On the notion of the political in postmarxist theory.

Seminars

04.12.2014
Speculative materialism in queer-feminist perspective
Emerging life and syntheses of matter and time

14.06.2013
Aesthetic existence and the ontologisation of poverty
Whatever life

20.04.2013
The practise of doing nothing 

Unemployed positivity

04.11.2012
Miguel Abensour as reader of Spinoza
Spinoza, Marx, Moses Hess

05.10.2012
Agamben and Nancy as readers of Spinoza
Leaving Immanence?

06.06.2012
Feminist readings of Spinoza
Becoming woman?

03.05.2012
Deleuze on Spinoza's theory of affects 

From the ontological to the affective

04.04.2012
Spinoza with Deleuze
The underground current of the philosophy of immanence

07.03.2012
Macherey's Spinoza
Ontology of multiplicity or materialist dialectic?

08.02.2012
Althusser's concept of immanent causality 
- Seminar
Marx with Spinoza

08.12.2011
Exhausting politics 

Being out of class (Deleuze)

01.11.2011
What is an inoperativity that consists in contemplating one's own potentiality to act?
The messianic class

29.06.2011
Sharing the inappropriable
The retreating class

26.05.2011
The political capacity of the proletariat
The subtractive class II

07.04.2011
The political capacity of the proletariat
The subtractive class

03.03.2011
Disrupting the logic of division
The supplementary class

04.02.2011
The antinomies of proletarian politics
The paradoxical class

02.12.2010
Nancy and Lacoue-Labarthe on political difference
Retreating the political

08.11.2010
Lars T. Lih as Reader of Lenin
What Is to be Done? and Bolshevism

03.10.2010
The concept of capitalism in "Anti-Oedipus"
Capitalism deterritorialized

30.06.2010
Deleuze, Guattari, Lacan
An impossible encounter I

28.05.2010
An impossible encounter: Deleuze, Guattari and Lacan
Preparatory Meeting

27.05.2010
Micropolitics in "A thousand plateaus"
Molecular Politics I

07.04.2010
On affectivity and potentiality
Spinoza with Deleuze

04.03.2010
Nietzsche with Deleuze
The negative in the positive

04.02.2010
The notion of becoming in Deleuze and Guattari
Becoming

04.11.2009
On Esposito's concept of bio/politics
Biopotentiality

08.10.2009
Reading Althusser

07.10.2009
Rancière's farewell to Althusserian Marxism
La leçon d'Althusser

06.10.2009
Debating Althusser's philosophy of the encounter
What is aleatory materialism?

03.09.2009
Negri on materialism
Kairos, Alma Venus, Multitudo

02.09.2009
Tronti and Cacciari's concept of the political
The autonomy of the political

17.06.2009
"From Capital-Labor to Capital-Life" by M. Lazzarato
Invention

20.05.2009
Reading Simondon
Individuation

09.04.2009
Nancy on the singularity of death
Excess

11.03.2009
Agamben and Deleuze on pure immanence
Immanence

11.03.2009
Encountering Althusser
Preparatory meeting

11.03.2009
Workshop: becoming-major, becoming-minor
Preparatory meeting

07.02.2009
Foucault with Deleuze
The force of the outside II

06.02.2009
Superimposing diagrams: discipline and governmentality
The force of the outside

06.02.2009
Encountering Althusser
Preparatory Meeting

05.12.2008
Reading Jacques Rancière's "Dis-agreement"
Marx's Metapolitics

04.11.2008
Reading Balibar's "The Vacillation of Ideology in Marxism"
The non-totalizable complexity of the historical process

05.10.2008
Reading Jacques Derrida's "Specters of Marx"
Deconstructing Value Theory

11.09.2008
Reading Moishe Postone's "Time, Labor and Social Domination"
Value and Capitalist Capacities

01.07.2008
Debating "The mirror of production" by Jean Baudrillard
Marx with Bataille

06.06.2008
The coming communities of commons

05.06.2008
Feminist comments on the relation between politics and labor
The arcane of reproduction

09.05.2008
Rancière on the inactuality of communism and the intelligence of the unqualified

07.05.2008
Virno on Marx's "Fragments on machines"
Notes on the general intellect

04.04.2008
Virno on the concept of bio-politics in Postoperaism
What is living and what is dead in Marx's philosophy? II

03.04.2008
Jason Read on abstract and living labor
What is living and what is dead in Marx's philosophy?

07.03.2008
Reading Negri's "Twenty Theses on Marx"
The autonomy of living labor

08.02.2008
Class composition in Italian autonomist Marxism
The emergence of the socialised worker II

07.02.2008
Class composition in Italian autonomist Marxism
The emergence of the socialised worker

07.12.2007
On Badiou's concept of truth procedure
Assigning a measure to the excessive power of the state

09.11.2007
Reading Jacques Ranciere's "Ten theses on politics"
The supplementary part that disconnects the people from itself

04.10.2007
Deleuze and Guattari on the concept of minoritarian struggle
Micropolitics

07.09.2007
On class composition and radical negativity
Domestic work and class struggle within the class II

06.09.2007
On class composition and radical negativity
Domestic work and class struggle within the class

02.07.2007
From class to minority
The relationship of Marxism and Post-Structuralism III

01.07.2007
On the concept of the concrete universal
The relationship of Marxism and Post-Structuralism II

30.06.2007
On Marx and Foucault
The relationship of Marxism and Post-Structuralism

30.05.2007
Dictatorship of the proletariat and council movement
The Soviet experience II

29.05.2007
Rosa Luxemburg on the Russian Revolution
The Soviet experience

06.04.2007
Negri on Lenin
Democracy beyond law II

05.04.2007
Lenin's concept of the dictatorship of protetariat
Democracy beyond law

09.03.2007
Benjamin's concept of mysthic and divine violence
To bring about the real state of exception II

08.03.2007
Agamben's reading of Benjamin
To bring about the real state of exception

09.02.2007
Agamben's sovereign theoretical turn in thinking potentiality
Potentiality of impotentiality II

08.02.2007
Agamben's theory of autonomous potentiality
Potentiality of impotentiality

The concept of capitalism in "Anti-Oedipus"
Capitalism deterritorialized

Gilles Deleuze/ Félix Guattari (1972): Anti-Oedipus, Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press, 2000

Chapter III, 9, 10: The Civilised Capitalist Machine, Capitalist Representation,
pp. 222-262

At today's meeting we are discussing two passages of the third chapter of "Anti-Oedipus" – "The Civilised Capitalist Machine" and "Capitalist Representation" – in order to analyse Deleuze and Guattari's concept of capitalism and their corresponding notion of schizo-analytic politics. Both passages are characterised by three theoretical operations:

(1) the inscription of the ontological principle of desire into the idea of an universal history of decoded and deterritorialized flows,

(2) the ranslation of the onto-historical narrative of deterritorialisation into a heterodox Marxist language, in which aleatory, teleological and value theoretical elements are integrated culminating in a Marxist theory of money,

(3) the development of a State theory in which the State articulates three merging and rather instrumental functions – absorption of surplus value (Keynesianism), destructive consumption of investments goods and labour power through generalized anti-production (economico-military complex), investment in applied science and technology (State induced general intellect).

(1) The first theoretical operation is the inscription of an ontological principle – impersonal creative desire – into the idea of an universal history of decoded and deterritorialized flows. Deleuze and Guattari start with the hypothesis that a general movement of decoding comes historically to the fore in and through the birth of capitalism. The capitalist society itself has emerged from a contingent encounter of two decoded flows – naked labor power on one side and self-valorising capital on the other side. Starting from this encounter, a universal process of decoding and deterritorialising comes into being: capitalism is the first society that decodes and sets free what all previous societies have coded, overcoded and fixed: the active and creative forces of desire. However, in order to realise the principle of capitalism – valorisation – desire has to be bound in a new abstract, quantitative and dynamic dimension that Deleuze and Guattari call axiomatization. At this stage, two statements of Deleuze and Guattari have to be pinpointed: first, in capitalism the ontological principle of being as desiring becoming is historically unfolded, while it is secondly fixed and corrupted in an unknown, both abstract and concrete way, that Sohn-Rethel used to call Realabstraktion. Axiomatisation means that the fixing of desire has no substantial or foundational cernel, no code, no traditional and qualitative character. Hence, Deleuze and Guattari paradoxically inscribe a philosophy of history into an aleatory thought of historical events: Born out of a chance encounter, capitalism realises the universal decoding of desire that will be its own inner difference and death. The ontological privilege that Marx has attributed to the principles of living labor and proletarian class struggle, to a class that incorporates both the positivity of living labor and the negativity of dissoluting all what exploits and binds this living activity, Deleuze and Guattari do attribute to the principle of desire (schizophrenia) and being "out of class" (255) privileging unconscious group desires over preconscious class interests (cf. 257). That is to say, capitalism is understood in "Anti-Oedipus" as the last hour of history. It it history's long eschaton. Deleuze and Guattari understand capitalism as exterior limit of all societies while only possessing interior limits which is capital itself, a limit, that "it does not encounter, but reproduces by always displacing it" (231). In other words, capitalism is nothing but immanent excess based on the mobilisation and conjunction of desiring forces that have simultaneously to be prevented from breaking through: That is why, these schizophrenic forces are presented by Deleuze and Guattari as capitalism's "difference, its divergence and its death" (245).

"Decoded desire and desires for decoding have always existed [...]. But we have just seen that only through their encounter in a place, and their conjunction in a space that takes time, do decoded flows constitute a desire – a desire that instead of just dreaming or lacking it, actually produces a desiring-machine that is at the same time social and technical. That is why capitalism and its break are defined not solely by the generalized decoding of flows, but by [...] the conjunction of deterritorialized flows. It is the singular nature of this conjunction that ensured the universality of capitalism." (224)

Deleuze and Guattari reject the structuralist idea of an immanent causality ordered by an absent cause that uncovers a field of immanence through the withdrawal of a signifier, an immanent field in which the elements have minimal identity that they owe to their relations of opposition keeping this identity throughout variation. In contrast, Deleuze and Guattari put forward the idea of an immanent field moved by the force of desire emerging through conjunctions of flows or elements without any presupposed signifying or logical relationship. The theoretical figures that are at stake here are that of heterogenesis and binding without bond. What Deleuze and Guattar call desire is nothing else than its own functioning: the conjunction of flows, their schizogenesis by mutually conjoining and cutting eachother, linked through the lack of a bond, having no identity how ever minimal before their conjunction.

Deleuze and Guattari implant a pure principle in their historical thought that unfolds through the stages of primitive, despotic and capitalist societies. Capitalism is not thought as encounter of manifold heterogenous developments – discipline, governmentality, valorisation, colonial hyper-exploitation – but as encounter of two developements – "on one side, the deterritorialized worker who has become free and naked, having to sell his labor capacity; and on the other, decoded money that has become capital and is capable of buying it" (223). Through this Marxist reduction, Deleuze and Guattari establish the idea of the historical play between a revolutionary potential of decoded flows (desire) and a reactionary potential of capitalist axiomatisation, i.e., the feeding of desire in the process of valorisation. The political strategy that Deleuze and Guattari derive from this analysis consists in a Nietzschean acceleration of deterritorialisation in order to exceed capital's capacity of binding its force. This affirmation of absolute deterritorialisation has been rectracted in "A Thousand Plateaus" and "What is philosphy?" by stressing that the field of politics is the field of relative deterritorialisation that needs a minimal problematic composition, a minimal semi-chaotic state.

(2) The second theoretical operation undertaken by Deleuze and Guattari in the third chapter of "Anti-Oedipus" lies in a translation of the onto-historical narrative of deterritorialisation into a heterodox Marxist language, in which aleatory, teleological and value theoretical elements are integrated, culminating in a Marxist theory of money by which capitalism is conceived as differential relation of two heterogenous and incommensurable flows of money: income money (wage) and credit money (financial capital). The latter is characterized by Deleuze and Guattari as "an immense deterritorialized flow" that they define by the words of the economist Bernard Schmitt echoing Marx's definition of labour potentiality in the "Grundrisse" as an "instantaneous creative flow, [...] a pure availability, nonpossession and nonwealth" (237). Deleuze and Guattari declare that the meaning of their "return to Marx" lies in the development of a "Marxist theory of money" (229).

Deleuze and Guattari formulate their theory of money by translating the figure of immanent excess by which they define the capitalist process into three heterodox Marxist theorems: firstly, the aleatory historical thesis of an contingent encounter between "flows of producers and flows of money" (224) from which capitalism would have emerged; secondly, the analytical thesis of the infinity of the tendency of the profit rate to fall which opens into a self-processing movement of expanding social limits on an ever widening scale, the absolute limit of which is schizophrenia; and, thirdly, the value theoretical thesis of an extraction of a surplus value of flux from the decoded flows of human production and scientific invention, which is composed by human and machinic surplus value.

In "Anti-Oedipus" Deleuze and Guattari coin the non-Marxian concept of a "machinic surplus value", which, on closer examination, rather seems to be a specific part of human surplus value "resulting from scientific and technical flows of code", "scientific or technical labor", or scientific "innovation" (234). This so called machinic surplus value – generated by the labor of the general intellect – adds itself to the human surplus value and, thereby, "comes to correct the relative diminution of the latter, both of them constituting the whole of the surplus value of flux that characterizes the system" (234). By inventing the rather unprecise notion of machinic surplus value, Deleuze and Guattari want to bring into play a post-Marxian value theory. The law of self-valorising value is not understood, like in Marx, as being encapsulated in the simple commodity-form in which the inapparant social relation of abstraction and substitution both appears and is dissimulated in this very commodity-form itself. Instead of the idea of a value-form, in which the relation of things and persons is inverted, Deleuze and Guattari put forward the idea of a differential relation of two flows of money, in which desire circulates in a decoded state while being simultaneously caught in the principle of maximisation of profits:

"Surplus value cannot be defined by the difference between the value of labor capacity and the value created by labor capacity, but by the incommensurability between two flows that are nontheless immanent to each other, by the disparity between the two aspects of money that express them [...]. The one measuring the true economic force, the other measuring a purchasing power determined as income." (237)

For Deleuze and Guattari, the secret of capitalism lies in its state of immanence. As they analyse desire as a force generated by the conjunction of heterogenous decoded flows mutually joining and cutting eachother, they conceive capitalism itself as a desire generating immanent field. Its core mechanism resides in the inscription of the differential relation of flows of desire (creation, production, invention) into the differential relation of two types of money:

"In the one case, there are impotent money signs of exchange value, a flow of means of payment relative to consumer goods and use values, and a one-to-one relation between money and an imposed range of products [...]; in the other case, signs of the power of capital, flows of financing, a system of differential quotients of production that bear witness to a prospective force or to a long-term evaluation, not realizable hic et nunc, and functioning as an axiomatic of abstract quantities." (228)

Marx's political antagonism between labour power and capital that Deleuze and Guattari translate in the difference of two flows of money, a flow of financing (ruling class) and a flow of income (ruled class) is shifted to a political passage of escape:

"In short, the theoretical opposition is not between two classes [...]. The theoretical opposition lies elsewehere: it is between the decoded flows that enter into a class axiomatic on the full body of capital and on the other hand, the decoded flows that free themselves from this axiomatic just as they free themselves form the despotic signigier that break though this wall, and this wall of a wall, an begin flowing on the full boday without organs." (255)

By this analysis, Deleuze and Guattari put forward their main theoretical hypothesis: social production and desiring production are of the same immanent nature of decoded flows, articulating two different regimes, one of decoding flight, one of valorising bond (cf. 262). By the conjunction of decoded flow, capitalism has emerged and since then sets into motion a capitalist machine that links all flows to capital. Obviously, Deleuze and Guattari resuscitate both Marx's historical eschatology (schizophrenia as capitalism's own fulfillment and inner death) and his dialectics of counteracting tendencies (either the flight of schizophrenia or the terror of paranoia).

The analytical primacy of financial capital has been recently continued by Negri and Hardt in "Commonwealth". While Deleuze and Guattari suggest to dectect capitalism's form in the relation of two streams of money, Negri and Hardt suggest that one stream of money (finance capital) might be extracted from this relation. They thus ask, in the chapter "What remains of Capitalism?" in "Commonwealth", whether the potentiality of money to represent all productive activities in a social field can be, in the hand of the multitude, an instrument of freedom "with the capacity to overthrow misery and poverty" (C 295). Attacking the private accumulation of capital, Negri and Hardt propose finance being the most decoded mediation of a complex production network expressing a sort of Maoism of money:

"Just as the concept of abstract labor was necessary for understanding the industrial working class [...], do the abstractions of money and finance similarly provide the instruments for making the multitude [...]? [...] [I]t seems to us that efforts to reappropriate money in this way point in the direction of revolutionary activity today. And this would mark a definitive break of the one divided in two." (C 295)

(3) The third operation undertaken in "Anti-Oedipus" is the development of a State theory in which the State articulates three merging functions – guaranteeing the absorption of surplus value (Keynesianism), destructively consuming goods and labour power through a generalized anti-production (economico-military complex), supporting the expansive movement of capital by investing in applied science and technology (State induced general intellect).

These State functions reveal the becoming-immanent of what Deleuze and Guattari call the originary Ur-Staat constituted in the Asian despotic regimes and since then expressing the foundational and still effective figure of the State. By this idea of the Ur-Staat's withdrawing immanentisation that Deleuze and Guattari develop with reference to Wittfogel's notion of the Asian mode of production, they omit the cernel of Foucault's concept of biopolitics: the State as effect of both, individualizing and totalising practices that are primarily characterised not by repressive but capacitating and enabling mechanisms producing a productive body and optimizing the administration of social reproduction. Against Foucault's idea of the mutual displacement of heterogenous mechanisms of discipline (effecting the individual body), governmentality (regulating reproduction in terms of statistics and probabilities) and valorization (planning and betting on probable maximisations of profits), the State is reduced to an instrument of capitalist reterritorialisation (cf. 261). It is the instance that does stabilise capital's "universal delirium" (260) oscillating beween revolutionary schizophrenia and paranoic blockages. In "Anti-Oedipus" the State is narrowed to an instrument by which the absorption of surplus value is realised in terms of producing lack where is abundance and injecting anti-production into the producing apparatus, a "gigantic machine for social repression-psychic repression" (245).