State and Politics: Deleuze and Guattari on Marx

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This account of progress was the unfolding of human history through the ongoing development of productive forces, and it is in this industrious march that the experience of time was organized. The temporality given by Proudhon lacks the sense of acceleration that had so captured his predecessors and many of his comrades, perhaps due to his skepticism of the direction of industrial society and the proliferation of the capitalist division of labor. In a discussion deep in the third volume of Capital, he suggests that the tendency of rate of profit to fall—a controversial thesis that emerged from the sketching of the long-range effects of the continually-intensifying mechanization of production—was indistinguishable from an accelerated accumulation of capital.

The post-capitalist mode of production rises up in the shadow of temporal implosion, a singularity point positioned in the tight coil of intense speed and rampant mechanization. In this, do we not see the simultaneous continuity and rupture with the earlier modes of time and speed?

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For Luther, temporal quickening heralded the Second Coming; for Robespierre, an emergent golden age. So too it is for Marx—though a major point of distinction between his vision and that of Robespierre is that human agency is left profoundly problematized. The difference for Marx is that his theory allows us to look backwards and assess each modality of time in relation to the development of productive forces.

Calendars and clocks, the development of the modern city against the ruralism of the pre-modern and early modern epochs, the consolidation of the world-market, the penetration of the interior depths of the earth by hand and then by machine, the technologies and sciences that both fuel all these things and also serve as their inevitable result: each contributes to the experience of time, not only its primary operations, cyclical versus linear versus something in between, but in the registering of its pace.

Tag: Alienation

Deeper and deeper into this development, however, and even the sense of futural promise fades into the blurred line of time. The cult of reason turned into the church of madness in the events of World War I—a conflict described by Deleuze and Guattari as the first capitalist war—and the full blossoming of industrial modernity that resulted was to be forever characterized by the thrill and horror of the specter of what Ernst Junger called total mobilization.

Under the pressure of permanent military and ideological confrontation science, the economy, and other subsystems work faster and with less friction. The acceleration of all movement dissolves the remaining resistance. Here, Guattari began to believe that what made patients ill was not their particular pathology, but a form of social alienation — a problem made worse by the dehumanising activities of doctors, nurses and traditional medical systems. This view ran against the therapeutic mainstream.

Traditionally, psychoanalytic techniques were designed for one-on-one conversations between an analyst and an analysand.

Alienation – The Tragic Community

To counter this problem, Guattari reformulated psychoanalytic methods for groups, trying to turn the whole hospital into an instrument of treatment. If psychosis is actually a form of alienation, he saw, then it can be fought only with sociability — which relies not on the formation of a strong sense of individuality, but on the ability of a group of people to work together. As a political organiser and therapist, Guattari concentrated on fostering cooperation.

His problem was never a particular person — be they schizophrenic or Stalinist — but the process by which groups break up into discrete units, detached from one another, and from their own lives. I n the spring of , far away from La Borde at first, a revolutionary fervour was sweeping across France. Students and factory workers staged demonstrations and instituted massive general strikes in response to the destructive forces of consumer capitalism.

Guattari was a central protagonist and organiser, but his mentor Lacan dismissed the demonstrations as mere hysteria. Deleuze argued that the history of Western thought, at least since Plato, was in thrall to a number of illusions about the nature of thought itself. By contrast, said Deleuze, thought is creative, and always connected to that which it thinks about.

Second, Deleuze claimed that because the canon of Western philosophy has judged thought on its ability to represent the world, it has taken sameness and accuracy to be paramount. Plato and Descartes provide two good examples. In his philosophy of forms , Plato said that any particular entity gains its qualities by reflecting its idealised, abstracted form. This form — which is identical only with respect to itself — is taken as the ground of knowledge.

In both cases, the basis of understanding arises from something unique, individuated and unchanging.


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In other words, the individual is the paradigm for truth. Not so for Deleuze. He argued instead that thought is not grounded in identity; rather, it is generated out of difference.

Deleuze, Marx and Politics ((The Grandeur of Marx)) | by Nicholas Thoburn

In fact, what appears to us in experience as an individual — be it a single stone or an individual person — gains its identity only as an effect of diverse forces that are in constant tension with one another. The world is composed of differences, not individuals, even though representational thought can make it appear otherwise.

While Lacan had defined a set of structural rules, apparently determining the relationship between any individual and her object of desire, Guattari wanted to show that desire is a collective and productive force. The initial months of their friendship produced a wild array of original ideas.

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Deleuze suggested a strict routine for Guattari: he was to wake up and write first thing in the morning, mailing the drafts directly to Deleuze without any revisions or reconsiderations. The notes from these fevered first conversations formed the basis of their first book, Anti-Oedipus Here, Deleuze and Guattari set out to explain the relationship between desire and reality, connecting the pitfalls of psychoanalysis and philosophy with the current state of political affairs. They wanted to show how desire interacts with the material world, and to examine how it was entwined with politics.

In particular, the men wondered: why do revolutions fail? Why do people fight for their own servitude as if it was their freedom? Why do mass movements end up damaging the interests of the masses? Hitler and Mussolini had both come to power through populist movements. So, Deleuze and Guattari reasoned, to understand Fascism, we must explain why people desired Fascism. When you try to analyse the way that desire functions in large groups , one sees that it is neither unified nor easily divided. But while desire is not necessarily aligned with the individual, capitalist society does its best to make all desire run by way of the individual.

Freud was among the first to dissect desire — but his work looked at the maladies of his individual patients, and did not examine them through a properly historical lens. The neuroses that Freud diagnosed, and that continue to plague society in the 21st century, were not ahistorical pathologies.

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Acker's life was a fable; Acker's life was a fable; and to describe the confusion and love and conflicting agendas behind these memorials would be to sketch an apocryphal allegory of an artistic life in View Product. And: Phenomenology of the End.