Just a quick note on my end, as well 🙂
Sense-perception jumped out at me in this passage for a different reason, I suspect, than it may have seemed: what interested me was that, in these couple of sentences, Deleuze and Guattari appear to assume that Marx’s point would have been to criticise notions of sense-perception, by arguing that sense perception needs to be placed back into a context of various mediations. I am contesting their reading of Marx, rather than making any arguments about what they themselves think – and I am doing this, not because I particularly care what Marx “really meant”, but because there are implications for how we understand the emergence of critical subjectivities.
What it seemed to me that this quotation might have missed (and, again, I don’t know the context, so I’m not making this as a strong claim, but just explaining what prompted me to write on the topic) is that, for Marx, the historical emergence of a form of subjectivity that could look at a product like wheat and see it as a product – as a thing, as an object potentially devoid of any particular intrinsic social determination essential to itself – is not a standpoint being criticised, but actually a dimension of Marx’s own standpoint of critique. I need to be careful here: Marx will try to historicise everything, so in that sense any form of subjectivity he discusses will be an object of critique in that he will attempt to historicise it. But he is not, I am suggesting, trying to criticise the notion of looking at an object, and seeing something potentially free of social determinations – he is not offering a critique of immediacy (in this sort of comment) from the standpoint of advocating a perspective that captures mediation more clearly. (Again: I need to be very cautious, because of course Marx does also focus on mediations – I am trying to draw attention to something very specific here.)
For Marx, the emergence of a form of subjectivity that can potentially see products as secular goods – as things that are not intrinsically bound together with some particular means of production – is actually integral to his attempt to establish that a transformation of the relations of production is possible. If this form of subjectivity were not widespread – if this notion weren’t intuitively plausible to people on a mass scale, then the task of transformation would be much more difficult, as it could look as though you could only advocate transforming the relationship of production, at the expense of the results of production – material wealth, mastery over nature, etc. (One can criticise Marx for valorising these things, but this issue is beyond the scope for this comment.)
So my reaction to the Deleuze and Guattari passage was that, to me, it seemed to be suggesting that Marx was saying something like: we really need to get past this form of immediacy that causes us to see wheat as a thing, and instead see it as, what it is, a product of a specific form of production – critical subjectivity consist in becoming more aware, more conscious, of the determinate processes that brought this particular object into being. Whereas I take Marx to be saying something more like: there are emancipatory potentials contained within the fact that we can look at this object – this wheat – and not associate it intrinsically with the specific processes that brought it into being. Because we can look on this product this way, we are open to the potential that its production might have taken a very different form. Now that we are open to this potential, we can reflect on what that different form ought to be. This might have been more difficult for us, if we saw the wheat as intrinsically embedded in some specific network of social relations.
Now of course, in the terms in which you were speaking in your original post, Marx is actually still very interested in mediation – and he does try to show how this specific kind of secular perception, this ability to perceive and experience objects as potentially devoid of social determinations, as not intrinsically socialised – as itself a product of a very specific social context. When he tries to analyse that context, he is of course offering an analysis of what you would term (as I would, as well) social mediations.
This is why my reaction focussed on these particular two sentences from Deleuze and Guattari (and were aimed at the reading of Marx, never at their theory in any broader sense) – and why I didn’t then focus on any other aspects of your post.
I would contest that this kind of analysis – understanding critical forms of subjectivity – is not pressing. I think there have been dire consequences for social movements that have resulted from not being sufficiently aware of the context they inhabit, and therefore engaging in practices whose consequences might have been easier to foresee, had a more adequate analysis been available to them. I see my work as working toward something that would be useful in this way. But perhaps I’m wrong. 😉
I worry a bit, though, that when we venture into this topic, you have several times pushed in this direction, as though I am somehow driving the discussion away from practical concerns, or raising questions that, for some reason, somehow intrinsically can’t be answered. It’s obviously up to you how you’d like to engage, but I am actually trying to answer such questions, believe they can be answered – at least to a better degree than they have been to date – and think these are questions worth worrying about, rather than shrugging off and dismissing. This doesn’t mean that such questions need to occupy everyone’s work – there is division of labour in theory as in other things. But I’ll contest the suggestion that the questions aren’t pressing. 😉