Been a bit since I’ve thought about any of this Althusser stuff. I’ve not read near enough of E.P. Thompson. I’ve read more of Althusser, though there’s more I’d like to read (like the Machiavelli book). I’m much more pro-Thompson than Althusser. I find certain uses of Althusser insufferably annoying. Perhaps even pernicious.
From what I remember, the early Althusser stuff somewhat worked against certain notions of causality in Marxism (those uses I called annoying and perhaps even pernicious – I’d like to also add clumsy – use the category of ‘overdetermination’ to effect a sloppy version of this), and this is a big theme in the late work on aleatory materialism. Thompson wrote on this a bit, remarking (somewhere, need to find the quote) that there are no sufficient causes in history. Revisiting Thompson thoroughly, then glancing again at Althusser on aleatory materialism, might be interesting for getting at the functions of causal claims in historical writing and in Marxism – the legitimate and illegitimate uses of these claims, and their correctness (or not).
By the way, look at Mike!
All that and brains too…