Louis Althusser

was the author of Reading Capital and For Marx.

The Crisis of Marxism (1977)

The Crisis of Marxism (1977)

It is in this pro­found­ly polit­i­cal sense that we are forced today, it seems to me, to speak of a the­o­ret­i­cal cri­sis with­in Marx­ism, in order to clar­i­fy the ways in which it affects what is called Marx­ist the­o­ry itself: and in par­tic­u­lar the fact that a num­ber of appar­ent­ly infal­li­ble prin­ci­ples inher­it­ed from the Sec­ond and Third Inter­na­tion­als have now been placed in doubt.

Marxism as a Finite Theory (1978)

Marxism as a Finite Theory (1978)

I believe that Marx­ist the­o­ry is “finite,” lim­it­ed: that it is lim­it­ed to the analy­sis of the cap­i­tal­ist mode of pro­duc­tion, and of its con­tra­dic­to­ry ten­den­cy, which opens up the pos­si­bil­i­ty of the tran­si­tion to the abo­li­tion of cap­i­tal­ism and its replace­ment by “some­thing else” which already appears implic­it­ly in cap­i­tal­ist soci­ety.

On Marxist Thought

On Marxist Thought

If this recourse to the side of the thought of Marx and Engels is still avail­able to us, unfor­tu­nate­ly the same does not go for the com­mu­nist par­ties. Built on the base of the phi­los­o­phy of the Man­i­festo and Anti-Dühring, these orga­ni­za­tions hold only on bases that are all through and through frauds, and on the pow­er appa­ra­tus that builds itself in the strug­gle and its orga­ni­za­tion. The par­ties, rest­ing on the unions of the labor aris­toc­ra­cy, are the liv­ing dead, who will sub­sist as long as their mate­r­i­al base lasts (the unions hold­ing pow­er in the works coun­cils, the par­ties hold­ing pow­er in the munic­i­pal­i­ties), and as long as they are capa­ble of exploit­ing the ded­i­ca­tion of the class of pro­le­tar­i­ans and abus­ing the con­di­tion of the sub-pro­le­tar­i­ans of sub­con­tract­ing. From now on there is an irrec­on­cil­able con­tra­dic­tion between the strokes of genius in the thought of Marx and Engels and the organ­ic con­ser­vatism due to the par­ties and the unions.