There have recently been a number of attempts to re-write recent intellectual history in order to promote a supposedly new school of theory that aims to liquidate the heritage of “post-structuralist” thought. Combining a rhetoric of renewed speculation with an actual return to empiricism, this constellation has many variants ranging from the most vulgar (e.g. Graham Harman’s OOO) to the most refined (François Laruelle’s non-philosophy)., with divers intermediary positions, such as Quentin Meillassoux’s anti-correlationism and Ray Brassier’s neo-scientism.
A favorite target of criticism for the most politically-oriented of these neo-scholars is the thought of Gilles Deleuze, who we are regularly called on to “forget”. Deleuze’s thought is assimilated to the “artistic critique” of earlier forms of capitalism hindered by antiquated constraints and regulations that neo-liberal practice was eager to dismantle. Thus came about the urban legend that Deleuze’s philosophy was incapable of radical critique as in its form it was “homologous” to the new nascent phase of capitalist relations.
Baudrillard’s FORGET FOUCAULT (OUBLIER FOUCAULT, 1977) was already a call to “forget” not only Foucault but also Deleuze, Lyotard, and no doubt Baudrillard’s own earlier self. The book relied heavily on the homology argument in its critique of both thinkers.
Curiously, Baudrillard’s meta-political critique is echoed in Laruelle’s meta-ontological critique of Heidegger, Deleuze and Derrida and implicitly Foucault), PHILOSOPHIES OF DIFFERENCE (LES PHILOSOPHIES DE LA DIFFÉRENCE, 1986), published nine years later.
What both these books have in common is that they choose to resolutely ignore Deleuze’s own temporally and logically prior (self-)critiques of the positions that they attribute to him. I say Deleuze’s critiques are not just temporally but also “logically” prior because both Baudrillard’s and Laruelle’s philosophies are conceptually parasitic on Deleuze’s thought.
Note: on the case of Laruelle, I have often analysed the derivative nature of his critiques of “sufficient philosophy”, for example here.
I think this structure of denial of influence and deliberate misrecognition points up an important difference between Bernard Stiegler’s and François Laruelle’s approach to Deleuze and to phlosophical history. One of Stiegler’s key words is anamnesis and he constantly refers to Deleuzian concepts and analyses for inspiration (e.g. quasi-causality, bifurcation), whereas Laruelle is very busy forgetting Deleuze.
In a slogan: those who “forget” Deleuze are condemned to repeat him.