Obsolete Capitalism: Acceleration, Revolution and Money in Deleuze and Guattari's Anti-OEdipus (Part 1)
by Obsolete Capitalism
The book series entitled «The Strong of the Future» deals with accelerationist philosophy, in particular with the thought based on Nietzsche, Klossowski and Acéphale magazine, Deleuze and Guattari, Foucault and Lyotard.
The Locus classicus of the contemporary accelerationistmovement: Deleuze and Guattari’s Anti-OEdipus
The morning acceleration: a headless revolution
For an Erotica of the Revolution
The inﬁnite money: desire, value and simulacrum
The Locus classicus of the contemporary accelerationistmovement: Deleuze and Guattari’s Anti-OEdipus
Do you want a name for this universe,a solution for all its enigmas?
—Nietzsche, Posthumous Notes
We continue the exploration of the sources behind the contemporary accelerationist movement, which lie at the end of the paragraph entitled «The Civilized Capitalist Machine».(AE 239-240) By«contemporary» we mean the period from the 90’s to today, thus including Nick Land and the Ccru collective’s reﬂections on the ﬁrst «accelerationist» wave. The simultaneous reading of Christian Kerslake’s Marxism and Money in Deleuze and Guattari’s Capitalism and Schizofrenia (2015) and Matteo Pasquinelli’s notes in Code Surplus Value and the Augmented Intellect (2014) has highlighted the persistence of a troubled interpretation of one of the most signiﬁcant andpivotal passages of Deleuze and Guattari’s Anti-OEdipus. More-over an unfair and blind conventio ad excludendum on Nietzsche from the accelerationist side, is remarkably present. In #Accelerate, the constitutive anthology of accelerationism, we immediately detect a noisy silence about Nietzsche. While the open-ing documents and extracts on accelerationism are pertinent— Marx, Butler, Fedorov and Veblen (#A, 8-11) — nothing is mentioned of a post-Zarathustra Nietzsche: The Will to Power, Beyond Good and Evil or On the Genealogy of Morality. In the chronology (#A, 3) in between Marx’s Fragment on Machines (1858) and Firestone’s The two modes of cultural history (1970), Nietzsche’s accelerationist fragment known as The Strong of the Future (1887) is clearly lacking. One of the aims of this essay is to identify the correct allocation of Nietzsche’s thought with reference to the accelerationist movement, to the Anti-OEdipus and to Deleuze and Guattari’s thought. The philosopher from Röcken has been the ﬁrst to speak correctly about the overall machinery, solidarity of all gears, and about accelerating the process. (NCV 161- 162).
Matteo Pasquinelli properly points out the ﬁnal part of the The Civilized Capitalist Machine as locus classicus of the contem-porary accelerationist movement, thanks to the deep queriesDeleuze and Guattari placed. However these questions remainunanswered and therefore still open; they deal with revolu-tionary strategies, positions of nihilist capitalism and potentialescape routes from a political and economic situation that re-calls the image of a cul-de-sac. The text to analyze follows:
It is at the level of ﬂows, the monetary ﬂows included, and not at the level of ideology, that the integration of desire is achieved. So what is the solution? Which is the revolutionary path? Psychoanalysis is of little help, entertaining as it does the most intimate of relations with money, and recording—while refusing to recognize it— an entire system of economic-monetary dependences at the heart of the desire of every subject it treats. Psychoanalysis constitutes for its part a gigan- tic enterprise of absorption of surplus value. But which is the revolu-tionary 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.
The plane of consistency and the unfulﬁlled questions
The questions we can pose to the chapter The Civilized Capitalist Machine may be divided in «molar» and «molecular». As Felix Guattari says, it is necessary to establish an appropriate «plane of consistency» where everything holds: the molar order and the molecular machines (AOE 287-291). Before listing the molecular questions it may be useful to clarify the concept of «philosophical problem» - which we derive from Bergson-in order to formulate our answers. The French theorist said that in philosophy, as anywhere else “it is a matter of the question of ﬁnding the problem and consequently of positioning it, even more, that of solving it. For a speculative problem is solved as soon as it is properly stated. By that, I mean that its solution exists then, although it may remain hidden and so to speak covered up and the only thing left does to uncover it. But stating the problem is not simply uncovering, itis inventing. Discovery, or uncovering, has to do with what already exists actually or virtually; it is, therefore, certain to happen sooner or later.”(CM, 51)
The meaning of the accelerationist passage is overall difﬁcult to comprehend and the various commentators have not submitted satisfactory answers until now (Kerslake, MMDG 61-63).
1) The problem of the margin-notes in Deleuze and Guat-tari’s The Civilized Capitalist Machine with reference to the ac-celerationist passage by Nietzsche and the «good reasons» not to quote the «sinister» fragment (Pasquinelli, CSVAI).
2) Nietzsche’s supposedly «misquoted» fragment, recalled by Deleuze and Guattari in their passage about the «revolu-tionary path» and «accelerating the process» (Pasquinelli, CS- VAI).
3) The enigmatic meaning of the last sentence of the chap-ter The Civilized Capitalist Machine: «in this matter, the truth is that we haven’t seen anything yet.» (AO, 239). This last sentence to-gether with the last lines of the passage, undermines the whole logical meaning of the paragraph and creates the «enigmaticblock» as shown by Kerslake’s analysis (Kerslake, MMDG 61-63).
4) The evident contradiction to combine the capitalist monetary ﬂux (the «surplus value of code» for Pasquinelli and«Bernard Schmitt’s economic theory» for Kerslake) with the acceleration of decoded and deterritorialized ﬂux conceived by the «capital» for revolutionary outcomes (as suggested by Pasquinelli and Kerslake) in the chapter The Civilized Capitalist Machine.
5) The political and philosophical issue that is concealed behind the “hidden” meaning of the «accelerationist» passage that Deleuze and Guattari try to clarify through the experi-mental theory of decoded and deterritorialized ﬂows.
The above-mentioned molecular unanswered questions gather in a homogeneous combination of micro and macro queries which need to be accurately answered given the reliability of the proponents and the importance this questions raised in today’s political and social research ﬁelds as well as in speculative-philosophical ones.
Four identiﬁcation points in Anti-OEdipus
How to read Anti-Oedipus? We have identiﬁed four main prominent characteristics in the volume. The ﬁrst one is its hyper textuality: we have considered Deleuze and Guattari’sbook as a broad-viewed designed hypertext, long before the hypertext was framed. Both the volumes Capitalism and Schizophrenia - Anti-Oedipus and A Thousand Plateaus display and «machinate» a philosophical complexity composed by knots enucleated as «simple steps or hyperlinks» unwinding further problems, queries, and narrations present in other intellectual objects, which altogether form a proper network of senses.
Deleuze himself deﬁned Anti-Oedipus a ﬂow-book (DI,218). The two philosophers never wanted, in fact, to “write a madman's book [the schizophrenic], but a book in which you no longer know who is speaking: there is no basis for knowing whether it’s a doctor, a patient, or some present, past, or future madman speaking”. (DI, 18 218). At the same time, it was also important that these clinical subjectivities, these conceptual tags, could interchangeably speak as “mental patients or doctors of civilization” (DI, 218). Three other characteristics are important to understand this strange attractor-book: the ﬁrst one regards politics, the second Nietzsche (the work needs to be analyzed as a Nietzschean organon) and the last one is about style: Anti-Oedipus, in fact, employ the “style as a concept” (N, 140-147).
In a conversation with Antonio Negri published in the magazine Futur Anterior (1990) Deleuze deﬁnes his Anti-Oedipus as a “political book from top to bottom”. We ﬁrmly believe that the book is pure dynamite, able to extend from the ‘70s, in which it has ensued, to any present time: a book capable of expanding the limits of thought and to produce positive effects for both the individual and the community. The book offers the visions of the two drafters who originate from left wing communities of different backgrounds: Guattari followed Lacanian his seminaries, he worked at the psychiatric hospital La Borde, he cooperated with the magazine «La voie communiste», whereas Deleuze was less politically characterized and was not particularly linked to any political association except for his militancy in Foucault GIP (Group d’information sur les prisons). His biggest inﬂuence had been Pierre Klossowski who-Deleuze will say in his Nomad Thought - may have represented the torch-bearer between the latest group of Nietzschean philosophers and the ﬁrst ones who gathered around Bataille’smagazine «Acéphale» in the 30’s. Klossowski deﬁnes Deleuze’sapproach, when playing Nietzsche’s card of the de-subjectiva-tion of the author, as the one who introduced the «unteacha-ble» in the teaching method because he says, the most important mission of philosophy is to invent concepts:
”Philosophy’s job has always been to create new concepts, with their own necessity.(...) Philosophy’s no more communicative than it’s contemplative or reﬂective: it is by nature creative or even revolutionary because it's always creating new concepts. The only constraint is that these should have a necessity, as well as an unfamiliarity, and they have both to the extent they’re a response to real problems. Concepts are what stops thought being a mere opinion, a view, an exchange of views, gossip. Any concept is bound to be a paradox”
The morning acceleration: a headless revolution
Thinking about it today it seems to me obvious that for years, especially in the 70’s, nomads were the image of Good. Nomadic was what wriggles out of tangled malicious control. Nomadic was what escaped from the persecution of the New Man, who was - in the best case- a screw and most frequently a mole.
- Roberto Calasso, L’Occhio Assoluto (1993)
To Lenin, who asserted that Socialism was the Soviet power plus the electriﬁcation, Kronstadt answered: it is the Party plus the executions.
Jean-Francois Lyotard, Energumen Capitalism
On the missing notes
In 1966, Foucault and Deleuze became editors of the French edition of Colli and Montinari’s Complete Works of F. Nietzsche. Their coauthored General Introduction published in 1967 as part of volume V which included Klossowki’s translation of The Gay Science and the Unpublished Fragments (1881-1882); in this edition they expressed the hope that the publication could open to a total “return to Nietzsche” thanks to Colli and Montinari’s work, which they deﬁned as crucial. The main problem around Nietzsche in the 60’s was the issue of the Nachlass “...before accurate and credible scholars started collecting and reordering Nietzsche’s Nachlass, we only knew that a certain book called The Will of Power existed and that it was an arbitrary cut of Nietzsche’s posthumous writings and notes of various times and origins”(CWN, General Introduction). The major problem was not only the«ﬁctional» book but the introduction of a rigorous and scien-tiﬁc criterion to deﬁnitively order the big amount of posthu-mous written texts left by Nietzsche; “the handwritten notebooks are at least three times the size of Nietzsche’s publication during his lifetime. The unpublished fragments already distributed are many fewer than those still to be put in print” (CWN, General Introduction). Montinari and his team of researchers carefully searched in Weimar’s archives and decided, together with Colli and the Italian publisher Adelphi, “to publish Nietzsche’s notebooks follow-ing a chronological order in accordance with the corresponding period of Nietzsche’s published works". Deleuze and Foucault immediately understood the importance of such an immense work: “It is at least on three main points that the reading of Nietzsche’s work has radically changed after Colli and Montinari’s work: one, it is now pos- sible to notice distortions due to Elisabeth Nietzsche and Peter Gast’sedition, two, we may trace mistakes in dates, misinterpretation of the texts and numerous omissions in the previous editions of the Nachlass and three, it is now possible to know the big amount of the unpublished texts”(CWN, General Introduction). The expectation was palpable in the 60’s: it was ﬁnally possible not only to get a wider and more complete idea on how Nietzsche elaborated his concepts, transforming, enriching and deforming them in his«mental laboratory» but also to detect various undiscovered and unknown meanings of his philosophy among the huge amount of the Nachlass. This to explain and clarify that the missing footnote in the chapter The Civilized Capitalist Machine is neither a lack of attention nor carelessness of the authors or the publisher and not even an attempt to keep enigmatic a paragraph that dealt with a «somber and reactionary» writer as Nietzsche. As already mentioned in our article, The Strong of the Future - the ﬁnal passage of the chapter The Civilized Capitalist Machine and locus classicus of the accelerationist movement -is numbered 9  as established by Colli and Montinari’s critical edition.
The sunset of Unpolitical Nietzsche
Deleuze wrote two Nietzsche’s monographs, one entitled Nietzsche and Philosophy (1962) and the other simply Nietzsche (1965). The ﬁrst monograph opens the «golden decade» about Nietzsche - which culminated with Anti-OEdipus in 1972 and with the Cerisy-la-Salle conference of July 1972 entitled «Nietzsche aujourd’hui?» - and is considered the most com-plete and detailed analysis of Nietzsche’s philosophy. In chapters II, III and IV the French philosopher analyzes the «infa-mous» text The Will of Power and other writings of the same years: Beyond Good and Evil and On the Genealogy of Morals. In the 1962 book we have no reference of the accelerationistfragment (here numbered 898 as per Nietzsche’s sister andPeter Gast’s notation). As a reference for his ﬁrst monograph, Deleuze considered Gallimard La Volonté de Puissance edition (1947-48) that, according to the Italian curator Fabio Polidori, 25 “is an edition based on the order previously given by Friederich Wuerzbach in his Das Vermächtnis Friedrich Nietzsches (Salzburg-Leipzig,1940) and that lists a completely new and enriched order of texts ifcompared to the second edition of the famous Der Will zur Macht”. Despite the presence of the fragment The Strong of the Future in Wuerzbach’s anthology, Deleuze does not mention any«acceleration» or «future forces» even in his second mono-graph Nietzsche (1965). It is with Pierre Klossowski’s analysisin 1969 (Nietzsche and the Vicious Circle) that the accelerationist fragment becomes central, creating a resolutive axis Deleuze- Klossowski responsible for a new account of Nietzsche’s au-thentic thought. It is while talking about Nietzsche’s text inan interview with Jean Noel Vuarnet in February 1968 that wemay understand the reason of the «missing notes» about the accelerationist fragment in Anti-Oedipus. Here’s an abstractof the interview: “Jean- Noel Vuarnet: Gallimard’s re-edition of Nietzsche’s complete works has started to appear on the shelves. Youand Foucault have been credited with “responsibility” for the ﬁrst vol- ume. What exactly was your role? Gilles Deleuze: We played a small role. You are no doubt well aware that the whole point of this editionis to publish all posthumous notes, many of which have never seen thelight of day, by distributing them chronologically in the order of the books that Nietzsche himself published. Accordingly, The Gay Science,translated by Klossowski, includes the posthumous notes of 1881- 1882. The authors of this edition are, on the one hand, Colli andMontinari, to whom we are indebted for the texts, and on the other, thetranslators, for whom Nietzsche’s style and techniques have posed enormous problems. We were responsible only for grouping the texts in order.(DI, 135). As per Deleuze and Foucault’s explicit request, the ﬁrst volume of Nietzsche’s OEuvres philosophiques complètes (Gallimard, Paris 1967) is translated by Klossowski as well as Fragments posthumes 1887-88(1976). At the same time Klossowski’s book Nietzsche and the Vicious Circle (1969) introduces the accelerationist fragment, a fragment that he received together with the «rough material» delivered from Colli and Montinari even before they enumerated the fragments withthe order we know today. A further conﬁrmation comes from the notes of the edition of his book: “Klossowski himself provides no references for the sources of his citations from Nietzsche’s notebooks. At the conclusion of the French text of the book, he simply appends the following note: ‘All the citations from Nietzsche are taken from the post- humous fragments - and in particular, from those of his ﬁnal decade 1880-1888.”(NVC, 262). As shown in our previous essay The strong of the future: Nietzsche’s accelerationist fragment in Deleuze and Guattari’s Anti-OEdipus the two French philosophers usedthe expression «accelerate the process» in their Anti-OEdipus (1972) as correctly introduced by Klossowski’s Nietzsche and the Vicious Circle and thus they did not quote any speciﬁc refer-ence because at the time being Klossowski was working on the edition of the Unpublished Fragments and Deleuze was himself responsible for the French edition.
The system of economic dependency on desire
Here comes the chapter The Civilized Capitalist Machine where the difﬁcult passage lies. All the a forementioned qualities in Anti-OEdipus- Nietzschean method, hypertextuality, repetition as power, style as movement of concepts and so on- reach a real klimax in this passage considered not only the traditional cartographie for the accelerationist movement but also the crux of the entire anti-oedipal book. As many have no-ticed there is no clear logical coherence between the sense ofthe text and the authors’ political position. Something eludes, slips away and it is plausible that a few Deleuze and Guattari’sscholars wonder if the two French philosophers may have misquoted or misreported Nietzsche. A very detailed reading ofthe passage - divided in parts - may serve the cause.
It is at the level of ﬂows, the monetary ﬂows included, and notat the level of ideology, that the integration of desire is achieved. Sowhat is the solution? Which is the revolutionary path? Psychoanalysisis of little help, entertaining as it does the most intimate of relationswith money, and recording—while refusing to recognize it— an entiresystem of economic-monetary dependences at the heart of the desire ofevery subject it treats. Psychoanalysis constitutes for its part a gigantic enterprise of absorption of surplus value. But which is the revolution- ary path? Is there one? (AO, 238)
If capitalism is immanent to society and desire for it per-meates society, what possible solution may we ﬁnd if the twoﬂuxes are so intrinsically integrated? If ideology is no longeran answer, as masses are not captivated by ideology but by the desire of monetary ﬂuxes, what solution may we ﬁnd? The claustro-scenario is nightmarish: from the very ﬁrst steps thereis no possibility of an alternative, of a revolutionary path - « is there one? » the two philosophers ask Even psychoanalysis is of little help: part of the system, it is absorbed as anti-productive practice which «ingests and achieves» the nomadic proﬁtability and slips into the social body. Moreover it has created a circuit of absorption of surplus value thanks to the desire produced by the cultural industry. Once Freud’s psychoanalysis has been overtaken whom shall we pass the baton of revolution to?
The withdrawal of the left wing nationalism from the worldmarket
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.
Samir Amin, the exponent of the Marxist, anti-capitalist, unaligned «Third-World Left» with his nationalist and isolationist position, reminds Deleuze and Guattari of a revival of the fascist “economic solution” of the 20s and 30s of the XX century. Therefore another revolutionary option is then discarded and the two French philosophers paradoxically ask: what about going “towards the opposite direction?” A question which produces a double effect: on one side it rejects some of the classical hypothesis of the European «revolutionary humanism»: traditional left-wing movements like socialism, communism or social democracy are not even taken into consideration fora revolutionary path. Not to mention the revolutionary trade unionism, the radical reformism or the naive anarchic spontaneity, the new post ’68 political manifestations, the so-called «little churches» by Guattari. (DI, 264).
Neither is the armed struggle, the nihilist frontal attack to the system. So where is such a question taking us? It follows that we must look towards the exact opposite of the «marxist nationalism» that is to say a worldwide revolution against the same global capitalism of the decoded and deterritorialized monetary ﬂux, mentioned by Deleuze and Guattari. The only possible Marxist or revolutionary global theory antagonistic of capitalism is the one of Lev Trotsky, with whom Guattari sympathized in the 50’s but the idea of a «permanent revolution» or of Fourth International never suited Deleuze and Guattari who have never been nostalgic of Soviet times. “Yet no revolutionary tendency was willing or able to assume the need for a Soviet organization that would have allowed the masses to take real charge of their interests and desires. Machines called political organizations were put in circulation, and they functioned according to the model Dimitrov had developed at the Seventh International Congress — alternating between popular fronts and sectarian retractions — and they always lead to the same repressive results. (…) By their axiomatics, these mass machines refuse to liberate revolutionary energy. Red ﬂag in hand, this politics in its underhanded way reminds one of the politics of the President or the clergy.” (DI, 268). Which chances may a turbo-Trotskyist plan have when referred to «the civilized capitalist machine»?With regards to the economic aspect, can we ﬁnd an economic theory alternative to capitalism with the same global tension and the same will of power? Neither Suzanne de Brunhoff’s neo-Marxism nor Bernard Schmitt with his theory of quantum ﬂuxes, show the same strength. Without convincing answers on the horizon and with all historical possibilities of revolution set aside, which opposite direction is possible? At this point, Deleuze and Guattari reveal the second effect of their statement: to push the revolutionary motion alongside with the decodiﬁcation and deterritorialization of the economic market. Why doing so, we may ask, and what do revolutionary anti-market forces share with the capitalistic ones? Which alliance could be established from a position of «withdrawal from the market» to one of a wild laissez-faire economy? Moreover, what are the two French philosophers referring to when they speak about «a theory and practice of a highly schizophrenic character» that is supposed to further deterritorialize and de-code the ﬂows? Were Deleuze and Guattari really looking fora compromise with the market when questioning themselves about the revolution of the future?
Accelerate the process
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. (AO, 239)
We may assume as a logical starting point that Deleuze and Guattari are offering an apparent pro-market path, as highlighted in the previous paragraph; at the same time, we ﬁnda contradiction with the opposite option of a worldwide anti-capitalist revolution able to go beyond localism to reach that dimension which Srnicek and Williams call folk politics. Not only one should go «backward» against the nationalist-Marxist economy, or against those revolutionary ideals which over-throw established powers but - without withdrawing from the market - one should even join those turbo-capitalist lawless forces so as to push and «accelerate» the dangerous tendencies moving the decodiﬁcation and deterritorialization of society. Why? If we take for granted that Deleuze and Guattari are not sneaky inﬁltrators of the enemies we may see such «unity ofintentions» with the most extreme forces of the market economy as a «future beneﬁt». Under the idea of instrumental ex-change between immediate evil and future good, the statement«we haven’t seen anything yet» sounds particularly sinister: the more violent the repression and the homologation of the individual arises, the fastest the «explosion of the ﬁnal Good» - as a basis of a new revolution - will come. A second consideration deals with the force. Which type of force is an «accelerated revolutionary force»? The question is pertinent if we consider that «going backward» against the Marxist-nationalist protectionism represents the trait d’union among forces moved by an active power that aims to destroy the countries (their territories) and their codes. Such forces are deregulated and mainly characterized by speed, therefore they may be called «dromocratic forces». The powers that «stand still» and protect, are against the «accelerating forces» that decodify and become different from what they were. If the traditional market economy society yielded to the intrinsically capitalist and technologically developed dromology, society itself would be destined to be dominated by a monoscopic turbo-capitalism: an inﬁnitive accumulation in a singular technological scenario. Similarly, if the revolutionary forces that «stand still» were overperformed by hidden democratic forces, what could a revolution be? “ A desiring power accelerated to a point where it exploded all the splinter groups” (DI, 265) as Guattari states? Can we conceive a machinic-dromocratic revolution and its consequent implications indifferent apocalyptic antinomic forces?
Third consideration: the time and actions of the leveling forces expressed by the «homo democraticus» have come to the end of that enlightened path which made man ﬁrst a progressive accelerationist and then a dull kathecon, a reactionary, a preventer. Will a new «dromocratic community» offer a return to the Great Politics as announced by Nietzsche?
to be continued...
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Obsolete Capitalism - Acceleration, Revolution and Money in Deleuze and Guattari's Anti-OEdipus (Part 1)
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