Conclusion: The strange joy of politics

Submitted by libcom on July 24, 2005

6 Conclusion

The strange joy of politics

a kind of broadly pervasive democratic consensus seems to make us forget that 'democracy', more and more frequently, serves only to assure a play of economic and technical forces that no politics today subjects to any end other than its own expansion.

(Nancy 1991: xxxvii)

It is no disproof of one's presentiment of an ultimate liberation if the next day one's imprisonment continues on unchanged, or is even made straighter, or if it is even expressly stated that it will never end.

(Kafka 1999: 391)

Paolo Virno (1996d: 189) expresses a common sentiment about the state of current political thought and practice when he writes, 'If nobody asks me what political action is, I seem to know; but if I have to explain it to somebody who asks, this presumed knowledge evaporates into incoherence.' This is a problem, but it is not a wholly new one. Indeed, inasmuch as it is in the nature of politics to have an openness to virtuality, to potential, and to undetermined worlds, a certain amount of uncertainty, if not 'incoherence', is one of its central features. Nevertheless, politics is necessarily subject to a form of ordering "” a stratification of forms and potential around the question 'what is to be done?' "” since it is an attempt to call forth other worlds through concrete engagement with the intricacies of the present. At the other pole to that of 'incoherence', the problem is that such ordering and engagement has so often occurred through regimes of truth and certainty that it has been characterized as much by dogma and ressentiment as by experimentation and creation. It would be wrong to say that Marxism was the only vehicle of this form of stratification; the effacement of political virtuality in social democratic consensus is at least as effective, and certainly more pervasive. Nevertheless, orthodox Marxism and the Leninist model did such a good job of curtailing the innovation of politics that most serious attempts, certainly within the academy, to conceptualize politics and open its potential have, since the 1970s, worked at a degree of remove from Marxism, and even ventured a certain 'post-politics' or a 'cultural politics' to get away from its perceived anaemic territory. Deleuze's work is in many ways attributable to a similar desire to radically rethink politics away from orthodoxy and dogma, and to address, in his own particular way, the question of 'what is to be done?' Yet, rather than sever links with Marxism, Deleuze worked through a rather nuanced relation with it: a relation that has enough importance to his work that up to his death Deleuze would continue to describe himself as Marxist.

Deleuze himself only came to Marx in the 1960s. He says that he read Marx and Nietzsche together (Deleuze 1995a: 51), and it is interesting to consider how these two thinkers "” both of whom have been implicated in some of the worst horrors of the twentieth century "” have faired in poststructuralist-infiuenced thought. The reterritorialization of Marx's and Nietzsche's 'untimely' thought (for a 'people to come') in the most oppressive of national socialisms and fully present historical peoples is such that the need to read Marx and Nietzsche against their dominant image is apparent long before one discusses the details of Deleuze's philosophical method.1 Arguably, however, post-war French thought has largely managed to de-link Nietzsche's philosophy from National Socialism. One can hence see Deleuze as Nietzschean without offending too many sensibilities. Yet, to see Deleuze as Marxist appears to be more problematic, as if the identity of Marxism is still too much of a molar attractor. A sense of the danger of Marxist identity is even marked by Deleuze himself, who at least once presents Marx as a figure of oppressive molar thought (cf. Deleuze and Parnet 1987: 14). In following Deleuze's relations with Marx we are, hence, simultaneously compelled to maintain a certain separation. I would not want to suggest anything else. The focus of this book should be seen as an attempt to add to, rather than circumscribe understandings of Deleuze's politics; to consider a Deleuze"”Marx resonance is not to reduce Deleuze to a circumscribed Marxism. What such a resonance should do, rather, is to explore the points of connection and complication between Deleuze and Marx. But, in doing this, one finds that Deleuze's relation with Marx is marked by no vague nod in Marx's direction. On the contrary, a little like the way operaismo sought to overcome the identity of Marxism by returning to Marx, Deleuze's Marxism is best seen as a return (with difference, of course) to core Marxian problematics.

To draw this book to a close I want to summarize some of its argument about the Marxian problematics in Deleuze's engagement with Marx through a brief consideration of the communist critique of democracy. This will help situate Deleuze's politics in a wider context of more dominant understandings of politics. The chapter then concludes with a consideration of the affective condition that arises from this political standpoint outside the nurturing social space of democratic politics. Taking off from Hardt and Negri's invocation of the 'lightness and joy' of communist politics, it considers Deleuze's reading of the peculiar joy and humour of Kafka and Foucault.

Communism, minor politics, and the critique of democracy

When, in his critique of modes of being constituted as an essence, an identity, or a 'work', Nancy (1991: 31) writes that community 'is the unworking of work that is social, economic, technical, and institutional', he excludes the political so as to suggest that this unworking is the practice of politics (158). It is for similar reasons, as I argued in Chapter 1 against Badiou's critique, that Deleuze and Guattari omit the field of 'politics' from What is Philosophy? For Deleuze, politics is immanent to life, across the realms of art, science, and philosophy and has no autonomous properties. It is the process of invention and creation, at least inasmuch as invention is the process that flees molar stratified forms of identity and relation and calls forth a 'new earth'. As such, politics is simultaneously a problematization of forms of identity and equivalence, and a process of invention, creation, and becoming across the social. As this book has sought to show, this characterization of politics as invention and difference is, however, only a starting point, and in itself it is not enough. Indeed, the danger of a superficial reading of Deleuze's politics is that it becomes an apology for capital, since capital is increasingly operating as a machine of (a certain kind of) difference. As Hardt and Negri argue:

hybrid identities or multiculturalism can seem like liberatory projects when one assumes that the power being confronted rests on pure notions of identity and stark oppositions of self and other. But when the sovereign power no longer resides on pure identities but rather works through hybridization and multicultural formations, as we claim it does in Umpire, then those projects lose any necessary relation to liberation or even contestation. In fact, they could be complicit with imperial power itself.

(in Hardt et al. 2002: 182)

Deleuze himself was fully aware of this danger, and when he highlights the problem (albeit at a more abstract level) in Difference and Repetition, it is important that he uses Marx as a sign of his very different intention. In his discussion of Marx's forwarding of capital as a process of 'differenciation', against Hegelian opposition and contradiction, Deleuze writes:

Clearly, at this point the philosophy of difference must be wary of turning into the discourse of beautiful souls: differences, nothing but differences, in a peaceful coexistence in the Idea of social places and functions . . . but the name of Marx is sufficient to save it from this danger.

(Deleuze 1994a: 207)

Rather than a simple affirmation of difference, then, Deleuze proposes that political thought must begin from an engagement with the dynamics of the capitalist socius, and it is because of this proposition that he says he and Guattari were Marxists (N: 171). This book has considered this politics through the figure of minor politics - as an intensive and creative engagement with the cramped conditions of life on the condition that 'the people are missing' (Deleuze 1989: 216) "” and the problematic of the proletariat "” as a plane of composition immanent to, and against the flows and axioms of capitalist production. Through the conjunction of these figures I have argued that Deleuze's politics is not only 'Marxist' in its focus on capitalist dynamics, but also 'communist', where communism is an immanent engagement with the regimes, relations, and forces of life as it is configured in capital towards their overcoming. To present Deleuze's relation with Marx through the figure of communism is to situate his politics in a very different trajectory to the dominant neo-Gramscian post-Marxist model of the staged shift from the 'economic' to the 'cultural' and the realm of social democratic politics, as against the plane of production. Through my consideration of the figure of the proletariat and the configurations of work, machines, capital, and the refusal of work in Chapters 3, 4, and 5, I hope to have made the focus and some of the concerns of this trajectory clear. It is worth, however, marking a little more explicitly how this politics presents a critique of democracy, for this figure, as Badiou (2002) has recently argued, has come to operate as something of an irreproachable and extra-historical emblem or fetish of our time.

As with Deleuze, Marx's politics takes off from the politicization of the totality of social relations. As such, it challenges the liberal democratic model of politics "” the sphere of negotiation between autonomous individuals manifest in the categories of 'citizen' and 'people' "” as that which leaves the plane of capital and exploitation largely unproblematized. But Marx's and Deleuze's politics present not merely a broader or richer space of political activity than that of social democratic politics. Inasmuch as it is a critique and problematization of the forms of identity and practice composed in the capitalist socius, this politics is an explicit challenge to social democratic politics. In a quite contrary fashion to Laclau and Mouffe's (1985) post-Marxist argument that politics should orient around a widening of the 'chain of equivalences' of social democracy "” and that a widening of democracy was a core principle of the early socialist project (Laclau 2001) "” certain Marxist currents have continued to read Marx as proposing an explicitly anti-democratic politics. For Bordiga and other theorists related to the Italian communist left such as Barrot and Camatte, for example, democracy is immanent to the rise and functioning of capital such that its efforts to 'reconcile political equality with the division of society into social classes determined by the nature of the mode of production' (Bordiga n.d.: n.p.) is not its deviation but its essence.2 As such, 'Marxist communism presents itself as a critique and negation of democracy' (Bordiga n.d.: n.p.). Deleuze's position is not dissimilar. For Deleuze, to be 'on the left' is not a matter of democracy (Deleuze 1997a: G comme Gauche; Stivale 2000). Democracy composes a plane of axiomatized molar subjects in relations of equivalence such that democratic politics is 'a kind of grid', a way of understanding and perceiving which funnels and channels all events and problems into its unifying and totalizing framework (Deleuze 1998d: 40-1; cf. also Massumi 1992: 123-6).3 Democracy, for Deleuze as for Marx, is immanent to the reterritorializing and recoding forces of capital.4 To be on the left for Deleuze, as I pointed out in Chapter 1, is instead to perceive the world in terms of minor becomings. This is a no less global project than that framed by the project of democracy; it is a different perception of the global plane. To be on the left is, in a sense, to deny the majority, to propose that the majority is 'no one' and that politics occurs across a global plane of minorities, of 'everybody' (ATP: 105). Thus, when Deleuze and Guattari (1994: 108) write of or for 'a new earth and people that do not yet exist' they suggest that 'This people and earth will not be found in our democracies. Democracies are majorities, but a becoming is by its nature that which always eludes the majority.' The force of their distaste of democracy and its 'vulgarities', and their sense of the final impossibility of this form to offer any real politics is evident when they write: 'What social democracy has not given the order to fire when the poor come out of their territory or ghetto?' (Deleuze and Guattari 1994: 107).5

It is, then, in the conjunction of a politics rooted in the analysis of the dynamics of capitalist production - in its pervasive, diffuse, and global arrangements and its lines of flight - and a positing of politics across the plane of the socius, not only outside of, but in many senses against, the social democratic political that the communism of Deleuze's minor politics resides. At a time when increasing aspects of social life "” from the neo-liberal intensification of work, to the flows of corporate finance and military alliances of a new imperial control disguised in the resolutely not-up-for-debate war against an abstract and pervasive 'terror' "” operate fully beyond the reach of any possible progressive challenge from formal democratic politics, it would be a strange accusation indeed to see this framework as Utopian. This is not to say that Deleuze falls into some kind of redundant dichotomy of 'reform' or 'revolution'. Thinking in minor terms is not a withdrawal from particular intervention into some hoped-for great crisis and ultimate contradiction "” as I showed in Chapter 2, minor politics is concerned with intimate and particular interrogation of social relations. But it is to suggest that minor politics is an engagement that does not traverse the grid of democratic politics, but, rather, seeks to disrupt and deterritorialize the identities, languages, oppressions, exploitations, and practices that maintain the proper functioning of that grid.

This book has sought to consider both the techniques and styles of this engagement, and a number of specific sites and moments of intervention. In this I have considered at a number of points the way such an engagement arises not from the security of a people, but from a sense of cramped and impossible positions. If one subtracts oneself from the political grid of democracy today (which is not the same thing as withdrawing from its critique) one is most certainly left with a feeling of impossibility. One is seen to be almost wilfully naive about the real possibilities of politics in the contemporary socius "” which, notwithstanding the re-emergence of 'anti-capitalist' themes, is certainly not configuring itself at the cusp of an alternative social experiment to capital. It is thus worth considering what politically propulsive affective condition one might discern in the midst of impossibility.

Impossibility and joy

I want to draw this book to a close with a discussion of the peculiar affective condition of minor political and communist practice. Hardt and Negri are a useful place to start, for Empire ends with a quite spectacular invocation of contemporary communist affect, as it asserts in the last line 'the irrepressible lightness and joy of being communist' (Hardt and Negri 2000: 413). The point is made as an affirmation of life, of the constitutive being of the multitude against the 'misery of power'. It is not a wholly abstract formulation, because it is located in the project of a new 'militant'. This is not the ascetic militant of the Third International addled with Soviet doctrine and morality, duty and discipline, but of the history of revolutionary politics from the Spanish Civil War to anti-colonial struggle, and it takes a prototype in the Industrial Workers of the World with its model of organization and agitation immanent to diffuse and migratory labour. The multitude is on a wholly new terrain of biopolitical constitution, but towards the development of a directly political struggle it can learn, it would seem, from the communist movement.

The 'militant', however, is an odd choice of agent. The history of the model of the militant in the 'little diaries', as Kafka might call them, of the communist movement has been one of considerable critique. From feminist, countercultural, left communist, Situationist perspectives, the militant has been challenged as an ascetic model of political practice that forms through a fetishized mode of commitment to 'action'. It is a model immanent to the formation of what Camatte (1995) calls political 'rackets', where groups emerge in equivalence to political concepts and theories against those outside the group "” those with a less 'militant' attitude "” and are propelled by the motive force of commitment and action to ever more self-certain and self-important activity. Rather than accelerate political change, militant forms tend to end up producing specialized roles, hostility to others, fear of models and struggles outside their own variety of political truth, anxiety about being worthy of the cause, and exhaustion "” either through the dull repetition of action such as paper-selling and rounds of meetings, or through an acceleration into ever greater self-sacrificial activity that finds its logical outcome in the left-wing guerrilla.6 Instead of militant activity being a site of lightness and joy, those who experience it are more likely, if criticism can surface, to present the experience in very different terms, akin perhaps, as Autotoxicity (1997: n.p.) describe one experience, to something like being in the midst of 'a psychological flophouse crossed with a local branch of the Air Training Corps'.

The lightness and joy of Hardt and Negri's militant is clearly a product of its immanent relation to an increasingly autonomous biopolitical production that, as I argued in Chapter 4, is central to Empire's conceptualization of contemporary capital and the emergence of the multitude. And part of the announcement of this joy and a coming communism of the multitude is no doubt an attempt to bring some optimism and possibility for affirmation to the left; indeed, as Balakrishnan (2000: 142) notes, Empire offers an optimism that seems to surpass even that of the neo-liberal diagnosticians of the end of history, whose works usually conclude with a note of caution. This does reverse the conventional position of the left, as Balakrishnan (2000: 142) puts it, of 'at best' a 'clear-eyed pessimism', and in this Empire is largely unique. It is difficult not to welcome a little affirmation, to feel at one with the cutting edge of change. And Hardt and Negri's efforts to forward an affirmative sensibility rooted in political engagement is important. But if one does not ascribe to their analysis of the ontology of contemporary production, the appeal to the high points of revolutionary politics and their expression of militancy is not adequate for thinking the affective possibilities of contemporary political practice. Political joy in the midst of contemporary regimes of work and control is not that easy.

Deleuze's minor politics is also, I would suggest, concerned with drawing out and affirming a certain affective condition of joy immanent to political composition. However, the conditions of the emergence of joy are very different for Deleuze, and, I would suggest, are founded in a much more pragmatic sense of the very real difficulties of political composition. Minor politics, as argued in Chapter 2, arises not from an emerging autonomy, but from cramped and complex relations that offer no easy or inevitable way out, and are packed full of disagreements, tensions, and impossibilities. I have argued that this condition induces modes of political and cultural invention. What I have not considered explicitly is the strange humour and joy that it induces. Deleuze's sense of the peculiar affective condition of this engagement emerges in his discussion of Kafka and Foucault.

Deleuze argues that amongst the many different aspects of Foucault's 'style' was 'an intense violence' born of seeing 'what was intolerable in things', and that was 'mastered, controlled, and turned into courage' (N: 103). As if to exemplify the point, Deleuze writes that Foucault 'was trembling with violence on some demonstrations' (N: 103). For Deleuze, this violence was immanent to the force of Foucault's work in its genealogical disruption of the present, and in Foucault's own desire to break free from himself: 'once one has to invent new concepts for unknown lands, then methods and moral systems break down and thinking becomes, as Foucault put it, a "perilous act", a violence whose first victim is oneself (N: 103). Central to this violence is Foucault's critique "” in works such as Discipline and Punish "” of the apparent historical flowering of liberal democratic society, which is revealed to be a great labyrinth of productive control. Jameson has presented this form of critique, which seems to build up the intolerable to a vast edifice, as a disempowering critical production:

What happens is that the more powerful the vision of some increasingly total system or logic - the Foucault of the prisons book is the obvious example "” the more powerless the reader comes to feel. Insofar as the theorist wins, therefore, by constructing an increasingly closed and terrifying machine, to that very degree he loses, since the critical capacity of his work is thereby paralyzed, and the impulses of negation and revolt, not to speak of those of social transformation, are increasingly perceived as vain and trivial in the face of the model itself.

(Jameson 1991: 5-6)

Deleuze addresses Discipline and Punish in a very different way. He argues that in the midst of Foucault's violence and this writing that emerges from his sense of the intolerable, Foucault's life and work expressed a certain 'shocking' humour. Indeed, contra Jameson, Deleuze perceives Foucault's account of the outlandish punishments in Discipline and Punish as producing 'great comic passages' (N: 107).7 This laughter in the midst of the intolerable is, for Deleuze, central to the radical political intensity of Foucault's work. Drawing, it would seem, on Max Brod's account of Kafka's public readings of The Trial "” another work of an apparently all-encompassing apparatus of control "” when the listeners fell about laughing 'quite immoderately' (cited in K: 95; cf. Deleuze 1998e), Deleuze writes, in discussion of Discipline and Punish:

The Divine Comedy of punishment means we can retain the basic right to collapse in fits of laughter in the face of a dazzling array of perverse inventions, cynical discourses and meticulous horrors. A whole chain of phenomena, from anti-masturbation machines for children to the mechanics of prison for adults, sets off an unexpected laughter which shame, suffering or death cannot silence . . . Vallès has already contrasted the revolutionaries' unique sense of gaiety in horror with the horrible gaiety of the torturer. Provided the hatred is strong enough something can be salvaged, a great joy which is not the ambivalent joy of hatred, but the joy of wanting to destroy whatever mutilates life.

(Deleuze 1988: 23)

In contrast to Hardt and Negri's location of joy in the midst of productive autonomy and Jameson's diagnosis of the disempowering effects of theorists of the cramping force of social relations, Deleuze, then, sees a certain joy and humour arising from an engagement with, and a critique of cramped space. Deleuze and Guattari even go so far as to suggest that this joy in the midst of cramped space is inseparable from politics:

Kafka's gaiety, or the gaiety of what he wrote, is no less important than its political reality and its political scope . . . We don't see any other criteria for genius than the following: the politics that runs through it and the joy that it communicates. We will term 'low' and 'neurotic' any reading that turns genius into anguish, into tragedy, into a 'personal concern'. For example, Nietzsche, Kafka, Beckett, whomever: those who don't read them with many involuntary laughs and political tremors are deforming everything.

(K: 95-6)

With this sense of the immanence of cramped space and joy in mind, I want to conclude this book by returning to Virno's (1996d) problem of political 'incoherence'. Virno (1996b) argues that a prime feature of contemporary general intellect-rich work, and the cause of the difficulty of formulating political practice, is its subsumption of the extra-work 'action' (the sphere of invention, contingency, critical practice, knowledge, and a certain 'virtuosity') that was once the preserve and nurturing space of politics. Today, 'politics offers a communicative network and a cognitive content that are weaker and poorer than those to be found within the present-day processes of production. Action appears to be less complex than Work' (191). Hardt and Negri (2000) recognize this condition in their assertion that all of life has become subsumed in productive arrangements. In this environment politics must now take on the lesson of Marx's proletariat; politics resides in the manifolds of capital. Hardt and Negri's recognition of this in the positing of politics immanent to work (considered in the broad sense of the global social factory) is timely indeed. However, as I argued in Chapter 4, Hardt and Negri tend to see the subsumption of life in capital as itself a movement toward autonomy from capital. As such, the way out of the problem Virno identifies is to let the subsumption of activity in work become itself almost an expression of politics. Deleuze takes a different path, and in this is closer to Virno. For Deleuze, the capitalist axiomatic also subsumes life itself, but the effect of this is to produce, not autonomy, but ever more intricate mechanisms of control (N: 175). It is thus in the midst of capitalist social production, experienced as a cramped and diffuse milieu, that political composition is to emerge and the problem of political 'incoherence' is to be overcome.

Deleuze would no doubt agree with Virno that this leaves politics as a difficult task. As I suggested with regard to operaismo, minor politics is certainly not a politics of optimism. But it is not less productive for that; for it is in the recognition of, and the engagement with, the cramped conditions of life that the incessant bustle, polemic, invention "” and strange joy "” of politics emerges. Minor politics is at once both a process of cramped space, little intrigue, and intimate deterritorialization, and a kind of 'impossible' project of calling forth a 'new earth' and a 'people to come'. Though this might sound like the kind of slightly embarrassing utopianism or teleological thought that contemporary theory has sought to overcome, in Deleuze and Guattari's politics it has a particularly functional effect. Rather than a deferral of political practice or the affirmation of a teleology, it is a mechanism for the continual problematization of any notion that political practice achieves a full plenitude, that the people to come 'arrive'. That is, by situating politics between the extremes of a 'missing' people and a 'new earth', minor politics seeks to develop an affective condition that is able to live with, even be nourished by, its incompleteness, its difficulties, and its 'impossibilities'. It develops as a milieu, that is, where Beckett's (1989: 101) injunction 'Fail again. Fail better' is manifest as an affirmation of life.


1. Explaining his early mode of engagement with the philosophical canon, Deleuze famously wrote 'I saw myself as taking an author from behind and giving him a child that would be his own offspring, yet monstrous' (N: 6).
2. The Internationalist Communist Group (1987: n.p.) put it like this: 'there is no such thing as a "democratic ideal" or, to be more exact . . . the democratic ideal is just the ideal image of the reality of capitalist dictatorship'.
3. In his critique of the 'worthless' thought of the 'new philosophers', Deleuze (1998d: 40"”1) shows how such thinking in the grid of electoral politics serves to close down alternate possibilities and reintroduce a certain state philosophy: 'whatever their position regarding the elections may be, they inscribed themselves perfectly well on the electoral grid. From that position, everything fades away, Marxism, Maoism, socialism, etc., not so much because real struggles would have made new enemies, new problems and new means arise, but because the revolution must be declared impossible, uniformly and for always. This is why all the concepts which were beginning to function in a very differentiated manner (power, resistances, desires, "the plebs" even) are globalized anew, regrouped in an insipid unity of power, the Law, the State, etc'
4. Deleuze and Guattari (1994: 98"”9) write: 'The immense relative deterritorialization of world capitalism needs to be reterritorialized on the modern national State, which finds an outcome in democracy . . .' Showing the essential complementarity of democracy and capital they further challenge any philosophy conceived in terms of 'democratic conversation' as essentially producing concepts as commodities: 'Of course, it may be tempting to see philosophy as an agreeable commerce of the mind, which, with the concept, would have its own commodity, or rather its exchange value . . . If this is what is called philosophy, it is understandable why marketing appropriates the concept and advertising puts itself forward as the conceiver par excellence, as the poet and thinker.'
5. The passage continues in a discussion of rights and theories of democratic consensus, and, for the force of its argument, is worth citing at length: 'Rights save neither men nor a philosophy that is reterritorialized on the democratic State. Human rights will not make us bless capitalism. A great deal of innocence or cunning is needed by a philosophy of communication that claims to restore the society of friends, or even of wise men, by forming a universal opinion as "consensus" able to moralize nations, States, and the market. Human rights say nothing about the immanent modes of existence of people provided with rights. Nor is it only in the extreme situations described by Primo Levi that we experience the shame of being human. We also experience it in insignificant conditions, before the meanness and vulgarity of existence that haunts democracies, before the propagation of these modes of existence and of thought-for-the-market, and before the values, ideals, and opinions of our time' (Deleuze and Guattari 1994: 107).
6. As an example, Bill Ayers' (2001) autobiography of his days in the Weather Underground is a fascinating insight into the increasingly self-sacrificial and monomaniacal tendencies of 'militancy'. Driven by the compulsion to stop the war in Vietnam and to 'Bring the War Home', the constituent elements of the Weather Underground moved from a relatively diffuse political and countercultural form in the movement around Students for a Democratic Society to an ever more obsessive urban guerrilla activity which increasingly presented all outside the group "” and all those in the group seeming to lack enough commitment - as failing the cause. At the height of its racket tendencies Ayers describes a benzedrine-fuelled stifling atmosphere as 'the collective assumed the stance of an eagerly policing superego' in an accelerated process of the most 'brutal and excessive criticism sessions', a 'purifying ceremony involving confession, sacrifice, rebirth, and gratitude' (154). Attachments to anything unmilitant, such as emotional relations with lovers or a fondness for the poetry of Brecht, were seen as 'the dead hand of the romantic past' (155), in contrast to the need, as Ayers put it, to 'hurl myself into war in solidarity and sacrifice'(198).
7. Deleuze and Guattari (AÅ’: 373) consider Marx's work as driven by a similar humour and fascination: 'Marx's black humour, the source of Capital, is his fascination with . . . [the mad capitalist] machine . . .'