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published on April 8, 2020

Duy Lap Nguyen

Universal History and Immanent Critique in Anti-Oedipus

This essay considers Deleuze and Guattari’s paradoxical claim that Marx’s critique of political economy implies as a universal history derived from the singular features of capitalism. In this critique, capitalism is defined by the commodity form, as a relationship of economic equivalence that replaces the bonds of dependence underlying other social formations. By negating relations of kinship and caste, capitalism reveals, a contrario, the universal foundation of other societies. As the “negative of all social formations,” capitalism conditions a universal history, defined, retrospectively, from the singular standpoint of a society, based upon the negation of kinship and caste. In this universal history, moreover, the negation of capitalism is identified with the possibility of a new and equally singular form of society. In Anti-Oedipus, the latter is defined as a “schizophrenic” condition liberated from the commodity as well as from the bonds of dependence that constituted the universal foundation of earlier societies.

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