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Louis Althusser

Louis Pierre Althusser was a French Marxist philosopher. He was born in Algeria and studied at the École normale supérieure in Paris, where he became Professor of Philosophy. Althusser was a longtime member—although sometimes a strong critic—of the French Communist Party, his arguments and theses were set against the threats that he saw attacking the theoretical foundations of Marxism. These included both the influence of empiricism on Marxist theory, humanist and reformist socialist orientations which manifested as divisions in the European communist parties, as well as the problem of the "cult of personality" and of ideology. Althusser is referred to as a Structural Marxist, although his relationship to other schools of French structuralism is not a simple affiliation and he was critical of many aspects of structuralism. Althusser's life was marked by periods of intense mental illness. In 1980, he killed the sociologist Hélène Rytmann, by strangling her, he was declared unfit to stand trial due to insanity and committed to a psychiatric hospital for three years.

He did little further academic work, dying in 1990. Althusser was born in French Algeria in the town of Birmendreïs, near Algiers, to a pied-noir petit-bourgeois family from Alsace, France, his father, Charles-Joseph Althusser, was a lieutenant officer in the French army and a bank clerk, while his mother, Lucienne Marthe Berger, a devout Roman Catholic, worked as a schoolteacher. According to his own memoirs, his Algerian childhood was prosperous. In 1930, his family moved to the French city of Marseille as his father was to be the director of the Compagnie algérienne de banque branch in the city. Althusser spent the rest of his childhood there, excelling in his studies at the Lycée Saint-Charles and joining a scout group. A second displacement occurred in 1936 when Althusser settled in Lyon as a student at the Lycée du Parc, he was accepted by the regarded higher-education establishment École Normale Supérieure in Paris. At the Lycée du Parc, Althusser was influenced by Catholic professors, joined the Catholic youth movement Jeunesse Étudiante Chrétienne, wanted to be a Trappist.

His interest in Catholicism coexisted with his communist ideology, some critics argued that his early Catholic introduction affected the way he interpreted Karl Marx. After a two-year period of preparation under Jean Guitton at the Lycée du Parc, Althusser was admitted into the ENS in July 1939, but his attendance was deferred by many years because he was drafted to the French Army in September of that year in the run-up to World War II and, like most French soldiers following the Fall of France, was captured by the Germans. Seized in Vannes in June 1940, he was held in a prisoner-of-war camp in Schleswig-Holstein, in Northern Germany, for the five remaining years of the war. In the camp, he was at first drafted to hard labour but reassigned to work in the infirmary after falling ill; this second occupation allowed him to read literature. In his memoirs, Althusser described the experiences of solidarity, political action, community in the camp as the moment he first understood the idea of communism.

Althusser recalled: "It was in prison camp that I first heard Marxism discussed by a Parisian lawyer in transit—and that I met a communist". His experience in the camp affected his lifelong bouts of mental instability, reflected in constant depression that lasted until the end of life. Psychoanalyst Élisabeth Roudinesco has argued that the absurd war experience was essential for Althusser's philosophical thought. Althusser resumed his studies at the ENS in 1945 to prepare himself for the agrégation, an exam to teach philosophy in secondary schools. In 1946, Althusser met sociologist Hélène Rytmann, a Jewish former French Resistance member with whom he was in a relationship until he killed her by strangulation in 1980; that same year, he started a close friendly relationship with Jacques Martin, a G. W. F. Hegel and Herman Hesse translator, who committed suicide and to whom Althusser dedicated his first book. Martin was influential on Althusser's interest on reading the bibliography of Jean Cavaillès, Georges Canguilhem and Hegel.

Although Althusser remained a Catholic, he became more associated with left-wing groups, joining the "worker priests" movement and embracing a synthesis of Christian and Marxist thought. This combination may have led him to adopt German Idealism and Hegelian thought, as did Martin's influence and a renewed interest on Hegel in the 1930s and 1940s in France. In consonance, Althusser's master thesis to obtain his diplôme d'études supèrieures was "On Content in the Thought of G. W. F. Hegel". Based on The Phenomenology of Spirit, under Gaston Bachelard's supervision, Althusser disserted on how Marx's philosophy refused to withdraw from the Hegelian master–slave dialectic. According to the researcher Gregory Elliott, Althusser was a Hegelian at that time but only for a short period. In 1948, he was approved to teach in secondary schools but instead made a tutor at the ENS to help students prepare for their own agrégation, his performance on the exam—he was the best ranked on the writing part and second on the oral module—guaranteed this change on his occupation.

He was responsible for offering special courses and tutorials on particular topics and on particular figures from the history of philosophy. In 1954, he became secrétaire de l'école litteraire (secretary of the

Celtic Honey

Celtic Honey is a liqueur brand owned by Castle Brands Inc, based in New York, NY. It is a sweet, honey-based, 30% ABV liqueur made from Irish whiskey and spices. Produced in Ireland, it can be added to mixed drinks, it is similar to other honey-based liqueurs such as Barenjager. Sold as “Celtic Crossing” to honor the large number of Irish immigrants who came to America in the 19th and 20th centuries, the liqueur was re-launched as Celtic Honey in 2011 to emphasize its ingredients, it was re-launched with a new bottle and label, which utilizes traditional Celtic knot designs in the shape of a honeybee and the font Cezanne, by P22 type foundry. The recipe is based on the fermented honey drink, mead. “Pure golden color. Aromas of buckwheat honey, dried flowers and nougat with a soft, sweet light-to-medium body and a touch of delicate blended whiskey notes on the honeyed nut finish. A light, feminine liqueur for sipping on the rocks.” Celtic Honey website CBI website

Battle of Vilnius (1655)

The Battle of Vilnius, Wilno, or Vilna was an attack by Russian and Cossack forces on Vilnius, the capital of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania within the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, that occurred on 8 August 1655 during the Russo-Polish War. The Polish–Lithuanian forces under the leadership of Great Hetman Janusz Radziwiłł were defeated by the Russian army of Alexis of Russia, it was the first time. The six-year Muscovite occupation that followed resulted in a major depopulation and a decline of the city for many years to come; the defeat was one of the reasons Janusz Radziwiłł and several other Lithuanian magnates surrendered the Grand Duchy to Sweden at the Union of Kėdainiai. The Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth was invaded by large Russian and Swedish armies; when a large Russian army approached Vilnius, hetman Janusz Radziwiłł could muster just 5,000 to 7,000 men. The morale was further damaged by the order of king John II Casimir Vasa to royal troops to retreat to Marienburg. Lithuanian commanders hetman Janusz Radziwiłł and treasurer Wincenty Korwin Gosiewski could not agree on defense.

City residents began hasty evacuations. Most valued treasures, including the coffin of Saint Casimir, main books of Lithuanian Metrica, valuables from Vilnius Cathedral, were transported outside the city. Radziwiłł took up defensive position on the northern shore of the Neris river near the present-day Green Bridge to cover the evacuations; the battle lasted the whole day. The Lithuanians managed to capture three Russian flags. At night, the Lithuanian army split into two groups that retreated to Kėdainiai; the garrison of the Vilnius Castle Complex surrendered two days later. The invading forces murdered its inhabitants for several days. A fire consumed part of the city. In particular, the Jewish quarter was burned by the Cossacks and many Jews were killed. According to an eyewitness, the fire lasted the death toll exceeded 20,000 people. However, those are exaggerated numbers. All palaces were looted and only four churches were spared; the invaders not only took valuables such as furniture or silverware, but smashed altars, desecrated graves, tore down decorative elements.

The Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania was rebuilt only in 2000s. Some scholars have suggested that certain relics, as well as the body of Vytautas the Great, were lost during the plunder of Vilnius Cathedral. Tsar Alexis of Russia arrived to the city on 14 August, he instead built a large tent in Lukiškės. He proclaimed himself the Grand Duke of Lithuania