coexistence

Deleuze articulates the core of Difference and Repetition, and perhaps of his work as a whole, with the following declaration:

In short, the negative is always derived and represented, never original or present: the process of difference and differenciation is primary in relation to that of the negative and opposition. (207)

Here, succinctly, is both Platonism overturned and Hegelianism rejected.

Immediately thereafter, Deleuze forestalls those who suggest that dispensing with negation would also mean doing away with critique, those who worry that giving up on the dialectic implies an acceptance, say, of the end of history. No, Deleuze states, the negative was never intrinsic to Marxism. Deleuze stands by an anti-dialectical Marxism, in tune with Althusserianism:

Those commentators on Marx who insist upon the fundamental difference between Marx and Hegel rightly point out that in Capital the category of differenciation (the differenciation at the heart of a social multiplicity: the division of labour) is substituted for the Hegelian concepts of opposition, contradiction, and alienation. (207)

A footnote to Reading Capital follows.

It’s worth noting en passant that Deleuze’s Marxism in Difference and Repetition is surprisingly orthodox, at least in so far as he holds to the base/superstructure model:

In all rigour, there are only economic social problems, even though the solutions may be juridical, political, or ideological, and the problems may be expressed in these fields of resolvability. (186)

But in what is almost an aside, Deleuze then notes:

Clearly, at this point the philosophy of difference must be wary of turning into the discourse of beautiful souls: differences, nothing but differences, in a peaceful coexistence in the Idea of social places and functions . . . but the name of Marx is sufficient to save it from this danger. (207)

This is an odd but crucial clarification. It also contains a significant ellipsis. Not the only one in the book, but no doubt the most symptomatic. (Compare xx, 26, 63, 72, 75, 85, 117, 155, 163, 187, 188, 191, 223, 228, 246, where in most cases the ellipsis is fairly trivially associated with a list.)

For the point is that overturning Platonism and rejecting Hegelianism are insufficient. Representation, the One, negation, etc. are false problems. Once their insubstantiality is shown, the real problems persist. And is “the name of Marx” really enough to save us from a functionalist celebration of the immanent? It certainly hasn’t stopped Manual de Landa, for instance, from employing Deleuzianism for an apologia for the market.

To put this another way, the end of hegemony is scarcely a liberation. It is only the beginning of the task facing posthegemony.

Girl Refuting Hegel's Dialectic Model of History“Girl Refuting Hegel’s Dialectic Model of History,” by Michael Laster

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