relation, Mar2 did not enter into this analysis, e2cept in the #or. o# a #ew
brie# re.ar=s, &ut #ro. e*erythin/ that he said we can conclude that these relations too
treat concrete hu.an indi*iduals as 9bearers9 o# relations, as 9supports9 o# #unctions, to
which .en are only parties because they are held within the., "hus, le/al relations
abstract #ro. the real .an in order to treat hi. as a si.ple 9bearer o# the le/al relation9,
as a si.ple sub0ect o# law, capable o# ownin/ property, e*en i# the only property which he
possesses is that o# his na=ed labour power, "hus too

pa&e 2.(
political relations abstract #ro. the li*in/ .an in order to treat hi. as a si.ple 9support
o# the political relation9, as a #ree citiHen, e*en i# his *ote only rein#orces his ser*itude,
And thus too the ideolo/ical relations abstract #ro. the li*in/ .an in order to treat hi. as
a si.ple sub0ect either sub0ected to or rebellin/ a/ainst the rulin/ ideas, &ut all these
relations, each o# which uses the real .an as its support, ne*ertheless deter.ine and
brand .en in their #lesh and blood, 0ust as the production relation does, And since the
production relation is a relation o# class stru//le, it is the class stru//le which in the last
instance deter.ines the superstructural relations, their contradiction, and the
o*erdeter.ination with which they .ar= the in#rastructure,
And 0ust as the capitalist class stru//le creates, within production, the conditions o# the
wor=ersE class stru//le, so you can see that the le/al, political and ideolo/ical relations
can contribute to its or/aniHation and consciousness, throu/h the *ery constraints which
they i.pose, For the proletarian class stru//le really did learn politics within the
#ra.ewor= o# bour/eois relations, and ,ia the bour/eois class stru//le itsel#, A*eryone
=nows *ery well that the bour/eoisie was only able to o*erthrow the old re/i.e, its
production relation and its ?tate, by en/a/in/ the popular .asses in its stru//le, and
e*eryone =nows that the bour/eoisie was only able to de#eat the /reat landowners by
enrollin/ the wor=ers in its political battle, a#terwards o# course .assacrin/ the.,
"hrou/h its law and its ideolo/y as well as throu/h its bullets and its prisons, the
bour/eoisie educated the. in the political and ideolo/ical class stru//le, a.on/ other
ways by #orcin/ the. to understand that the proletarian class stru//le had nothin/ to do
with the bour/eois class stru//le, and to sha=e o## the yo=e o# its ideolo/y,
(t is here that the last instance, and the contradictory e##ects which it produces within
the 9edi#ice9, inter*enes to account #or the dialectic o# these parado2ical pheno.ena,
which Mar2 /rasps not with the help o# the ridiculous concept o# .an, but with ;uite
di##erent concepts> production relation, class stru//le, le/al, political and ideolo/ical
relations, "heoretically, the #unctionin/ o# the last instance allows us to account #or the
di##erence and une*enness between the

pa&e 2.)
#or.s o# the class stru//le, #ro. the econo.ic stru//le to the political and ideolo/ical
stru//le, and thus #or the interplay e2istin/ between these stru//les and #or the
contradictions e2istin/ in this stru//le,
Mar2Es theoretical antiBhu.anis., as it operates within historical .aterialis., thus
.eans a re#usal to root the e2planation o# social #or.ations and their history in a concept
o# .an with theoretical pretensions, that is, a concept o# .an as an ori*inatin* subDect,
one in who. ori/inate his needs 4homo oeconomicus 6, his thou/hts 4homo rationalis 6,
and his acts and stru//les 4homo moralis, Duridicus and politicus 6, For when you be/in
with .an, you cannot a*oid the idealist te.ptation o# belie*in/ in the o.nipotence o#
liberty or o# creati*e labour BB that is, you si.ply sub.it, in all 9#reedo.9, to the
o.nipotence o# the rulin/ bour/eois ideolo/y, whose #unction is to .as= and to i.pose,
in the illusory shape o# .anEs power o# #reedo., another power, .uch .ore real and
.uch .ore power#ul, that o# capitalis., (# Mar2 does not start with .an, i# he re#uses to
deri*e society and history theoretically #ro. the concept o# .an, it is in order to brea=
with this .ysti#ication which only e2presses an ideolo/ical relation o# #orce, based in the
capitalist production relation, Mar2 there#ore starts out #ro. the structural cause
producin/ this e##ect o# bour/eois ideolo/y which .aintains the illusion that you should
start with .an, Mar2 starts with the /i*en econo.ic #or.ation, and in the particular case
o# (apital, with the capitalist production relation, and the relations which it deter.ines in
the last instance in the superstructure, And each ti.e he shows that these relations
deter.ine and brand .en, and how they brand the. in their concrete li#e, and how,
throu/h the syste. o# class stru//les, li*in/ .en are deter.ined by the syste. o# these
relations, (n the 1<!7 !ntroduction Mar2 said> the concrete is a synthesis o# .any
deter.inations, Me .i/ht paraphrase hi. and say> .en in the concrete sense are
deter.ined by a synthesis o# the .any deter.inations o# the relations in which they are
held and to which they are parties, (# Mar2 does not start out #ro. .an, which is an
e.pty idea, that is, one wei/hed down with bour/eois ideolo/y, it is in order #inally to
reach li*in/ .enJ i# he

pa&e 2.*
.a=es a detour ,ia these relations o# which li*in/ .en are the 9bearers9, it is in order
#inally to be able to /rasp the laws which /o*ern both their li*es and their concrete
stru//les,
Me should note that at no ti.e does this detour ,ia relations estran/e Mar2 #ro. li*in/
.en, because at each .o.ent o# the process o# =nowled/e, that is, at each .o.ent in his
analysis, Mar2 shows how each relation BB #ro. the capitalist production relation,
deter.inant in the last instance, to the le/alBpolitical and ideolo/ical relations BB brands
.en in their concrete li#e, which is /o*erned by the #or.s and e##ects o# the class
stru//le, Aach o# Mar2Es abstractions corresponds to the 9abstraction9 i.posed on .en by
these relations, and this terribly concrete 9abstraction9 is what .a=es .en into e2ploited
wor=ers or e2ploitin/ capitalists, Me should also note that the #inal ter. o# this process o#
thou/ht, the 9thou/htBconcrete9, to which it leads, is that synthesis o# .any
deter.inations which de#ines concrete reality,
Mar2 thus placed hi.sel# on class positions, and he had in *iew the mass pheno.ena
o# the class stru//le, He wanted to aid the wor=in/ class to understand the .echanis.s o#
capitalist society and to disco*er the relations and laws within which it li*es, in order to
rein#orce and orient its stru//le, He had no other ob0ect than the class stru//leJ his ai.
was to help the wor=in/ class to .a=e re*olution and thus #inally, under co..unis., to
suppress the class stru//le and classes,
"he only .ore or less serious ob0ection which can be .ade to the thesis o# Mar2Es
theoretical antiBhu.anis. is, ( .ust be honest enou/h to ad.it it, related to those te2ts
which, in (apital, return to the the.e o# alienation, ( say purposely> the theme, because (
do not thin= that the passa/es in which this the.e is ta=en up ha*e a theoretical
si/ni#icance, ( a. su//estin/ that alienation appears there not as a really considered
concept but as a substitute #or realities which had not yet been thou/ht out su##iciently #or
Mar2 to be able to re#er to the.> the #or.s, still on the horiHon, o# or/aniHation and
stru//le o# the wor=in/ class, "he the.e o# alienation in (apital could thus be said to
#unction as a substitute #or a concept or concepts not yet #or.ed, because

pa&e 2.+
the ob0ecti*e historical conditions had not yet produced their ob0ect, (# this hypothesis is
correct, it beco.es possible to understand that the :o..une, in answerin/ Mar2Es
e2pectations, rendered the the.e o# alienation super#luous, as did the whole o# LeninEs
political practice, (n #act alienation disappears #ro. Mar2Es thou/ht a#ter the :o..une,
and ne*er appears in LeninEs i..ense wor=,
&ut this proble. does not 0ust concern Mar2ist theoryJ it also in*ol*es the historical
#or.s o# its #usion with the Labour Mo*e.ent, "his proble. #aces us openly today> we
shall ha*e to e2a.ine it,


pa&e 2.,

Somethin& 2ew

The 'ollowin* remarks constitute Althusser's contribution to the public discussion in
LEHu.anitN on the dra't resolution presented to the <4st E$traordinary (on*ress o'
the .rench (ommunist %arty, held in -ctober 456I) The resolution as 'inally adopted by
the (on*ress can be read in :ahiers du co..unis.e, no) 44, +o,ember 456I)
&y instinct, :o..unists ha*e understood that the resolution put #orward #or
consideration by the 31st :on/ress contains so.ethin/ new, which could be i.portant,
(t is ob*iously not a ;uestion o# a chan/e in line, &ut, within the sa.e line, the
-esolution pro*ides .ore e2act #or.ulations, and recti#ications and inno*ations,
1, "he political line is de#ined with a new precision, "he ob0ecti*e o# the present class
stru//le is, in the short ter., 9de.ocratic chan/e9, a 9new de.ocracy9 which will apply
the 9de.ocratic re#or.s9 contained in the :o..on 'ro/ra..e, around which the Inion
o# the Le#t has been sealed, "he .otor o# de.ocratic chan/e will be the 9Inion o# the
French 'eople9, who can be 9/athered to/ether9 into a 9lar/e .a0ority9, "he present
stru//les pro*e that this union is 9under way9,
Mhere are the inno*ationsF Assentially they concern two points>
4a6 Mho will be in power in the 9new de.ocracy9F %ot the Inited Le#t alone, but the
9alliance o# all parties and or/aniHations interested in de.ocratic chan/e9, # course

pa&e 2.-
the Inion o# the Le#t will re.ain the heart o# this &road Alliance,
4b6 +ust as the 35th :on/ress put the accent on 9'opular Inion9, the -esolution puts the
accent on the 9Inion o# the French 'eople9,
&ut, #irst o# all, why this e2tra notionF )oes it not duplicate the notion o# the &road
AllianceF "he -esolution is not *ery clear on this i.portant point 4c') para/raph 34,
chapter (O6,
Mhat di##erence is there in principle between the Inion o# the Le#t and 'opular InionF
&etween the &road Alliance and the Inion o# the French 'eopleF "he di##erence which
e2ists between a union concluded between or*aniBations and a union #or/ed amon* the
masses) "he #irst is a .inority, the second can be a 9lar/e .a0ority9,
"here is o# course a dialectic operatin/ between the political union o# or/aniHations
and union a.on/ the .asses, Mhen the Inion o# the Le#t was concluded, its e##ects were
#elt #ar beyond the ran=s o# the supporters o# the Le#t, a.on/ the .asses, "he sa.e will
be true o# the &road Alliance, when it is concluded, &ut BB and this is the decisi,e point BB
what is it that has .ade possible, necessary and ine*itable the union between the French
:o..unist 'arty, which has been #i/htin/ #or it #or years, the ?ocialist 'arty and the Le#t
-adicalsF "he unprecedented de*elop.ent, in May 19$< and since, o# the class stru//le
o# the .asses o# the people, there#ore the union o# the .asses in action,
"he de*elop.ent o# the union o# the .asses in the class stru//le> thus the a/ree.ent
between or/aniHationsJ thus the #urther de*elop.ent o# the union o# the .assesJ thus the
broadenin/ o# the alliance between or/aniHations, etc, "hat is the dialectic o# the
.o*e.ent, in which it is the union o' the masses in the class stru**le which plays the
determinant role)
ne .ust there#ore clearly distin/uish between the alliance between or/aniHations and
the Inion o# the French 'eople, so as to be able to /rasp their dialectic, and also so as not
to /i*e the ter. 9.a0ority9 a purely electoral sense, &ecause, once the elections are won,
the alliance in power will only be able to /o*ern a/ainst the .onopolies i# it can depend
on

pa&e 21.
the power o# a people united in the class stru//le to co.e,
&y de#inition, the Inion o# the French 'eople can only be realiHed at the base, HowF
9Around the re#or.s proposed by the :o..on 'ro/ra..e,9 &ut what are the .eans to
this endF "he e2planations /i*en by the .ilitants o# the 'arty and o# the other allied
or/aniHations, and their di##usion, )iscussions, there#ore, %ow all this is true, &ut .ore is
needed> Mar2ists =now that at the le*el o# the .asses ideas are only really e2chan/ed in
action and throu/h action,
ne .ust there#ore be e2plicit, "he Inion o# the French 'eople is the union o#
wor=in/ people, de.ocrats and patriots around the workin* class J it is a union, at the
*rass roots, o# the .asses o# the people in protest and stru//le> wor=ers, peasants,
e.ployees, artisans, trades.en, intellectuals, wo.en, soldiers, etc, "he union o# political,
trades union and other or*aniBations is both the e##ect and the condition o# the stru//le>
but it is the 9nion o' the .rench %eople which is the decisi,e motor o' the stru**le)
"his union is under way, &ut it .ust continually /ain stren/th and especially cohesion
i# it is to win *ictory, (t is not enou/h to count on 9the crisis9 and the /eneral discontent,
nor to pile up 9sectional9 actions, "o thin= that these actions are /oin/ to 9con*er/e9 by
the.sel*es would be to #all into the illusion o# spontaneis., "his discontent and these
actions ha*e to be welded to*ether in a co..on political will, %ow what is capable o#
really brin/in/ and weldin/ these actions and protests to/etherF "he wor=in/ class and its
or/aniHations, and in the #ront ran= o# these, the 'arty, "hat is why the Inion o# the
French 'eople can only be constructed around the wor=in/ class,
( should li=e the -esolution to say> 416 the Inion o# the French 'eople is the decisi*e
.otor o# the co.in/ political trans#or.ationsJ 436 the Inion o# the French 'eople .ust
be welded to/ether around the wor=in/ classJ 436 the Inion o# the French 'eople will be
welded to/ether by the action o# the .asses and action a.on/ the .asses> the role o# the
'arty is essential in this,
"hese clari#ications are all the .ore necessary because the -esolution .a=es an
inno*ation in co.parison to the 35th :on/ress by tal=in/ about the Inion o# the .rench

pa&e 211
%eople) MhyF "he idea here is to unite around the wor=in/ class not only de.ocrats but
also patriots 4e)*) the @aullists6 who are concerned about FranceEs independence and
#uture, An 9electoral .anoeu*re9, it will be said, A way o# /ainin/ *otes to cross the
#a.ous 9barrier9,
:o..unists will ne*er #all into electoral cretinis., "hey =now that electoral relations
o# #orce can 4here it is the case6 obscure the relations o# class #orces,
Mhen the -esolution de#ines the French people which it is callin/ on to unite BB 9the
whole people, with the sole e2ception o# the #eudal barons o# bi/ business9 BB it tells the
truth, but in the #or. o# a slo*an)
(t is true that ob0ecti*ely, and in the lon/ run, only the .onopolists and their a/ents
4plus> world i.perialis.6 ha*e a real interest in the .aintenance o# the dictatorship o# the
.onopolies in France,
&ut it is e;ually true that i# this #raction o# .onopolists has been able to .aintain itsel#
in power up to the present day, it is because it has been able and cle*er enou/h to
represent 9the /eneral interest o# the bour/eoisie as a class9 4Mar26, and it could only do
this because it had a mass base > not only in the bour/eoisie, but also in the petty
bour/eoisie and e*en in a part o# the wor=in/ class, "hus the electoral 9barrier9 which
has caused so .any surprises,
Mhat 9obstacle9 did the electoral dri*e o# the le#t co.e up a/ainstF 'recisely the
present 'rontier o' the mass class base o' the bour*eoisie, do.inated by its .onopolist
#raction,
"o reduce this 9barrier9 to nothin/ but pre0udice, or si.ply to the antiBco..unist
o##ensi*e 4that is, to 9ideas96 is idealis., "here is o# course 9tradition9> but this is
constituted and .aintained by concrete links, not only ideolo/ical 4ideolo/y is so.ethin/
di##erent #ro. 0ust 9ideas96 but also material, between the rulin/ class and its .ass base,
"hese relations are co.plicated, but always precise and *aryin/ accordin/ to social
cate/ory, "he .onopolists are not stupid> they =now how to use e2istin/ relations, to let
e*ents de*elop or to inter*ene with suchBandBsuch a .easure to preser*e these relations,
throu/h which they 9hold on to9 the di##erent ele.ents o# their .ass base 40ust two
e2a.ples in a hundred> they =now how to close their eyes to ta2 #rauds

pa&e 212
a.on/ a certain social cate/oryJ they 9hold on to9 so.e wor=in/ people by the )',
etc,6,
"o win these ele.ents #or the Inion o# the French 'eople, propa/anda 4 U ideas6,
thou/h indispensable, is not enou/h, (n each case you .ust study the .aterial and
ideolo/ical nature o# these relations, -nly thus can you #ind the correct response,
there#ore the correct #or.s o# e2planation, propa/anda and action, nly thus can you
wa/e a correct ideolo/ical stru//le, rele*ant to the .asses where they are, as they are>
otherwise you will .iss the .ar=, Ha*e the di##iculties which L'2umanit is #acin/ also
been loo=ed at #ro. this point o# *iewF
(n #act the need is #or the 'opular Inion to become the Inion o# the French 'eople, by
winnin* o,er the maDority o' the mass base o# the bour/eoisie, Here too you cannot count
on any .iracles o# spontaneity, e*en sti.ulated by the crisis 4in the past crises ha*e
opened the way to #ascis.6, "he need is #or a political *ictory, the result o# political
action, whose centre is the wor=in/ class and whose .eans are its or/aniHations o# class
stru//le, (# this *ictory is brou/ht o##, then, and only then, will the ene.ies o# the French
people be reduced to the .onopolists and their a/ents alone, "hat is why the de#inition o#
the French people by the -esolution has the truth o# a slo/an, which needs both detailed
concrete analysis and action i# it is to beco.e real,
3, "he -esolution contains theoretical recti'ications, which, politically, all tend in the
sa.e direction,
(t is no lon/er a ;uestion o# de#inin/ 9ad*anced de.ocracy9 in ter.s o# the notorious
#or.ula> 9-eplace the lo/ic o# o# pro#it9 4capitalis.F6 9by the lo/ic o# needs9 4whatF6,
"he 35th :on/ress had already toned this #or.ula down, but it =ept the essential ter.s,
At that ti.e 'aul Laurent said> the 9lo/ic o# needs9 alludes rather to co..unis. 49Fro.
each accordin/ to his ability, to each accordin/ to his needs9 BB Mar2J a #or.ula which
.oreo*er de#ines co..unis. bb its relations o# distribution and not by its relations o#
production6 BB 9its use should not be e2tended9, (n #act, since ad*anced de.ocracy is not
e*en socialis., what was this *a/ue allusion to co..unis. doin/ thereF

pa&e 213
(t is true that the -esolution still tal=s, #or so.e reason, about a 9policy #or .an9 and a
9policy o# reason9 4sic 6, &ut it recti#ies itsel# in se*eral places> what .atters is to satis#y
popular demands) (n usin/ this latter =ind o# lan/ua/e it is possible to a*oid #allin/ into
utopianis., that is, into political idealis., and raisin/ e2cessi*e hopes, thus causin/
disappoint.ents BB and to a*oid the te.ptation o# tryin/ to outbid e*eryone in
spiritualis. 4c') an article in La +ou,elle (ritique, February 1973, on the :o..on
'ro/ra..e, centred on the 9needs o# the hu.an person9K6,
"he -esolution does not repeat the old #or.ula o# an 9ad,anced democracy openin*
the road to socialism 9, n the contrary, it puts the accent on 9new de.ocracy9,
9de.ocratic chan/e9, (n #act, de.ocracy cannot be ;uali#ied by any ad0ecti*e 4authentic,
true, ad*anced6 which .easures a /i*en real de.ocracy a/ainst an 9essence9 o#
de.ocracy BB but only by one which .easures it a/ainst its class content> in our case,
democracy 'or the people) Li=ewise, the -esolution puts the accent on 9li.ited
de.ocratic re#or.s9, "hat does not .ean that socialis. is #or/ottenK %or that a policy o#
re#or.s necessarily #alls into re#or.is., :o..unists =now that e*ery *ictory in the
class stru//le is, in the .ore or less lon/ ter., a step 'orward towards socialis., (t is not
a ;uestion o# a tactical .anoeu*re, ai.ed at others > 9?ocialis. #ri/htens the.F "hen we
shall =eep ;uiet about socialis.K And let us /uarantee that this is not the thin end o# the
wed/eK9 n the contrary, it is a ;uestion o# re0ectin/ utopianis. and its dan/ers,
&ecause it is true, and #or us #irst o# all, that there is no 9thin end o# the wed/e9, "hat
.eans> you cannot pro/ra..e re*olution, whether peace#ul or otherwise, Lenin said so
o#ten enou/h> it is not enou/h that re*olution 4the transition to socialis.6 should be 9on
the a/enda9, "he 9situation9 .ust also be 9re*olutionary9, which presupposes the
accu.ulation and weldin/ to/ether o# a considerable nu.ber o# national and
international contradictions, Finally, the 9sub0ecti*e conditions9 4the or/aniHations o#
class stru//le o# the .asses6 .ust be abreast o# the ob0ecti*e conditions,
%one o# this can be pro/ra..ed, %one o# it rese.bles the 9thin end o# a wed/e9, &ut
there is a de#inite political

pa&e 21(
conse;uence> you need a .ass political line, stron/ enou/h and #le2ible enou/h to
prepare the 'arty, e*en when the re*olution is still #ar o##, not only to cope with the
9re*olutionary situation9 when it is opened up, but #irst o# all, ri/ht now, to prepare it, to
help it .ature BB without =nowin/ in ad*ance either when or how it will pre*ent itsel#,
"he dan/er o# the utopianBidealist #or.ulae which the -esolution abandons or ri/htly
recti#ies can be seen, "hese #or.ulae .ay deli*er .ilitants and the 'arty o*er to the
illusion o# the spontaneity o# history, or to the idealis. o# the o.nipotence o# 9ideas9 BB
and di*ert the. #ro. their re*olutionary tas=, which be#ore the re*olution does not
consist in phrase.on/erin/ about -e*olution, its antecha.bers and open doors, but in
really preparin/ oneBsel# to .a=e it when the ti.e is ri/ht,
As re/ards re#or.is., the .atter is clear> a policy is re#or.ist when it ne/otiates
re#or.s which hinder re*olutionJ it is re*olutionary when it #i/hts #or re#or.s which
prepare re*olution,
( thin= that the -esolution should lead to the recti#ication or reBe2a.ination o# a
certain nu.ber o# other utopian idealist #or.ulae 4e)*), on the ?tate, Law, and 9?tate
Monopoly :apitalis.96 which in recent years ha*e #lourished in the shadow o# the
slo/ans which the -esolution has correctly /i*en up,
3, A #ew words, #inally, on the 'arty,
All the .easures proposed lead in the sa.e direction, (t is a ;uestion o# .a=in/ the 'arty
into a *an/uard party which is a mass party > throu/h a bold recruit.ent policy, the
pro.otion o# the youn/ .ilitants lin=ed .ost closely with the .asses 4the best in the
#actory, 9the .ost popular96, and the appeal to the initiati*e o# all .ilitants,
"hese .easures outline the i.a/e o# a /reat .ass party, ar.ed with Mar2istBLeninist
theory, and cleared o# the re.ains o# do/.atis. and sectarianis.,
"he watchword has been /i*en> we are tal=in/ about a 9%ew 'arty9 or, to put it
sche.atically, the accent is no lon/er placed on the cadres 4c') ?talin> 9"he cadres decide
e*erythin/96 but on the masses)

pa&e 21)
(t necessarily #ollows that a hea*ier responsibility #alls to the base o# the 'arty> to the
branches, "he reason is si.ple> it is throu/h its base, the branches, that the 'arty can
beco.e a .ass party, applyin/ a .ass line in .ass actions, A party .ust ha*e .any
.e.bers be#ore it can beco.e a .ass party, but that by itsel# is not enou/h> what .a=es
it a .ass party are its lin=s with the .asses, the .ass actions in which it ta=es part, and
abo*e all the .ass actions in which it can ta=e the initiati*e 9one step ahead o# the
.asses, and one step only9 4Lenin6,
(n these last years so.e 'arty .ilitants ha*e had to 0u.p into a .o*in/ train, or ha*e
e*en /ot le#t on the plat#or., MhyF &ecause they did not understand in ti.e what was
happenin/ a.on/ the .assesJ they did not pay su##icient attention to their needs and
reactions,Bnor did they .a=e a detailed analysis o# these, in order to /i*e the. shape, by
proposin/ suitable united actions, "he appeal to initiati*e, li=e @, MarchaisE appeal to
9/et thin=in/9, is addressed to e*ery .ilitant, but abo*e all to the 'arty branches,
"here can be no .ass line 4the Inion o# the French 'eople6 without a .ass party> but
there can be no .ass party without clear initiati*e #ro. 9the base o# the 'arty9 4article
SO o# the "tatutes 6, the branches, which are at the heart o# the .asses,
( there#ore propose that the -esolution should speci#y, a#ter para/raph 14, chapter O>
9(n order properly to #ul#il its *an/uard role, the 'arty .ust thus beco.e a /reat .ass
'arty, capable o# applyin/ the .ass line o# the Inion o# the French 'eople, "he 'arty
.ust /reatly increase its .e.bership> but to do that, and because it does so, it .ust be
lin=ed to the .asses, to their responses and aspirations, in order to /i*e these a shape and
to initiate necessary actions, Eone step ahead o# the .asses, and one step onlyE 4Lenin6,
"his .ass line places a hea*ier responsibility on the 'arty base, on the branches, and
especially on the #actory branches, because they are at the heart o# the .asses,9
Louis Althusser
4'aris B O6

pa&e 21+

:ilio&raphy

1,

Mor=s by Louis Althusser

1, #ontesquieu; la politique et l'histoireJ 'aris, 19!9,
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%ote co.ple.entaire sur lEhu.anis.e ErNelE 7La +ou,elle (ritique,
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Lire le (apitalJ 'aris, 19$! 4with A, &alibar, +, -anciLre, ', Macherey
and
-, Astablet6, :ontains>

i) )u (apital X la philosophie de Mar2,
ii) LEob0et du :apital,
A second edition appeared in #our *olu.es, in 19$< and 1973,
9,

9MatNrialis.e histori;ue et .atNrialis.e dialecti;ue9, in (ahiers
#ar$istes
Lninistes, no, 11, 19$$,
15, 9?ur le (ontrat "ocial 4les dNcala/es69, in (ahiers pour l'analyse, no, <,
19$$,
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9?ur le tra*ail thNori;ue> di##icultNs et ressources9, in La %ense, no,
133,
April 19$7,
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're#ace to the second 4?panish6 edition o# %our #ar$; La Re,oluciPn
torica de
#ar$N Me2icoB&uenos Aires, 19$7,


pa&e 21,
13,
(ours de philosophie pour scienti'iques 4.i.eo/raphed6J 19$7,
14, Lnine et la philosophieN 'aris, 19$9,
1!,

9La 'hilosophie co..e ar.e de la rN*olution9, in La %ense, no, 13<,
MarchB
April 19$<, 7First appeared, in shortened #or., in L'9nit8, 1,3,19$<,8
1$, 9:o..ent lire Le (apital&9, in L'2umanit, 33,3,19$9,
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9A*ertisse.ent au2 lecteurs du Li*re ( du (apital9, in D, Mar2, Le
(apital,
@arnierBFla..arion editionJ 'aris, 19$9,
1<,

Letters, in MBA, Macciocchi, Lettere dall' interno del %)()!) a Louis
AlthusserN
Milan, 19$9, 7An/lish edition> London, %L& 1973,8
19,

9A propos de lEarticle de Michel Oerret sur Mai Atudiant9, in La %ense,
no, 14!,
19$9,
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9"o .y An/lish -eaders9J 're#ace to the An/lish edition o# %our #ar$;
.or #ar$N
London, 19$9,
31,

9(dNolo/ie et appareils idNolo/i;ues dEAtat 4notes pour une recherche69,
in La %ense, +une 1975, no, 1!1
33,

Readin* (apitalN London 1975, 7An/lish translation o# the second
edition o# re#,
<, containin/ only the contributions o# Althusser and &alibar8,
33,


Lenin and %hilosophy and -ther EssaysN London, 1971, An/lish
translation o#
re#s, $, 14, 34 4e2cept 9?ur le rapport de Mar2 X He/el96, 17, 31,
to/ether
with>

i)

A letter on Art in -eply to AndrN )aspre 7Fro. La +ou,elle
(ritique, April
19$$8,
ii)

:re.onini, 'ainter o# the Abstract 7Fro. 1mocratie +ou,elle,
Au/ust
19$$8,
34,
Lnine et la philosophie 43nd edition, 19736, ?econd edition also
includes>

i)

9?ur le rapport de Mar2 X He/el9 7(nter*ention in +, HyppoliteEs
se.inar,
33,1,19$<8,
ii) 9LNnine de*ant He/el9 419$96,
3!, 9Ine erreur politi;ue9, in .rance +ou,elle, +uly 3! and Au/ust 1, 1973,
3$,

9-eply to +ohn Lewis 4?el#B:riticis.69, in #ar$ism Today, ctober and
%o*e.ber 1973,
37, %olitics and 2istoryN London, 1973, :ontains>

i) Montes;uieu> 'olitics and History 7-e#, 18,
ii) -ousseau> the ?ocial :ontract 7-e#, 158,
iii) Mar2Es -elation to He/el 7-e#, 34 4i68,
3<, 9"he :ondition o# Mar2Es ?cienti#ic )isco*ery9, in Theoretical %ractice,

nos,
7B<, +anuary 1973,
39,

(nter*ention in the discussion on 9Les co..unistes, les intellectuels et
la
culture9, FZte de l'2umanit; in .rance +ou,elle, 1<,9,1973,
35,

Four unpublished te2ts in ?aGl DarsH, Thorie et %olitique; Louis
Althusser
4'aris, 19746>
i) 'ro0et de prN#ace pour un recueil de te2tes 419$<6,
ii) "e2te ronNotypN 419756,
iii)

A propos de Lnine et la %hilosophie et de lEarticle 9:o..ent lire
Le
(apital&9,
i,)


're#ace a la seconde edition en espa/nol du li*re de Marta
Harnec=er,
Los (onceptos elementales del materialismo histPricoN Me2icoB
&uenos Aires, 1971,

pa&e 21-

31, Elements d'autocritiqueN 'aris, 1974,
33,

%hilosophie et philosophie spontanee des sa,antsN 'aris, 1974,
7A.ended *erB
sion o# re#, 13,8
3,

Mor=s on Louis Althusser

1, M, )u#renne, %our l'hommeN 'aris, 19$$,
3,



:entral :o..ittee o# the French :o..unist 'arty> 9)Nbats sur les
problL.es
idNolo/i;ues et culturels9J report o# inter*entions .ade durin/ the
:entral
:o..ittee .eetin/ held at Ar/enteuil in March 19$$, in (ahiers du
(ommun
isme, nos, !B$, MayB+une 19$$,
3, +,BL, %ancy, 9Mar2 et la philosophie9, in Esprit, no, 349, 19$$,
4, -, 'aris, 9An deX du .ar2is.e9, Les Temps #odernes, no, 345, 19$$,
!, %, 'oulantHas, 9Oers une thNorie .ar2iste9, Les Temps #odernes, ibid)
$, +, 'ouillon, 9)u c[tN de cheH Mar29, Les Temps #odernes, ibid)
7,

@, "hibert, 9'our lire Althusser9, in 7uatriMme !nternationale, no, 35,
March
19$7,
<,

A, &adiou, 9Le 4re6 co..ence.ent du .atNrialis.e dialecti;ue9, in
(ritique,
no, 345, 19$7,
9, +, :onilh, 9Lecture de Mar29, in Esprit, no, 3$5, 19$7,
15,

A, @luc=s.ann, 9In ?tructuralis.e *entrilo;ue9, in Les Temps
#odernes, no,
3!5, 19$7, 7?ee re#, 3$ below,8
11,

H, Le#eb*re, 9?ur une interpretation du .ar2is.e9, in L'2omme et la
"ocit,
19$7, no, 4,
13,

:, Luporini, 9-N#le2ions sur Louis Althusser9, in L'2omme et la "ocit,
19$7, no, 4 7(ntroduction to the (talian edition o# %our #ar$)8
13, A, &otti/elli, 9An lisant Althusser9, in Raison %rsente, 19$7, no, 3,
14,

L, ?L*e, 9MNthode structurale et .Nthode dialecti;ue9, La %ense, no,
13!, )ece.ber 19$7,
1!, +,BA, @ianotti, 9:ontra Althusser9, in Teoria e pratica, ?ao 'aulo, 19$<,
no, 3,
1$,

+, Hyppolite, 9Le Escienti#i;ueE et lE EidNolo/i;ueE dans une perspecti*e
.ar2iste9, in 1io*Mne, no, $4,19$<,
17,


', Oilar, &, Fraen=el, -, 'aris, ?, 'ullber/, F, :hYtelet, +,B:, For;uin,
1ia
lectique mar$iste et %ense structurale 4se.inar on Althusser6, in
(ahiers
du (entre d'Etudes "ocialistes, 19$<,
1<, F, @eor/e, 9Lire Althusser9, in Les Temps #odernes, no, 37!, 19$9,
19,

:, @luc=s.ann, 9A propos dEAlthusser> la prati;ue lNniniste de la
philosophie9,
in La +ou,elle (ritique, no, 33, 19$9,
35,

O, Dorac, 9"he 'heno.enon o# E"heoretical AntiBhu.anis.E9, in %ra$is,
nos,
3B4, 19$9,
31,

H, Le#eb*re, 9Les parado2es dEAlthusser9, in L'2omme et la "ocit, no,
13,
19$9,
33, A, Mandel, 9Althusser EcorrectsE Mar29, !nternational, ?epte.ber 1975,
33,

?, DarsH, +, 'ouillon 7re#, $8, A, &adiou 7re#, <8, A, )e (pola, +, -anciLre
7re#, 358, Lectura de AlthusserN &uenos Aires, 1975,
34, &, el/art, !dolo*ues et idolo*ies de la nou,elle *aucheN 'aris, 1975,
3!, L, Dola=ows=i, 9AlthusserEs Mar29, in "ocialist Re*ister, 1971,
3$,


A, @luc=s.ann, 9A Oentrilo;uist ?tructuralis.9, in +ew Le't Re,iew,
no, 73,
MarchBApril 1973, 7"ranslation o# re#, 15 abo*e,8,


pa&e 22.

37,

@, Loc=, 9Louis Althusser> 'hilosophy and Leninis.9, in #ar$ism
Today, +une
1973,
3<,

A, &rossat, 9Les Api/ones9, in (ritiques de l'Economie %olitique,
ctoberB
)ece.ber 1973, no, 9,
39,

M, Lowy, 9b0ecti*itN et point de *ue de classe dans les sciences
sociales9, in (ritiques de l'Economie %olitique, ctoberB)ece.ber
1973, no, 9,
35,

+, -anciLre, 9?ur la thNorie de lEidNolo/ie> la politi;ue dEAlthusser9, in
L'2omme et la "ocit, no, 37, 1973, 7?ee also re#, 47,8
31,

%, @eras, 9Althusserian Mar2is.9, in +ew Le't Re,iew, no, 71, +anuaryB
February 1973,
33, &, ?ichere, 9?ur la lutte idNolo/i;ue9, in Tel 7uel, no, !3, Minter 1973,
33,

M, @laber.ann, 9Lenin *ersus Althusser9, in Radical America, 1973,
*ol, 3,
no, !, 4?pecial nu.ber on Althusser6,
34,

+,B', Far/ier and others, 9'rati;ues artisti;ues et luttes de classes >une
conception de la philosophie9, in (inthique, Minter 1973, nos, 13B14,
3!, !bid), nos, 1!B1$, 9)e la Enou*elleE prati;ue philosophi;ue9,
3$,

+, Lewis, 9"he Althusser :ase9, in #ar$ism Today, +anuary and
February
1973
37,

', Oilar, 9Histoire .ar2iste, histoire en construction, Assai de dialo/ue
a*ec
Althusser9, in Annales, 1973, no, 1,
3<,

M, :ranston, 9"he (deolo/y o# Althusser9, in %roblems o' (ommunism
7Inited
?tates (n#or.ation ?er*ice 0ournal8, MarchBApril 1973,
39, M, :orn#orth, 9"he AlthusserBLewis )ebate9, in #ar$ism Today, May
1973,
45,


', Oilar, 9Mar2ist History, a History in the Ma=in/> "owards a dialo/ue
with
Althusser9, in +ew Le't Re,iew, no, <5, +ulyBAu/ust 1973, 7"ranslation
o# re#, 3!,8
41,

+, MetH/er, 9Apres a*oir lu le dernier li*re de L, Althusser9 7Rponse 8
John Lewis8, in France %ou*elle, 1$ ctober 1973,
43,
', %e.o,9Althusser estBil .aoWsteF9, in Le +ou,el -bser,ateur,
$,<,1973,
43,

A, "erray, 9Le Li*re de L, Althusser 7Rponse 8 John Lewis8, un
N*Nne.ent
politi;ue9, in Le #onde, 17,<,1973,
44,
+, -anciLre, 9La nou*elle orthodo2ie de L, Althusser9, Le #onde,
13,9,1973,
4!,

+, :olo.bel, 9Althusser, le ':F et les tro.pettes de la reno..Ne9, in
%olitique 2ebdo, 1,15,1973,
4$,

A, @illes, 9Ma\tre Althusser et la politi;ue9, in (ommunisme, no, $,
?epte.B
berBctober 1973,
47,
A, LipietH, 9)EAlthusser X MaoF9, in Les Temps #odernes, %o*e.ber
1973,
4<,

@, Loc=, 9-eal 'roble.s and -eal Answers9, The Times 2i*her
Education
"upplement, 4,1,1974,
49, ?, DarsH, Thorie et politique; Louis AlthusserN 'aris, 1974,
!5,

+, -anciLre, 9n the "heory o# (deolo/y 4the 'olitics o# Althusser69, in
Radical
%hilosophy, no, 7 4?prin/ 19746,
!1,


%,BA, "he*enin, 9?ur Rponse 8 John Lewis ou les yeu2 et la .N.oire9,
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pa&e 221

!3,

H, +our, 9Louis Althusser rN*isionniste Ede /aucheEF9J in %roletariat, no,
!,
3
e
tri.estre 1974,
!3,

M, @luc=s.ann, "tructuralist Analysis in (ontemporary "ocial Thou*ht
7on
Althusser and LN*iB?trauss8J London, 1974,
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!!, +, -anciLre, La Le3on d'AlthusserN 'aris, 1974,
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Henry Oelt.eyer, 9"owards an Assess.ent o# the ?tructuralist
(nterro/ation
o# Mar2> :laude LN*iB?trauss and Louis Althusser9, in "cience and
"ociety,
Minter 1974B7!,
!7,


+oseph @abel, 9Mar2is.e hon/rois, Ehun/aroB.ar2is.eE, Acole de
&udapest
4:ontribution X une sociolo/ie de la connaissance du courant
althusserien69,
in L'2omme et la "ocit, +anuaryB+une 197!, no, 3!B3$,
!<,

'ierre -iboulet, 9Tuel;ues re.ar;ues X propos de la lutte des classes
dans
lEidNolo/ie9, in L'2omme et la "ocit, ibid)

pa&e 222 7blan=8
pa&e 223


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