11 2 / 2014
By ANNE BOYER
Althusserianism has always been a Marxism for those who prefer their class struggle as philosophy
Louis Althusser was upset about the cop in your head. Or rather, he was upset that the students on the streets in Paris ’68 told you there was one there to kill, so much so that he wanted their slogan “Kill the Cop in Your Head” damned to what he called “the Museum of the History of Masterpieces of Theoretical and Political Error.” These “anarchists,” he wrote, missed the point: It was not cops, prisons, armies, courts, and other forms of state repression that sustained capitalism. To imagine them as the enemy in your head was a mistake, for according to Althusser, “everyone knows, after all,” that in your head, “one can only have ideas.”
A philosopher might be lousy at fighting a cop on the streets, but no worries—the cop only appears to be what is standing in the way of revolution. It is the you inside you who are the enemy, trained since birth to be so. What the anarchists of ’68 should do, Althusser wrote, was give up their prejudice against the “authority of knowledge” and read Plato. They would then see that society couldn’t run on repression alone. Its real engine was “beautiful lies.” You would be better off to imagine, in place of the cop in your head, yourself in your head. What the you in your head looks like is someone propelled by society’s beautiful lies. Do you recognize yourself as yourself? Say hi. You are an “interpellated subject of ideology.”
09 2 / 2014
I know I’ve told this story before, but my abusive ex refused to let me take birth control. I was on the pill until he found them in my purse.
I went to the Student Health Center—they were completely unhelpful, choosing to lecture me about the importance of safe sex (recommending condoms) instead of actually listening to my problem.
Then I went to Planned Parenthood. The Nurse Practitioner took one look at my fading bruises and stopped the exam. She called in the doctor. The doctor came in and simply asked me: “Are you ready to leave him?” When I denied that I was being abused, she didn’t argue with me. She just asked me what I needed. I said I need a birth control method that my boyfriend couldn’t detect. She recommended a few options and we decided on Depo.
When I told her that my boyfriend read my emails and listened to my phone messages and was known to follow me, she suggested to do the Depo injections at off hours when the clinic was normally closed. She made a note in my chart and instructed the front desk never to leave messages for me—instead, she programmed her personal cell phone number into my phone under the name “Nora”. She told me she would call me to schedule my appointments; she wouldn’t leave a message, but I should call her back when I was able to.
And that was it. No judgment. No lecture. She walked me to the door and told me to call her day or night if I needed anything. That she lived 5 blocks from campus and would come get me. That I wasn’t alone. That she just wanted me to be safe.
I never called her to come to my rescue. But I have no doubt that she would have come if I had called. She kept me on Depo for a year, giving me those monthly injections in secret, helping me prevent a desperately unwanted pregnancy.
I cannot thank Planned Parenthood enough for the work they do."