By Michel Clouscard
Translated from the French by Anastasia Garrel
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1. Why should we polemicize against the fashionable ideologists?
Condemning so-called Freudo-Marxism could be a lost cause, a play into its hands and even a descent into its trap, since one advertises a fashionable ideology by criticizing it, just as one acknowledges or revives a provocation by taking it up. Yet it seems that the conditions for undertaking the good polemic—exemplified by Marx—have finally emerged before us. This polemic can be based upon three considerations.
Firstly, this polemic must focus on a delimited and finite ideological ensemble: Freudo-Marxism. The texts of Marcuse, Reich, Deleuze are here the binding sites of a discourse that, once deprived of its fashionable loopholes and prestige, will be revealed as the cultural terrorism of a neo-mandarinate. This ideological movement has come full circle and can now be exemplified in two ways: as a cultural ensemble that develops its own logic and culminates in deleuzophrenic perfection. Just as in Capital, Marx could study the bourgeoisie within its own achievement, we will be able to study neo-capitalist ideology in its perfect accomplishment: deleuzophrenia—neo-capitalism’s symptom of symptoms.
Secondly, the polemic gives us the possibility to see opportunism in action, to designate it. The opportunism of the new mandarins (whose profound nature we will explore) exhibits the following characteristics: it attempts to rapidly co-opt Marxist research and imposes itself by means of advertising slogans. Marxism is being strategically utilized, manipulated, and recuperated in order to define a “new society” in line with Freudo-Marxism, in order to define the new socio-political situation produced by State monopoly capitalism. This empirical, fragmented ideology, devoid of any serious scientific foundation, profits from a network of distribution and commercialization of its commodities, which is in itself a quasi-monopoly (press, reviews, Le Monde—a monopoly within the monopoly—universities, worldly salons, et cetera) that employs the most advanced advertising techniques (while being itself the model for advertisement as such).
Hence, the polemic too has a strategic role, even a tactical one: it strikes blow for blow. It must step up before a new trend reinstates bourgeois ideology—just as Structuralism succeeded Existentialism, and Freudo-Marxism succeeded Structuralism—and before conceptual clarity is relegated to mere indifference. An ideology founded upon falsification can be promptly demarcated and countered. The mechanism operating at the heart of these advertising tricks and cultural schemes can be reconstructed.
Thirdly, not only will the polemic expose the new ideology (produced by an intelligentsia that has long since betrayed intellectuals to embrace a cultural practice that answers to the demands of new cultural markets), it will also expose the very site of this new Marxist theorization by exhaustively reading into its ideological falsifications. Thus we will construct a theory of neo-capitalism dialectically, on the basis of a negativity, by rectifying ideological models and defining the neo-mandarinate, the new liberal bourgeoisie, the structure of State monopoly capitalism with its markets, its strategies and its publicity. The polemic can thus serve as prolegomena to serious theoretical studies.
The discourse we are criticizing betrays itself through its own arrogance, which is the very source of its caricatural nature (deleuzophrenia). By carrying out a mirror-reading of this discourse, we will show that it merely reflects the debilitating situation that the new caste of mandarins finds itself in. The polemic will allow us to identify the strategies, models and themes of this ideological reformation, and to present the peculiar “nature” of this “new society.”
2. The field of study inaugurated by the critique of Freudo-Marxism. The logic of capitalist development.
We can organize and systematize this critique of critiques. Thus we will be able to not only expose the perverse nature of Freudo-Marxism, but also reconstruct the logic of capitalist development as such. An entirely new field of study is made possible.
First, we will formalize this new inquiry by presenting a group of logical propositions subsumed under two grounding theses.
a) Thesis on Freudo-Marxism: it is an ideology produced by a new intelligentsia that reflects the sociocultural situation of the new social strata produced by neo-capitalism.
Freudo-Marxism serves first as the pretext for a strategy of diversion that culminates in a counter-revolutionary philosophy; it signals the beginning of a cloaked reformism, in its fullest achievement it reveals itself as the strategy of neo-capitalism.
b) As ideology of the “new society,” Freudo-Marxism depends on a social practice specific to a system of relations already in place and is key for establishing the ideological system that corresponds to the logic of bourgeois behavior. It is the last and most essential link of the dialectical chain representing bourgeois generations. With this essential element, the progression of the bourgeoisie’s contradictory behavior can be rendered meaningful in its totality. Accordingly, the “revelation” that results from decoding an occultation, and even an inversion, will allow us to reconstruct the ideological ensemble and its complementary dualism.
c) Only two terms of this ensemble are well known: liberalism and fascism. National socialism can serve as a historical example for establishing the relation between these two terms and proposing a model of the transition from liberalism to fascism. However, we believe that certain characteristics proper to a third term still escape Marxist codification. It is true that neo-capitalism has already been doubly defined; as society of consumption according to the Freudo-Marxist falsification, and as “State monopoly capitalism” by Orthodox Marxism. The latter has already provided numerous elements of analysis that demystify the idea of a “society of consumption.” Yet we want to insist on the phenomenal ideological inversion that Freudo-Marxism enables, on its enormous strategic role, on the radical ideological mutation that it induces, and on the entire displacement of values authorized by the new mode of consumption. As a social practice, Freudo-Marxism projects itself onto an ideological model that will stand for the ideology of a new society (authorized by technocracy), namely the ideology of the third way (the decay of history).
Polemicizing against Freudo-Marxism therefore gives us the possibility to establish the systematics of bourgeois ideology and its cultural practices.
d) Thesis on the ideological ensemble of capitalism as an attempt to define a dialectical model that would render the “essence” of capitalism.
– capitalism is an ensemble that consists of three dimensions,
– which are distributed according to the logic of its production,
– as the study of Freudo-Marxism reveals.
The capitalist strategy, that of the decay of history, consists in:
– reproducing this law of operation as the solution to its internal contradiction;
– occulting and even inverting this law by way of Freudo-Marxism (and the entire ideology that derives from it).
a) The bourgeoisie must not be fixed, reified into a generic figure, a structural abstraction, a slogan, an etymological expression, an arbitrarily privileged moment. The bourgeoisie is objectified becoming, developed into strata of classes, hegemonic (or, on the contrary, decadent) periods, functions and large ensembles (such as the Nation) that each express different moments in economy.
This internal mutation triggers the circulation of an internal contradiction by virtue of a pragmatic, empirical internal solution (yet to be theorized); it is the structure’s variable, namely the constant extortion of surplus value. The function of this variable is to guarantee (overdetermine) the domination of the bourgeoisie throughout each and every technological transformation.
b) Liberalism (first term of the ensemble) is the ideology that ensures continuity by assimilating new productive forces into the bourgeois ensemble: it is an opportunistic strategy (camouflaged by a humanist apparatus).
The problem—the exclusion of the proletariat—is resolved by the solution of the internal contradiction, that is, by conciliating and readjusting the class strata, the functions of and the moments in which the bourgeoisie profits from various productive forces (overdetermination).
Liberalism therefore bears a double characteristic. It is, in the first place, the regulating model of bourgeois continuity throughout every economic mutation, and in the second place, the principle of exclusion—but also demagogic conciliation—of the proletariat.
Liberal humanism will be the ideological expression of the constant adaptation to economic expansion, as per the structural constant of the extortion of surplus value.