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Holloway, J., Matamoros, F Tischler, S. (2009), Negativity and Revolution: Adorno and Political Activism.

London: Pluto Press Bonnet, A. Antagonism and difference: Negative Dialectics and post-structuralism in view of the critique of modern capitalism *+ the purpose of these notes is to reaffirm the importance of negative dialectics to the critique of contemporary capitalism. Negative dialectics, as a modality of thought that consistently takes on board the antagonistic character of capitalist society, is, we shall argue, a revolutionary critique of the same capitalist society. However, to argue this today does not entail a vindication of the critical character of negative dialectics as opposed to the apologetic character of positive dialectics inherited from idealism, on which Adorno predominantly insisted in his Negative Dialectics, but rather a defence of the relevance itself of concepts that have been somewhat underestimated in the revolutionary critique of capitalist society, such as antagonism and dialectic negativity. *Adorno criticised the pejorative use of the term abstract+ There is nothing more reified and, therefore, more remote from a critique of capitalist society than a way of thinking which worships things themselves!. Therefore, Negative Dialectics is not an abstract document in that derogatory sense, for it approaches a modality of thought whose characteristics its dialectic and negative character, but also its own abstract character derive from highly concrete determinations of its object. (42) *+ neither that difference between the object and its concept nor the conversion of this difference into a contradiction can be attributed to dialectics which would then be implicitly reduced to a method but to reality itself. Concept and reality display the same contradictory nature, Adorno argues. The principle of dominion, which antagonistically rends human society, is the same principle which, spiritualized, causes the difference between the concept and its subject matter; and that difference assumes the logical form of contradiction because, measured by the principle of dominion, whatever does not bow to its unity will not appear as something different from and indifferent to the principle, but as a violation of logic *Adorno: ND] So, identification and the absence of identity, which this identification converts into contradiction, are both dimensions of antagonistic society itself. Identification refers us in the last instance to the conversion of a plurality of qualitatively diverse concrete labours into quantities of a single, undifferentiated, abstract labour through the process of exchange. [identification as the logic of capital] (43) The identity resulting from this reduction of the plurality of specific labours to the unity of abstract labour is, at the same time, illusory insofar as exploitation underlies it, and objective in that it springs from the production and exchange of commodities. It is precisely as this socially necessary appearance, that is, as ideology, that this identity makes its mark on philosophical systems. (44) *Adorno defines identity as+ socially necessary illusion

[Negative dialectics] is a dialectical modality of thought because society is antagonistic; negative because this antagonism cannot be overcome through thought; and certainly utopian, because it continues to hope for a reconciled reality. (45) [Deleuze wrote shortly after Adorno] However, while Deleuze called for the rejection of dialectics in order to think of a concept of difference without negation, Adorno called for the construction of a negative dialectics conceived as a consequent conscience of difference. Naturally, it is not that Adorno was oblivious to the terrible consequences that the reduction of difference to negation brought upon thought, but rather he considered them to be the price one inevitably had to pay for an operation that reality itself imposed on thought. Contradiction is nonidentity under the rule of a law that affects the nonidentical as well he recognised in the first pages of his Negative Dialectics, only to warn that This law is not a cognitive law, however. It is real. Unquestionably, one who submits to the dialectical discipline has to pay dearly in the qualitative variety of experience. Still, in the administered world the impoverishment of experience by dialectics, which outrages healthy opinion, proves appropriate to the abstract monotony of that world. Its agony is the worlds agony raised to a concept. Cognition must bow to it, unless concretion is once more to be debased into the ideology it starts becoming in fact. *Adorno: ND+ (46) In contrast, it was dialectics rather than reality that Deleuze was held responsible for substituting the labour of the negative for the play od difference and the differential, and Difference and Repetition closes with the declaration that history progresses not by negation and the negation of negation, but by deciding problems and affirming differences. It is no less bloody and cruel as a result. Only the shadows of history live by negation: the good enter into it with all the power of a posited differential or a difference affirmed. [] Contradiction is not the weapon of the proletariat but, rather, the manner in which the bourgeoisie defends and preserves itself [Deleuze] (47) So let us set out the arguments. Adorno and Deleuze both recognise that this reduction of difference to negation, an operation which is inherent in any dialectics, involves violence against difference. The two being to diverge when Adorno decisively rejects any effort to emancipate difference from negativity in the sphere of thought, as long as this emancipation has not occurred in the sphere of reality, and Deleuze tries, no less forcefully, to do precisely that. The object and its concept cannot be reconciled in the sphere of thought as Hegelian dialectics set out to do but neither can this difference between the two be emancipated in the sphere of thought from its reduction to negativity, as the Deleuzian philosophy of difference claims. This tension aspires to harbour in thought the antagonistic character of the thought reality, the antagonism which is inherent in capitalist social relations and is constitutive of Adornian negative dialectics. On its own, it [consciousness] cannot eliminate the objective contradiction and its emanations. It can comprehend it; anything else is idle protestation.(48) *Adorno is would criticize Deleuzes attempt to have difference without negativity as lapsing back into ideology] The specific ideology that concerns us, if we are talking about a non-antagonistic coexistence of differences in multiplicity, is liberalism. Indeed, liberalism is a ghost that persistently haunts

Deleuzes pages, leaving its mark in his repeated precautions against the figure of the beautiful soul a final Hegelian vengeance! There are certainly many dangers in invoking pure differences which have become independent of the negative and liberated from the identical. The greatest danger is that of lapsing into the representations of a beautiful soul: there are only reconcilable and federative differences, far removed from bloody struggles. [] Nevertheless, we believe that when these problems attain their proper degree of positivity, and when difference becomes the object of a corresponding affirmation, they release a power of aggression and selection which destroys the beautiful soul. *Deleuze+ Deleuze tries to eliminate the marks of this beautiful soul by evoking the figures of Marx and Nietzsche. *+ the philosophy of difference must be wary of turning into the discourse of beautiful souls: differences, nothing but differences, in a peaceful coexistence in the Idea of social places and functions *+ but the name of Marx is sufficient to save it from this danger. *Deleuze+ And that should be enough but it is not, for the figure evoked by Deleuze is not the Marx who criticises the antagonistic nature of capitalist social relations, but a quasi-Durkheim dedicated to the sociology of the division of labour. (49) [he then tries to call upon Nietzsche+ to clear the marks of the beautiful soul. There are two ways to appeal to necessary destructions: that of the poet, who speaks in the name of a creative power, capable of overturning all orders and representations in order to affirm Difference in the state of permanent revolution which characterized eternal return; and that of the politician, who is above all concerned to deny that which differs, so as to preserve or prolong an established historical order, or to establish a historical order which already calls forth in the world the forms of its representations. [Deleuze] This return to Nietzsche seems more promising in the sense that, unlike Marx, there is no doubt that Nietzsche rejected dialectics. (50) To the speculative element of negation, opposition or contradiction, Nietzsche opposes the practical element of difference: object of assertion and pleasure *Deleuze+. This affirmation of difference, with its potential for aggression and selection, is precisely what would dissolve this pluralism of differences into a peaceful coexistence which is common in the beautiful soul. But this recurring to Nietzsche is not enough either. The capitalist market and democracy are the quintessential names which denote the habitat of this coexistence of differences within liberal ideology. And anyway, the aggressiveness and selectivity which are liberated by this affirmation of difference are in no way alien to this habitat: there is a certain Darwinism amongst the constitutive elements of the concept itself of the capitalist market. Naturally, this assertion of difference can acquire various degrees of brutality *+ but in no case does it seem incompatible with the market. (51) *+ when this assertion of difference adopts the guise of a revolution, or this eternal return adopts the guise of a permanent revolution, political ambiguity floods Deleuzes pages. (51/52)

The warnings against liberalism appear again when Deleuzes concept of the multiplicity of differences, which continues to be of a somewhat philosophical nature, tries to adopt a more explicit political edge with some help from Spinoza in Negris or Virnos concept of multitude. The notion of multitude seems to share something with liberal thought because it values individuality but, at the same time, it distances itself from it radically because this individuality is the final product of a process of individuation which stems from the universal, the generis, the preindividual. This seeming nearness is overturned and becomes the maximum distance *Virno+. They are very similar, but they have two profoundly different meanings. Because the liberal thinks the individual is a primary element and the comprehension of how the individual acts in relation to others and the state comes later. From the standpoint of the multitude, the individual, singularity is the result of a process. *Virno+ And indeed, this distinction between a priori and a posteriori concepts of the individual allows us to separate the notion of the individual from the natural law liberalism of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, which built its concepts of state and market on the basis of philosophical anthropologies. However, it is doubtful that the same would apply to John Stuart Mills liberalism and it would certainly not apply in the case of the liberalism of Richard Rorty (52). *Now to Negri and Hardt+ *+ faced with the need to distinguish their notion of multitude from the liberal tradition, they do not take up the relation between multitude and individual but between multitude and class. *but class not as empirical, sociological datum but as collective resistance to power+ And this conclusion decisively exorcises the ghost of liberalism. Indeed, if the concept of multitude is defined in terms of collective resistance against power, it becomes incompatible with the coexistence of differences which liberalism embraces. However, this rigorously dialectic definition presents the drawback of being no less rigorously incompatible with the aforementioned definition and with any other definition based on a substitution of negation with difference, or antagonism with multiplicity. (53) [so: back to Adorno] In fact, dialectics is neither a pure method nor a reality in the nave sense of the word. It is not a method, for the unreconciled matter lacking precisely the identity surrogated by the thought is contradictory and resists any attempt at unanimous interpretation. It is the matter, not the organizing drive of thought, that brings us to dialectics. Nor is dialectics a simple reality, for contradictoriness is a category of reflection, the cognitative confrontation of concept and thing. To proceed dialectically means to think in contradictions, for the sake of the contradiction once experienced in the thing, and against that contradiction. A contradiction in reality, it is a contradiction against reality. But such dialectics is no longer reconcilable with Hegel. Its motion does not tend to the identity in the difference between each object and its concept; instead, it is suspicious of all identity. *Adorno: ND+

The legitimacy of negative dialectics itself as a way of thinking does not outlive the historical existence of this antagonistic society: Dialectical reasons own essence has come to be and will pass, like antagonistic society *Adorno:ND+. (55) [Adorno and Deleuze] share the same utopian dimension and even use almost the same words to describe this utopia. *Adorno writes:+ *Dialectics] would come to an end in reconcilement. Reconcilement would release the nonidentical, would rid it of coercion, including spiritualized coercion; it would open the road to the multiplicity of different things and strip dialectics of its power over them *+ Utopia would be above identity and above contradiction; it would be a togetherness of diversity *Adorno:ND+ *+ the difference between the two lies in that, in negative dialectics, fidelity to this utopia demands a rejection of all efforts to emancipate difference from negativity in the sphere of the concept (the dialectics), insofar as this emancipation has not happened in the sphere of the object (of society). Fidelity to utopia is a synonym of critique in negative dialectics. (68) [is Deleuzian thinking apologetic towards capitalism? It is different from liberalism insomuch as it maintains elements from the anarchist tradition: resistance, the state as a despotic machine, externality of resistance in relation to power, the rejection of dialectics itself and invocations of the multiplicity of differences as crowned anarchy. The question however is: what is the relation between the post-anarchist philosophy of difference and the dominant ideology of modern capitalism?] Indeed, there are certain features that justify our calling Deleuze the ideologist of late capitalism [Zizek] (69) Perhaps this answer is too categorical and provocative, but we believe it has a core of truth. If an ideological mutation had taken place in such a way that the dominant ideology no longer rested on universalistic values such as those associated with the concepts of totality and system, universal history, subject and object identical to one another and dualistically distinguished, etc., if the fragmentary and multiple nature of differences, the dissolution of dualism and the identities of subject and object as well as the event were key values of the dominant ideology in modern capitalism, then the critical character of a philosophy such as Deleuzes could not be approached acritically. A philosophy that vindicates difference in an immediate way, i.e. a difference which avoids negativity, would be condemned in such a context, in the best of cases, to a radicalised version of the discourse on the harmonious cohabitation of differences within the horizon delimited by the capitalist market and democracy, characteristic of the liberalism dominant in this context. And maybe in this radical gesture it would bring an utopian dimension into play; but, at the same time, it would be betraying its own utopia of an emancipation of difference. [capitalism nowadays does not justify itself anymore by way of rational arguments with universal foundations. For it has to recognise a range of competing cultures, idioms and ways of doing. It opens up to multicultural society in a pragmatic way. Thats postmodernism for you+ (70) [capital reproduces itself by subsuming difference under the identity of the system] (71)

[the critical core of Adornean negative dialectic is that] in its insistence on the antagonistic character of capitalist social relations, it is incompatible with any illusion surrounding a true emancipation of difference in relation to negativity within these limits of the capitalist market and democracy. (72) [from the notes: Foucaults rejection of dialectics+ *+ dialectics does not liberate that which is different; on the contrary, it guarantees it will always remain trapped. The dialectical sovereignty of that which is the same consists in letting it be, but under the law of the negative, as the moment of non being *+ In order to liberate difference we need a thinking without contradiction, without dialectics, without negation: a thinking that says yes to difference, an affirmative thought that uses disjunction as a tool; a thinking of the multiple of the dispersed and nomadic multiplicity which does not limit nor regroup any of the coactions of that which is the same *Foucault+ (73)