Take the example of Deleuze and Guattari. Anti-Oedipus is not so much a critique of psychoanalysis– though it is that as well –as it is a critique of a particular social structure and the metaphysics that accompanies it. If an engagement with psychoanalysis proves to be the privileged site for an engagement with this structure, then this is not with the aim of reforming psychoanalysis– though that as well –but because psychoanalysis provides those weapons necessary for engaging this structure and developing a praxis that would allow for an escape from this structure. Politics, we might say, was at an impasse. The Russian Revolution was a failure. It had overturned those that controlled the means of production, yet the form of social organization remained the same. The content had changed, while the form remained in place. Just as I might replace a missing piece on a chess board with quarter, the material content had changed while essentially the same function or structure was in place. “Meet your new boss, same as the old boss.” The party elite now occupied the place of exploiter, producing a machine more harrowing than the factories in its capacity and reality of alienation, and while the owners of the means of production had changed, having been socialized or democratized, the form of production– Taylorism –remained the same. The French Communist Party was not much better. Here, once again, we had the same hierarchical structure, with a party elite calling the shots, making the decisions, organized around a centralized apparatus that radiated outwards, rather than the socialization or democratization that Marx had called for.

But this, in and of itself, was not the problem. Or rather, it was a problem, but the problem also lay elsewhere. All over the place economic changes were taking place. Conditions were changing. Yet revolution did not come. Why? The vulgar and simplistic model of Marxist thought, that superstructure is a function and distorted reflection of the base, had to be mistaken. At some level, as Deleuze and Guattari, following Reich, put it, people must desire their own oppression. It is not enough to say that these structures were simply imposed on agents from without. Rather, at some level agents must desire these formations… These formations which Deleuze and Guattari refer to as “fascist”. Consequently, a critique of political economy is not enough. In addition to a critique of political economy, a critique of desire, a Critique of Pure Desire, must be written. Psychoanalysis provided these tools. Just as Marx carried out a critique of Ricardo, among others, by showing how value was not an intrinsic feature of things in themselves, but produced through labor. Freud and Lacan carried out a critique of prior psychology by formulating a desire divested of objects, a desire as such, a desire that wasn’t a function of need and instinct… A desire without an object, but as a process. Marx produced a non-representational theory of value. Freud and Lacan produced a non-representational theory of desire. Yet this critique had not gone far enough. It was still tainted by the empirical.

This desire was still tainted by certain privileged objects. Just as Kant had carried out a critique of the so-called proofs for the existence of God in the second half of the Critique of Pure Reason, it was thus necessary to carry out a Critique of Oedipal Reason. The Oedipus had been subtracted from the social sphere, treated as a private affair of the family, dehistoricized, de-sociologized, de-culturalized. But rather, the Oedipus reflected an entire metaphysics, a metaphysics extending far beyond the private. Far from being a natural and essential state-of-affairs, it already was the expression of a political metaphysics. This can be thought in fractal terms. A fractal is a pattern that iterates or repeats itself at all levels of scale.

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Far from the family being the ground upon which all other social relations are based, what we have here is a fractal structure iterating itself at the level of the family, the level of social organizations (king or leader to subjects), and at the level of God in relation to his creature. If the death of God means anything, it means the destruction of this structure… Not simply at the level of content, but at the level of form as well. Freud, as Marx to Ricardo, had glimpsed this in his earlier work where libido no longer has an object. Lacan had explicitly formulated this in his claim that “the Oedipus is Freud’s myth“, and his attempt to think beyond the name-of-the-father as a central organizing principle in his later work. The problem arises as to how a politics might be possible in a post-Oedipal or post-onto-theological world.

More to come.