Felix Guattari, The Three Ecologies

Probably the best book from Guattario I have read so far. I agree with almost everything he writes. Here we go:

„The Earth is undergoing a period of intense techno-scientific transformations. (…) human modes of life … are progressively deteriorating.“ 19

„Political groupings and executive authorities appear to be totally incapable of understanding the full implications of these issues.“ 19

„only an ethico-political articulation – which I call ecosophy – between the three ecological registers (the environment, social relations and human subjectivity) would be likely to clarify these questions.“ 19 f.

„Through the continuous development of machinic labour, multiplied by the information revolution, productive forces can make available an increasing amount of time for potential human activity. But to what end? Unemployment, oppressive marginalization, loneliness, boredom, anxiety and neurosis? Or culture, creation, development, the reinvention of the environement and the enrichment of modes of life and sensibility?“ 20

„In all of these examples it is the same dominant modes of valorizing human activities that are implicated. That is to say:

1. those of the imperium [Latin: ‘authority’] of a global market that destroys specific value systems and puts on the same plan of equivalence: material assets, cultural assets, wildlife areas, etc.
2. those that place all social and international relations under the control of police and military machines.“ 20

„wherever we turn, there is the same nagging paradox: on the one hand, the continuous development of new techno-scientific menas to potentially resolve the dominant ecological issues and reinstate socially useful activities on the surface of the planet, and, on the other hand, the inability of organized social forces and constituted subjective formations to take hold of these resources in order to make them work.“ 22

„The traditional dualist oppositions that have guided social thought and geopolitical cartographies are over.“ 22

„a sort of Third-Worldization within developed countries“ 22

„As for young people, although they are crushed by the dominant economic relations which make their position increasingly precarious, and although they are mentally manipulated through the production of a collective, mass-media subjectivity, they are nevertheless developing their own methods of distancing themselves through singularization.“ 23

„At every level, individual and collective, in everyday life as well as the reinvention of democracy … it is a question in each instance of looking into what would be the dispositives of the production of subjectivity, which tends towards an individual and/or collective resingularization, rather than that of mass-media manufacture, which is synonymous with distress and despair.“ 23

„Social ecosophy will consist in developing specific practices that will modify and reinvent ways in which we live as couples or in the family, in an urban context or at work, etc. Obviously it would be inconceivable to try and go back to the old formulas, which relate to periods when the planet was far less densely populated and when social relations were much stronger than they are today. But it will be a question of literally reconstructing the modalities of group-being, not only through ‘communicational’ interventions but through existential mutations driven by the motor of subjectivity.“ 24

„Rather than speak of the ‘subject’, we should perhaps speak of components of subjectification, each working more or less on its own. This would lead us, necessarily, to re-examine the relation between concepts of the individual and subjectivity, and, above all, to make a clear distinction between the two.“ 24 f.

„It is as though a scientistic superego demands that psychic entities are reified and insists that they are only understood by means of extrinsic cooridnates. Under such conditions, it is no surprise that the human and social sciences have condemned themselves to missing the intrinsically progressive, creative and auto-positioning dimensions of processes of subjectification.“ 25

„I do want to reorient Freud’s concepts and practices so as to use them differently; I want to uproot them from their pre-strucutralist ties, from a subjectivity anchored solidly in the individual and collective past. From now on what will be on the agenda is a ‘futurist’ and ‘constructivist’ opening up of the fields of virtuality.“ 26

„Paradoxically, it is perhaps in the ‘hard’ sciences that we encounter the most spectacular reconsideration of processes of subjectification; Prigogine and Stengers, for example, refer to the necessity of introducing into physics a ‘narrative element’, which they regard as indispensable for the theorization of evolution in terms of irreversibility.“ 27 f.

„Here we are talking about a reconstruction of social and individual practices which I shall classify under three complimentary headings, all of which come under the ethico-aesthetic aegis of an ecosophy: social ecology, mental ecology and environmental ecology.“ 28

„The increasing deterioration of human relations with the socius, the psyche and ‘nature’, is due not only to environmental and objective pollution but is also the result of a certain incomprehension and fatalistic passivity towards these issues as a whole.“ 28

„After the data-processing and robotics revolutions, the rapid development of genetic engineering and the globalization of markets, neither human labour nor the natural habitat will ever be what they once were, even just a few decades ago. As Paul Virilio has suggested, the increased speed of transportation and communications and the interdependence of urban centres are equally irreversible.“ 28 f.

„nature cannot be separated from culture (…) we must learn to think ‘transversally’.“ 29

„It is not only species that are becoming extinct but also the words, phrases and gestures of human solidarity.“ 29

„In mapping out the cartographic reference points of the three ecologies, it is important to dispense with pseudoscientific paradigms. This is not simply due to the complexity of the entitites under consideration but more fundamentally to the fact that the three ecologies are governed by a different logic to that of ordinary communication between speakers and listeners which has nothing to do with the intelligibility of discursive sets, or the indeterminate interlocking of fields of signification. It is a logic of intensities, of autoreferential existential assemblages engaging in irreversible durations. It is the logic not only of human subjects constituted as totalized bodies, but also of psychoanalytic partial objects – what Winnicott calls transitional objects, institutional objects (‘subject-groups’), faces and landscapes etc.“ 30

„the logic of intensities, or eco-logic, is concerned only with the movement and intensity of evolutive processes. Process, which I oppose here to system or structure, strives to capture existence in the very act of its constitution, definition and deterritorialization.“ 30

„Ecological praxes strive to scout out the potential vectors of subjectification and singularization at each partial existential locus. They generally seek something that runs counter to the ‘normal’ order of things, a counter-repetition, an intensive given which invokes other intensities to form new existential configurations. These dissident vectors have become relatively detacheed from their denotative and significative functions and operate as decorporealized existential materials.“ 30

„At the heart of all ecological praxes there is an a-signifying rupture.“ 30

„today, the huge subjective void produced by the proliferating production of material and immaterial goods is becoming ever more absurd and increasingly irreparable and threatens the existence of both individual and group existential Territories. (…) we are witnessing an irreversible erosion of the traditional mechanisms of social regulation. (…) Similarly we are witnessing a reinforcement of segregationist attitudes vis-a-vis immigrants, women, the young and the elderly.“ 31 f.

„Post-industrial capitalism, which I prefer to describe as Integrated World Capitalism (IWC), tends increasingly to decentre its sites of power, moving away from structures producing goods and services towards structures producing signs, syntax and … subjectivity.“ 32

„I would propose grouping together four main semiotic regimes, the mechanisms on which IWC is founded:

(1) Economic semiotics (monetary, financial, accounting and decision-making mechanisms);
(2) Juridical semiotics (title deeds, legislation and regulations of all kinds);
(3) Techno-scientific semiotics (plans, diagrams, programmes, studies, research etc.);
(4) Semiotics of subjectification, of which some coincide with those already mentioned, but to which we should add many others, such as those relating to architecture, town planning, public facilities etc.“ 32

„One of the key analytic problems confronted by social and mental ecology is the introjection [Internalisierung] of repressive power by the oppressed.“ 32

„the unions and the parties … reproduce in themselves the same pathogenic models that stifle all freedom of expression and innovation in their own ranks.“ 33

„Social ecology will have to work towards rebuilding human relations at every level of the socius.“ 33

„It is no longer possible to claim to be opposed to capitalist power only from the outside, through trade unions and traditional politics. It is equally imperative to confront capitalism’s effects in the domain of mental ecology in everyday llife: individual, domestic, material, neighbourly, creative or one’s personal ethics.“ 33

„Capitalistic subjectivity seeks to gain power by controlling and neutralizing the maximum number of existential refrains. It is intoxicated with and anaesthetized by a collective feeling of pseudo-eternity.“ 34

„It seems to me essential to organize new micropolitical and microsocial practices, new solidarities, a new gentleness, together with new aesthetic and new analytic practices regarding the formation of the unconscious.“ 34

„It is important not to homogenize various levels of practice … but instead to engage them in processes of heterogenesis.“ 34

„Ecology in my sense questions the whole of subjectivity and capitalistic power formations, whose sweeping progress cannot be guaranteed to continue as it has for the past decade. The present ongoing crisis, both financial and economic, could not only lead to important upheavals of the social status-quo and the mass-media imaginary that underlies it, but certain themes promoted by neo-liberalists – such as flexible labour, deregulation, etc. – could perfectly well backfire on them.“ 35

„each of the existential Territories … is not given as an in-itself [en-soi], closed in on itself, but instead as a for-itself [pour-soi] that is precarious, finite, finitized, singular, singularized“ 35

„it is not a question of establishing universal rules as a guide to this praxis, but on the contrary of setting forth the principle antinomies between the ecosophical levels“ 36


„The principle specific to mental ecology is that its approach to existential Territories derives from a pre-objectal and pre-personal logic of the sort that Freud has described as being a ‘primary process’. One could this the logic of the ‘included middle’. (…) Gregory Bateson has clearly shown that what he calls the ‘ecology of ideas’ cannot be contained within the domain of the psychology of the individual, but organized itself into systems or ‘minds’, the boundaries of which no longer conincide with the participant indviduals.“ 36

„There is no overall hierarchy for locating and localizing the components of enunciation at a given level.“ 36

„Whether they be myths or theories with scientific pretensions, the relevance of such models to mental ecology must be decided by the following criteria:

(1) their capacity to recognize discursive chains at the point when they break with meaning;
(2) the use they make of concepts that allow for a theoretical and practical auto-constructability.“ 37

„we advocate a rethinking of the various attempts at ‘psychiatric’ modelling“ 37

„The crucial objective is to grasp the a-signifying point of rupture – the rupture of denotation, connotation and signification – from which a certain number of semiotic chains are put to work in the service of an existential autoreferential effect.“ 37

„the essential thing here is the break-bifurcation, which it is impossible to represent as such“ 37

„In order to have an impact on individual and collective life, mental ecology does not presuppose the importing of concepts and practices from a specialized ‘psychiatric’ domain. It demands instead that we face up to the logic of desiring ambivalence wherever it emerges … in order to reevaluate the purpose or work and of human activities of according to different criteria than those of profit and yield.“ 38

„we should learn how to promote a true ecology of the phantasm, one that works through the transference, translation and redeployment of their matters of expression“ 38

„Violence and negativity are the products of complex subjective assemblages; they are not intrinsically inscribed in the essence of the human species, but are constructed and maintained by multiple assemblages of enunciation.“ 38

„I am not so naive and utopian as to maintain that there exists a reliable, analytic methodology that would be able to fundamentally eradicate all of the fantasies leading to the objectification of women, immigrants, the insance, etc., or that might allow us to have done with prisons and psychiatric institutions. However, it does seem to me that a generalization of the experiences of institutional analysis … might profoundly modify the conditions of this problem. There will have to be a massive reconstruction of social mechanisms if we are to confront the damage caused by IWC. It will not come about through centralized reform, through laws, decrees and bureaucratic programmes, but rather through the promotion of innovatory practices, the expansion of alternative experiences centred around a respect for singularity, and through the continuous production of an autonomizing subjectivity that can articulate itself appropriately in relation to the rest of society.“ 39

„The great religions, aprat from Islam, have an icnreasingly insignificant hold over the psyche, while almost everywhere else in the world, we are seeing a kind of return to totemism and animism.“ 39


„The principle specific to social ecology concerns the development of affective and pragmatic cathexis [investissement] in human groups of differing sizes. (…) Two options present themselves: a personological triangulation … or in terms of autoreferential subject-groups, which open broadly onto the socius and the cosmos.“ 39

„In the second instance, identificatory systems are replaced by traits of diagrammatic efficiency.“ 40

„the oppositions between these two modalities of group formation are not really so clear cut: a crowd might be inhabited by opinion-leading groups and subject-groups may revert to amorphous and alienating states of being. Capitalist societies … produce, for their own ends, three types of subjectivity. Firstly a serial subjectivity corresponding to the salaried classes, secondly, to the huge mass of the ‘uninsured’ and finally an elitist subjectivity corresponding to the executive sectors. The accelerating mass-mediatization of global societies tends, therefore, to create an increasing divergence between these different population categories. (…) An essential programmatic point for social ecology will be to encourage capitalist societies to make the transition from the mass-media era to a post-media age, in which the media will be reappropriated by a multitude of subject-groups capable of directing its resingularization.“ 40

„It seems to me that media fatalism equates to a misunderstanding of a number of factors:

(1) sudden mass consciousness-raising, which always remains possible;
(2) the progressive collapse of Stalinism in all its incarnations, which leaves room for other transformative assemblages of social struggle;
(3) the technological evolution of the media and its possible use for non-capitalist goals, in particular though a reduction in costs and through miniaturization;
(4) the reconstitution of labour processes on the rubble of early twentieth-century systems of industrial production, based upon the increased production … of a ‘creationist’ subjectivity“ 40 f.

„new modalities of subjectification are continually emerging.“ 41

„by reterritorializing the family on a large scale (through the media, the welfare system, etc.), an attempt will be made to achieve the maximum middle-classification [embourgeoiser] of working-class subjectivity.“ 41

„we may well see entire regions of Europe subject to severe tensions“ 42

„Spontaneous social ecology works towards the constitution of existential Territories that replace, more or less, the former religious and ritualized griddings of the socius.“ 42

„I am not proposing a ready-made model of society here, but simply the acceptance of a complete range of ecosophical components so as to institute, in particular, new systems of valorization.“ 42

„We must stress that new social associations … should broaden the financing of a more flexible non-private, non-public Third Sector.“ 42

„recognizing a universal basic income – as a right rather than some kind of ‘New Deal’“ 42

„All sorts of deterritorialized ‘nationalities are conceivable, such as music and poetry“ 43

„On this basis we must if not oppose, at least superimpose instruments of valorization founded on existential productions that cannot be determined simply in terms of abstract labour-time or by an expected capitalist profit.“ 43

„The notion of collective interest ought to be expanded to include companies that, in the short term, don’t profit anyone, but in the long term are the conduits of a processual enrichment for the whole of humanity. It is the whole future of fundamental research and artistic production that is in question here.“ 43

„It must also be stressed that this promotion of existential values and the values of desire will not present itself as a fully-fledged global alternative. It will result from widespread shifts in current value systems and from the appearance of new poles of valorization.“ 43


„There is a principle specific to environmental ecology: it states that anything is possible – the worst disasters or the most flexible evolutions.“ 43

„We might just as well rename environmental ecology machinic ecology, because Cosmic and human praxis has only ever been a question of machines, even, dare I say it, of war machines.“ 43

„To bring into being other worlds beyond those of purely abstract information, to engender Universes of reference and existential Territories where singularity and finitude are taken into consideration by the multivalent logic of mental ecologies and yb the group Eros principle of social ecology; to dare to confront the vertiginous Cosmos so as to make it inhabitable; these are the tangled paths of the tri-ecological vision.“

„Rather than being a discipline of refolding on interiority, or a simple renewal of earlier forms of ‘militancy’, it will be a multifaceted movement, deploying agencies [instances] and dispositives that will simultaneously analyse and produce subjectivity. A collective and individual subjectivity that completely exceeds the limits of individualization, stagnation, identificatory closure, and will instead open itself up on all sides to the socius, but also to the machinic Phylum, to techno-scientific Universes of reference, to aesthetic worlds, as well as to e new ‘pre-personal’ understanding of time, of the body, of sexualilty.“ 44

„There is at least a risk that there will be no more human history unless humanity undetakes a radical reconsideration of itself.“ 45

„we must reappropriate Universes of value, so that processes of singularization can rediscover their consistency. We need new social and aesthetic practices, new practices of the Self in relation to the other, to the foreign, the strange“ 45

„we will only escape from the major crises of our era through the articulation of:

a nascent subjectivity
a constantly mutating socius
an environment in the process of being reinvented.“ 45

„the three ecologies originate from a common ethico-aesthetic discipline (…) Their different styles are produced by what I call heterogenesis, in other words, processes of continuous resingularization. Individuals must become both more united and increasingly different.“ 45

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s