In the context of the recent economic crisis, scholars have once again felt compelled to revisit the work of Louis Althusser, to reconsider some of his seminal insights, if only to repeat earlier criticisms. Regretfully, however, they remain unable to come to terms with the crucial Althusserian notion of ideological unconsciousness, which they insist on viewing through the prism of the libidinal (Lacanian) unconscious. Perforce, the latter concept, and its associated categories, has then proceeded insidiously to corrode Marxism’s indigenous equivalents from within. The present article traces the history of the ideological unconscious from its beginnings in Marx, through Althusser, to its explicit reformulation, in the work of the Spaniard, Juan Carlos Rodríguez, as an ideological unconscious, understood as the matrix effect of the social formation.
AlthusserLouis1990bPhilosophy and the Spontaneous Philosophy of the Scientists and Other Essays edited by GregoryElliott translated by BenBrewsterJames H.KavanaghThomas E.LewisGrahameLock and WarrenMontagLondon: Verso.