📰 Marx and “Anti-Oedipus.” on Desiring One’s Own Suppression | Epoché Magazine
Author: Timofei Gerber
Full Title: Marx and “Anti-Oedipus.” on Desiring One’s Own Suppression | Epoché Magazine
“As [Wilhelm] Reich remarks, the astonishing thing is not that some people steal or that others occasionally go out on strike, but rather that all those who are starving do not steal as a regular practice, and all those who are exploited are not continually out on strike: after centuries of exploitation, why do people still tolerate being humiliated and enslaved, to such a point, indeed, that they actually want humiliation and slavery not only for others but for themselves?”
But the foundation of political philosophy on the concept of interest is not exclusive to liberalism. In criticising such a conceptual frame, Anti-Oedipus is rather intended as a self-criticism of the left: its focus on class consciousness, which needs to be heightened by a vanguard party, which once again knows best what’s best for the masses etc. It seems that political philosophies founded on concepts like interest or consciousness end up with an anti-democratic streak.
To use a current example — it is not like people didn’t know about police brutality in the United States, its violence against black people, its militarisation. Something else was needed to initiate what is at least potential change, and this cannot be explained merely by interest or consciousness.
If, according to Deleuze and Guattari, the fundamental problem of political philosophy concerns Desire, then it becomes a question of the unconscious.
We can already see that Deleuze and Guattari understand the unconscious not as a purely individual or familial affair — the way it was understood by Freud — but that the unconscious is structured by collective, and, in a certain way, impersonal forces.
“There is always an uncle from America; a brother who went bad; an aunt who took off with a military man; a cousin out of work, bankrupt, or a victim of the Crash; an anarchist grandfather; a grandmother in the hospital, crazy or senile. The Family does not engender its own ruptures. Families are filled with gaps and transected by breaks that are not familial: the Commune, the Dreyfus Affair, religion and atheism, the Spanish Civil War, the rise of fascism, Stalinism, the Vietnam war, May ‘68 — all these things form complexes of the unconscious, more effective than everlasting Oedipus”
Just as Marx affirmed Adam Smith’s analysis of capitalism but criticised him for understanding its laws as eternal facts instead of historic products, Deleuze and Guattari criticise Freud for an ahistorical reading of Oedipus. Yes, Oedipus is real, but he is a product of history, more specifically, of capitalism.
“The father, the mother, and the self are at grips with, and directly coupled to, the elements of the political and historical situation — the soldier, the cop, the occupier, the collaborator, the radical, the resister, the boss, the boss‘s wife — who constantly break all triangulations, and who prevent the entire situation from falling back on the familial complex and becoming internalized in it. In a word, the Family is never a microcosm in the sense of an autonomous figure, even when inscribed in a larger circle that it is said to mediate and express. The Family is by nature eccentric, decentered“