Obsolete Capitalism: Acceleration, Revolution and Money in Deleuze and Guattari's Anti-OEdipus (Part 5)
by Obsolete Capitalism
Obsolete Capitalism: Acceleration, Revolution and Money in Deleuze and Guattari's Anti-OEdipus (Part 4)
The modes of expression of impulsive forces
There are only few pages, but they are dense and enigmatic perhaps more than any book ever published: Living Currency is the text through which Klossowski gives his farewell to writing – from then on (1970) he would be involved in different projects, such as translations, art exhibitions: paintings and movies – and at the same time it constitutes a powerful introduction to the Anti-OEdipus, an anoedipic incipit from a different author. Living Currency creates a philosophical space to decrypt, building an underground passage that connects all different publications and stations of thought constituting the French revolutionary Rhizosphere: Nietzsche’s Notebook (1887- 1888) by Nietzsche, Nietzsche and the Vicious Circle (1969), The Anti-OEdipus (1972), Nomad Thought (1972), Circulus Vitiosus (1972), Nietzsche, Genealogy, History (1971), Lectures on the Will to Knowledge (1970- 1971), Libidinal Economy (1974). The Klossowskian volume breaks, breaches, overflows and distributes with few incisive sentences large gashes of thought and possible research avenues that Deleuze, Guattari, Foucault and Lyotard will then walk wildly, rapidly and productively, as “young wolves of future revolutions”. The context within which the paradox of Living Currency is articulated is one where industrial civilisation – Klossowskian term which seems more accurate than the general “capitalism” – has diffused its negative effects by infecting the whole society through institutes of uprightness and conformity, which connotes the attribution to the means of production of a powerful contamination – and, thus, affective engraving – capacity on the individuals and the community. That is the same homogeneous, levelled, economized and nihilistic society that Nietzsche described in the fragment The Strong of the Future. The Nietzsche-Klossowski axis, then, assigns to the levelled industrial civilisation a dangerous production capacity that is both affective and infective. Foucault, on the same wavelength, would explain the «positivity» of power with a similar argumentative leverage: “What makes power hold good, what makes it accepted, is simply the fact that it doesn’t only weigh on us as a force that says no, but that it traverses and produces things, it induces pleasure, forms knowledge, produces discourse. It needs to be considered as a productive network which runs through the whole social body, much more than as a negative instance whose function is repression.” (PK, 119) Deleuze and Guattari hold a similar position and raise the level of analysis bypassing ideological and psychoanalytical nuances: “[E]verything is objective or subjective, as one wishes. That is not the distinction: the distinction to be made passes into the economic infrastructure itself and into its investments. Libidinal economy is no less objective than political economy, and the political no less subjective than the libidinal, even though the two correspond to two modes of different investments of the same reality as social reality” (AE, 345). If Marx believes that the structure is the economic skeleton of society and the superstructure is everything that derives from it, Klossowski reverses the framework and sets as the «ultimate infrastructure» the “behavior of emotions and instincts.” (LC, 3) Consequently, it follows that “economic standards form in turn a substructure of affect, not the ultimate infrastructure” and that, more in depth, “economic norms are, like the arts or the moral or religious institutions, or like all the forms of knowledge, one mode of the expression and representation of instinctive forces.” (LC, 3) As Foucault had already realized in his letter to Klossowski, the triangle “desire, value, simulacrum” that dominates us and has been characterising us for millennia, already existed ever since the invention of money in Asia Minor in the VIII century B.C.; hence, the triangle must be treated as something forged in the depths of times, because the historical period of time in which reality gets «monetarized» is certainly the product of a slow centuries-long process of transformation, before reaching its own metal round form that has been bequeathed until today. In Phrygia, where Greek mythology locates the fundamental passage from pre-money to actual money, the coining of the nomisma bore the effigy of the goddess Money (Dea Moneta), the wife of King Midas, Demodice or Hermodice; according to Heraclides Lembus, on the money of Cumae coined by queen Hermodice the Genius of Money (Genio della moneta) holds the scale and the cornucopia in his hands. Greek mythology suggests us that, ever since its invention, the concept of money figures in popular wisdom as a concatenation of sovereignty, sacredness, fertility and equity; and already in ancient times there were people who used to rise against the improper use of the circulation of the “metal disks”: Julius Pollux, at the apex of Hellenism in the Roman Empire, critiqued the obolastates, i.e. those who used to lend and weight the oboli, and the obolastatein, the practice of lending oboli. The perverse intersection of simulacrum, value and desire, presented by Foucault as the explanatory structure of universal economy, is then absolutely coherent with the rhizospheric analysis of money. Klossowski of Living Currency suggests that monetary economics and theology are nothing but reciprocal disguises: money, from the beginning of Western civilisation, has been regarded as the universal representative instrument of a generalized economy which already has an innate abstract potential for sacredness and sovereignty, and, in turn, for desire-will to power at its highest level. According to Klossowski, money is the universal simulacrum; in industrial societies the domain of money, after centuries of adjustments, has completely substituted the real world and misrepresents its subjugated phantasm. Klossowski had already matured the concept of a universal economy through the scrutinizer of Chaos (Nietzsche) of the passages on energy in relation to world structure: “At a given moment of the accumulated force of the emotions, there is also the absolute condition of a new distribution, and hence a disruption of equilibrium. Nietzsche conceives of a universal economy whose effects he experiences in his own moods.” (NVC, 110) The line that links Nietzsche and the vicious circle (1969) and Living Currency (1970) is, thus, the analysis of impulsive simulacra that act upon a generalized universal economy. We have already entered the Anti-OEdipus, the Nietzsche of the 80’s of XIX century, and the Foucault of the 70’s of XX century. This represents the core of revolutionary Nietzscheism which influenced the street struggle of 1968 and further on, pure energy and dynamite ready for future struggles: Klossowski develops with great clarity the theoretical nucleus of impulse, body, simulacrum, value, production, consumption, arguing that “”The way they [instinctive forces] express themselves, both in the economy and finally in our industrial world, is subject to the way they have been handled by the economy of the reigning institutions.” That this preliminary and ultimate infrastructure is more and more determined by its own reactions to the previously existing substructures is unquestionably true, but the forces at play continue the struggle among infrastructures into the substructures. So, though these forces initially express themselves in a specific manner according to economic standards, they themselves create their own repression, as well as the means of smashing that repression, which they experience to different degrees: “and this goes on as long as does the battle among the instincts, which is waged within a given organism for and against the formation of the organism as their agent, for and against psychic and bodily unity. Indeed, that is where the first ‘production’ and ‘consumption’ schemes come into being, the first signs of compensation and haggling.” (LC, 4) Thus is the key passage for the whole Rhizomatic universe: Klossowski shows in this theoretical nucleus the hidden role of the sphere of instincts. Given its concealment, or its secluded core due to a lack of visible external outlets, the sphere of instincts gets «economized» inside the industrial world. What the industrial world consumes the most is the instinct to procreate, which is a product of the voluptuousness of the instinctual body, labelling it as a good but at the same time, and in the opposite direction, the body procures emotions, concealed and excessive, abstract substance for a «phantasm» – the ghostly entity which recurs obsessively in Klossowski’s thought – upon which instincts act again as backward-action. “Nothing exists apart from impulses that are essentially generative of phantasms. The simulacrum [i.e. the Nietzschean Trugbild] is not the product of a phantasm, but its skilful reproduction, by which humanity can produce itself, through forces that are thereby exorcized and dominated by the impulse.” (NCV, 133) This is the level at which the phantasm has been already created and instincts and passions are not available anymore to consume and cede the phantasm itself – that is, the producer of desire which reproduces itself. Additionally, this is the crucial point around which the emotional value, otherwise called libidinal value, is formed – as Nietzsche points out, “in place of moral values, purely naturalistic values” (Opere fr. 9  vol. VIII, section 2, p. 6, quoted in NVC, 106). The translation of impulsive forces, the instincts, in “economic representations” of the emotional value – according to Nietzsche, the only being that we know is a being that has representations (O, fr. 11  vol. V, section 2) – will then be a simulacrum: which simulacrum could be better than the merge of money, simulacrum itself of objective value, and a living body, simulacrum which incarnates the procreative phantasm? The synthesis of such double simulacrum in the economy of industrial civilisation is the living currency, a simulacrum reinforced by emotion that it procures, hence the «living currency» is the expression of the libidinal value carved in bodies. What industrial civilisation consumes through standardization – the various simulacra of the phantasm: prostitution, sexual slavery, eroticism, assorted industries of pleasure – the body produces through economization. Consumed good vs. libidinal value. This means that the body “manifests itself” attributing value to the instincts but, in order to defend it “impulsive phantasm” that is desire, opposes the «mechanical simulacrisation» of industrial economy. The body is the battlefield of the harsh clash between opposite forces: social production against desiring production. Such clash can yield two opposing outcomes: the first – and unfortunately the prevailing in both the industrial civilisation and in the rising digital one – is the hyper-gregariousness of the individual, who is reduced to a mere instrument to support tamed passions and desires captured by social standardization whose objective is the unity reproducible in the production line; the second is where instincts and affections prevail on the repression of impulses and the “support” acquires its own sovereignty by degregarizing itself. In the stage that follows such rediscovered sovereignty - through the evident self-organisation of behaviours - singularity itself gets desubjectivised overturning its own nature of stable subject, and opening itself to the industrious metamorphosis of desires, and, thus, to perpetual transformation and to the extreme idleness of the nomads of the future.
Compliant supports and formations of sovereignty
The settlement and the coalition of instinctual forces in an endless turmoil aimed at opposing the besieging social and economic body provide us with the grid of the battle that happens inside and outside bodies. The “grim organisations” of social syntheses that surround bodies and impulsive forces are nothing but Nietzsche Herrschaftsgebilde, the formations of sovereignty which we can trace in Nietzsche’s posthumous fragments of 1887 and 1888. Inside and outside the body, the battle between impulsive forces infuriates. Sensuality, and its following stage, sexuality, impede any perspective, even an economic one, thus they must be repressed. The first wave of repression is used by formations of sovereignty to structure a «compliant whole», or, in Klossowski’s terms, an “organic and psychic unity”. Although it is formed inside the shell of the whole as “completed essence”, the compliant support is always and anyway object of the battle of impulses and instincts in the attempt to free themselves from formations of sovereignty and from the forces that constitute them. The expression outbursts of these struggles and counter-struggles, attacks and oppositions, manifest themselves “through a hierarchy of values translated into a hierarchy of needs.” (LC, 4) According to Klossowski “the hierarchy of needs is the economic form of repression that the existing institutions impose by and through the agent’s consciousness on the imponderable forces of his psychic life.” (LC, 4) Klossowski’s condemnation of traditions – and his gregarious «translations» – which dominate society is rather incisive. He faces three contemporary interpretations which fight the liberation goals of the Rhizosphere and attack the generalized economy in which the “libidinal values” participate through “the new hierarchy of impulses”, which philosophers like Deleuze want to initiate: the laissez-faire attitude that traverses the hierarchy of needs dictates a different hierarchy of values thanks to the exclusion of the sexual need from primary needs, nullifying its emotional value; Marxism, which enthrones industrial economy and commercialized values as the primary structure, relegating the sexual sphere to the super-structure; psychoanalysis, which accepts to segregate the libidinal economy to the family triangle, separating the social aspect from the object of study, and suffering the same division operated by Marxism – society will be the object of study of scientific socialism, while the subconscious and the family social atom will be of interest to psychoanalysis. In Klossowski, the authors that belong to the triad of dominance and subjection are Raymond Aron, Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud. The purpose of the Rhizosphere will be to liberate the individual and collective revolutionary potential by overturning and overcoming on this point Nietzsche, who, on the contrary, in The Strong of the Future wished for a discrete community of irregular and exchangeable seditious. Deleuze and Guattari in the Anti-OEdipus intervene on the topic of the opposition to the dominant economic rules through secret impulsive production, and they do so by linking their argument to this exact crucial passage of Klossowski’s Living Currency. The two Parisian philosophers point out that “[t]he two kinds of fantasy, or rather the two regimes, are therefore distinguished according to whether the social production of “goods” imposes its rule on desire through the intermediary of an ego whose fictional unity is guaranteed by the goods themselves, or whether the desiring-production of affects imposes its rule on institutions whose elements are no longer anything but drives.” (AE, 63) We will have, in the first regime, the subjugated, the gregarious-supports and exchangeability, while in the second regime, the “desiring machines”, nomads and the schizo of the future who crave for commercial inconvertibility. In the history of utopian socialism, a French philosopher, among the least current, worked on topics like community, affections, economy and social harmony: Charles Fourier. Both Klossowski – in the Living Currency – and Deleuze and Guattari – in the Anti-OEdipus – recall his work:
“If we must still speak of Utopia in this sense, à la Fourier, it is most assuredly not as an ideal model, but as revolutionary action and passion. In his recent works Klossowski indicates to us the only means of bypassing the sterile parallelism where we flounder between Freud and Marx: by discovering how social production and relations of production are an institution of desire, and how affects or drives form part of the infrastructure itself. For they are part of it, they are present in every way while creating within the economic forms their own repression, as well as the means for breaking this repression.” (AE, 63)
Impulsive forces and the will to power
If, according to Deleuze and Guattari, “true is it that the schizo practices political economy, and that all sexuality is a matter of economy” (AE, 13), then, we can commence the final summary of this essay by presenting schizophrenia in market societies. The reason is that, if, on the one hand, “[c]ivilization is defined by the decoding and the deterritorialization of flows in capitalist production”, on the other hand “[o]ur societies exhibit a marked taste for all codes – codes foreign or exotic – but this taste is destructive and morbid.” (AE, 245) The destruction of codes would represent a result common to both entities, capitalism and revolution – since the pure spirit of insurrection is in favour of the destruction of the “prominent taste for codes.” We ought to clarify the differences of regime between the two accelerationist entities, given the identity of nature, otherwise we shall fall in great misunderstandings. To this end, we summon «Nietzsche the Destroyer» of autumn 1888: “the will to power is the primitive form of affect, that all other affects are only developments of it; that it is notably enlightening to posit power in place of individual ‘happiness’ (after which every living thing is supposed to be striving): ‘there is a striving for power, for an increase of power’; - pleasure is only a symptom of the feeling of power attained, a consciousness of a difference.” (O, fr. 14, , vol. VIII, part 3, quoted in NVC 101) “There is neither ‘mind’, nor reason, nor thought, nor consciousness, nor soul, nor will, nor truth: so many useless fictions. It is not a matter of ‘subject’ or ‘object’, but of a certain animal species who thrives because of a justice, and above all regularity relative to its perceptions (so that it can capitalize on its own experience)…” (O, fr. 14, , vol. VIII, part 3, quoted in NVC 102). And finally “there is no law: every power draws its ultimate consequence at every moment. Calculability exists precisely because things are unable to be other than they are. A quantum of power is designated by the effect it produces and that which it resists.” (O, fr. 14, , vol. VIII, part 3,quoted in NVC 108) Klossowski comments the three fragments as follows: “As a primordial impulse – this is what must be emphasized – the will to power is the term that expresses force itself. If the will to power appears in the human species and the phenomenon of animality – that is to say, in the phenomenon of the ‘living being’ – as a ‘special’ case, and thus as an ‘accident’ of its essence, it will not be conserved in the species or the individual it acts upon, but by its very nature will disrupt the conservation of an attained level, since by necessity it will always exceed this level through its own increase. Thus, for everything that might want to preserve itself at a certain degree, whether a society or an individual, the will to power appears essentially as a principle of disequilibrium.” (NCV, 103) Deleuze and Guattari use in the Anti-OEdipus the term “desire” as a substitute for the Nietzschean “will to power” (CO, 95) and, thus, for “primitive form of affect”. Nietzsche himself asked “Is ‘will to power’ a kind of ‘will’ or identical with the concept ‘will’? Is it the same thing as desiring?” (O, fr. 14, , vol. VIII, part 3, quoted in NVC 102). Such conception of desire is the weapon that shakes – as an irresistible impulsive force – both the individual and society, transforming through a process of metamorphosis and instability each individual in a potential nonconformist and each society in a potential field of wild and energetic revolutionary intensity. However, we ought to distinguish the two natural poles within which the proactive, or affirmative, intensity field oscillates in order to understand the risks hidden within the de-structuring desire: for what concerns society, on one side we will have destructive and decoding capitalism, and on the other side the “desiring and headless”, destructive and liberatory revolution, as an accelerated moment of unburdening from accumulated power; instead, for what concerns the individual, on one side we will have the paranoiac and reactionary pole, and on the other side the schizophrenic and revolutionary one. However, it would be a serious mistake to generally confuse and identify the processes of destruction and liberation of capitalism and of paranoid man, with those of revolution and of the schizophrenic man. Indeed, Deleuze and Guattari wrote that “While decoding doubtless means understanding and translating a code, it also means destroying the code as such, assigning it an archaic, folkloric, or residual function, which makes of psychoanalysis and ethnology two disciplines highly regarded in our modern societies. Yet it would be a serious error to consider the capitalist flows and the schizophrenic flows as identical, under the general theme of a decoding of the flows of desire. Their affinity is great, to be sure: everywhere capitalism sets in motion schizo-flows that animate “our” arts and “our” sciences, just as they congeal into the production of “our own” sick, the schizophrenics.” (AE, 245) As both Srnicek and Williams, and Pasquinelli remind us, capitalism “axiomatises with one hand what it decodes with the other.” (AE, 246; GADC, 20, point 3) If, at the border of chaos, the function of axiomatisation bears signs of recovery and control, as well as of exploitation in order to maximise profits and collect new values from “new lands”, the function of schizo-revolution bears the sign of demolition and overcoming in order to evade from containment fields where the impulsive primordial force would hover, neutralizing itself. In order to conquer new boundaries and spot “new lands” the energetics of desire does not accept capitalisation, regularisation, and equilibrium. For contemporary capital, the anti-chaotic fastening agent and the Recovery Teams are respectively money and unlimited abstract quantities, storage for accumulated money-risk, absolute liquidity and the infinite repetition of credit and debit.
Incessant movement and the breaking of balance
Here Nietzsche’s Eternal Return comes into play. According to Klossowski, the distinctive sign of the Vicious Circle – this is the term he uses to define the Nitzschean Eternal Return – is an incessant movement, “readying the individual to will its own annihilation as an individual by teaching the individual to exceed itself by re-willing itself, and to re-will itself only in the name of this insatiable power. The Eternal Return would here from the counterpart to knowledge, which, if it increases in proportion to power, nonetheless has the conservation of the species as its major preoccupation. Now the Eternal Return (as the expression of a becoming with neither goal nor purpose) makes knowledge ‘impossible’, at least with regard to ends, and always keeps knowledge at the level of means: the means of conserving itself. This in turn is what determines the reality principle, which therefore is always a variable principle. But not only does the Eternal Return not determine reality, it suspends the very principle of reality, and in a certain manner leaves it to the discretion of the more or less felt degree of power – or better, to its intensity.” (NCV, 104) The essence of the Return, or the Phantasm, is, thus, the repetition of the same Unequal, that is, the reiteration of random difference, the energetics of the fortuitous. Simulacra keep returning, and their unavoidability determines a series of disindividuations. The perpetual transformational power of schizo-nomad singularity that embraces the doctrine of the eternal return is certainly antithetical to the gregariousness deriving from the Axiomatised Return of Capital and from the Return to the Identical of the subjected individual: in fact, the doctrine of the Vicious Circle elaborated by the axis Nietzsche-Klossowski foresees the “return of power”, which is nothing but the “sequence of balance breakings” and ultimately the destitution of the identity subject. Deleuze and Guattari, indeed, fully understand this difference between relative limits, always reconstituted, of the capitalist process and the absolute limits of the revolutionary schizophrenic process. The schizo-revolutionary process interacts with Chaos, seeks the creative dimension in order to interact with chaotic forces, altering the existent; the capitalistic process stops at the boundary of Chaos, it does not remove the boundary, the wall that separate itself from the chaotic outside, but – rationally – it capitalises its steps, returns to virgin spaces recently acquired and ploughs them in order to enrich them with new axiomatics. The boundaries that capital assigns to itself are determined by the network of centres of balance and of monetary trans-valuation, which it plans and builds at the limits of its delirium. If “schizophrenia pervades the entire capitalist field from one end to the other”, for Capitalism “it is a question of binding the schizophrenic charges and energies into a world axiomatic that always opposes the revolutionary potential of decoded flows with new interior limits.” (AE, 246) From these words it seems that the barrier – the line that separates capitalism from the boundary of Chaos – is the line of the monetarisable. The area of creation, of experimentation, of implicit failure of the analysis and of research for its own sake, according to capitalism cannot be irrigated with monetary flows: too many energetic impulses with no sense nor purpose circulate: in fact, it lacks the main purpose of capital, namely the profitability derived from the “extraction of value”. Both sense and purpose are determinations of the principle of reality to which ultimately market firms always refer. Indeed, Deleuze and Guattari write that “[m]onetary flows are perfectly schizophrenic realities, but they exist and function only within the immanent axiomatic that exorcises and repels this reality.” (AE, 246) The equalising axiomatic recovers what has been decoded and indirectly represses the subversive charge released by the primitive affirmative force, enclosing in the monetarisable space of the global circuit what had just been dispensed by the code. Money controls, through the blazes of flames and the fumes of combustion, and distributes at a higher level, a global one. For such reason, money does not evolve, but rather remains into the circuit, in which arranges itself according to indigenous speeds. There, in advanced circulation, money itself and, as Marx wrote, “[t] he value originally advanced, therefore, not only remains intact while in circulation, but adds to itself a surplus value or expands itself. It is this movement that converts it into capital.” (C, vol. I, part 2, ch. IV, p.79) However, the fracture happens exactly here, the overcoming of the Marxian concepts of money, money-value, money-good, money-fetish, by the new function attributed to money by the political philosophy of Deleuze, Guattari and the whole French revolutionary Rhizosphere. Money, in its unlimited abstract quantity is indifferent to the qualified nature of flows; this means that money is trans-qualitative, as its process of distribution and circulation; it has made itself independent and self-organised, both with respect to short cycles of exchange (money-commodity-money; M-C-M) as well as the circulating special nature (territory-exchange-territory; T-E-T), that is, sovereignty. And if “the strength of capitalism indeed resides in the fact that its axiomatic is never saturated, that it is always capable of adding a new axiom to the previous ones”, this would mean that it is “monetarisation [which] everywhere comes to fill the abyss of capitalist immanence, introducing there, as Schmitt says, “a deformation, a convulsion, an explosion – in a word, a movement of extreme violence.” (AE, 250) Control, power, desire, independence, self-organisation, indifference, violence, trans-quality: these are the new characteristics of money at the time of the Anti-OEdipus, that is, at the time of infinite and abstract monetary economy, which add themselves to those classic determinations already highlighted by critics of political economy. Nowadays, money-liquidity accumulated, abstract, and digitalized – in other words, dematerialized and financialised money which preserves the characteristics of the seventies, accumulating them – is the main instrument of capitalist accelerationism. It develops itself through capitals’ restless nomadism in the quest for punctual and planetary profit together with the monetary infinite as an effective anti-crisis instrument, generated by the increase in monetary mass and by the perpetual creation of liquidity thanks to the wise dosage of vertical and horizontal transactions of the public and private sector by Central Banks across the world, coordinated among themselves. It is the system of Central Banks independent from political power that ultimately determines the liquidity of the system and the injection of money in the traditional banking system and in the network circling of capital markets. The crucial innovation of the roles of circuits, platforms, markets, currencies and Central Banks, already in expansion and in phase of consolidation during the years of the rhizospheric analysis, has been actively registered in the accelerationist passage of The Civilised Capitalist Machine under the section of “Immanent Axiomatic of Capital.” (AE, 250)
The modern immanent machine
“The modern immanent machine, which consists in decoding the flows on the full body of capital-money: it has realized the immanence, it has rendered concrete the abstract as such and has naturalized the artificial, replacing the territorial codes and the despotic overcoding with an axiomatic of decoded flows, and a regulation of these flows; it effects the second great movement of deterritorialization, but this time because it doesn’t allow any part of the codes and overcodes to subsist.” (AE, 261)
If, at the time of the Anti-OEdipus, the two movements of evasion from the territory and return to the territory could express conformant powers or at most powers provided with a temporary equilibrium, in the period of time that separates the present from the seventies we have assisted to the hyper-performance of money and its evasion from the territory, creating a strong imbalance with respect to the return to «dry land», which has manifested itself in a progressive and advanced undermining of nations, of popular identities, of local institutions and of the social sector ramified on the surface of the Earth. Monetary abstraction, in symbiosis with mathematics, cybernetics, computer science and logistics, has acquired so much value in drawing itself closer to unlimited extensions and elastic chronoscopic speeds that the rapid domination reached in these last few years of domestication has no equals in history, accelerating that radical nihilism envisaged by Nietzsche in the second half of the XIX century. The boundaries of monetary abstraction still have to be drawn, especially now in a time of forced circulation determines by negative interests, which is a signal of the approximation of the nummus to the «zero degree» of infinite monetary circulation. It is likely that formations of sovereignty have entered a phase of metamatic constraint of the monetary instrument in order to test the state of preservation of the force of imbalance of the whole system. The crisis of industrial capitalism and the birth of a post-industrial capitalism triggered by credit and monetarism surfaced and erupted - as recalled earlier – in the renown “Nixon shock” of August 1971, when the US dollar was unpegged from the gold standard, overturning the millenary principle of sovereignty of the gold currency – nomisma Caesaris in auro est. The epochal passage from «geological» currency – the US dollar – to the abstract and «headless» currency, unlimited because free from any fixed rate or concrete value, is certainly the product of circumstantial dynamics and paroxysmal processes going back to Bretton Woods and to the competition between nations and opposing geopolitical forces, but it also marks the moment of authenticity of the statement of the economist de Brunhoff when she writes that there is no contemporaneity between capital and credit: “That is why in capitalism even credit, formed into a system, brings together composite elements that are both ante-capitalist (money, money commerce) and post-capitalist (the credit circuit being a higher circulation…). Adapted to the needs of capitalism, credit is never really contemporary with capital. The system of financing born of the capitalist mode of production remains a bastard.” (de Brunhoff, La monnaie in Marx, p. 147, quoted in AE, 206) It is clear that the system of credit financing will survive to the agony of industry and to the disappearance of labour, because historically it existed before capitalism, and in some of its aspects it has been anticipating the future override of the system. The self-organisation in planetary platforms and the independence reached by the political and institutional order has made credit – accumulated, distributed, rapid, liquid and abstract money – and finance – fluxions, cybernetics, reticulated, dromological and metamatic money – autonomous circulations, in great part estranged from the circulation of capitals in the real economy. In the lecture he gave on 16th November 1971 at Vincennes, Deleuze went beyond the elaboration that he would have soon presented in the Anti-OEdipus (February 1972) and introduced a definition of money – infinite reproduction of a flow of abstract quantities – very relevant, even more today than at the time:
“With money which itself can no longer be coded, within a certain framework, we begin with money and we end with money. M[oney]-C[ommodity]-M[oney], there is absolutely no means of coding this thing here because the qualified flows are replaced by a flow of abstract quantity whose proper essence is the infinite reproduction for which the formula is M-C-M. No code can support infinite reproduction. What is formidable in so-called primitive societies is how debt exists, but exists in the form of a finite block, debt is finite.” (Webdeleuze, lecture of 16th November 1971).
Infinite reproduction of money and credit
If money is the infinite reproduction of a flow of abstract quantities, we can then conceive it as a software related to a hardware, i.e. the digital chrematistics, which has already introjected in our age the metamatic nature, and swiftly travels within digital networks, inside a superior, artificial and over-human circulation. Money, in the Anti-OEdipus and even more today, is a decoded abstraction that sums up value, order, number, calculous, distribution and speed. For a Left, and a revolutionary movement, that, still in 1972, in disconnected and confused ways, take as reference the field of «Marxist humanism», the shift of the axis of critical theory from the world of production and industry to the domain of flows and of money-credit has been opposed for a long time, if not openly rejected. The shift in paradigm, though, released certain effects and reached an unstoppable critical mass of its own. The infinite reproduction of money in the global circuit has reached its accelerated peak thanks to the role played by the global network of Central Banks of constant injection and coordinated punctual inflating. Infinite money, thus, has circuits of commercial perpetual reproduction, which we will term ‘relative’, and circuits of perpetual financial reproduction, which we will term ‘absolute’, managed by supranational global institutional networks. It will be necessary to restart from here, from this Nietzsche-Klossowski-Deleuze axis and, generally, from the French revolutionary Rhizosphere, in order to perfect the tools and analyses capable of dig into real information of gregarious sovereignty formations. Certainly the aggressive and polemical work of Deleuze and Guattari in the phase of the Anti-OEdipus had the great merit of identifying the growing systemic fault line that was about to shift, to deteriorate and to rupture – the great historical asymmetry between infinite and money, mobility and credit, stability and capital – which brought market economies, with deep and abrupt transitional crises, from the planned quantitative industrial world to the post-productive cybernetic-credit-financial world. Additionally, one of the most relevant merits of the Anti-OEdipus is having theorised, starting from the considerations of Nietzsche and Foucault, the monetary and credit infinite. If the “infinite creditor” was to be traced back “new collective memory” conceived by Nietzsche in The Genealogy of Morals, and concerning “a debt system: […] a voice that speaks or intones, a sign marked in bare flesh, an eye that extracts enjoyment from the pain”, “infinite money” is then to be related to Foucault’s Lectures on the Will to Know that he gave in February 1971. The “infinite creditor” is certainly according to Nietzsche the Christian God, while the debt, in ancient societies as well as in commercial ones, fulfils the task “to breed man, […] to form him within the debtor-creditor relation, which on both sides turns out to be a matter of memory – a memory straining toward the future.” (AE, 180) “Infinite money”, according to Foucault in 1971, is born instead from a chrematistics in the strict sense, artificial, “which seeks only the acquisition of money itself and consequently in unlimited quantities. This rests on exchange.” (LKW, 145) Deleuze and Guattari return to the topic of the infinite in the Anti-OEdipus, adopting the thesis of the philosopher of Poitiers: “The abolition of debts, when it takes place – they refer to Solon, the Athenian legislator – is a means of maintaining the distribution of land, and a means of preventing the entry on stage of a new territorial machine, possibly revolutionary and capable of raising and dealing with the agrarian problem in a comprehensive way.” (AE, 197)
Immediately after, they refer to Cypselus, tyrant of Korinthos: “in other cases where a redistribution occurs, the cycle of credits is maintained, in the new form established by the State, money.” (AE, 196) However, in greater depth, Deleuze and Guattari, returning to Foucault’s studies on Greek tyrants, affirm that “money – the circulation of money – is the means for rendering the debt infinite. […] The infinite creditor and infinite credit have replaced the blocks of mobile and finite debts. There is always a monotheism on the horizon of despotism: the debt becomes a debt of existence, a debt of the existence of the subjects themselves.” (AE, 197) Money in the Anti-OEdipus is, thus, turned into THE “systemic dispositif” of power aimed at perpetuating infinitely the credit cycle, similarly as the tyrant of Korinthos taught us; however, even more distinctively, contemporary money created ex-nihilo by the coordinated action of central and commercial banks, and therefore infinite, is the prerequisite and the supporting structure of more subjecting infinites, which, under the double-face umbrella of credit/debit, result as refund/existence, duty/guilt, crisis/resource, catastrophe/bifurcation. Money is, hence, the fulcrum and the pivot on which the contemporary power system rests for all its policies: money is its main weapon, due to its synthetic credit-debit relation which becomes the “transmission belt” of the commercial and institutional credit world. This monetary paradigm of power that Foucault traces back to the VII century B.C. in Ancient Greece, has been overlooked by Marxists, but not by the intellectuals of the Rhizosphere. Until today, the demystifying and incendiary work of anti-oedipic and rhizomatic authors has not reached in our culture the «masterpiece» status that it deserves, because obscure and gregarious forces – the braking powers – are still operating, with the aim of keeping society under the conforming and homogeneous pressure of perpetual slavery, gregariousness that Nietzsche so appropriately defined in the accelerationist fragment on the strong of the future. The Anti-OEdipus, far from resting on innocuous ‘irenisms’, continues to generate hybrid processes of affirmative and transforming energy thanks to its deep analytical capacity. Everything is made clear: “There we no longer have any secrets, we no longer have anything to hide. It is we who have become a secret, it is we who are hidden, even though we do all openly, in broad light.” (DI, 46)
How to escape from axiomatics and make break the modern immanent machine?
Here we finally return to the plot of money and revolution, under the sign of the oedipic contrast. If, in our modern empirical experience, our societies are pervaded with economic optimism – descending from the eighteenth-century positivism thoroughly analysed by Marx at the socio-productive level and by Nietzsche at the impulsive-energetic level – and with cybernetic processual evolution of monetary and credit circuits far-sightedly described by Deleuze and Guattari, what strategies could be adopted to escape from commercial axiomatics and to make the modern immanent machine break down? Which relation exists between money and revolution? Shall we switch to a detailed and bureaucratic plan descending from a totalising “keys-in-hand” theory that explains and foresees everything, according to fixed relations between the forms of the Earth and of human set theory, or shall we adopt a plan of impulsive consistency corresponding to the always productive swinging energy of desire, of the real and of imbalance? Between organisation-administration and chaos-creation, what levels of synthesis and innovation should we choose in order to “search and destroy” and to then rebuild? Shall we build revolutionary subjects and identities within class or economic determinations, or shall we de-construct forms, to discover the “hollowness” of subjects and to increase the speed of activation of the revolutionary “process” of the irregular idle, of the non-exchangeable group and of the community of singularity? Nonetheless, from a different perspective, as Ewald seemed to argue, if the seventies history has handed over to us a “fact” in all its tragic evidence, that is the disappearance of the social revolutionary horizon, that is, the sinking of the concept of insurrection as magnet for political action from the Enlightenment onwards. Are we assisting to the Death of Revolution as palingenetic event and qualified creative rupture, mother of modern politics – as Foucault seems to foresee after 1978 and after the Rhizosphere period, or are we facing the perpetual revolutionary becoming as human condition at the times of post-revolution and post-capitalist control-based neo-societies – as Deleuze and Guattari argued in the multi-stratum desert of A Thousand Plateaus? Something has changed after 1978, revolutionaries become spectres like beautiful losers, as if the sedition and the overturning of desire on the carpet of Reality were symmetrical to the decline of industry and to the erosion of the historically fixed capital. The productive practices of industry and the concept of cathartic revolution decay together with the West, in a miserable and stagnant dusk. To us, authors of this volume, the intersection between “money and revolution” suggested by Klossowski and Deleuze, and by the whole anti-oedipic Rhizosphere, seems still profoundly relevant, no longer in the westerly vulgate but instead on a global scale, the only possible one today. In the wildest present circumstances, the reproduction of money and liquidity has not stopped, neither have the attempts to become revolutionaries and pathologically seditious, in every single planetary background. Daily events speak for themselves. As Foucault consciously wrote, the triangle of “desire, value and simulacrum” still dominates us, and we seem unable to grasp it nor to understand it in its horrific geometrical effectiveness. How to escape from axiomatics and to make the modern immanent machine break down: the question of the Anti-OEdipus is still relevant in the present, as it has been in the past. Part of the answer, within the context of the evolution of the relation between technology and liberation, can certainly be generated and developed by the conflation of three specific fields of our age: cypherpunk, blockchain technology in its Ethereum variation, and the heterarchical P2P movement. The new alliance between peer to peer – a digital evolution of anarchic and self-organised reticular logics of autonomist philosophy of existentialist punk dis-intermediation – and DIY – the do-it-yourself already post-capitalist in its very own nature. The fourth pillar, which has to escort the three fields indicated above, could be the philosophy of the Rhizosphere, or philosophy of the future. The philosophy of the future, in order to return joyful and dangerous, must abandon the collusive position that has occupied in the industry of knowledge and of wisdom, and return to being an informal peripatetic wayfarer – a «gypsy scholarship». With great awareness it must experiment, fail, create: study, deconstruct and reconstruct, even itself. The gypsy scholarship, though, conceived as pedagogy of freedom and insurrection, cannot become science, absorbed by institutions: it is like a gust of The Fixer, or the glow of a moment lasting for a century.
Desire with no aim, future with no purpose
As many have noted, perhaps, the renown passage on the acceleration of the process and on the revolutionary path is placed in the last part of the paragraph The Civilised Capitalist Machine (AE, 222), but most importantly it returns persistently in the Introduction to Schizoanalysis, conclusive chapter of the Anti-OEdipus, embellishing the final page of the volume. The focus is always on the conflictual relation between desire, formations of sovereignty and the possibility of an overturning of sovereignty by the power of singularity. Deleuze and Guattari wrote: “only desire that lives from having no aim. Molecular desiring-production would regain its liberty to master in its turn the molar aggregate under an overturned form of power or Sovereignty. That is why Klossowski, who has taken the theory of the two poles of investment the furthest, but still within the category of an active Utopia, is able to write: “Every sovereign formation would thus have to foresee the destined moment of its disintegration… No formation of sovereignty, in order to crystalize, will ever endure this prise de conscience: for as soon as this formation becomes conscious of its immanent disintegration in the individuals who compose it, these same individuals decompose it.” (AE, 367- 368; LCV, [II], 162) What does it mean that “desire lives from having no aim”? It means that desire is without aim nor sense precisely because it is a natural force always regenerating itself, energetic and wild, never quieted by the achievement of an aim and, thus, never subjected to a goal or to the accomplishment of a perpetual state of equilibrium. Previously we have recalled that, for Deleuze and Guattari, the primordial impulse is “desire”, while, for Nietzsche, is the “will to power.” (DI, 91) According to the German philosopher, “as soon as we act practically, we have to follow the prejudices of our sentiments.” (NCV, 122) Klossowski maintains the same line: “nature has no goal and realizes something. We others have a “goal” but obtain something other than this goal.” (NCV, 122) If, thanks to his sharp sarcasm, Nietzsche affirmed that “if no goal resides in the whole history of human destinies, then one must be inserted into it” (quoted in NCV, 123), Klossowski, then, can remark: “This means: we are aware of our mechanism; we must dismantle it. But to dismantle it is also to make use of its parts in order to reconstruct it, and thus to lead ‘nature’ toward our own ‘goal’. But whenever we reason in this manner, we are once again masking the impulse that is driving us: it is true that we obtain something we have interpreted as willed, but this is simply ‘nature’ which, without willing anything, has realized itself for other ‘ends.’” (NCV, 123) It is, hence, the disguised action of individuals to decompose the institutions of the formations of sovereignty as soon as the conscience of the absurd lack of end and sense of the society in which they live will be clear to them. And it will exactly be the chaotic power of Nature to act through them. In this “station of thought” it strongly emerges the radical Spinozism of the Rhizosphere, or in the words of Deleuze a “Spinozism of the subconscious”.
Towards a new land: dismantling and reconstructing the mechanism
It follows that the greatest mistake for a revolutionary is to think that revolution will coincide with himself, with his own name in History. Indeed, those who make revolution fail are individuals that attribute ends to it, that perform sudden stops or that allow it to continue in a vacuum – “betrayals don’t wait their turn, but are there from the very start.” (AE, 379) Conversely, the lucid revolutionaries, who notice the presence of groups which overtake the goals chosen by their closed set, with that level of awareness have either to prevent the formation of negative sovereignties – by creating a sort of new revolutionary anthropology – subtracting from developing sovereign nuclei the stability and the point of equilibrium through the creation of insurgent obliquely un-centred communities. This is the sense of the “overturned sovereignty” claimed by Deleuze and Guattari. Drift/bifurcation or subtraction/imbalance, these are the two insurrectional tasks that have to be prepared for revolution, rather than opposing and resisting to the point of equilibrium of sedition, that is, a blind idea of return. Alternatively, if we conceive the seditious as an individual that stands outside his ego, we have to regard him as a hollow object, whose purposeis to connect himself to revolutionary processes pre-existent to his effort and his thought. As for other coeval behaviours, this connection could function as a positive, accelerating and non-inhibiting catalysation. The reaction and the subsequent fusion, though, do not induce the individual to remain unaltered in his stability, but instead the accelerating catalytic process radically transforms it. The accelerating factor of the catalytic reaction, then, affects both fields: the collective revolutionary process and the individual de-subjecting process – in this regard, Foucault remarks that “one has to dispense with the constituent subject, to get rid of the subject itself.” (PK, 117) If desire lives because it does not have an aim, returning to Deleuze and Guattari, it generates effects of acceleration of the revolutionary process in a materialistic sense and not in an ideological one, where ‘ideology’ means the political process driven by party officials who are revolution professionals. There cannot be creation if we repeat the same ideological rituals of previous revolutions, of which we still preserve the idle forms lacking any propulsive dynamism. We ought to prevent the serialization of insurrection and its “mono and macro” form. Indeed, as Klossowski writes, “if the meaning of all eminent creation is to break the gregarious habits that always direct existing beings toward ends that are useful exclusively to the oppressive regime of mediocrity - then in the experimental domain to create is to do violence to what exists, and thus to the integrity of beings. Every creation of a new type must provoke a state of insecurity: creation ceases to be a game at the margins of reality; henceforth, the creator will not reproduce, but will itself produce the real.” (NVC, 129) Deleuze and Guattari hold a similar stance – “we are claiming the famous rights to laziness, to non-productivity, to dream and fantasy production, once again we are quite pleased, since we haven’t stopped saying the opposite, and that desiring-production produces the real.” (AE, 380) Every production of reality is in fact a crack, a breach into the social body, but such fracture happens only “by means of a desire without aim or cause that charted it and sided with it. While the schiz is possible without the order of causes, it becomes real only by means of something of another order: Desire, the desert-desire, the revolutionary investment of desire. And that is indeed what undermines capitalism: where will the revolution come from, and in what form within the exploited masses? It is like death—where, when? It will be a decoded flow, a de-territorialized flow that runs too far and cuts too sharply, thereby escaping from the axiomatic of capitalism.” (AE, 378) Not only this production of Reality in the desert of the sub-reality of monetary circuiting undermines capitalism, but it also nullifies, as a primary target, the theory of state or any theory of institutions deriving from revolutionary struggles, because schizo-analysis – as the thought of Nietzsche, Klossowski and Foucault – does not rigorously offer “any political programme”, not for a group, nor for a party, nor for masses, because this would be all unfair and irrational. (AE 437) The authors of the Anti-OEdipus, as well as the sappers of the Rhizosphere are all aware of the negative, violent and brutal of schizo-analysis – as they are aware of the genealogy, of the archive, of the philosophy of the future and of the Vicious Circle: “de-familiarizing, de-oedipalizing, de-castrating; undoing theater, dream, and fantasy; decoding, de-territorializing – a terrible curettage, a malevolent activity.” (AE, 381) All this “Destroy, Destroy” primarily and essentially indicates to free from any obstacle the process, to accelerate the process, to accelerate and to destroy, since the process to be accelerated is, as we have mentioned, “the process of desiring-production, following its molecular lines of escape.” (AE, 381) And we can overlook if someone more or less recently has confused the “molecular escape” with the “molar production”, or if he has interpreted going “[...] still further, that is, in the movement of the market…” as following in a conformist way the commercial strategy of disarticulation of existing entities since the process is unique in nature, or if someone has believed that we ought to accelerate the rush of turbo-capitalism so that it would crash at the first bifurcation, or – even worse – if someone exchanged the desire for goods consumption and for self-repression, with the impulsive desire of production of Reality, aimed at modifying what exists and at liberating the differences. Let us say it here, once and for all: the capitalist process of decoding produces infinite abstract quantities – money and its pair of repetitive and spectral syntheses, credit and debit, driven and controlled by the systemic Axiomatics of immanence; the schizo-revolutionary process of decoding produces, instead, particles of power that are non-evident, radiating and immeasurable – desire, manipulated by impulses, that is, by desiring-machines. These are nothing but differences in regime, not in nature: indeed the two aspects of the process have contact but do not confuse one with the other. The schizo-nomad remains always at the boundary of capitalism: it represents “its inherent tendency brought to fulfillment as well as its exterminating angel.” (AE, 35) However, desiring production – impulsive or concealed – and social production – monetarized and abstract – are the two differences that have been the object of study of the materialist psychiatry of Deleuze and Guattari. They represent the “way of life” or the “Reality” that 141 we desire: Feasible Reality vs. Artificial Reality.
Against the Black Death: good health and new hope
All we have written is the result of a research project that involved three main cores, heterogeneous but still tied and unified by a subversive thinking. The first core is represented by the posthumous fragments on the will to power, where the heart of this research lies, The Strong of the Future, that is, the Nietzsche that wrote in 1887-1888; the second core can be identified in the essay on conspiracy and the community of singularities generated by the Eternal Return, that is, the Klossowski of Nietzsche and the Vicious Circle (1969); the third core is constituted by the present accelerationist passage in The Civilised Capitalist Machine where the nomad multiplicities appear, that is, the Anti-OEdipus of Deleuze and Guattari (1972). Three cores for three books of the Adversary – a lawless, anarchic and antichrist Adversary – whose task is “completing the process and not arresting it, not making it turn about in the void, not assigning it a goal.” (AO 382) If, for what concerns industrial capital or digital post-capitalism, “we really haven’t seen anything yet” because with its de-territorializations “it may dispatch us straight to the moon” (AE, 34) and conquer new planets or galaxies with its Black Deaths, according to Deleuze and Guattari the non-identitary nomad “will never go too far with the deterritorialization, the decoding of flows.” (AE, 382) Zarathustra, in one of its most visionary speeches, The Bestowing Virtue, prophesied: “Truly, a place of healing shall the earth become! And already is a new odor diffused around it, a salvation-bringing odor - and a new hope!” (Z, 65) Thus, the masterpiece written by Deleuze and Guattari – which, as we have demonstrated, is not only an authorial work but a rhizomatic gem – finishes with a morning song to accelerate the momentum of the Eternal Return: “For the new earth is not to be found in the neurotic or perverse re-territorializations that arrest the process or assign it goals; it is no more behind than ahead, it coincides with the completion of the process of desiring-production, this process that is always and already complete as it proceeds, and as long as it proceeds.” (AE, 382) The appearance of those who walk the revolutionary path may change, whether they be the strong of the future, or the non-homogeneous singularities, or the nomad multiplicities. The imperative of the micro-communism of the unequal however remains the same: Accelerate and Destroy. The inhuman Kingdom is already among us.
Obsolete Capitalism is a collective for pure independent research. Self-defined as “gypsy scholars”, the collective deals with philosophy, art and politics. Obsolete Capitalism edited and published «Moneta, rivoluzione e filosofia dell’avvenire. Deleuze, Foucault, Guattari, Klossowski e la politica accelerazionista di Nietzsche» (OCFP, 2016), «Archeologia delle minoranze» (OCFP, 2015) and «Birth of Digital Populism» (OCFP, 2014). With Rizosfera edizioni, Obsolete Capitalism published «Deleuze and the Algorithm of the Revolution» (Rhizosphere/SF004) and «Controllo, modulazione e algebra del male in Burroughs e Deleuze» (Rhizosphere/SF007). The collective also edits the online blogs Obsolete Capitalism, Rizomatika and Variazioni foucaultiane.
The present essay is part of the volume «Money, Revolution and Philosophy of the Future» (Obsolete Capitalism Free Press, December 2016, OCFP003). It entails Obsolete Capitalism’s most important theoretical work up today
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