Ideology, Subject, and Subjectivity in Marxist Theory: Marx and Althusser

This article examines how Althusser’s structuralist approach transforms the Marxian concept of ideology. Marx distinguishes two functions: the description/distortion ideology and the legitimization/reproduction ideology. But his proposed articulation does not succeed because it keeps a phenomenological anthropology of the “living individual” in the background. By making the “subject” the product of the ideology through the mechanism of “interpellation,” Althusser suggests a deconstruction of the Marxian approach of the “constituent subject” and a general theory of the “constituted subject” as its substitute, which is more in keeping with the science of history which Marx inaugurated. It remains to be seen whether the “subject” exhausts all the dimensions of the “subjectivity,” that is to say, whether the “structuralist” approach can do without the “phenomenological” approach of Marx or not.