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http://psc.sagepub.com Gilles Deleuze, Félix Guattari and the total system
Mohamed Zayani Philosophy Social Criticism 2000; 26; 93 DOI: 10.1177/019145370002600105 The online version of this article can be found at: http://psc.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/26/1/93
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Gilles Deleuze, Félix Guattari and the total system
Abstract This paper is concerned with an aspect of Deleuze and Guattari’s thought which has not been duly analyzed: systematicity. More speciﬁcally, it deals with their conception of the system in three co-authored major works: What is Philosophy?, Anti-Oedipus and A Thousand Plateaus. These works are of renewed interest because they tease out, each in its own way, a particular type of system. Regardless of whether it has a philosophical import, a botanical reference, a social dimension, or a libidinal investment, the system that Deleuze and Guattari advocate is allegedly a hyper-dynamic system that resists closure. Thus, in an interview with Didier Eribon, Deleuze points out that philosophy is ‘an open system’ and then, referring to A Thousand Plateaus, he further observes that what he and Guattari ‘call a rhizome is also one example of an open system’. The purpose of this essay is not merely to explore how the system in the works of these two prominent poststructuralists is conceived, how it is structured, and how it works, but also to show how it is only superﬁcially open. Paying a special attention to Deleuze and Guattari’s exegesis on capitalism, I argue that the proposed system is cynical and ultimately untenable. Key words capitalism · Gilles Deleuze · Félix Guattari · open system · philosophy · total system
If in general the question about the nature of philosophy is complex enough, when posed by a philosopher like Gilles Deleuze and a psychotherapist like Félix Guattari who distrust essences and disclaim permanent truths, it becomes an ambitious endeavor. For these two French thinkers, addressing the question of ‘What is philosophy?’ is not only insistent but also timely: ‘the time has come for us to ask what philosophy is. We had never stopped asking this question previously. . . . [T]he answer had not only to take note of the question, it had to
PHILOSOPHY & SOCIAL CRITICISM • vol 26 no 1 • pp. 93–114
Copyright © 2000 SAGE Publications (London, Thousand Oaks, CA and New Delhi) [0191-4537(200001)26:1;93–114;011000]
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For a philosophical inquiry to be sound and rewarding. according to the authors of What is Philosophy?. . its conditions and unknowns’ (WP 2). It is not reﬂection. machinism. 2009 . With Deleuze. Deleuze and Guattari then embark on what may be described as a negative deﬁnition of philosophy: We can at least see what philosophy is not: it is not contemplation. an Objectality. of truth or the concept’ (WP 3). What lies behind these fancy and complicated words is not Downloaded from http://psc. No sooner do Deleuze and Guattari make this provisional proposition than they qualify it: ‘philosophy is not a simple art of forming. we are in a better position to apprehend the nature of the authors’ dissatisfaction with the tentative deﬁnition of philosophy they venture at the beginning of their book. but even more the friend of wisdom. body without organs. it has to shake the integrity of the essence. because concepts are not necessarily forms. inventing. question the idea of an inherent reality. deterritorialization. . so to speak. inventing. rhizome. an Essence – Plato’s friend. intensity. With these observations. which only works under the sway of opinions in order to create ‘consensus’ and not concepts’ (WP 6) Philosophy does not have an essence. has sacriﬁced the extrinsic character of philosophy for an insistently intrinsic character: ‘With the creation of philosophy. discoveries. becoming. philosophy loses its right to reﬂect on things. This probably explains why Deleuze and Guattari’s works teem with such ‘intellectually mobile concepts’ (Deleuze in ‘Mediators’. plateaus. . 1992a: 282) as nomadology. . and put to the test the possibility of reducing meaning to a stable structure.com by vizureanu viorel on October 22.94 Philosophy & Social Criticism 26 (1) determine its moment. It is not contemplation. because no one needs philosophy to reﬂect on anything. Philosophy is neither a reﬂection nor a mediation. its landscapes and personae. to name but a few. or communication. but a process of production – a bringing-to-being. lines of escape. namely that philosophy is the art of forming. Having established the urgency of the question at hand and having pointed out the intricacies of the problem. Nor does philosophy ﬁnd any refuge in communication. for contemplations are things themselves as seen in the creation of their speciﬁc concepts. its occasion and circumstances. More rigorously. problematize the claim to a universal truth.sagepub. or fabricating concepts. heterogeneous series. rather the reverse. and plane of immanence. shatter the belief in the sacrosanctity of a transcendental principle. reﬂection. in which the concept deterritorializes itself at the very moment it is created. . . philosophy is the discipline that involves creating concepts’ (WP 5). and fabricating concepts. To do so is to move away from Platonism which. nor does it deal with essences. or products. assemblage. the Greeks violently force the friend into a relationship that is no longer a relationship with an other but with an Entity.
The concept is not given. but it produces. 2009 . is to create new concepts for problems that constantly change. the starting-point and guiding question of a philosophical inquiry is not ‘What does it mean?’ but ‘How does it work?’ Philosophy. the possible as events’ (WP 33). but it works. but created.2 The shift that Deleuze and Guattari propose is an intellectual shift from a preoccupation with questions of signiﬁcance and meaning to a concern with questions of function and use. thought. The object of philosophy. and coordinate each other’s movement.3 it is expressive and not referential. WP 5). Every concept branches off toward other concepts that are Downloaded from http://psc. can be properly known only through their own creation: ‘Concepts are not waiting for us ready-made. just like desire. support each other. an afﬁrmation of events through the creation of concepts: ‘The task of philosophy when it creates concepts. but posits itself in itself. By aligning itself with the creation of concepts – which are valued not for the truth they may yield. Guattari and the total system a desire to be trendy. matter. fabricated. is always to extract an event from things and beings. They must be invented.sagepub.95 Zayani: Deleuze. but for the effect they can create – philosophy becomes a matter of production rather than reﬂection. it has nothing to do with origins. a philosophy in the abstract sense of the term – but in having relocated the thrust of philosophy within praxis. but produced. from the conﬁguration of resultants to the mapping of ﬂows. from a representation of essences to an experimentation with events – in fact. Therein lies Nietzsche’s most enduring impact on the authors of What is Philosophy?: their innovativeness does not lie in having forged a theoretical paradigm – i. [It] makes its entry with the general collapse of the question “What does it mean?” ’ (AO 109). There is no heaven for concepts. For them.com by vizureanu viorel on October 22. but the realization that a concept sometimes needs a new word to express it. Philosophy is an alignment between creation and self-positing. Deleuze maintains there is a ‘genuine philosophy’ (N 32). From this vantage point. It means nothing. ‘represents nothing. meaning is not something to be uncovered. as a nomadic thought. in turn. entities. to set up the new event: space.4 Concepts link up with each other.1 The primary task of philosophy is the creation of concepts which. The concept is a multiplicity in the sense that it has a becoming that involves its relationship with concepts situated on the same plane. it is not formed. which is tantamount to saying that there are no simple ready-made a priori concepts. As soon as there are concepts. like heavenly bodies.e. but is instead a matter of production. The concept is related to circumstances rather than essences. from a pursuit of static principles and ordering realities to an interest in dynamic movements and immanent dynamics. or rather created and would be nothing without their creator’s signature’ (Deleuze. Every concept has components and is deﬁned by the combinatorial possibilities of these components. time.
. which forcefully sets the tone for the book. it engenders polyvalence. . “and . it is not about being (the indicative ‘is’).6 Unlike the tree which plots a point. . as Deleuze conﬁdes in a letter to Jean-Clet Martin.com by vizureanu viorel on October 22. In fact. the principle of arborescent descent.” but the fabric of the rhizome is the conjunction. Rather than ﬁliation. The rhizome is governed by a number of interconnected characteristics.sagepub. so much so that philosophy becomes a nomadology or. multiplicities constantly change in nature and connect to other multiplicities in order to form collective assemblages. ruptures. radicle model. this heterogenesis is emphatically invested in a vegetal model which favors the rhizome over the tree. Deleuze and Guattari advocate a mode of thought modeled on the adventitious growth and the propitious movement of rhizomes. The concept functions along a model of dissemination. the rhizome grows by means of expansion. but the rhizome is alliance. heterogeneity and dynamism. has molded our way of thinking. For Deleuze and Guattari. . nullify endings and beginnings’ (TP 25). To start with. which is a subterranean stem.5 The opening chapter. the rhizome can and must be connected to any other point. The rhizome operates by variation. and participate in a process of co-creation. but linear. do away with foundations. unlike the root which ﬁxes an order. and branches off its concentricity according to a principle of dichotomy which evolves into a hierarchical system. in the middle of a path. To break away from the conﬁnes of dualism. is a vehement attack against. . The tree imposes the verb “to be. uniquely alliance. conquest.96 Philosophy & Social Criticism 26 (1) differently composed but that can be connected to each other. unlike the structure which frames a set of relations. which is wedded to classical reﬂection. its underlying model is not punctual. The tree always designates a point of origin. propagation. intersections and crossings. the tree model is based on the binary logic of dichotomy which makes it impossible to reach an understanding of multiplicity that is not recouped within a transcendental model. 2009 .” [which] can overthrow ontology. ‘a heterogenesis’ (1993: 7). In A Thousand Plateaus. . the tree-root. capture and offshoots. a rhizomatic movement does not designate a localizable relation but a movement which glides between. expansion. non-hierarchical. breaks. and an adamant rejection of. is an a-centered. develops an axis of rotation. but always a middle from which it grows and which it overspills. which makes it not only heterogeneous. Thus aligned with cracks. but about becoming (the associative ‘and’): ‘the tree is ﬁliation. and . but also multiplicitous in the sense that it always has multiple entryways. occupation and contagion operating at the surface – all of which Deleuze and Guattari ﬁnd encapsulated in what Gregory Bateson calls a plateau. anti-genealogical network of all kinds. bulbs and tubers.e. it emanates out of a seed or a center. bifurcation and proliferation. A Downloaded from http://psc. so much so that it has neither a beginning nor an end. asymmetry. the rhizome. and . i. In a rhizome.
.9 They are also necessarily rejecting the dialectical mode of thought with its emphasis on binarism. fragments which are related to each other only in that each of them is different. Gregory Bateson uses the term plateau for continuous regions of intensity constituted in such a way that they do not allow themselves to be interrupted by any external termination. i.10 For Downloaded from http://psc. .8 In work after work. Everything is constituted of forces or relations of force which take the form of lines of escape. These are not contradictions but escapes’ (TP 216–20). Whenever segmentary lines explode into a line of ﬂight. . . 1983. each boosting. 1987) is far from being a Platonic multiplicity which presumes that things are multiple insofar as they exist as the shadow of a real idea.sagepub. A rhizome may be broken at a particular point or shattered at a given spot.com by vizureanu viorel on October 22. The multiplicity which is adumbrated in both volumes of Capitalism and Schizophrenia (Deleuze and Guattari. Each rhizome contains lines of segmentarity according to which it is territorialized and lines of deterritorialization down which it constantly ﬂees.e. Deleuze and Guattari put into question the essentialist claims of traditional philosophy with its emphasis on identities. opposites and contradictions: ‘It is wrongly said (in Marxism in particular) that a society is deﬁned by its contradictions. essences and a prioris. dualities. anymore than they allow themselves to build toward a climax. Implicit in this theory of production – the production of multiplicity – is a critique of the legacy of classic mechanism and vitalism which continues to weigh heavily. and an attack on idealistic philosophies and Platonic metaphysics. and the lines are bound to tie back to and to connect up with one another in an act of reterritorialization.97 Zayani: Deleuze. By arguing for a logic of difference. and in doing so they propose to go beyond the spurious question of representation and its corollary the signiﬁer/signiﬁed dyad. Their philosophy is inseparable from multiplicity. A social ﬁeld is always animated by all kinds of movements of decoding and deterritorialization affecting “masses” and operating at different speeds and places. a rupture occurs in a rhizome. foundations. What pervade are connected ﬂows. Deleuze and Guattari call for an afﬁrmation of pure multiplicities. engendering and accelerating the other.e. 2009 . of intensities whose development avoids any orientation toward a point of culmination: We call a ‘plateau’ any multiplicity connected to other multiplicities by superﬁcial underground stems in such a way as to form or extend a rhizome . pluralism and possibility. but it will start up again either on one of its old lines or on a new line.7 At the heart of Deleuze and Guattari’s project is an attempt to think through fragments whose only relationship is sheer difference – i. (TP 22–58) Unlike the tree model in which signifying breaks separate structures. . Guattari and the total system rhizome is made of plateaus. the rhizome model functions through asignifying ruptures.
but Downloaded from http://psc. between the part and the whole. Deleuze and Guattari insist. is nonetheless related to them: ‘the Whole itself is a product. 2009 . The whole. between the fragments and the totality: ‘We believe in totalities that are peripheral. to conceive of the social machine as a binary organization is to ignore the fact that something always escapes. aimed at forming a harmonious whole out of heterogeneous bits by rounding off their rough edges.sagepub. We no longer believe in a primordial totality that once existed. transverse unities between elements that retain all their differences within their own particular boundaries’ (AO 43).12 What Deleuze and Guattari envision is the multiplication of connections in a network system which cannot be reduced to any sort of unity. Nietzsche’s caveat leads the authors of AntiOedipus to rethink the relationship between the multiple and the one. but simply unleashed. so that they may all be glued together to create a unity that is precisely the same as the original unity. although produced apart from the parts. it is a whole of all these particular parts but does not totalize them. ideal contradiction – which we ﬁnd in its pure form in Hegelianism – because it reduces the complexity of the phenomena by presenting the different simply as the Janus-face of the same in such a way as to reduce the complexity of the social phenomena to the internal confrontation of a single meaning. though it has an effect on these other paths simply because it establishes aberrant paths of communication between noncommunicating vessels. We no longer believe in the dull gray outlines of a dreamy. bricks that have been shattered to bits. which it neither uniﬁes nor totalizes. This uncompromising position is even more boldly stated in Anti-Oedipus: We live in the age of partial objects. And if we discover such a totality alongside various separate parts. They both reject the type of logical.11 Following Nietzsche’s teachings. and leftovers. are merely waiting for the last one to be turned up. colorless dialectic of evolution. The multiple is neither uniﬁed nor totalized. The whole is not anchored in a veriﬁable truth. like pieces of an antique statue. it is to fall prey to Hegelian idealism which believes in the primacy of the whole as an essence. 1968: 60). cannot be treated as an original from which the parts emanate. they refuse to give in to the supposition that ‘only in the totality everything redeems itself and appears good and justiﬁed’ (Nietzsche. (Deleuze and Guattari. or a ﬁnal totality that awaits us at some future date. produced as nothing more than a part alongside other parts. rather it is added to them as a new part fabricated separately’ (AO 42). AO 44). 1983: 42) To derive the whole from the part is to fall victim to a ‘dialectical totalization’ (Deleuze.com by vizureanu viorel on October 22. nor can it be said simply to coexist with the parts. Deleuze and Guattari refuse to submit to acquiescence.98 Philosophy & Social Criticism 26 (1) Deleuze and Guattari. We no longer believe in the myth of the existence of fragments that. it exists as a product which. it is a unity of all these particular parts. but does not unify them.
energies of inscription. constantly inhibits this inherent tendency while at the same time allowing it free rein. .99 Zayani: Deleuze. In such a system. . For capitalism constantly counteracts. In such a regime. . is capitalism. against which it brings all its vast powers of repression to bear. but amid hiatuses and ruptures. The nature of capitalism is such that it is always destined to reconstitute itself on its own ruins and to be resurrected from its own ashes. dispersions and fragments that are intermittent. divergences. For the authors of Anti-Oedipus. Capitalism is caught up between two opposing poles of social libidinal investment which are inextricably linked and can be disengaged only theoretically: the schizoid revolutionary pole and the paranoiac. everything functions at the same time. It is a system whose power is drawn from its weakness. The example par excellence. fascisizing pole. productive disjunctions. to say the least. . . continuous breaks and unrelenting schizes. In this sense. What deﬁnes the system are its disjunctions. whose exertion feeds off its impotence. What matter are lines of escape. one is constantly confronted with gaps. between a breakthrough and a breakdown. and whose contraction leads to its expansion. Capitalism brings the schizophrenic charges and energies into a world axiomatic that always opposes the revolutionary potential of the decoded flows with new interior limits. The schizophrenic deliberately seeks out the very Downloaded from http://psc. it is hard to distinguish between decoding and the axiomatic that replaces the vanished codes. 2009 . if not the Ur-form of these unity-less aberrations. It is distinguished as much by its ruptures and scissions as it is by its fluxes and intensities.sagepub. Guattari and the total system is instead animated by processes of becoming and acts of return. capitalism is a ‘segmentary system’ (AO 151) which is constantly born out of its own disharmonies and fortified by its dysfunctions. schizophrenia as a process of desiring-production is the limit of social production: . Everything operates within a sum which never brings its various parts together so as to form a delineated whole. through its process of production. between an influx of energy and the relapses that interrupt such an influx. It oscillates between a schizophrenic process and a paranoiac counter-process. drifting ﬂows. Capitalism decodes and axiomatizes the flows at the same time. produces an awesome schizophrenic accumulation of energy or charge. capitalism.com by vizureanu viorel on October 22. between overcoding the flows and decoding them or. to use Deleuze and Guattari’s own terminology. it continually seeks to avoid reaching its limit while simultaneously tending toward that limit. but which nonetheless continues to act as capitalism’s limit. Nothing is ever multiplicitous or multidirectional enough. Although capitalism tends toward the limit of schizophrenia. among breakdowns and failures. reactionary. detached codes. multiplicities of dispersion. it is constantly evading that limit and trying to get round it. which – precisely because they are disjunctions – are inclusive.
The limit and transgression depend on each other for whatever density of being they possess.e. which cause capitalism to move and ﬂow in an unstoppable schizoid process of decoding and deterritorialization.e. in A Thousand Plateaus. and thus it is made to return once more right to the horizon of the uncrossable’ (1977: 33–4). is not going beyond the limit.sagepub. and its exterminating angel. its surplus product. transgression loses its meaning if it merely crossed a limit composed of illusions and shadows. much less on Guattari – deﬁnes transgression by what it is not: ‘Transgression does not seek to oppose one thing to another. it does not transform the other side of the mirror. The word ‘transgression’ requires more than a cursory attention because. being constructed on decoded ﬂows that constitute its most profound tendency. In a seminal essay on Georges Bataille entitled ‘A Preface to Transgression’. is deﬁned as a limit – Downloaded from http://psc. capitalism ﬁnds itself intensely counteracting and purposefully repressing this tendency so as to be able to reproduce and expand itself. Transgression does not exhaust its own nature by crossing the limit because the latter is so – i. Transgression is neither violence in a divided world (in an ethical world) nor victory over limits (in a dialectical or revolutionary world)’ (1977: 35). but coming into contact with the constitutive other that is demarcated by the limit. beyond an invisible and uncrossable line. although not prominent in Deleuze and Guattari’s oeuvre. which exorcize and limit the process of production. i. The limit and transgression are caught within a curious interaction which has no life outside the moment when they exchange their being. its proletariat. it has its entire space in the line it crosses: ‘transgression incessantly crosses and recrosses a line which closes up behind it in a wave of extremely short duration. The limit has no life of its own. it can help enhance our appreciation of the complexity of their thought. Transgressing a limit.com by vizureanu viorel on October 22. as Foucault explains. Michel Foucault – who had a tremendous impact on Deleuze. Thus.100 Philosophy & Social Criticism 26 (1) limit of capitalism: he is its inherent tendency brought to fulﬁllment. transcendence. Capitalism produces internal dysfunctions which it cannot transcend but only solve and master. 2009 . transgression is inextricably linked to the limit it transgresses. it does not exist independently of that which negates it. the (re)production of capitalism is invested in a limit which is caught in a perpetual act of transgression. into a glittering expanse. Simply put. In Foucault’s view. which. (AO 34–35) Capitalism axiomatizes with one hand what it decodes with the other. The schizophrenic lines of escape. are subjected to a paranoiac axiomatic of ﬂows. In the same way a limit cannot exist if it were absolutely uncrossable. Embedded in this deﬁnition is a subtle though poignant attack on the hallmark of Western thought and rationality. Deleuze and Guattari disparagingly describe as a ‘speciﬁcally European disease’ (1987: 18).
Even if there were a limit. Transgression. a production and not an expression’ (AO 133). they also necessarily imply that the fulﬁllment of capitalism is neither desirable nor possible. reinscribes the limit even as it effaces it: ‘the limit opens violently onto the limitless. substituting for intrinsic codes an axiomatic of abstract qualities in the form of money. the absolute decoding of ﬂows. only to ﬁnd itself in that which it excludes’ (1977: 34). capitalism is the only social machine that is constructed on the basis of decoded ﬂows.15 The nature of capitalism is such that it necessitates that its limit be indeﬁnitely pushed back: . the harder it is warded off: Concerning capitalism. By surpassing the codes that regulate the ﬂux. The more the limit threatens to arrive. capitalism paradoxically enough drives us away from the limit through the very process that brings us to the edge of that limit. contiguities where ﬂows converge only to diverge. (AO 139–40) The Deleuzo-Guattarian model posits no real boundaries. it has no limit aside from and outside the frenzy which disrupts it in order to reinvent it and re-establish it. that is. it constitutes its own limit. Foucault concludes his essay. the system that is adumbrated in both Anti-Oedipus and A Thousand Plateaus is a system which throbs with the tumultuous agitation of a life that knows no limits. 2009 . we maintain that it both does and does not have an exterior limit: it has an exterior limit that is schizophrenia. but under the social conditions that deﬁne that limit and the possibility of its own dissolution.13 Such as it is. Capitalism therefore liberates the ﬂow of desire. The only certain thing is the continuous prolongation and ceaseless propagation of the system – a kind of jovial and endless titillation which establishes itself as the limitless limit of satisfaction. Capitalism is incessantly made and unmade by its own excess which transgresses it.101 Zayani: Deleuze.sagepub. . it is an unlimited and unlimiting one. Guattari and the total system only to the extent that it is transgressable. Not only does capitalism recognize no limits. Transgression carries the limit right to the limit of its being. it is a limit that is constitutively and therefore necessarily transgressable.com by vizureanu viorel on October 22. . ﬁnds itself suddenly carried away by the content it has rejected and fulﬁlled by this alien plenitude which invades it to the core of its being. but only thresholds in which every end announces a new beginning or. but it functions only by pushing back and exorcising Downloaded from http://psc. When Deleuze and Guattari write that schizophrenia is ‘a process and not a goal.14 Capitalism points to nothing beyond itself. transgression forces the limit to face the fact of its imminent disappearance. better yet. so that it is constantly opposing with all its exasperated strength the movement that drives it toward this limit. thus setting up as the law the very limit it transgresses.
while capitalism itself produces its immanent limits. is the ﬁeld of immanence more manifest than in capitalism.com by vizureanu viorel on October 22. The ﬁeld of immanence designates a space of coordination and a ﬁeld of interaction.18 The effusion of antiproduction within production – the fact that capitalism desires its own strength while it seeks its impotence – leads Downloaded from http://psc. No sooner is a limit displaced than it reconstitutes itself further along. a tendency that has no end and no exterior limit that it could reach or even approximate: The tendency’s only limit is internal. which it continually repels. nor does it ever fail to overcome its limit and to counteract its tendency. The strength of capitalism indeed resides in the fact that its axiomatic is never saturated.’ If capitalism is the exterior limit of all societies. in capital itself. yet does not have.sagepub. thus the continuity of the capitalist process engenders itself in this break of a break that is always displaced. These observations lead us to what may be described as the crux of Deleuze and Guattari’s thought – the immanent limit which precludes any external or transcendent criterion. And it also has. Capitalism ﬁnds in schizophrenia its own exterior limit. by reconstituting it. but only an interior limit that is capital itself and that it does not encounter. Capitalism is deﬁned by an unrestrained tendency. (AO 230–1) In capitalism all external limits are internalized. but only a ﬁeld of immanence which it never ceases to occupy. that is. 2009 .16 Immanence is part of a rich repertoire of key terms or concept-words which Deleuze and Guattari use. . but it functions only by reproducing and widening the limits on an always vaster scale. and it is continually going beyond it. but reproduces by always displacing it. perhaps. is continually expanding and acquires a consistency entirely its own. which is tantamount to saying that capitalism has no conceivable exteriority.102 Philosophy & Social Criticism 26 (1) this limit.17 Nowhere. .e. i. which shows the manner in which capitalism for its part was able to interpret the general principle according to which things work well only providing they break down. crises being ‘the means immanent to the capitalist mode of production. which it never ceases to displace. Deleuze insists that ‘with immanence all is afﬁrmation’ (1990: 174) – the afﬁrmation of reproduction and multiplicity. but by displacing this limit – that is. In Expressionism in Philosophy. in this unity of the schiz and the ﬂow. In this respect already the ﬁeld of social immanence . (AO 250) The nature of capitalism is such that it never ceases to decode codes and to deterritorialize territories. that it is always capable of adding a new axiomatic to the previous ones. interior limits: it has interior limits under the speciﬁc conditions of capitalist production and circulation. to delineate an unevenly constituted system that is deﬁned less by its essence than by its circumstances. almost interchangeably. by rediscovering it as an internal limit to be surpassed again by means of a displacement. this is because capitalism for its part has no exterior limit.
founded in the heterogeneity of the elements that compose the presentations and that compensate for the disequilibrium by displacing it’ (AO 150). because it substitutes for the codes an extremely rigorous axiomatic that maintains the energy of the ﬂows in a bound state on the body of capital as a socius that is deterritorialized. According to Deleuze and Guattari. in so far as it brings about the decoding of the ﬂows that the other social formations coded and overcoded. is indeed the absolute limit that causes the ﬂows to travel in a free state on a desocialized body without organs. what deﬁnes this system is neither its superior unity nor its pretraced destiny.e. In spite of its theoretical sophistication. Yet. alliances are inextricably linked with ﬁliative lines. Schizophrenia. A close examination of the distinction they make between alliance and ﬁliation can lay out in some detail two key problems that plague the conception of capitalism as a system in both Anti-Oedipus and A Thousand Plateaus: the determinacy of capitalism (i.e. the fact that the economy is a determinant factor) and its trans-historicity (i. the project of Deleuze and Guattari is not void of problems. Seen from this vantage point. . To talk about a real limit is to talk about an unstable equilibrium engendered by an endless tug-of-war between two opposing tendencies and engendering a perpetual self-reinvention: ‘Far from being a pathological consequence. but that capitalism only functions on the condition that it inhibit this tendency. which it continually reproduces on a widened scale. but also a socius that is even more pitiless than any other. by substituting for it its own immanent relative limits. where kinship dominates. (AO 245–6) Schizophrenia is the absolute limit of every society inasmuch as it sets in motion decoded and deterritorialized ﬂows. But it is the relative limit of every society.com by vizureanu viorel on October 22. it is not possible to deduce alliance from ﬁliation in the primitive social machine. In between these two tendencies lies the ‘real limit’ of capitalism (AO 176) – a perpetual displacement of the limit which prevents the coding of the ﬂows from being decoded.103 Zayani: Deleuze.sagepub. There. not to say assimilate. the opening is primary. Far from being the extension of a system that is at ﬁrst closed. it effects relative breaks. on the contrary. capitalism is indeed the limit of all societies. . or that it push back or displace this limit. so much so that more often than not ties of common descent disguise. structural ties that derive from marriage. what ensures the continuity of ties is not simply the transmission of a Downloaded from http://psc. the fact that history is always already the history of capitalism). 2009 . Hence one can say that schizophrenia is the exterior limit of capitalism itself or the conclusion of its deepest tendency. Guattari and the total system Deleuze and Guattari to make a distinction between absolute and relative limits: . while capitalism is the relative limit of every society inasmuch as it axiomatizes the decoded ﬂows and reterritorializes the deterritorialized ﬂows. the disequilibrium is functional and fundamental. but its tumultuous internal dynamics.
Seen from this perspective. ﬁliation can be said to be administrative and hierarchical. . to be more speciﬁc. it exorcises them. . capitalism is a transhistorical system operative throughout history and present across societies. since it has to be reciprocated with interest. but to equate history in general with the history of capitalism. and circulating capital or mobile blocks of debts. in the form of an afﬁnal tie or a pairing of persons that is compatible with the disjunctions of ﬁliation. Although not based on the ﬂow of money or anchored in a deﬁnable market.e. The motor of the primitive machine is relations of exchange or. it is sustained by a surplus value of code at the level of the ﬂows: ‘each detachment from the chain produces. abstract and intangible as that may be (power is one such example). . more importantly for our purpose. The primitive machine is not ignorant of exchange.sagepub. alliance neither depends on the manifest ﬁliative lineages nor derives from them. which will be compensated for by nonexchangeable elements of the acquired-prestige or distributed consumption type’ (AO 150). commerce. the generalized exchange and circulation of gifts. While production is recorded in the network of ﬁliative disjunctions on the socius. cordons them off. phenomena of lack and accumulation. for example. The logical extension of these assertions is that capitalism is both our undeniable history and our inescapable future. phenomena of excess and deﬁciency. it is capitalism that is at the end of history’ (AO 153). . .104 Philosophy & Social Criticism 26 (1) patrilineage name. Complementing the vertical structure is a lateral one which is maintained through economic relations – i.com by vizureanu viorel on October 22. Alliance is ﬁrst and foremost a matter of ‘cold economy’ (AO 150). regardless of its time and degree of manifestation. the unsuspected dominance of relations of exchange: ‘if ﬁliation expresses what is determinant while being itself determined. The implication here is that Downloaded from http://psc. . or rather the return of the determinant in the determinate system of dominance. and industry. is that in a primitive commune. alliance expresses what is determinant. on one side or the other in the ﬂows of production. 2009 . economic. encastes them’ (AO 147–53). rather. Take. (AO 146–7) What this proposition means. But it can accomplish this only by reclaiming the connective régime for its own. The gift extends the debt between the creditor and the debtor. Deleuze and Guattari’s claim that ‘[p]rimitive societies are not outside history. then. It is in this sense that the economy goes by way of alliance. It must be emphasized that the problem with Anti-Oedipus is not to claim that ‘primitive societies are fully inside history’ (AO 151). The coexistence of these two structures leads Deleuze and Guattari to associate the primitive machine with primitive capital: Filiation and alliance are like the two forms of a primitive capital: ﬁxed capital or ﬁliative stock. in part. the connections of labor still must detach themselves from the productive process and pass into the element of recording that appropriates them for itself as quasi cause. while alliance is political and. localizes them. this economy is not void of surplus value.
Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe succinctly point out the limits of such a deterministic position: ‘if this ultimate determination were a truth valid for every society. 1977: 176). As soon as two individuals come together in order to exchange their goods. Deleuze and Guattari’s assertion that it is possible to enact ‘a retrospective reading of all history in terms of capitalism’ (AO 153) contains unmistakable references to Marx’s regressiveprogressive method. these claims are reiterated even more forcefully and more provocatively: ‘There is no universal capitalism. the mystery of money will immediately disappear .21 To argue otherwise is to fall prey to a deterministic perspective which assumes that the economic is an absolute principle. It seems only natural. the relation between such determination and the condition of making it possible would not develop through a contingent historical articulation. On more than one occasion. capitalism is at the crossroads of all kinds of formations. Deleuze and Guattari urge the reader to remember and to follow the teachings of Marx – ‘it is correct to retrospectively understand all history in the light of capitalism. the value form is present in germ: ‘it makes its appearance at an early date. In Hegemony and Social Strategy. it haunts all societies all the time: ‘capitalism has haunted all forms of society. is universal. but would Downloaded from http://psc. . 2009 . then. For Marx. Marx’s regressive-progressive method stresses the originality of the capitalist mode of production and emphasizes its structural difference from anterior modes of production. albeit in an ‘embryonic form’ (Capital 154).sagepub. that an account of the money-form starts with an analysis of the commodityform: ‘we have to show the origin of this money form. almost imperceptible outline to the dazzling money-form. to claim that it haunts all societies and that it constitutes the absolute truth of history is quite another thing.20 More than anything else. it is neo-capitalism by nature’ (20).com by vizureanu viorel on October 22. Far from being an axiom about the universality of capitalism. When this has been done. better yet. much like the Oedipal fear of incest. though not in the same predominance and therefore characteristic manner as nowadays’ (Marx. monetary economy has always existed in pre-capitalistic societies. responsible reading of Marx. provided that the rules formulated by Marx are followed exactly’ (AO 140) – but provide a narrow interpretation and arguably a deterministic reading of Marx’s original formulations.19 Interestingly enough.105 Zayani: Deleuze. The whole mystery of the form of value lies hidden in the simple form’ (Marx. we have to trace the development of the expression of value contained in the value-relation of commodities from its simplest. there is no capitalism in itself. . . 1977: 139). these claims of universality are presented under the guise of an attentive or. Marx’s claim that in every society capitalism exists in nuci is a statement about the mutability of historical formations. To say that capitalism has a universalizing potential is one thing. In A Thousand Plateaus. but it haunts them as their unifying nightmare. it is the dread they feel of a ﬂow that would elude their codes’ (AO 140). Guattari and the total system capitalism.
. For the concept of the economic to be theoretically viable. promote obedience and include submissions: ‘the might of industrial society is lodged in men’s minds. . For one thing. In Anti-Oedipus. . As Rolf Wiggerhaus succinctly points out. as Adorno calls it elsewhere (1978: 127). The problem is that if the “economy” is determinant in the last instance for every type of society. For Adorno and Horkheimer. the type of domination described here. much like the one described in Anti-Oedipus. The crisis that plagues industrial and post-industrial societies has its origin in man’s continuing attempt to control nature. but also and mostly an unsurpassable and impenetrable system. it must be deﬁned independently of any speciﬁc type of society’ (1985: 98). selfperpetuating system. The problem of the total system is worthy of attention partly because it is endemic to methodological difﬁculties that are common in a variety of ﬁelds today ranging from cultural studies to historiography. 2009 . . Dialectic of Enlightenment rests on the assumption that ‘the decisive event in the history of human culture was not the development of the modern period and of capitalism. What Adorno and Horkheimer saw in modern industrial society is a ‘totality’ (136) characterized above all by its exceptional ability to control individual consciousness. If it were otherwise. and more speciﬁcally in Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer’s Dialectic of Enlightenment. the project of these two prominent members of the Frankfurt school remains vulnerable to criticism. but also with the feasibility of envisaging an all-encompassing. .106 Philosophy & Social Criticism 26 (1) constitute an apriori necessity. However. but rather humanity’s transition to domination over nature’ (1994: 334).com by vizureanu viorel on October 22. one has to deal not only with the tenability of the idea that capitalism is a universal system of structural determination or causality. capitalism is not only a historically universal determinant. it has to be considered as a historically speciﬁc claim and not as an absolute premise. ever-engulﬁng. manipulate needs.22 But this is not all. What is decisive today is the necessity inherent in the system not to leave the customer alone.sagepub. not for a moment to allow him any suspicion that resistance is possible’ (1982: 127–41). There is something Downloaded from http://psc. . the economic simply takes over the historical.23 For a critique of Deleuze and Guattari’s project to be judicious. Even in a project as far-reaching as that of the Frankfurt school. . i. The industry as a whole has molded men as a type unfailingly reproduced in every product. . But even if such a transhistorical premise is overlooked. this problem has not been satisfactorily resolved.e.e. . a space from which nothing can free itself and a space which nothing can penetrate. poses more problems than it solves. this ‘administrative view’ of culture. i. self-enclosed. lacks historical speciﬁcity. the culture industry constitutes a seamless web in which all forms of resistance and all possibilities for change – being programmed by the system itself – are ultimately reiﬁed. a closed or total system. auto-generating.
social machines make a habit of feeding on the crises they provoke. Fredric Jameson has aptly captured the scandalous implications of such a position: ‘the model of the “total system” would seem slowly and inexorably to eliminate any possibility of the negative as such. 2009 . it refuses to see in the negative impulses that are likely to emerge in and interfere with the system more than an internal strategy generated by the system itself. as Samir Amin advises Third World countries to do?’ (AO 239). Nowhere. the more it schizophrenizes. . The alternative path is to go in the opposite direction. that capitalism neither encounters a terminal limit which compels it to withdraw nor reaches a state of a hysterical runaway which ultimately impels it to self-destruct. the American way’ (AO 151). . but fundamentally unbalanced and driven by internal contradictions. the question is purely rhetorical. the better it works. to evaluate and to organize. thus reproducing itself on an ever widening and more comprehensive scale. among other things. capitalism relentlessly and endlessly expands. . on the contrary. is this position more provocative than in the immanent axiomatic Deleuze and Guattari propose: ‘which is the revolutionary path? . on the anxieties they engender. Something similar is at work in Anti-Oedipus. From the standpoint of the immanent axiomatic. Guattari and the total system stultifying about the unrelenting insistence on the total domination of culture – its irreversible tendency to assemble. . . highlights the dynamic character of the system but does not emphasize its transformation. these are always recouped within a position that inﬂexibly emphasizes closure. of decoding and Downloaded from http://psc. to further the movement of the market or. that is. Shunning or even denying the force and inevitability of the capitalist machine is a curious revival of the fascist economic solution. perhaps.com by vizureanu viorel on October 22. it is mad from one end to the other and from the beginning. [T]he more it breaks down. and to reintegrate the place of an oppositional or even merely “critical” practice and resistance back into the system as the latter’s mere inversion’ (1981: 91). . which means that the proposed system is a total system. Is there one? To withdraw from the world market. and this is the source of its rationality’ (AO 373) implies. Instead. Although capitalism is not void of moments of dysfunctionality.sagepub. as Deleuze and Guattari put it. these are always already neutralized because the disruptive element is not subversive of capitalism but constitutive of its power. Deleuze and Guattari’s assertion that the ‘capitalist machine does not run the risk of becoming mad. The notion that capitalism is at once intensive and expansive.107 Zayani: Deleuze. The socio-economic system evoked in Dialectic of Enlightenment – much like the philosophical system adumbrated in Negative Dialectics24 – is totalitarian to say the least. Deleuze and Guattari are content with the assertion that dysfunctions are essential to the system’s ability to function: ‘The death of the social machine has never been heralded by a disharmony or a dysfunction. Although capitalism generates asymmetries. Capitalism has learned this and has ceased doubting itself. . .
‘reproduction does not occur without undergoing changes’ (1976: 90–1). As Henri Lefebvre reminds us. its limits’ (1979: 126). According to the central paradigm of systems theory. In the process of reproducing itself. and completion – and its ﬁnitude (ﬁnitude) – its borders. Capitalism is an inherently unstable system which engenders a continuous interplay of its elements. For the Deleuzo-Guattarian model to be theoretically viable. but also the movement of its elements.sagepub. 2009 . At least. the system necessarily transforms itself. one may say that there is a tight connection between the reproduction of capitalism and its transformation. Accordingly. Repetition of the same eventually leads to the introduction of difference. What this means. In other words. and reproduces itself on a larger scale is also to say that the system moves towards greater complexity and organization which not only revitalize it but also alter it. Manfred Frank prompts us to sophisticate our Downloaded from http://psc. The system feeds. open systems are living systems which are continuously interacting with their environment. but in the process it changes. but in the relation of its elements to their environment.com by vizureanu viorel on October 22. overcomes its problems. As Jean Baudrillard rightly reminds us. short of a viable solution. or so goes the argument – is a limit in and of itself. which is tantamount to saying that the survival of capitalism means continuity with a difference. A system’s movement toward completion is interestingly enough ominous because this same movement brings with it the threat of dissolution. The deployment of the system produces unpredictable conditions which call for a special attention not only to the reproduction of the system. they are continuously breaking down components and shaping up others. However. ‘a system that approaches the threshold of perfection is a system that lies on the brink of its collapse’ (1976: 11). it has to reconceive immanence. systems theory teaches us that the play of elements within a given system does not occur without consequences. as it were. not decoded enough.25 The dysfunctions of capitalism sharpen the system and perfect it.108 Philosophy & Social Criticism 26 (1) deterritorialization. To say that the system purges itself of its excesses. on its own problems. necessarily leads the economic towards its limit. but the structural imbalance is not the only thing that deﬁnes the system or determines its outcome. and transformation. The reproduction of capital. In attuning its internal contradictions and replacing its elements. the system undergoes modiﬁcation. ‘it pushes it both and at the same time towards its ﬁnish (ﬁnition) – its realization. that is. in part. as Alain Bihr succinctly puts it in L’Économie fetiche. the fact that capitalism has no limit – because its limit is impassable. and therefore not schizophrenic enough. the only course of action is to further deterritorialize capitalism because the ﬂow is not deterritorialized enough. is that the continuity of the system does not reside in its identity. In What is Neostructuralism?. but they do so only to the extent that they change it. fulﬁllment. between invariance and change.
and to generate counter-processes which are both tendentious and consequential. namely that capitalism has not only a tendency to envelop the entirety of the social body.29 University of Bahrain. Bahrain PSC Notes For easy reference. a whole supple segmentarity that processes molecular energies’ (Deleuze and Guattari. . none of us would have the courage to begin the day. Deleuze observes that ‘concepts. 2 In A Thousand Plateaus. a system can be controlled only within limits. 1987: 215).26 This is the essence of the open system as Lefebvre unravels its lineaments: ‘The fulﬁllment of the system implies a limit the attainment of which is impossible. without an entry and an exit. however. Now. without minimal predictability of recurring (and thus regulated) experiences. with their zones of presence. (D&R) Difference and Repetition (1994). and rework the status quo of these orders’ (1989: 340). 2009 . the logic of capitalism is neither static nor circular. the following abbreviations of works by Deleuze and Guattari have been used: (AO) Anti-Oedipus (1983). on the other hand – a repetition in which unity is partially displaced: ‘Without a minimum order. By deﬁnition. as an open totality. Society stands as an extremely complex whole. and the occurrence of difference and innovation. (N) Negotiations (1995b). all organic production is accomplished within orders. . (TP) A Thousand Plateaus (1987) and (WP) What is Philosophy? (1994). should intervene to resolve local situations. Downloaded from http://psc. it is a logic that is both ascending and spiral. but itself results from a highly developed. . Sakhir. How is it ever possible to seize a system or a sub-system without a critical distance. to provoke deviations.com by vizureanu viorel on October 22.28 Simply put. Guattari and the total system understanding of organic equilibrium by drawing our attention to the innovativeness of organicity which he relegates to the interaction between simple essence and chaotic difference. English Department. but also a proclivity to develop dysfunctionalities. this does not mean that it does not constantly alter. on the one hand. . 1 In Difference and Repetition. Deleuze describes the dynamics of desire in comparable terms: ‘Desire is never an undifferentiated instinctual energy. They themselves change along with problems’ (1994: xx). (EP) Expressionism in Philosophy (1990). the organism that relies on its environment could not survive. . challenge. .sagepub. without an opening?’ (1971: 122). engineered set up rich in interactions. to create deﬁciencies.109 Zayani: Deleuze.27 The emphasis on the openness of the system makes it possible to propose a more viable understanding of capitalism. between the repeatability of the identical and the same.
and Grossberg. Deleuze observes that he sees philosophy as ‘a logic of multiplicities’ (N 147). in Dialogues. et nihiliser le néant non mois que l’être? . le sense commun. . In A Thousand Plateaus.110 Philosophy & Social Criticism 26 (1) 3 Philosophy. la représentation. . and his elaboration on the notion of expenditure in Œuvres Downloaded from http://psc. 9 In an essay on Deleuze entitled ‘La “Grande identité” ’. A society. ni d’une manière hégélienne-marxiste. in a society. 5 In the aforementioned interview.) à sense ﬁn de faire émerger le fond et la surface de l’être comme différence pure et comme répétition complexe de cette différence. Parnet’s collaboration with Deleuze in Dialogues. The rhizome is an anti-genealogy’ (1987: 11). comme le processus d’un devenir qui recueille et dépasse ses moments’ (1970: 347–9). . Pierre Zaoui argues that the common thread that runs through these critical endeavors is an attack on identity: ‘Pour Deleuze. Le tout n’est jamais conçu comme totalisation: ni à la manière platoncienne. 4 In Negotiations. il s’agit donc avant tout de briser le primat de l’identité et de ses avatars (le même. 11 In a review essay on Costas Axelos entitled ‘Faille et feux locaux’. see Frank. see his discussion of the transgression of prohibition in The Accursed Share (1991: 89–119). etc. everything ﬂees and that a society is deﬁned by its lines of ﬂight which affect masses of all kinds. Et que peut faire le Tout sauf totaliser le néant. Deleuze writes: ‘A Marxist can be quickly recognized when he says that a society contradicts itself. What is Neostructuralism? (1989: 347–9). Signiﬁcation. Deleuze further writes: ‘La dialectique hégélienne et encore marxiste évoluent dans les catégories de l’être. and in particular by its class contradictions. . 2009 . at one level or another. is ‘an open system’ (N 30). 10 Likewise. but also a collective assemblage. its ﬂuxes of deterritorialization’ (1987: 135). 7 For more on the rhizome in Deleuze and Guattari’s work. Deleuze points out that what he and Guattari ‘call a rhizome is precisely one example of an open system’ (N 32). comme l’action ordonante d’un principe un sur le chaos. and Reality’ (1982: 85–8). 13 For Bataille’s original thoughts on Transgression. 445–52). du non-être et de l’Un-Tout. We would rather say that. difference’ (1990: 225). Deleuze and Guattari write: ‘Transversal communications between different lines scramble the genealogical trees. is deﬁned ﬁrst by its points of deterritorialization. . as Deleuze puts it in an interview with Didier Eribon. but it is a fragmentary whole’ (WP 16). Sahara (1990: 24–6). is deﬁned by its contradictions. 25–6. ‘Experience. c’est-àdire comme multiplicités hétérogènes et comme devenir de ces multiplicités’ (1995: 64–5). 6 The connection is far from being imposed.sagepub. 8 Roberto Machado is right to point out that ‘Deleuze’s philosophy is not the announcement of a new thought as much as it is the sum of the thought it brings together in order to articulate. Buydens.com by vizureanu viorel on October 22. his anecdotal essay on limits and transcendence in Œuvres complètes (1970: VII. 12 Equally pertinent is Deleuze and Guattari’s deﬁnition of the concept: ‘The concept is a whole because it totalizes its components.
see Girard. Symbolic Economies (1990: 64–87). 302–20). In Capital. or the establishment of a separation or the measuring of a distance. according to their content of possibilities. liberty or creativity. To say that ‘it is not for himself or his children that the capitalist works. Marx uses a telling metaphor to convey the inherent tendency of capitalism continuously to transgress its limits and constantly to deterritorialize: he who accumulates money for the sake of money ‘is in the same situation as a world conqueror who discovers a new boundary with each country he annexes’ (1977: 231). Anti-Oedipus – as a book or a theoretical object in and of itself – is conceived around this same law of value: ‘Dans la ﬁgure du Kapital proposé par Deleuze et Guattari. l’arasage de toutes différences “fondée” au proﬁt de la seule différence même: valoir pour être échangeable contre-. Différence indifférente. at 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 Downloaded from http://psc. Perhaps it is simply an afﬁrmation of division. is already present in Marx’s original formulations. since. this afﬁrmation contains nothing positive: no content can bind it. . métier. In ‘What is a Dispositif?’.’ (1995a).com by vizureanu viorel on October 22.111 Zayani: Deleuze. see also Foucault’s The Archaeology of Knowledge (1972: 130–1). See Raymond Williams. To this charge. by deﬁnition. see Deleuze’s ‘L’Immanence: une vie . Eric Eribon criticizes him for refusing to ‘give history any decisive role’ (N 30). but for the immortality of the system’ (AO 346) is to say that capitalism serves no need other than its own need to survive and. Marxism and Literature (1977: 121–4). but only insofar as division is not understood to mean a cutting gesture. Foucault’s depiction of the complexity and even idiosyncrasy of the mutative dynamics which transgression entails is worth quoting at length: ‘Transgression contains nothing negative. . cuisine. that capitalism is a (de)coded and therefore unhampered ﬂux. for Deleuze and Guattari it is a system that thrives on the continuous generation of machinic surplus-value. See Goux. Deleuze has been confronted on the question of history. see Lyotard. religion. See in particular his Deleuze: philosophe virtuelle (1996: 12–13). parole. disait-il’ (1972: 936–7). so to speak. on reconnaît bien ce qui fascine Marx: la perversion capitaliste. without any appeal to transcendental values’ (1992b: 163). ‘Capitalism énergumène’ (1972: 952–3). Mors immortalis. only retaining that in it which may designate the existence of difference’ (1977: 35–6). no limit can possibly restrict it. ‘Système du delire’ (1972: 961). to deterritorialize. For more on immanence. éducation. 2009 . Guattari and the total system complètes (1970: I. On this point.sagepub. but afﬁrms limited being – afﬁrms the limitlessness into which it leaps as it opens this zone to existence for the ﬁrst time. for part of its course. For Lyotard. In an interesting interview. further. pudeur. For Éric Alliez. For a brief discussion of transgression in Deleuze and Guattari’s project. la subversion des codes. But correspondingly. the immanent in Deleuze is closely associated with the virtual. The tendency of capitalism to transgress its own limits. Again. Deleuze replies: ‘History is certainly very important. If for Marx capitalism is a system that is deﬁned by the constant search and insatiable desire to accumulate value. But if you take any line of research. On this point. Deleuze argues that ‘modes of existence have to be assessed according to immanent criteria.
and amazing encounters that could have happened elsewhere. even contradictory. Alain Bihr observes that the ‘survival and continuation of capitalism are contingent on its transformation. For a more elaborate discussion of the concept of totality. The closest thing there is to order is the approximate. The mainspring of their philosophy is a multiplicity that has no unity. As early as Proust et les signes. It is variation within limits. This is the essence of what Michel Serres calls ‘semi-cyclic causality’ (1968: 20). . ‘Jameson. change. L’Économie fétiche (1979: 35–44). What is lacking is a nomadology. See in particular Adorno’s Negative Dialectics (1973: 33–57 and 135–207). 2009 . . . reabsorbed its elements and succeeded in mastering some of the contradictions.sagepub. achieved totality exists. as for Guattari. 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 29 PSC Downloaded from http://psc. For great accidents were necessary.. For a discussion of the open system with a speciﬁc emphasis on Deleuze. Ruptures and limits.112 Philosophy & Social Criticism 26 (1) certain points.. Deleuze invokes a system which nothing can escape – ‘un système qui ne laisse rien hors de soi’ (1976: 64). “Becomings” are much more important than history in A Thousand Plateaus’ (N 30). in A Thousand Plateaus.e. from minimal difference (i. or might never have happened. introducing a variety to the dominant order) to maximal difference (i. Brian Massumi rightfully argues that no system is a closed system: ‘Stability is not ﬁxed. In The Survival of Capitalism. though without arriving at the desired cohesion and homogeneity’ (1976: 10). 1987: 90. For Deleuze. and always temporary. see Best. the opposite of history’ (1987: 23). escaping. transhistorical. at least a possible one.com by vizureanu viorel on October 22. and not the history of necessity. what deﬁne capitalism are the lines of escape that traverse it and the becomings that run through it (see A Thousand Plateaus. in Anti-Oedipus. In L’Économie fétiche. . the disruption of existing forms)’ (1979: 41). A structure is a regularized unfolding of an aleatory outside. or before. Deleuze and Guattari argue that ‘universal history is the history of contingencies. Lefebvre reiterates this same basic premise even more forcefully: ‘Those who believe in the system are making a mistake. the reproduction of capitalism involves invariance. Totality.” which has absorbed its historical conditions. . repetition. and the Postmodern Critique’ (1989). for in fact no complete. even when the topic is nomads. that ‘History is always written from the sedentary point of view and in the name of a unitary State apparatus. see Mengue. in order for the ﬂows to escape coding and. Equally noteworthy is Deleuze and Guattari’s claim. See Bihr. However. Gilles Deleuze ou le système du multiple (1994: 66–9). Through a process that is at the same time complementary and competitive. to nonetheless fashion a new machine bearing the determinations of the capitalist socius’ (1983: 140). difference and repetition. Thus. prevention of disorder’ (1992: 57–8). . and not continuity. . This problem is all the more insistent because the system that Deleuze and Guattari envisage is more than merely an economic one. In A Reader’s Guide to Capitalism and Schizophrenia. but it’s also ahistorical.e. . 216–27). it’s historical. . there is certainly a “whole.
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