A few months ago I ended up reading what — I think — is Gilles Deleuze’s first published essay, and I was pleasantly surprised how much it resonated with current questions I have regarding communism and outsideness.
The essay, titled “From Christ to the Bourgeoisie”, was published in 1946 in the short-lived philosophy journal Espace. Deleuze declares in the opening paragraph that “today many people no longer [believe] in interior life, it no longer pays to do so” and it is our “industrial and technical world” that has reduced mankind to “total exteriority.”
However, Deleuze argues, this is nonetheless a preferable position to be in despite the general cynicism towards a loss of moralising religiosity in some corners of social life at the time. He argues that the limiting of spirituality to interior life, as is Christianity and capitalism’s entangled raison d’etre, is to limit consciousness itself. He continues, highlighting the essentiality of externalisation to consciousness-raising:
Is there no spiritual life apart from interior life? In this purely objective world where the workman works with companions, the Leader [Chef], the Instigator [Meneur] can emerge. The Leader, is the one that reveals a possible world, in which for example the workman would no longer work for masters. But this world, thus revealed, remains external, no less external than the first world in which he was born. So much so that the first objective world envelops in itself the principle of its own negation, without reference to any interiority. The Leader is the one that offers a friendship, not love, a friendship within a team [équipe]. Out of friendship, the team consists in realizing the possible outside world that the chief revealed.
It all sounds sort of familiar.
The Outside is the ‘place’ of strategic advantage. To be cast out there is no cause for lamentation, in the slightest.
Just chanced upon this in the midst of some Googling. Great catch. Seems a strong indication that Deleuze is working much more in a Christian lineage than people tend to think.
Yeah, I need to go back to this. Although I suspect he was working in a Christian lineage because such is France. It’s a great early essay though.