Pit Schultz on Sun, 21 Apr 96 17:20 MDT

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nettime: D/G - Capitalism: A Very Special Delirium (2/2)

        Q: On the contrary, I think that the rising bourgoisie imagined and
prepared its revolution throughout the Enlightment. From its point of view,
it was a revolutionary class "to the bitter end", since it had shaken up the
*ancien regime* and swept into power. Whatever parallel movements took place
amomng the peasantry and in the suburbs, the bourgeois revolution is a
revolution made by the bopurgoiseie--the terms are hardly
distinguishable--and to judge it in the name of 19th or 20th centurey
socialist utopias introduces, by anachronism, a category that did not exist.
        GD: Here again, what you say fits a certain Marxist schema. At one
point in history, the bourgoisie was revolutionary, it was even
necessary--necessary to pass thorugh a stage of capitalism, through a
bourgois revolutionary stage. It'S a Stalinist point of view, but you can't
take that seriously. When a social formation exhausts itself, draining out
of every gap, all sorts of things decode themselves, all sorts of
uncontrolled flows start pouring out, like the peasant migrations in fudal
Europe, the phenomenona of "deterritorialization." The bourgoisie imposes a
new code, both economic and political, so that one can believe it was a
revolution. Not at all. Daniel Guerin has said some profound things about
the revolution of 1789. The bourgoisie never had illusions about who its
real enemy was. Its real enemy was not the previous system, but what escaped
the previous systems's control, and what the bourgoisie strove to master in
its turn. It too owed its power to the ruin of the old system, but this
power could only be exerciced insofar as it opposed everything else that was
in rebellion against the old system. The bourgoiseie has never been
revolutionary. It simply made sure others pulled of the revolution for it.
It manipulated, channeled, and repressed an enormous surge of popular
desire. The people were finally beaten down at Valmy. 

        Q: They were certainly beaten down at Verdun. 
    FG: Exactly. And that's what interests us. Where do these eruptions,
these uprisings, these enthusiasms come from that cannot be explained by a
social rationality and that are diverted, captured by the power at the
moment they are born? One cannot account for a revolutionary situation by a
simple analysis of the interests of the time. In 1903 the Russian Social
Democratic Party debated the alliances and organization of the proletariat,
and the role of the avant-garde. While pretending to prepare for the
revolution, it was suddenly shaken up by the events of 1095 and had to jump
on board a moving train. There was a crystallization of desire on board a
wide social scale created by a yet incomprehensible situation. Same thing in
1917. And there too, the politicians climbed on board a moving train,
finally getting control of it. Yet no revolutionary tendency was able or
willing to assume the need for a soviet-style organization that could permit
the masses to take real charge of their interests and their desire. Instead,
one put machines in circulation, so-called political organizations, that
functioned on the model elaborated by Dimitrov at the Seventh International
Congress--alternating between popular fronts and sectarian retractions--and
that always led to the same repressive results. We saw it in 1936, in 1945,
in 1968. By their very axiomatic, these mass machines refuse to liberate
revolutionary energy. It is, in an underhanded way, a politics comparable to
that of the  President of the Republic or of the clergy, but with red flag
in hand. And we think that this corresponds to a certain position vis-a-vis
desire, a profound way of envisioning the ego, the individual, the family.
This raises a simple dilemma: either one finds a new type of structure that
finally moves toward the fusion of collective desire and revolutionary
organization: or one continues on the present path and, going from
repression to repression, heads for a new fascism that makes Hitler and
Mussolini look like a joke. 
        Q: But then what is the nature of this profound, fundamental desire
which one sees as beeing constitutive of man and social man, but which is
constantly betrayed? Why does it always invest itself in antinomic machines
of the dominant machine, and yet remain so similar to it? Could this mean
that desire is condemned to a pure explosion without consequence or to
perpetual betrayal? I have to insist: can there ever be, one fine day in
history, a collective and during expression of liberated desire, and how?

        GD: If one knew, one wouldn't talk about it, one would do it.
Anyway, Felx just said it: revolutionary organization must be that of the
war machine and not of state apparatus, of an analyzer of desire and not an
external systhesis. In every social system, there have always been lines of
escape, and then also a rigidification to block off escape, or certainly
(which is not the same thing) embryonic apparatuses that integrate them,
that deflect or arrest them in a new system in preparation. The crusades
should be analysed from this point of view. But in every respect, capitalism
has a very particular character: its lines of escape are not just
difficulties that arise, they are the conditions of its own operation. it is
constituted by a generalized decoding of all flux, fluctuations of wealth,
fluctuations of language, fluctuations of art, etc. It did not create any
code, it has set up a sort of accountability, an axiomatic of decoded fluxes
as the basis of its economy. It ligatures the points of escape and leaps
itself having to seal new leaks at every limit. It doesn't resolve any of
its fundamental problems, it can't even forsee the monetary increase in a
country over a single year. It never stops crossing its own limits which
keep reapperaing farther away. It puts itself in alarming situations with
respect to its won production, its social life, its demographics, its
borders with the Third World, its internal regions, etc. Its gaps are
everwhere, forever giving rise to the displaced limits of capitalism. And
doubtless, the revolutionary way out (the active escape of which Jackson
spoke when he said: " I don't stop running, but while running, I look for
weapons") is not at all the same thing as other kinds of esacpe, the
schizo-escape, the drug-escape. But it is certainly the problem of the
marginalized: to plug all these lines of escape into a revolutionary
plateau. In capitalism, then, these lines of escape take on a new character,
a new type of revolutionary potential. You see, there is hope. 

        Q: You spoke just now of the crusades. For you, this is one of the
first manifestations of collective shizohrenia in the West. 

        FG: This was, in fact, an extraordinary schizophrenic movement.
Basically, in an already schismatic and troubled world, thousands and
thousands of people got fed up with the life they led, makeshift preachers
rose up, people deserted entire villages. It's only later that the shocked
papacy tried to give direction to the movement by leading it off to the Holy
Land. A double advantage: to be rid of errant bands and to reinforce
Christian outposts in the Near East thretened by the Turks. This didn't
always work: the Venetian Crusade wound up in Constantinople, the Childrens
Crusade veered off toward the South of France and very quickly lost all
sympathy: there were entire villages taken and burned by these "crosses"
children, who the regular armies finally had to round up. They were killed
or sold into slavery.

        Q: Can one find parallels with contemporary movements: communities
and by-roads to escape the factory and the office? NAd would there be any
pope to co-opt them? A Jesus Revolution?

        FG: A recuperation by Christianity is not inconceivable. It is, up
to a certain point, a reality in the United States, but much less so in
Europe or in France. But there is already a latent return to it in the form
of a Naturist tendency, the idea that one can retire from production and
reconstruct a little society at a remove, as if one were not branded and
hemmed in by the capitalist system. 

        Q: What role can still be attributed to the church in a country like
ours? The church was at the center of power in Western civilization until
the 18th Century, the bond and structure of the social machine until the
emergence of the nation-state. Today, deproved by the technocracy of this
essential function, it seems to have gone adrift, without a point of
anchorage, and to have split up. One can only wonder if the church,
pressured by the currents of Catholic progressivism, might not become less
confessional than certain political organizations.

        FG: And ecumenism? In't it a way of falling back on one's feet? THe
church has never been stronger. There us bi reasiob ti oppose church and
technocracy, there is a technocracy of the church. Historically,
Christianity and positivism have always been good partners. The development
of positive sciences has a Christian motor. One cannot say that the
psychiatrist has replaced the priest. Nor can one say the cop has replaced
the priest. There is always a use for everyone in repression. What has aged
about Christianity is its ideology, not its organization of power. 

        Q: Let's get to this other aspect of yopur book: the critique of
psychiatry. Can one say that France is already covered by the psychiatry of
*Sectuer*--and how far does this influence spread?

        FG: The structure of psychiatric hospitals essentially depends on
the state and the psychiatrists are mere functionaries. For a long time the
state was content to practice a politics of coercion and didn't do anything
for almost a century. One had to wait fot the Liberation for any signs of
anxiety to appear: the first psychiatric revolution, the opening of the
hospitals, the free services, instituional psychotherapy. All that has led
to the great utopian politics of "Sectorization," which consisted in
limiting the number of internments and of sending teams of psychiatrists out
into the population like missionaries in the bush. Due to lack of credit and
will, the reform got bogged down: a few model services for official visits,
and here or there a hospital in the most underdeveloped regions. We are now
moving toward a major crisis, comparable in size to the university crisis, a
disaster at all levels: facilities, training of personnel, therapy, etc. 
        The instituional charting of childhood is, on the contrary,
undertaken with better results. In this case, the initiative has escaped the
state framework and its financing to return to all sorts of
associations--childhood protection or parental associations.... The
establishments have proliferated, subsidized by Social Security. The child
is immediately taken charge of by a network of psychologists, tagged at the
age of three, and followed for life. One can expect to see solutions of this
type for adult psychiatry. In the face of the present impasse, the state
will try to de-nationalize institutions in favor of other institutions ruled
by the law of 1901 and most certainly manipulated by political powers and
reactionary family groups. We are moving toward a psychiatric surveillance
of France, if the present scrises fail to liberate its revolutionary
potentialities. Everywhere, the most conservative ideology is in bloom, a
flat transposition of the concepts of Oedipalism. In the childrens's wards,
one calls the director "uncle," the nurse, "mother." I have even heard
distinctions like the following: group games obey a maternal principle, the
workshops, a paternal one. The psychiatry of *Secteur* semms progressive
because it opens the hospital. But if this means imposing a grid over the
neighborhood, we will soon regret the loss of the closed asylums of
yesterday. It's like psychoanalysis, it functions openly, so it is all the
worse, much more dangerous as a repressive force.

        GD: Here's a case. A woman arrives at a consultation. She explains
that she takes tranquilizers. She asks for a glass of water. Then she
speaks: "You understand I have a certain amount of culture. I have studied,
i love to read, and there you have it. Now I spend all my time crying. I
can't bear the subway. And the minute I read something, I start to cry. I
watch television; I see images of Vietnam: I can't stand it ..." The doctor
doesn't say much. The woman continues: "I was in the Resistance... a bit. I
was a go-between." The doctor asks her to explain. "Well, yes, don't you
understand, doctor? I went to a cafe and I asked, for example, is there
something for Rene?" I would be given a letter to pass on." The doctor hears
"Rene"; he wakes up: "Why do you say "Rene"? It's the first time he asks a
question. Up to that point, she was speaking about the metro, Hiroshima,
Vietnam, of the effect all that had on her body, the need to cry about it.
But the doctor only asks: "Wait, wait, 'Rene' ... what dies 'Rene' mean to
you?" Rene--someone who is reborn [re-n'e]? The Renaissance, this fits into
a universal schema, the archetype: "You want to be reborn." The doctor gets
his bearings: at last he's on track. And he gets her to talk about her
mother and her father. 
        It's an essential aspect of our book, and it's very concrete. The
psychiatrists and psychoanalysts have never paid any attentiaon to delirium.
It'S enough just to listen to someone who is delirious: it's the Russians
that worry him, the Chinese; my mouth is dry; somebody buggered me in the
metro; there are germs and spermatozoa swimming everywhere; it's Franco's
fault, the Jews, the Maoists: all a delirium of the social field. Why
shouldn't this concern the sexuality of the subject--the relations it has
with the Chinese, the whites, the blacks? Whith civilization, the crusades,
the metro? Psychiatrists and psychoanalysts hear nothing of this, on the
defensive as much as they are indefensible. They crush the contents of the
unsoncious under prefab statements: "You speak to me of the Chinese, but
what about your father? No, he isn't Chinese? THen , do you have a Chinese
lover?" It's atz the same level of repressive work as the judge in the
Angela Davis case who affirmed: "Her behavior can only be explained by her
beeing in love." ANd what if, on the contrary, Angela Davis's libido was a
social, revolutionary libido? What if she were in love because she was a
        That is what we want to say to psychiatrists and psychoanalysts:
yopu don't know what delirium is; you haven't understood anything. If our
bnook has a meaning, it is that we have reached a stage where many people
feel the psychoanalytif machine no longer works, where a whole generation is
getting fed up with all-purpose schemas--oedipus and castration, imaginary
and symbolic--which systematically efface the social, political, and
cultural contents of any psychic disturbance.

        Q: You associate schizophrenia with capitalism; it is the very
foundation of your book. Are there cases of schizophrenia in other societies?

        FG: Schizophrenia is indissocialble from the capitalist system,
itself conceived as primary leakage (fuite): and exclusive malady. In other
societies, escape and marginalization take on other aspects. The asocial
individual of so-called primitive societies is not locked up. The prison and
the asylum are resent notions. One chases him, he is exiled at the edge of
the village and dies of it, unless he is integrated to a neighboring
village. Besides, each system has its paricular sickness: the hysteric of
so-called primitive societies, the manic-depressive paranoiacs of the great
empires... The capitalist economy preoceeds by decoding and
de-territorialization: it has its exterme cases, i.e., schzophrenics who
decode and de-territorialize themselves to the limit; but also it has its
extreme consequences--revolutionaries.

                                        Translated by David L. Sweet


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