Introduction to Louis Althusser, ‘Some Questions Concerning the Crisis of Marxist Theory and of the International Communist Movement’

In: Historical Materialism
Warren Montag Occidental College Los Angeles

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In July 1976, Althusser delivered a lecture in Spain on the topic of the dictatorship of the proletariat. At the moment that many Western European Communist parties sought formally or informally to distance themselves from the dictatorships of both West and East, Althusser proposed to examine the emergence of the concept of the proletarian dictatorship in a specificity. The debates of the mid-seventies, he argued, obscured or repressed the concept’s corollary: the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, a notion that made visible the forms of coercion and control characteristic of ‘bourgeois democracy’. To ignore the latter was to risk squandering the opportunities the conjuncture offered and suffer both political and theoretical regression.

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