Humanism and Anti-Humanism

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Deleuze perceives ecological problems in terms of the translation between local and global ecosystems. Deleuze analyses the construction of the planetary ecosystem beginning with the combination and intersection of local phenomena which together compose the global ecosystem.


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For the purposes of the central contention of this thesis, we ought to make a comparison between the rhizomatic-thinking of Deleuze and the social ecology of Bookchin. Reason and domination, on this account, are mutually exclusive. Bookchin defends such an uprooting of thought, praxis and values by enunciating the value of decentralised communities which practice locally based democracy. Human and nonhuman are intertwined and function according to the ecological principle of mutualism or symbiosis.

Other noteworthy precepts of social ecology include the implementation of environmentally friendly alternative technologies solar power, wind power and so on and the celebration of cultural ethnic, local and biophysical diversity. Hayden claims that there are points of intersection here between social ecology and rhizomatic thinking.

However, Bookchin has attacked Deleuze regarding the explicit anti-humanism which pervades his work.

On the other hand, Deleuze wishes to transcend what he sees as a one-dimensional Enlightenment rationality and more particularly the unchallenged march toward a rational society by Marxist theoreticians. The presuppositions underlying the idea of progress and the teleological belief in the messianic ending of history with the arrival of heaven on earth is further attacked by Deleuze who wishes to think free from systems of closure. Yet, a grasping of the critique of the transcendent world of essences, the beyond or Nirvana by an immanent rhizomatic naturalism is blunted without recourse to the becoming-Nietzsche of Deleuze.

Hayden fails to provide such an analysis. The machinic assemblage, the Body-without-Organs BwO , and the mechanosphere receive no mention whatsoever. Such a selective reading cannot but give the impression that Deleuze and Guattari enunciated a soft and woolly passivity. The a naturalistic ontology ought to be put into parentheses here. The traditional tools of ontology being, object, qualities, pairs are replaced by Deleuze and Guattari with the concepts of planes, intensities, flows, becomings, and couplings. Yet, it is legitimate to inquire as to whether a machinic ontology is necessarily gender neutral or nature oppressive.

Grosz and others have been quick off the mark to note the potentially sexist metaphors employed by Deleuze and Guattari. The use of machinic metaphors may well express a phallic drive whose obvious desire is to plug into, couple up and oppressively connect up with everything it can dominate. The subject is decentralised and configured from an exteriority of components the unconscious, the body.

Guattari names these as components of subjectification. The hermetic self-certain interiority articulated by Descartes is questioned by Guattari for its one-dimensional emphasis. Guattari is principally interested in the possible emergence of new paradigms of ethico-aesthetic thinking and praxis.

Such paradigms rethink the relationship between human subjectivity and the context environment within which it engages.

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Subjectivity seems to imply the role of the unconscious in relation to the human and natural environment. With emphasis upon the creative potentiality of subjectivity or new ways of existing, Guattari looks toward the future. Such a futurist agenda attempts to think the intersection of the human with cybernetics and more particularly with computer-aided subjectivity. New perspectives emerge from the intersection of social, mental, and environmental ecologies.

Guattari refuses to separate the elements of the triad. In schizoanalytic language, they form an assemblage. Schizoanalytical social ecology challenges the dualism between nature and culture with the perception that nature and culture are inseparable. It should be noted Guattari is arguing from an anthropocentric as opposed to biocentric viewpoint. However, this observation needs to be balanced for the argument presupposes the very dualism which is brought into question. Guattari does not wish to rehearse traditional debates.

In a very important sense he is calling for a new eco-logic. In other words Guattari is attempting to think of one-off events which once combined with subjective assemblages provide examples of new existential configurations in which social, psychic and natural elements function in a nondestructive milieu. The political project of triadic ecological praxes is the affirmation of new forms of subjectivity new forms of knowledge, culture, sensibility, and sociability.

The social ecologies of Bookchin and Guattari both see capitalism as a system of economics hostile to the life of ecosystems. Guattari drives the point home:. A generalised ecology eschews a sole concern for the welfare of animals or trees. Yet, it also refuses to rigidly demarcate the three ecologies.

On the subject of mental ecology and the ambivalence of desire, Guattari makes the interesting point that violence is the consequence of complex subjective assemblages and not an essential attribute of the human species. Bookchin is eager to denounce those he sees as condemning the human species or what he calls humanity for its apparently disastrous effects upon the environment. It is worth quoting Guattari in full here:. What Guattari points toward are the technological developments data-processing, genetic engineering which mean that the definitions of the human being are increasingly subject to forces of an alien and exterior nature.

Such a subjection requires a rethinking of the human subject in relation to its environment and its future s.

A hindered and bleak perspective regarding postmodernism inevitably reads postmodernism as nihilistic. Such an ungenerous perspective is evident in the work of Bookchin. Hardly alien to idiosyncrasy itself, anarchism ought to find it fruitful to listen openly to the dark theorists of the postmodern. Bookchin is correct in noting the post-modern question mark next to an unreflective affirmation of economic, market-driven progress. Bookchin in chartering the tendencies of postmodernism contends: Postmodern is not only a nihilistic reaction to the failures imputed to Enlightenment ideals of reason, science, and progress but more proximately a cultural reaction to the failures of various socialisms to achieve a rational society in France and elsewhere in our country.

Instead, a sociology of knowledge is provided which is blandly Marxist in the correlation of a fragmentary economic system and ideas which express that fragmentation. The content of postmodern ideas is not under the microscope of analysis. Bookchin instead connects the social function of philosophy with the prevailing economic system. Postmodernism from this perspective is merely an ideological support for the febrility of contemporary civilisation.

But let us remember that Bookchin is writing from a political and anarchist point of view.

Such values ground anarchist philosophy in the Enlightenment tradition. Thus, from Bookchin evanescent, local and individual occurrences and thus fail to answer the wider social questions which explore the potentiality for liberation of populations and societies free from domination and hierarchy.

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This reading of desiring-machines as essentially insular and hermetic machinic assemblages is rejected by Massumi who contends that:. Massumi demonstrates a concern for the destruction of nature when he makes the telling point that:. What is of significance for Massumi and others are the lines of flight rather than the lines of death that both equally are secreted out from the machinic workings of Capital.

To drive the point home: The equilibrium of the physical environment must be established, so that cultures may go on living and learn to live more intensely at a state far from equilibrium. Depletion must end, that we may devote ourselves to our true destiny: dissipation. Bookchin is also inconsistent in two significant places. If anarchism cannot function in the absence of overarching and transcendent principles then anarchism runs the risk of abandoning fruitful tactical coalitions along ecological, racial, class and gender lines.

Ironically, Bookchin in his celebration of endorses the very molecular revolutions Deleuze and Guattari sought to theorise concretely. Bookchin spoke thus: It is clear that a molecular process was going on in France, completely invisible to the most conscious revolutionaries, a process that the barricades precipitated into revolutionary action.

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Todd May formulates the relationship between anarchism and PS political philosophy in terms of PS thought forming a framework for thinking the concrete and particular without recourse to universal transcendent ideals. Formal political philosophy would include the abstract formulations of Rawls or Nozick. Formal philosophy would thus defend one pole of the is-ought dichotomy. A strategic political philosophy approaches the is-ought dichotomy in terms of the tension in-between the two.

The in-between neither supports one nor the other disjunct but thinks the relationship in terms of application and real political programmes. A strategic analysis is therefore encompassing and unitary in the sense that it tends toward single goals, for example, the dictatorship of the proletariat. Tactical political philosophy is more akin to the uprisings of Concern with universal interests emanating from a particular group or class are absent from tactical PS philosophy.

In this sense, May contends, anarchism, at least in the classical anarchism of Kropotkin and Proudhon, is a precursor of French PS.

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Contra the coercion endemic in the coldest of all cold monsters, classical anarchism desires maximum freedom beyond the realm of domination. The differences and similarities between classical anarchism and PS political philosophy are identifiable with respect to the constitution of power. Tactical thinking perceives power as dispersed throughout the socius whereas traditional conceptions of power consider power as emanating from a central source the State. Kropotkin believes that power stifles chaotic-order and voluntary mutual aid organisations such as the lifeboat association one could call this self-organisation or autopoiesis in modern terms.

And this is precisely the point that philosophers like Deleuze and Foucault contest. Deleuze disputes the a priori assumption that power necessarily suppresses and as such power is not necessarily the negation of humanity. There is nothing lurking primordially or existing pre-formed behind the alienated worker and no true knowledge waiting to be appear from the veil of ideological manipulation. In anarchist terms, there is a definite, albeit ahistorical and abstract, human essence waiting to emerge from the inhumanity of life under Capital.

Thus, anarchism from the perspective of PS philosophy is staid if it retains the assumptions of a benign human essence and the suppression assumption regarding the effects of power. The negation of humanist naturalism affirms instead the creativity of power as a process of constitution-constituted between the subject and object of power.

The subject is simultaneously a produced-producer rather than merely a producer from forces of an altogether alien nature. Furthermore, a more contemporary anarchist, Colin Ward explicitly abandons humanist essentialism which perceives human consciousness as the centre of the universe and the ordering principle which orders everything around it.