For Theory is an invitation to review the impact of neoliberalization on critical thinking and a call to recover the momentum of theoretical production capable of sustaining better analyses of the conjuncture for an emancipatory strategy. Relying on the tradition of Althusserian studies, the book discusses the political, technocratic, neo-anarchist and reformist drifts of Latin American leftist thought and thus raises the need to advance in a materialistic and pluralistic conceptualization of historical time and to develop the category of overdetermination. It does so by focusing on the theory of reproduction and in a complex consideration of the concept of class struggle, in order to dispute the future with the dominant ideology that imposes a regime of presentist temporality, discouraging any emancipatory imagination of the future.
Natalia Romé is professor and researcher at the Gino Germani Research Institute, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Buenos Aires, where she coordinates the Program of Critical Studies in Ideology, Technics and Politics.
Foreword by Warren MontagIntroduction. Facing theoretical defeatPART IChapter I. Against Reformism and Politicism. Towards a Materialism of the Imaginary Chapter II. Against Denouncing of Alienation. Towards a De-Centred theory of History and PoliticsChapter III. Against Neo-anarchism (the flipside of technocratism). Feminism in its ConjuncturePART IIChapter IV. No Theoretical Thinking Without Political Thought. Chapter V. Political Desire of the TrueBibliographyIndex
In a famous declaration, Althusser called Marxism a “finite” theory, suggesting that it should recreate itself crossing its own limits. Reading Romé’s fascinating contextualization and extrapolation of his work, we discover an Althusser who was always already writing beyond his limits: hence for us in our present, but above all for theory, as a pure desire of the true.
Natalia Romé is one of the most ardent readers and theorists of Althusserian orientation. For Theory is not just yet another book on Althusser; it is the book on the very complicated thought of Althusser. In the recent revival of interest in the work of Althusser, it seems like this book had to be written. Going through the most important concepts of his work and situating them within the present, For Theory meets its own inherent ambitions, goals and scope. An indispensable book for anyone interested in Althusserian thinking and all the theoretical and political consequences that derive from it.
Through a passionate and rigorous reading, Natalia Romè returns to Althusser the systematic weave of his conjunctural interventions. In this book the conceptual inventions which marked the Althusserian moment – overdetermination, plural temporality, reproduction, materialistic theory of discourse, transindividual – are transformed into a powerful and complex machine of thought capable at the same time to take a strong position in the contemporary theoretical battlefield and of illuminating a political intervention in our conjuncture.
The ideas of Louis Althusser were among the most fertile for critical reflection in the 1960s and 1970s. They were later banished or silenced in the South-American dictatorships and were intolerable and irrecoverable for the postmodern soft thought of the neoliberal “democracies”. Showing the power of Althusserian categories to think about the moment in which we live, Natalia Romé demonstrates the need for theory against the dominant technocratic ideologies today. She also provides us with powerful concepts and convincing arguments to defend philosophy by reclaiming its political core, to reject new forms of spontaneism, and to conceive the outdated and contradictory aspect of our conjuncture. Romé’s book prevents us from falling into dangerous simplistic views of the present, warns us against new ideological configurations of late capitalism, and could help us to assume the theoretical consequences of our current anti-capitalist, anti-patriarchal, and anti-colonial political practices.
Natalia Romé’s For Theory: Althusser and the Politics of Time asserts the relevance of Althusser’s interventions in Marxism for our present moment, and critiques dead ends in theoretical and political practice. It does an excellent job of relating Althusser’s interventions to more recent developments and current discussions in the political and theoretical left.