Bulletin N° 753
Subject : The Machine, the Structure and ‘Transitional Fantasies’.
May 21, 2017
Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,
The mechanical activity of capitalist productions fueled by the ‘private profit motive’ is by its nature myopic – short-term rewards obscure the foreboding approach of massive destruction. No one understood these contradictions better than Félix Guatarri. In a paper he wrote for the Freudian School in Paris in 1966 - which was eventually published in Change, n°. 12, by Seuil in 1971 - he analyzes the role played by machines in the various social structures which entrap unconscious individuals and groups of people in gut-wrenching contradictions.
We may say of structure that it positions its elements by way of a system of references that relates each one to the others, in such a way that it can itself be related as an element to other structures.
The agent of action, whose definition here does not extend beyond this principle of reciprocal determination, is included in the structure. The structural process of de-totalized totalization encloses the subject, and will not let go as long as it is in a position to recuperate it within another structural determination.
The machine, on the other hand, remains essentially remote from the agent of action. The subject is always somewhere else. Temporalization penetrates the machine on all sides and can be related to it only after the fashion of an event. The emergence of the machine marks a date, a change, different from a structural representation.
The history of technology is dated by the existence at each stage of a particular type of machine; the history of the sciences is now reaching a point, in all its branches, where every scientific theory can be taken as a machine rather than a structure, which relates it to the order of ideology. Every machine is a negation, the destroyer by incorporation (almost to the point of excretion), of the machine it replaces. And it is potentially in a similar relationship to the machine that will take its place.
Yesterday’s machine, today’s and tomorrow’s, are not related in their structural determinations: only by a process of historical analysis, by reference to a signifying chain extrinsic to the machine, by what we might call historical structuralism, can we gain any overall grasp of the effects of continuity, retro-action and interlinking that it is capable of representing.
For the machine, the subject of history is elsewhere, in the structure. In fact, the subject of the structure, considered in its relationship of alienation to a system of de-totalized totalization, should rather be seen in relation to a phenomenon of ‘being an ego’ – the ego here being in contrast with the subject of the unconscious as it corresponds to the principle stated by [Jacques] Lacan: a signifier represents it for another signifier. The unconscious subject as such will be on the same side as the machine, or better perhaps, alongside the machine. There is no break in the machine itself: the breach is on either side of it.
The individuals’ relationship to the machine has been describe by sociologists following Friedmann as one of fundamental alienation. This is undoubtedly true if one considers the individual as a structure for tantalization of the imaginary. But the dialectic of the master craftsman and the apprentice, the old pictures of the different trades flourishing in difference parts of the country, all this has become meaningless in the face of modern mechanized industry that requires its skilled workers to start from scratch again with every new technological advance. But does not this starting from scratch mark precisely that essential breakthrough that characterizes the unconscious subject?
Initiation into a trade and becoming accepted as a skilled worker no longer takes place by way of institutions, or at least not those envisaged in such statements as ‘the skill has precedence over the machine’. With industrial capitalism, the spasmodic evolution of machinery keeps cutting across the existing hierarchy of skills.
In this sense, the worker’s alienation to the machine excludes him from any kind of structural equilibrium, and puts him in a position where he is as close as possible to a radical system of realignment, we might say of castration, where he loses all tranquility, all ‘self-conforming’ security, all the justification of a ‘sense of belonging’ to a skilled trade. Such professional bodies as still exist, like doctors, pharmacists, or lawyers, are simply survivals from the days of pre-capitalist production relations.
This change is of course intolerable; institutional production therefore sets out to conceal what is happening by setting up systems of equivalents, of imitations. Their ideological basis is to be found not solely in fascist-type , paternalistic slogans about work, the family and patriotism, but also within the various versions of socialism (even including the most apparently liberal ones, like the Cuban), with their oppressive myth of the model worker, and their exaltation of the machine whose cult has much the same function as thet the hero in antiquity.
As compared with the work done by machines, the work of human beings is nothing. This working at ‘nothing’, in the special sense in which people do it today, which tends more and more to be merely a response to a machine – pressing a red or black button to produce an effect programmed somewhere else – human work, in other words, is only the residue that has not yet been integrated into the work of the machine.
Operations performed by the workers, technicians and scientists will be absorbed, incorporated into the workings of tomorrows machine; to do something over and over no longer offers the security of ritual. It is no longer possible to identity the repletion of human actions (‘the noble task of the sower’) with the repletion of the natural cycle as the foundation of the moral order. Repetition no longer establishes a man as someone who can do that particular job. Human work today is merely a residual sub-whole of the work of the machine. This residual human activity is no more than a partial procedure that accompanies the central procedure produced by the order of the machine. The machine has now come to the heart of desire, and this residual human work represents no more than the point of the machine’s imprint on the imaginary world of the individual . . . .
Every new discovery - in the sphere of scientific research, for example – moves across the structural field of theory like a war machine, upsetting and rearranging everything so as to change it racially. Even the researcher is at the mercy of this process. His discoveries extend far beyond himself, bring in their train whole new branches of researchers, and totally redesigning the tree of scientific and technological implications. Even when a discovery is called by its author’s name, the result, far from ‘personalizing’ him, tends to be to turn his proper name into a common noun! The question is whether this effacing of the individual is something that will spread to other forms of production as well.
Though it is true that this unconscious subjectivity, as a split which is overcome in a signifying chain, is being transferred away from individuals and human groups towards the world of machines, it still remains just as un-representable at the specifically machinic level. It is a signifier detached from the unconscious structural chain that will act as representative to represent the machine.
The essence of the machine is precisely this function of detaching a signifier as a representative, as a ‘differentiator’, as a causal break, different in kind from the structurally established order of things. It is this operation that binds the machine both to the desiring subject and to its status as the basis of the various structural orders corresponding to it. The machine, as a repetition of the particular, is a mode – perhaps indeed the only possible mode – of univocal representation of the various forms of subjectivity in the order of generality of the individual or the collective plane.
In trying to see things the other way round, starting from the general, one would be deluding oneself with the idea that it is possible to base oneself on some structural space that existed before the break through by the machine. This ‘pure’, ‘basic’ signifying chain, a kind of lost µEden of desire, the ‘good old days’ before mechanization, might then be seen as a meta-language, an absolute reference point that one could always produce in place of any chance event or specific indication.
This would lead to wrongly locating the truth of the break, the truth of the subject, on the level of representation, information, communication, social codes and every other form of structural determination.
The voice, as speech machine, is the basis and determinant of the structural order of language, and not the other way round. The individual, in his bodiliness, accepts the consequences of the interaction of signifying chains of all kinds which cut across and tear him apart. The human being is caught where the machine and the structure meet.
Human groups have no such projection screen available to them. The modes of interpretation and indication open to them are successive and contradictory, approximative and metaphorical, and are based upon different structural orders, for instance on myths or exchanges. Every change produced by the intrusion of a machine phenomenon will thus be accompanied in them with the establishment of what one may call a system of anti-production, the representative mode specific to structure.
I need hardly say that anti-production belongs to the order of the machine: the keynote here is its characteristic of being a subjective change, which is the distinctive trait of every order of production. What we need therefore is a means of finding our way without moving as though by magic from one plane to another. We must, for instance, relate to the same system of production both what goes on in the world of industry, on the shop floors or in the manager’s office, and what is happening in scientific research, and indeed in the world of literature and even of dreams.
Anti-production will be, among other things, what has been described under the term ‘production relations’. Anti-production will tend to effect a kind of re-tilting of the balance of phantasy, not necessarily in the direction of inertia and conservatism, since it can also lead to generalizing within a given social area a new dominant mode of production, accumulation, circulation and distribution relations, or of any other superstructural manifestation of a new type of economic machine. Its mode of imaginary expression is then that of the transitional phantasy.
. . .
Group phantasy superimposes the different levels, changes them round, substitutes one for another . It can only turn round and round upon itself this circular movement leads it to mark out certain areas as dead ends, as banned as impassable vacuoles, a whole no-man’s land of meaning. Caught up within the group, one phantasy reflects another like interchangeable currency, but a currency with no recognizable standard, no ground of consistency whereby it can be related, even partially, to anything other than a topology of the most purely general kind. The group – as a structure – phantasizes events by means of a perpetual and not-responsible coming and going between the general and the particular. A leader, a scapegoat, a schism, a threatening phantasy from another group – any of these is equated with the group subjectivity. Each event or crisis can be replaced by another event or crisis, inaugurating a further sequence that bears, in turn the imprint of equivalence of identity. Today’s truth can be related to yesterday’s, for it is always possible to re-write history. The experience of psychoanalysis, the starting up of the psychoanalytic machine, makes it clear that it is impossible for the desiring subject to preserve such a system of homology and re-writing: the only function of the transference in this case is to reveal the repetition that is taking place, to operate like a machine – that is in a way that is the precise opposite of a group effect.
The group’s instinctual system, because it is unable to be linked up to the desiring machine – objets petit ‘a’ returning to the surface of the phantasy body – is doomed to multiply its phantasy identifications. Each of these is structured in itself, but is still equivocal in its relationship to the others. The fact that they lack the differentiating factor, [which] Gilles Deleuze talks of, dooms them to a perpetual process of merging into one another. Any change is precluded, and can be seen only between structural levels. Essentially, no break is any longer accepted. That the structures have no specific identifying marks means that they become ‘translatable’ into one another, thus developing a kind of indefinite logical continuum that is peculiarly satisfying to obsessionals. The identification of the similar and the discovery of difference at group level function according to a second-degree phantasy logic. It is, for example, the phanstasy representation of the other group that will act as the locating machine. In a sense, it is an excess of logic that leads it to an impasse.
This relationship of the structures sets going a mad machine, madder that the maddest of lunatics, the tangential representation of a sado-masochistic logic in which everything is equivalent to everything else, in which truth is always something apart. Political responsibility is king, and the order of the general is radically cut off from the order of the ethical. The ultimate end of group phantasy is death – ululate death, destruction in its own right, the radical abolition of any real identifying marks, a state of things in which not merely has the problem of truth disappeared forever but has never existed even as a problem.
. . .
That André Malraux could say that the twentieth century is the century of nationalism, in contrast to the nineteenth, which was that of internationalism, was because internationalism, lacking a structural expression that matched the economic and social machineries at work within it, withdrew into nationalism, then further, into regionalism and various sorts of paticularism that are developing today, even within the supposedly international communist movement.
The problem of revolutionary organization is the problem of setting up an international machine whose distinctive features would be a theory and practice that ensured it’s not having to depend on the various social structures – above all the State structure, which appears to be the keystone of the dominant production relations, even though it no longer corresponds to the means of production. What entraps and deceived us is that it looks today as though nothing can be articulated outside that structure. The revolutionary socialist intention to seize control of political power in the State, which it sees as the instrumental basis of class domination, and the institutional guarantee of private ownership of the means of production, has been caught in just that trap. It has itself become a trap in its turn, for that intention, though meaning so much in terms of social consciousness, no longer corresponds to the reality of economic or social forces. The institutionalization of ‘world markets’ and the prospect of creating super-States increased the allure of the trap; so does the modern reformist programme of achieving an ever-greater ‘popular’ control of economic and social sub-wholes. The subjective consistency of society, as it operates at every level of economy, society, culture and so on, is invisible today, and the institutions that express it are equivocal in the extreme. This was evident during the revolution of May 1968 in France, when the nearest approximation to a proper organization of the struggle was the hesitant, late and violently opposed experiment of forming action committees.
The revolutionary programme, as the machine for institutional subversion, should demonstrate proper subjective potential and, at every state of the struggle, should make sure that it is fortified against any attempt to ‘structuralize’ that potential.
But no such permanent grasp of machine effects upon the structures could be achieved on the basis of only one ‘theoretical practice’. It presupposes the development of a specific analytical praxis at every level of organization of the struggle.
Such a prospect would in turn make it possible to locate the responsibility of those who are in any way in a position genuinely to utter theoretical discourse at the point at which it imprints the class struggle at the very center of unconscious desire.(cited from Molecular Revolution, pp.111-119)
The historical actor has for all intents and purposes been removed from the stage, according to Félix Guatarri; the ersatz ‘desire’ of ‘the machine, as a repetition of the particular’, interacting with social structures and devoid of human self-consciousness and unconscious conflicts, assures us of ultimate destruction in an amoral world of our own making, where the single-minded pursuit of digitally defined goals takes control of our lives, whether we enthusiastically will it or not.
For more on the castrating effect of religions and the medieval roots of western civilization, see our June 24, 2014 CEIMSA Bulletin N° 617.
The 20 items below will allow readers to identify the ‘anti-production’ of desires [what Guatarri defines as ‘signifiers that exist to block and prevent the emergence of any subjective process on the part of the group’(p.34)] which is built into the contemporary political economy, leaving all of us ‘neutralized’, as helpless observers of our moral and material impoverishment, and mostly as unconscious collaborators in crimes against humanity.
Professor emeritus of American Studies
Director of Research
University of Paris-Nanterre
Center for the Advanced Study of American Institutions and Social Movements
The University of California-San Diego
Putin Offers Washington Red Pill. Washington Takes
The Blue One
by Finian Cunningham
In an extraordinary moment this week, Russian leader Vladimir Putin offered Washington a challenge to discover the truth over sensational US media claims that President Trump had leaked top-secret information to Russia. Washington rebuffed Putin’s offer.
It was akin to the iconic scene in the sci-fi movie, The Matrix, in which protagonists are offered a red or blue pill. Consuming the former leads them to awaken to the truth, however painful that awakening might be from shattering erstwhile illusions. Ingesting the alternative blue pill allows one to continue in a state of illusion, albeit in the form of slavery to The Matrix.
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by ROBERT FISK
Noam Chomsky - The Crimes of U.S. Presidents
Special Counsel Investigating Trump Campaign Has Deep Ties
to the Deep State
with Coleen Rowley
Former FBI agent and 9/11 whistleblower Coleen Rowley says former FBI head Robert Mueller, now appointed to investigate the Trump campaign's ties to Russia, participated in covering up the pre 9/11 role of the U.S. intelligence agencies and the Bush Administration, helped create the post 9/11 national security/surveillance state, and helped facilitate the pre-Iraq war propaganda machine
How NSA Can Secretly Aid Criminal Cases
(June 12, 2014)
by Ray McGovern
Though the NSA says its mass surveillance of Americans targets only “terrorists,” the spying may turn up evidence of other illegal acts that can get passed on to law enforcement which hides the secret source through a ruse called “parallel construction,” writes ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern.
Government wordsmiths have given us this pleasant euphemism to describe the use of the National Security Agency’s illegal eavesdropping on Americans as an investigative tool to pass on tips to law enforcement agencies which then hide the source of the original suspicion and “construct” a case using “parallel” evidence to prosecute the likes of you and me.
Bottom line? Beware, those of you who think you have “nothing to hide” when the NSA scoops up your personal information. You may think that the targets of these searches are just potential “terrorists.” But the FBI, Internal Revenue Service, Drug Enforcement Administration and countless other law enforcement bodies are dipping their cursors into the huge pool of mass surveillance.
And, chances are that if some of your scooped-up data gets shared with law enforcement and the Feds conclude that you’ve violated some law, you’ll never become aware of how they got onto you in the first place. They’ll just find some “parallel” evidence to nail you.
After all, it’s altogether likely for a great majority of us that some dirt can be retrieved with the NSA’s voluminous files an inviting starting point. AT&T, for example, apparently has kept metadata about its customers, as well as all other traffic going through its switches, for the past 27 years.
For those who are Caesar’s-wife pure and whose loved ones also approach perfection, “constructing” a prosecutable case may be more of a challenge. But relax not. If for some reason the government decides to get you if you’ve popped up as somehow an obstacle to “national security” it is not impossible. Even in recent decades, critics of government policies have ended up facing dredged-up, if not trumped-up, criminal charges over some past indiscretion or misdeed.
Professor Cohen Says Assault on Trump is 'National Security Threat', 'Beyond Belief'!
by Steven Cohen
[Professor Cohen] declared, "today, I would say (the greatest threat to national security) is this assault on President Trump. Let's be clear what he's being accused of is treason. This has never happened in America, that we had a Russian agent in the White House. Cohen believes Flynn did nothing wrong by talking to the Russian ambassador, describing it as 'his job' to do so.
He then illuminated the indelible fact that there is a 4th branch of government, the intelligence community, who have been meddling in American foreign affairs, obstructing the other 3 branches of government.
"In 2016, President Obama worked out a deal with Russian President Putin for military cooperation in Syria. He said he was gonna share intelligence with Russia, just like Trump and the Russians were supposed to do the other day. Our department of defense said it wouldn't share intelligence. And a few days later, they killed Syrian soldiers, violating the agreement, and that was the end of that. So, we can ask, who is making our foreign policy in Washington today?"
Professor Cohen added, "you and I have to ask a subversive question, are there really three branches of government, or is there a 4th branch of government? These intel services. What we know, as a fact, is that Obama tried, not very hard but he tried for a military alliance with Putin, in Syria, against terrorism and it was sabotaged by the department of defense and its allies in the intelligence services."
Reasons Trump Should Not Strengthen U.S.-Saudi Ties
by Medea Benjamin
Human rights abuses and funding terrorism, for starters.
The Two Most Dangerous Men in the World: Trump and Crown Prince Salman
Warns of Growing Danger
by Rick Sterling
A group of Americans visiting Russia heard dire warnings from ex-Soviet President Gorbachev that the tensions between the U.S. and Russia
are creating a dangerous situation for the world.
China Widens its Silk Road to the World
by PEPE ESCOBAR
Let’s cut to the chase. China’s new ‘Silk Road’ initiative is the only large-scale, multilateral development project that the 21st century has seen so far.
There is no counter-offer from the West.
Which is why the two-day Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, starting this Sunday in Beijing, is being set up as a game-changer for the global economy. Here the initiative looks likely to switch to Mark II mode, accelerating into what President Xi Jinping dubbed, at Davos in January, “inclusive globalization.”
After Middle Eastern Wars End, the Medical Wars Begin
by ROBERT FISK
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
to Probe U.S. Border Patrol over Killing of Mexican Father
Saying "No to Silence":
Hear Murdered Mexican Journalist Javier Valdez
in His Own Words
Global Capitalism: The US Position Weakens [May 2017]
David Harvey "The End of Capitalism"
"Who does control the world?" - Noam Chomsky - BBC interview 2003
Noam Chomsky BBC interview
2003 , http://www.betterworldlinks.org/
Also very important informations about capitalism you will find here: Prof. Richard Wolff https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCB-5... , Ecosocialism, climate justice, degrowth - Joanna Cabello [Carbontradewatch] - Daniel Tanuro [Ecosocialist International Network] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=csuHt...
George Carlin: "Who Really Controls America" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hYIC0...
Noam Chomsky on the new Trump era - UpFront special
Schooling for Myths and Powerlessness
by RALPH NADER
All over America, school children are completing another academic year before their summer vacation. This invites the questions, what did they learn and what did they do with what they learned?
From: "Moshé Machover"
Sent: Tuesday, 16 May, 2017
Subject: Fwd: Les pratiques israéliennes à l’égard du peuple palestinien et la question de l’apartheid - traduction française du rapport de la Commission économique et sociale pour l’Asie occidentale (CESAO) des Nations Unies
Begin forwarded message:
From: "Alison Weir, If Americans Knew" <email@example.com>
Sent: Friday, 19 May, 2017
Subject: IAK investigation: Int'l campaign criminalizing pro-Palestinian work as "hate"
We've just published what I feel is one of my most important articles.
This in-depth investigation details a two-decade campaign to change the meaning of the term "antisemitism" on behalf of Israel — and to embed the new definition in institutions and law enforcement.
As I write in the article: "This effort is now snowballing rapidly. As a result of this concerted campaign, advocacy for Palestinian rights is well on the way to being curtailed and even criminalized as 'hate.'"
The piece traces the saga of this campaign's advancement, beginning with an Israeli government official and a handful of colleagues, and then taken up by various European bodies, individuals within the U.S. State Department, Congress, state legislatures, and even college campuses. A timeline of some key events accompanies the article.
While many people focus on local or national aspects of such campaigns, we feel it is essential to learn about the larger picture.
We hope you will share this article widely!
And we encourage you to link to this article in the comment sections of news articles on legislation related to "antisemitism" and efforts to block the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement.
Once again, thank you for the crucial support that makes our work possible!