Nietzsche, process and acceleration in Deleuze and Guattari’s Anti-Oedipus
Accelerating the anti-deleuzian century
In a deep anti-deleuzian century we witness a paradoxical return to Deleuze’s thought. In particular a return to his most politicised period, his Anti-Oedipus time and the explosive connection with Guattari. The final part of the chapter entitled “The civilized capitalist machine” (ninth paragraph of the third chapter of Anti-Oedipus, symbolically entitled: Savages, Barbarians, Civilized Men) has given voice to many misunderstandings, being one of the most popular but less understood passage of contemporary philosophy. A sinister tinnitus - embodied by Nietzsche - destabilizes the phantom of the revolution, evoked in a passage that the accelerationists consider the locus classicus of their movement1 . The dromology of the revolution, the quick transformation of the concept into Reality, evokes a «phantom which is that permanent threat accompanying our world», like Calasso said2 .
Let’s read the crucial passage again:
“But which is the revolutionary path? Is there one?—To withdraw from the world market, as Samir Amin advises Third World countries to do, in a curious revival of the fascist “economic solution”? Or might it be to go in the opposite direction? To go still further, that is, in the movement of the market, of decoding and deterritorialization? For perhaps the flows are not yet deterritorialized enough, not decoded enough, from the viewpoint of a theory and a practice of a highly schizophrenic character. Not to withdraw from the process, but to go further, to “accelerate the process,” as Nietzsche put it: in this matter, the truth is that we haven’t seen anything yet”3 .
Simulacrum, rights and authenticity.
First warning: we are not looking here for a «more authentic» interpretation of Deleuze and Nietzsche than others’, nor we want to ride the wave of the recent rhetoric derived from the progressive undermining of Deleuze’s thought. At the same time we are not offering the game of the simulacrum where the beard of Treviri is to be replaced with the mustache of Röcken, answering in a game of masks to the question of what «electronic highway» is best to take to reach the revolution. The only authenticity we want to evoke is about our “research” and about a certain «right of reversed-sense» whose secret rules will be later revealed. Our aim is to free the rhizomatic paths from the cliché so that they can regain their original liberating and paradoxical function.
Apology of fluxes and oracles prophesies.
To offer a context to our analysis let’s take various interpretations of the accelerationist passage into account. Despite the notable frequentation, the passage has often been objected for different reasons: 1) «apology of the fluxes» converging in hyper-liberalist ideas as in Hayeck or marginalist ones as in Walras; 2) unintelligibility, incoherence and confused unsteadiness between marxism and neo-liberism; 3) facilitation of the most extreme tendencies of the capital to lead the system to the collapse so to revolution it; 4) misunderstanding of Nietzsche’s thought and concealing of the aforementioned quotation due to unspeakable but sensible reasons. These are, in short analysis, the aspects of the dissent about the fragment, but still many commentators get back to such core issue, defined as enigmatic and difficult to comprehend.
What discovery? A maudit fragment.
Let’s put order in the political-philosophical space around what can be defined as the core of the Anti-Oedipus: the paragraph entitled The Civilized Capitalist Machine. To get the right perspective for a coherent reading of the accelerationist passage we need to analyse Nietzsche’s quotation, as reported by Gilles Deleuze, a well-rounded Nietzschean philosopher. Nietzsche’s quotation is taken from the posthumous fragment (105) 9  published by Gallimard in 1976; the fragment is taken from Volume XIII of the Oeuvres Philosophiques complètes de Friedrich Nietzsche, entitled Fragments posthumes. (Automne) 1887 - (mars) 1888; the volume is part of the critical edition set by Colli and Montinari, translated from the German into French by Pierre Klossowski4 and edited in France by Gilles Deleuze and Maurice de Gandillac. The fragment was written by Nietzsche in 1887 with the title The Strong of the Future. In Italian the full text is translated by Enzo Turolla based on the French text established by Klossowski. Here is the “classic English” translation by Kaufmann5 inserted in the volume The Will to Power of 1967. We may notice that in the present translation the verb «beschleunigen» - meaning accelerate - has been translated with «hasten».
Friedrich Nietzsche: The Strong of the Future (Autumn 1887)
«That which partly necessity, partly chance has achieved here and there, the conditions for the production of a stronger type, we are now able to comprehend and consciously will: we are able to create the conditions under which such an elevation is possible. Until now, “education” has had in view the needs of society: not the possible needs of the future, but the needs of the society of the day. One desired to produce “tools” for it. Assuming the wealth of force were greater, one could imagine forces being subtracted, not to serve the needs of society but some future need.
Such a task would have to be posed the more it was grasped to what extent the contemporary form of society was being so powerfully transformed that at some future time it would be unable to exist for its own sake alone, but only as a tool in the hands of a stronger race.
The increasing dwarfing of man is precisely the driving force that brings to mind the breeding of a stronger race--a race that would be excessive precisely where the dwarfed species was weak and growing weaker (in will, responsibility, self-assurance, ability to posit goals for oneself). The means would be those history teaches: isolation through interests in preservation that are the reverse of those which are average today; habituation to reverse evaluations; distance as a pathos; a free conscience in those things that today are most under-valued and prohibited.
The homogenizing of European man is the great process that cannot be obstructed: one should even hasten it. The necessity to create a gulf, distance, order of rank, is given eo ipso-- not the necessity to retard this process.
As soon as it is established, this homogenizing species requires a justification: it lies in serving a higher sovereign species that stands upon the former and can raise itself to its task only by doing this. Not merely a master race whose sole task is to rule, but a race with its own sphere of life, with an excess of strength for beauty, bravery, culture, manners to the highest peak of the spirit; an affirming race that may grant itself every great luxury- strong enough to have no need of the tyranny of the virtue- imperative, rich enough to have no need of thrift and pedantry, beyond good and evil; a hothouse for strange and choice plants.»6
A brand new perspective
The exact position of the fragment opens a brand new perspective. It enables us to cast an eye on an essential part of the Deleuzian work which is not regularly attended. The first benefit is aimed at nullifying Deleuze’s presumed wrong quotation about Nietzsche: it is in fact impossible that Deleuze misunderstood a fragment in a volume he was editing himself. Moreover the reason why the footnote to the fragment is not present is due to the fact that Capitalism and Schizophrenia was written in between 1970 and 1971 and published in 1972 while the fragment we are talking about was translated by Klossowski and published by Gallimard in 1976 in a volume called Fragments posthumes. It is obvious that Deleuze could not know Colli and Montinari’s enumeration in the Italian edition,7 in fact - as explained before8 - Deleuze quoted the fragment entitled The Strong of the Future with the innovative hermeneutic exegetical interpretation he derived from Klossowski in 1969 in his book Nietzsche and the Vicious Circle (where the fragments are reproduced without references about their enumeration or work)9 . Neither he liked the idea of using the old enumeration offered in the volume The Will to Power, doing so in fact it would have meant to undermine the translator’s work - Klossowski’s - and his, as an editor10. Klossowski plays a fundamental role in the anti-oedipal theoretical construction: in 1970 on the magazine «L’Arc» Deleuze and Guattari wrote their first article together entitled La synthèse disjonctive dedicated to Klossowski. It is a long article, partially recollected in the Anti-Oedipus, in which Klossowski’s philosophical dimension is deeply present. Klossowski is also the one who correctly translated the verb beschleunigen with accelerate in the fragment The Strong of the Future that we consider not only a simple fragment but the very heart of Nietzsche’s political conspirative project11.
The posthumous fragment The Strong of the Future.
Almost unknown in the marxist and traditional left wing sphere, The Strong of the Future is well known in the French rhizosphere, instead. Klossowski set around it a masterful essay in 1969 entitled Nietzsche and the Vicious Circle12, dedicated to Deleuze and defined by Foucault as an outstanding work, equal or even superior to Nietzsche’s ones13. The fragment itself became the backbone of his whole intervention entitled «Nietzsche aujourd’hui?» in July 1972 at Cerisy-la-Salle. The event had been organized to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the publication of The Birth of Tragedy from the Spirit of Music (Die Geburt der Tragödie aus dem Geiste der Musik, 1872). At the presence of Deleuze, Derrida, Calasso, Nancy, Lyotard and others, Klossowski defines the fragment number 9  as Nietzsche’s heart of the plot, linking it to the revolutionary concerns post 1968 and to the publication of the book Anti-OEdipus (issued just a few months before the date of the conference). At the same meeting in Cerisy-la-Salle, Deleuze in his intervention entitled Nomad Thought will quote Nietzsche’s accelerationist fragment a second time, after the publishing of his Anti-OEdipus:
“Faced with the way in which our societies come uncoded, codes leaking away on every side, Nietzsche does not try to perform a recoding. He says: this hasn’t yet gone far enough, you’re nothing but children (“the equalization of European individuals is the great irreversible process: we should accelerate it still more.”) In terms of what he writes and thinks, Nietzsche’s enterprise is an attempt at uncoding, not in the sense of a relative uncoding which would be the decoding of codes past, present, or future, but an absolute encoding — to get something through which is not encodable, to mix up all the codes. It is not so easy to mix up all the codes, even at the level of the simplest writing and language.”14
Now, how can we deny the importance of the fragment when Foucault, Deleuze and Klossowski in the three year period 1969 - 1972 attach a big and manifest importance to it? Deleuze himself in a private letter to Klossowski in 1969 expressed his full and immense admiration for the volume Nietzsche and the Vicious Circle.15 The analysis of the Nietzschean accelerationist passage proposed by Klossowski is extremely important as it contributes to offer an answer to the philosophical and political question about what possible revolutionary strategy may be imaginable in a cyber-capitalist era. To better formulate a coherent understanding of the accelerationist passage we need to attune the three «hearts» beating in the three books, that we may humoristically define as «accelerationist trinity»: they are Nietzsche’s Posthumous Fragments 1887-1888, Klossowski’s Nietzsche and the Vicious Circle and Deleuze and Guattari’s Anti-Oedipus.
Who accelerates what?
The years 1887 and 1888 are years of great inspiration, excitement and «ruminations» for Nietzsche: he moves from the contemplation of the Eternal Return doctrine, whose elaboration will never be definitive, to the idea of the Eternal Return as an instrument of the plot against the economic totalitarianism and gregariousness. The most complete form of a new politics and of a new way to fight is particularly clear, according to Klossowski, in Nietzsche’s fragment The Strong of the Future; Klossowski identifies in Deleuze the most important interlocutor to elaborate a theory that may link revolution, delirium and vicious circle, a thought whose core dates back in the ‘30s, in the years when Klossowski cooperated with Bataille’s Acéphale journal. According to Klossowski’s reading, Nietzsche’s main object is not to dismantle the system through a technological compelling acceleration, neither to contrast it frontally diverting the mechanic propulsion in order to hit itself. The acceleration of the leveling process of the European man - today universal - is from the point of view of those who have «value judgements» opposite to the current ones. The answer of the «non-regulating» to the leveling process acted by the industrial society, is in the bifurcation of the way we live our existence, beyond the values of the established orders and the economic rationality and parsimony. An aware ethical, moral and political non-involvement. Klossowski reminds us that Nietzsche is talking about «the advent of a power which would be, in effect, that of a secret society comprised of experimenters, scholars and artists, in other words creators»16.
Here is one of the results of our research: we may say that the first formal theory of an accelerationist strategy in form of political opposition to the capital - through radical ethical instances and alternative ways of existence - was first elaborated - although still incomplete and experimental - by Nietzsche, at the end of the 80’s of the XIX century. From this perspective Deleuze may confirm in Nomad Thought that “Nietzsche’s most profound depth (...) and the measure of his break with philosophy (...) is to have made a warmachine of thought, to have made thought a nomadic power”17. From such a rhizomatic revolutionary perspective the Strong of the Future becomes a «mobile war machine» which does not take the ratio of the State apparatus into consideration but escapes drastically from it.
The awareness of a new type of politics and of new ways to fight determines a basically Nietzschean philosophical and political community. Such discontinuous, decentralized, experimental and unmentionable project will have an intense but short life, more or less a decade (1967- 1977), but its spores are still present in the concerns of those who follow revolutionary stances today. The perspective proposed by the anti-market plot of the «strong of the future» and by highly schizophrenic fluxes, which is to say the autonomisation of the delirium, does not imply the revolution as an aim but it engages the revolutionary process in a continuous flow. In the same way it does not refer to the working class nor to the cyber-cognitive class but to those who have always been at the edge of the ruins acted by the market economy, living in free zones where loads of debris, dominion and urban reality come together in a malodorous picture. Similarly it does not entail a central party organization as a main tool but a net-like horizontal distribution of self-organized communities, as well as it does not take into consideration the principles of the pseudo-science but energizing driving intensities. The real political problem of today, as it was of yesterday, is about how to network, how to link in an innovative and transversal chain different communities of singularities; this is the way Deleuze translates Nietzsche and Klossowski’s conspiracy.
The algorithm of the revolution.
Breaking the series of the «prescribed» insurrections as theorized by the ossified centrality of the political parties and accelerating the individual or collective process of liberation, instead of the market trends, is what has to be done. Breaking free literary means being delirious because the rationality of the market is gregarious in its artificial reality. Instead of accelerating the market path we should accelerate the counter-sense of the pulsional life with its secret and hidden oscillations.
We “haven’t seen anything” because according to Deleuze, Nietzsche represents the dawn of the counterculture and the power of the new generations, who, directly from their school desks, are preparing the first anti-repressive machines. If the system involves not only the social but the inner side of the body, the resistant anti-economy poses itself in primis in the space of drives and affects, inscribing the production in the desire. Given the chance of repetitive accusations of genuflection to excessive liberalism, we can answer with Deleuze’s words that the economy is only one, neither political nor libidinal and that sexuality and primary drives have always been the forces that guide the individual first to undergo the economic forces and then to rise again in a never ending fight in between system and grace.
From Deleuze and Guattari’s accelerated strategy rises a clear invitation to act and to go further, rather than a radical nihilism: by dropping the old schemes, by incessantly bifurcating or by exercising explosive parody; in other words they are suggesting the progression of the battle to break our chains, by other means.
1 Ray Brassier, Wandering Abstraction. The paper was presented at the event Accelerationism: A symposium on tendencies in capitalism (Berlin, 14th December 2013) edited by M. Pasquinelli and A. Avanessian. The full text may be found online as it was published by Mute magazine on 13th February 2014: http://www.metamute.org/editorial/articles/wandering-abstraction
2 Roberto Calasso, Parodie de parodie, UGE, Paris, 1973, p. 213.
3 Deleuze and Guattari, Anti-Oedipus, University of Minnesota Press, 1983, pp.. 238, 239
4 Oeuvres Philosophiques complètes de Friedrich Nietzsche: Fragments posthumes. Automne 1887 - mars 1888, Gallimard, Paris, 1976, p. 7.
5 Walter Kaufmann, The Will to Power, Random House, NY, 1967 with R.J. Hollingdale. A new translation of the fragment is scheduled to be published in 2017 by Stanford University Press in The Complete Works of F. Nietzsche series.
6 The fragment has been widely analyzed in the essay The Strong of the Future: Nietzsche’s accelerationist fragment in Deleuze and Guattari’s Anti-Oedipus by Obsolete Capitalism, 2015 (now edited as Rizosfera/SF001/eng). The essay is included in the volume Money, Revolution and Philosophy of the Future, edited by Rizosfera/ Obsolete Capitalism, Free Press, 2016.
7 The Italian edition was published by Adelphi (Book VIII Volume 2) with the title Frammenti postumi 1887-1888 and was out in the second half of the year 1971.
8 Obsolete Capitalism: The Strong of the Future (see footnote 6)
9 The correct enumeration of the fragment, based on Colli and Montinari critical edition, will be available not earlier than 1973 in the volume entitled Nietzsche aujourd’hui?, (Book 1) Intensités, published by UGE (ref. Pierre Klossowski, Circulus Vitiosus).
10 In the “preface” written by Deleuze and Foucault (pp.I-IV) on the first volume of the Critical Edition by Colli and Montinari (Gallimard edition, 1967 vol. V of Œuvres philosophiques complètes V Le Gai Savoir suivi de Fragments posthumes -Été 1881 - Été 1882- translated by Pierre Klossowski) it is very clear that the real problem with Nietzsche’s Complete Work was the Nachlass and the project of the book The Will to Power, a potential book that Colli and Montinari defined non-existing, being a vague project that Nietzsche later abandoned. As per Deleuze’s use of The Will to Power for his Nietzschean writings before 1967 please see the essay Money, Revolution and Philosophy of the Future, edited by Rizosfera/ Obsolete Capitalism, Free Press, 2016. In the Anti-Oedipus the authors in fact have meaningfully removed any reference to The Will to Power. The difference regarding this point is particularly evident when comparing Nietzsche and Philosophy (1962) and Anti-Oedipus (1972).
11 On the translations for the fragment number 9  see The Strong of the Future (see footnote 6)
12 Klossowski’s book, Nietzsche and the Vicious Circle was written on the basis of the original manuscripts of Colli and Montinari in 1967. Deleuze and Guattari worked on their Anti-Oedipus with the innovative exegetical interpretation they derived from Klossowski but without references on the enumeration or collocations of Nietzschean quotations.
13 Michel Foucault’s letter dated 3rd July 1969 to Pierre Klossowski, published in the number dedicated to Klossowski from Centre Georges Pompidou: «Cahiers pour un temps», Editions du Centre Pompidou, 1985, pp. 85-88
14 Gilles Deleuze: Nomad Thought, in the volume Desert Island and other writings 1953-74, Semiotext(e), New York, 2002 p.254
15 Gilles Deleuze, Lettres et autres textes, Les Editions de Minuit, Paris, 2015. Letter dated December 19th, 1969.
16 Pierre Klossowski, Circulus vitiosus, The Agonist, a journal from Nietzsche Circle, 2009, pp. 33, 34
17 Gilles Deleuze: Nomad Thought, in the volume Desert Island and other writings 1953- 74, Semiotext(e), New York, 2002 p.259
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