The Verso blog has a fascinating and slightly amusing archival interview with Louis Althusser, conducted by an Italian TV reporter in 1980. While discussing the perpetual crisis of capitalism and the historical division between communism and anarchism (Althusser labels himself a "social anarchist), the stodgy philosopher become mildly annoyed by the journalist's less-than-rigorous questions. At one point Althusser responds, "Can we go to the beach? It is a beautiful day." Here's an excerpt from the interview:
Althusser: There are islands of communism everywhere across the world, for example: the church, certain trade unions, also in certain cells/units of the Communist Party. At my Communist Party we have a cell/unit which is communist; it means that communism has been realized… Look at how football is played, what happens… It is not about market relationships, it is not about political domination, it is not about ideological intimidation. There are people from [different] teams that oppose each other, they respect the rules, that is, they respect each other. Communism is the respect for humankind.
Journalist: What is the difference between respect and love?
Althusser: There is a great difference. Look at the church. When Christ said that you have to love your neighbour, love turns into an order; an order according to which, by including the other, you have to love the neighbour as yourself. But I don’t want any order. Whereas respecting the other is something that belongs to you. If you say that you have to love others, the other becomes involved in your love, he cannot escape. And if he doesn’t care about (for) your love, what can he do. What do you do if you insist: "I have to love you, I have to love you because Christ asked me to"? You run away. But if you have respect for the other, then he will leave you to do whatever you want. If he wants you to love him, then it’s fine. But if he doesn’t, it’s also fine. If you love him, you try to explain to the other that you love him, but if you don’t love him do whatever you like.
Journalist: Lenin said that between anarchists and Marxists there were nine-tenths of identity and only one-tenth of difference; that communists wanted the extinction of the state and anarchists wanted its immediate abolishment. Do you agree?
Althusser: Yes, I agree. I am an anarchist, a social anarchist. I am not a communist, because social anarchism is beyond communism.
Journalist: Why has it broken down, this cultural unification between anarchism and communism?
Althusser: This is very dramatic history. You know that in the relationship of Marx and Bakunin there was the story of the prepotent traits of Marx’s personality. It is a terrible story, just terrible. I want to say that Marx has treated anarchists in an impossible way, unjustly. This has resulted to a resentment of the masses that you cannot absorb as such from one day to another. These are things that last, just like when you have been badly treated by the other, you would need to be Christ in order to speak to him again; you cannot forgive, nor can you forgive for others. How can you violate people like this and have no respect for them, like Marx did to Bakunin?3 Bakunin was a little crazy, but this doesn’t mean anything. We have many crazy people everywhere; I am also crazy.
Image of Louis Althusser via LA Review of Books.