Friday, June 20, 2014

Deleuze on Rousseau lectures, interesting take on Deleuzian politics

From the Translator's Introduction:
Indeed, it would be easy to dismiss Rousseau as too romantic, too aristocratic, and too much of a State thinker in order to have any profound connection with Deleuze. However, the course’s typed summary of twenty-seven pages, never published but available at several places online, suggests otherwise. The document is a surprising encounter between Deleuze and Rousseau, one in which Deleuze explicitly transforms Rousseau into a thinker of genesis, virtuality, and actuality, each a key concept in Deleuze’s own thought.... 
In general, Deleuze’s political philosophy is interpreted as one with an almost exclusive focus on resistance, escape, locality, and minoritarian gestures. It is always the war machine versus the state, the nomads versus the royals, and the moleculars versus the molars. If there is such a thing as a ‘Deleuzian political theory’, it is predominantly presumed to be a manual of how to escape ‘the system’ for as long as possible. 
Yet the Rousseau manuscripts pells out an alternative. Here, genesis, virtuality, and actuality are placed in the service of the construction of a just and good society. From the actual situation of inequality, one returns to the virtual conditions which have engendered it. A discovery is made, namely that ‘natural goodness’, the ‘before good and evil’, has always subsisted, which provides the opportunity for a new actualization (a counter actualization, a reterritorialization). Only this time, the result is formal. Not an actual distribution of power and prestige in a hierarchy, but an empty method which allows us to focus on things. 
In other words, the people henceforth decide to focus on that which truly unites them, which can only be those situations in which they find themselves (not abstract ideas determined in advance). Such a society would not cling to the past, but instead open up the present to the future. Justice would be synonymous with jurisprudence. It would forego all teleology (a projection of the past into the future) in favor of pragmatism and constructivism. It would, as much as possible, abandon all transcendent overcoding in order to become capable of acting according to immanent criteria concerning the things (machines, assemblages) that present themselves in a situation. It is obvious that much of this is highly compatible with both the letter and spirit of Deleuze’s thought.

Link to lectures HERE.