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  1. The vast postmodernism debate, whose expansive and canonical phase spanned from the early 1980s to the mid-1990s but which has yet to reach a point of settlement or closure, engages with a multiplicity of questions, among which "what is postmodernism?" is not necessarily the most important. A more urgent question in the debate is that of minoritarian movements. In many of the most influential interrogations of postmodernism, one can discern the promise of unprecedented participation for everyone on a global terrain without frontiers. It is a promise, however, on which the canonical texts of the debate ultimately fail to deliver. An analysis of these texts shows them following a binary scheme of political analysis that is still with us today and which it is our challenge now to leave behind: fragmentation versus unification. Minoritarian movements are seen as non-communicating fragments in need of unification by an avant-garde hegemonic force. In our post-hegemonic world, this model locks minoritarian movements into a false dilemma and fails to acknowledge their fertile interaction. In search of a "new" model that acknowledges both the distinctness and unceasing interaction of minoritarian movements, I propose a return to Deleuze and Guattari's Anti-Oedipus. Here unfolds a world of "myriad connections, disjunctions, and conjunctions" (315) across fields (such as Marxism, feminism, postcolonial theory, and queer theory): small collectivities, here, which neither have "anything in common, nor do they cease communicating."
  2. Central to my account of the postmodernism debate will be Fredric Jameson's canonical essay, "Postmodernism, or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism" (1984).[1] In The Success and Failure of Fredric Jameson (2001), based on a series of articles published in this journal between 1995 and 2000, Steven Helmling describes "Postmodernism, or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism" as Jameson's most accomplished attempt to date at success-as-failure: a dialectical model of writing full of contradictions, full of movement and agitation and vertiginous slippage of meaning (14-16, 110-11). Further, Helmling argues that between 1982 and 1984--between Jameson's earliest piece on postmodernism, "Postmodernism and Consumer Society" and his definitive "Postmodernism, or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism"--Jameson "augment[s] polysemy" (16, 169-70).[2] In fact, however, when one reads these successive writings in relation to the question of minoritarian movements, one finds a reverse movement toward monosemy, accompanied by an increasingly insistent rejection of minoritarian movements.[3]
  3. In the first part of this essay, and in order to show this double movement, I will briefly review Jameson's work on postmodernism between 1982 and 1984. In particular, I want to show how this work slowly crystallized a truth-claim about postmodernism as part of a triangle. First, postmodernism = minoritarian movements = sheer heterogeneity, radical difference, dispersal of non-communicating fragments. Second, late capitalism is a spectre of dissolution in that it is a total or global system paradoxically generating sheer heterogeneity, that is, generating minoritarian movements that are nothing but non-communicating islands of late capitalism. Third, the Left will overcome this spectre of dissolution and bring about a total systemic transformation by hegemonizing and thus unifying minoritarian movements. This hegemony is necessary rather than a matter of contingent, political articulation. The main theoretical element here is Lacan's structuralist reading of schizophrenia as a breakdown of the signifying chain. Its main political element is that minoritarian movements are those disconnected signifiers and that the Left is the Lacanian "despotic signifier" or hegemonic force that will reunite them.
  4. In the second part of this essay, I look at the effective adoption of the Jamesonian triangle of fragmentation, total system, unification as total systemic transformation--in its formal outline rather than its particular contents--in three major works on postmodernism: David Harvey's The Condition of Postmodernity: An Inquiry into the Origins of Cultural Change (1989), Steven Connor's Postmodernist Culture: An Introduction to Theories of the Contemporary (1989), and Linda Hutcheon's The Politics of Postmodernism (1989), the latter of which simultaneously adopts and rejects this triangle. I follow the mutations of the Jamesonian triangle in these works, in relation to minoritarian movements. I also look at the effective rejection of the Jamesonian triangle in Ernesto Laclau's "Politics and the Limits of Modernity" (1987), again in relation to minoritarian movements.
  5. In the third and final part of the essay, I turn to Deleuze and Guattari's Anti-Oedipus for an alternative conception of minoritarian movements and their interaction, in order to escape what I see as the double bind between fragmentation and unification. Deleuze and Guattari developed a distinction between two types of relation: that of schizophrenia or "deterritorialization" and that of paranoia or "territorialization." I try to show that the Jamesonian triangle initiated a powerful and persistent "territorializing" tendency in the postmodernism debate. Finally, I argue that the Jamesonian triangle leads perhaps for the first time to the fragmentation it purports to overcome.
  6. "Postmodernism, or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism"

  7. In this section I will examine the movement from Jameson's "Postmodernism and Consumer Society" (1982), "Cognitive Mapping" (1983), "Periodizing the 60s" (1984), and his Foreword to Jean-François Lyotard's The Postmodern Condition (1984), to the definitive "Postmodernism, or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism" (1984). The section is divided into three parts named for the Jamesonian triangle of late capitalism, the Left, and minoritarian movements.
  8. Late Capitalism

  9. In the first paragraph of his Foreword to The Postmodern Condition, Jameson introduces his main thesis on postmodernism: postmodernism "involves [...] a new social and economic moment" (vii).
  10. "Postmodernism and Consumer Society" already has recourse to a "new moment of late, consumer or multinational capitalism" but understands its link to postmodernism as only partially determining (125). Yes, postmodernism is "closely related" to consumer capitalism, and its "formal features in many ways [not in every way] express the deeper logic" of consumer capitalism; yet it remains distinct from consumer capitalism, so that Jameson can conclude: "there is a way in which postmodernism replicates [...] the logic of consumer capitalism; the more significant question is whether there is also a way in which it resists that logic" (125, emphasis added). In "Postmodernism, or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism," with expressions such as "postmodern period" (62, emphasis added), no distance remains between postmodernism and the new economic moment; Jameson assimilates postmodernism to its logic.
  11. But what is this new "social and economic moment"? In "Postmodernism and Consumer Society" Jameson looks at two features of postmodernism--pastiche and schizophrenia--in order to deduce the nature of consumer capitalism. Through both pastiche and schizophrenia, as I will now explain, he detects social fragmentation. (Jameson seems to assume that social fragmentation expresses rather than resists consumer capitalism.)
  12. In "Postmodernism and Consumer Society," postmodernism is still a phenomenon in the arts--later, poststructuralist theory will be included. Jameson briefly relates pastiche to "each group coming to speak a curious private language of its own," at the expense and to the detriment of "normal language [...] of the linguistic norm," as well as at the expense of "a unique personality and individuality, which can be expected [unlike groups] to generate its own unique vision of the world" (114). This is the first instance--a mere suggestion--of a link between the proliferation of new micropolitical groups and consumer capitalism. Jameson's discussion of schizophrenic art continues the problematic of, and the lack of enthusiasm for, new micropolitical groups--initiated in the last quotation--in that schizophrenic art involves "isolated, disconnected, discontinuous material signifiers which fail to link up into a coherent whole" (119).
  13. A quick comparison with Baudrillard's La société de consommation (1970), to which Jameson's "consumer society" refers, will show Jameson's originality. Baudrillard's "consumer society" has no dispersive or fragmentary effects. On the contrary, it is an expanded system of social reproduction, regulation, and control: "consumption is a system which assures the regulation of signs and the integration of the group [...] a system of meaning" ("Consumer" 46). Further, consumer society is but a reaction to "the rise of new productive forces" (49). Baudrillard's example of new productive forces, that of Puerto Rican workers in the U.S., might be seen to refer to all minoritarian groups. "Postmodernism and Consumer Society" seems to reverse this order, so that the proliferation of such new productive forces expresses consumer society.
  14. After "Postmodernism and Consumer Society," the term "late capitalism" quickly becomes dominant. This is part of a broader shift. Here poststructuralism is still considered both to be "radical" ("Postmodernism and Consumer Society" 115) and to have cognitive value comparable to that of Mandel's Late Capitalism (1975). By the time of "Postmodernism, or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism," Jameson has placed them on opposite sides of a distinction between the symptomatic and the cognitive. Poststructuralism is relegated to the symptomatic, while Mandel's "late capitalism" represents the cognitive. "Postmodernism, or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism" quickly slips from the initial statement that postructuralism is "a very significant symptom of [...] postmodernist culture" to the equation, "poststructural or postmodern period" (61, 62); on the other hand "Marxian 'science' provides [...] a way of knowing and conceptualizing the world abstractly, in the sense in which, e.g., Mandel's great book offers a rich and elaborated knowledge of that global world system" (91).
  15. Jameson first develops his use of Mandel's "late capitalism" in "Periodizing the 60s." He adopts two main ideas. The first is that late capitalism is the purest and most extended form of capitalism so far. As Baudrillard and others wouldn't disagree with this (see "Consumer Society" 50), the second idea is the crucial one: late capitalism is a spent force after the worldwide economic crisis of 1973-74.[4] "Periodizing the 60s" quickly turns this "hypothesis" into a quasi-scientific prediction of the political fate of minoritarian movements (206): they were "produced" by late capitalism's energy--now that this energy is exhausted, so are they (208). "Periodizing the 60s" continues to diagnose contemporary reality as fragmented--as "a now absolutely fragmented and anarchic social reality" (201)--but this reality is the work of a new subject of history, late capitalism.
  16. "Periodizing the 60s" opens with the proposition that "history is necessity" (178). It concludes accordingly: now that late capitalism has lost its dynamism, the "prodigious release of untheorized new forces" is over and is "(from the hindsight of the 80s) a historical illusion," "inflationary," a matter of "devalued signifiers" caused by an unwise "universal abandonment of the referential gold standard" (208). (The U.S. and then the IMF abandoned the actual gold standard in 1970s. Jameson's argument seems to be that micropolitics abandoned "the referential gold standard" of the category of class.) Jameson predicts:

    the 80s will be characterized by an effort, on a world scale, to proletarianize all those unbound social forces[;] [...] by an extension of class struggle, in other words, into the farthest reaches of the globe [...] The unifying force here is the new vocation of a henceforth global capitalism, which may also be expected to unify the unequal, fragmented, or local resistances [...]. (208-09)

    This is how Marxism "must necessarily become true again" (209). "And this is finally also the solution to the so-called 'crisis' of Marxism" (209). It seems to me that capitalism plays the role of a deus ex machina here.
  17. What makes "Periodizing the 60s" fascinating is the fleeting presence, in this piece alone, of a second theoretical position--history as contingency--and a second affective position--an openness to minoritarian movements. The result is pure, unresolved contradiction. For example, Jameson's genealogy of the 1960s incorporates political events: "a fundamental 'condition of possibility'" for the unleashing of the new forces was McCarthyism and the merger of the AFL and the CIO in 1955, in that it led to "the expulsion of the Communists from the American labor movement" (181); or Jameson considers that "such newly released forces do not only not seem to compute in the dichotomous class model of traditional Marxism; they also seem to offer a realm of freedom and voluntarist possibility beyond the classical constraints of the economic infrastructure" (208).
  18. Similarly, as examples of a different affective tone toward minoritarian movements, Jameson speaks of feminism as "stunning and unforeseeable [...] a Yenan of a new and unpredictable kind which is still impregnable" (189), and he salutes "the challenge of the women's movement whose unique new strategies and concerns cut across (or in some cases undermine and discredit altogether) many classical inherited forms of [...] political action" (192).[5]
  19. "Postmodernism, or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism" leaves contingency and openness behind: minoritarian movements are but "symptoms" of late capitalism. Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri make the reverse and, in my view, more convincing argument in Empire: capital is parasitic and reactive and simply borrows the inventions of the struggles of the proletariat to survive. They reject all "objective" theories of the dynamics of capital and all theories of cycles, in that such theories devalue the proletariat. The crux of their analysis lies in identifying the 1960s movements--in their indexes of "mobility, flexibility, knowledge, communication, cooperation, the affective"--as the new figure of the proletariat or the "multitude" (275).[6]
  20. While "Postmodernism, or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism" is central to the postmodernism debate, while we still return to it, Jameson himself has moved on and has since said: "I have mainly singled out intellectual and social phenomena like 'poststructuralism' and the 'new social movements,' thus giving the impression, against my own deepest political convictions, that all the 'enemies' were on the left" ("Conclusion" 408).
  21. The New New Left

  22. "Postmodernism, or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism" upholds a modern model of genuine political expression, of a "great collective project," comprising three interrelated elements: the individual, the norm and, crucially, the avant-garde (always in the singular) (65).[7] Here Jameson postulates, first, that the "collective ideals of [...] political [...] avant-garde [...] stand or fall along with [...] the so-called centred subject" or that political "expression requires the category of the individual monad" (63); second, that the "fragmentation of social life [...] to the point where the norm itself is eclipsed" goes hand in hand with "the absence of any great collective project" (65); third, that minoritarian movements are part of this new fragmentation brought about by late capitalism.[8] Minoritarian movements are, therefore, an impediment to collective projects, rather than their embodiment. Now that capitalism works by "heterogeneity without a norm," minoritarian movements play into the hands of "faceless masters [who] continue to inflect the economic strategies which constrain our existence"--minoritarian movements are, in effect, the enemy (65). What is implicitly at work here is a distinction within collective projects, parallel to the distinction between cognitive and symptomatic theory discussed above. This is a distinction between authentic and inauthentic collective projects on grounds that are purely formal and a priori: an authentic collective project is necessarily "avant-garde," in the sense of confronting a total system or norm. In other words, an authentic collective project aims at the total transformation of a total system.
  23. What is at stake here is much more than the validity of a modern triangle (the individual, the norm, the avant-garde). The important point, as I will now try to show, is that Jameson renews this triangle as part of the attempt to draw a clear line between minoritarian movements and what can be called the new New Left. This project is initiated in "Cognitive Mapping" and reaches its definitive formulation in the final pages of "Postmodernism, or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism."
  24. In "Cognitive Mapping," Jameson defines cognitive mapping as that which "span[s] or coordinate[s] [...] a gap between phenomenological perception and a reality that transcends all individual thinking or experience" (353, emphasis added). Here we have Jameson's first attempt to revamp this modern triangle: cognitive mapping is defined in relation to the individual, on the one hand, and a global reality, a new norm, on the other, so that it occupies the position of the avant-garde. This new norm, to which the new avant-garde will respond, is minoritarian movements as fragmentation and as the new face of a now-global capitalism; this new norm is "a multidimensional set of discontinuous realities," the "post-Marxian Nietzschean world of micropolitics," "the random and undecidable world of microgroups" (351, 355, 356). Where there is global fragmentation and dissolution, cognitive mapping aspires to bring its opposite. As Jameson specifies, cognitive mapping attempts to map "the totality of class relations on a global [...] scale" and is "an integral part of any socialist political project," because "without a conception of the social totality (and the possibility of transforming a whole social system), no properly socialist politics is possible" (353, 355).
  25. In a moment augmenting polysemy, Jameson comments that cognitive mapping is "a kind of blind"--"little more than a pretext" for debating the issue of the relation of the American Left to minoritarian movements (347). "Our essential function for the moment [...] involves the conquest of legitimacy in this country for socialist discourse" (358). This "conquest of legitimacy" seems to require for the Left to reap the surplus value of the cultural, artistic, and political output of minoritarian movements: "the question is how to think those local struggles, involving specific and often quite different groups, within some common project that is called, for want of a better word, socialism" (360). The task is international rather than national: the new New Left is to articulate local struggles everywhere, thereby transforming them from an epiphenomena of global capitalism to elements in the reconstructed chain, in the avant-garde project, of international socialism.
  26. Here, a couple of loose ends remain, which Jameson will attempt to tie up in "Postmodernism, or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism." First, if, as Jameson writes in "Cognitive Mapping," socialism stands for "transforming a whole social system," what about the claims of those minoritarian movements which also have recourse to a whole social system and its transformation (certain strains of "difference" feminism, for example, with their radical address to patriarchy and its transformation) (347)?[9] In a passage already quoted above, "Postmodernism, or The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism" strengthens the link between Marxism and the cognitive: Mandel's "hypothesis" (in "Periodizing the 60s") now becomes "a rich and elaborated knowledge of that global world system" (91).
  27. Second, if the individual stood for the centered subject in the modern triangle, what exactly does it stand for here--what are we to understand by "phenomenological perception" and "individual thinking or experience" (above)? In the final pages of "Postmodernism, or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism," Jameson revises his account of cognitive mapping and now speaks of "individual and collective subjects" unable to grasp the totality and in need of cognitive mapping (92, emphasis added). It seems then that the individual is now another name for what Jameson sees as the isolated and fragmented perspective of minoritarian movements. So the three elements of Jameson's new triangle are first, in the position of the individual, any minoritarian movement, understood as an isolated, spatialized, inert element; second, in the position of the norm, late capitalism as a field of minoritarian movements as isolated islands; and third, in the position of the avant-garde, international socialism as unification of minoritarian movements by the new New Left.
  28. A brief contrast with Raymond Williams's The Country and the City (1973) would be instructive. In speaking of (and for) the rural laborer, Williams bumps against the fixation of the Left on the male metropolitan proletarian, at the expense of other kinds of work and exploitation, which become invisible. Williams links the Left's fixation on this figure with three additional tendencies--tendencies which, I believe, may be discerned in "Postmodernism, or The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism." These tendencies are the famous "simultaneous damnation and idealisation of capitalism"; the Left's identification with "mastery–power"; and, finally, a specific dream of socialism as the first-born son of capitalism that will inherit all upon its demise:

    What they say is damn this, praise this; and the intellectual formula for this emotional confusion is, hopefully, the dialectic. All that needs to be added, as the climax to the muddle, is [...] the saving qualification, that at a certain stage [...] capitalism begins to lose this progressive character and [...] must be replaced, superseded, by socialism. (Williams 37)

  29. Throughout The Country and the City, Williams opens up, to the point of reversal, the distinction between the rural and the metropolitan. On the side of the rural he includes vagrant laborers (83-86), families without fathers--since even "in the villages what was most wanted was the abstract producer, the single able-bodied man" (85)--and Third-World laborers (279-88). On the side of the metropolitan he includes land enclosures, the laws restricting mobility, and, as we have seen, even a certain version of socialism.
  30. In an analysis resonant with that of Deleuze and Guattari's in Anti-Oedipus, Williams discusses the sedentary ethic inextricably linked with the rise of capitalism, whose target and enemy is migrant and "unproductive" labor: poor labor. As a result, he recasts and expands the definition of labor--we can say that he recognizes the labor of many others besides that of the male metropolitan proletariat. We have seen Jameson, on the other hand, putting his faith in capitalism to "proletarianize" those others. We will now see him "dissolving [...] the lives and work of others into an image" (Williams 77).
  31. Minoritarian Movements

  32. A good metaphor for Jameson's perspective on minoritarian movements in "Postmodernism, or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism" is that they are "scattered television screens positioned at intervals" (like the exemplary artwork by Nam June Paik he describes here); they force us to choose between two distinct ways of viewing them: either we "decide to concentrate on a single screen"--as for him, presumably, minorities do--or we attempt "to see all the screens at once, in their radical and random difference" (76). Needless to say, it is only the second, panoptic position that will "hold to the truth of postmodernism" and "do it justice" (92). Clearly, given Jameson's choice of metaphor, the panoptic spectator he invokes is faced with a formidable challenge; indeed, that figure is "called upon to do the impossible" (76). But we are still a little taken aback when Jameson announces that our success in this undertaking involves "an imperative to grow new organs, to expand our sensorium and our body to some new, as yet unimaginable, perhaps ultimately impossible, dimensions" (80). Expanding our bodies to impossible dimensions? Is this a radical political enterprise, a cognitive enterprise, or some kind of a monstrous assimilation? How are we even to begin such a project of bodily transformation?
  33. As we have seen, from his earliest work on postmodernism, Jameson consistently understands minoritarian movements as isolated and non-communicating. At the same time, something like a common ground gradually emerges--the new economic system--to the point where, in "Postmodernism, or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism," minoritarian movements are "symptoms" on the body of late capitalism. Like TV screens, symptoms manifest a latent reality that is outside and beyond them--treating minoritarian movements as symptoms derealizes them, transfers their reality, vitality, and life onto something else. And yet, it seems to me that when the new economic system is described--as a world of micropolitics, micromultiplicities, and discontinuous realities--it is itself a figure for a world where the cultural, artistic, and political initiative has passed to minoritarian movements. In this state of affairs, Deleuze and Guattari, among others, look at lateral connections between movements. Jameson, on the other hand, adopts a conceptual framework that denies a priori the ability of minoritarian movements to enter into lateral connections or to confront and change oppressive doxas directly and without intermediaries.
  34. Key to Jameson's ghettoization of minorities is his particular scheme or mode of spatialization, and his understanding of space and historical time in the works examined. In "Postmodernism and Consumer Society," Jameson argues that postmodernism is marked by a "historical amnesia" that expresses the new economic system (125). To demonstrate this, he briefly analyzes an extract from Marguerite Séchehaye's Autobiography of a Schizophrenic Girl (120). The extract is a first-person narration of a past "schizophrenic" incident. It opens with the words "I remember very well" and closes with the "schizophrenic" girl going back "home to our garden and beg[inning] to play," as a return to reality. What is the incident? A girl is walking in the countryside when, "suddenly," as she is passing a school, she hears a German song sung by the schoolchildren and she stops to listen. A double transformation then occurs. The school and the children become barracks with prisoners compelled to sing, a vision imbued with a "sense of unreality." At the same time and "bound up with" this disorienting double vision, a field of wheat becomes "dazzling" and seemingly infinite, with "limits I could not see," and this further intensification of the hallucinatory moment brings with it a profound "anxiety" (120).
  35. My understanding of this incident, indebted to Walter Benjamin's "Theses on the Philosophy of History," is that, instead of being immersed in a pleasant walk in the countryside or enjoying nature as an idyllic spectacle as is customary, and instead of playing in the garden, this girl has a genuine historical experience. As Benjamin tells us, "to articulate the past historically does not mean to recognize it 'the way it really was' [...]. The true picture of the past flits by [...] flashes up at the instant when it can be recognized and is never seen again" (247). The girl's stroll is "suddenly" interrupted by the unexpected sound of a German song sung by children inside the school--perhaps this is holiday time, hence the surprise. This slight event sends her back into a time of war and concentration camps, "barracks" and "prisoners" (Autobiography of a Schizophrenic Girl was originally published in French in 1950). As a result, the familiar and timeless scenery of country fields is transfigured; "bound up with" barracks and prisoners, it is traversed by an added dimension, that of history, and becomes unlimited and dazzling.
  36. The historical time recalled here is not that of public history. This, Benjamin tells us, is the form (continuous and present) of the history of the victors. The "tradition of the oppressed," on the other hand, a genuine experience, comes to us from the corner of the eye, the ear, as involuntary and irrepressible as "a tiger's leap" (248, 253). "Tiger's leap" because for Benjamin, far from being passive or idle, the genuine historical experience--in this instance, the "schizophrenic" arrest that is pregnant with the girl's own unknown predicament--is vitally connected to a revolutionary moment, a moment of praxis. If this is not the case here, this might be because the girl returned to reality too quickly; because the girl is not "schizophrenic" enough, so to speak. As I have already indicated, the narrative where the incident belongs is exemplary in the incident's overcoming--the narrative itself is anything but "schizophrenic." The incident is firmly lodged in a sequence initiated by "I remember very well" and completed by "I ran home to our garden and began to play 'to make things seem as they usually were,' that is to return to reality."
  37. Jameson, in his own interpretation, omits--I feel tempted to say symptomatically--the song, the children/prisoners, the school/barracks, and has eyes only for the unlimited wheat field now unbound from its connections and standing in sublime isolation. He therefore sees the incident as demonstrating that "the schizophrenic is thus given over to an undifferentiated vision of the world in the present"; "an experience of isolated, disconnected, discontinuous material signifiers which fail to link up into a coherent sequence" ("Postmodernism and Consumer Society" 120, 119). If, for Jameson, this is the definition of historical amnesia, a radical historical project would, by contrast, involve the unification of the disconnected.
  38. This becomes clear in "Postmodernism, or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism." Discussing E. L. Doctorow's Ragtime (which Jameson argues is symptomatically ahistorical), Jameson claims that a radical historical project requires an intentional and active monadic subject grasping firmly the "historical referent" (71), that it requires a clear distinction between subject and object.[10] He then argues that the postmodern version of this project would entail the active grasping of spatial fragments. He therefore repeats his analysis of the schizophrenic girl from "Postmodernism and Consumer Society" and adds the analysis of the exemplary TV screens discussed earlier and the two alternatives, contemporary and relevant, they offer. The first alternative, comparable to Jameson's reading of the schizophrenic girl, is exemplary of minoritarian movements: impotent and symptomatic absorption in a TV screen. The second alternative, actively grasping all screens at once--that is, continuing the clear distinction between subject and object by new means--is exemplary of the Left as Jameson envisages it: it rises above ahistorical postmodernism toward a new historicity in the form of a "new mode of relationship" (75).
  39. Since the emergence of the New Left in the 1960s civil rights movement, the simultaneous explosion in the reinvention of group traditions, histories, and agendas for the future appears to Jameson as ahistorical.[12] Linda Hutcheon, in The Politics of Postmodernism, contradicts Jameson directly on this point. Not only is postmodernism (understood as contemporary culture, including theory) historical, but it derives "its historical consciousness (and conscience) from the inscription into history of women and ethnic/racial minorities" during the 1960s (10). If postmodernism is "typically denounced as dehistoricized" by Marxist and right-wing critics alike, this is because "the problematized histories of postmodernism have little to do with the single totalizing History" in which both parties take refuge (57).[13]
  40. The Adoption of Jameson's Triangle

  41. I have tried to show that Jameson's "Postmodernism, or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism" crystallizes the following triangle: late capitalism as system generating fragmentation, minoritarian movements as fragments symptomatic of late capitalism, international socialism as unification promising total systemic transformation. In this section, I look at two of the first major adoptions of the Jamesonian triangle, David Harvey's The Condition of Postmodernity and Steven Connor's Postmodernist Culture: An Introduction to Theories of the Contemporary; Linda Hutcheon's simultaneous rejection and adoption of the triangle in The Politics of Postmodernism; and Ernesto Laclau's rejection of the triangle in "Politics and the Limits of Modernity." My argument will be that Jameson's triangle initiated--provided the toolkit for--a "territorializing" tendency in the postmodernism debate. Then, in a final section, I will elucidate the Deleuzo-Guattarian distinction between "territorialization" and "deterritorialization."
  42. The Condition of Postmodernity

  43. David Harvey's The Condition of Postmodernity is a post-Jamesonian work in many ways. What is tentative in Jameson is asserted in Harvey. For example, even in the hardest version of "Postmodernism, or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism," Jameson is able to undermine the reality effect he is creating--of minoritarian movements as fragments symptomatic of late capitalism--when he says that we need to "project some conception of a new systemic cultural norm [...] in order to reflect [...] on the most effective forms of any radical cultural politics today" (57). For Harvey, on the other hand, the links between minoritarian movements, fragmentation, and late capitalism are self-evident. For example: "the reproduction of the social and symbolic order through the exploration of difference and 'otherness' is all too evident in the climate of postmodernism"; and "racial minorities, colonized peoples, women, etc. [...] become a part of the very fragmentation which a mobile capitalism and flexible accumulation can feed upon" (345, 303).
  44. Most notably, The Condition of Postmodernity is a post-Jamesonian work in that "Postmodernism, or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism" is here codified into a set of terms of participation in the postmodernism debate:

    • One cannot participate except as a representative and on behalf of a particular territoriality with avant-garde pretensions and promising total systemic transformation (in Jameson's case, international socialism; in Harvey's case the Anglo-American New Left).
    • Participants should invoke a global spectre of dissolution that their territoriality will confront and overcome (in both Jameson's and Harvey's case, capitalism; in, for example, Hutcheon's case, patriarchy).
    • Participants project this global spectre of dissolution onto those threatening their territoriality (in Jameson's case, both minoritarian movements and those Marxists or post-Marxists who do not subscribe to his versions of proper Marxism and proper socialism; in Harvey's case, both minoritarian movements and those Marxists or post-Marxists who do not subscribe to historical materialism). On their own those others are at one with the spectre of dissolution, once within the territoriality in question they contribute to the spectre's defeat.

  45. Harvey participates in the postmodernism debate explicitly as a representative of the New Left, on behalf of the New Left. He argues that a return to historical materialism will reverse the centrifugal tendencies within the New Left, as well as helping the New Left to expand its territoriality by incorporating gender, race, and the like. In relation to his title, Harvey asserts that "postmodernism does not reflect any fundamental change of social condition," and he outlines two interpretative options (111). Postmodernism can be understood either as "a departure [...] in ways of thinking about what could or should be done," or as "a shift in the way capitalism is working these days" (111, 112, emphasis added). Harvey opts for the latter.[14] In relation to his subtitle (An Inquiry into the Origins of Cultural Change), Harvey first argues that while "embrac[ing] the new social movements," the New Left "tended to abandon [...] historical materialism as a mode of analysis" and was left bereft of its traditional claim to understand the "social processes of transformation that underlay" such epiphenomena. Secondly, Harvey argues that the New Left tended to treat the "new social movements" as "something that should be omni-present from the very beginning in any attempt to grasp the dialectics of social change" (emphasis added). As a result, the New Left reduced itself to "compet[ing] on the same terrain," politically and theoretically unarmed, with the "new social movements" and the poststructuralists. Harvey proposes that this dip into the phenomenal world, this misadventure, be viewed as necessary, in the sense of mediating the New Left's rise from the "shackles of old left politics" toward "recuperating such aspects of social organization as race, gender, religion, within the overall frame of historical materialist inquiry" (353-55).
  46. Postmodernist Culture

  47. With Postmodernist Culture, Steven Connor participates in the postmodernism debate on behalf of the Anglo-American theoretical humanities. He presents the Anglo-American humanities as "the most significant and central determinant" of contemporary global culture (201). Their world-historical political mission is to bring about "an important, indeed, probably epochal stage in the development of ethical awareness" (244). Their political task is the "creation of a common frame of assent which alone can guarantee the continuation of a global diversity of voices"; the creation of a "horizon of universal value" (244, 243).
  48. Together with postcolonial studies, Connor views feminism not as part of the Anglo-American humanities but as a threat to it. Feminism leads to a "disastrous decompression" and "dissipat[ion]" of politics (226). Having devoted one and a half pages to this, by now, vast and illustrious critical field, he reproaches feminism for its "stance" of marginality, for "this strange tendency of authoritative marginality to flip over into its own dark side" and for the "irrationalist embrace of the agonistics of opposition" (231, 243).
  49. While elevating Anglo-American criticism to a new avant-garde defined by the recognition of diversity, Connor withdraws any actual recognition from the forces of diversity themselves.The world seems to be diverse for the sole purpose of giving the ethical consciousness occasion to show itself by recognizing diversity. Otherwise, for Connor the world in itself, diversity in itself, is unethical--as, for Jameson, the world of micromultiplicities is a fallen world redeemed only when it comes under the wing of international socialism.
  50. The Politics of Postmodernism

  51. Whereas Connor participates in the postmodernism debate on behalf of Anglo-American criticism, Hutcheon, in The Politics of Postmodernism, participates on behalf of feminism.[15] We have already seen her arguing against Jameson's monolithic view of history and in favor of a pluralized view of history: "we now get the histories (in the plural) of the losers as well as the winners, of the regional (and colonial) as well as the centrist, of the unsung many as well as of the sung few, and I might add, of women as well as men" (66). A pluralized view of history--a view that, instead of separating time and space, posits the existence of a multiplicity of time-spaces--enables the positive appraisal of minoritarian movements, and allows Hutcheon to undermine Jameson's (and Harvey's) calls for a new alliance under the wing of the Left.
  52. However, Hutcheon wants to go further: she wants to assign feminism an avant-garde role in the new postmodern world and, within feminism, she wants to assign an avant-garde role to "difference" feminism. Her argument is as follows: postmodernism and feminism share a common "problematizing of the body and its sexuality" (142). If "feminism is a politics [...] [while] postmodernism is not," if postmodernism is "complicit[ous] with power and domination" while feminism is "the single most powerful force in changing the direction in which (male) postmodernism was heading," this is because feminism "radicalized the postmodern sense of difference" (4, 142). Feminism "made postmodernism think, not just about the body, but about the female body; not just about the female body, but about its desires" (143). So Hutcheon argues that there is a global status quo, patriarchy, which can be radically transformed only by "sexual difference" feminism; only within the context of "sexual difference" feminism can other minoritarian movements and other feminisms hope to end their complicity with a global system of oppression and work to overcome it.[16] Hutcheon now finds herself using a conceptual schema formally indistinguishable from that of Jameson. The result is a pure contradiction at the heart of The Politics of Postmodernism. On the one hand, she rejects Jameson's Big History and embraces "the lessons taught [...] of the importance of context, of discursive situation"; at the same time she advocates a return to Big History, to a single global context and its single global transformation (67).
  53. "Politics and the Limits of Modernity"

  54. The immediate context for Ernesto Laclau's "Politics and the Limits of Modernity" was the hostile reception of his and Chantal Mouffe's new theory of hegemony among some Anglo-American Marxists.[17] In Hegemony and Socialist Strategy (1985), Laclau and Mouffe outline a theory of hegemony as the articulation of signifiers by means of a "hegemonic force" comparable to the Lacanian "despotic signifier." The crucial and controversial aspect of their theory is that no element in a political alliance--no political group--can claim to be necessarily and a priori hegemonic. Alliances have to be articulated in practice, the identity of the hegemonic force in a particular articulation is purely contingent (and always transient) and cannot be determined a priori by recourse to a foundation (be it capitalism, patriarchy, etc.). This, on the one hand, requires a weakening of the aspirations of radical collective actors, but, on the other hand, enables a huge amplification of possibilities for their interaction.
  55. In "Politics and the Limits of Modernity," Laclau draws from his theory of hegemony a new position for the Left--a position, in some respects, diametrically opposed to Jameson's and Harvey's. As we have seen, Harvey presents us with two pairs of interpretative options. First, postmodernism can be understood either as "a shift in the way capitalism is working these days" or as "a departure in ways of thinking about what could or should be done." Second, the task of the New Left is either to "recuperat[e] [...] race, gender," etc. within a Marxist territoriality based on historical materialism and class politics or to assume that they "should be omnipresent from the very beginning in any attempt to grasp the dialectics of social change." Harvey chose the first options, Laclau chooses the second.
  56. First, Laclau argues that "there has been a radical change in the thought and culture of the past few decades" ("Politics" 329). This radical change in emancipatory political thought is an ongoing reconstruction of the radical moments in the various traditions of modernity, conducted from within these traditions. In the case of the Marxist tradition, its genealogical reconstruction--"a living dialogue with that tradition, to endow it with a certain contemporaneity against the timelessness that its orthodox defenders attribute to it"--involves a recognition of its multiple fissures (from Lenin, to Luxemburg, to Sorel, to Gramsci), against "its myth of origins" and "the myth of its coherence and unity" (339).
  57. Second, the anti-foundationalist reconstruction of radical tradition requires the recognition not just of Marxism's plurality, but of the plurality of the radical tradition itself.

    If we are to reconstruct radical tradition (because this is precisely what this is about), not as a necessary departure from a point of origin, but as a genealogy of the present, it is clear that Marxism cannot be its only point of reference. The plurality of current social struggles [...] entails the necessity of breaking with the provincial myth of the "universal class." If one can talk about universality, it is only in the sense of the relative centralities constructed hegemonically and pragmatically. The struggles of the working class, of women, gays, marginal populations, Third World masses, must result in the construction of their own reappropriations of tradition through their specific genealogical efforts. This means, of course, that there is no a priori centrality determined at the level of structure, simply because there is no rational foundation of History. The only "rationality" that History might possess is the relative rationality given to it by the struggles and the concrete pragmatic-hegemonic constructions. (340)

    In other words, as Laclau put it in "Building a New Left," Marxism has to be reinscribed "as a historical, partial and limited moment within a wider historical line, that of the radical tradition of the West" (179). Laclau closes "Politics and the Limits of Modernity" with a proposition with far-reaching consequences: that the combination of anti-foundationalism and "metaphysical contingency," contingency as a transcendental a priori, can in itself serve as the emancipatory metanarrative of our time (343).
  58. By contrast, Jameson's "Postmodernism, or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism" provides the tools for what Laclau calls a "homeland" Marxism as well as for a "homeland" feminism, etc.[18] It provides the tools, as I will now go on to argue, for the construction of "artificial territorialities" which in their mutually exclusive avant-garde aspirations now lead to the feared fragmentation and dissolution.
  59. Anti-Oedipus

  60. Schematizing and simplifying greatly, whereas Jameson and Laclau propose two different models of hegemony--with Jameson the identity of the hegemonic force can be determined a priori, with Laclau the identity of the hegemonic force is contingent--Deleuze and Guattari propose a posthegemonic world. Laclau shares Jameson's distinction between unification and fragmentation or dispersion, as well as his rejection of dispersive politics. In Hegemony and Socialist Strategy, Laclau and Mouffe write that "the role of theory is not to elaborate intellectually the observable tendencies of fragmentation and dispersion, but to ensure that such tendencies have a transitory character" (14). On the other hand, in Anti-Oedipus Deleuze and Guattari propose "couplings and connections" and "transverse communications," by virtue of dispersion (1, 319). They describe "schizorevolutionary" processes constituting collectivities as pure multiplicities, and distinguish them from "paranoiac fascisizing" processes constituting collectivities caught in a double bind between fragmentation and unification (277).
  61. A pure multiplicity is "irreducible to any sort of unity" (42).[19] Deleuze and Guattari borrow Melanie Klein's concept of "partial objects" to describe the elements of a pure multiplicity. Partial objects are not "parts of even a fragmented whole"; they "are recognized by their mutual independence" and are "different or really-distinct [...] disparate" (323). This dispersion goes hand in hand with "myriad" connections:[20] "partial objects [...] all have their positive determinations, and enter into aberrant communication following a transversal"; "neither is there anything in common [between them], nor do they cease communicating" (69, 60). This connection of the disparate, where each partial object can be connected to a number of other partial objects, Deleuze and Guattari call the "first synthesis" or "connective synthesis" or "production of production" (38).
  62. Then, in a moment of stasis, partial objects and their myriad connections--partial object coupled to partial object--turn into "a third term [...] an enormous undifferentiated object" (7). Deleuze and Guattari, borrowing from Antonin Artaud, call this new part the "body without organs": "The body without organs is produced as a whole [...] alongside the [other] parts that it neither unifies nor totalizes. And [...] it brings about [new] transverse communications" between them (43). That is, instead of the parts (the partial objects) being parts of the whole, the whole (the body without organs) is itself one of the parts of a pure multiplicity.[21] The body without organs is "antiproduction" in the midst of production, but only in order to multiply the connections: "the body without organs [...] reinjects producing into the product, extends the connections"; it is "perpetually reinserted into production" (72, 8).[22] How? The body without organs is followed by a "distribution in relation to" itself; the coupled partial objects now appear as separate, as "co-ordinates" or as "points of disjunction [on the body without organs,] between which an entire network of new syntheses is now woven" (12).
  63. The second synthesis or disjunctive synthesis or "production of recording" works through "inclusive disjunction"--"either [...] or [...] or [...]"--on the immanent field of the body without organs. The "paranoiac fascisizing" use of the second synthesis has two aspects. Firstly, it turns this immanent, produced field into a transcendent, producing, common field that (like capital and workers in Marx) appropriates the work--the connections--of partial objects while appearing as their mysterious "quasi cause" (10-11, 72-74).[23] Deleuze and Guattari call this pseudo-transcendent, pseudo-producing, pseudo-common field an "artificial territoriality." Secondly, the "paranoiac fascisizing" use of the second synthesis introduces differentiation by means of binary opposition--what Deleuze and Guattari call "exclusive disjunction" and "either/or"--including the binary opposition between binary opposition and a fearful chaos of undifferentiation, where "disjunctions are subjected to the alternative of the undifferentiated or exclusion" (120). While inclusive disjunctions on an immanent field multiply connections, exclusive disjunctions on a transcendent field halt connections, disallowing them in advance: what possible connection can there be between the two sides of an exclusive disjunction? Similarly, whereas, as we have seen, partial objects are both distinct and connected, a chaos of undifferentiation is comprised of elements as indistinct as they are incapable of connection to each other--once again connection is disallowed.
  64. Corresponding to inclusive disjunctions are "intense feeling[s] of transition" (18), "experience[s] of death" that are also "passage[s] or becoming[s]" (330). The third synthesis or conjunctive synthesis or "production of consumption/consummation" passes through the becomings toward a kind of subject: not a transcending subject, nor an agent, but something that follows events within the immanent field of the body without organs. This is a "faceless and transpositional subject," "an apparent residual and nomadic subject," "a transpositional subject [...] collecting everywhere the fraudulent premium of its avatars" (77, 330, 88). After the partial objects and the body without organs, this is the third and last part of the pure multiplicity that Deleuze and Guattari call the "desiring-machine": the "adjacent part" (330, 338).[24] Deleuze and Guattari call this connective, inclusively disjunctive, nomadic, polyvocal, transversal, nonhierarchical, mortal, collective subject in transition a "subject-group" and distinguish it from the "subjugated group": "[Our] [...] final thesis [...] is therefore the distinction between [...] the paranoiac, reactionary, and fascisizing pole, and the schizoid revolutionary pole [...] the one is defined by subjugated groups, the other by subject-groups" (348-49, 366-67).
  65. Subjugated groups could very well have revolutionary aims. What distinguish them are not their aims but their processes of constitution. Emerging from exclusive disjunction in relation to a transcendent field, they have two aspects. First, they are segregated and segregative: incapable of connection, they are constituted as isolated islands of a superior people surrounded by inferior enemies (103, 269). Second, in the meeting of a segregative group and a transcendent field, the polyvocality of subject-groups gives way to what Deleuze and Guattari call "biunivocalization." The subjugated group expresses a meaning residing in a transcendent field: biunivocalization is "the flattening of the polyvocal real in favor of a symbolic relationship between two articulations: so that is what this meant" (101).
  66. Subject-groups, on the other hand, are always "at grips with, and directly coupled to, the [other] elements of the political and historical situation" which "they express all the less" (97, 100). In spite of their names--Deleuze and Guattari also call them "active groups" (94)--they bypass distinctions between subject and object, active and passive; they neither express nor are expressed, they neither cause nor are causing.[25] Subject-groups are not those groups striving for self-realization, but those capable of being affected by others, those capable of interaction, impurity, and inauthenticity. Instead of constituting itself as an island whose superior self-identity (a=a) is threatened by enemies, a subject group is constituted as a, b, c...
  67. To summarize so far, Deleuze and Guattari outline three syntheses--connection, disjunction, conjunction--and three parts--partial objects, the body without organs, and the adjacent part--of a pure multiplicity, the desiring machine. They distinguish between two uses of these syntheses and parts: a schizorevolutionary and a paranoiac use. The schizorevolutionary use, associated with subject groups, involves partial and non-specific connections: connections are partial in that they do not refer to a global entity, but by the same token they are each complete and lacking in nothing; there can be several connections between two partial objects. The schizorevolutionary use, as we have seen, also involves inclusive and non-restrictive disjunctions, as well as polyvocal and nomadic conjunctions. The paranoiac use, associated with subjugated groups, involves global and specific connections: partial objects are now seen as parts of a pre-existing global entity to which they refer, in relation to which they are lacking, and which alone completes them; connections are seen as taking place between these pre-existing parts, so that a connection is always secondary and incomplete. The paranoiac use, as we have seen, also involves exclusive and restrictive disjunctions, as well as biunivocal and segregative conjunctions.[26] Why? Deleuze and Guattari's distinction between the paranoiac and the schizorevolutionary is indissociable from their analysis of capitalism.
  68. In brief, Deleuze and Guattari distinguish between three societies--primitive territorial, despotic, and capitalist--in their "history of contingencies, and not the history of necessity" (140). Starting from the postulate that "society is not first of all a milieu for exchange [...] but rather a socius of inscription", they name the three socii as the body of the earth, the body of the despot, and the body of capital (142). Whereas the immanent body of the earth codes population and other flows (into, for example, tribes) and whereas the transcendent body of the despot recodes them (into, for example, castes), capital decodes: as Marx and Engels said, all that is solid melts into air. Whereas precapitalist socii code flows, capitalism is based on a conjunction of decoded flows--for example, conjunction of decoded flows of population and decoded flows of money--that Deleuze and Guattari call an "axiomatic" (139). In order to survive, capitalism needs to regulate the axiomatic with a resurrection of the transcendent despotic state "under other guises" and "in unexpected forms" (220, 223). These instances of fake transcendence immanent to capitalism are "artificial territorialities" and the processes of their constitution are "(artificial) reterritorializations."[27]
  69. Capitalism oscillates between two poles--reterritorialization, which preserves it, and deterritorialization, an unfettered decoding threatening it with extinction.[28] "Capitalism is inseparable from the movement of deterritorialization, but this movement is exorcised through factitious and artificial reterritorializations"; "capitalism is continually reterritorializing with one hand what it was deterritorializing with the other" (303, 259).[29] What exactly do deterritorialization and artificial reterritorialization consist of and how exactly do they work? We have now gone full circle. Deterritorialization involves the schizorevolutionary connections, disjunctions, and conjunctions, while artificial reterritorialization involves paranoiac-fascisizing connections, disjunctions, and conjunctions, as outlined above. In some sense, the schizorevolutionary--desiring-machines and their desiring-production--"functions at the end," "under the conditions determined by an apparently victorious capitalism" (130, 139). For Anti-Oedipus the fight against capitalism is defined as careful and patient invention of deterritorialization in relation to a singular situation opening onto an immanent cosmopolitan field (319-20, 380). (As we have seen, Anti-Oedipus bypasses the opposition of part versus whole with the alliance of singularity and multiplicity.)
  70. If we use this quick sketch of the conceptual apparatus of Anti-Oedipus to look back on Jameson's diagnosis of late capitalism and his prescription of a way out through international socialism, what strikes us is this: our enslavement (fragmentation) and our liberation (unification) are indistinguishable, in that they are both reterritorializing. In spite of their apparent opposition, they stand together in their common exclusion of deterritorialization--of the schizorevolutionary processes outlined in Anti-Oedipus. As we have seen, Jameson diagnoses minoritarian movements in their enslaved (so to speak) state as disconnected and, in their disconnectedness, as symptoms of late capitalism, while he announces minoritarian movements in their liberated state to come as parts of international socialism. The former (fragmentation) and the latter (unification) are in a relation of exclusive disjunction. This analysis is reterritorializing in different respects. The exclusive disjunction between late capitalism (fragmentation) versus international socialism (unification) is itself reterritorializing. Also, in spite of their apparent opposition, both late capitalism and international socialism are transcendent fields: Jameson "biunivocalizes" minoritarian movements in that he sees them as expressing a transcendent field that is late capitalism; he sees international socialism not as a pure multiplicity but as a whole unifying the parts. From the point of view of Anti-Oedipus, all instances of transcendence are now fake, so that both late capitalism and international socialism extract a surplus value from minoritarian movements while keeping them unconnected to each other--in the latter case, minoritarian movements are unified by their common participation in international socialism but remain laterally unconnected. As between them late capitalism and international socialism appear to exhaust the realm of the possible, the lateral, unmediated connections between minoritarian movements become a constitutive impossibility.
  71. With Jameson's international socialism, as with Harvey's American New Left, as with Connor's Anglo-American humanities, as with Hutcheon's sexual difference feminism, one of the elements of an unimaginably multidimensional and interconnected political situation aspires to play an avant-garde role by lifting itself above the immanent field. But in doing so, it behaves as a segregative and segregated territoriality (we are a superior people surrounded by an inferior world), now creating the fragmentation it purports to overcome. (It seems that avant-gardism and segregative territorialities are not in exclusive disjunction, either.) As participants representing minoritarian movements imported Jameson's triangle, and as they matched his avant-garde aspirations with their own, the postmodernism debate, promising unprecedented participation for everyone, risked generating unprecedented reterritorialization. Deterritorialization and schizorevolutionary processes, on the other hand, could bring to the postmodernism debate the other, double life of minoritarian movements: a vibrant life of partial, inclusive, polyvocal, and nomadic political encounters, an already emerging post-hegemonic world.
  72. Anti-Oedipus moves through a dizzying array of concepts, conceptual distinctions, and registers. In this brief account I have concentrated on the concepts, distinctions, and registers I deemed pertinent in understanding the situation of minoritarian movements within the postmodernism debate, thereby perhaps giving the misleading impression that Anti-Oedipus offers a closed system. What it does do, though, is explicitly leave behind established oppositions, exclusive disjunctions, such as unification/fragmentation and undifferentiation/exclusive differentiation (a full list would be very long), replacing them with a proliferating array of new inclusive disjunctions. From register to register and from distinction to distinction, Anti-Oedipus stresses the "simultaneity," "coexistence" (117, 278, 375), and inseparability (318) of the two terms of its distinctions; between the two terms, there are oscillations (260, 278, 315, 376), perpetual, subtle and uncertain shiftings, "border or frontier phenomena ready to cross over to one side or the other" (126), "underground passages" (278), the possibility of "going from one side [...] to this other side" (380); the two terms "interpenetrate" (378), are "contained in [...] one another" (324), "continually deriving from" each other (349). In short, " it is clear how everything can coexist and intermix" (377).[31] [32] [33] When Anti-Oedipus declares that "we live today in the age of partial objects," it brings into focus not a world of fragmentation in need of unification, but a "world of transverse communications," with its "myriad little connections, disjunctions, and conjunctions," threatening late capitalism with extinction (42, 319, 315).
  73. This world finally enters the postmodernism debate in 2000, with Hardt and Negri's Empire. Profoundly influenced by Deleuze and Guattari, Empire continues, updates, and renews their work. It announces the end of a postmodernism debate dominated by the "alternatives" of unification versus fragmentation; instead it views both "alternatives" as part of "corruption," the Empire's ontological nullification of Deleuzo-Guattarian "pure multiplicity," or what Empire calls "multitude" (both names for the creativity interaction of minoritarian movements). Corruption is the "substance and totality of Empire"--of the new societies of control (391). "At the base of all these forms of corruption there is an operation of ontological nullification": "the multitude must be unified or segmented into different unities: this is how the multitude has to be corrupted" (391, emphasis added).
  74. To elaborate further the possibilities and challenges of this "deterritorializing" and "schizorevolutionary" turn in the postmodernism debate would require us to consider Deleuze and Guattari's notion of "becoming minoritarian" as it is developed in Kafka, their sequel to Anti-Oedipus; in A Thousand Plateaus, (especially in reference to Deleuze's quick sketch there of the new "societies of control"); and, finally, in Hardt and Negri's Empire.[34] We can only say here that such a turn offers our best hope of an escape from both fragmentation and unification toward "myriad little" minoritarian interconnections. While the contribution of minoritarian movements to academic scholarship in the humanities is now undeniable, their very institutional success is presenting us with a new challenge: as we jettison the canonical treatises on postmodernism which would relegate these movements to the status of troubling symptoms, will the movements themselves prove better able to tolerate the seeming loss or chaos of intermixing, better able to produce a new kind of thinking that takes place across, between, and together?
  75. Angelaki: Journal of the Theoretical Humanities

    Talk Back




    A version of this essay was delivered at the "Effects of Reading" seminar at Merton College, Oxford University, on 9 November 2001. I would like to thank the organizers, Clare Connors, Lydia Rainford, and Sarah Wood, and the participants for their helpful comments. Thank you to Gerard Greenway for his many criticisms. I would also like to thank Postmodern Culture's reader and editors for their helpful suggestions for revision--I am especially grateful to Jim English for his generous help.

    1. The case for the centrality, in the postmodernism debate, of "Postmodernism, or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism" and its earlier version, "Postmodernism and Consumer Society" (1982), is strongly made by Anderson. I agree with the general point but understand this centrality differently.

    2. A note informs us that "this essay was originally a talk, portions of which were presented as a Whitney Museum Lecture in fall, 1982; it is published here essentially unrevised" (111).

    3. I am indebted to Kellner.

    4. "What is decisive in the present context is his [Mandel's] notion that, with the worldwide recession of 1973-74, the dynamics of this latest 'long wave' are spent" ("Periodizing" 206).

    5. In the texts by Jameson I examine, there is only one other such instance, one moment of "juncture" between Marxism and feminism: see "Cognitive Mapping" 355.

    6. See, for example, Hardt and Negri 234-39, 268-69, 272-76, 402-03. What they call the "multitude" is a Deleuzo-Guattarian "pure multiplicity" (see final part of this essay).

    7. We have already seen above an early version of this argument in "Postmodernism and Consumer Society," including two of the three elements of genuine political expression, the individual and the norm: Jameson argues that "each group com[es] to speak a curious private language of its own," at the expense and to the detriment of "normal language [...] of the linguistic norm," as well as at the expense of "a unique personality and individuality, which can be expected [unlike groups] to generate its own unique vision of the world" (114).

    8. This fragmentation is "also a political phenomenon, [as] the problem of micropolitics sufficiently demonstrates" ("Postmodernism, or the Cultural" 65).

    9. Throughout the pieces I examine, the only content Jameson ever gives socialism is in a sentence in "Cognitive Mapping": socialism is "a society without hierarchy, a society of free people" (355); at the same time, the road to socialism seems to require a rigid hierarchical distinction between the unifier (the Left) and those in need of unification (minoritarian movements).

    10. The "disappearance of the American radical past" involves the loss of the "activities and the intentionalities" that focus the present and anchor the past so that it neither drifts away nor suddenly and unintentionally invades the present (as in the schizophrenic incident discussed above which Jameson considers ahistorical); it also involves "some degraded collective 'objective spirit'" rather than "the old monadic subject" ("Postmodernism, or the Cultural" 70, 73, 71).

    The voice that speaks is that of a degraded collective spirit rather than that of an individual; grasping the "historical referent" with a firm hand is replaced by sudden invasions of the past into the present--Toni Morrison's Beloved seems a good example of what Jameson would call ahistorical.

    12. See, for example, Arendt.

    13. In this context, Hutcheon reverses Jameson's argument in relation to Doctorow's Ragtime (see n11): "it could be argued that a relatively unproblematized view of historical continuity and the context of representation offers a stable plot structure to Dos Passos's USA trilogy. But this very stability is called into question in Doctorow's [...] Ragtime" (95).

    14. See also The Condition of Postmodernity 98.

    15. Hutcheon had already published A Poetics of Postmodernism: History, Theory, Fiction (London: Routledge, 1988).

    16. Intriguingly, Hutcheon doesn't even mention the name of Luce Irigaray, the feminist philosopher most closely associated with "sexual difference."

    17.The hostile reception to Hegemony and Socialist Strategy crystallized in Geras.

    18. See "Building a New Left": "I have never been a 'total' Marxist, someone who sought in Marxism a 'homeland'[...] The 'language games' I played with Marxism were always more complicated, and they always tried to articulate Marxism to something else" (178).

    19. This is "a pure dispersed and anarchic multiplicity, without unity or totality, and whose elements are welded, pasted together by the real distinction or the very absence of a link" (324).

    20. "Myriad break-flows [...] determine the positive dispersion in a molecular multiplicity" (342).

    21. The body without organs and the partial objects can be described in terms of Spinoza's substance and attributes, in that the body without organs is immanent while the partial objects are "distinct and cannot [...] exclude or oppose one another" (327, see also 309).

    22. That the body without organs allows a permanent revolution--breaking and remaking--of connections which might otherwise become fixed is an important point stressed by. Holland, throughout his articles and books on Deleuze and Guattari. See, for example, Deleuze and Guattari's Anti-Oedipus 28, 35-36, 96-97. However, as we will see, the body without organs also lends itself to a "paranoiac fascisizing" use, hence what Holland calls its "constitutive ambivalence" (38).

    23. In the so-called "sixth chapter" of Capital, Marx shows how capital comes to appear as "a quite mysterious being" (516).

    24. The body without organs and the partial objects are "two kinds of desiring-machine parts, in the dispersion of the machine itself" (329); the desiring-machine "brings together--without unifying or uniting them--the body without organs and the partial objects" (327); then comes "the last part of the desiring-machine, the adjacent part" (330). "Here are the desiring-machines, with their three parts: the working parts, the immobile motor, the adjacent part" (338).

    25. The segregative use of the conjunctive synthesis "brings about the feeling of 'indeed being one of us,' of being part of a superior race threatened by enemies from outside" (103). When God is dead, and when modernity has destroyed all that is solid, the segregative use involves "an enormous archaism," a spiritual, transcendent, eternal entity (104). The "segregative use [...] does not coincide with divisions between classes, although it is an incomparable weapon in the service of a dominating class" (103). While there are obvious examples which turn this argument into a truism--such as the Jewish conspiracy against the spirit of the German people in the eyes of the Nazi--the edge of this argument becomes more clear with less obvious examples. To give one, in relation to the agonizing debate in feminism as to whether or not feminism needs a strategic essentialism, that is, recourse to an essence of women as a common ground, the answer here would be: no, strategic essentialism is neither necessary nor helpful.

    26. For example, see: "objective or subjective [...] That is not the distinction: the distinction to be made" is between paranoiac and schizorevolutionary investments (345); or "desire and its object are one and the same thing [...] Desire is a machine, and the object of desire is another machine connected to it" (26). "Subject-groups [...] have as their sole cause a rupture with causality" (377).

    27. See Anti-Oedipus 68-106.

    28. Artificial territorialities--as pseudo-transcendent objects "borrowed" from the despotic state and as "feeble archaisms bearing the greatest burden of current functions"--are immanent to capitalism yet "more and more spiritualised" (236, 268, 177). They are diffuse, so that "no one escapes"--not even groups with revolutionary aims (236).

    29. Deterritorialization, the axiomatic and reterritorialization are the three "surface elements" of capitalism (262).

    30. Jameson calls this latter passage "remarkable" (see "Marxism and Dualism in Deleuze" 19, 35 n.6) and describes Anti-Oedipus's analysis of capitalism as "surely one of the most interesting and promising lines of investigation opened up by the 'Marxism' of L'Anti-Oedipe" (20). See also Anti-Oedipus 257-58, 261.

    31. I agree with Paul Patton's conclusion that "the concept of deterritorialisation [understood as connection of deterritorialisations] lies at the heart of Deleuzian ethics and politics, to the extent that Deleuze and Guattari's mature political philosophy might be regarded as a politics of deterritorialisation" (136).

    32. See the "simultaneity of the two movements of deterritorialization and reterritorialization" (260).

    33. Subject-groups and subjugated groups "are perpetually shifting"; between the "paranoiac-segregative and schizonomadic [...] [there are] ever so many subtle, uncertain shiftings" (64, 105).

    34. In a subtle and nuanced account of Anti-Oedipus and its sequel, A Thousand Plateaus, Jameson's starting point is that Deleuze and Guattari use "great mythic dualisms such as the Schizophrenic and the molar or Paranoid" ("Marxism" 15) but he moves to the position that Anti-Oedipus "complexifies" some oppositions, though it retains "the great opposition between the molecular and the moral" (29). He concludes with the suggestion that such great mythic oppositions be grasped as reterritorializations carrying "the call of utopian transfiguration" (34). Anti-Oedipus makes clear on two occasions that reterritorializations are "ambiguous"--they can have a positive role when they are part of a movement of deterritorialization (258, 260). It also states that "everywhere there exist the molecular and the molar: their disjunction is a relation of included disjunction" (340).

    35. See Deleuze, "Control and Becoming" and "Postscript on the Societies of Control."

    36. Corruption is the "substance and totality of Empire"--of the new societies of control (Hardt and Negri 391). "At the base of all these forms of corruption there is an operation of ontological nullification": "The multitude has to be unified or segmented into different unities: this is how the multitude has to be corrupted" (391).

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