Zizek and his lack of ‘a people’

A helpful link to Zizek’s short comment on so-called ‘spontaneous self-organization’ is available at http://knowledge-ecology.com/2013/06/11/this-splendid-rant-from-slavoj-zizek/

There, the connection between ‘spontaneous self-organization and absolute deterritorialization cannot be missed. Hence, my short observation on Zizek’s salient criticism of Deleuze and Guattari.

I think this is one of the rare moments of Zizek where he truly sounds Marxist though he would wish his expressions be understood in a strictly Hegelo-Lacanian dialectics. In other words, just another misfire yet I would credit him for his criticism of spontaneous self-organization that takes the state as anathema to human freedom and autonomy. But contrary to his claim, Deleuze and Guattari, the salient targets of his critique, also allow for a certain openness to be reterritorialized by the state if only to check the tendency of abstract machines to “rival the Body without organs” at the risk of plunging into black holes, empty spaces into which voidal machines are falling in a manner that is totally blind to the lure of entropy. Deleuze and Guattari are faithful to the Marxist orientation in this sense–both submit to the necessity to reinvent the state, to protect the strata as a plane of composition in the same manner a fisherman would protect the shore. When Deleuze and Guattari argue in favor of spontaneous self-organization, we must not miss the context of their support for absolute deterritorialization, that is to say, the context within which an absolute positive form of human autonomy can be practiced. Before we identify this context let us factor in Deleuze and Guattari’s concept of absolutely but positive deterritorialized abstract machines (or a people capable of spontaneous self-organization): “There is no subject of becoming except as a deterritorialized variable of a majority; there is no medium of becoming except as a deterritorialized variable of a minority” (Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, 292). 
Apropos the passage quoted above we might as well ask: what are the conditions for abstract machines to exercise positive deterritorialization vis-à-vis the problematic of engaging the majority as well as the minority (which could well be a weak variant of a majority)? The answer may be simple–there is a stratum as a generic plane of composition that allows for any kind of deterritorialization. But the strata are not independent of historical and social productions inasmuch as no deterritorialization is possible without an already or pre-existing state of production which can dominate the mode of production of a given strata. This is the case of how real capitalism emerged from a state of inadequation between relations of production and forces of production concerning how it provided capitalism with a paradigm shift. A pre-existing mode of historical and social production no longer sufficed for real capitalism–it has to subvert an old mode of labor production premised on reproducing labor-subjectivity (the subjection of labor to mere subsistence) as this subjectivity was structurally resistant to capitalism. Capitalism has to rely on a new mode of technology that can produce a new labor subjectivity, one that also allows for expressions of autonomy but strictly within a given sphere of production. This sphere of production is real capitalism itself that nonetheless digs its own grave precisely because the autonomous expression of labor is given a rare and real opportunity to subvert the sphere itself, real in the sense of the intensity of the conjugation of forces never been seen before in history. Such forms the background of the Communist Manifesto’s battle cry: “Workers of the world unite… You have nothing to lose but your chains.” The workers are the new abstract machines, a new people–deterritorialized from both the old but majority mode of production of subjectivity and the still obscure minority that is prone to homogenization by the stata. As a counter-hegemonic people, Marx knows that the workers as abstract machines are neither majority nor minority, but these machines are certainly a critical life-force of transformation yet as such exist nowhere on an existing plane of composition except as liminal subjects. They even ceased as workers in the strict sense of labor subjectivity as the new subjectivity is in principle opposed to already existing planes of composition. But eventually Marx, in his vision of a communist state, would settle for a strata reterritorialized by a formerly resistant but now triumphant subjectivity, the subjectivity of the abstract machines. As the abstract machines previously allowed for certain reterritorialization (which indicates that states or strata must themselves be protected from “demented or suicidal collapse”), even compromises with homogenizations (a case of negotiating with the contingencies of power), their eventual recourse to reterritorializing a plane of composition is no less based on the power of abstract machines to create a mythic plane of composition that has to be imagined in the sense that it can be justified as true, true in the sense that its origin is also to be justified as real, but real in the sense that it is intensively virtual. That is how a people justify their existence from liminality to an intensive desiring machine.
Certainly, as myth works behind this new constitution of a people, charismatic figures help to enact a plane of composition that is, to use Deleuze’s concept, already a second origin. I commend Zizek for rallying around the figure of Chavez, but Zizek missed the whole point. His obsession with individual figures is certainly a throwback of psychoanalysis that relies on tracing of subjects and not collectivities. It was not Chavez but the intensive spirit (recreated by a people across time, across consistent deterritorializing patterns aware of the danger of negativism, of plunging into chaos) of Simon Bolivar, himself a mythic figure of the unification of the Americas, reterritorialized by a people from the reterritorializing machine of states. (Thus, we can see here a battle of reterritorialisations of space). But charismatic figures are not the efficient causality that can win a revolution. Yes, we need to rally around them, certainly because we need to exercise fidelity (in Badiou’s beautiful formulation) to our choice as a people, our choice to pursue a second birth, perhaps, to generate a new conception of human, of god, of justice and redemption–that is to say, in the pure immanent sense. As I put it elsewhere, it is ‘a people’ that produces work from out of conjugation of forces, forces being the potential to perform a metamorphosis.
Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s