Obsolete Capitalism: Acceleration, Revolution and Money in Deleuze and Guattari's Anti-OEdipus (Part 2)
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.
Let’s drop all masks! Nietzsche galore!
To answer the molecular questions 2 and 3 - about a pos-sible misquotation and about the meaning of the phrase “we haven’t seen anything yet”- we need to explain the notion ofﬂow and clarify the relationship between desire, libido andunconscious. With «ﬂow» Deleuze and Guattari mean «pro-cess»: “This process is what we call a ﬂow. But, again, ﬂow is an everyday, unqualiﬁed notion that we needed. It can be a ﬂow of words, a ﬂow of ideas, a ﬂow of shit, a ﬂow of money. It can be a ﬁnancialmechanism or a schizophrenic machine: it surpasses all duality”.(DI,218). As far as the relationship between desire, libido and un-conscious is concerned Deleuze describes their origin as such: “Guattari early on had the intuition that the unconscious is directly related to a whole social ﬁeld, both economic and political, rather than the mythical and familial grid traditionally deployed by psychoanalysis. It is indeed a question of libido as such, as the essence of desire and sexuality: but now it invests and dis-invests ﬂows of every kinda they trickle through the social ﬁeld, and it effects cuts in these ﬂows, stoppages, leaks, and retentions. To be sure, it does not operate in a manifest way, as do the objective interests of consciousness or the chains of historical causality. It deploys a latent desire coextensive with the social ﬁeld, entailing ruptures in causality and the emergence of singularities, sticking points as well as leaks”.(DI, 193).
Deleuze consciously chooses to side with Nietzsche and uses that position against Marx and Freud. According to Deleuze, capitalism is based on ﬂows but “ what really matters is the organization of power” which he deﬁnes as “ the unity of desire and the economic infrastructure”(DI, 262, 263). Here lies the essential criticism to the orthodox Marxism and its ideological pretensions to put the desired phenomenon on the superstructure. The Party itself is criticized by the two philosophers who see it as the new organization for a repressive power (DI, 263) refusing its deﬁnition of an avant-garde external mechanism of syn-thesis classiﬁed as such since Lenin times. (ID, 266). There is a double refusal of, on one hand, the traditional division between infrastructure and superstructure as theorized by Marx, where the economic structure expresses the relations of production; and on the other, of the Leninist theory of the Party seen as proletarian guide and political class consciousness which in other words is the refusal of an analytic machine external to the working class and the revolutionary process. This could be the reason why it is exactly in the accelerationist passage that we meet the «conceptual persona» of Nietzsche; according to Deleuze and Guattari, in fact, Nietzsche may be seen as the master of the generalized disintegration of codes. Considering the triad Marx, Freud and Nietzsche as the contemporary western thought fathers, we can read a clear rejection of the ﬁrst two in Deleuze and Guattari’s words: “... for our part, we prefer not to participate in any effort consistent with a Freudo-Marxist perspective. And this for two reasons. The ﬁrst is that, in the end, a Freudo-Marx- ist effort proceeds in general from a return to origins, or more specifically to the sacred texts: the sacred texts of Freud, the sacred texts of Marx. Our point of departure must be completely different: we refer not to sacred texts that must be, to a greater or lesser extent, interpreted, but to the situation as is, the situation of the bureaucratic apparatus in psychoanalysis, which is an effort to subvert these apparatuses.(...) Secondly, what separates us from any Freudo-Marxist effort is that such projects seek primarily to reconcile two economies: political economy and libidinal or desiring economy. (...) Our point of view is on the contrary that there is but one economy and that the problem of a real anti-psychoanalytical analysis [a synonym of schizoanalys is that Deleuze and Guattari started using after the Anti-OEdipus] is to show how unconscious desire invests the forms of this economy. It is economy itself that is political economy and desiring economy.”(ID,275) After a few months from the release of the volume Anti-Oedipus, at the conference in Cerisy-la-Salle (July 1972), entitled «Nietzsche aujourd’hui?» Nomadic Thought Deleuze asserts that “faced with the way in which our societies come uncoded, codes leaking away on every side, Nietzsche does not try to perform a re-coding.” (ID, 253) and clearly explains his siding with Nietzsche: “ (...) if one examines not the letter of Marx or Freud, but the becoming of Marxism and the becoming of Freudianism, we see, paradoxically, Marxists and Freudians engaged in an attempt to recode Marx and Freud: in the case of Marxism, you have a recoding by the State (“the State has made you ill, the State will cure you” —this cannot be the same State); and in the case of Freudianism, you have a re-coding by the family (you fall ill from the family and recover through the family — this is not the same family). What at the horizon of our culture, in fact, constitutes Marxism and psychoanalysis as those two fundamental bureaucracies, the one public, the other private, is their effort to recode as best they can precisely that which on the horizon ceaselessly tends to come uncoded. This is not at all what Nietzsche is about. His problem is elsewhere. For Nietzsche, it is about getting something through in every past, present, and future code, something which does not and will not let itself be re-coded.”(ID, 252). This «some-thing» that is about getting something but will not let itself be re-coded is the expression of the unconscious produced by the primary pulsion of the individual.
«Codes» are, according to Deleuze, laws, contracts, institutions. According to the French philosopher, Marx, and Freud, due to their «school of thought», remain enchained to the old [renewed] codes: a new State, a new family, a new relation of production. Nietzsche is, on the contrary, completely out-side this set of codes: he is the «codebreaker» of philosophy, the anti-philosopher who disowns laws, contracts and institutions. (NT,143) He gave thought a dimension of war-machine, a nomadic unit. (NT,149) Such Deleuzian interpretation of Nietzsche’s philosophy marks a total break with the previous political and philosophical thought and takes the fracture into the revolutionary decoding scenario. In The Civilized Capitalist Machine three decoding actions take place: we may call the ﬁrst one Schizophrenia of the Capital and it is minutely analyzed in the book Anti-Oedipus, the second one is the above-mentioned action of the codebreaker, a useless position in terms of insurrection as it does not provide any pragmatic or epistemological indication for a potential revolution. It’s none of Nietzsche’s intention to create movements nor to establish parties and new states because he serves both as the agent and object of decodiﬁcation (NT, 146). That is the reason why Nietzsche is a powerful ally to the third decoding action expressed by Deleuze and Guattari in the Anti-Oedipus and by the revolutionary movement born on the barricades of May 1968 - which refused the old ways to act and think, looking for innovative theoretical paths as well as efﬁcient subversive practice. Klossowski and Foucault are two other relevant allies: this close-knit community will be able to answer which revolutionary path and accelerationist process The Civilized Capitalist Machine passage refers to.
Going further in the movement of decoding and deterrito-rialization
Let us better analyze the proposal of going further. To go against Samir Amin’s left-wing nationalism means, for Deleuze and Guattari, to go further in the movement of decoding and deterritorialization of the market, where the movement does not solely apply to the market but to the revolutionary realm, too. The expression to go further can be read as a prolongation not only of the capital itself - as it may seem under an «eco-nomical» reading of the passage - but as a movement to take the process as far as possible, overturning the initial meaning. Deleuze reports in his Nietzsche (1965) that the same expression had already been used by Nietzsche in a passage from The Antichrist: “Mankind has ventured to call pity a virtue (--in every superior moral system it appears as a weakness--); going still further, it has been called the virtue, the source and foundation of all other virtues--but let us always bear in mind that this was from the standpoint of a philosophy that was nihilistic, and upon whose shield the denial of life was inscribed. Schopenhauer was right in this: that by means of pity life is denied, and made worthy of denial--pity is the technic of nihilism”.(AC, 11). The phrase «to go [still] fur-ther» is repeated twice in the passage The Civilized Capitalist Machine. If we follow Nietzsche’s interpretation of the nomad-ic deterritorialization and the lawless destruction - the decoding - we understand that the «process» to accelerate is quite the opposite of the one proper to the market. In Nietzsche’s thought, the market movement implies a nihilist praxis, a double negative movement, a «saying “no” to life», in Nietzschean words. The ﬁrst movement represses any impulse and destroys any difference, any self-organized network, being its only goal the constant ﬂow of goods to create and distribute richness through the remuneration of the capital. The second movement, immanent to the ﬁrst one, produces a process of level-ling and compliance as a necessary condition for the survival of humanity at such level of artiﬁciality. In Nietzsche’s fragment entitled The Strong of the Future the same process is highlighted and the two positive movements of liberation and differentiation - Nietzsche’s «saying yes to life» - represent, in Deleuze and Guattari’s words, a way to “free[ing] ﬂows, going further and further into contrivance: a schizophrenic is someone who’s been decoded, deterritorialized” especially when considering the process as a theory and a praxis of ﬂuxes with high schizophrenic content. “ We make a distinction between schizophrenia as a process and the way schizophrenics are produced as clinical cases that need hospitalizing: it’s almost the same thing in reverse. The schizophrenics in hospitals are people who’ve tried to do something and failed, cracked up. We’re not saying revolutionaries are schizophrenics. We’re saying there’s a schizoid process, of decoding and deterritorializing, which only revolutionary activity can stop turning into the production of schizophrenia.” (N, 23) At this point, their question is: what is schizoanalysis if nota militant libido-economic, libidino-political analysis? (N, 19) Moreover, assuming that the subconscious produces desire through a schizophrenic process, which goal does schizoanalysis have? Deleuze stunning deﬁnition follows: “Schizoanalysis has one single aim - to get revolutionary, artistic, and analytic machines working as parts, cogs, of one another. Again, if you take delire, we see it as having two poles, a fascist paranoid pole and a schizo-revolutionary pole. That’s what we’re interested in: rev- olutionary schisis as opposed to the despotic signiﬁer.” (N, 24) Our task is now to identify whether Nietzsche’s strong of the future exponents, and anticapitalist parasitic bohemians, introduced by the accelerationist fragment in the Anti-Oedipus, may correspond to Deleuze and Guattari’s anti-oedipal desiring machines and anti-fascist nomadic singularities.
The heart of the plot
Nietzsche’s phrase “ accelerate the process” is essential in shaping the concept of a «headless revolution» that Deleuze, Guattari and the revolutionary Nietzschean community were elaborating in the years 1968 - 1977. To fully understand the meaning of The Strong of the Future we need a hypertextual reading of the content because as Deleuze said: “ a text is nothing but a cog in a larger extra-textual practice” (DI, 259) to prolong and make it fruitful. An alliance with Klossowskì’s exegesis of the fragment The Strong of the Future and his masterful book Nietzsche and the Vicious Circle is necessary. Klossowski deﬁnes The Strong of the future as the fragment at the «heart of the plot», Deleuze and Guattari understanding the powerful message of anti-capitalist conspiracy, transfer it into the «heart» of their accelerationist passage known as The Civilized Capitalist Machine, essential core of the entire book Anti-Oedipus. Theirs is an indirect and updated reply to Nietzsche’s sovereign anti gregarious cast theory and a direct and afﬁrmative reply to Klossowski’s revolutionary query of an anti-establishment and anti-market conspiracy. Foucault will share the same impressive newness as expressed in his to the American edition of Anti-Oedipus: “Anti-Oedipus shows ﬁrst of all how much ground has been covered. But it does much more than that. It wastes no time in discrediting the old idols, even though it does have a great deal of fun with Freud. Most important, it motivates us to go further.” (INFL, 5) and about Klossowski he deﬁnes his Nietzsche and the Vicious Circle as the best book of philosophy ever read. What is then so precious and at the same time so subversive in Klossowski’s book about Nietzsche that makes the two French philosophers completely side with him?
The plot: origin and future
It is possible that Klossowski had been waiting for thirty years to be able to ﬁnd in Nietzsche’s Nachlass a conﬁrmation to his and Bataille’s thesis about a possible post-Zarathustra «plot-ting theory» against the economic system of society. Thanks to the dual alliance with Colli and Montinari on one side and with the two French philosophers on the other (a relationshipsolidiﬁed during the Royaumont Conference in July 1964), Klossowski may develop and elaborate an analysis on some speciﬁc Nietzschean themes, that will be completed with both his masterpiece Nietzsche and the Vicious Circle (1969) and his next reprise entitled Circulus Vitiosus, displayed at the Cerisy-la-Salle Convention in 1972. Circulus Vitiosus marks the «passing of the torch» from the generation of Nietzschean philosophers of the ‘30s to the new anti-philosophers of the ‘50s and ‘60s, independent from Marxist and structuralist schemes, like Foucault, Deleuze, Lyotard, Derrida to name a few.
Klossowski’s advice in reading some of Nietzsche’s fragments, namely The Strong of the Future, is “[to] overcome the feeling of strangeness that prima facie, Nietzsche’s afﬁrmations inspire” (CV, 33). In this fragment, Nietzsche asserts that the emancipation of European man will produce a new type of «excessive» man, the strong of the future, whose aim will not be the needs of society but the needs of the future. Klossowski clariﬁes that “The thought that a setting apart or isolation of a human group could be used as a method for creating a series of ‘rare and singular plants’ (a ‘race’ having ‘its own sphere of life, freed from any virtue-imperative): - this experimental character of the project - impracticable - if it were not the object of a vast conspiracy - because no amount of ‘planning’ could ever foresee ‘hothouses’ of this kind - would in some manner have to be inscribed in and produced by the very process of the economy."(NVC, 166) But the economy of any society would prefer destroying such «rare and singular plants», as the costs of their elimination would be less than those spent on their growth and their probable consequent eradication, once these plants would represent unrelated communities, whose political goal would be the overturning of any future representative deemed to have power. Thanks to this fragment the philosopher Klossowski ﬁnds an ethical opportunity to show a straightforward anti-system plot in Nietzsche’s words:
“This challenge is anticipated by every industrial morality, whose laws of production create a bad conscience in anyone who lives within the unexchangeable, and which can tolerate no culture or sphere of life that is not in some manner integrated into or subjected to general productivity. It is against this vast enterprise of intimidating the affects, whose amplitude measures, that Nietzsche proposes his own projects of selection, as so many menaces. These projects must provide for the propitious moment when these rare, singular and, to be sure, poisonous plants can be clandestinely cultivated - and then can blossom forth like an insurrection of the affects against every virtue-imperative.”(NVC, 167)
The ethical and moral fronts of the counterposing forces are on display here: on one side we have the productive gregarious constantly spurred on producing goods, each gaining his daily sovereign portion, following established and controlled codes, ﬁgures, rules, and behaviours, while on the other side the non-assimi lated men that Klossowski deﬁnes as a “... some secret, elusive community, whose actions would resist suppression by any regime. Only such a community would have the ability to disperse itself through its action whilst maintaining a certain efﬁcacy, at least until the inevitable moment when gregarious reality appropriates the community’s secret in some institutional capacity.”(CV, 34) Deleuze and Guattari replay the aforementioned «unproductive species» in the late XX century as an insurrectionary force in the accelerated processes of desiring-production. We have evidence of this idea in Deleuze’s Nomad Thought (written four months after Anti-Oedipus): “Confronted with the ways in which our societies become progressively decodiﬁed and unregulated, in which our codes break down at every point, Nietzsche is the only thinker who makes no attempt at recodiﬁcation. He says: the process still has not gone far too enough, we are still only children (“The emancipation of the European man is the great irreversible process of the present day, and the tendency should even be accelerated.”). In his own writing and thought Nietzsche assists in the attempt at decodiﬁcation - not in the relative sense, but expressing something that can not be codiﬁed, confounding all codes. But to confound all codes is not easy, even on the simplest level of writing and thought.”(NT, 143) At this point a discrepancy between the interpretation of the quote «accelerate the process» in Nietzsche and in Deleuze is to be noted and explained. A political Nietzsche thinks - according to Klossowski’s reading - that a possible ”a secret society comprised of experimenters, scholars, and artists, in other words, creators …. will know how to act according to the doctrine of the vicious circle and …. will make it the sine qua non of universal existence. (CV, 34)This community of singularities have at their back a society that follows an incessant economic growth for a «total management of the world» and a «planetary planning of the existence»; whereas in Anti-Oedipus there is no hint of such plans. Theirs (Deleuze and Guattari's) is a message of hope through the conﬂict. The century of revolutions has occurred, maybe even ahead of Nietzsche’s imagination, and it is exactly from the extraordinary load of energy/desire coming out from such breaking events, that Nietzsche’s hothouses - differentiation - as well as Deleuze and Guattari’s revolutionary events - rise. The afﬁrmative delirium of the nomadic codebreakers that accelerate the process of destitution of codes and spaces through a schizo-desiring pro-duction, corresponds and substitutes in Deleuze and Guattari’s anti-philosophy, the ﬁgure of the strong-of-the-future-plotter. As far as the “ we are still only children” is concerned, Deleuze in his Anti-Oedipus hints at a parodistic reprimand towards «the poisonous childhood charm» in the process of acceleration of delirious behaviors of the mutinous ones to come. But we need Klossowski to fully understand the meaning of it: “The power of the propagation of the species is already turned against the instrument that multiplied it: the industrial spirit, which raised gregariousness to the rank of the sole agent of existence, will have thus carried the seeds of its own destruction with itself. Despite appearances, the new species, ‘strong enough to have no need of the tyranny of the virtue-imperative’, does not yet reign; and unless it is already preparing for it on the backs of the classes, what it will ultimately bring about - the most fearful thing of its kind - is perhaps still sleeping in the cradle.”(NCV, 167,168) What a terrible joke and dread for the gregarious of any time to breed vipers in their bosom! Nietzsche may laugh in the end, with his Dionysian laugh: “It often happens that Nietzsche comes face to face with something sick- ening, ignoble, disgusting. Well, Nietzsche thinks it’s funny, and he would add fuel to the ﬁre if he could. He says: keep going, it’s still not disgusting enough. Or he says: excellent, how disgusting, what a marvel, what a masterpiece, a poisonous ﬂower, ﬁnally the “human species is getting interesting.”(DI, 257). Deleuze is right here in afﬁrming:“It is perhaps in this sense that Nietzsche announces the advent of a new politics ... which Klossowski calls a plot against his own class.”
The truth is that we haven’t seen anything yet
Let us now analyze the last phrase of the accelerationist passage of The Civilized Capitalist Machine: “in this matter, the truth is that we haven’t seen anything yet.” (AO, 239) It is necessary to go back to Michel Foucault’s speech in Royaumont in 1964 during one of the ﬁrst seminaries organized on Nietzsche, entitled: Nietzsche, Freud, Marx. Foucault’s speech isabout the techniques of interpretations in the three philoso-phers who - according to him - have “put us back into the presence of a new possibility of interpretation (...), into an uncomfortable position, since these techniques of interpretation concern us, since we, the interpreters, have begun to interpret ourselves by these techniques. (AME, 272) The works of these three authors have inﬂicted a heavy blow to the western thought, but these techniques are necessary especially because, Foucault continues, the language is suspicious. “Suspecting language” signiﬁes “that it means something other than what it says”(AME, 270). According to Foucault there are four characteristics of the new hermeneutic as a basis of an interpretative system that we still apply today: depth meant as exteriority, incompleteness, the primacy of interpretation with respect to signs and ﬁnally an inﬁnite self-interpretation. Deleuze will draw from Foucault’s words for his Conclusion of the Royaumont seminar: “The reason why we still think there are many hidden aspects of Nietzsche and his work is due to methodological reasons. Each single fact can not have a sin- gle meaning. Each fact/thing displays many levels of meaning which express the forces and the becoming of such forces in it. (...) Foucault showed it to us: Nietzsche invented new ways of interpretation … so that the interpretations themselves denounce the «type» that is he who is interpreting, renouncing to the question «what?» in favour of the question «who?»” Deleuze is clearly taking distance from the intellectuals of his time that combine these three philosophers, saying in his Nomad Thought: “Probably most of us ﬁx the dawn of our modern culture in the trinity Nietzsche-Freud-Marx. Never mind that by doing so you defuse the explosiveness of each from the start.” (NT, 142) Who wanted to do so? He continues: “But the fact that modern philosophy has found the source of its renewal in the Nietzsche-Marx-Freud trinity is indeed rather ambiguous and equivocal. Because it can be interpreted positively as well as negatively. For example, after the war, philosophies of value were in vogue. Everyone was talking about values, and they wanted “axiology” to replace both ontology and the theory of knowledge… But it wasn’t the least bit Nietzschean or Marxist in inspiration. On the contrary, no one talked about Nietzsche or Marx at all, no one knew them, and they didn’t want to know them. What they made of “value” was a place to resurrect the most traditional, abstract spiritualism imaginable: they called on values in order to inspire a new conformity which they believed was better suited to the modern world, you know, the respect for values, etc. For Nietzsche, as well as for Marx, the notion of value is strictly inseparable 1) from a radical and total critique of society and the world (look at the theme of the “fetish” in Marx, or the theme of “idols” in Nietzsche), and 2) from a creation no less radical: Nietzsche’s transvaluation, and Marx’s revolutionary action. So, in the post-war context, everyone was all for using a concept of value, but they had completely neutralized it; they had subtracted all critical or creative sense from it. What they made of it was an instrument of established values. It was pure anti-Nietzsche — even worse, it was Nietzsche hijacked, annihilated, suppressed, it was Nietzsche brought back to Sunday mass."(DI, 135). To explain why “we haven’t seen anything yet,” Deleuze says: “Now, Marx and Freud, perhaps, to represent the dawn of our culture, but Nietzsche is something entirely different: the dawn of counterculture.” (NT 142). In the year 1972, this counterculture has just started and therefore Deleuze and Guattari state that such revolution is in itinere and it will probably be well-combative and well-aware. We, readers of today, do know that such destabilizing omen has not occurred [yet] but maybe The Strong of the Future generation is among us, embodied by silicon men and nomadic plotters.
to be continued ...
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Obsolete Capitalism - THE STRONG OF THE FUTURE. NIETZSCHE’S ACCELERATIONIST FRAGMENT IN DELEUZE AND GUATTARI’S ANTI-OEDIPUS
Obsolete Capitalism - Acceleration, Revolution and Money in Deleuze and Guattari's Anti-OEdipus (Part 1)
Obsolete Capitalism - Acceleration, Revolution and Money in Deleuze and Guattari's Anti-OEdipus (Part 2)
Obsolete Capitalism: Acceleration, Revolution and Money in Deleuze and Guattari's Anti-OEdipus (Part 3)
Obsolete Capitalism - Acceleration, Revolution and Money in Deleuze and Guattari's Anti-OEdipus (Part 4)
Obsolete Capitalism: Acceleration, Revolution and Money in Deleuze and Guattari's Anti-OEdipus (Part 5)
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Terence Blake - GUATTARI’S LINES OF FLIGHT (2): transversal vs transferential approaches to the reading contract
Himanshu Damle - Games and Virtual Environments: Playing in the Dark. Could These be Havens for Criminal Networks?
Himanshu Damle - Hegelian Marxism of Lukács: Philosophy as Systematization of Ideology and Politics as Manipulation of Ideology.
Nick Land - The unconscious is not an aspirational unity but an operative swarm, a population of 'preindividual and prepersonal singularities'