For Marx

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For Marx
For Marx (French edition).jpg
Cover of the first edition
AuthorLouis Althusser
Original titlePour Marx
TranslatorBen Brewster
SubjectKarl Marx
PublisherFrançois Maspero, Allen Lane
Publication date
Published in English
Media typePrint (Hardcover and Paperback)
Pages271 (2005 Verso edition)

For Marx (French: Pour Marx) is a 1965 book by Louis Althusser, a philosopher and leading theoretician of the French Communist Party, in which the author reinterprets the work of Karl Marx, proposing an epistemological break between the young Hegelian Marx, and the old Marx, the author of Capital. The book is considered one of Althusser's chief works,[1] but has been criticized by many scholars, and also by Althusser himself, who later believed he had neglected the class struggle.


Althusser discusses Karl Marx.[2]

Publication history[edit]

For Marx was first published in 1965 by François Maspero. An Italian translation was published in 1967,[3] and an English translation, by Ben Brewster, in 1969.[4]


For Marx made Althusser a sensation in French intellectual circles,[5] and provided one of the most politically important philosophical readings of Capital made during the Marxist revival of the 1960s and 1970s.[6] According to the philologist Sebastiano Timpanaro, Cesare Luporini, despite his largely favorable view of Althusser, commented in the preface to the Italian translation that Althusser's anti-humanism, "manifests itself in a tendency to make man disappear as much as possible from the framework of the so-called human sciences."[7]

The English translation of For Marx helped to shape the development of Marxist thought in the Anglophone world throughout the 1970s.[8] The Marxist theorist Harry Cleaver, who sees its influence as unfortunate, considers it, together with Reading Capital, as an attempt by Althusser and his colleagues to reinterpret Marx with the "aim of revitalizing dialectical materialism as an ideology to mediate the widely discredited political practices of the French Communist Party." He criticizes Althusser's science of history for being ahistorical and abstract.[9] The philosopher Roger Scruton writes that For Marx "reads like a liturgical invocation of the Devil, composed by someone who is lifting uncomprehended phrases from a poor translation of Das Kapital."[10]

Althusser was subsequently critical of For Marx, believing that it largely ignored the class struggle. However, the only revision he considered necessary was to redefine philosophy, from being a "theory of theoretical practice" to being "the class struggle in theory". Althusser thus retained the basic theoretical structure of Pour Marx.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Scruton 1985. pp. 217-218.
  2. ^ Althusser 2005. p. 21.
  3. ^ Timpanaro 1980. p. 68.
  4. ^ Althusser 2005. p. 4.
  5. ^ Levine 1999. p. 23.
  6. ^ Cleaver 2000. p. 47.
  7. ^ Timpanaro 1980. p. 68.
  8. ^ Levine 1999. p. 23.
  9. ^ Cleaver 2000. pp. 47, 49-50.
  10. ^ Scruton 2010. p. 182.
  11. ^ Cleaver 2000. p. 51.