June 25, 2020:

For all his Althusserian posturing, he looked to 1917 as a universal model, that is, precisely the Platonist idealism of forms Macherey criticizes in A Theory of Literary Production. There will be workers' councils which arise spontaneously, there will be a revolutionary party contesting democratically for leadership, and so on; where struggles or forms of organization lacking correspondence with the model are judged by the model to be illegitimate.

This is typical of each of the various sectarian currents orienting themselves in some way around the Russian experience. As their stencil they point to one or another moment of the evolution of that movement, whether that's the 10th Congress or the NEP or the Stalinist dictatorship. That's their blueprint, and they apply it like a cookie cutter to whatever their contemporary circumstances might be, as though one-size-fits-all were a coherent recipe for intervention.

Althusser's project was specifically to build tools for the activist analysis of and intervention within conjunctures. It's that concrete analysis of a concrete situation which matters. Where every conjuncture is unique, and perhaps patterns can be helpful but reliance on ideal forms is, you know, idealist.

I resent the time these people cost. That one from college in particular. Unaware he encapsulates the many milieux of defeat. Where after decades of retreat what's left is you and your books and your imaginative identification with an era where intervention was possible.

I resent him. "Marx this and materialism that," but when tasked to explain failures of leadership he falls back on gossip.