Althusser’s work remains an important milestone on the way to a theory of the subject which does justice both to marxist theories of social structure and Freudian ideas of subjects as something more than ‘ensembles of social relations’. But the Althusserian project raises various difficulties. By universalizing the category of the ideological (‘ideology has no outside’) and separating it from the critical category of ‘false consciouness’, Althusser seems to leave no space for the political and scientific enterprises of ideology critique. How can ideology be criticized politically if there is no way to get outside it; how can it be criticized scientifically if it is true? In this article I shall use Lacan’s theory of the subject to resolve some of these difficulties.
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