The Utopian Dimension of Thought in Deleuze and Guattari (Part IV: Utopian Theory) (Gilles Deleuze, Pierre Felix Guattari‪)‬

Arena Journal 2006, Annual, 25-26

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It is no small irony that two of the most remarkable recent renewals of utopian thinking would find inspiration in a version of universal history--the one propounded by Deleuze and Guattari in their first collaboration, Anti-Oedipus--that explicitly eschews any utopian program of its own. (1) 'Schizoanalysis as such,' Deleuze and Guattari insist, 'has no political program to propose'. (2) This is so because in their view it is illegitimate to assign the deterritorializing movement of history any goal whatsoever: the principle of hope in history is 'completing the process [of deterritorialization] and not arresting it, [neither by] making it turn about in the void, [nor by] assigning it a goal'. (3) How could such an apparently anti-utopian perspective have inspired such differing utopian visions as those of Hardt and Negri in Empire and of Edouard Glissant in Traite du Tout-Monde? Perhaps the greater irony, however, is that the more familiar and developed of these two utopian visions--that of Hardt and Negri--is at odds with what Deleuze and Guattari do say about utopianism as a mode of thought in their last collaboration, What is Philosophy? A comparison of Hardt and Negri with Deleuze and Guattari will reveal what is distinctive about the latters' conception and practice of utopian thought, especially in contrast with the perspective of that other great utopian marxist of the 20th century, Ernst Bloch. An important point of departure is the distinction between what can be called 'utopianism as a process' and utopia as a fixed 'product': that is, the various utopianisms under consideration here all involve not the elaboration of an ideal blueprint for a perfect society (such as those of Thomas More, Charles Fourier, et al.), but rather the identification of real historical forces or trends that are judged likely to ameliorate rather than aggravate the human condition. (4) This important distinction finds strong confirmation and something in the way of a historical explanation in Deleuze and Guattari's reflections on the relation between the utopian dimension of thought and what in Anti-Oedipus they call universal history. I

Religion & Spirituality
January 1
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