Nietzsche’s accelerationist fragment in Deleuze and Guattari’s Anti-Oedipus
by Obsolete Capitalism
The strong of the future
Despite the passing of time there are fragments of thought that acquire a life of their own and hit the headlines of philo-sophical and cultural journals with regards to their evaluationand interpretation. Among the most famous ones is the Fragment on Machines by Karl Marx.1
More recently another «fragment» has gained importance in terms of discernment: a dark and forward looking «fragment in the fragment» by Friedrich Nietzsche nestled in one of Deleuze and Guattari’s Anti-Oedipus(1972) crucial pages.2
As widely known the reference to Nietzsche in the famous «accelerationist passage» in Deleuze and Guattari’s Anti-Oedipus is decisive and closes the paragraph entitled The Civilized Capitalist Machine (Chapter III, Par. 9, pp. 222-239). Until today the various commentators of such passage have left aside or overshadowed the speciﬁc reference to Friedrich Nietzsche’s Große Prozeß, others have simply quoted the «accelerate theprocess» issue referenced by Deleuze and Guattari, mention-ing Nietzsche’s book The Will of Power, but no one has everreferred to the precise fragment or its context and the poten-tial themes it implies. The quotation of the fragment is alwaysderived from critical essays or secondary literature books andnever from the original Nietzschean work, apart from a notein Wikipedia in the deﬁnition of the word «accelerationism»3 and Matteo Pasquinelli’s short mention in his English “post”called Code Surplus Value and the Augmented Intellect.4
It is likely that this omission ﬁnds its origin in the fact that Deleuze and Nietzsche’s English speaking/reading scholars, when referring to the English edition of the Kritische Gesa-mtausgabe edited by the Stanford University Press (Colli andMontinari critical edition), may not have all the posthumous fragments available. The collection The Complete Works of Friedrich Nietzsche in fact started in 1995 but the edition suddenlystopped after the publication of only three of the originallyproposed twenty volumes, due to the loss of one of the twocurators, Ernst Behler, who died in 1997. Only ten years later, in 2011 Alan D. Schrift and Duncan Large, the two newcurators, published three new volumes but the «accelerationist fragment» inserted in Vol.17 Unpublished Fragments: Summer 1886 – Fall 1887 will be presumably published later.
The controversial ﬁnal part of The Civilized Capitalist Machine may be fully and deeply understood only through a clearreference and analysis of the accelerationist process describedby Nietzsche. The speciﬁc identiﬁcation of the above-men-tioned Nietzschean fragment which Deleuze and Guattari re-fer to, opens to a deﬁnitive interpretation of the ﬁnal passage of The Civilized Capitalist Machine. Christian Kerslake, a sharpcritic and observer of Deleuze’s work ﬁnds the passage quite “difﬁcult to comprehend”.5 Here is the famous passage whichhas become a crucial issue especially in the accelerationist area of commentators:
“But which is the revolutionary path? Is there one?—To withdraw from the world market, as Samir Amin advises Third World countries to do, in a curious revival of the fascist “economic solution”? Or might it be to go in the opposite direction? To go still further, that is, in the movement of the market, of decoding and deterritorialization?
For perhaps the ﬂows are not yet deterritorialized enough, not decoded enough, from the view point 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.” 6
Our research has identiﬁed the precise Nietzschean fragment quoted by Deleuze and Guattari as shown above. It is a fragment positioned in two different Friedrich Nietzsche’s posthumous editions. The title of the fragment is The Strong of the Future and it was composed in the Fall of 1887. In the collection of fragments edited by Gast and Nietzsche’s sister (The Will of Power, 1906) 1.067 fragments were randomly listed and The Strong of the Future was numbered 898.7 This arbitrary collection of fragments entitled The Will of Power has produced controversial debates in both political and philosophical ﬁelds since the beginning of the twentieth century.
The same fragment with the same title is present in Colliand Montinari’s The Complete Works of Friedrich Nietzsche. It may be found in Part II Vol. VIII of the Italian edition entitled Frammenti Postumi: 1887-1888 together with other 371 fragments that Nietzsche collected in a series provisionally entitled The Will of Power that he will never publish. Here the fragment is numbered (105) 9 .
In the original fragment, Nietzsche used the verb «beschle-unigen» - derived from the physics world - literary meaning «to accelerate something facilitating its faster track». In the English translation by Kaufmann in 1967 8 the verb has been rendered as «hasten» whereas «accelerate» would have probably been more pertinent even in English, due to the fact that the former deals with the necessity to accelerate (not only in a physical way), while the latter indicates an intrinsic increase of speed in a process. In the Italian translation the verb used is again «affrettare» (hasten) instead of «accelerare» (accelerate), strengthening the above-mentioned difference between the two verbs: «accelerare» means the intrinsic and physical increase of an event or of a process whereas «affrettare» shows an external provision of such increase.
Actually the only signiﬁcant commentator on Nietzsche’s fragment and Deleuze’s quotation is Pierre Klossowski9 in his Nietzsche and the Vicious Circle (1969), a work dedicated to Gilles Deleuze, who highly appreciated this publication together with Foucault. The useful fertility of Klossowski is dual, ﬁrst on an exegetic side of his essay Nietzsche and the Vicious Circle and second for his «procreative» translations of Nietzsche’s works.Klossowski was a famous translator from German to Frenchfor the work of many intellectuals and philosophers like Ben- jamin, Wittgenstein, Heidegger (his Nietzsche 1971) and above all he proved to be the best interpreter of Nietzsche’s thoughtin France thanks to his masterful and superlative work on The Gay Science in 1954 but in particular for the translation of the Fragments posthumes - Autumn 1887 - mars 1888 edited by Galli-mard in 1976.
The fragment we refer to, Les Forts de l’avenir, had already been released in Nietzsche et le Cercle vicieux in 1969. It is exactly there that we ﬁnd the verb “beschleunigen” translated in«accélérer» (accelerate); therefore Klossowski’s interpretation has been at the basis of Deleuze’s choice in using the expression to accelerate the process when wondering which «revolutionary path» to undertake; that is the same question the accelerationist movement poses today.
Through an exegetic analysis of the fragment The Strong ofthe Future in his Nietzsche and the Vicious Circle, Klossowski eval-uates Nietzsche’s thought (of 1887) very extant and contem-porary, able to move from untimely meditations to disconcertednewness in less than one hundred years, afﬁrming that “the economic mechanism of exploitation (developed by science and the economy) is decomposed as an institutional structure into a set of means” entailing two results: “on the one hand, that society can no longer fashion its members as ‘instruments’ to its own ends, now that it has itself become the instrument of a mechanism; on the other hand that a‘surplus’ of forces, eliminated by the mechanism, are now made avail- able for the formation of a different human type: the strong of the future.10
To reach such a new type of man we should not obstruct this irreversible great process but foster its inexorably expansive acceleration in a mechanism which may seem (without being) contrary to the main aim of «the strong of the future»: the differentiation. The levelling and the social homogenization perpetrated by the democratization of the industrial society are responsible for men’s shrinking. The «strong» and the «lev-elled ones» will then act for or against such «inexorable law» in a paradoxical overturning, as well as workers and capitalists ﬁght in favor or against the relentless law of the tendency of the rate of proﬁt to fall, another big issue Deleuze and Guattari posed in the paragraph called The Civilized Capitalist Machine.
We have now concluded this short essay whose aim was to precisely describe the Nietzschean source Deleuze and Guattari had drawn from in their famous passage of the «revolutionary path» in the book Anti-Oedipus and to produce theright bibliographic references to the «accelerationist» fragment in Nietzsche’s complex work. We are aware on the otherhand to have just outlined a challenging in progress work onthe decoding of the deepest meaning of the paragraph The Civilized Capitalist Machine and in particular of the accelera-tionist passage about the theory and the practice of decoded and deterritorialized ﬂows.
1 Karl Marx: Grundrisse: Fragment on Machines - translated by Martin Nicolaus, Penguin,1973
2 Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari: Anti Oedipus. Capitalism and Schizophrenia, Universityof Minnesota Press, 1983
3 “Quoted in Strong, Tracy (1988). Friedrich Nietzsche and the Politics of Transﬁguration.Berkeley: University of California Press. p. 211. Original in The Will to Power nr. 898”(accessed 18 August 2015)
4 Code Surplus Value and the Augmented Intellect, post/ late night notes del 10th March2014:http://matteopasquinelli.com/codesurplusvalue/ (accessed 23 August 2015).
5 Christian Kerslake Marxism and Money in Deleuze and Guattari’s “Capitalism and Schizofrenia”
6 Deleuze-Guattari: Anti Oedipus. Capitalism and Schizophrenia, University of MinnesotaPress, p.239
7 Heinrich Köselitz(1854–1918), musician and actor, Friedrich Nietzsche’s friend whom henicknamed “Peter Gast”.Elisabeth Förster Nietzsche (1846 1935), Nietzsche’s sister who was often criticized by her brother, by Gast and by other Nietzschean followers/suppor-ters. She was a Nazi, pro-Arian and anti-Semite woman, responsible of Nietzsche’s philo-sophy manipulation. Hitler and all his general staff took part to her funeral in 1935.
8 Walter Kaufmann (1921-1980) was an American philosopher and Nietzsche’s scholar whotranslated The Will to Power (Random House, New York,, 1967 with R.J. Hollingdale).
9 Pierre Klossowski (1905-2001) was a French intellectual strongly inﬂuenced by Nietzsche’s works. He was an important translator, writer, philosopher, painter and one of the “spiri-tual father” of Deleuze and Guattari.
10 Pierre Klossowski: Nietzsche and the vicious circle The University of Chicago Press, 1997 -Chapter 6 “The vicious circle as a selective doctrine” p. 164.
Deleuze, G. e Guattari, F. (1983). Anti-OEdipus Capitalism and Schizophrenia Vol. I, Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press.
Deleuze, G. (1986).Nietzsche and Philosophie. London, Continuum.
Heidegger, M. (1971). Nietzsche,translated by Klossowski P., Paris, Gallimard.
Kerslake, C. (2015). Marxism and Money in Deleuze and Guattari’s Parrhesia (22). pp 38 - 78. Online article: http://www.parrhesiajournal.org/parrhesia22/parrhesia22_kerslake.pdf
Klossowski, P. (1997). Nietzsche and the vicious circle - translated by Daniel W.Smith, Chicago,The University of Chicago Press
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