Althusser and Workerism: Notes Toward the Study of a Missed Encounter

Cover image for the 1977 French translation of Mario Tronti’s Operai e Capitale

In the 1960s, in the wake of the stabilization of the post-WWII and Cold War period, the rapid expansion of a new international cycle of political and social struggles was the driving force for a renewal of Marxist theory. Amongst the numerous attempts to reconfigure both the theoretical and political reference points of the Communist movement, the two experiences initiated by Louis Althusser in France and workerism in Italy continue to inspire lines of research and exercise a direct or indirect influence even today. However, the historical and conceptual relations between these two projects remain relatively opaque and difficult to reconstruct with any precision. This contribution aims only to open the discussion on this subject, so the present arguments and conclusions are completely provisional. We will only explore certain relations between Althusser and the philosophical formulations of workerism — elaborated by Mario Tronti and Antonio Negri — respectively and from the decidedly limited but nonetheless revealing point of view of the relations between political practice and theoretical practice. Our thesis is that the affinities and divergences between Althusserianism and workerism on this specific point are of crucial importance for the history of Marxism, which we can only gesture to here. 1

Historically, the first real documented encounter between Althusser and workerism took place belatedly, through a partial appropriation, and on the grounds of an idiosyncratic reading; we must accurately measure its stakes. This encounter occurs through the work of Antonio Negri, starting from the second half of the 1970s, and is consolidated over the course of the 1990s. Some of its effects are still noticeable today in the Anglo-Saxon world and post-workerist currents, where certain elements from the Althusserian and workerist heritage are singularly intertwined. Despite certain desires expressed in the wake of the collapse of really existing socialism, 2 the rereadings of the works of Marx prompted by the 2008 economic crisis are not possible without a return to 20th-century Marxisms: and this return seems to maintain a constant dialogue with the “lesson” of Althusser. 3

But it’s not merely about dialogue: in the narrative Negri puts forth regarding the genealogy of biopolitical categories recuperated by post-workerism, Althusser is assigned a decisive role. This retroactive appropriation implies a selectivity vis-a-vis Althusser’s positions – a selectivity aiming to legitimate the internal evolution of Negrian workerism – and a twisting of these positions.

In his preface to the Italian edition of Machiavelli and Us, Negri recalls his first encounter with Althusser, who had invited him to a seminar at the École Normale Supérieure between 1977-1978. 4 This encounter did not produce any immediate effects; Negri himself remembers the Althusserians who attended his lessons appearing impatient, and they reacted confusedly to the provocative arguments he put forward. 5 However, Althusser had apparently expressed interest in this approach of going with Marx beyond Marx. In Negri’s recollection, Althusser admitted to having “rediscovered Machiavelli,” which meant finding that, “beyond theory,” there is something joyful and living within communism: the renewal of its categories, the discovery of a new horizon for the struggle and organization of the proletariat. Negri recalls that “beyond theory, communist biopolitics begins” (namely, for Althusser), and that Althusser would have affirmed that “communism has never been more imminent than today.” Althusser is thus summoned as a postmortem guarantee for Negri’s own development. The reading and diffusion of Althusserian writings on Machiavelli throughout the 1990s in the journal Futur antérieur will be the principal terrain of this posthumous encounter. 6

What Negri looks for in Althusser – as much in the writings on Machiavelli as in the essay on Ideological State Apparatuses – is a position that makes it possible to translate certain aspects of his own political path through concepts from the history of philosophy. To be more precise, Negri is concerned with first locating a correspondence between the evolution of Althusser’s thought and the passage to postmodernity, which he articulates by elaborating his own materialist ontology. Althusser would have grasped these simultaneously historical and conceptual transitions – including the “breakdown of the conceptual boundary between structure and superstructure,” the displacement of production in the sphere of reproduction and lastly, the adoption of the “standpoint of bodies” – though in purely theoretical terms; transitions which cannot, however, be fully comprehended via the Frankfurt School and post-structuralism, but only by a “theory developed within militancy,” that is, Negri’s own thought. 7 Negri seeks out the prefigurations of these “biopolitical transitions” in Althusser’s thought. 8 This operation was undertaken before his reading of Althusser’s writings on Machiavelli. In 1987, Negri wrote that the base and superstructure problem dissolved itself in their “material indifference,” in which both instances are found to be “completely unified, indistinct, inseparable,” although it is still possible to distinguish the specific genesis of each. Althusser represents a realization of this indistinction: “from Marx to Althusser, Marxist theory describes the crisis of the base-superstructure relation.” 9

For Negri, Althusser had extended his critique of the Marxian topography to the negation of any form of distinction between its instances. He was successful in philosophically grasping “a passage from the analysis of property as exploitation in terms of a transcendental form to the analysis of it in terms of the material organization of bodies in the production and reproduction of capitalist society.” 10 This corresponded politically to the experience of Quaderni Rossi and the formulation of “the theoretical-practical importance of the standpoint of bodies in Marxist analysis.” 11 In sum, it is in terms of being a precursor of biopolitics that this postmodern Althusser crosses over into the 1990s, to reappear as a major reference point for collectives close to post-workerism, such as Uninomade. 12

This operation involves the rejection of anything within Althusser’s work that would be attributable to “theoreticism.” Beginning with the incorporation of Althusser to the genesis of the biopolitical categories used by post-workerism, the fundamental theses of For Marx and Reading Capital are submitted to the demands of the post-workerist “line,” or simply left out. Themes such as the separation between thought and reality, the relative autonomy of theory, and the complex relation between base [infrastructure] and superstructure are re-inscribed in the “ontology of the common” specific to “postmodern materialism.” Without wanting to make judgments on the relevance of Negri’s reading of the evolution of Althusser’s thought, it is important to note that it tends to elide the specificity of the proposal by which Althusser had intervened within the scene of the Marxist debates of the mid-1960s. 13 It should be recognized that the appropriation of Althusser based on the exclusion of the theses deemed theoreticist does not only concern Negri and currents close to him. This partial appropriation was in fact quite prevalent in the Anglo-Saxon world: from the beginning of the 1970s, Althusser’s argument in the essay on Ideological State Apparatuses was recognized there as a fundamental tool for rethinking what was traditionally assigned to the superstructure; and, correlatively, the apparatus of interpellation was read, especially by cultural studies and post-structuralist theories, as a more or less effective description of the process of subjection—subjectivation.

Of course, certain Althusserian texts — above all those that take their distance from the “theoreticist” period — do justify this reading that makes Althusser the precursor of a new relation between economy and society, infrastructure and superstructure. And yet, the self-criticisms forming Althusser’s complex path must be interpreted in light of dynamics that are equally complex, revealing a concern for the effectiveness of theoretical interventions within a determinate theoretical field. 14 The Italian debate surrounding Althusser’s first two works, For Marx and Reading Capital, had engendered a certain confusion between different levels of discourse, particularly with regard to the relation between theory and practice; the major consequence being a neglect of precisely the originality of the Althusserian proposal. Far from understanding “theoretical practice” as a potential way of avoiding from the traditional problematic of the unity/opposition between theory and praxis, the Italian debate leaned heavily on the distinction between thought and reality, and thus on the conflict between revolutionary action and scientific analysis. 15 It is possible to recognize the decisive influence of Italian neo-idealism as the basis for this vision of theory as being opposed to practice, and the accusation that follows from having accorded to theory a greater significance, conceived as being the other of practice. On the one hand, there is the influence of Benedetto Croce, who theorized the separation between different spheres (aesthetic, logical, economic, ethical) within the synthesis of Spirit; on the other hand, the influence of Giovanni Gentile and his theory of the concrete act. These two thinkers thus continued to exert as much of an influence on the official theory of the PCI as on the critical Marxism of which workerism was a part. 16

Given Althusser’s sensitivity to the reception of his positions in Italy, the successive shifts his arguments take can be read in light of the Italian debates over his “theoreticism.” 17 One can postulate that Althusser was led onto a very different terrain from the one his 1965 texts occupied. This new terrain emerged from a specifically Italian neo-Idealist tradition, with which workerism itself had not settled accounts; this would explain why Althusser’s self-criticisms seem to sometimes regress to very traditional positions concerning the status of theory and practice. These direct or indirect influences can help explain the play of analogies, differences, convergences, and distances taken between certain subsequent developments in Althusser’s work and workerism, as well as the value in studying the way in which this game appears towards the second-half of the 1960s, before the dual heritage of workerism and Althusserianism was appropriated by Negri. We will conclude these remarks on Althusser and workerism by comparing the symmetries and asymmetries between these two theoretical fields, as they appear throughout the 1960s.

The Althusserian re-reading of Marx is contemporaneous with the activities of Quaderni Rossi, and the major works of the French philosopher precede Workers and Capital, Mario Tronti’s book that could be considered the founding text of workerism, by a year. However, their paths never crossed, even when Althusser and Tronti were both members of the largest Communist parties in the West, and there were pre-existing relationships between Althusser and the Marxist philosophers Galvano Della Volpe and Lucio Colletti, with whom Tronti was very close. This reciprocal indifference is all the more striking since Tronti and Althusser had similar shared objectives: it was a matter, for one as for the other, of overcoming the theoretical and political impasses of the Communist movement by decoupling Marxism from any evolutionary philosophy of history, and recasting theory as an analysis of the current situation, an intervention in the present conjuncture. Moreover, their status as members of the Italian and French Communist Parties had a determinate meaning. As Perry Anderson emphasizes in his Considerations on Western Marxism, France and Italy occupied a singular place in the political geography of the postwar period: at the same moment when the communist perspective ceased to exist as a political orientation in West Germany and Marxism became a state ideology in Eastern and Central Europe, the mass Communist parties in France and Italy became hegemonic among the working classes. 18

The non-encounter between the Althusserian rereading of Marx and Quaderni Rossi’s version of workerism cannot be explained solely through the linkages between workerism and the Western Marxists of the 1920s (Lukács, Korsch), whom Althusser had dismissed completely. The real obstacle was the contrast between two very different ways of articulating the relation between political practice and the position of intellectuals. The Althusserian approach aimed to indirectly pressure the PCF, rendered possible through a transformation of the intellectual coordinates upon which the unity of the official vision of Marx and the party line was founded. From this came the choice to claim the autonomy of theory against the directing instances of the Party, and allowed for territorial grounding of the Althusserian group within the École normale supérieure. For Tronti, on the other hand, it was a matter of forcing the PCI’s line to start with the workers’ struggles that the party had neglected or repressed, as theory could only improve itself through direct participation in the action of the “class.” The gap between these two approaches is a result of several circumstances: first, the weak degree of institutionalization among Italian intellectuals, which prevented the effects Althusser could rely upon — to influence the Party from the space of freedom (and authority) that the ENS provided. However, the decisive factor was the difference between the PCI and the PCF concerning the position of intellectuals. The PCF wanted to be a “collective intellectual,” the bearer of an official philosophy and interpretation of Marx inseparable from its political line: from whence came the terrorism towards intellectuals but also the possibility (to believe to be able) to transform the party by acting upon its theoretical legitimation. Against this, the PCI gave its adherents great intellectual freedom on the condition that they did not question the direction and authority of its political leadership. It followed that the only possibility of influencing the PCI was to oppose it through a directly political intervention capable of modifying its line. This is why Tronti will choose — in contrast to Althusser — to be close to groups outside of the PCI, but who recognized the political potential of the new cycle of worker antagonism: it is by locating a concrete political alternative that theory could be regenerated, while for Althusser the concern was to safeguard the autonomous space for theory to indirectly act upon politics. One can see that this gap between two political strategies also entails major differences in the final structure of the theoretical dispositives [dispositifs] of Althusser and Tronti.

Let’s examine their positions at the time of their initial and decisive theoretical breakthroughs, particularly in regards to the link between theory and practice. The points that separate workerism and Althusserianism in the end rest on the status of theory and its relation to politics: Althusser approaches the problem of the relation between theory and praxis on the philosophical — that is to say, epistemological — terrain, whereas Tronti’s reflections are located from the beginning on the terrain of class struggle. While for Tronti the distance between theory and practice tended to annul itself in the “viewpoint” of the class that combined acting and knowing, for Althusser the autonomy of theory is founded on the irreducible gap between knowledge and reality. Tronti pushes the principle of the identity between thought and the action of a class to the point of affirming that the recourse to “words” is only legitimate when the working class loses the freedom of “choosing the means” of its struggle against the “enemy society.” 19 According to this agonistic conception of theory underlying the assertion that “weapons, which have been used in proletarian revolts, are always taken for the bosses’ arsenal,” the primacy of “workers’ science” over “bourgeois science” does not disclose an epistemological horizon. This primacy discloses the creativity of workers’ thought, symmetrical to the decadence of bourgeois culture, and has a completely political relevance: “The one who wins takes the initiative.” 20 Theory is embedded within struggles, and the distinction between theory and praxis is wholly internal to praxis. The level of struggles determines the possibility of theory and its relation to practice, meaning that the “theoretical renewal from the workers’ viewpoint” is imposed by the “necessities of struggle.” 21 But this is, however, a distinction between theory and praxis that allows for theory to be dissolved within the concrete act — a distinction that in reality ends up affirming the indistinction of the two moments. The distinction between theory and praxis is conceived as a succession corresponding to the different phases of struggle, and it is the temporal rhythm of this struggle that renders this differentiation operative. Theory is assigned a role of strategic anticipation:

To anticipate means to think, to see many things in one, to see them in development, viewing everything, with theoretical eyes, from the viewpoint of one’s own class… Thus broad strategic anticipations of capitalist development are certainly necessary, but necessary as concepts-limits within which the tendencies of the objective moment are established. The meaning of struggle and organization, in certain moments, is exactly to predict the objective path of capital, and its necessities within that path; it is to refuse to it the fulfillment of these necessities, which blocks its development and precisely in this puts it into crisis before, sometimes much before, it has reached the ideal conditions that we ourselves had thought of. 22

And, inversely, action is assigned a role subordinate to the immediate present:

To follow means to act, to move to the real level of social relations, to gauge the material state of the present forces, seizing the moment, here and now, to grasp the initiative of the struggle.

This purely instrumental conception of the theory-praxis distinction is quite clear in the final condemnation of the very act of writing:

A book today can contain something true on only one condition: if it is written entirely with the awareness of performing a wicked act [una cattiva azione]. If to act one must write, then at the level of struggle we are far behind. 23

By then, all theoretical elaboration is seen as destined to disappear because of the progression of working-class struggles, theory only aims to “read directly into things without the wretched mediation of books, not until we become capable of moving matters (spostare i fatti) with violence, without the spinelessness of the contemplative intellectual.24 The tension between theory as anticipation and strategy on the one hand, and praxis as tactics oriented towards the present on the other, is viewed as liable of being surpassed in a future moment in which intellectual work itself will cease to exist, its only source being a very determinant phase of the struggle.

The differences between the first Althusser and the first version of workerism indeed concern the role as much as the form of theory. Thus, Tronti can write:

Up to this point we have had in our hands the fabric of the classics, and on it we have made some embroideries. From now on a new fabric must be woven, cut, and inserted into the new horizons of the workers’ struggle of today. 25

This indication can be compared to how Althusser envisions theoretical work as a matter of “reading Capital.” We have, on the one hand, Tronti’s book, Workers and Capital, a collection of articles — each taking a concrete political problem as a point of departure — which aims to accelerate the process leading to the reading of the things themselves: while, on the other hand, in Reading Capital Althusser assembles the results of a seminar conducted at the ENS, with the aim of making prominently, chiefly through the philosophical reading of a text, an implicit philosophy conceived as an epistemology, in the broad sense of a theory of knowledge. Tronti’s goal consists in producing a direct reading of things themselves, while the Althusserian enterprise remains the philosophical reading of a text. And, if it is for Tronti a matter of weaving a new fabric [trame], Althusser limits himself to making an embroidery upon the same fabric, like an embroiderer who works with borrowed fabrics, and aims to let a fabric emerge that is indeed already traced but not yet fully visible.

However, there is a point where the respective positions of Tronti and Althusser seem to converge we have alluded to the primacy of class struggle over the existence of classes. But here as well, one can discern a crucial point of divergence, beginning with a misunderstanding of the place that Althusser assigns to the class struggle. It is against economism – in order to show the political aspect of the economic – that the two communist philosophers assert that the struggle between classes precedes their existence. Tronti, as much as Althusser, thus tries to put into question the secondary character of the class struggle, against a whole tradition that tried to make it the simple expression of a deeper contradiction between the relations of production and the productive forces. Yet, the anti-economistic affirmation of the primacy of struggle can morph into a metaphysical affirmation of an originary antagonism as an internal principle of the socio-historical totality. The decisive divergence between Althusser and Tronti lies in the status accorded to antagonism: far from being a philosophical category, in Althusser class struggle discloses rather a domain of science, for which there is no essential principle of the social formation as “the whole structured in dominance.” 26 For Tronti, antagonism seems to be elevated to the position of a fundamental axiom, while also functioning as an essence or principle of history.

Of course, these are still open questions. They indicate that the correspondence between the autonomy of politics in Tronti’s work and the autonomy of theory in Althusser’s work are worth investigation, as has recently been shown. It is a question of two positions that are in reality asymmetrical. 27 If the two autonomies can be thought of as symmetrical, this is due to a misunderstanding that leads to a reading of the theory/praxis distinction as a separation between the order of knowledge and the order of the real. For Althusser, theoretical practice indeed carries an irreducible specificity that confers upon itself a certain degree of autonomy, but even so it cannot be opposed to praxis, since it is exactly that, a practice. On the other side, in Workers and Capital the autonomy of politics is tied to a distinction between theory and praxis that makes theory the instrument or simple expression of praxis; the final unity between thought and action pertains specifically to this distinction, which makes praxis posit theory as a particular moment of its autonomous development. As a result, while the autonomy of theory in Reading Capital supposes the immanence of the criteria for validity, in Workers and Capital the autonomy of politics implies that politics makes use of theory, and that action exercises an immediate effect on the totality of socio-historical determinations.

It is possible, then, to discern certain philosophical points that justify discussing a “missed encounter” between the first Althusser and the original workerism. However, because of the different composition of the ideological contexts from which Tronti and Althusser elaborated their categories, specific critical targets that they seem to share – including economism, humanism, and historicism – do not refer to the same object nor the same problematic. One one side, the Italian debate leads Althusser onto a terrain that is not the one from which his theses emerged – and contributed to the reformulation, even rejection, of positions qualified by theorists, and prepared, on the basis of certain misunderstandings and misinterpretations, the favorable terrain for the encounter with workerism through Negri. 28 And as we just saw apropos the class struggle, although they seem to be points in common, in reality anti-economism, antihumanism, and anti-historicism remain profoundly ambiguous references. The humanism that Althusser opposes had nothing to do with the Renaissance philosophy with which the Italian philosophers associated the term “humanism,” but was intimately linked to a certain form of Marxism “à la française,” one described as “modern rationalism.” This was the fruit of a singular operation, a grafting of the rationalist tradition of the Enlightenment onto an anthropological problematic drawn from a reading of the work of the Young Marx. 29 In this sense, this humanism has very little in common with the humanism evoked in Italy. In France, Marxism as “modern rationalism” had a tendency to reduce nature to history by insisting on the eternity and universality of laws within a fundamentally static conception of dialectical materialism. In Italy, conversely, Marxism as a “philosophy of praxis” also tended to reduce nature to history, toward an absolute historicism of praxis. 30 What Tronti therefore sought to reject in Marxism was not its identity with modern rationalism as proclaimed by the PCF; his starting-point was rather the critique of a certain democratic and “national-popular” reading of Gramsci, from whom he had recovered the idea of an ontological identity between concrete human activity (history-spirit) and historicized nature, transformed by man in the “concrete historical act.” 31

In conclusion: a confrontation between the different traditions to which Tronti and Althusser to some extent remain confined – although both also try to produce definitive critiques of these traditions – would help in returning to Althusser’s so-called “theoreticism,” by taking into account the effects of his “underdetermined reception” on subsequent critiques and self-criticisms. 32 So many years after the publication of Reading Capital and Workers and Capital, both Althusser and workerism will take paths different from those declared in the 1960s: the former through his abandonment of his initial epistemological approach, the latter through the developments led by Negri. And it is indeed on this terrain – a terrain whose complexity is to be reconstructed, as determined by a play of appropriations and misappropriations [dont il s’agit de reconstruire la complexité déterminée par un jeu d’appropriations et de méconnaissances] – that the posthumous encounter between Negri and Althusser became possible. In this way, the genesis of the real encounter can provide the key to the understanding of the missed encounter, and vice versa.

– Translated by Patrick King

Originally published in Période.

This article is part of a dossier entitled “A Struggle Without End”: Althusser’s Interventions.

References   [ + ]

1. This text develops the interventions from the one-day conference, “Althusser e l’operaismo : un incontro mancato?,” organized by the Association “Louis Althusser,”and the Groupe de Recherches Matérialistes and held on April 9th, 2014 in Venice. It retains for the most part the programmatic structure of an oral presentation.
2. See, for example, what Étienne Balibar recommends in his The Philosophy of Marx, trans. Chris Turner (London: Verso, 1993).
3. This is what Maria Turchetto called for almost ten years ago: “that a Marx-Renaissance be combined with an Althusser-Renaissance: all returns to Marx presuppose passing through Althusserian reading. “I ‘due Marx’ e l’althusserismo,” in Da Marx a Marx? Un bilancio dei marxismi italiani del Novecento, ed. Riccardo Bellefiore (Rome, Manifestolibri, 2007), 108.
4. After a first invitation in 1973 that remained purely “formal,” according to Negri’s account. One of Negri’s most famous texts, Marx Beyond Marx, indeed stems from this seminar that came out of the invitation in 1977. It is interesting to note 1977 was the same year that the French translation of Tronti’s book appeared (Ouvriers et Capital), translated by Yann Moulier Boutang. Boutang’s position represents another late Althusser-workerism connection; throughout the 1990s he was one of the editors of the journal Futur antérieur, as well as a biographer of Althusser and the editor of several of his posthumous works.
5. See Negri’s review essay of Althusser on Machiavelii, “Machiavel selon Althusser,” Futur Antérieur (April 1997).
6. Tronti himself only cites Althusser once, and it is only in reference to Machiavelli. Mario Tronti, Noi operaisiti (Rome: DeriveApprodi, 2009); see the edited extract, “Our Operaismo,” trans. Eleanor Chiari, New Left Review, II/73 (January-February 2012), 119-139.
7. Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt, Commonwealth (Cambridge: Harvard UP, 2010), 23-24; also Antonio Negri, Alle origini del biopolitico, in Il comune in rivolta. Sul potere costituente delle lotte, Vérone, OmbreCorte, 2012, 81ff.
8. Cf. Antonio Negri, “Some Notes on the Evolution of the Late Althusser,” trans. Olga Vasile, in Postmodern Materialism and the Future of Marxist Theory: Essays in the Marxist Tradition, ed. Antonio Callari and David F. Ruccio (Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press), 51-68.
9. Antonio Negri, Fabbriche del soggetto, Carrara, 1987, 75.
10. Hardt and Negri, Commonwealth, 23.
11. Ibid., 24.
12. This is also the theoretical project of the Euronomade research collective, heir to Uninomade. See, for example, the importance placed on the Althusserian legacy in Comune, comunismo, comunità: Teorie e pratiche dentro e oltre la crisi, ed. Anna Curcio (Vérone: OmbreCorte), 2011.
13. Cf. Negri, “Notes on the Evolution of the Late Althusser.”
14. Cristian Lo Iacono’s recent study shows the influence that the Italian reception had on the development of Althusser’s thought, and shows in detail how his self-criticisms were reactions to received critiques.
15. See Maria Turchetto, Per la critica di un’autocritica, in La cognizione della crisi. Saggi sul marxismo di Louis Althusser, ed. Maria Giacometti (Milan, Franco Angeli), 1986.
16. On Italian neo-idealism, see André Tosel, Marx en Italiques: Aux origines de la philosophie italienne contemporaine (Toulouse: TER, 1991). Some critics have attributed a neo-idealist orientation to Tronti, concerning the primacy of subjective primacy of the concrete action of a mythologized class. On this topic, see Raffaele Sbardella, “Le maschere della politica: gentilismo e tradizione idealistica negli scritti di Mario Tronti,” Unità proletaria, nos. 1-2, 1982. Balibar sees in Negri’s work the presence of “very profound traces of philosophical actualism (Gentile)”, constituting one of his “important cultural references.” Étienne Balibar, “Les Questions du Communisme”, 2012, an edited and expanded French version of his presentation, “Communism as Commitment, Imagination, and Politics”, at the “Communism: A New Beginning?” conference held in New York in October 2011 and found in The Idea of Communism Volume Two, ed. Slavoj Žižek (London: Verso, 2013), 13-37.
17. This is well-documented by Lo Iacono, op. cit.
18. Perry Anderson, Considerations on Western Marxism (London: New Left Books, 1976), 20, 28, 35, 41.
19. Mario Tronti, Operai e capitale (Rome: DepriveApprodi, 2006), 14. Translator’s note: the authors cite the French translation of Tronti’s text, Ouvriers et Capital (Paris: Bourgois, 1977), translated by Yann Moulier Boutang. Because the section they are referencing is one of the portions of Tronti’s book that has unfortunately not yet been translated into English, we have closely followed the Italian original, and cite it in subsequent notes. Many thanks to Asad Haider and Andrew Anastasi for their invaluable input.
20. Ibid., 8.
21. Ibid.
22. Ibid., 13.
23. Ibid., 14.
24. Ibid., 19.
25. Ibid., 14.
26. From an Althusserian perspective, Maria Turchetto has insisted on the pertinence of the category of “class struggle” to the “science of capitalist society.” Per la critica di un’autocritica, 204.
27. See Sara Farris “Althusser and Tronti: the Primacy of Politics Versus the Autonomy of the Political”, in Encountering Althusser: Politics and Materialism in Contemporary Radical Thought, ed. Katja Diefenbach, Sara Farris, Gal Kirn, and Peter D. Thomas (New York, Bloomsbury, 2013), 185-204.
28. As seen, for instance, in Lo Iaocano’s study.
29. I have tried to reconstruct this process of integrating Marxism with the materialist rationalism of the Enlightenment in my doctoral thesis: Fabrizio Carlino, Science et idéologie « À la lumière du marxisme ». La contribution du Cercle de la Russie neuve dans le procès d’élaboration et activation du matérialisme dialectique en France, 2014.
30. On this subject see the two articles by the young Tronti: Alcune questioni intorno al marxismo di Gramsci, in Studi gramsciani, Rome, Editori riuniti, 1958, 304; “Tra materialismo dialettico e filosofia della prassi. Gramsci e Labriola”, in La Città futura: Saggi sulla figura e il pensiero di A. Gramsci, ed. Alberto Caracciolo and Gianni Scalia (Milan, Feltrinelli, 1959), 156-157. Also, Tosel, Marx en Italiques, 119.
31. And this new monism would indicate the importance of the Gramscian concept of a “historical bloc.” Tronti, Alcune questioni intorno al marxismo di Gramsci, 315.
32. I borrow this expression from Lo Iaocono.

Authors of the article

is a professor of Philosophy and researcher at the University of Liège. He is a member of the Groupe de Recherches Matérialistes (GRM) and the Association « Louis Althusser ». He is the author of Le sujet et l'étude. Idéologie et savoir dans le discours maoiste (2010) and Enquête ouvrière et théorie critique. Enjeux et figure de la centralité ouvrière dans l'Italie des années 1960 (2013).

holds a doctorate in Philosophy (University of Paris IV – Sorbonne/ Università del Salento). He is a member of the Groupe de recherches matérialistes and is on the editorial board of the Cahiers du GRM. His research interests include the thought of Louis Althusser, French Marxism of the 1930s, and the wider constellation of Italian workerism and post-workerism.