Althusserian Marxism

The structuralist interpretation of marxism, famous throughout the 1970s, based on the theories of Louis Althusser, is known as Althusserian marxism.
Althusserian Marxism Sociology Definition

Althusserian Marxism Definition

The structuralist interpretation of marxism, famous throughout the 1970s, based on the theories of Louis Althusser, is known as Althusserian marxism. In his article Ideology and the Ideological State Apparatuses from 1970, Louis Althusser coupled marxism with the scientifically focused approaches of structuralism to analyze how the dominant systems impose their power by quietly shaping their followers via ideology.

Althusserian Marxism Explanation

Both economic determinism and humanism are opposed in Althusser’s interpretation of marxism.

According to Althusser, there are three levels or structures in society.

1. At the economic level, all that involves creating something or satisfying a demand

2. The political level, which includes all organizational types

3. The ideological level includes all the perspectives individuals have on who they are and how the world works.

Althusser splits the state into two “apparatuses” because he believes that the state serves political and ideological purposes that assure the continuation of capitalism.

Repressive state apparatuses are armed male bodies, like the police and army, that have the power to put down opposition and uprising.

The media and the educational system are ideological State Apparatuses. However, it is difficult to maintain order in this manner for a lengthy period. Instilling false awareness via psychological manipulation is more successful than using physical force to subjugate people.

The state is seen as a repressive apparatus because it serves as an “engine” for repression that helps the ruling classes to maintain their dominance over the working class. In Althusser’s opinion, this explanation of the state’s nature is still partly descriptive. According to him, this descriptive theory of the state is undoubtedly the theory’s irrevocable foundation, and the descriptive form in which it is given necessitates a theory development that goes beyond the form of “description” precisely as a result of this “contradiction.”

As a result, the state’s descriptive theory of government marks a stage in developing the approach that itself calls for its “supersession.” In Althusser’s view, every descriptive theory faces the danger of “stopping” the theory’s advancement, even if advancement is crucial. Therefore, something must be added to the traditional description of the state as a State Apparatus to grasp better the mechanics by which it operates.

Althusserian Marxism sheds light on a further aspect of the productive forces, namely the reproduction of the labor force. Since it is in the forms and within the structures of ideological subjection that provision is made for the reproduction of labor power’s skills, the repetition of labor power reveals not only the propagation of its skill sets but also the propagation of its subjection to the ideology of the ruling class or of the practice of that ideology.

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