discussion – round two was coming up. Turner had not finished with me yet. Althusser in Johannesburg In July 1974 I left my job as the National Union of South African Students’ (NUSAS) Wages Commission Coordinator, left Bellair, and moved to
Margaret A. Majumdar
Writing in 1966, Roger Garaudy saw Althusser and Sartre occupying the two poles of contemporary French Marxist thought.1 While no-one would deny their fundamental difference in approach, the fact remains that both were participants in the same project – the modernisation of Marxism in the light of theoretical and political problems which had affected its development, with the aim of achieving an autonomous space for the intellectual to engage with Marxist theory and the practice of the working-class struggle. Both were primarily intellectuals; both were capable of intransigence
Towards a Re-statement
Central in clearing the ground around the standing of the concept of 'race' are two positions with which we need to come to terms. The first is what I call 'the science' position and the second 'racial realism'. Neither of the positions is coherent and homogeneous. Neither, also, self-consciously projects itself as a political position in response to the other. In this contribution I attempt to bring these positions into a clearer juxtaposition with a view to developing a statement about the value of 'race' as an analytic concept. in taking this expository route I lay out what 'the science' position is in the first part of the discussion and proceed to engage with 'racial realism' in a second. The premise with which the 'science position' begins, adumbrated above, is the argument that 'race' cannot be empirically demonstrated. It takes its substance from the historical time and place in which it finds itself. In the Althusserian sense its materiality is in the effects of ideology. The second position of racial realism argues that the science position is naïve and fails to understand the materiality of 'race'. The focus of this paper is the second position. It looks at the issues and shortcomings of this position.
‘What can one know about a man, today?’ When Sartre poses this question on the opening page of the first volume of L’Idiot de la famille, he encapsulates a huge project with teasing casualness. He brings together two of the four fundamental questions of philosophy formulated by Kant, ‘What can I know’ and ‘What is the human being’; and whilst the final word, today, indicates that our knowledge of others is bound to our own historical moment, for Sartre understanding others also necessarily entails attempting to under- stand their relation to history.
The nomads traditionally studied by ethnographers have a sense of place and territory, a sense of time and of return. This nomadism is thus different from the metaphorical nomadism of our current mobility; that is, “overmodern” (surmoderne) mobility. The meaning of “over” in the adjective “overmodern” or “supermodern” has to be read in the sense that it has in Freud’s and Althusser’s expression “overdetermination,” where it indicates the profusion of causes in a particular phenomenon that complicates the analysis of its effects. Overmodern mobility expresses itself in the movements of population (migrations, tourism, professional mobility), in immediate general communication and in the traffic of products, images, and information. It corresponds to the paradox of a world where we can, at least in theory, make everything without moving and while moving all the time.
The Adorno Reader, edited by Brian O’Connor. Oxford: Blackwell, 2000. Reviewed by Ben Parker
Writings on Psychoanalysis: Freud and Lacan, by Louis Althusser; edited by Olivier Corpet and François Matheron. Columbia University Press, 1996. Reviewed by Clayton Crockett
On the Pragmatics of Social Interaction: Preliminary Studies in the Theory of Communicative Action, by Jürgen Habermas; translated by Barbara Fultner. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press, 2001. Reviewed by Iain MacKenzie
Senses of Culture: South African Culture Studies, edited by Sarah Nuttall and Cheryl-Ann Michael. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000. Reviewed by Arnold Shepperson
Rethinking Multiculturalism: Cultural Diversity and Political Theory, by Bhikhu Parekh. Basingstoke & London: Macmillan, 2000. Reviewed by Laurence Piper
Heidegger and Derrida on Philosophy and Metaphor: Imperfect Thought, by Guiseppe Stellardi. Humanity Books: New York, 2000. Reviewed by Patrick Lenta
Did Somebody Say Totalitarianism? Five Interventions on the (Mis)use of a Notion, by Slavoj Zizek. New York: Verso, 2001. Reviewed by Kevin A. Morrison
Néstor L. Silva
Literature on petroleum and its toxicities understands both as simultaneously social and ecological. Beginning with scholarship on petroleum and its toxicity that captures that simultaneity and mutual constitution, this review defines petrotoxicity as the socioecological toxicity inherent in petroleum commodification. The term signals that petroleum’s social and ecological toxicities are not merely related, but always/already interdependent and inherent in petroleum commodification. Thinking about petrotoxicity this way frames it as something similar to repressive and ideological apparatuses. Althusserian apparatuses shape subjects and spaces in violent and bureaucratic ways. Generating and resisting petrotoxic apparatuses are consistent themes of literature on petrotoxicity. Thinking with Stuart Hall’s critique of Louis Althusser, this review concludes by highlighting scholarship showing the limits of this popular framing of power, ecology, and intervention vis-à-vis petroleum. Long-term fieldwork in North Dakota’s Bakken region informs this article at various points.
Landscape, the Body, and the History of the Treadmill
Vybarr Cregan Reid
How have exercise, the body, and modes of imprisonment become so imbricated in modern societies? The treadmill started its life as the harshest form of punishment that could be meted out, short of the death penalty. It remained so for two centuries. Today, we pay membership fees equivalent to a household energy bill for the dubious privilege of being permitted to run on them. The treadmill is a high-functioning symbol of our anthropocene life that chooses to engage with self-created realities that knowingly deny our creaturely existence.
This essay aims to bring a number of genres and disciplines into conversation with one another to effect a mode of reflective but insightful cultural analysis. Through this ecological interdependence of genre, (including history, philosophy, literary analysis, sociology, psychogeography, autobiography, and biography) the essay aims to look at the ways in which our condition in modernity conspires against our psychological, physiological, geographical, and personal freedoms. Using Oscar Wilde's experiences of life on the treadmill, some of Hardy's poetry, Simone Weil, Pater, Foucault, Lacan, Sartre, Althusser, and Lukács, the essay draws attention to the ways that inauthenticity and dehumanisation have become the mainstay of life in the modern gym.
Raphael de Kadt
, the philosophical itinerary of dialectical reason from Rousseau to the thinkers of the Frankfurt School and the fundamental philosophical flaws in the writings of Louis Althusser. At the moment of his death by gunshot, he was exactly halfway through
Badiouian Diagnosis, Lacanian Cure, Sartrean Responsibility
with Sartre, his first philosophical master, Badiou makes clear that his initial engagement with Marxism was inflected with existentialism. Before publishing his first book heavily indebted to the teachings of Louis Althusser, who stripped Marxism of