chapter  4
20 Pages

DESIRE, BECOMING AND FREEDOM

Deleuze and Guattari’s Anti-Oedipus launched a polemical assault on the varieties of uncritical synthesis of Freudianism and Marxism which had become theoretical orthodoxy for much of the extra-parliamentary left in France after May 1968. Their criticism of the psychoanalytic concept of desire and sketch of an alternative schizoanalytic concept immediately became a succès de scandale. The notoriety achieved by their first collaborative work has meant that the names Deleuze and Guattari are firmly associated with a philosophy and a politics of desire. Philip Goodchild represents the opinion of many when he writes that The politics of desire is the sole purpose of Deleuze and Guattari’s thought’ (Goodchild 1996:5). However, ‘the politics of desire’ is an ambiguous phrase which can refer to more than one dimension of their collaborative work. Our concern here is not with the details of their historico-political critique of psychoanalysis.1 Rather, our aim is to identify some of the significant features of their ‘politics of desire’ and to show how these are derived from their non-psychoanalytic concept of desire. The most obvious sense in which they engaged in a ‘politics of desire’ emerges from their argument that desire is implicated in all social and political processes:

There is no such thing as the social production of reality on the one hand, and a desiring-production that is mere fantasy on the other…We maintain that the social field is immediately invested by desire, that it is the historically determined product of desire, and that libido has no need of any mediation or sublimation, any psychic operation, any transformation, in order to invade and invest the productive forces and the relations of production. There is only desire and the social, and nothing else.