Many Struggles, One Fight: Deleuze|Guattari, Lacan, and the US Anti-Fracking Movement

UoM administered thesis: Phd

  • Authors:
  • Kai Heron

Abstract

In an interview conducted in 1972 Deleuze describes his "Capitalism and Schizophrenia" project, written with Felix Guattari, as an effort to give psychoanalysis "some schizophrenic help." What if it is now time to return the favour? What if it is Deleuze|Guattari who are today in need of some psychoanalytic help? This thesis develops a re-reading of Deleuze|Guattari's figure of the minority as it appears in A Thousand Plateaus that is compatible with advances in psychoanalytic and Marxist theory and puts it to work in an analysis of the US anti-fracking movement. The thesis argues that there are in fact two theories of minorities to be found in A Thousand Plateaus. The first is anti-dialectical and vitalist, the second is dialectical and formalist. Though the vitalist account is more consistent with Deleuze|Guattari's philosophy and its reception in political theory and resistance studies it reduces politics to a substantialized ontology of becoming and to the level of life as such. In this way it cannot think the role that a historically bounded subject plays in the construction of a politics. The second theory of minorities leans heavily on mathematical set theory and comparisons with Lacanian psychoanalysis to present a formalist and historically specific theory of post-Fordist capitalism and its attendant forms of struggle and subjectivity. Here, Deleuze|Guattari present the minority in dialectical terms as the displaced form of appearance of class struggle under post-Fordist conditions and in so doing suggest an auto-critique of their more vitalist and anti-formalist proclivities. This second account, however, remains underdeveloped and is flawed in its use of set theoretical categories. Departing from Deleuze|Guattari's slips, mistakes, inconsistencies, and contradictions, this thesis reconstructs their second theory of minorities and gives it some psychoanalytic help. Working with, through, and alongside the US anti-fracking movement the thesis proposes that a formalist, Lacanian indebted, account of minorities is well-suited to theorizing the strengths and limitations of contemporary struggles against fracking and related infrastructure. In the process the thesis moves beyond Deleuze|Guattari to make broader contributions to political theory, political ecology, and post-colonial studies. In particular, it defends the role of universality in emancipatory struggle.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Advisors
Award date1 Aug 2020