here is the link to the formatted pdf (ie it will be irritating to read online, so print it out if you possible can).
if someone finds a better link, let us know.
here is the link to the formatted pdf (ie it will be irritating to read online, so print it out if you possible can).
if someone finds a better link, let us know.
our reading for this tuesday is from the final pages of The Free, a novel by m. gilliland.
here is a link to it.
come early (7pm), bring good food (pref vegan, nut free, gluten free and delicious: we are a challenging group), eat, and socialize!
http://www.bearishnews.com/post/3624 (for some background)
we’ll be watching a video – end civ…
END:CIV examines our culture’s addiction to systematic violence and environmental exploitation, and probes the resulting epidemic of poisoned landscapes and shell-shocked nations. Based in part on Endgame, the best-selling book by Derrick Jensen, END:CIV asks: “If your homeland was invaded by aliens who cut down the forests, poisoned the water and air, and contaminated the food supply, would you resist?”
info available here –
reading for 2/13 is at
a series of posters that IEF (institute for experimental freedom) is producing (or hoping that other people will produce).
plus there may be cake. or not.
could happen though.
apparently there are six pieces to this, one of which is here (below). since i was a good internet person and didn’t take a hard copy, i don’t know what the other five pieces are. we we internet folks will suffer along together with this limited exposure to the brilliance that is michael albert and wayne price…
Parecon & Movement Building
September 27, 2008
By Michael Albert
The following is a summary statement offered as basis for an exploration/debate with Wayne Price a member of the the Northeastern Federation of Anarchist-Communists (NEFAC).
Wanting parecon for the economy implies a commitment to justice consistent with wanting revolutionary transformation of other spheres of life as well. To overcome cynicism, guide practice, deepen support, avoid hypocrisy, and learn as we go, we need mutually compatible, inspiring, and widely shared vision, encompassing political, kinship, cultural, and economic relations. More, deriving from that shared vision, we also need a shared strategic perspective that we are motivated to collectively implement. Yet no widely shared visions for society much less social strategy for attaining it as yet hold wide left allegiance, though there are tentative proposals for some parts and
hopeful ideas about pursuing other parts.
For the economy, which is central for purposes of this summary exploration of explicitly pareconish views (as compared to equally pivotal views highlighting other parts of social life), the functions I see are production, consumption, and allocation. Values I favor are meeting needs and developing potentials plus propelling solidarity, diversity, equity, and self-management while not wasting valuable assets. The combination, with growing numbers of advocates, is called parecon and claims to be a viable vision for a post capitalist economy and thus one part of a broader vision for new society.
An economy should produce and appropriately distribute worthy outputs but also produce empathy rather than hostility, diversity rather than homogeneity, equity rather than exploitation, and self
management rather than elite rule – or, put differently, it should entail classlessness.??
Parecon rejects private ownership because it leads to few people owning and controlling almost all productive assets and therefore wielding tremendous power. ??
Parecon also rejects the corporate division of labor, which ensures that about 20% of employees are empowered by their work while about 80% are disempowered by theirs.
And parecon also rejects the market because markets destroy social conscience, produce anti sociality, violate ecology, and ensure that individual workers and consumers operate in isolation
from social concern, trying to get ahead at others’ expense. More, markets create incredibly harsh inequality, impose near universal alienation, and perhaps most damning, impose class division even in the absence of private ownership.
In participatory economics, asset ownership generates no differentials in income or influence. In a parecon, indeed, instead of people being remunerated profits for their property, or extortionist wages for their bargaining power, or even wages equal to their output, people receive income based wages for their bargaining power, or even wages equal to their output, people receive income based only on how long and how hard they work and what conditions they endure at useful labor.
If you can’t work, or you have special medical needs, your income is guaranteed as are your health needs. But for those who can work, how much of the social product you can consume depends only on how intensely and how long you do socially valued work under how harsh conditions.
If that summarizes ownership and remuneration, how will inputs and outputs mesh in a parecon?
People in their self managing councils develop a proposal for their economic activity. We figure out what we want to do at work or want to consume in our daily lives, both individually and with our work groups or consumer units, and we register our preferences. The mesh of those preferences is refined in a number of rounds of cooperative negotiations until we settle on a comprehensive
agenda. Everyone influences this agreed allocation in proportion as they are affected by the decisions under consideration. There are many more details to this allocation system, of course,
involving the flow of information and the calculation and communication of prices based on preferences and work arrangements, among other aspects, but the essence is that each worker or consumer, both individually and in groups – assesses their own desires and situation to propose
their production and consumption. Of course their separate proposals can’t be enacted without meshing them one to the rest, and that occurs via a series of rounds of refinement we call
There is no top or bottom. Instructions do not come from some people and disseminate to others who obey. Competition does not drive the process. There are all people’s desires and all technical and human possibilities, plus a participatory process for meshing these into an economic plan. The result is a set of valuations of inputs and outputs that take into account the full social and ecological costs and benefits of their production and consumption. All actors consistently with also producing
solidarity, diversity, equity, and self-management together determine an agenda for production and distribution.
Another parecon defining features is how it organizes workplaces. First, for self management there must be a venue for workers to meet and conduct their affairs. This is called the worker’s council and it uses self managed decision making procedures. But beyond that, there is also an issue of how to
organize work itself.
In capitalism, owners establish jobs each of which embody only either empowering or disempowering tasks. One person does janitorial work. Someone else does secretarial tasks. Someone else administers employees. Another person determines financial policy. Each job occupies a place in a hierarchical scheme and about 20% of employees at the top monopolize the economy’s
empowering tasks while 80% at the bottom do only rote and repetitive work. The former employees enjoy greater access, knowledge, and confidence, and, as a result, dominate the latter employees who are overwhelmingly only disenfranchised, exhausted, and socially diminished by their disempowering labors.
The participatory approach to organizing work, in contrast, is for the workers via their councils to incorporate a balanced selection of complementary tasks into each job, so that in sum total we
each have comparably empowering conditions in our daily economic work lives. Each person gets a fair and comparable assignment — or balanced job complex. We don’t all do the same tasks, nor do any of us do tasks we aren’t suited for. Instead, we all do a range of tasks with essentially the same sum total of empowerment implications for each of us. The purpose and result is that everyone can participate appropriately in self managed decision-making rather than a few dominating the rest.
The overall difference between capitalist economics and participatory economics, in sum, is the difference between having private ownership, corporate hierarchy, remuneration for property and power, and markets – and having council self-management, balanced job complexes, remuneration
for effort, sacrifice, and need, and participatory planning. While of course it would require additional exploration to prove the point, it is the difference between economic irrationality, injustice, and hierarchy, and economic rationality, justice, and liberty. It is the difference between class division and
But Parecon posits also, that what has been called socialism typically combines all the rejected But Parecon posits also, that what has been called socialism typically combines all the rejected
features other than private ownership into a system that elevates coordinator class members, not workers, to ruling status. You can transcend capitalism, yet not attain classlessness.
People ask activists not only what do you want, but how do you expect to get it against the immense obstacles in your way? It is a fair question and we need to compellingly describe a strategic path forward. We need to show how visionary aims we advocate and an array of proposed organizational programs and tactics can combine into a forward-moving trajectory that people will in turn refine and expand by their accumulating experience. But there is not only one right way forward and most strategic commitments need to be flexible, and certainly not dismissive much less sectarian. Having a parecon vision in no way implies having lockstep strategic intuitions, only experience will elevate
some organizing ideas above others.
Still, for me, the first implication of a classless vision has to do with what we fight for, and with how we fight for it. To win higher wages, better work conditions, more progressive taxes, progressive laws about ecology, or a higher minimum wage, for example, as well as equally importantly to win gains in other spheres of life, can of course be part of transcending capitalism (patriarchy, racism, and authoritarianism). But winning such gains can also seek only to ameliorate capitalism’s ills while accepting its persistence.
This is the difference between a reformist and a revolutionary approach. In the former case, you win gains, and that’s the end of it. You celebrate a job well done and go home.
In the latter case, gains are themselves worthy and desirable, but you fight for them in ways that cause everyone involved to be well prepared to win more gains, on the road to a new economy. But revolution is not violence or cataclysm or any other simple single thing. It is a transformation of defining social relations and associated human behavior and beliefs in one or more central spheres of social life, no matter how those changes come into being.
Everyone who fights for higher wages, better conditions, or other gains does so at least in part for the benefits to accrue to worthy recipients. But a revolutionary also fights for such gains based on advocating the values of a new society and in ways developing infrastructure that arouses passions for that new society and means to attain it. The revolutionary seeks reforms, but in a non reformist way also seeking change in underlying defining institutions.
A second strategic implication of a pareconish commitment is that one can sincerely fight capitalism and even personally want classlessness, and seek it, but utilize old corporate divisions of labor and or markets or central planning and by those choices, despite one’s contrary hopes, preserve and even strengthen class division between coordinators monopolizing empowering work and workers enduring disempowering work.
This economic outcome I call coordinatorism, but the sad truth is it has often usurped the name socialism. Thus, even fighting for worthy gains and even constructing new institutions can be done in ways that will usher in coordinator outcomes or can be done in ways that will usher in participatory outcomes.
This is a life or death, victory or defeat difference. To seek classlessness requires that movements not just reject capitalism but also move toward self-managing decision making structures, equitable remuneration, balanced job complexes, and participatory planning.
A third pareconish strategic implication has to do with movement organizations. Progressive and left activists are correctly for ending racism and sexism in society. And we know that we must also persevere to reduce and finally end racial and sexual hierarchies inside our movements – since otherwise we are hypocritical, uninspiring, will suffer the ills of these oppressions ourselves, and moreover, our movements will neither strongly attract nor long retain women and people of color nor effectively pursue anti-racist and anti-sexist priorities. There is certainly more work to be done about race and gender in our movements, but the insight exists and our activity is generally pointing
in the right direction.
However, left activists are also for ending economic injustice and class hierarchy in society. And we have to realize that that aim has a similar implication: we must patiently, calmly, and constructively restructure our movements so that they no longer replicate corporate divisions of labor and decision-making as well as market remuneration. This must become a priority if we are to transcend hypocrisy, become inspiring, escape class alienations, and especially if we are to strongly attract, retain, and empower working people in movement efforts, and retain our commitment to classlessness.
The left, for example, has a great many research organizations, think tanks, media projects, and organizing centers. In principle we know these should manifest our values in their internal
organization. Yet when our current organizations pay people, they most often do it according to classist norms, rewarding power and position. Some of our people work in offices, make decisions, get higher pay, and have more status. Others work more menially, are obedient, have less or no status, earn much less pay, and have much less power. In short, rather than reducing class divisions by providing jobs that employ people’s full capacities and share onerous tasks equitably, our
organizations often have typically corporate relations. The strategic problem still to be addressed or even acknowledged, is to incorporate into these projects desirable norms and values regarding class.
Given the need to win fundamental change in all sides of life – a priority that has been short shrifted in this brief summary – another of parecon’s strategic implications is that we need to develop an encompassing approach to combining our many activisms in solidarity even while also respecting their autonomy
Movements elevate different priorities because people endure different conditions depending on race, gender, class, sexuality, and diverse other factors. The ensuing diversity of orientation is good in the breadth and depth of attention it gives each side of life. But the fact that our movements often don’t aid one another, or even compete with another, robs each movement of the unity with others essential to success.
Different agendas need space to develop, gain confidence, retain focus, and exert leadership. You can’t get unity by telling everyone to forget his or her felt priorities and line up behind one narrow program. But even as people retain unique identities and different priorities in autonomous movements, to win, these different movements also need breadth of allegiance, which means that each has to benefit from the strength and character of the rest. We need to solve the problem of respecting diversity and autonomy even as we find ways to have an overarching sense of solidarity.
Everyone will ultimately be fighting the totality of oppressions, mutually supportively, even as different people with different experiences and backgrounds will undoubtedly focus more attention on one or another oppression. One big step toward unity with diversity will be for larger movements to support smaller ones, and for richer movements to help pay the way of poorer ones – unreservedly and with people’s bodies as well as resources, plus developing a movement of movements organizational alignment that facilities such solidarity.
It is a constant refrain – “how come you leftists are always talking to the choir?” There are sadly no doubt some folks who do it because it is easier than reaching out to people we don’t know who may disagree with what we have to say, and who may even be hostile. But the main explanation for why people on the left are most often talking overwhelmingly to people who are also on the left, or who already wish to be on the left, is that the left doesn’t have a megaphone loud enough to be heard by folks who aren’t already all ears to our messages. Because our media are still very small even when we bust a gut shouting, we reach overwhelmingly only folks who are already listening for us.
Another implication of a pareconish commitment to create majoritarian movements of highly informed participants is therefore that we need to develop means to communicate with the broader populace not yet in tune with us, as well as facilitating mutual exchange among our supportive constituency.
We need to strengthen our current alternative media, supporting and enlarging it, and we need to We need to strengthen our current alternative media, supporting and enlarging it, and we need to pressure mainstream media as well – but beyond those two tasks we also need to ensure that the left gains mass media mechanisms that place left views, analyses, agendas, and visions in front of the whole population rather than being visible only in hard-to-find nooks and crannies that people have to search for to even know we exist.
On another axis of movement need, we know that money matters in our societies, but we don’t seem to realize that money matters on the left too. Where does it come from? How is it handled? Is it empowering a few to the detriment of the many? Is there enough of it? Most leftists don’t know the answers because this topic is essentially taboo. Try to find essays and ruminations much less proposals about how events, projects, and demos should be funded, much less about how funds that arrive should be redistributed among efforts. Mostly, you can’t. There is a gigantic silence.
Ignoring how we get and how we handle money is a dead-end approach beneficial only to those who monopolize control of what marginal monies the left now enjoys. Another strategic implication of pareconish aims is that we need to develop means to finance operations consistent with our values and aspirations.
Surely future movements will inspire, empower, fill needs, raise aspirations… enrich lives. Surely, once people come within their orbit, they will become committed. Yet, over the past few decades, millions of folks have come into proximity of the left, participated in various left events and projects, and later opted out. Future movements will have to be quite different.
There are many reasons why people don’t stick with political dissent and activism. Not least, a movement that can persevere over the long haul with continuity and commitment needs to uplift
rather than to harass its membership, to enrich its members’ lives rather than to diminish them, to meet its members’ needs rather than to neglect or even ridicule them. To join a movement and
become lonelier is not conducive to movements growing. To join a movement and laugh less doesn’t yield ever larger and more powerful movements.
Thus to be on the road to the future, we need to make our movements congenial to from all kinds of backgrounds. Movement building involves lots of tedium, of course, but there is no reason to make movement building as deadening as possible, rather than as rich, varied, and rewarding as possible.
Our movements must retain their members – is their any simpler strategic observation? But this means we need to make movement participation provide full, diverse lives rather than only long meetings or obscure lifestyles so divorced from social involvement that they preclude all but a very few people from partaking.
We admirably struggle to make the world less oppressive and more liberating. If we want to win, doing the same for our movements is urgent too.
From: Z Net – The Spirit Of Resistance Lives
POTLUCK! come at 7, bring food (preferably dairy and gluten and nut free), and chat with a diverse, cantankerous, opinionated, experienced, and very funny group of anarchists.
and here is the link to the reading for this week (it’s to a download)
or you can read it here…
A Liberation of Desire
An Interview by George Stambolian
GEORGE STAMBOLIAN – In 1970 the authorities forbade the sale to minors
of Pierre Guyotat’s novel Eden. Eden. Eden. More recently they outlawed
and seized the special issue of the review Recherches (“Encyclopedie des
homosexualites”) to which you had made important contributions. You
were even taken to court on the matter. How would you explain these
reactions by the French government.
FELIX GVATTARI – They were rather old-fashioned reactions. I do not
think that the present government would behave the same way because
there is, on the surface at least, a certain nonchalance regarding the
literary and cinematographic expression of sexuality. But I don’t have to
tell you that this is an even more subtle, cunning, and repressive policy.
During the trial the judges were completely ill at ease with what they were
being asked to do.
GS – Wasn’t it because this issue of Recherches treated homosexuality,
and not just sexuality?
FG – I’m not sure, because among the things that most shocked the
judges was one of the most original parts of this work – a discussion of
masturbation. I think that a work devoted to homosexuality in a more or
less traditional manner would have had no difficulty. What shocked
perhaps was the expression of sexuality going in all directions. And then
there were the illustrations – they were what set it off.
GS – In your opinion, what is the best way to arrive at a true sexual
liberation, and what dangers confront this liberation?
FG – The problem as I see it is not a sexual liberation but a liberation of
desire. Once desire is specified as sexuality, it enters into forms of
particularized power, into the stratification of castes, of styles, of sexual
classes. The sexual liberation – for example, of homosexuals, or transvestites,
or sadomasochists – belongs to a series of other liberation problems
among which there is an a priori and evident solidarity, the need to
participate in a necessary fight. But I don’t consider that to be a liberation
as such of desire, since in each of these groups and movements one
finds repressive systems.
A Liberation 0/ Desire 205
GS – What do you mean by “desire”?
FG – For Gilles Deleuze and me desire is everything that exists be/ore the
opposition between subject and object, before representation and production.
It’s everything whereby the world and affects constitute us outside
of ourselves, in spite of ourselves. It’s everything that overflows from us.
That’s why we define it as flow (flux]. Within this context we were led to
forge a new notion in order to specify in what way this kind of desire is
not some sort of undifferentiated magma, and thereby dangerous, suspicious,
or incestuous. So we speak of machines, of “desiring machines”,
in order to indicate that there is as yet no question here of
“structure”, that is, of any subjective position, objective redundancy, or
coordinates of reference. Machines arrange and connect flows. They do
not recognize distinctions between persons, organs, material flows, and
GS – Your remarks on sexuality reveal a similar rejection of established
distinctions. You have said, for example, that all forms of sexuality are
minority forms and reveal themselves as being irreducible to homo-hetero
oppositions. You have also said that these forms are nevertheless
closer to homosexuality and to what you call a “feminine becoming” [un
devenir femininJ. Would you develop this idea, in particular by defming
what you mean by “feminine”?
FG – Yes, that was a very ambiguous formulation. What I mean is that
the relation to the body, what I call the semiotics of the body, is something
specifically repressed by the capitalist- socialist-bureaucratic system.
So I would say that each time the body is emphasized in a situation
– by dancers, by homosexuals, etc. – something breaks with the dominant
semiotics that crush these semiotics of the body. In heterosexual relations
as well, when a man becomes body, he becomes feminine. In a
certain way, a successful heterosexual relation becomes homosexual and
feminine. This does not at all mean that I am speaking of women as such;
that’s where the ambiguity lies, because the feminine relation itself can
lose the semiotics of the body and become phallocentric. So it is only by
provocation that I say feminine, because I would say first that there is
only one sexuality, it is homosexual; there is only one sexuality, it is
feminine. But I would add finally: there is only one sexuality, it is neither
masculine, nor feminine, nor infantile; it is something that is ultimately
flow, body. It seems to me that in true love there is always a moment
when the man is no longer a man. This does not mean that he becomes
a woman. But because of her alienation woman is relatively closer to the
situation of desire. And in a sense, perhaps from the point of view of
representation, to accede to desire implies for a man first a position of
homosexuality as such, and second a feminine becoming. But I would
add as well a becoming as animal, or a becoming as plant, a becoming as
cosmos, etc. That’s why this formulation is very tentative and ambiguous.
GS – Isn’t your formulation based in part on the fact that our civilization
has associated body and woman?
FG – No, it’s because woman has preserved the surfaces of the body, a
bodily jouissance and pleasure much greater than that of man. He has
concentrated his libido on – one can’t even say his penis – on domination,
on the rupture of ejaculation: “I possessed you”, “I had you” Look
at all the expressions like these used by men: “1 screwed you”, “I made
her” It’s no longer the totality of the body’s surface that counts, it’s just
this sign of power: “I dominated you”, “I marked you” This obsession
with power is such that man ultimately denies himself all sexuality. On
the other hand, in order to exist as body he is obliged to beg his sexual
partners to transform him a bit into a woman or a homosexual. I don’t
know if homosexuals can easily accept what I’m saying, because I don’t
mean to say that homosexuals are women. That would be a misunderstanding.
But I think that in a certain way there is a kind of interaction
between the situation of male homosexuals, of transvestites, and
of women. There is a kind of common struggle in their relation to the
GS – “Interaction”, “transformation”, “becoming”, “flow” – these words
suggest a recognition of our sexual or psychic multiplicity and fluidity
which, as I understand it, is an essential aspect of what you call schizoanalysis.
What then is the basic difference between schizoanalysis and
psychoanalysis which, I believe, you have completely abandoned.
FG – I was Lacan’s student, I was analyzed by Lacan, and I practiced
psychoanalysis for twelve years; and now I’ve broken with that practice.
Psychoanalysis transforms and deforms the unconscious by forci�g it to
pass through the grid of its system of inscription and representation. For
psychoanalysis the unconscious is always already there, genetically programmed,
structured, and finalized on objectives of conformity to social
norms. For schizoanalysis it’s a question of constructing an unconscious,
not only with phrases but with all possible semiotic means, and not only
with individuals or relations between individuals, but also with groups,
with physiological and perceptual systems, with machines, struggles, and
arrangements of every nature. There’s no question here of transference,
interpretation, or delegation of power to a specialist.
GS – Do you believe that psychoanalysis has deformed not only the
unconscious but the interpretation of life in general and perhaps of
literature as well?
FG – Yes, but even beyond what one imagines, in the sense that it’s not
simply a question of psychoanalysts or even of psychoanalytical ideas as
they are propagated in the commercial press or in the unive-rsities, but of
A Liberation of Desire 207
interpret�tive and representational attitudes toward desire that one finds
in persons who don’t know psychoanalysis, but who put themselves in
the position of interpreters, of gurus, and who generalize the technique
GS – With Deleuze, you have just finished a schizoanalysis of Kafka’s
work. Why this method to analyze and to comprehend literature?
FG – It’s not a ql.\,estion of method or of doctrine. It’s simply that I’ve
been living with Kafka for a very long time. I therefore tried, together
with Deleuze, to put into our work the part of me that was, in a way, a
becoming of Kafka. In a sense the book is a schizoanalysis of our relation
to Kafka’s work, but also of the period of Vienna in 1920 and of a certain
bureaucratic eros which crystallized in that period, and which fascinated
GS – In a long note you speak of Kafka’s joy, and you suggest that
psychoanalysis has found only Kafka’s sadness or his tragic aspect.
FG – In his Dian·es Kafka gives us a glimpse of the diabolic pleasure he
found in his writing. He says that it was a kind of demonic world he
entered at night to work. I think that everything that produces the
violence, richness, and incredible humor of Kafka’s work belongs to this
world of his.
GS – Aren’t you really proposing that creation is something joyful, and
that this joy can’t be reduced to a psychosis?
FG – Absolutely – or to a lack.
GS – In the sam�-�book on Kafka you say that a “minor literature”, which
is produced by a minority in a major language, always “deterritorializes”
that language, connects the individual to politics, and gives everything a
collective value. These are for you, in fact, the revolutionary qualities of
any literature within the established one. Does homosexuality necessarily
produce a literature having these three qualities?
FG Unfortunately, no. There are certainly homosexual writers who
conduct thcir writing in the form of an oedipal homosexuality. Even very
great writers – I think of Gide. Apart from a few works, Gide always
transcribed his homosexuality and in a sense betrayed it.
GS – Despitc the fact that he tried to prove the value of homosexuality
in works such as Corydon?
FG – Yes, but I wonder if he did it in just one part of his work, and if the
rest of his writing isn’t different.
GS – In the Anti-Oedipe you and Deleuze note that Proust described two
types of homosexuality – one that is Oedipal and therefore exclusive,
global, and neurotic, and one that is a-Oedipal or inclusive, partial, and
localized. In fact, the latter is for you an expression of what you call
“transsexuality” So if there are two Gides, aren’t there also two Prousts,
or at least the possibility of two different readings of his work?
FG – I can’t answer for Proust the man, but it seems to me that his work
does present the two aspects, and one can justify the two readings
because both things in effect exist.
GS – You spoke of the demonic in Kafka. Well, Gide, Proust, and Genet
have been accused of being fascinated by the demonic aspect of homosexuality.
Would you agree?
FG – To a point. I wonder sometimes, not specifically concerning the
three names you mention, if it isn’t a matter of persons who were more
fascinated by the demonic than by homosexuality. Isn’t homosexuality a
means of access to the demonic? That is, they are the heirs of Goethe in
a certain way, and what Goethe called the demonic was in itself a
dimension of mystery.
GS – But the fact remains that in our civilization homosexuality is often
associated with the demonic.
FG – Yes, but so is crime. There’s a whole genre of crime literature that
contains a similar demonic aspect. The demonic or the mysterious is
really a residue of desire in the social world. There are so few places for
mystery that one looks for it everywhere, in anything that escapes or
becomes marginal. For example, there’s something demonic in the life of
a movie star. That’s why it’s used by the sensational press.
GS – Doesn’t that tell us that we are hungry for the demonic; that we are
hungry for things that aren’t “natural”; that we have exploited movie
stars and homosexuals to satisfy our need for the demonic?
FG – I’m not against that because I’m not at all for nature. Therefore
artifice, the artificially demonic, is something that rather charms me.
Only it is one thing to live it in a relationship of immediate desire, and
another thing to transform it into a repressive machine.
GS – Let’s go back to the homosexual writers. I’d like to quote here a
remark of yours that struck me. It’s the last paragraph of you interview
published in the August 1975 issue of La Quinzaine litteraire. You say:
“Everything that breaks something, everything that breaks with the established
order, has something to do with homosexuality, or with a
becoming as animal, a becoming as woman, etc. Any break in semioticization
implies a break in sexuality. It is therefore not necessary, in my
opinion, to raise the question of homosexual writers, but rather to look
for what is homosexual, in any case, in a great writer, even if he is in other
respects heterosexual” Doesn’t this idea contain a new way to approach
or perhaps to go beyond a question that has obsessed certain Freudian
critics and psychoanalysts – namely, the connection between homosexuality,
or all sexuality, and creativity?
FG – Yes, of course. For me, a literary machine starts itself, or can start
itself, when writing connects with other machines of desire. I’d like to
talk about Virginia Woolf in her relation to a becoming as man which is
A Liberation of Desire 209
itself a becoming as woman, because the paradox is complete. I’m
thinking about a book I like very much, Orlando. You have this character
who follows the course of the story as a man, and in the second part of
the novel he becomes a woman. Well, Virginia Woolf herself was a
woman, but one sees that in order to become a woman writer, she had to
follow a certain trajectory of a becoming as woman, and for that she had
to begin by being a man. One could certainly find in George Sand things
perhaps more remarkable than this. So my question is whether writing as
such, the signifier as such, relates to nothing, only to itself, or to power.
Writing begins to function in something else, as for example for the Beat
Generation in the relation with drugs; for Kerouac in the relation with
travel, or with mountains, with yoga. Then something begins to vibrate,
begins to function. Rhythms appear, a need, a desire to speak. Where is
it possible for a writer to start this literary machine if it isn’t precisely
outside of writing and of the field of literature. A break in sexuality –
therefore homosexuality, a becoming as woman, as addict, as missionary,
who knows? It’s a factory, the means of transmitting energy to a writing
GS – Can a break in semiotization precede a break in sexuality?
FG – It’s not a break in semiotization, but a semiotic connection. I’ll give
you a more f�miliar example. Take what are called mad people from a
poor backgro�nd from the point of view of intellectual formation
peasants who-have never read anything, who have gone only to grade
school. Well, when they have an attack of dissociation, a psychotic
attack, it happens sometimes that they begin to write, to paint, to express
extraordinary things, extraordinarily beautiful and poetic! And when they
arc “cured”, they return to the fields, to the sugar-beets and asparagus,
and they don’t write any more at all. You have something of a psychotic
attack like that in Rimbaud. When he became normal, he went into
commerce; all that stopped. It’s always a question of a connection.
Something that was a little scholastic writing machine, really without any
quality, connects with fabulously perceptive semiotics that start in psychosis,
or in drugs, or in war, and that can animate this little writing
machine and produce extraordinary things. You have a group of disconnected
machines, and at a given moment there is a transmission among
them, and everything begins not only to function but to produce an
acceleration of operations. So you see, I’m not talking about sexuality.
Sexuality is already specified as sex, caste, forms of sexual practice,
sexual ritual. But creativity and desire are for me the same thing, the
GS – I’d still like to ask you the following question. Could you begin the
search for what is homosexual in a heterosexual writer with a great writer
like, for example, Beckett, whose work offers us a “homosexuality” which
seems at times to be the product of extraordinary semiotic connections,
and which, in any case, confounds all previous representations and goes
FG – I think of those characters who travel by twos and who have no
sexual practice because they live completely outside of sexuality, but who
nevertheless represent a kind of collective set-up of enunciation, a collective
way of perceiving everything that happens. And so many things are
happening that it’s necessary to select, to narrow down, in order to
receive and distill each element, as if one were using a microscope to
capture each of the intensities. Indeed, there is perhaps in Beckett a
movement outside of the sexes, but then there is the absolutely fabulous
relation to objects, a sexual relation to objects. I’m thinking of the
sucking stones in Molloy.
GS Then how does one explain the elements of homosexuality, of
sadomasochism, in his work?
FG – But that’s theater, because if there’s a constant in Beckett’s work,
it’s that even when he writes novels, he creates theater, in the sense of a
mise en scene, a mise en acte, of giving something to be seen. So then
inevitably, he gathers up representations, but he aniculates them to
create literature. What’s more, Beckett is someone, I think, who was very
interested in the insane, in psychopathology, and therefore he picked up
a lot of representations. The use he makes of them is essentially literary,
of course, but what he uses them for is not a translation, it’s a college, it’s
like a dance. He plays with these representations, or rather, he makes
GS – You said in your anicle on the cinemal that any representation
expresses a certain position with respect to power. But I wonder if
Beckett hasn’t succeeded in writing a politically “innocent” text.
FG – I t:lo more believe in innocence than I do in nature. One thing
should be made clear – if one finds innocence, there’s reason to worry,
there’s reason to look not for guilt, of course, because that’s the same
thing as innocence, it’s symmetry, but for what is politically in germination,
for a politics en pointilte. Take Kafka again. Although his text isn’t
innocent, the supremely innocent character is K., and yet he is neither
innocent nor guilty. He’s waiting to enter a political scene. That’s not
fiction; it’s not Borges, because he did enter a political scene in Prague,
where one of the biggest political dramas was played around Kafka’s
work. So, innocence is always the anticipation of a political problem.
GS – Everything that’s written is therefore linked in one way or another
to a political position?
FG Yes, with two fundamental axes: everything that’s written in
refusing the connection with the referent, with reality, implies a politics
of individuation of the subject and of the object, of a turning of �riting
A Liberation of Desire 2 1 1
on itself, and by that puts itself in the service of all hierarchies, of all
centralized systems of power, and of what Deleuze and I call “arborescences”,
the regime of unifiable multiplicities. The second axis, in opposition
to arborescence, is that of the “rhizome”, the regime of pure
multiplicities. It’s what even innocent texts, even gratuitous games like
those of the Dadaists, even collages, cut-ups, perhaps especially these
things, will make possible one day to reveal – the pattern of similar breaks
in reality, in the social field, and in the field of economic, cosmic, and
GS – So sexual liberation is not going to rid us of political connections.
FG – Sexual liberation is a mystification. I believe in, and will fight for,
the taking of power by other castes and sexual systems, but I believe that
liberation will occur when sexuality becomes desire, and that desire is the
freedom to be sexual, that is, to be something else at the same time.
GS How does one escape from this dilemma in which one caste
FG – What these liberation movements will reveal by their failures and
difficulties is that there really aren’t any castes. There’s the possibility
that society will reform itself through other types of subjective arrangements
that are not based on individuals. in constellation or on relations of
power that co;ttmunication institutes between speaker and listener.
There will be arrangements, I don’t know what, based neither on
families, nor on communes, nor on groups, where the goals of life,
politics, and work will always be conjugated with the analysis of unconscious
relations, of relations of micro-power, of micro-fascism. On the
day when these movements fix as their goals not only the liberation of
homosexuals, women, and children, but also the struggle against themselves
in their constant power relations, in their relation of alienation, of
repression against their bodies, their thoughts, their ways of speaking,
then indeed, we will see another kind of struggle appear, another kind of
possibility. The micro-fascist elements in all our relations with others
must be found, because when we fight on the molecular level, we’ll have
a much better chance of preventing a truly fascist, a macro-fascist formation
on the molar level.
GS – You and Delcuze often speak of Artaud, who wanted to rid us of
masterpieces and perhaps even of written texts. Can one say that the
written text already contains a form of micro-fascism?
FG – No, because a written text can be lengthened. Graffiti in the street
can be erased or added to. A written text can be contradictory, can be
made into a palimpsest. It can be something extremely alive. What is
much less alive is a work, une oeuvre (and Artaud himself did not write a
work) or a book. But then one never writes a book. One picks up on
books that have been written; one places oneself in a phylum. To write a
2 1 2 QueerlSubjecrivities
book that wants to be an eternal and universal manual, yes, you’re right;
but to write after one thing and before another, that means participating
in a chain, in a chain of love as well.
GS – I’d like to return for a moment to what you said about desire and
the problem of liberation. I think of people who might profit from that
kind of formulation in order to circumvent the question of homosexuality
and the specificity of this struggle, by saying that all that is just sexuality
and that sexuality alone matters.
FG – I’m very sympathetic to what you say. It’s a bit like what they say
to us regarding the struggle of the working class. I understand that, but
I’d still like to give the same answer: it’s up to the homosexuals. I’m not
a worker or a homosexual. I’m a homosexual in my own way, but I’m not
a homosexual in the world of reality or of the group.
GS – Yes, but the theories one proposes on homosexuality are always
important, and they are never innocent. Before writing Corydon, Gide
read theories. Before writing La recherche, Proust was totally aware of the
psychological thought of his time. Even Genet was influenced after· the
fact by the theories ofSartre. Obviously, it’s often writers themselves who
are the first to see things that others transform into theories. I’m thinking
of Dostoevsky, Proust, and of course, Kafka. You’ve already begun to use
your own theories to study the literatUre of the past, and they are related
perhaps to what may someday be called a ‘literature of desire’ Writers,
critics, and homosexuals have the choice of accepting or rejecting these
theories, or of playing with them. But they can neither forget them nor
ignore the words of moralists, psychoanalysts , and philosophers, certainly
not today and certainly not in France.
FG – Right, I completely agree. It’s truly a pollution. But in any case,
what do you think of the few theoretical propositions I’ve advanced here?
It’s my turn to question you .
GS – Judging your position by what you’ve said here and by what you’ve
written, I think that you and Dcleuze have seriously questioned Freud’s
system. You have turned our attention away from the individual and
toward the group, and you have shown to what extent the whole Oedipal
structure reflects our society’s paranoia and has become an instrument
for interiorizing social and political oppression. Also, I’d like to quote the
following passage from the Anti-Oedipe: “We are heterosexuals statistically
or in molar terms, but homosexuals personally, whether we know it
or not, and finally transsexuals elementarily, molecularly” I can’t claim
to understand fully this or other aspects of your theory, but you do show
that the time has come to address ourselves to the question of sexuality
in another way, and that’s a kind of liberation.
FG – Well, I want to say to those people who say ‘all that is sexuality’ that
they must go farther and try to see what in fact is the sexuality not only
A Liberation of Desire 213
of the homosexual, but also of the sadomasochist, the transvestite, the
prostitute, even the murderer, anyone for that matter, in order not to go
in the direction of reassurance. They must see what a terrible world of
repression they will enter.
GS – Despite the passage from your work I just quoted, when you speak
you often cite groups that are always outside the dominant field of
FG – For me desire is always ‘outside’; it always belongs to a minority.
For me there is no heterosexual sexuality. Once there’s heterosexuality,
in fact, once there’s marriage, there’s no more desire, no more sexuality.
In all my twenty-five years of work in the field I’ve never seen a heterosexual
married couple that functioned along the line of desire. Never.
They don’t exist. So don’t say that I’m marginalizing sexuality with
homosexuals, etc., because for me there is no heterosexuality possible.
GS – Following the same logic there is no homosexuality possible.
FG – In a sense yes, because in a sense homosexuality is counterdependent
on heterosexuality. Part of the problem is the reduction of the body.
It’s the impossibility of becoming a totally sexed body. The sexed body
is something that includes all perceptions, everything that occurs in the
mind. The problem is how to sexualize the body, how to make bodies
desire, vibrate – all aspects of the body.
GS – There are still the fantasies each of us brings. That’s often what’s
interesting in some homosexual writing – this expression of fantasies that
are very specialized, very specific.
FG – I don’t think it’s in terms of fantasies that things are played but in
terms of representations. There are fantasies of representations. In desire
what functions are semiotic flows of a totally different nature, including
verbal flows. It’s not fantasies; it’s something that functions, words that
function, speech, rhythms, poetry. A phantasmal representation in
poetry is never the essential thing, no more than is the content. Phantasy
is always related to content. What counts is expression, the way expression
connects with the body. For example, poetry is a rhythm that transmits
itself to the body, to perception. A phantasy when it operates does
not do so as a phantasy that represents a content, but as something that
puts into play, that brings out something that carries us away, that draws
us, that locks us onto something.
GS – Aren’t there phantasies of form as well?
FG – Phantasies of form, phantasies of expression, become in effect
micro-fascistic crystallizations. This implies, for example, in scenes of
power of a sadomasochistic character: ‘Put yourself in exactly this position.
Follow this scenario so that it will produce in me such an effect’.
That becomes a kind of phantasy of form, but what counts there is not
the application of the phantasy, it’s the relation to the other person, it’s
2 14 QueerlSubjectivilies
complicity! Desire escapes from formal redundancies, escapes from
power formations. Desire is not informed, informing; it’s not information
or content. Desire is not something that deforms, but that disconnects,
changes, modifies, organizes other forms, and then abandons them.
GS – So, a literary text escapes all categorization as well as any sexuality
that can be called one thing or another?
FG – Take any literary work you love very much. Well, you will see that
you love it because it is for you a panicular form of sexuality or desire, I
leave the term to you. The first time I made love with Joyce while reading
Ulysses was absolutely unforgettable! It was extraordinary! I made love
with Kafka, and I think one can say that, truly.
GS – Proust said it: ‘To love Balzac; to love Baudelaire’ And he was
speaking of a love that could not be reduced to any one definition.
FG – Absolutely. And one doesn’t make love in the same way with Joyce
as with Kafka. If one began to make love in the same way, there would be
reason to worry – one might be becoming a professor of literature!
GS – Perhaps! Then literature can be a liberation of desire, and the text
is a way of mUltiplying the sexes.
FG – Cettain texts, texts that function. Nothing can be done about those
that don’t function. But those that do function mUltiply our functioning.
They turn us into madmen; they make us vibrate.
This interview appeared in G. Stambolian and Elaine Marks (eds.), HomosexuaJirks and
French I..iterature: Cultural Contexts/Critical Texts, Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1979, pp.
56-69. An earlier discussion of queer issues may be found in Guauari, ‘Une sexualisation
en rupture’ [Interview by C. Deschamps], La Quinzaine liueraire 215 (aout 1975): 14·-15.
1 See Guanari, ‘Le divan du pauvre’, Communications 23 (1975): 96-103.
Translated by George Srambolian
january 25th we don’t have a reading, but will be talking about crime (people are encouraged to read something on their own and do a report back about it), and we may or may not watch a movie (or part of one?) about the angry brigade.
this topic is partly to prepare folks for discussions at our next theory conference,
when crime will be the theme.
this week we’re reading a piece from anarchist news called
“safety is an illusion: reflections on accountability”.
the following week we’ll be reading a piece on an italian community center, brought in by audrey.
potluck! bring food, eat food, come early (7pm). vegan, straightedge, nut and gluten free if possible. chat with people, get to know folks, start working on a reputation (or a better one!)… it all (can) start here!
the reading is from a book by david halperin about foucault, and it’s in two sections.
(find the “rotate view clockwise” button for this pdf)