The Revolutionary Power of the Deed

Carlo Pisacane, Political Testament, 1857:

My political principles are sufficiently well known; I believe in socialism, but a socialism different from the French systems, which are all pretty much based on the monarchist, despotic idea which prevails in that nation… The socialism of which I speak can be summed up in these two words: freedom and association…

I am convinced that railroads, electrical telegraphs, machinery, industrial advances, in short, everything that expands and smooths the way for trade, is destined inevitably to impoverish the masses… All of these means increase output, but accumulate it in a small number of hands, from which it follows that much trumpeted progress ends up being nothing but decadence. If such supposed advances are to be regarded as a step forward, it will be in the sense that the poor man’s wretchedness is increased until inevitably he is provoked into a terrible revolution, which, by altering the social order, will place in the service of all that which currently profits only some…

Ideas spring from deeds and not the other way around; Continue reading “The Revolutionary Power of the Deed”


Propaganda by the Deed, original documents

Paul Brousse, “Propaganda by the Deed,” 1877:

Of what do the masses consist? Of peasants, workers, most of the time toiling eleven and twelve hours per day. They make their way home worn out from fatigue and have little inclination to read socialist pamphlets or newspapers: they sleep, they go for a stroll or devote their evenings to the family.

Well, what if there is a way of grabbing these people’s attention, of showing them what they cannot read, of teaching them socialism by means of actions and making them see, feel. touch? .. When one resorts to that line of reasoning one is on the trail that leads, beside theoretical propaganda, to propaganda by the deed.

Propaganda by the deed is a mighty means of rousing the popular consciousness. Let us take an example. Prior to the Paris Commune, who in France was conversant with the principle of communal autonomy? No one. Yet Proudhon had written magnificent books. Who read those books? A handful of literati. But once the idea was brought out into the open air, in the heart of the capital, onto the steps of the City Hall, when it took on flesh and life, it shook the peasant in his cottage, the worker at his fireside, and peasants and workers alike had to reflect on this huge question mark posted in the public square. Now that idea made inroads. In France, right around the world, for or against, everybody has picked his side … Continue reading “Propaganda by the Deed, original documents”

[Audiobook] Daniel W Smith – Deleuze’s Politics: Psychoanalysis, Anthropology, and Nomadology in Anti-Oedipus & A Thousand Plateaus (2009)

smith-deleuzeI just uploaded these lectures, which I listened to a couple years ago. They are perhaps the best introduction to the politics of Deleuze and Guattari but is also rewarding for more advanced scholars. I’m sorry for the quality – I tried to clean them up, but they’re not perfect. awc

Also available here.

Daniel W Smith discussed Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari’s works Anti-Oedipus & A Thousand Plateaus at the Collegium Phaenomenologicum 2009. Smith, a professor of philosophy at Purdue University, is a leading expert of Deleuze and Guattari’s work. In these lectures, he lucidly outlines the theories and implications of the most political sections of Deleuze and Guattari’s work while giving special attention to the primary source materials and philosophical arguments that the authors utilized to make their argument.

Day 1: Anti-Oedipus & Desire
In this talk, Smith discusses Deleuze and Guattari’s ambitious reworking of psychoanalysis, especially with their notions of desire and the unconscious.

Day 2: Anti-Oedipus & The Human (missing part 2)
On this day of talks, Smith describes the anthropology chapter of Anti-Oedipus. In the first lecture, Smith covers the Savage and Despotic formations. Unfortunately, the second lecture, in which Smith described the Capitalism formation, was not recorded.

Day 3: A Thousand Plateaus & Nomadology
On this day, Smith presents Deleuze and Guattari’s nomadology from A Thousand Plateaus, with an eye to their description of society without a state. The second lecture is dedicated to question & answer.

The reading materials for the lectures was
– Deleuze & Guattari, Anti-Oedipus, “Savages, Barbarians, Civilized Men,” 139 – 271 Continuum Version, 141 – 164 Minnesota Version.
– Deleuze & Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, “1227: Treatise on Nomadology–The War Machine,” & “7000 B.C.: Apparatus of Capture,” 387 – 522 Continuum Version, 351- 473 Minnesota Version.

The original recordings picked up substantial feedback that punctuated the lecture with high-pitched pinging noises that made it nearly unlistenable. I tried to eliminate as much of the feedback as possible, but ended up thinning out Smith’s voice.

I have uploaded the originals as well, but would not suggest trying to listen to them.

A Subject Without Identity


Foucault says “an art of oneself that’s the exact opposite of oneself…” If there’s a subject, it’s a subject without any identity. Subjectification as a process is personal or collective individuation, individuation one by one or group by group. Now, there are many types of individuation. There are subject-type individ­uations ( “that’s you…,” “that’s me…”) , but there are also event­-type individuations where there’s no subject: a wind, an atmosphere, a time of day, a battle… One can’t assume that a life, or a work of art, is individuated as a subject; quite the reverse. Take Foucault himself: you weren’t aware of him as a person exactly. Even in trivial situations, say when he came into a room, it was more like a changed atmosphere, a sort of event, an electric or magnetic field or something. That didn’t in the least rule out warmth or make you feel uncomfortable, but it wasn’t like a person. It was a set of intensities.

Continue reading “A Subject Without Identity”

A Culture of Silence

friendshipChloe Taylor write that: [Foucault] speaks of a friendship which developed between himself and the filmmaker Daniel Schmidt:

[W]e discovered after a few minutes that we really had nothing to say to each other. So we stayed together from about three o’clock in the afternoon to midnight. We drank, we smoked hash, we had dinner. And I don’t think we spoke more than twenty minutes during those ten hours. From that moment a rather long friendship started. It was for me the first time that a friendship originated in strictly silent behavior.7

Such a friendship is surely unusual, even for Foucault, who notes that our society is remarkable in that silence has “unfortunately been dropped from our culture.” 8 Unlike Japanese, Greek, Roman, and Native North American societies, he remarks, “We don’t have a culture of silence.” Foucault goes on to say that he is “in favor of developing silence as a cultural ethos,” and that “Silence may be a much more interesting way of having a relationship with people” than the confessional exchanges which we currently engage in.9

New Downloads: Anti-Oedipus Documents, 3 Syntheses & 5 Paralogisms


In the downloads section, I’ve uploaded my charts for the three syntheses of the unconscious and the five paralogisms from Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari’s Anti-Oedipus. There are some gaps in it, so if anyone wants to suggest additions, I’d be more than happy to consider including them. Enjoy!

Also, there’s a cool concept map of desiring-production that I found here, but it’s not my own.

Bergson’s Critique of Crude Materialism


All questions concerning the mode of the survival of the past will dismiss from the outset any psychological theory trying to locate recollections within the cerebral matter of the brain.To say, with Bergson, that the brain is a mere “central telephonic switchboard” transmitting movements is also “to say [that] it is in vain to attribute to the cerebral substance the property of engendering representations” (ibid.). In fact the final conclusions of Matter and Memory run as follows:“Questions relating to subject and object, to their distinction and their union, must be put in terms of time rather than of space” (ibid., 74/71, emphasis in original). As Frédéric Worms insightfully points out, we are here witnessing a crucial reversal of the relationship between the body and memory.Whereas from a practical point of view, the body is occupying the foreground in the theory of perception, it gets relegated to the background in the theory of memory. Similarly, while memory remains secondary from a practical point of view, it returns as primary with the reintroduction of time, which is to say, of becoming.Worms writes,“At bottom, the stakes are the following: the body, whose existence had been posed as an absolute in the first chapter, now depends on memory for its conservation in time!”26 This is the key to the Virtual informing the Bergsonian unconscious.

Valentine Moulard-Leonard, Transcendental Experience and the Thought of the Virtual, 31