Sunday, March 30, 2014

Some thoughts on Ideolo...erm, Organizations of Power

One of the most useful considerations in my read of DeLeuze and Guattari surrounds their discussion of ideology. Although most clearly laid out in “On Capitalism and Desire,” the authors’ conceptualization—or rather, renunciation--of the notion is foundational to the larger project.

I have, admittedly, let myself become stuck on McCloskey’s declaration that “Gramsci is where it’s at” (direct quotation, I’m not nearly cool/tenured enough to use that phrasing myself, even in a blog post), because he presents ideology as the “froth.” DeLeuze and Guattari do an enviable job of explaining how some might take this to be the case, as well as potential faults in such reasoning.

These types of arguments are a “perfect way to ignore how desire works on the infrastructure, invests it, belongs to it, and how desire thereby organizes power: it organizes the system of repression.” (p. 264). If the ideology is immaterial, “smoke and mirrors,” then discussion and debate offer meaningful solutions to injustice. If, on the other hand, what we call ideology conceals a great network of material constraints, no amount of talk—or action against ideology, for that matter--can lead to substantive change. DeLeuze and Guattari argue instead that, “there is no ideology, there are only organizations of power” (p. 263). Power is quite happy to be dismissed as simply ideological, rather than a system or structure of oppression and discipline itself.

Apparatuses of capture have mastered manipulation of particular social mechanisms—from somewhat obvious systems of power—churches, schools, judicial systems, the family—to those that seem somehow less open to impact—literature, technology, philosophy, language, individual feelings of restraint or obligation. In doing so, apparatuses of capture operate nearly transparently, under the veil of that which is “only ideology.” People are not controlled overtly, through brute physical force or vernacularly conceived violence, but rather through imposing (seemingly natural) limits on the individual.

By writing off as ideological those aspects of an apparatus that do become visible, systems of organization are protected. Gangs of restless peasants and marauding youths are less likely to strike against the Church if they are fighting on behalf of it (p. 270). Ideology is not smoke and mirrors. Nor is it froth. What we call ideology is not used by power, but rather, it is, in itself, a compelling organization of power, controlling, directing, and disciplining citizens. 

1 comment:

  1. I too found this interesting. Another moment of the importance of focusing on power comes out in the discussion of money in the State (Anti-Oedipus, 197). Here, D&G note how while money is the medium of commerce, a central function is to be managed by the state to satiate temporary desires to prevent broader reterritorializations. While the example used is of Greek tyrannies, it is hard to deny that contemporary politicians will deny current ideological positions to redistribute money to dissatisfied masses all to maintain power.


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