Friday, October 28, 2016
Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari discuss politics, economics, and Trump (a Theoretical Satire)
Q: Messieurs, what do you make of Trump’s popularity this election season?
A: The masses are not innocent dupes; at a certain point, under a certain set of conditions, they wanted fascism, and it is this perversion of the desire of the masses that needs to be accounted for.
Q: You do accuse Trump of fascism, then?
A: Democracy, fascism, or socialism, which of these is not haunted by the Urstaat as a model without equal?
Q: The Urstaat? I’m sorry, are you saying that some kind of primitive state model informs all instances of civilized, political organization?
A: The historian says no, the Modern state, its bureaucracy and its technocracy, do not resemble the ancient despotic state. Of course not, since it is a matter in one case of reterritorializing decoded flows, but in the other case of overcoding the territorial flows. The paradox is that capitalism makes use of the Urstaat for effecting its reterritorializations. But the imperturbable modern axiomatic, from the depths of its immanence, reproduces the transcendence of the Urstaat as its internalized limit, or one of the poles between which it is determined to oscillate.
Q: I’m afraid this is all highly abstract and theoretical – can you give us a more concrete example?
A: Archaeology discovers it everywhere, often lost in oblivion, at the horizon of all systems or States – not only in Asia, but also in Africa, America, Greece, Rome. Immemorial Urstaat, dating as far back as Neolithic times, and perhaps farther still. Has not America acted as an intermediary here? For it proceeds both by internal exterminations and liquidations (not only the Indians but also the farmers, etc.), and by successive waves of immigration from the outside.
Q: You mention immigration. What do you make of the racial prejudice that seems to permeate Trump’s campaign, his positions as well as his voter base?
A: There is a segregative use of the conjunctive syntheses of the unconscious, a use that does not coincide with divisions between classes, although it is an incomparable weapon in the service of a dominating class: it is this use that brings about the feeling of “indeed being one of us,” of being part of a superior race threatened by enemies from outside. Thus the Little White Pioneers’ son, the Irish Protestant who commemorates the victory of his ancestors, the fascist who belongs to the master race.
Q: Do you think that this racist persuasion constitutes a majority in the United States?
A: A minority can be small in number; but it can also be the largest in number, constitute an absolute, indefinite majority. That is the situation when authors, even those supposedly on the Left, repeat the great capitalist warning cry: in twenty years, “whites” will form only 12 percent of the world population… Thus they are not content to say that the majority will change, or has already changed, but say that it is impinged upon by a nondenumerable and proliferating minority that threatens to destroy the very concept of majority, in other words, the majority as an axiom.
Q: It would seem that there is a strong paranoiac element here, yes?
A: The despot is the paranoiac: there is no longer any reason to forego such a statement, once one has freed oneself from the characteristic familialism of the concept of paranoia in psychoanalysis and psychiatry, and provided one sees in paranoia a type of investment of a social formation.
Q: You mention a familial aspect of paranoia. Do you have any thoughts on Trump’s comments about his daughter, Ivanka?
A: The despotic signifier aims at the reconstitution of the full body of the intense earth that the primitive machine had repressed, but on new foundations or under new conditions present in the deterritorialized full body of the despot himself. This is the reason that incest changes its meaning or locus, and becomes the repressing representation. For what is at stake in the overcoding effected by incest is the following: that all the organs of all the subjects, all the eyes, all the mouths, all the penises, all the vaginas, all the ears, and all the anuses become attached to the full body of the despot, as though to the peacock’s tail of a royal train, and that they have in this body their own intensive representatives. Royal incest is inseparable from the intense multiplication of organs and their inscription on the new full body.
Q: I see. And what of his comments toward women in general?
A: The truth is that sexuality is everywhere: the way a bureaucrat fondles his records, a judge administers justice, a businessman causes money to circulate; the way the bourgeoisie fucks the proletariat; and so on.
Q: Fascinating. So, there is an aspect of national desire, or investment, so to speak, that produces impressions of familial, or racial, or national belonging, and these identities tend to serve the purposes of the dominant class. How does this occur, exactly? Is it an ideological problem? And does this phenomenon respond somehow to the contradictory demands of fascism?
A: It is not a question of ideology. There is an unconscious libidinal investment of the social field that coexists, but does not necessarily coincide, with the preconscious investments, or with what the preconscious investments “ought to be.” That is why, when subjects, individuals, or groups act manifestly counter to their class interests – when they rally to the interests and ideals of a class that their own objective situation should lead them to combat – it is not enough to say: they were fooled, the masses have been fooled. It is not an ideological problem, a problem of failing to recognize, or of being subject to, an illusion. It is a problem of desire, and desire is part of the infrastructure.
Q: You’re suggesting that the State is not merely a product of false ideologies or deceptive machinations, but of desire itself. So desire produces the state, but what produces desire?
A: The fact remains that the apparent objective movement of capital – which is by no means a failure to recognize or an illusion of consciousness – shows that the productive essence of capitalism can itself function only in this necessarily monetary or commodity form that controls it, and whose flows and relations between flows contain the secret of the investment of desire. It is at the level of flows, the monetary flows included, and not at the level of ideology, that the integration of desire is achieved.
Q: Let’s talk more about capitalism. Many leftists today still champion the end of capitalism, yet the twentieth century witnessed a slew of socialist states, many of which are counted today as failures. What is your position on this?
A: In comparison to the capitalist State, the socialist states are children – but children who learned something from their father concerning the axiomatizing role of the State. But the socialist states have more trouble stopping the unexpected flow leakage except by violence.
Q: Critics often appeal to the totalitarian tendencies and economic disparities of socialist countries as evidence for socialism’s inadequacy as an economic system. Is this a fair assessment?
A: To the extent that capitalism constitutes an axiomatic (production for the market), all States and all social formations tend to become isomorphic in their capacity as models of realization: there is but one centered world market, the capitalist one, in which even the so-called socialist countries participate.
Q: You identify capitalism as an axiomatic. If I understand you correctly, you seem to suggest that capitalism is coeval with some kind of determining precedent or dictate. Is there any hope of combating such a precedent, or is it a condition of material processes?
A: The power of minority, of particularity, finds its figure or its universal consciousness in the proletariat. But as long as the working class defines itself by an acquired status, or even by a theoretically conquered State, it appears only as “capital,” a part of capital (variable capital), and does not leave the plan(e) of capital. At best, the plan(e) becomes bureaucratic. On the other hand, it is by leaving the plan(e) of capital, and never ceasing to leave it, that a mass becomes increasingly revolutionary and destroys the dominant equilibrium of the denumerable sets. It is hard to see what an Amazon-State would be, a women’s State, or a State of erratic workers, a State of the “refusal” of work. If minorities do not constitute viable States culturally, politically, economically, it is because the State-form is not appropriate to them, nor the axiomatic of capital, nor the corresponding culture.
If the two solutions of extermination and integration hardly seem possible, it is due to the deepest law of capitalism: it continually sets and then repels its own limits, but in doing so gives rise to numerous flows in all directions that escape its axiomatic.
Q: Messieurs, thank you so much for your time.
A: Thank you. And for those wary of Clinton, remember this: perhaps the flows are not yet deterritorialized enough, not decoded enough, from the viewpoint of a theory and a practice of a highly schizophrenic character. Not to withdraw from the process, but to go further, to “accelerate the process,” as Nietzsche put it: in this matter, the truth is that we haven’t seen anything yet.
*All interview “answers” are drawn directly, or closely adapted, from Deleuze and Guattari’s Capitalism and Schizophrenia books: Anti-Oedipus (1972) and A Thousand Plateaus (1980).