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Deleuze and Guattari's Process in the beginning of Anti-Oedipus explained

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here's a succinct restatement by delueze of the point i was trying to make to james at the beginning of post #11 in this thread...

 

{I}t is clear who exploits, who profits, and who governs, but power nevertheless remains something more diffuse. I would venture the following hypothesis: the thrust of Marxism was to define the problem essentially in terms of interests (power is held by a ruling class defined by its interests). The question immediately arises: how is it that people whose interests are not being served can strictly support the existing power structure by demanding a piece of the action? Perhaps, this is because in terms of investments, whether economic or unconscious, interest is not the final answer; there are investments of desire that function in a more profound and diffuse manner than our interests dictate. But of course, we never desire against our interests, because interest always follows and finds itself where desire has placed it. We cannot shut out the scream of Reich: the masses were not deceived; at a particular time, they actually wanted a fascist regime! There are investments of desire that mold and distribute power, that make it the property of the policeman as much as of the prime minister; in this context, there is no qualitative difference between the power wielded by the policeman and the prime minister. The nature of these investments of desire in a social group explains why political parties or unions, which might have or should have revolutionary investments in the name of class interests, are so often reform oriented or absolutely reactionary on the level of desire.

: http://libcom.org/library/intellectuals-power-a-conversation-between-michel-foucault-and-gilles-deleuze

 

...because deleuze takes it as almost tautologically true that 'we never desire against our interests', he doesn't have recourse to the thesis propounded by thomas frank in 'what's the matter with kansas?' - that is, deleuze can't say that blocs of lower-class workers who elect a political party devoted to protecting the interests of the upper-class have been fooled, or are necessarily 'voting against themselves'. rather, we're not fully taking into account the entire depth of their unconscious investments of desire ( - the cultural effect of which may also help explain the tendency of unions toward reform and failure).

Edited by Lazzarone

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Kevin -

Isn't that the cause D&G take up in part during ATP? In the Micropolitics plateau, they write, "Only microfascism provides an answer to the global question: Why does desire desire its own repression, how can it desire its own repression?" The desire for stability and closure, were it fulfilled, would mean the end of desire itself - and paradoxically, it is desired to maintain the body of the desiring-machine (no pain, no conflict, the neurotic's wet dream) - that is, to make sure desire doesn't push the body over the edge... so, like an ellipse, we are sometimes closer to the object of our desire, sometimes further, but never quite reach it.

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yes, in both volumes of 'capitalism and schizophrenia' - 'anti-oedipus' (1972) and 'a thousand plateaus' (1980) respectively - d&g address the issue, and move from an interest-based account to a desire-based account of the persistent danger of fascism and, by implication, the failure of communist revolution. it's important to place this piece of theory in the context of the history of marxism and also to understand d&g as responding to a major deficiency in orthodox marxism itself.

 

marx thought it was in our nature to work, to create, to fashion tools, to cultivate our talents, but he may've neglected another basic human need: self-identity - to belong to a group, to attain a certain social status, to be recognized and respected. so in his materialist upending of the hegelian dialectic, he's often accused of going too far in the other direction, of ignoring subjectivity. this in part explains why marxism has had trouble in accounting for phenomena like racism, religious conflict, and nationalism, since a strict economic reductionism - that is, accounting for these phenomena wholly in terms of class interest - simply does not work. the working class seems not to revolt when historical materialism predicts it would and to revolt when historical materialism predicts it wouldn't (which is why gramsci thought that the bolshevik revolution refuted vulgar economic determinism). after marx, a long line of theorists have tried to remedy his mistake, with mixed success. whence engels' notion of 'false consciousness', lukacs' 'history and class consciousness' (1923), reich's 'dialectical materialism and psychoanalysis' (1929), the frankfurt school and the various permutations of freudian psychoanalysis and marxism, best popularized to 60s radicals by marcuse's 'eros and civilization' (1955). {i'd even add to this very partial list sartre's 'critique of dialectical reason' (1960) which was influential on 'anti-oedipus', particularly in terms of the concept of the 'fused group'.}

 

like marx, d&g reject hegelian idealism. their resolution is unique, however, insofar as they rewrite many of the non-economic phenomena in materialist terms. the project from 'anti-oedipus' on is "a truly materialist psychiatry" (page 24), one not centered on fantasies, dreams, and myths, but libidinal investments and desiring-production. the unconscious is not a theater, but a factory, and this is more than merely a semantic difference. following foucault (though maybe foucault followed them, if you believe the first footnote in 'discipline and punish'), d&g hold a methodological preference for explaining molar phenomena by reference to the micro-constituents and the micro-mechanisms that compose them ('a.t.p.', page 225). this is why we can't define fascism by reference to the totalitarian state, but must define the totalitarian state by reference to all the micro-fascisms ("rural fascism and city or neighborhood fascism, youth fascism and war veteran's fascism, fascism of the left and fascism of the right, fascism of the couple, family, school, and office ... band, gang, sect, family, town, neighborhood, vehicle fascism ... postures, attitudes, perceptions, expectations, semiotic systems, etc. ...", pages 214-5) that ultimately resonate in the state.

 

a few key pages to review are 343-47 in 'anti-oedipus' which explain the second thesis of schizoanalysis - the distinction between (unconscious) desire and (preconscious) interest. this is their multifaceted answer to those, from wilhelm reich to thomas frank, who claim the masses are being duped into irrationality - e.g., 'they're voting against their own interest!'. it's this passage that becomes the plateau you quoted from:

 

The masses certainly do not passively submit to power; nor do they "want" to be repressed, in a kind of masochistic hysteria; nor are they tricked by an ideological lure. ... The microtextures - not masochism - are what explain how the oppressed can take an active role in oppression: the workers of the rich nations actively participate in the exploitation of the Third World, the arming of dictatorships, and the pollution of the atmosphere.
Edited by Lazzarone

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"marx ... may've neglected another basic human need: self-identity - to belong to a group, to attain a certain social status, to be recognized and respected. so in his materialist upending of the hegelian dialectic, he's often accused of going too far in the other direction, of ignoring subjectivity. this in part explains why marxism has had trouble in accounting for phenomena like racism, religious conflict, and nationalism, since a strict economic reductionism - that is, accounting for these phenomena wholly in terms of class interest - simply does not work."

 

after this passage, I suggested that the revolution/resistance of the working class often cannot be predicted by pure economics, but this also goes for the reaction/repression of the establishment. for instance, Marx and Engles were extremely perplexed by American slavery in the mid-19th century: why would owners consent to pay for the long-term health needs of slaves who were too aged or injured to work? in the northern factories at this time, if you got your hand caught in a gear and were rendered unable to work, you were typically thrown out on the street without compensation. owning people cuts into an enterprise's profit-margin; why not just rent them?... (and, Marx theorizes, it's this rational process of industrial proletariatization which makes communism possible.)

 

we can look to two recent Hollywood films about slavery for the answer. in both '12 Years A Slave' and 'Django Unchained', slave-masters choose between economically rational and economically irrational treatment of their slaves and they willfully choose the un-economical route. both Django and Solomon Northup argue to those masters that mercilessly beating/torturing a particular slave will hurt their property value - Patsey in '12 Years', the most able cotton-picker on the plantation, and Broomhilda in 'Django', a bilingual house slave. understood as damage to one's own property, such cruelty makes little economic sense. only when we understand slavery's purpose as racial subjugation, not mere profit, can we understand what's at stake, even on the micro-level.

 

and although this commonsensical conclusion may weaken an orthodox Marxist analysis, it doesn't subtract one iota from radical egalitarianism as a guiding political philosophy. on the contrary, it very much strengthens it by helping to try to explain economically irrational, racist fascisms of all sorts.

Edited by Lazzarone

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"marx ... may've neglected another basic human need: self-identity - to belong to a group, to attain a certain social status, to be recognized and respected. so in his materialist upending of the hegelian dialectic, he's often accused of going too far in the other direction, of ignoring subjectivity. this in part explains why marxism has had trouble in accounting for phenomena like racism, religious conflict, and nationalism, since a strict economic reductionism - that is, accounting for these phenomena wholly in terms of class interest - simply does not work."

 

after this passage, I suggested that the revolution/resistance of the working class often cannot be predicted by pure economics, but this also goes for the reaction/repression of the establishment. for instance, Marx and Engles were extremely perplexed by American slavery in the mid-19th century: why would owners consent to pay for the long-term health needs of slaves who were too aged or injured to work? in the northern factories at this time, if you got your hand caught in a gear and were rendered unable to work, you were typically thrown out on the street without compensation. owning people cuts into an enterprise's profit-margin; why not just rent them?... (and, Marx theorizes, it's this rational process of industrial proletariatization which makes communism possible.)

 

we can look to two recent Hollywood films about slavery for the answer. in both '12 Years A Slave' and 'Django Unchained', slave-masters choose between economically rational and economically irrational treatment of their slaves and they willfully choose the un-economical route. both Django and Solomon Northup argue to those masters that mercilessly beating/torturing a particular slave will hurt their property value - Patsey in '12 Years', the most able cotton-picker on the plantation, and Broomhilda in 'Django', a bilingual house slave. understood as damage to one's own property, such cruelty makes little economic sense. only when we understand slavery's purpose as racial subjugation, not mere profit, can we understand what's at stake, even on the micro-level.

 

and although this commonsensical conclusion may weaken an orthodox Marxist analysis, it doesn't subtract one iota from radical egalitarianism as a guiding political philosophy. on the contrary, it very much strengthens it by helping to try to explain economically irrational, racist fascisms of all sorts.

So....basically, slavery is not contingent upon economics, but rather racial subordination; because slaves were sometimes treated in ways that would be uneconomically sound (i.e. damaging property) 

 

It don't understand the part I bolded though 

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So....basically, slavery is not contingent upon economics, but rather racial subordination; because slaves were sometimes treated in ways that would be uneconomically sound (i.e. damaging property) 

 

It don't understand the part I bolded though 

I think it means that while the above explanation challenges a traditional Marxist explanation for WHY certain things such as racial subordination occur, the attempt to resolve such inequality via mechanisms like radical egalitarianism are still viable solutions to the problem

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y'all have it: you cannot understand slavery strictly in terms of economics - at least not as it developed in 1800s America. D&G suggest there's no substitute for an in-depth micro-sociological analysis: what specifically made whites desire to keep blacks down? a strictly economic analysis isn't sufficient because, in innumerable cases, the lengths slave-owners went to oppress blacks threatened their profits. racism is a populism, imbued with biblical readings and family ties and cultural norms, and thus isn't merely the result of conscious decisions on the part of those at the top, but by the often unconscious investments on the part of even ordinary whites. Foucault makes a similar addendum/refutation of orthodox Marxism by suggesting that there are bureaucracies and normalizing discourses which can grow on their own and operate semi-autonomously from the economy. whether prisons, for example, were economically lucrative in 18th-century France may've taken a backseat to whether they 'reformed the souls' of criminals. in short, reducing everything to money-flows lacks rigor.

 

moreover (regarding the bold part), one can still be an egalitarian (or a socialist even) without being a Marxist as such. as D&G advocate in 'Anti-Oedipus', we must become "black like John Brown" - that is, get carried away in one's solidarity with the excluded. getting over capitalism in Marx's sense does not guarantee an end to racism, militarism, or fascism. but if emancipation is not inevitable given economic 'laws', that only means we have that much more to do in resisting micro-fascisms in the here and now.

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