Adam Shatz’s review of Dosse’s double biography of Deleuze and Guattari led to a question I had not thought until now to ask:

What has capitalism to do to survive?

Shatz represents the argument Deleuze and Guattari’s Anti-Oedipus presents, the first volume of Capitalism and Schizophrenia, to be dealing with what capitalism has to do to survive because “at its most extreme,” he writes, “capitalism encourages a kind of generalised schizophrenia, a shatteringly intense fracturing of subjectivity.” (source)

Deleuze and Guattari so suggest, Shatz says; maybe they do, maybe they don’t, but does capitalism at its most intense encourage a kind of generalised schizophrenia, a mind-shatteringly intense fracturing of sense of self? … or, is this intense shattering as the subject, as the individual manifests it not the critique of a kind of capitalism?

Maybe it is; maybe it’s not. Another kind of question, If this were the case, if capitalism encouraged a kind of generalised schizophrenia, would it or would it not survive? I think at the moment it does.

Doesn’t it? Most of us, while appreciating the kind of generalised schizophrenia that afflicts the general populace, don’t get as far as schizophrenia as a diagnostic category; we get stopped, or we stop ourselves. We might get a bit manic but as depressives we go and get a bit medicated.

Then, Oedipus, nuclear family, domestic stability, these are the drugs that capitalism used, Shatz says Deleuze and Guattari are saying, in order that it survive the generalised schizophrenia it was encouraging; as if schizophrenia were at that point when Anti-Oedipus was being written a threat to its survival.

It’s harder at this point to say whether schizophrenia did threaten capitalism’s survival: I mean, Deleuze and Guattari were accused of encouraging schizophrenia as a political force to counter capitalism. They wrote as if there was some hope of finding in desire unleashed in schizo flows a revolutionary potential. They wrote as if capitalism might not survive a truly generalised schizophrenia.

Today, as the song goes, I’m not so sure.

Today, the question is, What is capitalism doing to us to survive?

If we can find out what capitalism is using on us, what stories as well as what drugs and what those drugs are for, we can say what it is today that is a threat to its survival. Or…

…it’s our own extinction that capitalism will not survive. Isn’t it strange how covid has disabused us of this notion! Capitalism will get by very well without us. (The failure of biopolitics.)

What do we believe in today apart from our identities?