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Reviews 181 book, as he reveals the increasing interdependence between the technologies of warfare and cinema. He ends with a brief mention of the successful destruction in the summer of 1983 of a Sidewinder missile by an American KC-135 plane equipped with a laser system. Then the book's final words: "Scan. Freeze frame." Object perceived, object destroyed. Over and over in Wartime Fussell stresses how frequently things went wrong during the Second World War, to the extent that it became virtually one long confirmation of Murphy's Law, that if something can go wrong, it will. Virilio briefly discussed the increasing sophistication during World War II of ground-based electronic devices which aided Allied bombers in dropping their payloads by day or night and in all kinds of weather, "all with a margin of error of a mere hundred metres." (77) Fussell, on the other hand, cited the frequency with which bombs were dropped long before targeting procedures could be effectively completed simply because of the fear which the omnipresent German flak generated in bomber crews. Thus I imagine Fussell's ending to War and Cinema to be: "Scan. Freeze frame.... Re-take." MICHAEL W. MESSMER Althusser: The Detour of Theory, by Gregory Elliott. London and New York: Verso, 1987. vii + 339 pp. In Althusser: The Detour of Theory, Gregory EUiott pointedly observes that "nowadays, it is as common disdainfully to eschew, as it was once de rigeur uncritically to espouse, the extraordinary re-theorization of Marxism—and Leninism—known by the name of Althusserianism" 0)· He then proceeds to situate Althusserian marxism in a rich historical context and to furnish the most concrete assessment to date of Althusser's career. The understanding of Althusserianism that arises in the course of Elliott's argument is one that simultaneously and ambivalently finds little to uphold in Althusser's work as lasting contributions to marxism, a good deal to admire in subsequent work by researchers influenced by Althusser across a broad range of disciplines, and a few—if largely negative—lessons to apply to revolutionary socialism today. Even as Elliott sets out to accomplish "the resurrection of Althusser's intellectual and poUtical career as history" (7), therefore, he also resolves to view Althusserian marxism as an "unfinished history" (324). This difference between "resurrecting" and "exhuming" Althusserian theory can be appreciated in that the question to which ElUott's book symptomatically provides one answer goes something like this: "what is living, if anything, in the Althusserian tradition?" Althusser published scantily between 1949 and 1959 (seven bibliographical entries), after which he began to pubUsh proUficaUy between 1960 and 1978. A consistent feature of EUiott's contextuaUzation of Althusser's work concerns the imperative to understand "that Althusser intervened on some of the questions raised by 1956 in the light, and under the influence of, the debates and divisions of 1960-63" (16). "1956," of course, refers to the Twentieth Party Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, during which Kruschev deUvered his "Secret Speech" on Stalin, while "1960-63" refers to the aftermath of 1956: namely, the Sino-Soviet split in the international communist movement. For Elliott, this historical positioning explains why Althusser could be regarded in the mid-1960s as an anti-Stalinist by some and a Stalinist by others. Althusser characterized his own marxist project in the '60s as a contribution to a leftward process of de-Stalinization exactly opposed to Kruschev's rightward process of deStalinization . Simultaneously, the Chinese Communist Party began attacking Kruschev by defending StaUn's "greatness" as a "Marxist-Leninist" and claiming that Stalin's "mistakes" could be "overlooked." Resolutely anti-Stalinist in point of fact, Althusser's early writings— especiaUy "Contradiction and Overdetermination" and "On the Materialist Dialectic" in 182 the minnesota review For Marx—indeed owe significant debts to Mao's "On Contradiction." For Marx's "Marxism and Humanism," moreover, implicitly criticizes Kruschev for social democratic tendencies, even as it offers an uncompromising alternative to Stalinist social theory. There can be no wonder that confusion has reigned over the political interpretation of Althusser's early theoretical work. Objectively, this work stands at one and the same time as Maoist-influenced, anti-Kruschev...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2157-4189
Print ISSN
0026-5667
Pages
pp. 181-186
Launched on MUSE
2011-07-06
Open Access
No
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