Conference Agenda

D&G and Politics I
Monday, 05/July/2021:
11:00am - 12:30pm

Session Chair: Daniel Swain
Session Topics:
D&G and politics

11:00am - 11:30am

Towards a time-oriented ontology of class: applications of Deleuze-Guattarian political theory to peripheral middle classes

Alexandru-Vasile Sava

Babeș Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania

In the following paper, I will outline a Deleuze-Guattarian approach to Marx’s concept of class, which I will apply to the theoretical and practical issues surrounding the middle classes in peripheral countries (focusing on East-Central Europe). This approach introduces elements of other conceptual treatments of time (Bergsonian, Whiteheadian, Deleuzian) to that of Marx, laying the groundwork for a socio-political ontology of class that is time-oriented. In this understanding, classes appear less as empty categorial spaces waiting to swallow up large aggregates of individuals, and more as modes of temporality that interact with one-another to create the daily rhythms and chronological determinations that in turn produce particular class-subjects.

Here the middle class is conceptually useful as it represents a hybrid social category, situated at the crossroads between the congealed time of capital and the productive temporality of labor, and stratified by the various molar cleavages of contemporary globalized capitalism. These cleavages come together in the apparatus of the metropolis, an abstract machine which produces territorialities on a global scale in line with the different dimensions of the majoritarian standard: core-capitalist national, urban, white, male, etc. On the side of practical politics, middle-class individuals are particularly vulnerable to slides into fascism, as their complicated subject-positions compel them to pursue majoritarian status, while at the same time being engaged in various minoritarian-becomings that subvert their majoritarian aspirations. My paper aims to articulate an ontology of class that addresses the complicated class-positions of contemporary subjects within globalized capitalism, with its opportunities and threats.

11:30am - 12:00pm

Individualism as a Problem: Becoming-Imperceptible and the Perversion of Representation

Dror Yinon

Bar-Ilan University, Israel

Deleuze and Guattari’s political philosophy does not point to a specific class or other kind of social group as a primary subject of social change, yet it shows a particular interest in specific kind of processes – becomings – that individuals are going through whether these individuals are taken as solitary or as members of a group that comprises of non-hierarchical relations.

Deleuze and Guattari’s discussion of these becomings suggest that they are concerned by a central concern of modern political philosophy and a major theme in the thought of philosophers like Mill and Stirner: the problem of individualism, namely, the possibility of an individual not to be completely determined by society’s pre-existing life plans, models and identities. Although, Deleuze and Guattari do not discuss this problem directly, I will suggest that their discussion of becomings and, in particular, becoming-imperceptible, should be constructed as a treatment of the problem of individualism in contemporary society in which the centrality of the media facilitates the production and distribution of social representations. In the paper I will show why former approaches to the problem cannot work in contemporary society and argue that becoming-imperceptible is a strategy for perverting these representations. Finally, I will explore some candidates that could be considered as an example of such a becoming.

12:00pm - 12:30pm

Aesth-et(h)ical politics on Deleuze and Guattari: Notes on a Non-Optimistic Vitalism

Camilo Enrique Rios Rozo

Independent Researcher, Germany

Deleuze-and-Guattari’s ontology can be read as an epistemological turn inside post-structuralism, a turn we can call “non-Lacanian”. That epistemological turn will re-organize the elements to think the social, political and philosophical issues all over again. Therefore, it will imply also impacts in the way and the grammar we’ll need to use to think and to ‘live’ those spheres actively. I’d like to frame my presentation inside this reflection about the epistemological impacts of D-n-G’s ontology, especially on politics.

In order to do that, I'll move towards a slightly unexplored area in D-n-G's philosophy, at least from a political perspective: aesthetics. Each one of them used, since the early stages of each one's work- artistic and aesthetical mind-images to refer themselves to politics. There was something about "arts" that deeply attracted them. But we know their deep interest is not to do something like a philosophy of art, so we can discard that as a possible explanation of that move right from the very beginning. There must be another explanation. My own reading hypothesis links those permanent rapprochements to aesthetics (literature, theater, painting, cinema, etc.) with that epistemological turn made by their own ontological move.

What I would like to do is to show that Creation concept can vectorize D-G’s political thought by crossing aesthetics field and recognizing there some grimaces in its own operations with and on its own materiality that could throw us some clues to think politics from this new epistemological frame. D-n-G drained the political vocabulary and found in arts some new words to re-map the political field, and then put those new words as concepts in the political field as properly political ones. Now we are forced to think politics aesthetically, not as a metaphor.

The value of Creation as a vector-concept would be that it contains the clue to unravel the way they think politics –including the diagnosis of capitalism developed in the two parts of Capitalism and Schizophrenia– and the way they build their own plane, linking aesthetics’ operational grimaces or gestures to their own ontology. Finally, I'd like to establish that this whole political thought unveils a deep Spinozist non-optimistic vitalism that requires conceive aesthetics as ethics. That’s why I propose “Aesth-et(h)ics” as a possible way to think the Creation act becoming itself a contemporary political act. The distance between my reading hypothesis and the way neoliberalism seems to have captured all the potency of those notions close to Deleuze’s ones has to be established by the importance of this ‘non-optimistic vitalism’, that implies a resignation to all ideal of success, and the affirmation of the cruelty (Artaud) and the suffering as political territories to dispute the life itself without guarantee, and to consider that as the most powerful politics nowadays.

12:30pm - 1:00pm

Political Dissent and the Street

Farzaneh Haghighi

University of Auckland, New Zealand

Following the triple increase in fuel price that was abruptly enforced in Iran (November 15, 2019), urban protests swept across the country starting with the blockading of highways. The peaceful protests were brutally oppressed, alongside a total internet shutdown. Within two weeks, more than 1,500 people had been killed and 7,000 arrested. The series of events were intensified by the US assassination of a major Iranian general (Jan 3, 2020) and the shooting down of a Ukrainian plane by an Iranian missile, leading to the death of 176 civilians (Jan 8, 2020). Demonstrators poured into the streets after each incident. ‘Pouring into the streets’ is not a recent phenomenon in an Iranian context. It can be traced to narratives surrounding the 1979 Islamic revolution, through which an optimistic image of the agency of urban space in social movements was constructed. However, this paper argues that, specifically since the 2009 green movement in Iran, the ongoing brutal oppression of urban protests highlights their continuous failure to empower collective political engagement. The street as a site through which citizens can demand and practice democracy is praised in the literature on ‘the right to the city’; however, what is less examined is that it is on the street that the ‘crowd’ becomes a visible object to be regulated and potentially to be slaughtered. As such, this paper questions whether the street is overrated in its role and capacity in social movements – at least in a non-Western context. Secondly, I will examine how the Foucauldian concept of the apparatus of security (through which territory can be understood as a political technology for policing the population and transforming citizens into human species) and the Deleuzoguattarian concept of territorialisation (understood as an act and a process through which individuals can assemble to express a political demand) enable us to problematise the illusion that urban protests brings real change.