Skip navigation

Tag Archives: Encountering Althusser




Now Available

Encountering Althusser: Politics and Materialism in Contemporary Radical Thought



Katja Diefenbach, Sara R. Farris, Gal Kirn and Peter D. Thomas

384 pp.

ISBN 978-1-4411-5213-8

£18.74 paperback

Publication date: January 2013

Encountering Althusser

Encountering Althusser


For ordering: 25% discount in December at: Bloomsbury:

See also:


Short description

French philosopher Louis Pierre Althusser (1918 -1990) helped define the politico-theoretical conjuncture of pre- and post-1968. Today, there is a recrudescence of interest in his thought, especially in light of his later work, published in English as Philosophy of the Encounter (Verso, 2006). This has led to renewed debates on the reformulation of conflicting notions of materialism, on the event as both philosophical concept and political construction, and on the nature of politics and the political.

Encountering Althusser was edited by Sara Farris, Katja Diefenbach, Gal Kirn and Peter Thomas. It is a collection of diverse and original essays written by leading scholars that aims to provide a new assessment of Althusser’s thought, especially in relation to contemporary debates. Organized in four sections that represent the main currents in Althusser’s scholarship, the book discusses materialism and the different formulations of the relationship between politics and philosophy, Althusser’s interpretations of political thinkers (including Machiavelli, Deleuze, Lacan and Gramsci), the resources he provides to critique political economy and politics in post-Marxist thought, and the theorization of ideology and politics.

Encountering Althusser is a groundbreaking resource that highlights Althusser’s continuing relevance to contemporary radical thought.



Michele Cangiani, Katja Diefenbach, Sara R. Farris, Isabelle Garo, Pascale Gillot, G.M. Goshgarian, Giorgos Fourtounis, Gal Kirn, Katja Kolšek, Mikko Lahtinen, Rastko Močnik, Warren Montag, Vittorio Morfino, Ceren Özselçuk, Rastko Močnik, Ozren Pupovac, Peter D. Thomas, André Tosel, Panagiotis Sotiris, Caroline Williams, Frieder Otto Wolf.



“A rich and profound overview of Althusser’s thought, absolutely precious for a contemporary reconstruction of Marxism and for a relaunching of its analytical and political potentials.” — Maria Turchetto, President of the Cultural Association Louis Althusser

“The first time I encountered ‘aleatory’ Althusser, I almost could not believe it … How could ‘Science’ engage with the ‘postmodern’, with the radical change in the conditions of the revolution, without falling into renegacy? Here it is: the aleatory served precisely this purpose: a new tactic for an old strategy. Althusser showed us a new path, which is now being taken up again by a new generation” — Antonio Negri, co-author of Empire (2000), Multitude (2004) and Commonwealth (2009)

“Is Althusser coming back, like a ghost out of oblivion, bringing with him one of the last attempts to ‘reconstruct’ Marxism from the inside with great style? Yes, but it’s an unexpected Althusser, one who bears the entire ‘underground history’ of materialism in philosophy and opens the way for a new political thought. Under the guidance of a new generation of critical leaders, let us be surprised.” — Étienne Balibar, co-author of Reading Capital (1970)

“The present volume, thoughtfully edited, gathering a large and diverse group of remarkable international scholars and tackling a sweeping range of Althusserian problems with intellectual courage and acuity, presents the most serious collective effort so far in this ‘return to Althusser’, a return which can never be just a return but requires a reinvention. I feel confident it will set a landmark.” — Mladen Dolar, author of A Voice and Nothing More (2006)

“This book offers a welcome return to the creative theoretical practice of Louis Althusser to whom so much contemporary radical thinking owes a largely unacknowledged debt.” — Katherine Gibson, co-author of A Postcapitalist Politics (2006)


First published at




‘Human Herbs’ – a new remix and new video by Cold Hands & Quarter Moon:

‘The Lamb’ by William Blake – set to music by Victor Rikowski:


Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

The Flow of Ideas:


Glenn Rikowski on Facebook at:

Online Publications at:


Louis Althusser

Louis Althusser



International Conference

9th – 11th October 2009

Jan Van Eyck Academie

Academieplein 1 Maastricht

The Netherlands

The work of Louis Althusser and his associates constituted an important attempt to rethink the political and philosophical potential of Marx’s thought, in tension with its ‘orthodox’ reading in Stalinism. In his work in the 1960s and 1970s, Althusser proposed to negate the metaphysical categories of subject, substance, telos, and end. He further explored these themes in the late 1970s and 1980s in terms of the event, the encounter and contingency. The late Althusser’s “materialism of the encounter” both provides many points of contact for a productive dialogue with thinkers associated with post-structuralism, while at the same time seeming to maintain a stronger connection to the Marxist tradition, particularly in terms of his continuing affirmation of the dictatorship of the proletariat. One of the purposes of this conference will be to attempt to gain an overview of the development of Althusser’s thought and to pose the question of its legacy for contemporary debates in radical political thought.

It is not only the legacy of Louis Althusser that will be of our interest here, however, but rather how to encounter and deal with the more unrecognised or suppressed points in his thought that remain enigmatic, and at the same time productive for further research in politics, economy, philosophy (and ideology). Many contemporary discussions ranging from Badiou and Zizek to Balibar, Laclau and Butler revolve around some topics that were traced or started by Louis Althusser, mainly on ideology, linking Althusser to Lacan or politics. In this conference, we would like to focus on some points that have not yet been discussed or have not yet been given the attention they deserve.

In the Althusserian spirit of philosophy working by attacking established positions on an occupied Kampfplatz, we outline four different fields of investigation to which panels will be dedicated: ruptures in philosophy, politics, political economy and politics and philosophy in the late Althusser. In each field, we intend to subject established interpretations of Althusser’s thought to critique and to attempt to determine productive areas for future research. Beyond such scholarly and philological debates, however, our guiding concern will be to pose the question of the extent to which an encounter with Althusser today has the potential to promote critical energies and perspectives that are capable of intervening effectively in the contemporary conjuncture.


* Ruptures in Philosophy: Dis/continuities in Althusser’s Thought

* The Primacy of Politics: Singularity, Dictatorship of Proletariat, Class Struggle

* The Critique of Political Economy and the Legacy of Althusser

* Politics and Philosophy in the Late Althusser: The Philosophy of the Encounter and Aleatory Materialism


Giorgos Fourtounis, Geoffrey Goshgarian, Slobodan Karamanic, Katja Kolsek, Marko Krzan, Mikko Lahtinen, Rasto Mocnik, Vittorio Morfino, Ozren Pupovac, Jason Read, Panagiotis Sotiris, Maria Turchetto, Caroline Williams, Frieder Otto Wolf


Katja Diefenbach, Gal Kirn, Peter Thomas


For further details, see:

Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

The Flow of Ideas: