Spinoza, Deleuze, Guattari, Negri, Marx... Pt.2
Source Ken Hanly
Date 01/06/15/20:32

PART II: Deleuze and Guattari
In this part, I will express some aspects of Deleuze/Guattari's
philosophy and politics, with emphasis on their conception of
desire as a part of a politics and ontology. Deleuze/Guattari's
political and social thought is less a critical theory of
capitalism and conformism, than an effort to create effects,
practical and theoretical for change. Their books must be used,
rather than read as theory claiming the truth of society, the
world, mankind. The relation between theory and society that
interests them, is not a question of represention, models or
reference, but of the genetic (biological, social and historical)
relations by which society produces theory. The question of truth
of any theory is less important than what political and desiring
intersts it expresses, in products, effects of all kinds. This
anti- representationalist strategy is uncommon in political theory,
but has a theoretical tradition in anarchist and libertarian
socialist thought to which the French "gauchists" Deleuze/Guattari
belong (see May 1993). Their politics has more to do with 19th
century French utopian - socialists like Charles Fourier than
scientific socialists like Karl Marx, more with alternatives than
deconstruction (Derrida only deconstructs, never constructs). Too
much energy gets wasted in critique of the establishment (reactive
thought in Nietzsche's sense), better to build the new (create
values "beyond good and evil"). Artists are better creators than
most political theorists they claim, which is why authors of all
kinds, painters, film directors, musicians etc abound in their
books rather than political philosophers. First, their overall
picture of society. Deleuze and Guattari argue that capitalism is
a schizophrenic system. Because it is interested only in the
individual and his profit it must subvert or deterritorialize (as
they name a down- mantling process, of leaving land) all
territorial groupings such as the church, the family, the group,
indeed any social arrangement who occupies a practical or
theoretical "territory". But at the same time, since capitalism
requires social groupings in order to function (for work and sell
goods to), it must allow for reterritorializations (taking back
land), new social groupings, new forms of the state, the family, or
the group. These events happen at the same time. The life of any
culture is always both collapsing and being restructured. We turn
to Deleuze/Guattari's general theory, their "philosophy of desire",
a unique mixture of Freud, Marx, Nietzsche, avantgarde art, French
structualist - semiotics, and a good sense of humour. Political
unconscious The French psychoanalyst Jaçques Lacan is unavoidable
in this context. He united Freud's (sexual) desire and Marx'
politics. He likened psychological repression to political
repression, when stating that "the unconscious is structured like
a language"(as society, laws, desiring stratas), a Political
unconscious. But like Plato, he argued that desire was constituted
as a lack, and was impossible to fulfil other than in dreams.
Deleuze and Guattari undertook an analysis of desire that is
distinctly political, more than Lacan. According to them, desire
may fix on one of two alternatives. It may affirm itself, go along
as far as it can, or it may choose (ruling) power as its centre and
the establishment of order as its purpose. Their two 19th century
precedessors, Marx and Freud, were overun at high speed (unlike
with other "May' 68 - thinkers", e.g. H. Marcuse and the Frankfurt
schoolin sociology). For a Marxist, any purely human discourse
cannot be the final word. It must be located within the relations
of production, so that there is an opposition, between production
(base) and ideology (superstructure). But Deleuze and Guattari
argued for a "productive desire" which rejected the Marxian notion
that desire belonged to ideology. It also rejected the Freudian
notion of an unconscious and hence, except in dreams, unproductive
desire. Desire is something else than lack, want, instinct, wish,
interets, need etc, which are produced within a certain fixed
social status and metaphysics. It is unconscious desire that
produces interests, wishes etc, which may act against conscious
wishes, interests etc. Desire may be repressed by another desire
when its immanent production is blocked. The politics of desire
aims to break down the dichotomy between desire and interest, so
that people can begin to desire, think and act in their own
interests, and become interested in their own desires. The
productive desire of Deleuze and Guattari's analysis is, in fact,
another form of Nietzsche's will-to-power, or better, Spinoza's
conatus (as analyzed by Spindler 1995). This will-to-power/conatus
of productive desire is balanced by a reactive desire for
repression, the slave mentality. The controllers (priests, gurus,
bosses, intellectuals) turn the active strength of productive
desire against itself and create guilt which accompanies any active
expression of the will, when bound. For Deleuze and Guattari,
schizophrenia is the model for the production of a human being
capable of expressing productive desire, but it is an active
schizophrenia as a process and not a medical schizophrenia to which
they refer. We will not dwell on this uncommon interpretation,
though. Deleuze himself was not a Marxist, evn though Guattari was
in a loose libertarian sense. There is no class struggle because
there is only one class, the class of slaves, some of whom dominate
others. Almost no desiring individuals can ever fulfil their
desires, as Spinoza also concluded his Ethics: "For if salvation
were at hand, and could be found without great effort, how could
nearly everyone neglect it ? But all things excellent are as
difficult as they are rare". In Deleuze & Guattari, this is because
each individual moves between two poles, between schizoid desire,
which is revolutionary but anti-social and paranoid desire, which
is social but codified and demands its own repression Nor fare they
Freudians, but post- Lacanians. The Oedipal prohibition which
produces the neurotic who has internalized guilt in order to
repress desire is not a fact of nature but the result of social
codification. In practice, Deleuze and Guattari have created a new
vocabulary to permit them to speak about psychoanalysis and society
without falling into either Marxist or Freudian ideas. Rather,
their ideas are taken from Spinoza (ontology) and Nietzsche
(ethics), but transcribed into a bricolage of French structuralism
in the 60's, cybernetics, non-linear science and pure theoretical
fun (see appendix for their new vocabulary). History For Deleuze
and Guattari, history is a process of de- and reterritorializations
of desire and social production. At the beginning is the primitive
tribe, a "primitive territorial machine", in which everything is
coded. The society is static, and every gesture, action and even
the body is governed by rules. This occurs both at the level of
economic production and libidinal/desiring production. Everything
is social. The territory is clearly marked out. At later level in
history, the age of empires, the tribe gives way to the despot,a
"barbaric territorial machine", who deterritorializes the tribe,
but continues to maintain social order through a highly coded
production. The end of history is Capitalism, a "civilized
capitalist machine", which radically decodes and deterritorializes
social life from its medieval despotic regimes. It invents the
private individual, owner of his own body and its labour. In order
to accomplish this deterritorialization, everything sacred, ritual
or traditional has to go. Capitalism has no need of any sacred
system of belief. It is the most radical of all systems, since it
undercuts anything that represses the autonomous individual. And
yet, the reality of capitalism is the greatest repression of
desiring production in history. Presumably, it should have led to
an absolute freedom, but it has not. Instead, disciplinary
societies in early capitalism as analyed by Michel Foucault has
ginven way to societies of control of late capitalism, where poeple
in (developed) countries are controlled by infinite digital systems
rather than a structuring disciplinary gaze.

Ontology and desire
If we now turn to their conception of ontology and the place of man
and his desire, we find not a romantic play of innocence but a
materialist "machinic" thought. Their effort is not critical
deconstructive or naive escapist stance from hegemonic discoures,
power structures and lives, but affirmative, posing alternatives
instead of judging the old and wearsome. They want to construct a
social space where immanent "surface" relations can be produced,
which may, instead of acting out pregiven roles by some real or
imaginary God/Ruler/System, be capable of crerating new relations,
a social space non-existent before its immanent construction.
First, they mean that a ontological whole, a One, must to be
replaced by a Multiplicity, an heterogenous intensive manifold of
differences where as many connections as possible are established
(Spinoza's concept of substance in not understood as a hierachial
One by Deleuze). Secondly, to move this multiplicity, we need it to
create something, produce a "consistency". A machine is something
(organic or non- organic, or mixtures as cyborgs) that is able to
draw and assemble new events from old in a creation, the second
element in the immanent multiple relations. Thirdly, Deleuze
/Guattari pose desire as the tendency to come into existence of
such creations. "Desire, a concept deterritorailized from adult
sexuality, while not losing its erotic character, becomes
applicable in any context or relation: it is a spontaneous
emergence that generates [new] relationship[s] through a synthesis
of multiplicities . Desire is the machinic relation itself, in
respect of both its power of coming into existence and the specific
multiplicity to which it gives a consistency" (Goodchild, p. 4). To
liberate is to relate knowledge to desire and power. Knowledge must
deal with what kinds of multiplicities and immanent relations exist
in society; power concerns production and transformations of
relations (capacity to affect and be affected in Spinoza's sense);
desire handle the driving force behind creation and relations.
[Exkurs on univocity (may be skipped on to next section) The
inspiration from Spinoza's ontology is clear in this context, as I
will try to show in a brief exkurs on expression and univocity (a
concept where "being is said in the same sense [in one voice] of
all there is, whether finite or infinite - although the sense may
differ modally", Boundas, p. 51) : Spinoza has philosophy of
immanence appears from all viewpoints as the theory of unitary
Being, equal Being, common and univocal Being. This claim, which
applies equally to both Spinoza and Deleuze, must be understood if
we are to see how a Deleuzian philosophy of surfaces and
differences is to be coherent. Deleuze's concept of difference is
essentially an anti- transcendental one; he is trying to preserve
the integrity of surfaces of difference from any reduction to a
unifying principle lying outside all planes of
immanence/consistency, a metadiscourse that would hold other
discursive practices under its sway. For Deleuze, the central
Spinozist concept is expression as we noted earlier. Expression is
the relation among substance, attributes, essences, and modes that
allows each to be conceived as distinct from, and part of, the
others; "The idea of expression accounts for the real activity of
the paticipated, and for the possibility of participation. It is in
the idea of expression that the new principle of immanence asserts
itself. Expression appears as the unity of the multiple, as the
complication of the multiple, and as the the explication of the
One" (Deleuze 1990, p. 176). With Spinoza, it is not merely a
neutral description of being but at the same time revealing of
being as an object of affirmation, of desire. It is expression
that, by substituting itself for emanation and by displacing all
forms of dualism, introduces into philosophy the anti-
transcendental notion of the univocity of being ."What is expressed
has no existence outside its expressions; each expression is, as it
were, the existence of what is expressed"(ibid, p. 15-16). Exactly
the same defintion as machinic creation and desire ! All three
concepts, multiplicity, creation and desire cannot be grasped apart
from one another (in a social world), The essence of
substance/God/Nature (Spinozist terms) is its infinite (but not
indefinite) power, the absolutely unlimited power to exist and
generate affects. "Essence is power" Spinoza states several times.
Now, things exist not as essences but as existent finite and
infinite modes. Substance is both the process of making
expressions, natura naturans, |creative nature] and those
expressions, natura naturata [created nature]. Throughout all its
expressions, being remains univocal. It must be seen that to
univocal is not to be identical; "The significance of spinozism
seems to me this [Deleuze writes]; it asserts immanence as a
principle and frees expression from any subordination to emanative
or exemplary causality. Expression itself no longer emanates, no
longer resembles anything. And such a result can be obtained only
within a perspective of univocity" (ibid p. 180). Back to the
discussion of ontology and desire. ]

Readers unfamiliar with philosophic desiring machines (see
appendix) must free themselves from a naive conception of Deleuze/
Guattari's philosophy of desire as simply envisaging a celebration
of anarchy or sudden removing all political and social obstacles.
Rather, one must extract, express, produce, or better, multiply,
create and desire the new in a selective way, as what empowers
people, make them able to do more, go as far as they did not know.
Desire is not a universal ontological concept (there are none as
such in Deleuze own philosophy), underlying all of existence, but
as something existing "outside or alongside" existence.

Guattari to escape the Lacanian notion of the "subject" which is
often mistaken for consciousness itself. A machine is any point at
which a flow of some sort (physical, intellectual, emotional etc),
either leaves or enters a structure. A baby's mouth at its mother's
breast is a mouth machine meeting a breast machine. There is flow
between these two machines. Desiring machine: a machine connected
to a "body without organs, engaged in productive desire Body
without organs :A phrase from the French author Antonin Artaud. Any
organized structure, such as a government, a university, a body, or
the universe. Desiring machines and the body without organs are two
different states of the same thing, part of an organized system of
production which controls flows. Paranoic machine: A state in which
the body without organs rejects the desiring machines. Miraculating
machine: a state in which the body without organs attracts the
desiring machines. The Socius: a body without organs that
constitutes a society, as in the body of the earth of primitive
societies, the body of the despot in barbaric societies and the
body of capital in capitalist societies. The nomadic subject: the
free autonomous subject which exists momentarily in an ever
shifting array of possibilities as desiring machines distribute
flows across the body without organs.

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