Proletarianideology is neither the summary of the representations or positive values ofthe workers, nor the body of ‘proletarian’ doctrines. It is a stoppedassembly-line, an authority mocked, a system of division between particularjobs of work abolished, a mass fight-back against ‘scientific’ innovations inexploitation, and it is the ‘bare-foot doctor’ or the entry of the working class into the Chinese university. Masspractices produced by the anti-capitalist struggle whose uniqueness is missedas soon as one tries to set a proletarian philosophy, justice or moralityagainst the philosophy, justice or morality of the bourgeoisie (12).
‘Lessons of May’
Studying the Althusserian theory ofideology demands a return to’68, when the question of the University providedthe best teaching lesson that ever filled those lecture halls. Althusser’s worksurged like Santorum in the wake of the ‘failures’ of ’68. The lack of astructured transition from spontaneous revolt to proper class organization wasdiagnosed as symptomatic of a lack in theoretical adequacy in the understandingof the Marxist paradigm; and Althusser’s scientific theoreticism seemed tosatisfy the desire.
Manyhowever have taken up arms against the revisionist and metaphysicaltendentiousness of Althusser, but more so of his immediate followers. JacquesRanciere very notably attacked the theory, by describing the ways in whichAlthusser’s general theory of Ideology depoliticizes and conceals thefundamental origin of ideology; and in its worst forms supplies the fodder for“the ideological counter-revolution” (10).
In the 1973 afterword to Ranciere’s1969 essay “On the theory of ideology (the politics of Althusser)” he even goesas far as saying that the re-approprations of Althusser’s metaphysics led to “Acreation of neither working class consciousness, nor Marxist theory, but of theStalinist State machine” (12).
The ‘lessons of May’ deduced abinary between ideology and science, and subsequently bourgeois and proletarianideology , that represented the terrain of ideological struggle as posedbetween two homogenous entities, which were in reality quite heterogeneous.
It is a system ofpower relations that is always fragmentary because it defines a certain numberof conquests always provisional because it is not produced by the apparatusesbut by the development of struggle (12).
TheAlthusserian operation of applying class analysis ‘in the last instance’discloses the cunning of capitalist reason as a desubjectified operation of astructure in general, an explicitly inhuman analysis which reduces Marxistcriticism to an empty formalistic exercise defined according to scientificstandards of ‘bourgeois rigor;’ an academic exercise which ultimately voids theclass struggle of its lifeblood.
While Ranciere admits his analysiswas deliberately one-sided, there are many beneficial attributes of Althusser’sinsights into the nature of ideology, but more on that later.