Anti-Oedipus: Part 3 What really fascinates me in this part of the book is the immanence of capitalism and its relationship to schizophrenia in that regard. That's where I was heading last week and that's where I want to end up today, but I feel I have to begin back with the building blocks that allow for that question to be posed. I felt last week in our discussion as though we didn't have a clear enough grasp of the basic elements of Deleuze and Guattari's discourse. How do they use the terms disjunctive synthesis and double- bind or conjunctive synthesis and application? I think this is extremely important because Anti-Oedipus, as opposed to A Thousand Plateaus, presents a linear development of thought in the sense that the argument continues to build on all the previous elements and they don't repeat the earlier explanations. If you don't get it the first time you could well be completely lost later on. As I'm reading the book systematically now I'm finding dizzying coordinated schema of concepts, an incredible rhetorical and conceptual structure that wasn't clear to me before. All this scaffolding depends, though, on grasping these initial concepts. Now, we should be able to grasp these terms because D&G are indeed rigorous and consistent with their terminology. It turns out that rigor and consistency, however, are not enough. The terms are still extremely hard to grasp. When they introduce a new term they do define it clearly, but it still remains obscure or underdefined. The first definition is often misleading. What happens is that they do in fact come back to each term, but in a different way or on a different register. For example, they come back to the connective synthesis when explaining the paralogism of extrapolation, and again to both of them when investigating the territorial machine. The progression of the book, then, is not linear but more like a spiral. It's still true you'll be lost if you don't get it the first time, but the first time the concept remains underdeveloped. It is only really articulated with the successive spirals, the successive returns to the concept in the different registers. In fact, I wonder if some of the concepts will still remain underarticulated at the end of the book. So I want to go back to our first three moments: the first three syntheses, the connective, the disjunctive, and the conjunctive. I think the best way to clarify the proper function of these syntheses is to start from their improper usage, their corresponding paralogisms. Then, I will try to see how each of these syntheses defines the successive social forms that organize part three of the book: the primitive, the barbaric, and the civilized.
Connective synthesis, Primitive and savage formations First we have extrapolation, which is an illegitimate use of the connective synthesis. "There we have a curious paralogism implying a transcendent use of the syntheses of the unconscious: we pass from detachable partial objects to the detached complete object..." (73 mid). Here we can see that the connective synthesis works (or ought to work) in the form of an infinite chain or series of chains. Partial detachable objects link to one another in all directions. What extrapolation does is pull one of these objects out of the chain and set it above the other, controlling them. This transcendent object is detached rather than detachable, and complete rather than partial. The model of this paralogism is the formula of the family leading to Oedipus 3+1. From this illegitimate use of the connective synthesis we could create a rule for its proper use: all objects must be partial and must be connected to others in temporary or detachable ways and in horizontal chains, that is, chains in which all are immanent to the same plane (so that no one object transcends others). This kind of connective synthesis should be defined by the formula 4+n. We later find out that the first stage in D&G's universal history, the primitive or savage stage, is characterized by the primacy of this connective synthesis. This stage is defined accordingly by its immanence and the model for the full body of the socius or the body without organs in this stages is the immanent unity of the earth. "Hence the savage, primitive socius was indeed the only territorial machine in the strict sense of the term. And the functioning of such a machine consists in the following: the declension of alliance and filiation--declining the lineages on the body of the earth ..." (146 top). We are meant to understand the lineages determined by alliance and filiation along the model of the chains of detachable partial objects of the connective synthesis, in the sense that they are immanent or horizontal and proliferating in all directions. That is the sense in which they insist on it being an open system (150). Filiation and alliance are two axes by which fluxes are coded in primitive society: filiation is the relationship of child to parent and alliance is the relationship among these lines, achieved primarily by marriage. Filiation is thus characterized by being "continuous and germinal" and also intensive; whereas alliance, in contrast, is "discontinuous and somatic" and extensive. Continuous and germinal is easy enough to understand for the child to parent filiation; alliance is easily understood as discontinuous, but why somatic? (Somatic refers to the human body.) In any case, it's clear that alliance is not germinal, but extensive, extending outward. Of course, however, D&G give the terms also another somewhat different definition: "The flow deductions (prélèvements) constitute a filiative stock in the signifying chain; but inversely, the detachments (détachements) from the chain constitute mobile debts of alliance that guide and direct the flows" (149). Stock and debt should be regarded here as technical terms that we should eventually be able to define (but not yet, I think). This groundwork about family structures allows them to ask the question about the existence of Oedipus in primitive societies. Really Oedipus here comes down to a question about incest, incest of the boy with the mother and incest with his sister, corresponding to the two axes or lineages. When they claim that incest doesn't exist in primitive societies they do not mean that boys do not have sex with their mothers or sisters, but that the family structure that codes them as such does not exist. "What is desired is the intense germinal or germinative flow, where one would look in vain for persons or even functions discernible as father, mother, son, sister, etc., since these names only designate intensive variations on the full body of the earth determined as germen" (162). This is what it means, I think, to say that the connective synthesis is primary in primitive societies. The persons of the family, which would be necessary for incest to take place, only are formed by the third synthesis, the conjunctive synthesis, which is subordinated here. This is not to say that Oedipus does not exist in primitive societies, but that it comes at the end. It comes at the end in the order of primitive or territorial representation. Here (as always in D&G) there are three stages or instances of representation. The first here is filiation, "the germinal influx of intensity [which] conditions all representation." This is the representative of desire. To say that filiation conditions all representation in primitive society is the same as saying that the connective synthesis is primary. In the second place is alliance, which they call the "repressing representation" of desire. They explain here that marriage as a form of alliance is the repression of a homosocial desire among men. Finally, Oedipus occupies the third place here: "Incest is only the retroactive effect of the repressing representation on the repressed representative" (165). Specifically it is here the effect of alliance on filiation. This third retroactive instance is called the "displaced represented." What is important here is that Oedipus only comes at the end, as the result of displacement and distortion. (Also, maybe incidentally, the "displaced repressed" also marks the place of the fetish in the primitive system of representation.)
Disjunctive synthesis, imperial and barbaric formations Now let's move on to the second synthesis, the disjunctive synthesis, which corresponds to the paralogism of the double-bind. "Double bind is the term used by Gregory Bateson to describe the simultaneous transmission of two kinds of messages, one of which contradicts the other, as for example the father who says to his son: go ahead, criticize me, but strongly hints that all effective criticism ... will be very unwelcome" (79). Now a disjunction necessarily has to offer an alternative like the two kinds of messages in the double bind. What is illegitimate about the double bind that would be legitimate in another use of the disjunctive synthesis? According to D&G the double bind poses a "exclusive and restrictive" disjunction, whereas a legitimate use would pose an "inclusive and nonrestrictive" one. In Bateson's example, then, the legitimate use would still have the father communicating two different messages but they wouldn't conflict with each other, their relationship would be inclusive and nonrestrictive. This is perhaps why we can call the disjunction also a synthesis, because the disjoint elements do not exclude or contradict one another. They remain distinct but allow a kind of passage between them. When we proceed to the universal history of part three, the disjunctive synthesis is the primary synthesis in the barbaric, imperial society. This society is defined by transcendence and here the full body of the socius takes the form of the body of the despot. This new State mega-machine maintains all the lineages (the filiations and alliances) that defined the primitive territorial machine, but reorders them. This despotic order is thus defined by new alliances (alliance reorganized by the despot) and by direct filiation (filiation to the despot). "It is like an immense right of the first-born over all filiations, an immense right of the wedding night over all alliances" (196 mid). The State enters directly into all relations. Therefore, if the filiation and alliances of the primitive territorial machine were designated as "coding" the flux of desire, then here the State machine is "overcoding" the flux. Both the primitive and State machines hate and fear more than anything else decoded fluxes. All fluxes must be coded or overcoded. "The imperial inscription countersects all the alliances and filiations, prolongs them, makes them converge into the direct filiation of the despot with the deity, and the new alliance of the despot with the people. All the coded flows of the primitive machine are now forced into a bottleneck where the despotic machine overcodes them. Overcoding is the operation that constitutes the essence of the State, and that measures both its continuity and its break with the previous formation..." (199 mid). This importance of the continuity and break between the State and the previous formation is the reason that the disjunctive synthesis is primary here. This is not an exclusive relationship. The elements of the primitive are included or subsumed in the imperial State and overcoded by its machine. Incest is again at issue here but its position has shifted. Here the incest is not only possible but necessary: the despot must symbolically marry the sister (read princess of the other tribe) and then return to marry the mother (read mother of his own tribe). This is a symbolic double incest. D&G claim what is important here is how the place of incest has shifted with respect to representation. "In the imperial formation, incest has ceased being the displace represented of desire to become the repressing representation itself" (201). One consequence here is that Oedipus no longer comes at the end but somewhere in the middle. What's more interesting is how this "repressing representation" is expanded into a theory of signification, which is the dominant mode of representation in imperial formations. "The signifier implies a language that overcodes another language, while the other language is completely coded into phonetic elements. And if the unconscious in fact includes the topical order of a double inscription, it is not structured like one language but like two" (208). Here again we see the disjunctive aspect, two languages, the double inscription, that are brought together in the process of overcoding. The signifier is this "repressing representation" that characterized the barbaric imperial formation (just as I suppose the fetish was the "displace represented" in the primitive formation). These are the terms of the back-handed complement to Lacan for having saved psychoanalysis from Oedipus, but submitting it instead the despotic apparatus of the signifier and the law (217). Lacan brought us a despotic unconscious. What's really central about the State in all this is its transcendence. It's transcendence even implies its separation from history. That is why the Urstaat is original and eternal on the one hand and that on the other it arrives not gradually but in one fell swoop. The Urstaat doesn't really ever exist; it is the ideal or abstraction that forms the horizon of actually realized States. In any case, what I principally see being set up here is the contrast with the immanence of capitalism in the next phase.
Conjunctive synthesis, civilized and capitalist formations Finally, we have the conjunctive synthesis that meets with the paralogism of application. Let's work backwards again and start with application. "The Oedipal operation consists in establishing a constellation of the biunivocal relations between the agents of social production, reproduction, and antiproduction on the one hand, and the agents of the so-called natural reproduction of the family on the other. This operation is called application" (100-01). Application involves a mis-identification--a limited and fixed mis-identification. In the context of the cure this would mean that all agents (of production, reproduction, antiproduction) are all identified in terms of the family and in this sense "applied" to the family: "So it was the father..." "So it was the mother...." This mis-identification is "biunivocal" in the sense that each term is referred or applied to one framework the family. Now the problem with application as an illegitimate use of the conjunctive synthesis is not really that it is a mis-identification (although it seems to me that's not a bad place to start); the real problem is that application is a biunivocal and segregative use of the conjunctive synthesis: "a nomadic and polyvocal use of the conjunctive syntheses is opposed to the segregative and biunivocal use made of them" (110 bot). The biunivocal aspect we've already seen in terms of the family. The segregation involves another kind of (mis)identification by which people and segregated and identified with different races, ethnicities, etc. In other aspects, the paralogism of application involves a fixed and limited identification. Looking back, then, we can see that the legitimate use of the conjunctive synthesis too is a kind of identification. With the legitimate use too we might say "Yes, it's the mother, the father, but it's also the ironing board, the clock, Mao Tze Tung, Barbara Walters, etc." In other words, the identifications are not fixed and exclusive, they are polyvocal and nomadic. This is the way they want us to understand Nietzsche's relation to the names of history and Artaud's racial migrations. Now another way of saying identification here is to say consuming zones of intensity. "It is not a matter of identifying with various historical personages, but rather identifying the names of history with zones of intensity on the body without organs; and each time the subject exclaims: "It's me! So it's me!" No one has ever been as deeply involve in history as the schizo, or dealt with it in this way. He consumes all of universal history in one fell swoop" (21 mid- bot). Now try not to get stuck on what it means to say that zones of intensity form of the body without organs. What's happening in the conjunctive synthesis is the identification. The identification with the zone of intensity or really the consumption of the zone of intensity is the conjunction. Voluptas or enjoyment results from this identification. This is the sense in which the subject is produced in the conjunctive synthesis: there is no identity before this identification; in fact the subject results from it. And if the synthesis is used legitimately the subject that results will not be fixed or segregated but nomadic and polyvocal. Conjoin might not be a very good word here because it isn't really distinct from connect. The connective synthesis involved a linking together, like the linking together of chain; this conjunctive synthesis involves rather an identification. When we come to part three and the universal history of social formations, the conjunctive synthesis is primary under capitalism. "By simplifying a lot, we can say that the savage territorial machine operated on the basis of connections of production, and that the barbarian despotic machine was based on the disjunctions of inscription derived from the eminent unity. But the capitalist machine, the civilized machine, will first establish itself on the conjunction" (224 mid-bot). What is being conjoined or identified here? decoded and deterritorialized fluxes. In fact this is precisely the initial definition D&G give of capitalism: "the conjunction of all decoded and deterritorialized flows" (226). Really to understand this, however, even if the conjunction might be primary, we have to begin with the deterritorialization and decoding of flows. This is the part I wanted to get to. Now I feel as though I understand quite well how the introduction of capitalism involved deterritorialization and decoding. This is exactly what Marx described as the process of primitive accumulation, which is the historical production of the conditions necessary for capitalist production, the most important of which is the creation of the proletariat, a free labor force. The central operation in the process of primitive accumulation in English history, which Marx focuses on, was the clearing of the estates in which peasants were swept off the land and forced to congregate eventually in the new industrial cities. The workers were freed from the land or really freed from the means of production in a double sense: they were no longer considered part of the means of production as were serfs or slaves; and they no longer possessed any means of production. Marx calls this freedom "vogelfrei" birdfree. This was precisely a process of deterritorialization. Marx talks about this passage as decoding in another sense, in the sense that all forms of value (prestige, title, etc) are brought down to the level of money, to the cash nexus. The establishment of money as the universal equivalent involves the decoding of all other schema of value. Decoding and deterritorializing are part of the movement of capitalism toward the plane of immanence. Now these aren't exactly the explanations of the immanence of capitalism they give, but they are in a way introductions to them. They need to explain that this deterritorialization and decoding of primitive accumulation is not done once and over, but continues throughout the existence of capitalism. So these are the three aspects they name of the immanence of capitalism: "(1) the one that extracts human surplus value on the basis of the differential relation between decoded flows of labor and [decoded flows of] production, and that moves from the center to the periphery ...; (2) the one that extracts machinic surplus value, on the basis of an axiomatic of the flows of scientific and technical code ...; (3) the one that absorbs or realizes these two forms of surplus value of flux by guaranteeing the emission of both, and by constantly injecting antiproduction into the producing apparatus" (237 top). The first aspect is (or can be simplified to) the differential relation between the value the worker is paid (the wage) and the value the worker produces. Surplus value is extracted in that differential relationship. The second aspect refers to the increase of profit through technical and scientific developments. And the third refers to the position of the capitalist State within production. The State directly commands production and thus antiproduction is internal to the producing apparatus. In this description of the immanence of capitalism I understand very well how we arrive at the plane of immanence through the deterritorialization and decoding of flows, but capitalism isn't just an absolute deterritorialization. After, or in addition to, every deterritorialization it has to operate a reterritorialization. The question is, how can we understand this reterritorialization as remaining on the plane of immanence and not as a return to the transcendence of previous territorializations? Their response is that the reterritorializations of capitalism take the form of an axiomatic, rather than a process of coding or overcoding. "The true axiomatic is that of the social machine itself, which takes the place of the old codings and organizes all the decoded flows, including the flows of scientific and technical code, for the benefit of the capitalist system and in the service of its ends" (233 mid-bot). What is this axiomatic that takes the place of codings and organizes in an immanent way? I think a lot rests on this notion of axiomatic and in AO they don't explain it very thoroughly. Let me give you a mathematical explanation of an axiomatic taken from a book they refer to in MP. In mathematics, an axiomatic is a set of equations and relationships that determine and combine variables and coefficients immediately and equally without reference to prior and fixed definitions or terms. Within an axiomatic system, postulates are not propositions that can be true or false, since they contain relatively indeterminate variables. Only when we give these variables particular values, or in other words, when we substitute constants for them do the postulates become propositions, true or false, according to the constants chosen. Now one way to understand this in terms of political economy is to relate it to Marx's discussion of the status of the "laws" of capitalist development. Marx insisted that capital does have laws but that those laws are historical and immanent to its functioning. The laws of capitalism, then, now shifting to the mathematical notion, might be thought of as equations that are filled by different variables in different socio-historical contexts and thus yield different propositions. For example, capitalist development will look different in England and Egypt (it will yield different propositions) even though both are operating according to the same equations or axiomatic. (The one example of an axiom they give us is "the axiom of displacement from the center to the periphery" (253).) Axiomatics are not complete sets of equations, but always open to adding new axioms. In any case, I don't feel satisfied yet with this problem of the axiomatic--how does it organize or regulate and remain immanent?--but I want to continue to pose it as a problem for the future. The axiomatic is also the key to the difference between capitalism and schizophrenia. Both capitalism and schizophrenia operate by the general decoding and deterritorialization of flows, but schizophrenia is an absolute deterritorialization and capitalism a relative one. Capitalist deterritorialization is relative in the sense that whatever capital deterritorializes it then reterritorializes. "What it decodes with one hand it axiomatizes with the other" (246 mid-top). The axiomatic is capital's way out, it's way of organizing flows and imposing its command. This difference between capitalism and schizophrenia explains the brief formula for revolution we get in this part. We shouldn't resist capitalism, they say, but rather push it processes of deterritorialization and decoding further. "Not withdraw from the process, but to go further to 'accelerate the process' as Nietzsche put it..." (239-40). Revolutionary practice is to push capitalism from a relative deterritorialization to an absolute one. Finally, somewhat out of order to the narrative I've constructed, I wanted to come back to the question of Oedipus and the family and look at why Oedipus can really take place fully under capitalism and couldn't before. What's interesting to me in their response to this question is simply the claim that for the first time in the capitalist formation the family is taken outside the circuit of production (the family used to be a productive unit) and hence it has been freed to play this role of transcendence and signification.