Atheism: Only a Passage
Overcoming the Criticism of Religion and Myth with Marx, Châtelet, Deleuze, and Guattari
Postscript to Part One
This post is part two of a series on Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari’s reading of Karl Marx’s 1844 Manuscripts in Anti-Oedipus. In part one, I argued that Deleuze and Guattari combined the theoretical anti-humanist criticism—by Louis Althusser and Jacques Rancière—of the young, yet-Feuerbachian Marx and Gérard Granel’s commentary on (and response to the theoretical anti-humanists with regards to) the 1844 Manuscripts to recover a concept of industry, and by extension a concept of species-being, from that same text without, thereby, recapitulating Marxist humanism. (Admittedly, I only approached Granel’s work—“L’ontologie marxiste de 1844 et la question de la ‘coupure’” (1968)—indirectly through this essay on Granel by Alessandro Trevini Bellini.) The theoretical anti-humanists demonstrated how the essence of Man in the work of the young Marx was displaced from its role as the primordial, constitutive, and transcendent “subject of history” by the concept of the process (and relations) of production in the mature Marx (of the Contribution and Capital). Rather than explaining the forms of modern social life (state, church, money, capital, private property, etc.) by reference to the self-estrangement of the essentially active subject “Man,” the scientific procedure of the mature Marx consists in explaining the production of human subjects themselves from the process (and relations) of production, or the real, historical production and reproduction of human society in a succession of definite modes. Through Granel’s singular reading of the 1844 Manuscripts and The German Ideology (1846), Deleuze and Guattari recover the concept of industry from the young Marx, which concerns the real, historical process of production as a perpetual exhibition of the fundamental unity of humanity and nature in their dynamic, reciprocal definition of one another. In turn, this enables Deleuze and Guattari to recover the concept of human species-being from the young Marx without ever re-establishing the essence of Man to its role as the author of history. Given the logical anteriority of industry as the unity of humanity and nature through production to the antithetical terms “humanity” and “nature,” taken as extrinsic and/or antagonistic to one another, Granel, and Deleuze and Guattari in his wake, re-conceptualizes the human essence—the natural essence of humanity and the human essence of nature, in the discourse of the young Marx—as immediate identity with the essence of nature through the process of production.1 To experience human species-being, then, is not to elect to a transcendent essence and, as Deleuze and Guattari put it, become “king of creation,” but rather to be restored to immanence—to active, and total, participation in the process of production that produced you. To become, in their words, “the being who is in intimate contact with all forms or all types of beings, who is responsible for even the stars and animal life, and who ceaselessly plugs an organ-machine into an energy-machine, a tree into his body, a breast into his mouth, the sun into his asshole: the eternal custodian of the machines of the universe.” (AO, 4) This, I argued, is the theoretical pre-history of Deleuze and Guattari’s concept of desiring-production, since human desire and its natural object reciprocally define one another (in their reality, crucially, for Deleuze and Guattari’s critique of psychoanalytic models of desire-as-lack) through the same unity in which humanity and nature do. Consequently, even though Deleuze and Guattari reprise the struggle against alienation2—or, in their idiom, reterritorialization3—with explicit (though uncited) reference to the third manuscript,4 we are compelled to understand alienation as the forcible separation of human beings as products from the process of production—at once natural and historical—that produced them. For Deleuze and Guattari, this forcible separation takes the form of social repression5 that serves the interest, or rationality,6 of forms of social sovereignty as they secure their own reproduction.7 Though I won’t do so here, I hope to expand on Deleuze and Guattari’s idiosyncratic theory of alienation in the future.
Introduction to Part Two
For this week, just a few reflections on François Châtelet’s contribution to Deleuze and Guattari’s reception of Marx’s 1844 Manuscripts in Anti-Oedipus. As with Granel’s, Deleuze and Guattari refer to Châtelet’s commentary—“La question de l’athéisme de Marx” (1966)—once. However, I contend that its importance is just as decisive. I’ll pursue Châtelet’s impact indirectly (for the most part) as well, specifically through Deleuze’s own article “Pericles and Verdi: The Philosophy of François Châtelet” (1988), published three years after Châtelet’s death. My thesis is that through Châtelet’s reading of Marx, as well as Deleuze’s own reading of Nietzsche, Deleuze and Guattari argue that atheism is something like what Fredric Jameson called a “vanishing mediator”: a bearer of social transformation which can be forgotten once that transformation has been secured (and, perhaps, the forgetting of which is the index of a successful transformation).8 If, once again, it is the young Marx of the 1844 Manuscripts to whom Deleuze and Guattari turn before any other Marx, this time through Châtelet, it is precisely to capture the intensity of his passage through atheism towards the rich indifference to pseudo-problems of the non-/existence of God that finally allows real problems to emerge.
The Question of Atheism
[I]f there is, for us, a question of Marx’s atheism, it is because, for Marx, having achieved the mastery of his thought, atheism is no longer even a question for him. Basically, Marx is not a master in thinking atheism—like Epicurus, Sade, Feuerbach, Nietzsche, or Sartre; he is closer to Spinoza: like him, he teaches us that atheism cannot, in the end, be understood as a doctrine, that it is only an attitude, an ideology, in short, that it is conceptless. (Châtelet, 373)
With the exception of Nietzsche’s inclusion, Deleuze and Deleuze and Guattari will agree. Atheism is essentially a passage to more serious matters—to communism and the science of societies. Châtelet identifies this first passage—from atheism to communism—in the 1844 Manuscripts, which prefigures the second—from atheism to the science of societies—in the theoretical development (“epistemological break,” perhaps) that distinguishes the mature Marx (of the Contribution and Capital) from the young Marx. Châtelet claims that the theoretical anti-humanist intervention makes a new reading of the disappearance of the atheist polemic against “religion in general” in Marx’s mature work both possible and necessary.9 Rather than assuming Marx considered his earliest remarks on the subject of atheism as a passage to communism sufficient, Châtelet argues the mature Marx goes further, to the point of denying “religion in general” as an object or premise in the materialist analysis of societies. We will consider each passage in turn.
From Atheism to Communism
At the outset, Châtelet periodizes Marx’s body of work roughly along the lines of the theoretical anti-humanists into three periods: the “writings of youth” (pre-1844), the works of the break (1844-45, possibly extending until the publication of the Contribution in ‘59), and the works of maturity (post-1859). Subsequently, Châtelet traces the shift in Marx’s treatment of religion through all three periods: first, Marx is a committed Feuerbachian who undertook the critique of religious alienation, second, a critic of Feuerbach who located the source of religious alienation in civil society, third, Marx appears to abandon the critique of religion in general and instead analyzes the specific functions of religious doctrines and rituals in certain periods in history. Châtelet plays all the hits—from religion is the heart of a heartless world and opium of the people10 to the appropriateness of Christianity’s cult of the abstract man in a society of generalized commodity production.11 For our purposes, however, Châtelet’s discussion of the 1844 Manuscripts is most important. For Châtelet, Marx has already broken with Feuerbach in the 1844 Manuscripts to the extent that he poses a certain question and offers a certain answer. To the question why humanity experiences religious alienation (the alienation of Man from himself in a hypostasized image of Man called God) at all, Marx refuses Feuerbach’s speculative-psychological account (a story about consciousness splitting itself from itself) and refers instead to the structure of (civil) society, the real social existence and relations of human beings in the production and reproduction of their mode(s) of life.
In my last post, I reconstructed Marx’s argument that the concept of God as Creator of humanity and nature and Mediator between them was rendered superfluous by the discovery of natural history that man and nature exist on their own account (1844, 165) and in immediate unity with one another through industry (Ibid., 163). Put simply, nature and humanity generate themselves and in the self-generation of humanity we discover a mode of the self-generation of nature itself. Nevertheless, Marx explains that the concept of God as Creator and Mediator persists for a reason: the asymmetrical relation under the regime of private property between those who labor and those who command labor. Without getting into specifics again—Marx’s two examples are personal social domination under feudalism and impersonal social domination under capitalism—Marx argues that the idea of God as Creator persists as long as people’s survival is dependent on the lords of labor—whether the whims of a lord with a title and landed property or the calculations of the capitalist adding/eliminating jobs according to the laws of the marketplace and the rate of profitability—a source of livelihood that is neither transparent nor tractable to the mass of laborers. Marx’s explanation for the persistence of the concept of God as Mediator between humanity and nature concerns the real separation of humanity from nature under the regime of private property, a problem Marx introduces in the 1844 Manuscripts12 and develops in the Grundrisse13 but which I don’t have the time to treat in detail in this post.
Consequently, the Feuerbachian problem of religious alienation—or the domination of Man by God, an image of himself in the face of which he experiences himself as inessential and to which he is beholden—is, for the young Marx, one of those problems that might express itself in a theoretical discourse but can only be solved by practice.14 The problem of religious alienation demands the real overthrow of the conditions of everyday life under private property. Hence, in the 1844 Manuscripts, Marx writes:
Religious alienation as such occurs only in the sphere of consciousness, in the inner life of man, but economic alienation is that of real life and its supersession, therefore, of both aspects. (…) Communism begins where atheism begins (Owen), but atheism is at the outset still far from being communism; indeed it is still for the most part an abstraction. Thus the philanthropy of atheism is at first only an abstract philosophical philanthropy, whereas that of communism is at once real and oriented towards action. (156-7)
For Châtelet, there are therefore three moments to the passage from atheism to communism in the 1844 Manuscripts. To paraphrase his presentation: first, the atheist who diagnoses religious alienation as a problem discovers the inessentiality of human beings in the face of God is only the expression in theoretical discourse of the reality of a society in which, under the regime of private property, human beings are reduced to inessentiality; second, the atheist is compelled to practically address the contradictions of alienated society and overcome the reduction of humanity to inessentiality; third, the atheist develops a theory of this practice of addressing the contradictions of alienated society, which engenders the final practice Marx calls communism. (Châtelet, 380) It is a model for the development of the unity of theory and practice—from a theoretical discovery to a practical re-orientation to a second theoretical discovery and second practical re-orientation. In the first moment, a theoretical discovery of the root of religious alienation in economic alienation. In the second, a practical re-orientation away from theoretical disputes over the existence or non-existence of God towards the process and structure of social relations of private property that reduce human beings to inessentiality. In the third, a theory of this practical re-orientation that grasps the scattered acts of resistance to the regime of private property as part of a single, real movement to overturn the status quo. During this third moment, resistance to the regime of private property acquires a proper name—communism—which effects a second practical re-orientation towards the formation of socialist political associations.
Though Marx has not, at this stage, abandoned the criticism of religion,15 he nevertheless mocks atheism. It has significance only as the denial of an unreality, an unreality that is no longer meaningful for socialists to deny. He concludes “Private Property and Communism” by criticizing the attempt of doctrinaire atheists to assert the existence of essential humanity through a negation of God. However,
Socialism no longer requires such a roundabout method; it begins from the theoretical and practical sense perception of man and nature as essential beings. It is positive human self-consciousness, no longer a self-consciousness attained through the negation of religion; just as the real life of man is positive and no longer attained through the negation of private property, through communism. (1844, 167)
For the young Marx, therefore, the socialist struggle against the regime of private property to both make the conditions of the existence of humanity transparent/tractable to all and overcome the separation of humanity from nature (restoring to producers the means of subsistence and production) is a living demonstration of the discoveries of natural science—the autoproduction of nature and humanity, the autoproduction of nature through the autoproduction of humanity. But this requires that the abstract philanthropy of atheism, which claims to disalienate humanity through a theoretical critique of the domination of religious images over human minds, vanishes into the practical generosity of the communist associations struggling to overturn the order of private property and restore, in the chiastic refrain of the 1844 Manuscripts, nature to humanity and humanity to nature. Marx:
Once the essence of man and of nature, man as a natural being and nature as a human reality, has become evident in practical life, in sense experience, the quest for an alien being, a being above man and nature (a quest which is an avowal of the unreality of man and nature) becomes impossible in practice. (Ibid., 166-7)
From Atheism to the Science of Societies
You would expect, Châtelet continues, Marx to develop this conception of the unity of atheism and communism, or of the necessary passage of the former into the latter, in his later work. He does not. Châtelet says we have two alternative explanations: either Marx considered the matter settled more or less by his early work or Marx’s refusal to speak of “religion in general” as an object of critique indexes a fundamental shift in his thought. (Châtelet, 381) Châtelet tells us he finds the latter, a reading Althusser makes available to us for the first time, both more correct and more interesting. For Châtelet, the criticism of “religion in general” is incompatible with the historical science of societies. If Marx’s great discovery is the science of history, of the determination in-the-last-instance of social institutions by the relations and forces of production, Marx can no longer be concerned with religious phenomena in general. Châtelet: “What matters to him is less to criticize religion as a source of illusion than to analyze, for a given society, the ideological function of its various forms.” (381-2) This is precisely what Châtelet claims we find if we turn to the argument in Capital that Christianity’s cult of the abstract man, in the form of bourgeois protestantism, “is the most fitting form of religion” for
a society of commodity producers, whose general social relation of production consists in the fact that they treat their products as commodities, hence as values, and in this material form bring their individual, private labors into relation with each other as homogeneous human labor (…) (Capital, 172)
If the young Marx mocked atheism as the denial of an unreality, an ultimately senseless attempt to solve a practical problem with theoretical consciousness, Châtelet argues the mature Marx goes further, refusing the criticism of religion as a point of departure for the materialist analysis of history:
One thing is clear: the Middle ages could not live on Catholicism, nor could the ancient world on politics. On the contrary, it is the manner in which they gained their livelihood which explains why in one case politics, in the other case Catholicism, played the chief part. (Ibid., fn. 35, 176)
Most concisely, perhaps:
Even a history of religion that is written in abstraction from this material basis is uncritical. It is, in reality, much easier to discover by analysis the earthly kernel of the misty creations of religion than to do the opposite, i.e. to develop from the actual, given relations of life the forms in which these have been apotheosized. The latter method is the only materialist, and therefore the only scientific one. (Ibid., fn. 4, 493-4)
As for the problem of God and his existence or non-existence, Châtelet concludes that, to the historical materialist at least, it appears either as nonsense or a dramatic response to tedious folklore. For Châtelet, that we have to ask what happened to Marx’s atheism in his mature works at all is a sign that he had more serious work to attend to.
From Atheism to Materialist Psychiatry
As Deleuze has it in “Pericles and Verdi,” Châtelet’s was a tranquil atheism:
There never was a more quietly godless philosopher, except of course for Nietzsche. His is a tranquil atheism, that is, a philosophy in which God is not a problem—the nonexistence and even the death of God are not problems, but rather conditions that should be treated as givens so that the real problems can then emerge: this is the only humility. Never has philosophy located itself more firmly within a field of immanence. (Deleuze, 716)
If Châtelet remained an atheist, Deleuze writes, it was in his lifelong treatment of all forms of transcendence and the belief in transcendence as arrogance, but a very violent arrogance. Deleuze quotes Châtelet directly:
In our philosophers’ jargon, the term for a principle that is posited as both a source of all explanation and as a higher reality is transcendence—a pretty word, which I find quite suitable. Presumptuous types, great and small, from the leader of a tiny fringe group to the president of the United States, run on transcendence like a wino runs on red wine. The medieval God has been dissipated without losing any of his force or deep formal unity: his avatars include Science, the Working Class, the Country, Progress, Health, Security, Democracy, Socialism—the list is too long to give in full. These forms of transcendence have taken his place (which is another way of saying he is still there, omnipresent), carrying out their plans for organization and extermination with increased ferociousness. (Ibid.)
If Châtelet remained an atheist, therefore, it was only because, in the idiom of Nietzsche, even we are still pious. This is the context in which Deleuze and Guattari refer to Châtelet’s commentary on the atheism of Marx in Anti-Oedipus:
Let us recall Marx’s great declaration: he who denies God does only a “secondary thing,” for he denies God in order to posit the existence of man, to put man in God’s place (the transformation taken into account). But the person who knows that the place of man is entirely elsewhere does not even allow the possibility of a question to subsist concerning “an alien being, a being placed above man and nature”: he no longer needs the mediation of myth, he no longer needs to go by way of this mediation—the negation of the existence of God—since he has attained those regions of an autoproduction of the unconscious where the unconscious is no less atheist than orphan—immediately atheist, immediately orphan. (AO, 58)
For Deleuze and Guattari, the death of the Father in psychoanalysis is like the death of God in Nietzsche, who they write, “is exceedingly tired of all these stories revolving around the death of the father, the death of God, and wants to put an end to the interminable discourses of this nature.” (Ibid., 106) Nietzsche, they continue, “wanted us finally to pass on to serious things” and even “gives us twelve or thirteen versions of the death of God, for good measure and to be done with it, so as to render the event comical.” (Ibid.) If Nietzsche says that the news that God is dead takes time to bear fruit, Deleuze and Guattari argue, “The fruits of this news are not the consequences brought about by the death of God, but this other news that the death of God is no consequence.” (Ibid., 106-7) It is through the unlikely pair of Nietzsche and Engels, in his reproach to Bachofen in the preface to The Origin of the Family, that Deleuze and Guattari reproach the psychoanalysts: “it would seem that they really believe in all this—in myth, in Oedipus and castration.”16 The evaluation of Deleuze and Guattari’s critique of psychoanalysis—Freudian and Jungian!17—for not only believing in myths, but in saving belief in an historical era in which belief in myth has become impossible by imputing it directly to the unconscious (in Deleuze and Guattari’s estimation, an egregious category mistake18), lies outside of the scope of this post. More relevant for our purposes is Deleuze and Guattari’s definition of idealism, borrowed directly from the young Marx of the 1844 Manuscripts and The German Ideology: the separation in theory of the human being as a product from the process that produced it19 that is only an effect the real separation of the human subject from the process of social production and reproduction in practice under the regime of private property.20 For Deleuze and Guattari, if traditional psychoanalysis tends towards idealist psychiatry, that’s because it needs to refer back to myth, to retain a belief in God as Creator and Mediator through the figure of the Father, in order to analyze the origin of psychic pathology and re-establish the relationship between the analysand and the world (of history and nature). The premise of materialist psychiatry is, however, the premise of historical materialism—the co-extension of humanity and nature in industry, the autoproduction of nature itself in the mode of the historical autoproduction of the human species.21 This is why Deleuze and Guattari claim that Judge Schreber’s “self-cure” was an affirmation of his own immediate relationship to history and nature.22
Again, I have to conclude by raising questions that can only be answered by a more sustained reconstruction of Deleuze and Guattari’s program of materialist psychiatry, especially the following: what is the relationship between the process of desiring-production and the process of social production/reproduction in Anti-Oedipus? How did Deleuze and Guattari account for their identification of psychic and social repression?
What is clear, however, is that Deleuze and Guattari returned to Marx’s atheism in order to undertake a passage through the real premise of historical materialism (the concept of industry) towards a new science, “a truly materialist psychiatry,” the “twofold task” of which is “introducing desire into the mechanism [of production] and introducing production into desire.” (Ibid., 22) Or, in terms of “the two positive tasks of schizoanalysis” at the conclusion of Anti-Oedipus: on the one hand, the analysis of a given subject’s immediate relation of desire to the machinery of the production process; on the other, the analysis of the collective libidinal investments of groups in the capitalist social field that indicate the degree to which these groups are invested both (simultaneously, even) in the reproduction of the regime of private property and in its revolutionary overthrow.23 Concretely, this is what it would mean for Deleuze and Guattari to pass on from the critique of idealist psychiatry to more serious matters. If Deleuze and Guattari remain atheists, however, it is because even we, the cynical subjects of capitalist modernity, are still pious.24
Thanks for reading!
Marx: “Industry is the actual historical relationship of nature, and thus of natural science, to man. If industry is conceived as the exoteric manifestation of the essential human faculties, the human essence of nature and the natural essence of man can also be understood.” (1844, p. 163) // Karl Marx: Early Writings trans. and ed. by T.B. Bottomore with a foreword by Erich Fromm (1964)
For a discussion of the role alienation plays in Anti-Oedipus, see Jeffrey Bell’s “Whistle While You Work: Deleuze and the Spirit of Capitalism.” (2011) (https://edinburgh.universitypressscholarship.com/view/10.3366/edinburgh/9780748641178.001.0001/upso-9780748641178-chapter-2)
Deleuze and Guattari: “Production as the abstract subjective essence is discovered only in the forms of property that objectifies it all over again, that alienates it by reterritorializing it.” (AO, p. 259)
Deleuze and Guattari: “Marx summarizes the entire matter by saying that the subjective abstract essence [of labor, by Adam Smith and Ricardo] is discovered by capitalism only to be put in chains all over again, to be subjugated and alienated—no longer, it is true, in an exterior and independent element as objectivity, but in the element, itself subjective, of private property: “What was previously being external to oneself—man’s externalization in the thing—has merely become the act of externalizing—the process of alienating.”” (AO, p. 303)
This is an uncited reference to “Private Property and Labor” in the third manuscript, where Marx writes the following: “Under the guise of recognizing man, political economy, whose principle is labor, carries to its logical conclusion the denial of man. Man himself is no longer in a condition of external tension with the external substance of private property; he has himself become the tension-ridden being of private property. What was previously a phenomenon of being external to oneself, a real external manifestation of man, has now become the act of objectification, of alienation. This political economy seems at first, therefore, to recognize man with his independence, his personal activity, etc. It incorporates private property into the very essence of man, and it is no longer, therefore, conditioned by the local or national characteristics of private property regarded as existing outside itself.” (1844, p. 148)
Deleuze and Guattari: “It is, rather, the subject that is missing in desire, or desire that lacks a fixed subject; there is no fixed subject unless there is repression.” (AO, p. 25)
See Deleuze and Guattari on the “pathological rationality” of capitalism discovered by Marx (AO, p. 373) that affixes an historical order of historical rationality (Ibid., p. 367) to which desire for-its-own-sake—alienated/reterritorialized on the family like labor is alienated/reterritorialized in private property (pp. 270-271)—is counterposed as the irrational (Ibid., p. 379), as desire for-its-own-sake is production-for-its-own-sake against the compulsions of capitalist society to maintain private property and facilitate the accumulation of capital (Ibid., p. 259). On this last point, about how production for-production’s sake is only realized in parody by capitalism (on the condition that production produce and expand capital), see Deleuze and Guattari’s connection between this alienation and the figure of the “industrial eunuch” (Ibid., pp. 224-225) Marx introduces in “Needs, Production, and the Division of Labor” in the third manuscript. (1844, pp. 168-169)
For an extended discussion on the self-reproduction of social forms of sovereignty through social repression (which is not, for Deleuze and Guattari, distinguishable from psychic repression), see “The Second Positive Task” (AO, pp. 340-378) of chapter 4, “Introduction to Schizoanalysis.”
See Jameson’s “The Vanishing Mediator: Narrative Structure in Max Weber” (pp. 78-80) (1973) (https://www.jstor.org/stable/487630)
Not only does Châtelet credit Althusser and the others in passing with the rediscovery of Marx as a theoretician in his own right beyond the “practical Marxism” of Sartre (Châtelet, p. 372), but he also claims the theoretical anti-humanist intervention allows us for the first time to answer the question why atheism—and the critique of religion in general—disappears in Marx’s work after 1844-45 without having to assume Marx considered the matter sufficiently dealt with by his earliest polemics. (Ibid., p. 381)
Marx, A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right (1843): “The foundation of irreligious criticism is: Man makes religion, religion does not make man. Religion is, indeed, the self-consciousness and self-esteem of man who has either not yet won through to himself, or has already lost himself again. But man is no abstract being squatting outside the world. Man is the world of man – state, society. This state and this society produce religion, which is an inverted consciousness of the world, because they are an inverted world. Religion is the general theory of this world, its encyclopaedic compendium, its logic in popular form, its spiritual point d’honneur, its enthusiasm, its moral sanction, its solemn complement, and its universal basis of consolation and justification. It is the fantastic realization of the human essence since the human essence has not acquired any true reality. The struggle against religion is, therefore, indirectly the struggle against that world whose spiritual aroma is religion. Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness. To call on them to give up their illusions about their condition is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions. The criticism of religion is, therefore, in embryo, the criticism of that vale of tears of which religion is the halo.”
Marx, Capital: “For a society of commodity producers, whose general social relation of production consists in the fact that they treat their products as commodities, hence as values, and in this material form bring their individual, private labors into relation with each other as homogeneous human labor, Christianity with its religious cult of man in the abstract, more particularly in its bourgeois development, i.e. in Protestantism, Deism, etc., is the most fitting form of religion.” (p. 172)
Specifically, as the historical tendency towards proletarianization which strips the laborer of the means of subsistence and production. This early, abstract sketch of Marx’s mature historical theory of primitive accumulation is theorized through the concept of alienated labor in the 1844 Manuscripts in “Alienated Labor” in the first manuscript, where Marx describes this forcible separation as the alienation of producers from their product and the alienation of producers from the activity of production—the first and second kind of alienation. (1844, pp. 122-126)
Marx, Grundrisse: “It is not the unity of living and active humanity with the natural, inorganic conditions of their metabolic exchange with nature, and hence their appropriation of nature, which requires explanation or is the result of a historic process, but rather the separation between these inorganic conditions of human existence and this active existence, a separation which is completely posited only in the relation of wage labor and capital.” (p. 489)
Marx, 1844 Manuscripts: “The resolution of [these] theoretical contradictions is possible only through practical means, and only through the practical energy of man. Their resolution is not by any means, therefore, only a problem of knowledge, but is a real problem of life which philosophy was unable to solve precisely because it saw there a purely theoretical problem.” (p. 162)
Châtelet identifies the persistence of the criticism of religion in the 1844 Manuscripts with Marx’s critique of Hegel. To paraphrase: “Here then is the second stage in the development of Marx’s thought: atheism—abstract, philosophical doctrine—must be replaced by a theoretical and practical, conceptual and [historical] criticism of religion and all of the ideological forms in which religious alienation is hidden and reinforced. From this perspective, Marx, for example, demonstrates how Hegel’s philosophy of History and philosophy of the State have their foundation in a panlogicism which is itself [abstracted from] a theology: there can be no reconciliation, as the Berlin philosopher dreamed, of knowledge and faith, of legitimate theory and religion. Legitimate theory legitimizes itself theoretically and practically [only] in its endeavor to destroy religious illusion.” (p. 381)
Deleuze and Guattari on Engels’ reproach to Bachofen: “Engels paid homage to the genius of Bachofen, for having recog- nized in myth the figures of a maternal and a paternal law, their struggles and their relationships. But Engels slips in a reproach that changes everything: it really seems as if Bachofen believes all this, that he believes in myths, in the Furies, Apollo, and Athena? The same reproach applies even better to psychoanalysts: it would seem that they believe in all of this-in myth, in Oedipus and castration.” (AO, p. 107)
And again: “Yet aren't myth and tragedy, too, productions—forms of production? Certainly not; they are production only when brought into connection with real social production, real desiring-production. Otherwise they are ideological forms, which have taken the place of the units of production. Who believes in all this-Oedipus, castration, etc.? The Greeks? Then the Greeks did not produce in the same way they believed? The Hellenists? Do the Hellenists believe that the Greeks produced according to their beliefs? This is true at least of the nineteenth-century Hellenists, about whom Engels said: you'd think they really believed in all that-in myth, in tragedy. Is it the unconscious that represents itself through Oedipus and castration? Or is it the psychoanalyst—the psychoanalyst in us all, who represents the unconscious in this way? For never has Engels's remark regained so much meaning: you'd think the psychoanalysts really believed in all this-in myth, in tragedy. (They go on believing, whereas the Hellenists have long since stopped.)” (Ibid., p. 297)
Deleuze and Guattari on the agreement between Freud and Jung after their break: “It should be noted that Judge Schreber's destiny was not merely that of being sodomized, while still alive, by the rays from heaven, but also that of being posthumously oedipalized by Freud. From the enormous political, social, and historical content of Schreber's delirium not one word is retained, as though the libido did not bother itself with such things. Freud invokes only a sexual argument, which consists in bringing about the union of sexuality and the familial complex, and a mythological argument, which consists in positing the adequation of the productive force of the unconscious and the "edifying forces of myths and religions." This latter argument is very important, and it is not by chance that here Freud declares himself in agreement with Jung. In a certain way this agreement subsists after their break. If the unconscious is thought to express itself adequately in myths and religions (taking into account, of course, the work of transformation), there are two ways of reading this adequation, but they have in common the postulate that measures the unconscious against myth, and that from the start substitutes mere expressive forms for the productive formations. The basic question is never asked, but cast aside: Why return to myth? Why take it as the model? The supposed adequation can then be interpreted in what is termed anagogical fashion, toward the "higher." Or inversely, in analytical fashion, toward the "lower," relating the myth to the drives. But since the drives are transferred from myth, traced from myth with the transformations taken into account… What we mean is that, starting from the same postulate, Jung is led to restore the most diffuse and spiritualized religiosity, whereas Freud is confirmed in his most rigorous atheism. Freud needs to deny the existence of God as much as lung needs to affirm the essence of the divine, in order to interpret the commonly postulated adequation. But to render religion unconscious, or the unconscious religious, still amounts to injecting something religious into the unconscious. (And what would Freudian analysis be without the celebrated guilt feelings ascribed to the unconscious?)” (Ibid., pp. 57-58)
Deleuze and Guattari on the category mistake of imputing belief to the unconscious: “We have not finished chanting the litany of the ignorances of the unconscious; it knows nothing of castration or Oedipus, just as it knows nothing of parents, gods, the law, lack. The Women's Liberation movements are correct in saying: We are not castrated, so you get fucked. And far from being able to get by with anything like the wretched maneuver where men answer that this itself is proof that women are castrated-or even console women by saying that men are castrated, too, all the while rejoicing that they are castrated the other way, on the side that is not superimposable-it should be recognized that Women's Liberation movements contain, in a more or less ambiguous state, what belongs to all requirements of liberation: the force of the unconscious itself, the investment by desire of the social field, the disinvestment of repressive structures. Nor are we going to say that the question is not that of knowing if women are castrated, but only if the unconscious "believes it," since all the ambiguity lies there. What does belief applied to the unconscious signify? What is an unconscious that no longer does anything but "believe," rather than produce? What are the operations, the artifices that inject the unconscious with "beliefs" that are not even irrational, but on the contrary only too reasonable and consistent with the established order?” (Ibid., p. 61)
Deleuze and Guattari on the “idealist psychiatry” that treats the schizophrenic as a product without relating them back to the process of social production/reproduction: “Every time that the problem of schizophrenia is explained in terms of the ego, all we can do is "sample" a supposed essence or a presumed specific nature of the schizo, regardless of whether we do so with love and pity or disgustedly spit out the mouthful we have tasted. We have "sampled" him once as a dissociated ego, another time as an ego cut off from the world, and yet again-most temptingly-as an ego that had not ceased to be, who was there in the most specific way, but in his very own world, though he might reveal himself to a clever psychiatrist, a sympathetic superobserver—in short, a phenomenologist. Let us remember once again one of Marx's caveats: we cannot tell from the mere taste of wheat who grew it; the product gives us no hint as to the system and the relations of production. The product appears to be all the more specific, incredibly specific and readily describable, the more closely the theoretician relates it to ideal forms of causation, comprehension, or expression, rather than to the real process of production on which it depends.” (Ibid., p. 24)
Deleuze and Guattari on the deliberate creation of lack under private property: “We know very well where lack—and its subjective correlative—come from. Lack (manque) is created, planned, and organized in and through social production. It is counterproduced as a result of the pressure of antiproduction; the latter falls back on (se rabat sur) the forces of production and appropriates them. It is never primary; production is never organized on the basis of a pre-existing need or lack (manque). It is lack that infiltrates itself, creates empty spaces or vacuoles, and propagates itself in accordance with the organization of an already existing organization of production. The deliberate creation of lack as a function of market economy is the art of a dominant class. This involves deliberately organizing wants and needs (manque) amid an abundance of production; making all of desire teeter and fall victim to the great fear of not having one's needs satisfied; and making the object dependent upon a real production that is supposedly exterior to desire (the demands of rationality), while at the same time the production of desire is categorized as fantasy and nothing but fantasy.” (Ibid., 28)
Deleuze and Guattari on the idealism of Oedipus: “But once Oedipus entered the picture, this discovery was soon buried beneath a new brand of idealism: a classical theater was substituted for the unconscious as a factory; representation was substituted for the units of production of the unconscious; and an unconscious that was capable of nothing but expressing itself—in myth, tragedy, dreams—was substituted for the productive unconscious.” (Ibid., p. 24)
Further, on Freud’s substitution of the materialist insight into the coextension of humanity and nature in the autoproduction of the unconscious for a model of the unconscious as a classical Greek theater: “The whole of desiring- production is crushed, subjected to the requirements of representation, and to the dreary games of what is representative and represented' in representation. And there is the essential thing: the reproduction of desire gives way to a simple representation, in the process as well as theory of the cure. The productive unconscious makes way for an unconscious that knows only how to express itself-express itself in myth, in tragedy, in dream. But who says that dream, tragedy, and myth are adequate to the formations of the unconscious, even if the work of transformation is taken into account? Groddeck remained more faithful than Freud to an autoproduction of the unconscious in the coextension of man and Nature. It is as if Freud had drawn back from this world of wild production and explosive desire, wanting at all costs to restore a little order there, an order made classical owing to the ancient Greek theater.” (Ibid., p. 54)
Deleuze and Guattari on Schreber’s self-cure: “Freud is more specific when he stresses the crucial turning point that occurs in Schreber's illness when Schreber becomes reconciled to becoming- woman and embarks upon a process of self-cure that brings him back to the equation Nature = Production (the production of a new humanity). As a matter of fact, Schreber finds himself frozen in the pose and trapped in the paraphernalia of a transvestite, at a moment when he is practically cured and has recovered all his faculties: "I am sometimes to be found, standing before the mirror or elsewhere, with the upper portion of my body partly bared, and wearing sundry feminine adornments, such as ribbons, trumpery necklaces, and the like. This occurs only, I may add, when I am by myself, and never, at least so far as I am able to avoid it, in the presence of other people." Let us borrow the term "celibate machine" to designate this machine that succeeds the paranoiac machine and the miraculating machine, forming a new alliance between the desiring-machines and the body without organs so as to give birth to a new humanity or a glorious organism.” (Ibid., p. 17)
Deleuze and Guattari on the first positive task of materialist psychiatry: “[L]earning what a subject’s desiring-machines are, how they work, with what syntheses, what bursts of energy in the machine, what constituent misfires, with what flows, what chains, and what becomings in each case. Moreover, this positive task cannot be separated from the indispensable destructions, the destruction of the molar aggregates, the structures and representations that prevent the machine from functioning. It is not easy to rediscover the molecules—even the giant molecule—their paths, their zones of presence, and their own syntheses, amid the large accumulations that fill the preconscious, and that delegate their representatives in the unconscious itself, thereby immobilizing the machines, silencing them, trapping them, sabotaging them, cornering them, holding them fast.” (p. 338)
Deleuze and Guattari on the second positive task of materialist psychiatry: ““reach the investments of unconscious desire of the social field, insofar as they are differentiated from the preconscious investments of interest, and insofar as they are not merely capable of counteracting them, but also of coexisting with them in opposite modes. In the generation-gap conflict we hear old people reproach the young, in the most malicious way, for putting their desires (a car, credit, a loan, girl-boy relationships) ahead of their interests (work, savings, a good marriage). But what appears to other people as raw desire still contains complexes of desire and interest, and a mixture of forms of desire and of interest that are specifically reactionary and vaguely revolutionary. The situation is completely muddled. It seems that schizoanalysis can make use only of indices—the machinic indices—in order to discern, at the level of groups or individuals, the libidinal investments of the social field. Now in this respect it is sexuality that constitutes the indices.” (Ibid., 350)
For an excellent essay on capitalism as “the age of cynicism” in Anti-Oedipus, see Jason Read’s “Age of Cynicism: Deleuze and Guattari on the Production of Subjectivity in Capitalism” (2006). (link: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/291854898_The_Age_of_Cynicism_Deleuze_and_Guattari_on_the_Production_of_Subjectivity_in_Capitalism)