Althusser on Law’s subject: Revisiting Interpellation and the Jurisprudence of Ideology

  • Syed Zulkifil Haider Shah


This article argues that although the heyday of Marxism is over, the French Marxist philosopher Louis Althusser’s Theory of Ideology (particularly his account of Interpellation) still offers a convincing account of the political subjectivities under the global capitalist order. The article seeks to demonstrate how much of Althusser’s critics (writing in the 1970s and 1980s) misunderstood Althusser’s claims for the most part, and employed a narrow and simplistic view of his works. Such an argument is informed by the more recent literature on Althusser (post 2000s) and builds itself upon an exclusive reading of Althusser’s own texts, primarily his classic essay, Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses. It is argued that Althusser’s conception of the subject rediscovers the context for understanding the ever-eluding question of the self and the other by providing a sophisticated understanding of individual-social dynamics in the state-centric legal discourse, one which captures the paradoxical nature of and the apparent contradictions within the subjects’ selves without reducing them to either delusions or to absolutely free choices of the individuals.


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