Outline of Lecercle on D&G’s Linguistics


In any Marxist text, L expects (Four Theses): p37(3)

1)    an analysis of capitalism via Capital but with whatever adaptations needed

2)    a political programme

3)    conception of history: how the future is contained in past&present

4)    conception of time (temporality) centered around conjecture capable of guiding political action (lenin’s contribution)

Six key dichotomies p37+(3)

1)    collectivism/methodological individualism

  1. collective = class/party
  2. method individualism – society = aggregate of individual agents (rational choice)

2)    subjectivation

  1. subjectivation as process of production of subjects
  2. vs. traditional subject as person (center of consciousness and action)

3)    ideology

  1. ideology as necessary frame for human understanding/action
  2. ideology as simple illusion/mystification

4)    materialism/idealism

  1. materialism – a series of positions that cohere into a system

5)    historicism/naturalism

  1. anti-chomsky (considered “a religious attitude” “creationist”)
    1. i.     non-historical
    2. ii.     nearly immobile
    3. iii.     time of evolution
    4. iv.     rejecting any possibility of historical change that affects language
      1. excludes most phenom sci would call language
      2. ignores conjuncture

6)    agon/eirene

  1. class struggle
    1. i.     hierarchy of places are imposed on speakers
  2. peaceful co-operation
    1. i.     Grice’s ‘co-operative principle’
    2. ii.     Habermas’s ‘communicational competence’

Applying D+G to the 4 thesis: 39-40 (5-6)

1)    cap via Capital

  1. a ‘new world order’ (like derrida)
  2. social questions (madness, sexual orientation, etc)

2)    political programme

  1. lines of flight
  2. rhizome
  3. politics of desire/anarchism

3)    History

  1. “regimes of signs” – not successive modes of production, but concepts of flow/coding.

4)    Temporality

  1. Not conjuncture/moment of conjuncture
  2. Bergson’s synthesis of time

D+G % 6 theses (40+):

1)    against methodological individualism

  1. origin of utterances not individual speaker but collective assemblage of enunciation
    1. i.     shifts study of language from result to process
      1. the process of enunciation (from Benveniste and Cuioli)
      2. ii.     shifts it from individual to collective speaker

2)    subject in Deleuze

  1. not lacan’s Z or Althusser’s absent subject
  2. concepts that do the work of the subject in Deleuze
    1. i.     collective assemblage of enunciation
    2. ii.     haeccities (impersonal, non-individual singularity – haiku, shower of rain)
    3. iii.     BWO
    4. Not personal subject, center of consciousness or origin for action
      1. i.     YES: machinic assemblages and socius

3)    NO to Ideology: no interpellated subject or interpellating ideology

  1. **collective assemblage of enunciation replaces Althusser
    1. i.     ontological mixtures of bodies, institutions and discourses

4)    rejects any form of transcendence (because no subject)

  1. close to Stoics’ pan-somatism (cf logic of sense)
  2. close to narrow materialism of pre-marxist tradition (vs. praxis)
    1. i.     NOT materialism of institutions
    2. ii.     Materialism of bodily assemblages
      1. The plugging into of desiring machines

5)    No naturalism

  1. Human nature never in work.
  2. History is everywhere

6)    They choose agon

  1. Called ‘philosophical athleticism’ in What is Phil
  2. Basic type of utterance = slogan, not proposition/judgement/statement
    1. i.     Lercercle footnote – prefers translation of “order-word” to slogan
    2. Interlocution = not co-operative exchange of ino but a rapport de forces


1)    change in periodicity

  1. obsessive need to periodise
    1. i.     no mention to modes of production, productive forces, relationship of production
    2. ii.     replaced by regimes of signs, flows of libidinal energy, coding
      1. challenge to base-superstructure verticle model

2)    shift from history to geography

  1. not concerned with modes of production that came before
  2. **a reinterp of the whole of Marxist periodicity
    1. i.     geograph not historical: (planes, immanence and consistency)
      1. smooth/striated
      2. nomos & war-machine
      3. maps & strata
      4. ***modes of prdxn = object of double displacement
        1. i.     displ through translation from economic to semiotic/corporeal
        2. ii.     displ through inversion of center/periphery
          1. and change in plane of organization
          2. space, no longer time
          3. ***reason why socius not = society
            1. i.     literal metaphor of the body politic
            2. ii.     *social body is as material/corporeal as body of the earth
              1. collective
              2. iii.     whereas society (in the liberal version) = just collection of individuals

3)    from work to desire

  1. work = productive structure of society
    1. i.     attempts to rid work
      1. habermas (work à communicative action)
      2. Desire!
        1. i.     Not Freudian which is lack-based
        2. ii.     Positive
          1. An energy that flows through and animates a machine
          2. **there is only desire within an assemblage
            1. *instead of subject desiring object,
            2. ****desire = energy that holds assemblages together and circulates them
            3. iii.     ***Machine (not structure)
              1. not an instrument
              2. IS a complex tool that intervene at a necessary but transitory stage in the metaphorphoses of commodities
              3. Organ ‘ex-centric to the subject’
                1. Inhabited by ‘the subject of the unconscious’
                2. Whose function is to cut and code the flows of energy

4)    From ideology to assemblage

  1. Althusserian ideology implies a separation of base/superstructure
    1. i.     of the world of objects and the world of representations
    2. coupling desire with machines (‘machinic assemblages of desire’)
      1. i.     collapses base-superstructure
      2. ii.     advantage of machine: it works, functions and compels us to envisage the phenom from the point of view of process, not of objects
      3. to replace ideology: understood as necessary part of social life and not false-consciousness
        1. i.     subjectivation:
        2. ii.     the active production or interpellation of subjects.
        3. iii.     **the assemblage (concept of assemblage)
          1. material/corporeal aspect (the machinic assemblage of desire)
          2. social-institutional aspect (own form of materiality: collective assemblage of enunciation)
          3. EX: Feudal assemblage
            1. i.     Physical bodies (castles, knights/armor, horse, ladies, peasants, priests)
            2. ii.     Body of texts (poems of courtly love, etc)
            3. iii.     Body of legislation
            4. iv.     Myths and beliefs
            5. v.     Institutions (in both material and ideal aspects) that are in charge (courts, justice)
              1. Implies organization of space (castle to church)
              2. Hierarchical social body (king and his vassal,s etc)
              3. Body of rituals and practices (tournaments, etc)
              4. vi.     ****CAE = like Bakhtin’s chronotope (they insist on -tope rather than chrono-)

5)    from the party to the group

  1. cf. Deleuze’s preface to Guattari’s Psychoanalyse et tranversalite
    1. i.     ‘trois problemes de groupe’ “three group problems”
    2. ii.     shifts from Marxism – celebrates Reich and Guattari
    3. iii.     critiques political positions of communist parties in the west
      1. theory of ‘state monopoly capitalism’ (PCF)
        1. K’d as compromise between internationalization of capital and defence of the national framework of the state
        2. D’s main argument: distinction between two types of groups
          1. i.     Subjected group (groupe assujetti)
            1. An association obsessed with its self-perpetuation, tend to be reduced to the skeleton of an organizationl (Bolshevik part 1917)
            2. ii.     Subject group
              1. Group in constant state of variation, always on the verge of announcing its own dissolution
              2. (comparable to diff between structure and machine)
              3. how do we prevent the vanguard from taking itself for the main body of the army or appointing itself as permanent headquarters?

6)    Molar/molecular – minor/major

  1. The agency which is the origin of action is
    1. i.     Unstructured
    2. ii.     Yet un-reified
    3. iii.     A group in a constant state of variation and metamorphosis
      1. i.     Major = being constantly minorized by minor dialects, registers and styles

***Marxism, D+G and Language

six principles of mainstream linguistics

1)    immanence

  1. structuralist principle of the field of language
  2. language is IN and OF the world

2)    functionality

  1. language fulfills functions
  2. language = instrument of exchange

3)    principle of transparence

  1. if lang = just an instrument, the best it can do is be forgotten

4)    ideality:

  1. language is an abstract ideal (langue, actualized in parole)

5)    systematicity

  1. what is relevant for study is not chaos (parole) but system of rules: langue

6)    synchrony

  1. system is essentially stable

D’s K of ling (‘linguistics has done a lot of harm’) – constructs itself through a process of exclusion that rejects most of what we think of as the phenom of language

Mainstream linguistics founds self on 4 postulates

1)    language is informative and communicative

2)    language is an abstract machine with no exterior influence

3)    language is a homogeneous system

4)    language is best studies in form of standard language

new “third way” politics = not propaganda or truth, but communicates as if just ‘statements of pay’ (‘the only way’)

via Lenin, on slogans (order word) D+G say “language is not meant to be believed, but to be obeyed”

English teacher doesn’t inform rules of English grammar, but imposes them

Slogan is not just a carrier of force, but an always-already collective utterance

The speaker is not an individual subject but a CAE

D+G’s criticism of immanence:

Stalin – lang not superstructure, Marr, yes it is

*D+G: no, utterances = material, intervene in the productive base

*deleuzian sense is not the result of a process of production (ie: prdxn of meaning)

*an effect of the mixture of bodies within society

*****assemblage: machinic and enunciative

D+G K of homogenous system:

(borrowed from labov)

-back to the Leninist slogan: adapts to and name the moment in an ever changing conjuncture (‘abstract machine’)

D+G K of last postulate:

Major/minor dialects

(major = dominates, minor = multiple and threaten to subvert)

D+G ask, why want a homogenous system?

because the scientific model is only a reflection of the politilca model in which a centralized, homogenous, standard dialect is imposed upon a variety of dialects as the language of power

effects of D+G’s K:

6 inverse principles

1)    non-immanence

a)     there is no separation between lang and the rest of phenom that constitutes the world

2)    dysfunctionality

a)     rejects the idea that lang is an instrument and the hierarchy of fx that metaphor implies

3)    opacity

a)     words always mean more than what I mean

4)    materiality

a)     materiality in shape of sounds/letters, but also institutions and apparatuses

b)    agonistic concept of language – it is first a material body acting among and on other bodies

5)    part-systematicity

a)     there are regularities

  1. i.     are not stable

b)    but rules are riddled with exceptions

6)    historicitiy

a)     any lang is partly chaotic and partly organized

  1. i.     because it is a sedimentation of rules, maxims and meainigs, and the history of the culture

one example: free indirect speech

if the buildling blocks of discourse and not judgements but slogan, it is bc language is not an instrument of reference and rep (enable the subject to go from perception to meaning via the medium of articulate language) but bc there is no such thing as pure perception represented in words.

**the utterance is always a link in a chain of utterances, not a representation of the world perceived, but a report of the already said.

The ‘original’ is not literal and direct, but always already indirect discourse

*language is about the transmission of words that function as slogans, not the communication of signs that inform us about the state of the world

**all discourse is indirect discourse


language for a Marxist is:

1)    a social phenom

2)    a material phenom

3)    a political phenom

4)    a historical phenom

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