Philosophy as a Practice of Political Intervention.

Marxist-Leninist afternoon continues with a section from Althusser’s Lenin and Philosophy:

In a lecture now a year old, published in a small volume by Maspero under the title Lenin and Philosophy, I have attempted to prove that Lenin should be regarded as having made a crucial contribution to dialectical materialism, in that he made a real discovery with respect to Marx and Engels, and that this discovery can be summarized as follows: Marx’s scientific theory did not lead to a new philosophy (called dialectical materialism), but to a new practice of philosophy, to be precise to the practice of philosophy based on a proletarian class position in philosophy.

This discovery, which I regard as essential, can be formulated in the following theses: Continue reading


Distribution of the Sensible: Review of Rancière’s The Future of the Image

Distribution of the Sensible (by Robert Porter)

The Future of the Image
Jacques Rancière
Translated by Gregory Elliott
ISBN-13: 978 1 84467 107 6
Verso, 2007

Jacques Rancière emerged on the intellectual scene in the early 1960s as part of a group of ‘young Althusserians’ (Balibar, Macherey, Establet being the others) who contributed to Lire le Capital which, along with Althusser’s hugely influential Pour Marx, fundamentally shaped the field of ‘structuralist Marxism’. However, Rancière began to distance himself from Althusser when he published La Lecon d’Althusser in the mid 1970s. Inevitably, perhaps, the Althusserian distinction between science and ideology came under Rancière’s attack, implying as it did a will to master the ‘masses’, a will to scientistically know how and why the masses are caught in the grip of ideological misrecognition, a will to speak on their behalf, to know the truth about them. Rancière’s violent reaction to this tendency in Althusserianism springs from his long-standing commitment to the idea that the emergence of politics, or what he would call modes of ‘political subjectivization’, occurs when people begin to speak on their own behalf, and in speaking on their own behalf, assume the right to occupy public space, a public space whose co-ordinates immediately shift to take account of these new voices.[1]

The rest is here VARIANT: Cross Currents In Culture (Issue 30, Winter 2007)

Critique, Thinking and the Shock of the Encounter

Larval Subjects concludes a well thought out and interesting response/diagnosis to student malaise (as well as some of the issues raised here, here and here):

In light of the foregoing, it seems that we are faced with two possible pedagogies. If we assume that thought is a natural attribute, an innate disposition, then we will pursue a pedagogy that assumes it is sufficient to explain in order for students to engage in certain forms of intellectual engagements. This seems to lead to much frustration, for in the humanities and social sciences, at least, we discover that very few of the students seem capable of benefiting from our explanations. However, if we begin with the premise that thought is an involuntary result of an encounter that disrupts our habitudes, then we will not be surprised that students have a difficult time distinguishing rhetoric from arguments, recognizing ideology, or discerning deeper strata of texts. Such students have not made the transition from the immediacy of the being in question (language, social organization, texts), to the reflection-into-self that problematizes these phenomenon and turns them into a question.

Since I’ve been on something of an Althusser kick as of late, this kind of materialism and the suggestion that thought is an involuntary result of an encounter that interrupts our habitual formations seems by and large quite correct to me. I don’t have too much time this morning, but here a few thoughts. Continue reading