One of the ideas floated at yesterday’s Theory, Culture and Society board meeting was a theme issue on what might be called ‘the new Althusser’. Since his death, many previously unpublished writings have been published in France, with English translations following. These include The Spectre of Hegel, The Humanist Controversy, and Philosophy of the Encounter. In an issue of the journal Borderlands in 2005 there was a theme section entitled ‘Althusser and Us‘ (open access), where the suggestion is made that this could have been entitled ‘the New Althusser’. Adam Holden and I had a piece in there on Althusser and Foucault’s readings of Machiavelli.
With the forthcoming translation of On the Reproduction of Capitalism from Verso, perhaps there is another opportunity to take stock of Althusser’s thought and legacy. The group around him in the 1960s – Balibar, Macherey, Rancière and, to a more marginal extent, Badiou, have become major figures in their own right. In the light of Warren Montag’s Althusser and His Contemporaries, other new research directions open up. Althusser’s posthumous writings have opened up a range of different or developed perspectives – the material on the tradition of political thought, aleatory materialism, his relation to humanism, and his analysis of the state, among others.
I’m going to get in touch with a few people directly, but any thoughts on the idea, possible contributors or questions would be most welcome. In particular, I’d appreciate suggestions for any pieces by Althusser that have not been translated elsewhere. I’ll be looking through the two volumes of Ecrits philosophiques et politiques, but someone out there might already have some good suggestions.