Deleuze and Guattari saw desire split, not between necessary and unnecessary desires, but between the desire for production and the desire for acquisition.[i] For them the real revolutionary battle against capitalism had to take place by shifting the emphasis on desire away from mere acquisition to a less individualistic, more positive, creative desire for production.According to Deleuze and Guattari’s Anti-Oedipus thesis, our desires have been geared in the direction of acquisitions since Plato’s dialectics made it the Ideal aim of desire: “From the moment that we place desire on the side of acquisition, we make desire an idealistic (dialectical, nihilistic) conception, which causes us to look upon it primarily as lack.”[ii]
Subsequently we see lack where it did not exist, or a lack in which anything that is not in our grasp needs to be obtained. In this way the logical outcome of desire/acquisition is greed, and it also now becomes perceived as a positive element. How can greed be a vice or a sin, if it is the essential force behind all motivations?
In our anti-human civilisation desire has become desire for the acquisition of that which allows us make acquisitions. Or, in other words, the acquisition of money. All acquisitions become filtered through an accumulation of figures, because the money one has is nothing but a figure in a bank account. Reality flows in the world of these abstract figures. Not only does our dignity, self-esteem and gratifications depend on those figures, but even survival itself.
The world, they say, revolves around these figures. They represent hope – often encompassing all hope, and all desire. In the world of acquisition there is very little time for the production of anything which is not related to the figures that allow everything to operate. Greed is the most logical virtue in the acquisition-driven world. As that greed grows stronger, generosity diminishes. In the world of acquisitions the individual who would rather be productive in a creative rather than in an acquiring way is regarded as a parasite or a freak. Only a certain amount of money is necessary to ensure survival.
Survival is not enough for the citizens of the anti-human civilisation. We are also expected to desire possession, especially of that which is hard to get. Life must be seen as a lusting forward toward that which will give us plenty to show for it.
But what we have acquired is not as fulfilling as what we have created and produced. Because of this the acquisition-desire life can lead to spiritual dissatisfaction and emptiness. The Prozac society is born, where lack and the lust for acquisition is planned and organised. The whole basis of our civilisation is the struggle to make others want, need, and perhaps even lust after what we can offer them, and by so doing acquire an exchange of figures that will swell our own figures considerably. That is what we desire – a considerable swelling of figures.
[i] Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, Anti-Oedipus, Capitalism and Schizophrenia, UMP, Minneapolis, 1983, p. 48