Differences in common: Deleuze, Marx and the now

Maria Bonomi, Coagulated Malvinas, Lithograph, 53,50 cm x 44,00 cm, l 1982.


“Preface” and “Preface” of the newly released book.

Foreword [Marilena Chaui]

If difference precedes contradiction and if the latter, as a thought that operates with identities, is opposed to the former, we can ask: is it possible to reconcile a philosophy of difference and dialectical thought? In other words, is it possible to reunite Deleuze and Marx? This is the challenge proposed and faced by Benito Maeso.

In the first, it carries out an exhaustive, thematic and chronological survey of Deleuze's references to Marx in the context of the French left-wing tradition and in the constant debate with the Althusserian communists.

In the second, it arrives at the Deleuzian construction of the figure of Marx, based on the criticism he addresses to Hegel, that is, the emphasis is given to materialism and the interpretation of the concept of totalization in Marx, placing him at a distance from Hegelianism in order to bring him closer. it from the Deleuzian concept of rhizome (horizontality that excludes transcendences and hierarchies).

Such an approximation never rejects the distinctions between the two, but emphasizes the proximity between the idea of ​​“nodes of determinations” (in the Deleuzian rhizome) as an explicit meaning of the theme of “multiple determinations” (in the Marxian dialectic), a theme with which Marx defines the concrete , in such a way that the dialectic would not be synthesis, but, according to Deleuze, “relational tension” or “non-identity synthesis”.

In the third path, Maeso presents the motive that supports the search for the meeting of the two thinkers. This motive has at its center two Deleuzian notions: agency and minority.

O agency (instead of ideas such as structure and system) is understood as a relationship of heterogeneous elements that produce effects in reality as praxis, that is, social, historical and personal activity (hence the central place of the idea of ​​desire). On the one hand, it becomes possible, with agency, to map the conditions of our present, the current arrangement of forces and, on the other hand, to propose a new map from the disintegration of these forces, opening up another praxis.

If Marx's materialism thinks about the unity of the subject and the object and not their identity, then it opens up for us a materialism that asks which policy is capable of confronting neoliberalism (as an economy and as an ideology), the passage of society from discipline, surveillance and work for the society of control (the emergence of a new legal institutionality regarding rights and politics) and consumption, in which the appearance of digital subjectivity takes place (which, permanently exposed and controlled, believes in equality understood as a right equal to access).

It is in this context that Maeso examines the political-social possibility of the new, bringing to the scene the new subject of this new praxis based on what Deleuze, analyzing Kafka's work, designates with the term minority: what deviates from the standard (seen as “greatest” or majority), and turns against it. As noted, the notion of minority does not refer to minorities and is broader than that of class: it refers to the moment when there is collective contestation and opposition to what is posited as norm and standard – deviation. Socially and politically, minority they are all those who are outside the power constituted by the imbrication of law-money-control-marketing-self-exposure, typical of neoliberal and digital society.

It is essential that the term used be contestação, because it is not about the seizure of this power, but its disintegration – or, in Deleuzian terms, the overthrow of the molar by the action of the molecular. The minority subject emerges as a continuous institution of a new way of life in which the agency is given by the common, not as common property but as a good. common and everyone's happiness.

It is not a question of finding a recipe for action in Marx and Deleuze, but of, from them, asking: “how to operate a type of disjunctive synthesis between the creative potential and the positivity of difference with the critical power of negativity and dialectic? This tense relationship could, at least from a theoretical point of view, help in the construction of a practical alternative to the Gordian knot in which critical thinking and action seem to meet. In short, it is a question of thinking about the social and the political as they are managed before us and in us and, from this understanding, seek how we can overcome what is given, thanks to what is yet to be done. This book is an invitation to a new political thinking”.

Presentation [Benito Eduardo Maseo]

Why promote dialogue today between authors who, although important, belong to the past? The author of this work does not believe in the “magical or premonitory power” of Marx's or Deleuze's thought. But he assumes the premise that human beings influence and are influenced by their relationship with the environment in which they live. Therefore, all thought is historical and social, located in time, but endowed with a certain degree of “universality” since what happens today is the effect of past practices and is the cause of future events.

This dialectic makes the Deleuze-Marx relationship imperative. If today the world is different, it remains as its engine a system that simultaneously self-destructs and creates the conditions for its survival. If the forms of work, employment, subjectivities and exploitation of nature, among others, have changed to the point where it seems no longer possible to think of capitalism with the same categories, an axiom or central core has remained: the quest to generate more capital from capital itself. The masks change, but the content is the same, both in the shameful slavery of the peoples of Africa and in the illusion of neo-Pentecostal entrepreneurship: transforming human existence into a source of profit, based on the exploitation of human beings by other human beings and by themselves.

Marx and Deleuze (and Engels and Guattari), in their time, sought to understand such a social machine from its economic foundations to political, cultural and subjective implications. That said, it is surprising that this relationship has only been studied in depth in recent years, both in Brazil and abroad.

This comes to the fore in Deleuze's interview with Negri, in 1990, when the Frenchman declares “to remain a Marxist”. Considering the intellectual climate in France, somehow “remaining” was everything that was not wanted – let alone an association with Marx, even the target of “symbolic burials” to the applause of postmodern thinkers. But what would “being a Marxist” mean for Deleuze? And why is there an important appeal to the “name of Marx” already in Difference and repetition?

Once the question was defined, the unusual strategy of dividing the work into two fields was established: the historical and the conjunctural. In the first, the Marxian presence in Deleuze's philosophy was mapped, also covering the background involved in the propagation of Marx's thought among the French and, by extension, the relations with Hegel, Nietzsche and the formation of parties and social movements in the French policy.

The reading of Deleuzian production reveals the double role (ally and antagonist) operated by the German thinker, emerging a vibrant and present Marx at the heart of the Philosophy of Difference. It was also necessary to establish the relationship between the Difference, the variations of the Marxian dialectic and from it, and the difference in meaning of the concept of negative between the French and German schools. If the name of Marx protects Difference from being considered a “beautiful soul”, would there be “dialectic” elements in it or differential elements in the dialectic? A new understanding of negative experience emerges: both denial/thought and full affirmation/materiality.

The conjunctural development of the book starts from Desire as the engine of capitalism and how its changes alter the social fabric. Can the schizophrenia of capitalism be the “specter that haunts Europe”? It is true that today's societies, marked by control and surveillance, are different from those of Marx; however, the capitalist machine has always produced goods, subjectivities and, notably, information. What Deleuze calls “the joys of marketing” could be the changes in the forms of diffusion, production and circulation of information and the formation of a new rationality of the world, in which capitalism extracts surplus value from the individual and collective psyche. A tug-of-war is formed between the unbridled demand to satisfy desires and the constant fear of the contingent. To escape fear, the doors to authoritarianism are opened.

In control societies, chaos is the driving force of capital: if the individual becomes his own entrepreneur, the others become competitors and the market becomes the social fabric itself. The self-entrepreneur is the owner of the production of the self-commodity, or the commodity-subject: ourselves. Society is organized in an antisocial manner and its administration tends towards totalitarianism in which each individual watches and is watched simultaneously.

Is it possible, then, to tension a society in which tension is the norm? The author believes in this from the encounter between the political philosophies of Deleuze and Marx, from the rescue of concepts such as “Common”, “minority” and “class struggle”. Is it possible to read Marx by the light of less deleuzian? Or read the Difference as a variation of the class struggle? The philosophies of Deleuze and Marx – philosophers of crisis in times of crisis – can point to the rescue of the common dimension of social life without losing sight of individuality and difference. This work seeks, within the path above, to bring its contribution to a debate that is so current and that, at the same time, has mobilized us for some time.

*Marilena Chaui Professor Emeritus at FFLCH-USP. She is the author, among other books, of against voluntary servitude (Authentic).

*Benito Eduardo Maseo Professor of Philosophy at the Federal Institute of Paraná (IFPR).


Benito Eduardo Araujo Maseo. Differences in common: Deleuze, Marx and the now. Curitiba, Appris, 2020, 244 pages.


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