What Kind of Politics Is This Anyway? Jamming, 17/05/2018

Yesterday, there was no energy at the end of a long – but very pleasant – day for me to blog. Right now, I have barely any energy left, but I want to throw a short reflection together.

I wrote earlier this week about one of the limitations of Paul Patton’s book Deleuzian Concepts – It’s too securely rooted in the academicians’ sub-discipline of ‘Deleuze Studies,’ so he doesn’t explore the most interesting directions that come from what he finds in Deleuze’s work.

He’s writing mostly for an audience of academics who specialize on writing secondary material on Gilles Deleuze’s books and life.

What the conservative disciplines of philosophy call "Continental" is
just the stuff that they reject for challenging their own ways of
thinking too much. If John Searle couldn't understand what Derrida
was on about
, we should just dismiss what any of their contemporaries
had to say. Because John Searle is such an admirable guy.
There’s another, wider audience he’s talking to. Unfortunately, it isn’t a wide enough audience to reach that most interesting path of thinking either. There’s a part as well where Patton talks about political theorists throughout North America.

His argument – which did apply quite broadly – was that Deleuze and Guattari should be read as political philosophers. Their major run of joint works were fundamentally political – from the long sections of Anti-Œdipus that were explicitly an analysis of capitalism and statism as a political-economic processes.

And so on for all the other works they made together. Kafka: A Minor Literature was about a mode of cultural resistance to a hostile and racializing mainstream. I feel like calling it multi-vector creole resistance. A Thousand Plateaus contained several different analyses of different dynamics of stability and chaos rooted in human life – psychological, political, economic, cultural, ethical. And beyond.

All of it deals with issues of progressive politics that are quite mainstream now. But in the academy, they aren’t considered political theorists at all. Patton doesn’t say it, but he means that they’re still called “Continental.”

But all the designation really means is that Deleuze and Guattari are rejected by departments across North America because they don’t speak the typical language of liberal philosophy. They don’t talk about rights, principles, and universality.

They come up with entirely different language to talk about things that are much more important for how societies actually work at all. They talk about the material dynamics among institutions and forces that destabilize – maybe it’s a better description to say “deterritorialized” – human societies. Among other things, but that’s a major focus. That’s inherently political – and yet they aren’t political theorists.

So Patton effectively calls out the mainstream of North American philosophy departments. But he does it without saying so. Because no one will read a call-out. A call-out is – from the perspective of the called-out in our university faculty – ‘terribly rude,’ ‘an unnecessary hostility,’ ‘a crude polemic.’

So you trick them. Explain the true nature of Deleuze and Guattari’s ideas in words they’ll understand. Simple language. Basically, it’s just, “Guys, they’re just not liberals, okay?”

I mean, it doesn’t go so far to say that this is a better philosophy than liberalism. Maybe I’ll write about that part tomorrow. Or on the weekend.

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