Saturday, 29 August 2009


This quote appears in Molecular Revolution: Psychiatry and Politics (1972). The use of the word 'anti-production' pre-dates the definition developed by Deleuze and Guattari together in their Capitalism and Schizophrenia series:
It is impossible to separate the production of any consumer commodity from the institution that supports that production. The same can be said of teaching, training, research, etc. The State machine and the machine of repression produce anti-production, that is to say signifiers that exist to block and prevent the emergence of any subjective process [...]. (1984: 34).

In regards to the university, the “consumer commodity” would be considered the knowledge that is being 'sold' to the student and which is produced at the end of a course in the form of awarding a degree which can be exchanged for a job, ideally one of capitalist-orientation. It is even the case that the student could be conceived of as the commodity, rather than the knowledge gained which appears in the form of the degree. Guattari is saying that any process that is antithetical to that of the capitalist project will be prevented from emerging (as much as is possible). The signs that capitalism creates, discourage any singular processes of individuation and attempt to reroute subjective desires back into capitalist production: this is anti-production. Although I am reluctant to use dialectical terms like outside/inside when discussing post-structuralist themes, it appears from this definition that anti-production is a process instigated outside the individual, by capitalism.

In the work that Deleuze and Guattari carried out together, anti-production represents a moment in production that occurs as a result of primal repression. For them anti-production appears to be autonomous but is not: it operates alongside production but is liable to being rerouted into the dominant productive processes and becoming recoded into the forms of representation used by that system. This definition, takes the form of an internal process that can become hi-jacked by capitalism.

(I would welcome any feedback from Deleuze and Guattari experts)

Guattari, Félix. 1984. Molecular Revolution: Psychiatry and Politics, trans. by Rosemary Sheed (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books).


  1. One also highlighted this passage the first time through Anti-Oedipus as provocative, mysterious to a degree, and invitingly open-ended.

    You seem to be on the right track.

    Another temptation is to link with Marcuse's surplus repression, which he saw manifested in an aggression that Capitalism may redirect toward war.

    Such a link, however, is indirect and Deleuze and Guattari seem in effect to reject both Freud and Marcuse on what is 'necessary' repression.

    Another temptation is to see anti-production as an analogue of cooptation, as in repressive tolerance, which--from experience--fits the Capitalism's academes to a "T".

    One cheers your reluctance to use inside/outside in relation to Deleuze and Guattari--"beside" is the future and the exit perhaps, not Capitalism's internal and external.

    But that requires also a thorough-going and in itself revolutionary reevaluation of "individual", which even Marx fell into a too easy and unexamined use of.

    Certainly "body" solves nothing, and saying the "individual" is differentiated from the socius only vaguely does the trick, though nicely enough as a matter of some natural grammar and language.

    If the desiring machine is "individual"--in the sense of atomic and uniform--avoiding another hierarchy, is not there still a question of singular, dual, and plural in relation to "desire"? And is that too, even if beside, a kind of "anti-differentiation" of the socius?

    Have you read Schopenhauer by the way? It is more than accidental that Deleuze and Guattari see Laing as so far ahead exactly because of his openness to the East.

  2. Hi. I've only read a little Schopenhauer. But I did my BA dissertation on Laing - I'm a bit of a fan, except for his womanising...

  3. I posted a short essay recently on R. D. Laing's Knots and its cryptotypes, including Linnaeus and Vogelweide on one of my blogs here:

    Much interested in what you might have to say, either on the essay or Laing.

    Laing was indeed in one mode a very good poet, and beyond Lacan, who had really only one significant uncovery, though he also struggled with a poet's language and sensibility though not with a poet's insight, didn't he?

  4. It's a dialectical relationship between the individual and the state machine and machine of repression, where the individual who is desiring production cannot synthesize the two poles - the state machine/repressive machine and him or herself - without 'overcoming' the state machine or repressive machine in a revolutionary gesture. It is a battle for control and supremacy. The state machine operates on the assumption that all functions, all desires are aligned with state interests. But the revolutionary content of desiring production is not only for production, but to do away with the repressive machine or state machine so that desire can operate freely and of its own accord. In some ways the relationship between the state machine/repressive machine and desiring production is that of the master and the slave. Except in this case the master is the state and the individual (for lack of better term) is slave to its desire, to desiring production. Desiring production must undergo an apprenticeship until it learns to reproduce the state (but not necessarily the state machine)

  5. "It's a dialectical relationship between the individual and the state machine and machine of repression..."

    Right wing "Anarcho-Capitalism" on the march. The present "state" in the West, as a collection and as a matter of intension, is a handmaid of Capitalism and nothing more, just as it was designed to be. The real irony, which Deleuze and Guattari nicely finesse, is that the illusion of the "individual" is also, in its present guise, a Capitalist creation, along with the "workers". The latter point is implicit in Marx, but it was Stalin who realized some of its unexpected consequences, such as the fact that in the United States the "workers" had been long ago "bourgeoisified".

    Plekhanov dealt definitively with all this a century ago. Marx in the Grundrisse did get beyond "individual" by reference to species, but he fell into some misleading if common usage, which is still misunderstood, just as Kaufware is mistranslated into English as "commodity" rather than "merchandise".

    Individuum est ineffabile.