Who best fills the gap in Marxism where the individual should be: Althusser, Garaudy or Sève?



Jean-Paul Sartre pointed to the ‘gap’ in Marxism where a theory of the individual should be. Three attempts to fill it vied in the context of an intense ideological debate within the Parti Communiste Français (PCF) which still resonates today. On the one hand, Louis Althusser’s denial of individual agency as traditionally understood, structuralist theory which proved difficult to apprehend, let alone apply, in a capitalist world. On the other, Roger Garaudy’s Marxist humanist explanation of personality, most likely unsatisfactory for many Marxists on account of its spiritualistic leanings. Finally, Lucien Sève’s approach: very preliminary, often awkwardly formulated, and diluted over time, but a real alternative to structural Marxism and perhaps, in its final diluted form, not incompatible with a humanist approach after all. If the debate could be settled in his favour, the detailed practical work of applying the theory to psychology and other social sciences should take over with some urgency from here