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Panagiotis Sotiris

Abstract

In the past few years there has been a renewed interest in the work of Louis Althusser, although, in some cases, this interest has been one-sided, focusing mainly on his later writings on aleatory materialism. The three books reviewed in this article, however, offer balanced and insightful overviews of the totality of Althusser's work, placing it in the wider context of Marxist political and theoretical debates and stressing both its originality and strengths, but also its contradictions.

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Panagiotis Sotiris

Abstract

*This article attempts a Marxist critique of Alain Badiou’s positions. The importance of Badiou’s ontology as an affirmation of the possibility of radical-historical novelty is stressed, but also its limits. These limits have to do with Badiou’s abandonment of a dialectical-relational conception of social reality, his refusal of any causal connection between social reality, political decision and event, and the absence of a theory of ideology and hegemony in his work. Consequently, Badiou’s notion of a ‘subtractive’ politics cannot be considered an answer to the open questions of communist strategy, despite his endorsement of the ‘communist hypothesis’.

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Neither an Instrument nor a Fortress

Poulantzas’s Theory of the State and his Dialogue with Gramsci

Panagiotis Sotiris

Peter Thomas has written an important book that brings forward the full importance of Gramsci’s strategic concepts and the pertinence they have for current theoretical and political debates. Based upon this interpretation of Gramsci, this text attempts a critical reading of the contradictory stance of the Althusserian School towards his work. Using Althusser’s own ambivalence towards Gramsci as a starting-point, the main aim of this article is to reconstruct Poulantzas’s direct and indirect dialogue with Gramsci. Despite Poulantzas’s reservations and criticisms regarding aspects of Gramsci’s work, his theoretical endeavour not only is indebted to Gramsci, but also represents, despite its shortcomings and limits, one of the more original and profound theoretical attempts to come to terms with the theoretical challenges posed by Gramsci’s elaboration on hegemony, hegemonic apparatuses and the ‘integral state’.

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‘Struggle, Not Destiny’

Introduction to Pierre Raymond, ‘Althusser’s Materialism’

Panagiotis Sotiris

On the occasion of the publication of the translation of Pierre Raymond’s text on Althusser’s materialism, we attempt an introduction to his theoretical trajectory. We begin with his conception of the conflict between materialism and idealism in Le passage au matérialisme in 1973 and his thinking on the question of the history of sciences in L’histoire & les sciences (1975), before turning our attention to his elaboration on the question of a history of mathematics and in particular of the emergence of probabilistic reasoning. Then we examine his confrontation with the question of the relation between materialism and dialectics in Matérialisme dialectique et logique. After that, we proceed to his conception of the need to break with any form of teleology and finalism as the starting point for a new conception of causality (La résistible fatalité de l’histoire of 1982), before looking at Dissiper la terreur et les ténèbres of 1992 and his attempt to rethink the question of practical reason. It is in light of the above presentation that we insist on the importance of Raymond’s text on Althusser.

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Panagiotis Sotiris

The relation between structure and conjuncture has been one of the biggest challenges facing social theory and Louis Althusser’s writings provide some of the most important interventions on this subject. Contrary to an image of Althusser first embracing and then abandoning structuralism, Althusser tried from the beginning to articulate the theory of structural causality with an insistence on the singularity of historical conjunctures. Althusser’s theoretical trajectory, despite his shortcomings, still offers a necessary starting point for a materialist conception of the relation between structural and conjunctural determinations that stresses the complex, uneven and overdetermined character of social reality without resorting either to a ‘surface phenomena/deep structures’ dualism or to the empiricism of simply registering singular practices.

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Edited by Panagiotis Sotiris

In 2010 Greece entered a period of extreme austerity measures, but also of intense struggles and protests. Social and political crisis led to tectonic shifts in the political landscape and the rise to power of SYRIZA. However, despite the impressive expression of resistance in the 2015 referendum, the EU-IMF-ECB ‘Troika’ managed to impose the continuation of the same politics of austerity, privatisations, and neoliberal reforms.

This social and political sequence poses important theoretical and analytical questions regarding capitalist crisis, public debt, European integration, political crisis, the new forms of protest and social movements, and the rise of neo-fascist parties. It also brings forward all the open questions regarding radical left-wing strategy today. The contributions in this volume attempt from different perspectives to deal with some of these theoretical and strategic questions using the Greek experience as a case study.

Contributors include: George Economakis, Stavros Mavroudeas, Ioannis Zisimopoulos, Alexios Anastasiadis, Maria Markaki, George Androulakis, Despina Paraskeva-Veloudogianni, Eirini Gaitanou, Alexandros Chrysis, Euclid Tsakalotos, Spyros Sakellaropoulos, Panagiotis Sotiris, Giannis Kouzis, Yiorgos Vassalos, Christos Laskos, Angelos Kontogiannis-Mandros.
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Panagiotis Sotiris

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Panagiotis Sotiris