by Steven Craig Hickman
Since the world is on a delusional course, we must adopt a delusional standpoint towards the world. Better to die from extremes than starting from the extremities.
– Jean Baudrillard, The Transparency of Evil
Popcorn advice from a cynical nihilist want help us now.
We speak of ‘Control Society’ instead of fascism… why? Is not the U.S.A. today a fascist country that has convinced its citizens otherwise? Over the past two hundred years our government has gone from a Republic that was supposedly leaning toward democracy and into a centralized apparatus of bureaucratic and administrative idiocy with a Security and Military-Industrial Complex spread across the planet larger than the Roman Empire ever thought… what have we allowed our leaders here in the U.S.A. to do to us? And, why do we continue to allow it? Obama himself reneged on most of the major promises to the Left himself…. disillusioned? You bet I am…. we seem to be sleepwalking through an open warzone in this country, and all the while we have a NarcoNeuroEntertainment complex that pacifies us and keeps our minds off the real issues… controlled through sex and games and recreational drugs, Reality TV, Sports, etc. – that’s how the apocalypse goes down here in America. Paranoia is our bread and butter, conspiracy theory for the masses, and academic bullshit artists for the supposed intellectual elites. Yes, we’re in fine shape! We even have hit cable series for Doomsters: a series that will teach you how to survive the next apocalypse! You name it we’ve got it… In the good old U.S. of A. Reality TV is a production system for fictional lives… American Idols: the next great Michael Jackson staged as a plugged text message democracy… Ghosts on Travel Channel: the discovery of ghosts in every home in America… the mighty dead have returned and they are pissed… yes, ladies and gentleman, welcome to the American Apocalypse where the Psychopathic Criminology of late night cable TV (Motorcycle Gangs, Meth Labs in every basement, Prison Interviews, Serial Killers for Neighbors): HBO, Cinemax, etc. enjoy more popularity than the Love Channels, Aliens on History Channel, Monsters on Discovery…Big Foot at your favorite Night Club… from Columbine to Denver our children are imploding … our kids live in a MMO Universe where the lines between reality and fiction blurred and faded long ago…what am I saying? Our adults created the MMO Universe to keep our kids occupied while daddy and mommy went off to the local porn flicks and popped a couple Viagra to boot up the old entropy machine … and, don’t get me onto our Chemical Paradises: Junk Food City…Nightmare Kitchens… Martha’s Vineyard… and, don’t miss the next Gun Channel exclusive… we love our guns… if TV and Cinema are the American Psyche then we truly are doomed… we even glamorize Norman Bates from Psycho in a new TV Series that should have every child in a America happy … Norman Bates as a role model… Alfred Hitchcock rolled over in his grave and smiled..
we love our insanity…
by Steven Craig Hickman
Decided to republish this essay I wrote over a year ago… still worth rethinking.
Naomi Wolfe’s The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot outlined ten steps taken in the past by what she termed “closing societies” — such as Hitler’s Germany, Mussolini’s Italy, and Stalin’s Russia — in their long descent into fascism. For both the State was one grand corporation in which the prols or workers were but the fodder for its schemes and machinations. These steps, Wolf claims, are being observed in America now.
The steps are:
1. Invoke a terrifying internal and external enemy.
2. Create secret prisons where torture takes place.
3. Develop a thug caste or paramilitary force not answerable to citizens.
4. Set up an internal surveillance system.
5. Harass citizens’ groups.
6. Engage in arbitrary detention and release.
7. Target key individuals.
8. Control the press.
9. Cast criticism as espionage and dissent as treason.
10. Subvert the rule of law.
J.G. Ballard in an interview mentions that our current consumer societies with their celebrity stars of Hollywood, Sports, and the Variety tabloids has entered the plutocracy of excess and abundance. “What I’m saying is that, left on its own consumer society is becoming a soft fascism. Because consumerism makes inherent demands, it has inherent needs, which can only be satisfied by pressing the accelerator down a little harder, moving a little faster, upping the antes. In order to keep spending and keep believing, we need to move into the area of the psychopathic.” 1
We live in a world of cosmopolitan hierarchs, elites for whom leisure and wealth have become entitlements rather than a badge of success. Our CEO’s have become the new feudalistic lords of the land. The ultimate Chairman of the Board, sitting in the White House, paid not so much to keep freedom alive and well, but to curb the peasantries access to freedom by developing systems of exclusion and surveillance to enclose them in a net of fear and trembling. With the death of agricultural civilization and the enclosure of the commons financial chaos is a tool to keep the peasants locked up in eternal debt. The new austerity enforces a stern taxation that extends like the Biblical patriarchs laws unto the seventh generation.
As Henry Giroux reports, Obama’s administration includes the US government’s use of state secrecy to provide a cover for practices that range from the illegal use of torture and the abduction of innocent foreign nationals to the National Security Association’s use of a massive surveillance campaign to monitor the phone calls, e-mails, and Internet activity of all Americans. A shadow mass surveillance state has emerged that eschews transparency and commits unlawful acts under the rubric of national security.2
The millions of homeless, destitute, and poor that roam the cities of America are slowly being banished from the gentrified worlds that were once their last haven of safety. As the authors of Banished: The New Social Control In Urban America tell us the reinvigorated use of banishment as a social control strategy is not a historical accident. The shift toward a postindustrial economy and away from a strong welfare state increased levels of poverty. Extensive gentrification coupled with a decline in public housing made affordable shelter increasingly scarce. Together, these structural dynamics generated a sizable increase in the visible homeless. Their presence in downtown public spaces caused widespread concern about the effects of disorder. This concern was particularly acute for commercial establishments reliant on shoppers and tourists, many of whom abhor visible evidence of social disadvantage. For those seeking to revive downtown and improve downtown aesthetics, the broken windows theory was a boon. The popularity of this theory legitimized various civility codes that targeted the everyday behaviors of those deemed disorderly.3
William T. Vollman in writing his book on the poor and destitute realized just how difficult a task that would be: “I do not wish to experience poverty, for that would require fear and hopelessness. Therefore, I can glimpse it only from the outside.”4 Coming upon a man sleeping in an alley behind some old oily cardboard eating from the remains of a tin can found in a garbage heap near by Vollman asked the man why he was poor:
Because I don’t have a job.
Call this answer fatally and irrevocably familiar, fatal being an especially appropriate descriptor because when conceived in such limited, monotonous terms (appropriately so, because poverty is limited and monotonous), his situation feels tautologically hopeless. (ibid.)
Marx himself describing Roman Society and its particular debt system tells us that the usury that impoverishes the poor petty producer goes hand in hand with the usury that ruins the rich landed proprietor. As soon as the usury of the Roman patricians had completely ruined the Roman plebeians, the small farmers, this form of exploitation came to an end, and the petty-bourgeois economy was replaced by a pure slave economy.5 The American economy is a slave economy of creditor-debt and taxation from which there is no escape except natural death or suicide. Bankruptcy ends in either prolonged agony, thirteen years barring one from the creditor relation. As Marx would further iterate in the debt society “the usurer [lender, banker, creditor] can in this case swallow up everything in excess of the producers’ most essential means of subsistence, the amount that later becomes wages (the usurer’s interest being the part that later appears as profit and ground-rent), and it is therefore quite absurd to compare the level of this interest, in which all surplus-value save that which accrues to the state is appropriated, with the level of the modern interest rate, where interest, at least the normal interest, forms only one part of this surplus-value. This is to forget that the wage-labourer produces and yields to the capitalist who employs him profit, interest and ground-rent, in short the entire surplus-value.” (p. 730)
The debt society is about squeezing every last bit of surplus from the down and out, destitute and enslaved denizens who will like the surfs of old be bound into a legalese that excludes them, and yet includes them in a new zone of inner exile, caged and forced to squeak out a bare or minimal living.
Everything we make as wage earners is bound within the consumer cycle as surplus-value that is continuously fed to the debtors leaving us impoverished and without recourse. Maurizio Lazzarato in The Making of the Indebted Man tells us that debt functions as an all-pervasive mechanism of power. Property is not ownership of the means of production, as it was for Marx, but rather revolves around capital securities. Therefore it concerns a relation of power that has changed with respect to the Marxian tradition, that is deterritorialised as Deleuze and Guattari would say. It stands at a higher level of abstraction, but it is still organised around a certain kind of property: a distinction between those who do have access to money-credit and those who do not. (here) In out society one’s credit rating rather than one’s physical savings or property, one’s virtual rating in the eyes or gaze of the creditors is one’s actual power. The relation of the virtual/actual has broken down into the invasive power of the virtual to replace the actual. We live in a mirror world in which the consumer has become herself the ultimate commodity, to be tapped and tracked through the circulation of capital credit relations into the nth degree.
The economy of debt makes no distinction between waged workers and non-waged workers, between the employed and unemployed, between material and immaterial labour. We are all in debt. In contemporary capitalism debt is organized by finance and credit, which have expropriated by means of monetary control systems. Our society as a whole (not only labour, but the entirety of social relations, of knowledge, of wealth, etcetera) is bounded by this hidden relation of monetary control. Finance, therefore, functions as a predatory apparatus of capture. In a risk society such as ours the Capitalists are the only ones who do not risk anything. The risks are all taken on by the cognitariat and precariat. The true risk is taken on by the population who is excluded from the very excess of surplus relations of profit, sucked dry, left out in the cold world of eternal debt. (here)
As Lazzarato informs us Technical government is the accomplishment of this process of privatisation. The logic of representation is replaced by the functional, operative logic (diagrammatic, Deleuze and Guattari would call it) of money/credit. In such an economy we have all become ‘human capital’ in a ‘just-in-time’ logic of production of knowledge. Human capital is no longer the ‘atom of liberty’ of classical economics, but a systemic and subordinated variable of which the different behaviours must adapt, be compatible with, and respond ‘just in time’ to the signals given out by the economy. It is no longer the products of our labor that respond to the ‘just in time’ needs of the market, rather it we ourselves that respond to the ‘just in time’ needs of our creditors. We live in a cybercircle of speed economies that interlock us in the production cycle of information and debt without end.
“We live in a permanent state of exception. As this has become the rule, it is by now useless to even continue referring to it as exception. If the sovereign is he who decides in these conditions, the sovereign of today is Capital.” (Lazzarato) Capital today is totally deterritorialized and accelerating through the decentralized networks 24/7 in a cold world of electrons and microtransactions bound to code and algorithms of smart or intelligent machines that have now taken on the powers once held by fleshers, human traders. In our time we’ve begun divesting ourselves of the last property rights humans once held so dear, their bodies. In an age of genomics, nanotechnology, and machinic intelligence the body is being reformatted to serve the machine as its prosthesis rather than in Marx’s age when the machine was our extension. We are entering the stage of final alienation: rendering our physical lives obsolete as we alienate ourselves and become posthuman. As Deleuze and Guattari once said:
The alliance-debt answers to what Nietzsche described as humanity’s prehistoric labor: the use of the cruelest mnemotechnics, in naked flesh, to impose a memory of words founded on the ancient biocosmic memory. That is why it is so important to see debt as a direct consequence of the primitive inscription process, instead of making it – and the inscriptions themselves – into an indirect means of universal exchange. (p. 185)
One could imagine a future where corporate Logos and Brands will be inscribed upon the flesh of all their workers, a harsh reminder of that cruel truth of one’s servitude and enslavement within this soft corporatism’s fascism. “Man must constitute himself through repression of the intense germinal influx, the great biocosmic memory that threatens to deluge every attempt at collectivity. But at the same time, how is a new memory to be created for man – a collective memory of the spoken word and of alliances that declines alliances with the extended filiations, that endows him with faculties of resonance and retention, of selection and detachment, and that effects this way of coding the flow of desire as a condition of the socious? The answer is simple – debt – open, mobile, and finite blocks of debt: the extraordinary composite of the spoken voice, the marked body, and the enjoying eye.” (p. 190)
In his satire on the current state of corporate fascism in the global arena Richard K. Morgan in Market Forces – a near future parody and pastiche of our contemporary capitalism provides us a glimpse into the Capitalist CEO mindset:
“Shorn exists to make money. For our shareholders, for our investors, and for ourselves. In that order. We’re not some last-century bleeding-heart NGO pissing funds into a hole in the ground. We’re part of a global management system that works. Forty years ago we dismantled OPEC. Now the Middle East does as we tell it. Twenty years ago we dismantled China, and East Asia got in line as well. We’re down to micromanagement and the market now, Chris. We let them fight their mindless little wars, we rewrite the deals and the debt, and it works. Conflict Investment is about making global stupidity work for the benefit of Western investors. That’s it, that’s the whole story. We’re not going to lose our grip again like last time.”6.
This sense of debt binding us to a system of mnemonics and cruelty, an organized and ritualistic memory system based on marking and pain – inscription of the collective socious as a system of obligation and guilt, debt and the endless deferral of payment into the future. The ancestors require sacrifice and payment, blood and guts. Alliances against this filiation must be formed, struggles against the dead, defensive gestures: the infinite deferral of debt beyond the vampirism of the dead. This whole triangular process of voice – inscription – eye becomes in our time the “spectacle of punishment”: “as primitive justice, territorial representation has foreseen everything” (p. 191). Austerity is this system of punishment in which the rich nations suck the poor nations of the world like vampires upon captured flesh. This system of endless debt: “that finds itself taken into an immense machinery that renders the debt infinite and no longer forms anything but one and the same crushing fate: the aim now is to preclude pessimistically, once and for all, the prospect of discharge; the aim now is to make the glance recoil disconsolately from an iron impossibility. The Earth becomes a madhouse.” 7 (p. 192)
by Steven Craig Hickman
Is America Desiring Fascism?
People wonder why we could be duped by both Hilary and Trump on the Left and Right… a part of it was already apparent to Deleuze and Guattari quite a while back:
Reich is at his profoundest as a thinker when he refuses to accept ignorance or illusion on the part of the masses as an explanation of fascism, and demands an explanation that will take their desire into account, an explanation formulated in terms of desire: no, the masses were not innocent dupes; at a certain point, under a certain set of conditions, they wanted fascism, and it is this perversion of the desire of the masses that needs to be accounted for. (Deleuze and Guattari 1977: 29)
This sense that a certain part of our population are not simply “innocent dupes,” but that the conditions are ripe for such a fascist perversion of democracy. Yet, one wonders if ignorance does indeed play a part in this on both the Left and Right of the spectrum. Most of the followers of both Hilary and Trump are true believers. I mean by that they will follow their parties status quo no matter who it might be. Like the blind leading the blind they’ll walk into the abyss for their Party’s chosen one. I use that term tongue-n-check, “Chosen One”; yet, eerily one feels a shudder of dismay, and thinks, maybe, after all this is a little too emotional, a little too affective, a little to religious – an almost hysteria of the masses rising from the subterranean lairs?
We need to remember that for Deleuze and Guattari, unlike Lacan or – to take another immediate example, Zizek, desire was not based on lack but rather was productive: desire produces the objects, rather than seeking some lost object to fill the void of its lack. Now we can disagree or agree, that’s outside the scope of this post. For experiment’s sake I’m accepting their notion of desire as productive.
The people who have perversely produced for their party the strange objects of their desire in Hilary or Trump have done this unconsciously rather than with conscious awareness. Todd May in an essay will tell us about it this way:
“If there is only desire and the social, it is because desire produces the social. Rather than, as with psychoanalytic theory, desire being desire for something, desire directly creates its objects. We can recognize here Deleuze’s distinction between the virtual and the actual. The actual is a product of the virtual. The virtual is a field of difference from which aIl actuality arises. The actual, in turn, emerges from the virtual, while still retaining the virtual within it. In the same way, desire produces the social.” (14).1
We have known for a while that the mediatainment complex acts like a false memetic system that has replaced real and actual forms of cultural memory with artificial and simulacrum forms of corrupt and reified illusory systems of coercion and production of subjectivity. Many people in our country’s middle-classes are oblivious to how regulated their unconscious desires are by all these technological apparatuses. Ones that have from the early twentieth-century been highly adapted to effect propaganda, public relations, consumerist advertising, polling, and other media platforms to guide and shape the public mind, as well as actively shape the weak and vulnerable to the illusory desires of democratic rhetoric’s. Both the Democrats and Republicans have adapted to these systems, used them, brought them to bare to shape the mass psyche. And, in some ways both parties have come under the direct influence of corporate and lobby pressure and deep influence through power, money, and lucrative systems of desire.
None of this happened overnight, it’s been a gradual creation over the past century, adapting to the various technological advances in the ICT’s or Information and communications technologies that have created our regulated infosphere within which we all ubiquitously share a general intelligence. The few who can see what is happening get no voice in the public sphere, but are succinctly and with a certain malice expunged from both spectrums of Left and Right as the “lunatic fringe”, etc. .
So for Deleuze and Guattari if there is a problem, it is one of desire not illusion and/or ideology: ‘ It is not a question of ideology. There is an unconscious libidinal investment of the social field that coexists, but does not necessarily coincide, with preconscious investments, or with what preconscious investments “ought to be.” That is why, when subjects, individuals, or groups act manifestly counter to their class interests … it is not enough to say: they were fooled, the masses have been fooled’ (Deleuze and Guattari Anti-Oedipus: 1977: 104).
For Deleuze and Guattari our very investment in consumer society itself has produced our desire for such leaders, rather that some nefarious and illusory duping on the part of the masters. We ourselves seek such leaders because we desire our lives to go on as they are, to have the things we have, to live the way we live. As Todd May tells us:
To ask why it is that the masses form beliefs that are against their own interests is to ask the wrong question; it is to ask a question at the wrong level. ‘We see the most disadvantaged, the most excluded members of society invest with passion the system that oppresses them, and where they always find an interest in it, since it is here that they search for and measure it. Interest always comes after’ (Deleuze and Guattari 1977: 346). (15)
Instead of asking why we desire fascism (consumerism), May reports that instead we need to recognize our libidinal investments in the system and make them more revolutionary rather than allowing ourselves to remain passive participants. May will give a lot of remedies to this situation, but in the end as he reports it comes down to this:
We must see the fascism both in what we think and in what we want and create. We do not, or at least very few of us, think anything we tell ourselves is fascistic. Rather, it emerges in the practices in which we engage. It arises not because we desire fascism but because what we desire is fascistic; it arises not because we believe in fascism but because what we believe is fascistic.(26).
One almost remembers a line from Ghandi: “We are botched, therefore we are potential.” And, Mao Tse-Tung’s saying: “There is great chaos under heaven — the situation is excellent.” Maybe, admitting our vulnerability to such desires is in the end to accept the responsibility to create something new with them rather than to let the elite and powers of global capital to continue capturing them with such banal machines.
1. Evans, Brad and Reid, Julian. Deleuze & Fascism: Security: War: Aesthetics. Routledge; 1 edition (May 29, 2013)
by Steven Craig Hickman
What we hold against psychoanalysis is that it resorts to a pious conception, based on lack and castration, a sort of negative theology that involves infinite resignation. It is against this that we propose a positive conception of desire, desire that produces, not desire that is lacking in something.
– Deleuze & Guattari, Chaosophy
“Leaders betray, that’s obvious. But why do those who are led continue to listen to them,” says Felix Guattari.1
How many times I’ve asked myself that question. Too many times and the answers seem to be perplexing and mysterious. Guattari himself will answer it this way, with another question: “Wouldn’t that be the result of an unconscious complicity, of an interiorization of the repression, operating on several levels, from power to bureaucratic, from bureaucrats to militants, and from militants to the masses themselves?” (p. 70) Unconscious complicity? Willing slaves of our own thwarted desires? Unaware of our own dark complicity in our participation in our own enslavement and slaughter? Just what is this strange complicity?
Something Fabio Vighi said in his book on Zizek struck me as poignant in that he describes the task of Lacan’s materialist epistemology as the construction of a project “whose transformative potential depends on its capacity to reflect upon its blind spot – on its conviction that to be socially and politically productive it has to include its own foundations in jouissance” (p. 146).2 Of course Deleuze and Guattari based their whole Anti-Oedipus against Freud and Lacan and the notion of lack as being the object cause of desire. Zizek himself follows Lacan saying,
Symbolic castration is usually defined as the loss of something one never possessed, i.e., the object-cause of desire is an object which emerges through the very gesture of its withdrawal; however, what we encounter here is the obverse structure of feigning a loss. Insofar as the Other of the symbolic Law prohibits jouissance, the only way for the subject to enjoy is to feign that he lacks the object that provides jouissance, concealing the fact of possession from the Other’s gaze by staging the spectacle of a desperate search for it.3
For Deleuze and Guattari this whole notion leads to a treatment as a form of terrorism. In the course of such treatment “[a] the chains of the unconscious are…linearized, suspended from a despotic signifier (i.e. Oedipus)” (54). Indeed, they assert that schizophrenics who are treated this way often digress into autism, which has unfortunately been associated with schizophrenia. For Deleuze and Guattari, it is the analyst and the psychiatric ward that make the schizoid sick, and turn him/her into a silent and psychologically unproductive autist. The healthy schizoid has an essentially productive (un)consciousness. Against the unconscious as a theatre of representation, they insist it is a productive factory: it produces desiring-machines, etc., rather than lost objects or fantasies that must be pursued.
This production of the real is fundamentally false within Freudian and Lacanian notions of the unconscious. Freud-Lacan see the unconscious as symbolic, fantasy laden, and dramatic filled with semiotic puzzles and ancient Greek theater. Hence, for both authors desire is associated with lack. That is to say, desire desires that which is fantasized, repressed, wished for, or absent. Desire is engaged entirely with that which is lacking and needs to be represented. Hence, “desire gives way to a representation” of that which is lacking the phallus, the Oedipal escapade, the ideal “I”, etc. (54). The schizoid, on the other hand, is incapable of experiencing lack. For him or her the unconscious is always productive and never fantastical. Desire itself produces the real and creates new worlds.
Against this representationalist lack that seeks its own wish etc., Deleuze and Guattari hold the unconscious to be functionalist, productive: that it seeks nothing because it does not lack anything, in fact it produces desiring-machines and nothing else. These machines can be plugged into various socio-cultural objects, as well as unplugged or deterritorialized and reterritorialized into other objects.
Zizek in Against the Politics of Jouissance will state that modern society is defined by the lack of ultimate transcendent guarantee, or, in libidinal terms, of total jouissance. There are three main ways to cope with this negativity: utopian, democratic, and post-democratic. The first one (totalitarianisms, fundamentalisms) tries to reoccupy the ground of absolute jouissance by attaining a utopian society of harmonious society which eliminates negativity. The second, democratic, one enacts a political equivalent of “traversing the fantasy”: it institutionalizes the lack itself by creating the space for political antagonisms. The third one, consumerist post-democracy, tries to neutralize negativity by transforming politics into apolitical administration: individuals pursue their consumerist fantasies in the space regulated by expert social administration. Today, when democracy is gradually evolving into consumerist post-democracy, one should insist that democratic potentials are not exhausted – “democracy as an unfinished project” …. The key to the resuscitation of this democratic potential is to re-mobilize enjoyment: “What is needed, in other words, is an enjoyable democratic ethics of the political.”(269)
How is this possible? Zizek will ask What we need is enjoyment: “Libidinal investment and the mobilization of jouissance are the necessary prerequisite for any sustainable identification (from nationalism to consumerism). This also applies to the radical democratic ethics of the political. But the type of investment involved has still to be decided.” (282) He’ll continue saying we have the appropriate social theory, but what is missing is the “subjective factor” – how are we to mobilize people so that they will engage in passionate political struggle? Here psychoanalysis enters, explaining what libidinal mechanisms the enemy is using (Reich tried to do this for Fascism, Stavrakakis for consumerism and nationalism), and how can the Left practice its own “politics of jouissance.” The problem is that such an approach is an ersatz for the proper political analysis: the lack of passion in political praxis and theory should be explained in its own terms, i.e., in the terms of political analysis itself. The true question is: what is there to be passionate about? Which political choices people experience as “realistic” and feasible? (ibid.)
In some ways Guattari and Zizek seem to come at this from opposing sides of a Mobius strip that twists the strange conundrum of their specific problem. Guattari asked why do those who are led continue to listen to their leaders who betrayed them, and he saw the answer in the unconscious complicity of the masses to interiorize and repress the very desire that would have set them free or at least mobilized their desires toward other possibilities. Zizek from the other direction asks why is it was on the Left cannot do just that, why can’t we mobilize the desires of the masses toward their own liberation, why can’t we unblock those repressive systems that have stopped the flows that seem stuck on the internalized Master signifier, etc.
In Anti-Oedipus Deleuze and Guattari will discover in the work of Willhelm Reich a partial answer: that the masses had come to desire Nazism (Chaosophy p. 71). As he’ll admit “After Willhelm Reich, one cannot avoid facing that truth. Under certain conditions, the desire of the masses can turn against their own interests. What are those conditions?” (p. 71). What Deleuze and Guattari did was to reverse the Lacanian wager, they realized there exists a desiring-production which, before all actualization in the familial division of sexes and persons (Freud-Lacan) as well as the social division of work (Marx-Lenin), invests the various forms of production of jouissance and the existing structures in order to repress them (p. 72).
It’s at this point that they came to the same question as Zizek: Under what conditions will the revolutionary avant-garde be able to free itself from its unconscious complicity with repressive structures and elude power’s manipulation of the masses’ desire that makes it “fight for their servitude as though it were their salvation?” (p. 72) They will look at the Freud-Lacan path that it is the familial investment in the Oedipal myth that supports such a conclusion: but will reject it both reductive and a reversion to pre-critical forms of archaic thought forms (Oedipus myth). Instead of a recursion to myth they will opt for the primacy of “history over structure, another analysis, extricated from symbolism and interpretation (anti-representational); and another militancy, with the means to free itself from fantasies of the dominant order” (p. 72).
Deleuze for his part will only add that he and Guattari strove to realize the issues underlying the impasse of psychoanalysis, and they found it in Freud’s inability to understand what delirium or desire truly were: “These two reproaches really make one: what interests us is the presence of machines of desire, molecular micro-machines in the great molar social machines. How they operate and function within one another.” (p. 74). He’ll make another acute observation on Freud and interpretation, or if you will “epistemology”: “There is no epistemology problem either: we couldn’t care less about returning to Freud or Marx. If someone tells us that we have misunderstood Freud, we won’t argue about it, we’ll say too bad, there is much work to be do. It’s curious that epistemology has always hidden an imposition of power, an organization of power. As far as we’re concerned, we don’t believe in any specificity of writing or even of thought.” (p. 78).
1. Felix Guattaris. Chaosophy (Semiotext(e) 2009)
2. Fabio Vighi On Zizek’s Dialectics: Surplus, Subtraction, Sublimation (Continuum 2012)
3. Zizek, Slavoj (2014-10-07). Absolute Recoil: Towards A New Foundation Of Dialectical Materialism (p. 218). Verso Books. Kindle Edition.
by Steven Craig Hickman
To be sure, we have never dreamed of saying that psychoanalysis invented Oedipus!
– Deleuze & Guattari: Anti-Oedipus
One of the key aspects of Deleuze & Guattari’s schizoanalytical analysis of Freud/Lacan tradition of psychoanalysis is not that Oedipus does not exist, but that it comes after social reproduction and social repression. That the family: Father, Mother, child triangulation that psychoanalysis fixates on comes as a partial truth, one that forces the actual truth into the strait-jacket of the Freudian framework.
Everything points in the opposite direction: the subjects of psychoanalysis arrive already oedipulized, they demand it, they want more. (p. 121)
This is where it gets tricky. D&G will tell us in speaking of the incest prohibition that seems to be a cornerstone to the Oedipal mythos is founded not on familial repression but rather on social repressive forces. “Social production would need at its disposal, on the recording surface of the socious, an agent that is also capable of acting on, of inscribing the recording surface of desire. Such an agent exists: the family. (p. 120)” One sees here the notion of the social body, the collective matrix of the socious, as a recordable medium of desire upon which certain agents can act on and inscribe the laws or norms of repression. The key is this concept of desire upon which the social agents, the family being one among a multitude act and inscribe these relations of repression.
One needs to understand this key concept of ‘desire’, and why both the social and the familial as its agent are forced to act on and inscribe the various laws, norms, regulatory mechanisms. And to understand the concept of ‘desire’ and how it is deployed within this critique of psychoanalysis we need to first understand how it is deployed in Freud, Lacan, Deleuze, Guattari, and in Deleuzeguattari’s Anti-Oedipus. At the heart of the critique is Freud’s non-empirical turn, his belief that the problems in the life of his patients was not in the empirical realm of their everyday lives, but rather in the fantasy life of the patient’s themselves. What Deleuze and Guattari have attempted is to return us to the social world of the empirical relations in their actuality rather than to the Cartesian Theatre of the Lacanian / Freudian fantasy land of intentionality. In the one view (Freudian/Lacanian) the mind is a theatre of fantasy to be deciphered by the psychoanalyst as both priest and officiator, while in Deleuzeguattari the mind (unconscious) is a productive factory that produces not images and representations but the veritable tensions of a sociality that goes unrecognized in the patient’s empirical life.
As even Deleuze, in one of his last essays would attest: “I have always felt that I am an empiricist, that is, a pluralist.” (Gilles Deleuze. Pure Immanence Essays on Life Zone Books, 2001)
FREUD ON DESIRE
One of the things Freud discovered early on was that childhood traumas: rape, abuse, sexual predation that his patients spoke of in sessions – for women (hysteria), for men (neurosis) – were not as he had at first assumed – based in fact and actuality, but instead were based in the fantasy life of the patient themselves. Freud concluded that most of his hysteric/neurotic patients had not been abused. His theory shattered, he fell deeper into despair. Then, after agonizing days of self-analysis, Freud reached a conclusion that would transform the very nature of the theory of mental life he was still inventing: his patients, Freud now believed, had been reporting fantasies. In most cases, there had been no abuse – only conflicted wishes and desires. As he would say: “When I pulled myself together, I was able to draw the right conclusions namely that neurotic symptoms are not related directly to actual events but to fantasies embodying wishes.” By switching from actual seduction to seduction fantasies, Freud in his work entered the world of the mind and the world of imagination.
Displacing the problems of his patients from the real world to the inner psychic life of the patient led him to write The Interpretation of Dreams where he began to develop many of the early theories of wish-fulfillment, desire, unconscious, repression, condensation, etc. Freud would not be the first nor the last to instill intentionality or the notion of mental events into the internal world of the Mind. Several critics from Hans Eysenck’s Decline and Fall of the Freudian Empire (1985) to Richard Webster’s Why Freud Was Wrong: Sin, Science and Psychoanalysis (1995) have attacked this inward turn toward the Mind. Even at the extreme end of this Freudian critique in such books as Fredrick Crews The Memory Wars: Freud’s Legacy in Dispute (1995) Freud is brought back not as a scientist of the Mind, but the inventor of fantasies himself. And, yet, there are other works such as Peter Gay’s 1988 book Freud: A Life for Our Time who will give sustenance to the Freudians and their legends. Probably the best of the critiques of Freud came in 1984 with Adolf Grünbaum’s The Foundations of Psychoanalysis: A Philosophical Critique where he will attack Freud on empirical grounds, while at the same time defending him against those like Karl Popper who thought Freud’s theories were a manifestation of pseudo-science. As one reads through most of these works one realizes it is the notion that Freud’s works are not based on scientific empiricism that seems to be the greatest issue; yet, most will agree that his speculative philosophical approach is still of value and that it is to this we should favor a reception of his ideas rather than to his imposition of scientism that should be explored.
My point being this: if one looks upon Freud’s works as speculative philosophy rather than science then his position within that stream of thought that arises out of Kant, Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel; along with the undertow of Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, and others remains a valid influence to this day within the philosophical community if not the psychoanalytical. It informs many of the debates concerning the various approaches to materialism one sees in philosophers as diverse as Badiou, Zizek, Meillassou and Johnston; as well as Deleuze, De Landa, Bradiotti, etc. – just to name a few. The great divide in materialism at this moment stems from these early notions of Freud, the German Idealists, and the counter-traditions of Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Bataille, Deleuze, and Land. Materialism is at a crossroad: split between scientific naturalism and its various forms of physicalism; the Freudian/Lacanian group based on structure and lack; and the philosophers of desire such as Deleuze and his followers under the rubric of new materialisms. One should add the Marxian tradition as well, but that is part of another battle that is inclusive to all of these various materialisms. In my own work-in-progress I’m dealing with this tradition that seems in our moment to be in turmoil as well as going through its own transformations and migrations into various materialisms. To understand this process one needs to clarify and separate, abstract out and critique the earlier forms of materialism. It’s this that drives my project at the moment.
It is to the figure of Freud as speculative philosopher rather than scientist that my understanding of Desire and Drives turns.
Achim Szepanski - BAUDRILLARD: WHEN HUMAN RIGHTS AND DEMOCRACY BEGAN TO CIRCULATE LIKE OIL AND CAPITAL
Speculating Freedom: Addiction, Control and Rescriptive Subjectivity in the Work of William S. Burroughs
Joshua Carswell - EVALUATING DELEUZE’S “THE IMAGE OF THOUGHT” (1968) AS A PRECURSOR OF HYPERSTITION // PART 1
Joshua Carswell - Evaluating Deleuze’s “The Image of Thought” (1968) as a Precursor of Hyperstition // Part 2
Jose Rosales - ON THE END OF HISTORY & THE DEATH OF DESIRE (NOTES ON TIME AND NEGATIVITY IN BATAILLE’S ‘LETTRE Á X.’)
Jose Rosales - BERGSONIAN SCIENCE-FICTION: KODWO ESHUN, GILLES DELEUZE, & THINKING THE REALITY OF TIME
GILLES DELEUZE - Capitalism, flows, the decoding of flows, capitalism and schizophrenia, psychoanalysis, Spinoza.
Obsolete Capitalism - THE STRONG OF THE FUTURE. NIETZSCHE’S ACCELERATIONIST FRAGMENT IN DELEUZE AND GUATTARI’S ANTI-OEDIPUS
Obsolete Capitalism - Acceleration, Revolution and Money in Deleuze and Guattari's Anti-OEdipus (Part 1)
Obsolete Capitalism - Acceleration, Revolution and Money in Deleuze and Guattari's Anti-OEdipus (Part 2)
Obsolete Capitalism: Acceleration, Revolution and Money in Deleuze and Guattari's Anti-OEdipus (Part 3)
Obsolete Capitalism - Acceleration, Revolution and Money in Deleuze and Guattari's Anti-OEdipus (Part 4)
Obsolete Capitalism: Acceleration, Revolution and Money in Deleuze and Guattari's Anti-OEdipus (Part 5)
Stephen Zepke - “THIS WORLD OF WILD PRODUCTION AND EXPLOSIVE DESIRE” – THE UNCONSCIOUS AND THE FUTURE IN FELIX GUATTARI
Steven Craig Hickman - David Roden and the Posthuman Dilemma: Anti-Essentialism and the Question of Humanity
Steven Craig Hickman - The Intelligence of Capital: The Collapse of Politics in Contemporary Society
Steven Craig Hickman - The Carnival of Globalisation: Hyperstition, Surveillance, and the Empire of Reason
Steven Craig Hickman - Shaviro On The Neoliberal Strategy: Transgression and Accelerationist Aesthetics
Steven Craig Hickman - Hyperstition: Technorevisionism – Influencing, Modifying and Updating Reality
Terence Blake - CONCEPTS OUT OF THE SHADOWS: Notes on Deleuze and Guattari’s “What is Philosophy?” (2)
Terence Blake - GUATTARI’S LINES OF FLIGHT (2): transversal vs transferential approaches to the reading contract
Himanshu Damle - Games and Virtual Environments: Playing in the Dark. Could These be Havens for Criminal Networks?
Himanshu Damle - Hegelian Marxism of Lukács: Philosophy as Systematization of Ideology and Politics as Manipulation of Ideology.