Revolutionary Desire

Schizophrenizing Freudo-Marxism

Imploding Psychoanalysis

The schizoanalytic project really culminates in one book, Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, a philosopher and a psychoanalyst trained by Lacan. The book is of primary interest to a study on Freudo-Marxism because in many respects it is a direct response to and reengagement with Reich. Anti-Oedipus, neither purely Freudian nor purely Marxist, recoils in horror at the results of institutional psychoanalysis. In the process, it pushes the Freud and Marx combination to its logical extremes, testing and prodding its strengths and weaknesses. On the one hand, schizoanalysis—the practice envisioned by Deleuze and Guattari—is intended to replace clinical psychoanalysis. On the other hand, the schizoanalytic project is so wide that it is difficult to define. It is the generalizing of the analytic situation beyond the analyst’s doors, a tireless and unstoppable march:

As I see it, all social segments should undergo, step by step, a veritable molecular revolution, i.e., a permanent reinvention. In no way did I suggest extending the experiment of La Borde to the whole of society, no single model being materially transposable in this way. Yet it seemed to me that subjectivity, at any stage of the socius worth considering, did not occur by itself, but was produced by certain conditions, and that these conditions could be modified through multiple procedures in a way that would channel it in a more creative direction. [1]

The near-revolutionary context of May 1968 France forms the political backdrop for Anti-Oedipus. Over the heads of the Stalinist Communist Party bureaucrats and the conciliatory union leaders erupted “The largest general strike that ever stopped the economy of an advanced industrial country, and the first wildcat general strike in history.” [2]At the time, Lacan offered a prediction which perhaps proved true. Student-interlocutors, entering his seminar to encourage participants to leave and help their comrades fighting the police, full of revolutionary fervor are rebuffed by Lacan: “What you aspire to as revolutionaries is a master. You will get one.” [3] To be sure, Lacan’s disdainful remarks and refusal to support the struggle are deplorable. On the other hand, he certainly offers an incisive (and preemptive) critique of the predictable role played by the accepted leadership of the organs of struggle. The question is then: how to make Lacan wrong while still making revolution?

There would no longer be mass, centrally ordered movements which would set more or less serialized individuals in motion on a local scale. Rather, it would be the connection of a multiplicity of molecular desires which would catalyze challenges on a large scale. This is what happened at the beginning of the movement of May ‘68: the local and singular manifestation of the desire of small groups began to resound with a multiplicity of repressed desires which had been isolated and crushed by the dominant forms of expression and of representation. [. . .] The unification of struggles is antagonistic to the multiplicity of desires only when it is totalizing, that is, when it is treated by the totalitarian machine of a representative party. [4]

After the groundbreaking work of the Freudo-Marxists and especially Wilhelm Reich, it is not to be thought that the political context is distinct or disconnected from the clinical one. Guattari’s clinical work at La Borde, where he embarked on a project of radically redefining ward power relations, was certainly influenced by broader mass movements and historical conditions. [5] However, this context could also be emphasized in order to imply unoriginality. Julia Kristeva, herself quite affected by May 1968, describes a context in which many of the fundamental issues raised by the book were already being discussed by clinicians: “I saw that since Freud a lot of psychoanalysts had become interested in the ‘narcissistic’ and ‘psychotic’ modes of the unconscious. I also noticed that Anti-Oedipus was breaking down an already open door, as far as clinicians were concerned, though not for the public at large: the doors should have been opened with a lot more caution.” [6] One is immediately struck by Kristeva’s attitude, despite her praise for the duo elsewhere in the interview, which seems to indicate a kind of danger in the book—such a danger as to be particularly attractive to revolutionaries.

Certainly, many fields of psychoanalytic study have opened into psychosis since Freud and even to some extent into the radical questions raised by Deleuze and Guattari. François Roustang’s Psychoanalysis Never Lets Go, for example, raises the question: how can psychoanalysis resolve the transference and offer its interpretations on grounds other than suggestion? [7] There is no easy answer to this. Fenichel sees the criterion of correct interpretation in dynamic terms, that is, with regards to the energy it frees up. [8] Here is already a precursor to the schizoanalytic method, which abandons the notion of interpretation in favor of this focus on libidinal energy.

Kristeva’s reaction to Deleuze and Guattari’s radical approach betrays an air  of conservatism: “How can one let the forbidden and law modulate our subjectivity while preventing it from becoming a tyranny, a bind, a barbarism? This is the problem. You can’t get rid of the question by idealizing madness after idealizing sex.” [9] To accuse Deleuze and Guattari of “idealizing madness” is clearly a bit dishonest; on the other hand, Reich’s overemphasis on sex ends up leaving him impotent when it comes to envisioning a revolutionary alternative to capitalism or the means of achieving it. And yet, while Roustang asks, “In what way is psychoanalysis subversive if its best products, the psychoanalysts, are not subversive?” [10] Kristeva only dismisses the possibility of raising such a question, saying, “it is not the role of the analyst to train political protestors” [11] Not that this is false—but Deleuze and Guattari would respond that desire is itself the revolutionary force, and that the lack of subversion produced by psychoanalysis is indeed linked to a structural tendency.

In order to understand this political void in psychoanalysis from a materialist perspective, it makes sense to begin with the material flow operative in psychoanalysis. To psychoanalysts, the question of the fee is a touchy subject, but it is to be expected that one would explain that it is not preferable to have a fee but necessary under the current (capitalist) conditions. Such a perspective could simply be a rationalization for a massive enterprise of surplus value absorption; given the danger inherent in the transference use of suggestion at the basis of all psychoanalysis, the fact of a rather large flow of money from analysands to analysts is somewhat disturbing. Roustang goes so far as to suggest that this flow is the direct basis for the acceptance of Freudianism, though he does not delve into the problem and treats it shamefully lightly. [12] His non-Marxist outlook prevents him from pointing out the exploitative element of the transference. [13] If transference is to be thought of as a psychosis, then it is clear that “psychosis remained on the horizon of psychoanalysis as the true source of its clinical material, and yet was excluded by the psychoanalyst as lying outside the contractual field.” [14]

Michael Schneider, pointing out that psychoanalysts’ resistance to socialism stems from their objective interest in the prolonged existence of neurosis, goes so far as to follow Brohm in calling them “parasites of surplus value”—a position resulting in “liberalism and reformism [and . . . an] ideological barrier against Marxism”. [15] Despite the Freudo-Marxist inclination of some analysts like Fenichel and Reich to use psychoanalysis as a tool against both psychic and social repression, this would have to involve a conscious recognition of the economic interest psychoanalysis unfortunately has in the continuance of neurotic misery.

When Reich denounces the way in which psychoanalysis joins forces with social repression, he still doesn’t go far enough, because he doesn’t see that the tie linking psychoanalysis with capitalism is not merely ideological, that it is infinitely closer, infinitely tighter; and that psychoanalysis depends directly on an economic mechanism (whence its relations with money) through which the decoded flows of desire, as taken up in the axiomatic of capitalism, must necessarily be reduced to a familial field where the application of this axiomatic is carried out: Oedipus as the last word of capitalist consumption—sucking away at daddy-mommy, being blocked and triangulated on the couch; “So it’s . . .” Psychoanalysis, no less than the bureaucratic or military apparatus, is a mechanism for the absorption of surplus value, nor is this true from the outside, extrinsically; rather, its very form and its finality are marked by this social function. [16]

This flow of surplus value underlies a very repressive tendency in psychoanalysis, which, as we shall see, makes psychoanalysis an always already political institution. Furthermore, as a result of this surplus value flow it autistically makes in effect “a radical break with reality” and yet positions itself as the sole judge of reality. [17] Here, also, is the model of Oedipus as commodity form, a theme prominent in Deleuze and Guattari’s analysis. And if psychoanalysis can sell Oedipus to the analysands, it does so by demanding their (monetary) submission to castration.

The problem is that castration is the only normal, healthy outcome of the Oedipus complex. “And everybody knows what psychoanalysis means by resolving Oedipus: internalizing it so as to better rediscover it on the outside, in social authority, where it will be made to proliferate and be passed on to the children. [. . .] Oedipus is like the labyrinth, you only get out by re-entering it—or by making someone else enter it.” [18] This is the main point in the schizoanalytic critique: psychoanalysis as a practice is repressive when it aims at castration. Without a radical rethinking of the analytic premises, analysts are engaged in a political repression of great magnitude, illustrated by Deleuze and Guattari when they point to the police and psychiatric ward lurking behind the psychoanalyst, waiting for a call for help with all who refuse Oedipalization. [19]

It is not to be thought, of course, that psychoanalysis invents Oedipus, despite its implicit threat of police repression. To discount the role of the family in repression would be to throw out the gains made by Fenichel and Reich in carefully linking it to the Oedipus complex and pathology. The point is rather that psychoanalysis steps in as a religion, a drug, or a perversion, even after capitalism has stripped religion of its basis and belief.

What psychoanalysts invent is only the transference, a transference Oedipus, a consulting-room Oedipus of Oedipus, especially noxious and virulent, but where the subject finally has what he wants, and sucks away at his Oedipus on the full body of the analyst. And that’s already too much. But Oedipus takes shape in the family, not in the analyst’s office, which merely acts as the last territoriality. [20]

Caught between the Oedipus of the family and the Oedipus of the factory, a line of escape runs directly to the analyst. Finally—some reality? Yes, desiring-machines; only you must make them function to serve Oedipus. Or don’t—and simply pay up! Fenichel even went so far as to say that “the psychoanalytic situation in particular promotes the production of transference” by its constant character and the analyst’s affectless interpretation. [21] He would have us believe that transference is not to the analyst but rather to the analysis’s environment (a believable thesis)—and yet not a word on the contract or the fee. Perhaps most disturbing is Fenichel’s assertion about the immediate transference reactions a psychoanalyst could encounter when first meeting schizophrenic patients on psychiatric wards: these people must, he says, be so disconnected from reality that they contact it in short bursts. [22] Is transference to be seen as a connection and not a break with reality, or is this actually an abandonment of the psychoanalytic definition of the term?

At any rate, it is not to be thought that Oedipus originates in the mind of the psychoanalyst. But only a sad and dishonest misreading of Sophocles’ play would have us believe that Oedipus begins in the mind of Oedipus. The prophecy motivates Laius “the old pervert” to send away the child. [23] But similarly it is not to be thought that Oedipus is not sufficiently Oedipalized away from Laius and Jocasta. As an infant desiring-machine he follows the line of escape through the gentle servant who spares him, only to be reconstituted as Oedipus in Corinth. And when again he settles in Thebes, it is only to discover himself in a territoriality wherein the old bastard he had slain on the road is supposed to be his father. He believes it all! But when the psychoanalyst pretends to be a parent—what can we do but laugh?

New Languages

Though Guattari was a psychoanalyst, Anti-Oedipus constitutes a radical departure from psychoanalytic language. In fact, much psychoanalytic language is used, though primarily as what Deleuze and Guattari would refer to as indices or points of reference. Deleuze and Guattari enter into an entirely new realm, that of desiring-production and desiring-machines, and yet they only do so through a transgressive (or transcendent) interlinking of desire and production, a forward motion which preserves the great gains made thus far. Mercilessly, desiring-production overthrows both Freudian libido-energy and Marxian labor-value, despite preserving the abstract, subjective quantification of each.. [24]

To define desiring-production, it is helpful to start with what it is not. Despite employing a concept of libido, “Desiring-production cannot be equated with id, [. . .] because on Freud’s definition the id has no access to reality except through the agency of the ego’s connection to what Freud calls the perception-conscious system”. [25] Desiring-production produces desiring-machines which produce desiring-production and so on—and this is already occurring in reality, as a series of interlinked desiring-machines. [26] But rather than being comprised of repressed representatives of the drives like the Freudian id, “desiring-production would be functionally equivalent to the system of the unconscious as a whole.” [27] This is absolutely crucial: recall, of course, that Freud’s late view was that sections of the ego and super- ego are also unconscious alongside the drives. Desiring-production thus contains both the productive force of desire and the means of its own repression: “For they [drives] are part of it [the infrastructure], they are present there in every way while creating within the economic forms their own repression, as well as the means for breaking this repression.” [28] Libido, the energy of desiring-machines, is not only the energy which powers their production but that which they produce in connection with other desiring-machines. This relationship between libido and drives is quite different from the Freudian or Reichian perspectives, which envision the id as simple energy reservoir to be tapped and exploited. For Deleuze and Guattari, the energy of desiring-production is also itself produced.

Just as with their translation of the concept of libido, the unconscious has very different workings and implications in Deleuze and Guattari than in Freud. The de-Oedipalization of the unconscious means  it must be firmly established that the unconscious is historically determined. [29] Freud’s projection of Oedipus backward, as for example in Totem and Taboo, reminds us all of Marx’s great materialist reversal of Hegel: Freud be damned, the unconscious must be a product of history.

Also deeply flawed is the psychoanalytic misunderstanding of the nature of unconscious libidinal investments: they can be and are immediately political and open to the social field. “In a word, the social as well as biological surroundings are the object of unconscious investments that are necessarily desiring or libidinal, in contrast with the preconscious investments of need or of interest. The libido as sexual energy is the direct investment of masses, of large aggregates, and of social and organic fields.” [30] Desiring-production is not desexualized or sublimated in order to constitute a social field, for such a requirement would depend on some kind of mystical transformation of energy from the familial field, where sexuality operates, to the social fields, “familialism,” in a word. No, desiring-production is immediately productive and social.

If desire produces, its product is real. If desire is productive, it can be productive only in the real world and can produce only reality. Desire is the set of passive syntheses that engineer partial objects, flows, and bodies, and that function as units of production. The real is the end product, the result of the passive syntheses of desire as autoproduction of the unconscious. Desire does not lack anything; it does not lack its object. It is, rather, the subject that is missing in desire, or desire that lacks a fixed subject; there is no fixed subject unless there is repression. Desire and its object are one and the same thing: the machine, as a machine of a machine. Desire is a machine, and the object of desire is another machine connected to it. [31]

Deterritorialization is the revolutionary tendency of desiring-production, to tear down the territorialities which confine it in terms of source, aim, or object, issuing forth and investing the entire social field immediately without any transformation necessary. Every movement of deterritorialization, or expression of desiring-production, is also accompanied by a matching reterritorialization. Reterritorialization is to be seen as a process of repression, to be sure, but it is intricately bound up with the notion of representation, which Deleuze and Guattari see as fundamentally territorializing—repressive. The history of psychoanalysis is marked by a deterritorialization with Freud’s discovery of the abstract subjective nature of libido and an accompanying reterritorialization with the introduction of and emphasis on Oedipus. Reflected in the pairing of deterritorialization and reterritorialization is a primary repression, which is not to be attributed to the death drive or the social institutions but to a fundamental tendency of desire: to desire its own repression.

“We are of the opinion that what is ordinarily referred to as ‘primary repression’ means precisely that: it is not a ‘countercathexis,’ but rather this repulsion of desiring-machines by the body without organs. This is the real meaning of the paranoiac machines: the desiring-machines attempt to break into the body without organs, and the body without organs repels them, since it experiences them as an over-all persecution apparatus.” [32]

The body without organs is a concept used as a limit to deterritorialization, though it not only represses desire but attracts and fortifies it. Schizophrenia as a process is precisely deterritorialization (a productive process) and the body without organs is the realm of antiproduction to which the frightened scizho-as-entity flees. “The schizophrenic deliberately seeks out the very limit of capitalism: he is its inherent tendency brought to fulfillment, its surplus product, its proletariat, and its exterminating angel. [. . .] Schizophrenia is desiring- production as the limit of social production.” [33] The desiring-machines are both the means of desire’s repression and the means to break the repression; schizophrenia follows the lines of escape of desire, opening it up to vast new territorialities.

We have seen in what sense schizophrenia was the absolute limit of every society, inasmuch as it axiomatizes the decoded flows and reterritorializes the deterritorialized flows. We have also seen that capitalism finds in schizophrenia its own exterior limit, which it is continually repelling and exorcising, while capitalism itself produces its immanent limits, which it never ceases to displace and enlarge. But capitalism still needs a displaced interior limit in another way: precisely in order to neutralize or repel the absolute exterior limit, the schizophrenic limit; it needs to internalize this limit, this time by restricting it, by causing it to pass no longer between social production and the desiring-production that breaks away from social reproduction, but inside social production, between the form of social reproduction and the form of a familial reproduction to which social production is reduced, between the social aggregate and the private subaggregate to which the social aggregate is applied. [34]

Schizophrenia is so deeply tied to capitalism that it must indeed be seen as its absolute limit; insofar as schizophrenia as a process of deterritorialization is inseparable from its reterritorialization, schizophrenia is the absolute capitalist limit on deterritorialization. Oedipus comes in to fill the role of an internal displaceable limit to capitalism. In this way, Oedipus functions similarly to the falling rate of profit tendency outlined by Marx as “simply the expression, peculiar to the capitalist mode of production, of the progressive development of the social productivity of labour.” [35] Capitalists have an interest in raising their productivity of labor in order to outproduce their competitors, by increasing the proportion of constant capital c (machinery) as opposed to variable capital v (wages). On the aggregate rate of profit—s/(c+v)—this movement tends to lower the overall profit rate by growing the denominator and proportionally lowering surplus value s, and thus lowering the rate of accumulation of capital. “The [falling rate of profit] tendency’s only limit is internal, and it is by continually going beyond it, but by displacing this limit—that is, by reconstituting it, by rediscovering it as an internal limit to be surpassed again by means of a displacement; thus the continuity of the capitalist process engenders itself in this break of a break that is always displaced, in this unity of the schiz and the flow.” [36] In fact, the increases in the productivity of labor tend to deterritorialize labor (converting it to dead labor) in its relation to time.

At its best moments, psychoanalysis operates by deterritorializing desiring-production and freeing it from structural trappings. Deleuze and Guattari praise Reich’s character analytic technique “when he says that the destruction of resistances must not wait upon the discovery of the material.” [37] Whereas Reich’s aim was to prepare the way for interpretation, with schizoanalysis there is none, because there is no material—no theater or representation—only production in the unconscious. “There are only resistances, and then machines desiring-machines. Oedipus is a resistance”. [38] Thus, schizoanalysis aims to destroy Oedipus as a formation, because it is reactionary. In doing so, deterritorialization is pushed to extremes, coming up against new limits and overcoming them: this is the process of schizophrenia.

Figure 4: The Schizophrenic Process as Universal Clinical Index [41]

Schizoanalysis sees the process of schizophrenia as one pole of delirium, matched by paranoia, its inverse. The two are inseparable, as the schizo pole carries forth with deterritorialization and the paranoiac pole responds with reterritorialization. The paranoiac pole, the origin of Oedipus as a last territoriality before the ever-slippage of deterritorialization, “that invests the formation of central sovereignty; overinvests it by making it the final eternal cause for all the other social forms of history; counterinvests the enclaves or the periphery; and disinvests every free “figure” of desire”. [39] Opposite: “a schizorevolutionary type or pole that follows the lines of escape of desire; breaches the wall and causes flows to move; assembles its machines and its groups-in-fusion in the enclaves or at the periphery”. [40] Lines of escape are essential, because escape from the socius always creates a new socius, and despite the repressive reterritorialization necessarily involved, this is a creative and productive path.

Figure 5: Paranoia and Schizophrenia, The Two Poles of Libidinal Investment [42]

Libidinal investment, which is always social, follows two poles: “the paranoiac, reactionary, and fascisizing pole, and the schizoid revolutionary pole.” [43] The schizo pole is that of schizophrenia as a process, whereas the paranoiac pole is that which arrests the process—and makes the schizo entity ill. These poles are divided by the functions they promote; aggregate in one and multiplicity in the other. “The one by these molar structured aggregates that crush singularities, select them, and regularize those that they retain in codes or axiomatics; the other by the molecular multiplicities of singularities that on the contrary treat the large aggregates as so many useful materials for their own elaborations.” [44] And these elaborations are, of course, productive in social and economic terms, and so the molecular tendency is the revolutionary tendency of production in difference. In capitalism, Oedipus is the interior limit which is constantly displaced; it is a paranoiac investment because it substitutes the incestuous drives in place of desiring-production and represses them. Castration operates as a molarizing function because it establishes the gender dualism, whereas a molecular approach to gender sees it as something like a statistical aggregate, a sum far greater than its constituent parts.

The molar/molecular distinction is illustrated, schizoanalysis finds, in Reich whose “simultaneously schizophrenic and paranoiac” theory shows the “double pole of the libido, as a molecular formation on the submicroscopic scale, and as an investment of the molar formations on the scale of social and organic aggregates.” [45] Whereas in Reich the libido—renamed orgone—invests the biophysical field and thus makes social investment, desiring-production is rather always sexual. There are, moreover, limitless sexualities, or configurations of desire, its production and its repression.

The Death Instinct and the Theory of Repression

The death instinct, which had been so hotly contested, undergoes significant changes in Anti-Oedipus. In psychoanalysis, it solidified into a direct opposition to the historically-determined expressions of Eros, allowing psychoanalysts to proclaim with certainty that Oedipus was desired all along, for it makes possible a primary anxiety responsible for primary repression. Instead, since desiring-machines desire death, desire does desire its own repression, but only to the limit of its territorialization.  Freud, lacking as he did a worked-out notion of desiring-machines, introduces the death instinct partly to explain World War I: how could such a destructive affair be so clearly structural, and what is its instinctual basis? Quite a materialist question, but one on which Freud would have to capitulate by alleviating the blame on social repression in order to answer. The death instinct, the final repressive Oedipalization of psychoanalytic theory—”celebrates the wedding of psychoanalysis and capitalism”:

the full body, having become that of capital-money, suppresses the distinction between production and anti-production; everywhere it mixes antiproduction with the productive forces in the immanent reproduction of its own always widened limits (the axiomatic). The death enterprise is one of the principal and specific forms of the absorption of surplus value in capitalism. [46]

Surplus value, perhaps, is not meant to be taken in a purely Marxian sense. Now, it also refers to surplus of desiring-production. Oedipus, then, marks a vast mobilization of the death instinct in the service of psychic repression. Yet Oedipus is a revolutionary line of escape of desire, escaping its own submission to the death instinct through a repressive representation of desire. As always, there is a repressive tendency to this territoriality.

The Oedipus schema was constructed as a barrier to narcissism, to destructive identifications. It seemed to represent a necessary fate of the instincts. But the death instinct comes into being only at the point when one leaves the sphere of desiring intensities for that of representation. The Oedipal triangle is an attempt—always more or less unsuccessful—to stop the descent into the death instinct. [. . .] For desire to be expressed in individual terms means that it is already condemned to castration. [47]

But when desire is expressed in social terms, as it is naturally, its attempts to escape are revolutionary insofar as they utilize desiring-production for the purpose of further deterritorialization. This, of course, is quite a threat to the capitalist system, so every means—cops and superegos, cops with superegos, or psychoanalysts: superegos with cops!—is utilized toward the repression of desiring-production.

From Freud through Fenichel and Reich runs a problematic intensification of the role of social factors in psychoanalytic theory. Freud’s unconscious is supposed to be free of social conditions, the individual product of the id/ego dialectic. Yet Reich firmly proves the link between social repression and psychic repression; psychic repression, in his view, arises from the internalization of social repression. In turn, social repression’s continued existence depends upon this self-policing. Deleuze and Guattari give Reich significant credit for his consistent emphasis on social repression, but they aim to move beyond his critique in two ways: “the specific relationship between psychic repression and social repression” and the role in this of Oedipus, that is, the supposed “content” of the repressed unconscious. [48]

What to make of the connection between Oedipus and the bourgeois family? Its role in repression has been firmly established, but much of Reich’s work seemed to indicate that parents could simply employ less repressive means in raising children. There was little mention of the structural dilemma of Oedipus, which still remained. It is to be left to assumption that incest is desired. Deleuze and Guattari offer a more hopeful outlook which shows that the family’s most insidious role is in fact not necessarily the direct repression Reich fought against, but also an underlying psychic repression.

The family is the delegated agent of psychic repression, or rather the agent delegated to psychic repression; the incestuous drives are the disfigured image of the repressed. The Oedipus complex, the process of oedipalization, is therefore the result of this double operation. It is in one and the same movement that the repressive social production is replaced by the repressing family, and that the latter offers a displaced image of desiring-production that represents the repressed as incestuous familial drives. [49]

Oedipus appears as if it was desired, and yet this results only from the repression of desire. But what is going on at all levels is in fact production; the family is a mediator of flows of desire as well as an agent of repression. As a result of the psychic repression induced by it, social repression becomes desired; and yet, the fear of social repression becomes internalized as psychic repression. And if the concept of revolution, coming up against the Oedipal wall, is reduced to a desire for incest, no wonder the masses shrink back. Reich, though, falls short when he attributes the desire for repression to ideology, because even though he fought to define ideology as a material power, it still remains on the level of a false consciousness of interests. In Reich’s perspective, there is not room for it to simply be that desire and interest do not necessarily align. Rather, ideology is seen as irrational and subjective, and consequently psychoanalysis is limited to its impact on the subjective. “If Reich, at the very moment he raised the most profound of questions—‘Why did the masses desire fascism?’—was content to answer by invoking the ideological, the subjective, the irrational, the negative, and the inhibited, it was because he remained the prisoner of derived concepts that made him fall short of the materialist psychiatry he dreamed of, that prevented him from seeing how desire was part of the infrastructure, and that confined him in the duality of the objective and the subjective.” [50] In this sense, the economic aspect of Reich’s work is useful, because it aims directly at liberating the most quantity of energy possible with a positive (but limited) emphasis on sexuality. On the other hand, Reich’s focus on the objective requires a subjective to match. This distinction is criticized by Deleuze and Guattari, and perhaps it is fitting that the two main thinkers they engage—Marx and Freud—each thought he was studying an absolutely objective and subjective realm, respectively. And thus, the happenings in the subjective have real, objective effects on production. As the desiring-machines desire death as well as life, Oedipus steps in with its antiproduction to stop the death drive:

Antiproduction effuses in the system: antiproduction is loved for itself, as is the way in which desire represses itself in the great capitalist aggregate. Repressing desire, not only for others but in oneself, being the cop for others and for oneself—that is what arouses, and it is not ideology, it is economy. [51]

Schizoanalytic Revolutionary Practice

Schizoanalysis is really a bombshell in terms of its critical content. Anti-Oedipus, as a reading of Freud and Marx, is so thorough and nuanced that even a nonbeliever cannot help but be shaken by it. Psychoanalysis found itself confined to the couch, impotent to solve neurosis or psychosis as social problems, content rather to “cure” them on an individual contractual basis. To some psychoanalysts, among whom the Freudo-Marxist take the crown, this was a hopeless endeavor that must be replaced by mass work on prophylaxis. Schizoanalysis, instead, rather than offering a “cure” or a “prophylaxis,” aims to generalize the analytic situation as broadly as possible, spreading it beyond the analyst’s couch or doors. Instead of analysis interminable, there is a kind of permanent analysis (in the fullest sense of Trotsky’s “permanent revolution”)—”the schizophrenization that must cure us of the cure.” [52] The revolutionary struggle, too, must be linked with the analytic act (which is not interpretation of meaning but the deterritorialization of desire), and brought behind every closed door and into every group or organization. Every social encounter is a potential revolution.

The same goes, of course, in the reverse. Behind every closed door is a counterrevolution. All of this is ongoing on a molecular level. In this sense what schizoanalysis offers best is a theory of practical defense against microfascism. On every level there are paranoiac tendencies, reactionary investments (unconscious), and every configuration of desire contains its own repression. There is a multiplicity of singular class struggles ongoing. “Revolution is about confronting cops, which includes internal cops that protect us from confronting our own desiring-machines, the machines that want, and tend to produce the code surplus value that goes toward other things.” [53] Oedipus is the cop sleeping in each one of us. We must kill him.

Reich was onto something when he spoke of “authority-fearing people.” Our neurotic illness or what Reich called the “emotional plague” makes us into scabs and informers for the family and the nation, both territorialities with fascistically defined boundaries. [54] Our psychoanalytic transferences, then, make us scabs for the analytic institute, and it would not be a stretch to say that the same goes for our fevered devotion to our Lenins, Stalins, and Maos, but also our Trotskys.

There is so much distrust in schizoanalysis, it seems at times as though the theory could be a paranoiac one itself. Microfascism is a permanent threat.

On the other hand, the struggle against what we may call ‘microscopic fascism’ – the fascism implanted within desiring machines – cannot be carried on via delegates or representatives, by identifiable and unchanging blocs. The face of the enemy is changing all the time: it can be a friend, a colleague, a superior, even oneself. There is never a time when you can be sure you are not going to fall for a politics supporting bureaucracy or privilege, into a paranoiac view of the world, an unconscious collusion with the establishment, an internalization of social repression. [55]

Yet there is much hope in schizoanalysis. There is not one revolutionary struggle, there are many. The prospects of victory cannot be thought in absolute terms like the conquest of state power, which is a simple inversion of bourgeois class relations. Power must be destroyed, to be sure, and on every level, not only in every strike or occupation but in every friendship and family. Revolution is not simply the task of the working class (which as such is united only by preconscious interest) but the tendency of “the genetic unconscious as biological life-force.” [56] Analysis is not the task of the analyst but of everyone, including groups.

Finally, it is not that psychoanalytic theory must be influenced by revolutionary Marxist insights, and it is not that Marxist theory must simply be supplanted with psychoanalytic findings. This is all true, but what is necessary is much greater: a total intertwining of the analytic act and revolutionary struggles:

– The class struggle, the revolutionary struggle for liberation, involves the existence of war machines capable of standing up to forces of oppression, which means operating with a degree of centralism, with at least a minimum of coordination;

– The struggle in relation to desire requires collective agencies to produce a continually ongoing analysis, and the subversion of every form of power, at every level. [57]

Revolution is not off of the agenda. It must, on the contrary, be generalized along with analysis. Anti-Oedipus and its “materialist psychiatry” are in fact far more than this; they offer new ways of imagining the surplus value flows that determine class as well as the flows of desire which psychoanalysis was privileged to discover as the drives. And while psychoanalysis goes on neuroticizing and Oedipalizing, at least it is now possible to proclaim: “We are all schizos! We are all perverts!” [58] Push the limit as far as it goes; destroy Oedipus. Groups of all kinds—including individuals—must be opened to the desires of other groups, their walls must be shattered. Deterritorialization must be pushed as far as it can go in order to make a revolutionary break likely despite reterritorialization. It cannot be said that this is not a clinical act; to be sure, under given limitations this work still has a place in psychiatric clinics. Yet as much as possible the clinic doors must be torn asunder. In place of the fallen walls arises liberated desire, which is itself the power of liberation and the force of deterritorialization. Deterritorialization without end, the task of schizoanalysis, is a positive one despite its tendency to destroy all territorialization, precisely in the maintenance of the process. “For the new earth (‘In truth, the earth will one day become a place of healing’) is not to be found in the neurotic or perverse reterritorializations that arrest the process or assign it goals; it is no more behind than ahead, it coincides with the completion of the process as it proceeds, and as long as it proceeds.” [59]


1 Félix Guattari, “La Borde: a Clinic Unlike Any Other,” in Chaosophy, 182.

2 ”The Beginning of an Era,” (Situationist International 12, 1969) in Ken Knabb, ed., Situationist International Anthology, 288. Available online at

3 Jacques Lacan, The Seminar of Jacques Lacan Book XVII, 207.

4 Félix Guattari, “Everybody Wants to be a Fascist,” in Chaosophy, 159.

5 For more on Guattari’s work at La Borde, see Félix Guattari, “La Borde: a Clinic Unlike Any Other,” in Chaosophy, 176-194.

6 Julia Kristeva, Revolt, She Said, 22.

7 Further, the work questions whether the analytic concept of transference to the whole analyst-body (an individual transference) should not rather be thrown out and replaced with a notion of “plural transferences” to traits of the analyst using other prominent memory-figures only as indices or components in a much more complicated transference system. All in all, this is quite schizoanalytic, though the author does not appear to have read Anti-Oedipus. See Psychoanalysis Never Lets Go, 112. See also 127 on psychoticizing treatment, quite similar to—but not quite identical with—Deleuze and Guattari’s schizophrenization. For an example of a somewhat more orthodox (and reactionary) attempt at psychoanalytically treating schizophrenia, see Hyman Spotnitz, Modern Psychoanalysis of the Schizophrenic Patient, which encourages analysts to withhold interpretation, acting on their (doubtlessly Oedipal) countertransference so as to cling to and strengthen the (Oedipal) fragments of the patient’s ego they find. Still, the work does not directly (openly!) mention Oedipus at all.

8 Otto Fenichel, The Psychoanalytic Theory of Neurosis, 31-2.

9 Julia Kristeva, Revolt, She Said, 23.

10 François Roustang, Psychoanalysis Never Lets Go, 119.

11 Julia Kristeva, Revolt, She Said, 103.

12 “Without the flow of money, the Freudian myth could have no social impact in our society.” — François Roustang, Psychoanalysis Never Lets Go, 120.

13 Joel Kovel, however, does explore the transference and points out the very real power training analysts possess over their disciples. See Joel Kovel, The Age of Desire, 203-4. For both a discussion of Roustang’s Psychoanalysis Never Lets Go and a (friendly) comparison of Kovel’s The Age of Desire to Deleuze and Guattari’s Anti-Oedipus, see Douglas Kirsner, M.A., “The Other Psychoanalysis.”

14 Gilles Deleuze, “Three Group Problems,” 107.

15 Michael Schneider, Neurosis and Civilization, 98.

16 Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, Anti-Oedipus, 312.

17 Ibid, 313.

18 Ibid, 79.

19 Ibid, 81.

20 Ibid, 121.

21 Otto Fenichel, The Psychoanalytic Theory of Neurosis, 30.

22 Otto Fenichel, The Psychoanalytic Theory of Neurosis, 418.

23 Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, Anti-Oedipus, 166.

24 But not without issuing due praise (one may fondly recall the Communist Manifesto): “Just as Ricardo founds political or social economy by discovering quantitative labor as the principle of every representable value, Freud founds desiring-economy by discovering the quantitative libido as the principle of every representation of the objects and aims of desire. Freud discovers the subjective nature or abstract essence of desire, just as Ricardo discovers the subjective nature or abstract essence of labor, beyond all representations that would bind it to objects, to aims, or even to particular sources.” — Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, Anti-Oedipus, 299-300. About Keynes, they write: “One of Keynes’s contributions was the reintroduction of desire into the problem of money; it is this that must be subjected to the requirements of Marxist analysis. That is why it is unfortunate that Marxist economists too often dwell on considerations concerning the mode of production, and on the theory of money as the general equivalent as found in the first section of Capital, without attaching enough importance to banking practice, to financial operations, and to the specific circulation of credit money—which would be the meaning of a return to Marx, to the Marxist theory of money.” — Ibid, 230.

25 Ian Buchanan, Deleuze and Guattari’s Anti-Oedipus, 28.

26 “Producing is always something ‘grafted onto’ the product; and for that reason desiring- production is production of production, just as every machine is a machine connected to another machine.” — Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, Anti-Oedipus, 6.

27 Ian Buchanan, Deleuze and Guattari’s Anti-Oedipus, 28-9.

28 Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, Anti-Oedipus, 63.

29 Félix Guattari, “Beyond the Psychoanalytical Unconscious,” in Chaosophy, 200.

30 Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, Anti-Oedipus, 292-3.

31 Ibid, 26.

32 Ibid, 9.

33 Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, Anti-Oedipus, 35.

34 Ibid, 266.

35 Karl Marx, Capital Volume III, 319.

36 Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, Anti-Oedipus, 230.

37 Ibid, 314.

38 Ibid, 314.

39 Ibid, 277.

40 Ibid.

41 Ibid, 282. View full size image.

42 Ibid, 282. View full size image.

43 Ibid, 366.

44 Ibid, 366-7.

45 Ibid, 292.

46 Ibid, 335.

47 Félix Guattari, “Psychoanalysis and the Struggles of Desire,” in Molecular Revolutions, 72.

48 Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, Anti-Oedipus, 113.

49 Ibid, 119.

50 Ibid, 344-5.

51 Ibid, 346.

52 Ibid, 68.

53 Félix Guattari, “Desire and the SIgn,” in The Anti-Oedipus Papers, 48-9.

54 Félix Guattari, “Of Schizo-Analysis,” in The Anti-Oedipus Papers, 150.

55 Félix Guattari, “Psychoanalysis and the Struggles of Desire,” in Molecular Revolutions, 62.

56 Eugene W. Holland, Deleuze and Guattari’s Anti-Oedipus: Introduction to Schizoanalysis, 106.

57 Félix Guattari, “Psychoanalysis and the Struggles of Desire,” in Molecular Revolutions, 62.

58 Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, Anti-Oedipus, 67.

59 Ibid, 382.


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