politics + ecology


politics + ecology
  ---- by Rosi Braidotti
  Adapting Baruch Spinoza's monism to an ecosophy of transcendental empiricism, Deleuze constructs the concept of 'immanence': incorporating strains of vitalism and yet still bypassing essentialism. Choosing to move beyond the dualism of human/non-human, Deleuze's ecosophy rejects liberal individualism as much as it does the holism of 'deep ecology'. Primarily, the ecosophy of Deleuze aspires to express the rhizomatic structure of subjectivity. The subject's mind is 'part of nature' - embedded and embodied - that is to say immanent and dynamic. As the structure of the Deleuzian subject is interactive, it is inherently ethical. In this manner, when Deleuze imbues ethical agency with an anti-essentialist vision of 'commitment' he accordingly displaces the anthropocentric bias of communitarianism.
  The ecosophical ethics of Deleuze incorporates the physics and biology of bodies that together produce ethological forces. Instead of the essentialist question - 'What is a body?' - Deleuze prefers to inflect his questions slightly differently. He asks: 'What can a body can do?' and 'How much can a body can take?'. We are therefore invited to think about the problem of ecosophy in terms of affectivity: How is affectivity enhanced or impoverished? In this way, ethical virtue, empowerment, joy and understanding are implied. However, an act of understanding does not merely entail the mental acquisition of certain ideas, but it also coincides with bodily processes. It is thus an activity that actualises what is good for the subject, for example potentia. Mind and body act in unison and are synchronised by what Spinoza calls conatus, that is to say the desire to become and to increase the intensity of one's becoming.
  The selection of composite positive passions, that constitute processes of becoming,works as a matter of affective and corporeal affinity. An ethical relation is conducive to joyful and empowering encounters that express one's potentia and increase the subject's capacity to enter into further relations. This expansion is bound both spatially (environmental) and temporally (endurance). By entering into ethical relations, nomadic becomings engender possible futures in that, as they produce connections, they in turn produce the affective possibility of the world as a whole.
  Vitalist ecosophy also functions to critique advanced capitalism; more specifically capitalist consumerism and the over-indulgent consumption of resources. As a temporal sequence, capitalism engenders the schizophrenic simultaneity of opposite effects and therefore it shortcircuits the present. Thus, it immobilises as it saturates the social space with commodities. The temporal disjunction induced by the speedy turnover of available commodities is not different from the jet-lag one suffers after flying from London to Sydney. Capitalism induces a perverse logic of desire based on the deferral of pleasure fulfilment, deferring the gratification onto the 'next generation' of technological commodities and gadgets: the piecemeal instalments of popular culture in the form of 'info-tainment' that become obsolete at the speed of light. These legal addictions titillate without release, inducing dependency without any sense of responsibility. This mixture of dependency and dissatisfaction constitutes power as a nucleus of negative passions, such as resentment, frustration, envy and bitterness.
  Deleuze's ecosophy of radical immanence and intensive subjects responds to the unsustainable logic and internal contradictions of advanced capitalism. This Deleuzian body is in fact an ecological unit. Through a structure of mutual flows and data-transfer, one that probably is best understood in reference to viral contamination or intensive interconnection, this body is environmentally interdependent. This environmentallybound intensive subject is a collective entity; it is an embodied, affective and intelligent entity that captures, processes and transforms energies and forces. Being environmentally-bound and territorially-based it is immersed in fields that constantly flow and transform.
  All in all, Deleuze expands the notion of universalism to be more inclusive. He does this in two ways. First, by affirming biocentred and transspecies egalitarianism as an ethical principle, he opens up the possibility of conceptualising a post-humanity. Second, a new sense of global interconnection is established as the ethics for non-unitary subjects, emphasising a commitment to others (including the non-human, nonorganic and 'earth' others). By removing the obstacle of self-centred individualism, the politics of Deleuzian ecosophy implies a new way of combining interests with an enlarged sense of community. Deleuze insists that it is the task of philosophy to create forms of ethical and political activities that respond to the complex and multilayered nature of 'belonging'. In other words, philosophy in the hands of Deleuze becomes a nomadic ecosophy of multiple beings.

The Deleuze dictionary. . 2010.

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