Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia (French: Capitalisme et schizophrénie. L'anti-Œdipe) is a 1972 book by French authors Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, respectively a philosopher and a psychoanalyst. It is the first volume of Capitalism and Schizophrenia, the second being A Thousand Plateaus (1980).
Deleuze and Guattari analyse the relationship of desire to reality and to capitalist society in particular; they address human psychology, economics, society, and history. They outline a "materialist psychiatry" modeled on the unconscious in its relationship with society and its productive processes, introduce the concept of "desiring-production" (which inter-relates "desiring machines" and a "body without organs"), offer a critique of Sigmund Freud's psychoanalysis that focuses on its theory of the Oedipus complex, and re-write Karl Marx's materialist account of the history of society's modes of production as a development through "primitive," "despotic," and "capitalist" societies, and detail their different organisations of production, "inscription" (which corresponds to Marx's "distribution" and "exchange"), and consumption. Additionally, they develop a critical practice that they call "schizoanalysis."
Other thinkers the authors draw on and criticize include Baruch Spinoza, Immanuel Kant, Charles Fourier, Charles Sanders Peirce, Carl Jung, Melanie Klein, Karl Jaspers, Lewis Mumford, Karl August Wittfogel, Wilhelm Reich, Georges Bataille, Louis Hjelmslev, Jacques Lacan, Gregory Bateson, Pierre Klossowski, Claude Lévi-Strauss, Jacques Monod, Louis Althusser, Victor Turner, Jean Oury, Jean-François Lyotard, Michel Foucault, R. D. Laing, David Cooper, and Pierre Clastres. They also draw on creative writers and artists such as Antonin Artaud, Samuel Beckett, Georg Büchner, Samuel Butler, Franz Kafka, Jack Kerouac, Heinrich von Kleist, D. H. Lawrence, Henry Miller, Marcel Proust, Daniel Paul Schreber, and J. M. W. Turner. Friedrich Nietzsche is also an influence; Anti-Oedipus has been seen as a sequel to his The Antichrist. Anti-Oedipus became a publishing sensation and a celebrated work; it has been compared to Lyotard's Libidinal Economy (1974), which, like it, is seen as a key text in the micropolitics of desire. Anti-Oedipus has been praised, and credited with having devastated the French Lacanian movement, although "schizoanalysis" has been regarded as flawed for multiple reasons, including the emancipatory claims Deleuze and Guattari make for schizophrenia.
Deleuze and Guattari's "schizoanalysis" is a militant social and political analysis that responds to what they see as the reactionary tendencies of psychoanalysis. It proposes a functional evaluation of the direct investments of desire—whether revolutionary or reactionary—in a field that is social, biological, historical, and geographical.
Deleuze and Guattari develop four theses of schizoanalysis:
- Every unconscious libidinal investment is social and bears upon a socio-historical field.
- Unconscious libidinal investments of group or desire are distinct from preconscious investments of class or interest.
- Non-familial libidinal investments of the social field are primary in relation to familial investments.
- Social libidinal investments are distinguished according to two poles: a paranoiac, reactionary, fascisizing pole and a schizoid revolutionary pole.
In contrast to the psychoanalytic conception, schizoanalysis assumes that the libido does not need to be de-sexualised, sublimated, or to go by way of metamorphoses in order to invest economic or political factors. "The truth is," Deleuze and Guattari explain, "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. [...] Flags, nations, armies, banks get a lot of people aroused." In the terms of classical Marxism, desire is part of the economic, infrastructural "base" of society, they argue, not an ideological, subjective "superstructure."
Unconscious libidinal investments of desire coexist without necessarily coinciding with preconscious investments made according to the needs or ideological interests of the subject (individual or collective) who desires.
A form of social production and reproduction, along with its economic and financial mechanisms, its political formations, and so on, can be desired as such, in whole or in part, independently of the interests of the desiring-subject. It was not by means of a metaphor, even a paternal metaphor, that Hitler was able to sexually arouse the fascists. It is not by means of a metaphor that a banking or stock-market transaction, a claim, a coupon, a credit, is able to arouse people who are not necessarily bankers. And what about the effects of money that grows, money that produces more money? There are socioeconomic "complexes" that are also veritable complexes of the unconscious, and that communicate a voluptuous wave from the top to the bottom of their hierarchy (the military–industrial complex). And ideology, Oedipus, and the phallus have nothing to do with this, because they depend on it rather than being its impetus.
Schizoanalysis seeks to show how "in the subject who desires, desire can be made to desire its own repression—whence the role of the death instinct in the circuit connecting desire to the social sphere." Desire produces "even the most repressive and the most deadly forms of social reproduction."
Desiring machines and social production
The traditional understanding of desire assumes an exclusive distinction between "production" and "acquisition." This line of thought—which has dominated Western philosophy throughout its history and stretches from Plato to Freud and Lacan—understands desire through the concept of acquisition, insofar as desire seeks to acquire something that it lacks. This dominant conception, Deleuze and Guattari argue, is a form of philosophical idealism. Alternative conceptions, which treat desire as a positive, productive force, have received far less attention; the ideas of the small number of philosophers who have developed them, however, are of crucial importance to Deleuze and Guattari's project: principally Nietzsche's will to power and Spinoza's conatus.
Deleuze and Guattari argue that desire is a positive process of production that produces reality. On the basis of three "passive syntheses" (partly modelled on Kant's syntheses of apperception from his Critique of Pure Reason), desire engineers "partial objects, flows, and bodies" in the service of the autopoiesis of the unconscious. In this model, desire does not "lack" its object; instead, desire "is a machine, and the object of desire is another machine connected to it." On this basis, Deleuze and Guattari develop their notion of desiring-production. Since desire produces reality, social production, with its forces and relations, is "purely and simply desiring-production itself under determinate conditions."
Like their contemporary, R. D. Laing, and like Reich before them, Deleuze and Guattari make a connection between psychological repression and social oppression. By means of their concept of desiring-production, however, their manner of doing so is radically different. They describe a universe composed of desiring-machines, all of which are connected to one another: "There are no desiring-machines that exist outside the social machines that they form on a large scale; and no social machines without the desiring machines that inhabit them on a small scale." When they insist that a social field may be invested by desire directly, they oppose Freud's concept of sublimation, which posits an inherent dualism between desiring-machines and social production. This dualism, they argue, limited and trapped the revolutionary potential of the theories of Laing and Reich. Deleuze and Guattari develop a critique of Freud and Lacan's psychoanalysis, anti-psychiatry, and Freudo-Marxism (with its insistence on a necessary mediation between the two realms of desire and the social).
Deleuze and Guattari's concept of sexuality is not limited to the interaction of male and female gender roles, but instead posits a multiplicity of flows that a "hundred thousand" desiring-machines create within their connected universe; Deleuze and Guattari contrast this "non-human, molecular sexuality" to "molar" binary sexuality: "making love is not just becoming as one, or even two, but becoming as a hundred thousand," they write, adding that "we always make love with worlds."
The "anti-" part of their critique of the Freudian Oedipal complex begins with that original model's articulation of society based on the family triangle of father, mother and child. Criticizing psychoanalysis "familialism", they want to show that the oedipal model of the family is a kind of organization that must colonize its members, repress their desires, and give them complexes if it is to function as an organizing principle of society. Instead of conceiving the "family" as a sphere contained by a larger "social" sphere, and giving a logical preeminence to the family triangle, Deleuze and Guattari argue that the family should be opened onto the social, as in Bergson's conception of the Open, and that underneath the pseudo-opposition between family (composed of personal subjects) and social, lies the relationship between pre-individual desire and social production.
Furthermore, they argue that schizophrenia is an extreme mental state co-existent with the capitalist system itself and capitalism keeps enforcing neurosis as a way of maintaining normality. However, they oppose a non-clinical concept of "schizophrenia" as deterritorialization to the clinical end-result "schizophrenic" (i.e. they do not intend to romanticize "mental disorders"; instead, they show, like Foucault, that "psychiatric disorders" are always second to something else).
Deleuze and Guattari develop their concept of the "body without organs" (often rendered as BwO). Since desire can take on as many forms as there are persons to implement it, it must seek new channels and different combinations to realize itself, forming a BwO for every instance. Desire is not limited to the affections of a subject.
Deleuze and Guattari address the case of Gérard Mendel, Bela Grunberger and Janine Chasseguet-Smirgel, who were prominent members of the most respected psychoanalytic association (the International Psychoanalytical Association). They argue that this case demonstrates that psychoanalysis enthusiastically embraces a police state:
As to those who refuse to be oedipalized in one form or another, at one end or the other in the treatment, the psychoanalyst is there to call the asylum or the police for help. The police on our side!—never did psychoanalysis better display its taste for supporting the movement of social repression, and for participating in it with enthusiasm. [...] notice of the dominant tone in the most respected associations: consider Dr. Mendel and the Drs Stéphane, the state of fury that is theirs, and their literally police-like appeal at the thought that someone might try to escape the Oedipal dragnet. Oedipus is one of those things that becomes all the more dangerous the less people believe in it; then the cops are there to replace the high priests.
Bela Grunberger and Janine Chasseguet-Smirgel were two psychoanalysts from the Paris section of the International Psychoanalytical Association. In November 1968 they disguised themselves under the pseudonym André Stéphane and published L’univers Contestationnaire, in which they argued that the left-wing rioters of May 68 were totalitarian stalinists, and proceeded to psychoanalyze them as suffering from a sordid infantilism caught up in an Oedipal revolt against the Father. Jacques Lacan regarded Grunberger and Chasseguet-Smirgel's book with great disdain; while they were still disguised under the pseudonym, Lacan remarked that he was certain that neither author belonged to his school, as none would abase themselves to such low drivel. The IPa analysts responded with an accusation against the Lacan school of "intellectual terrorism." Gérard Mendel published La révolte contre le père (1968) and Pour décoloniser l’enfant (1971).
Deleuze and Guattari address a fundamental problem of political philosophy: the contradictory phenomenon whereby an individual or a group comes to desire their own oppression. This contradiction had been mentioned briefly by the 17th-century philosopher Spinoza: "Why do men fight for their servitude as stubbornly as though it were their salvation?" That is, how is it possible that people cry for "More taxes! Less bread!"? Wilhelm Reich discussed the phenomenon in his 1933 book The Mass Psychology of Fascism:
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?"
To address this question, Deleuze and Guattari examine the relationships between social organisation, power, and desire, particularly in relation to the Freudian "Oedipus complex" and its familial mechanisms of subjectivation ("daddy-mommy-me"). They argue that the nuclear family is the most powerful agent of psychological repression, under which the desires of the child and the adolescent are repressed and perverted. Such psychological repression forms docile individuals that are easy targets for social repression. By using this powerful mechanism, the dominant class, "making cuts (coupures) and segregations pass over into a social field", can ultimately control individuals or groups, ensuring general submission. This explains the contradictory phenomenon in which people "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". Deleuze and Guattari's critique of these mechanisms seeks to promote a revolutionary liberation of desire:
If desire is repressed, it is because every position of desire, no matter how small, is capable of calling into question the established order of a society: not that desire is asocial, on the contrary. But it is explosive; there is no desiring-machine capable of being assembled without demolishing entire social sectors. Despite what some revolutionaries think about this, desire is revolutionary in its essence — desire, not left-wing holidays! — and no society can tolerate a position of real desire without its structures of exploitation, servitude, and hierarchy being compromised.
The family is the agent to which capitalist production delegates the psychological repression of the desires of the child. Psychological repression is distinguished from social oppression insofar as it works unconsciously. Through it, Deleuze and Guattari argue, parents transmit their angst and irrational fears to their child and bind the child's sexual desires to feelings of shame and guilt.
Psychological repression is strongly linked with social oppression, which levers on it. It is thanks to psychological repression that individuals are transformed into docile servants of social repression who come to desire self-repression and who accept a miserable life as employees for capitalism. A capitalist society needs a powerful tool to counteract the explosive force of desire, which has the potential to threaten its structures of exploitation, servitude, and hierarchy; the nuclear family is precisely the powerful tool able to counteract those forces.
The action of the family not only performs a psychological repression of desire, but it disfigures it, giving rise to a consequent neurotic desire, the perversion of incestuous drives and desiring self-repression. The Oedipus complex arises from 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."
Although (like most Deleuzo-Guattarian terms) deterritorialization has a purposeful variance in meaning throughout their oeuvre, it can be roughly described as a move away from a rigidly imposed hierarchical, arborescent context, which seeks to package things (concepts, objects, etc.) into discrete categorised units with singular coded meanings or identities, towards a rhizomatic zone of multiplicity and fluctuant identity, where meanings and operations flow freely between said things, resulting in a dynamic, constantly changing set of interconnected entities with fuzzy individual boundaries.
Importantly, the concept implies a continuum, not a simple binary - every actual assemblage (a flexible term alluding to the heterogeneous composition of any complex system, individual, social, geological) is marked by simultaneous movements of territorialization (maintenance) and of deterritorialization (dissipation).
Various means of deterritorializing are alluded to by the authors in their chapter "How to Make Yourself A Body Without Organs" in A Thousand Plateaus, including psychoactives such as peyote. Experientially, the effects of such substances can include a loosening (relative deterritorialization) of the worldview of the user (i.e. his/her beliefs, models, etc.), subsequently leading to an antiredeterritorialization (remapping of beliefs, models, etc.) that is not necessarily identical to the prior territory.
Deterritorialization is closely related to Deleuzo-Guattarian concepts such as line of flight, destratification and the body without organs/BwO (a term borrowed from Artaud), and is sometimes defined in such a way as to be partly interchangeable with these terms (most specifically in the second part of Capitalism and Schizophrenia, A Thousand Plateaus).
The authors posit that dramatic reterritorialization often follows relative deterritorialization, while absolute deterritorialization is just that... absolute deterritorialization without any reterritorialization.
During the course of their argument, Deleuze and Guattari borrow a number of concepts from different scientific fields. To describe the process of desire, they draw on fluid dynamics, the branch of physics that studies how a fluid flows through space. They describe society in terms of forces acting in a vector field. They also relate processes of their "body without organs" to the embryology of an egg, from which they borrow the concept of an inductor.
Philosopher Michel Foucault, in his preface to Anti-Oedipus, writes that the book can best be read as an "art", in the sense that is conveyed by the term "erotic art." Foucault sees the three "adversaries" of Anti-Oedipus as being the "bureaucrats of the revolution", the "poor technicians of desire" (psychoanalysts and semiologists), and fascism, which Foucault calls "the major enemy". Foucault uses the term "fascism" to refer "not only historical fascism, the fascism of Hitler and Mussolini...but also the fascism in us all, in our heads and in our everyday behavior, the fascism that causes us to love power, to desire the very thing that dominates and exploits us." Foucault adds that Anti-Oedipus is "a book of ethics, the first book of ethics to be written in France in quite a long time", and that this perhaps its popular success. Foucault suggests that the book could be called Introduction to the Non-Fascist Life. Foucault argues that putting the principles espoused in Anti-Oedipus into practice involves freeing political action from "unitary and totalizing paranoia" and withdrawing allegiance "from the old categories of the Negative (law, limit, castration, lack, lacuna), which western thought has so long held sacred as a form of power and an access to reality." Psychiatrist David Cooper calls Anti-Oedipus, "a magnificent vision of madness as a revolutionary force", crediting its authors with using "the psychoanalytic language and the discourse of Saussure (and his successors), linguistics against itself in what is already proving to be an historic act of depassment." Literary critic Frederick Crews writes that when Deleuze and Guattari "indicted Lacanian psychoanalysis as a capitalist disorder" and "pilloried analysts as the most sinister priest-manipulators of a psychotic society" in Anti-Oedipus, their "demonstration was widely regarded as unanswerable" and "devastated the already shrinking Lacanian camp in Paris."
Philosopher Douglas Kellner describes Anti-Oedipus as its era's publishing sensation, and, along with Jean-François Lyotard's Libidinal Economy (1974), a key text in "the micropolitics of desire." Psychoanalyst Joel Kovel credits Deleuze and Guattari with providing a definitive challenge to the mystique of the family, but objects that they did so in the spirit of nihilism, commenting, "Immersion in their world of 'schizoculture' and desiring machines is enough to make a person yearn for the secure madness of the nuclear family." Anthony Elliott writes that Anti-Oedipus is a "celebrated" work that "scandalized French psychoanalysis and generated heated dispute among intellectuals" and "offered a timely critique of psychoanalysis and Lacanianism at the time of its publication in France." However, Elliott adds that most commentators would now agree that "schizoanalysis" is fatally flawed, and that there are several major objections that can be made against Anti-Oedipus. In Elliott's view, even if "subjectivity may be usefully decentred and deconstructed", it is wrong to assume that "desire is naturally rebellious and subversive." He believes Deleuze and Guattari see the individual as "no more than various organs, intensities and flows, rather than a complex, contradictory identity" and make false emancipatory claims for schizophrenia. Elliott also argues that Deleuze and Guattari's work produces difficulties for the interpretation of contemporary culture, because of their "rejection of institutionality as such", which obscures the difference between liberal democracy and fascism and leaves Deleuze and Guattari with "little more than a romantic, idealized fantasy of the 'schizoid hero'". Elliott writes that Anti-Oedipus follows a similar theoretical direction to Lyotard's Libidinal Economy, though he sees several significant differences between Deleuze and Guattari on the one hand and Lyotard on the other.
Some of Guattari's diary entries, correspondence with Deleuze, and notes on the development of the book were published posthumously as The Anti-Oedipus Papers (2004).
Philosopher Mikkel Borch-Jacobsen and psychologist Sonu Shamdasani write that rather than having their confidence shaken by the "provocations and magnificent rhetorical violence" of Anti-Oedipus, the psychoanalytic profession felt that the debates raised by the book legitimated their discipline.