Marx, Althusser and the Question of "Power", In Lieu of a Rejoinder
"Truth lay now1 in the process of cognition itself,, in the long historical development of science . . , without ever reaching, by discovering so-called absolute truth, a point at which it can proceed no further,, where it would have to do no more than to fold its hands and gaze in wonder at the absolute truth which it had attained". (F. Engels, Ludwig Feuerbach and the End of Classical German Philosophy)
The amazing pace at which the world has changed in the last less-than-a-decade, one would expect our theories, our ways of grasping it, to change as well. They may never be able to keep pace with changes in the'real world but'they cannot remain frozen in time and yet qualify for theories. It is a little difficult for me therefore, to fully comprehend the meaning of Aunindyo Chakravarty's "avowedly Althusserian" response (Social Scientist, 280-81, Vol. 24, Nos. 9-10) to my article Marxism and Power. Of course, I must admit that since that paper was written, my own position has undergone a change in some ways and that adds to my difficulty.
That are some general points that I need to clarify straightaway before I go on to some of the issues where I can still respond. It is interesting that in my case as in the case of many of us who have tried to rethink some of the developments of the last decade or so, something peculiar seems to have happened. For some it began with the collapse of socialism, for others it arose out of the imperatives of trying to fight the Stalinist legacy in marxist theory. Yet, it happened nevertheless that while we still retained the substance of our politics intact, that is, continued to stand on the same side of the barricade as before, the philosophical warrant for our positions changed. Our ways of arguing out and justifying our positions changed. Some took recourse to the analytical methods of Anglo-Saxon philosophy to clarify their concepts, some others fell back on the Critical Theory traditions of the Frankfurt School to recover some of the lost emancipatory concerns, while yet others mbved on to occupy what can b^ called the post-marxist terrain, influenced in many ways by post-structuralism or postmodernism. There could be many others. While such movements leave our political positions—our
Social Scientist, Vol. 25, Nos. 3-4, March-April 1997