Perry Anderson on Adorno and Althusser

I’ll be using the following in a revised publication of my recent HM paper on Ranciere:

“Adorno’s Neg­a­tive Dialec­tic, first devel­oped in lec­tures in Paris in 1961 and com­pleted in 1966, repro­duces a whole series of motifs to be found in Althusser’s For Marx and Read­ing Cap­i­tal… among other themes, Adorno explic­itly affirmed the absolute epis­te­mo­log­i­cal pri­macy of the object; the absence of any gen­eral sub­ject in his­tory; the vacu­ity of the con­cept of the ‘nega­tion of the nega­tion’. He attacked philo­soph­i­cal con­cen­tra­tion on alien­ation and reifi­ca­tion as a fash­ion­able ide­ol­ogy, sus­cep­ti­ble to reli­gious usage; the cult of the works of the Young Marx at the expense of Cap­i­tal; anthro­pocen­tric con­cep­tions of his­tory, and the emol­lient rhetoric of human­ism accom­pa­ny­ing them; myths of labour as the sole source of social wealth, in abstrac­tion from the mate­r­ial nature that is an irre­ducible com­po­nent of it. Adorno was even to echo exactly Althusser’s pre­cepts that the­ory is a spe­cific type of prac­tice (‘the­o­ret­i­cal prac­tice’), and that the notion of prac­tice must itself be defined by the­ory. ‘The­ory is a form of prac­tice’ wrote Adorno, and ‘prac­tice itself is an emi­nently the­o­ret­i­cal con­cept’” P. Anderson, Con­sid­er­a­tions on Western Marxism, p. 72.


About HR

Deep in the adjunct crackhole.
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2 Responses to Perry Anderson on Adorno and Althusser

  1. Robert says:

    Wouldn’t the work of Alfred Scmidt be the most notable attempt to create a “bridge” between the two? I don’t know if P.A. ever mentions him, but I know that someone like Heinrich, whose treatment of Marx incorporates Althusser, must rely in part on Schmidt’s original (at the time) attempt at a sort of connection between, or blending of, Adorno and structuralism, no?

    • HR says:

      Its been awhile since I read the Schmidt. I don’t think PA mentions him. If memory serves Schmidt, and based on the discussions I have had with a few few friends some time ago, Schmidt’s work is seen as the seminal critical humanist criticism of Althusserian Marxism i.e. I think he is rather critical of Althusser’s anti-humanism as well as his notion of science, and his notion of a differentiated totality, which are the elements that Heinrich seems to take from Althusser. I could also be conflating Schmidt’s criticism of Althusser with Simon Clarke, Bonefeld’s etc. though….

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