Pereira-Colson dialogue. 4. Colson to Pereira

Translated by Jesse Cohn

DELEUZE, GillesNIETZSCHE, Friedrich Wilhelm (1844-1900)COHN, JesseCOLSON, DanielPEREIRA, Irène (1975 - )Philosophy. Ontology

Pereira’s first letter
Pereira’s second letter
Colson’s first answer

Dear Irene Pereira,
I thus allow myself to answer your question of last 23 July.
1 - The text of Nietzsche, “Christian and anarchist,” in the twilight of the idols, constitutes clear proof: 1) initially of the great ignorance of Nietzsche concerning the anarchists (it would be necessary to make a precise investigation into his sources of information); 2) in the second place (and thus more secondarily) of the force of the spontaneous prejudices which form Nietzsche’s political and social ideas, obviously “reactionary” ideas (if this word were not also incongruous when one speaks about Nietzsche), but which (also obviously) have only little importance since one is interested in the thought of Nietzsche and that one no longer lets oneself be misled by such crude surface appearances into to classifying and essentializing beings (obviously, I do not accuse you of this crippling defect).

Along with these two reasons, one can also add that it is far from being certain that anarchism did not often express this force of resentment with which Nietzsche reproaches it. Nonetheless, even the slightest and the most cursory investigation of the libertarian movements that were is not only enough to show how the criticism of Nietzsche is useless, but especially, how precisely these movements accord with all that Nietzsche says about the “strong,” the “masters,” “affirmative” forces, etc. I allow myself here to return you to my article published in the review A contretemps n° 21 of October 2005, under the title “Nietzsche et l’anarchisme.”
Your question raises a second point of another nature: the question of Justice. To go further, it seems to to me that it would be necessary to manage to update what Proudhon understands by this concept which constitutes the heart of his major work (De la Justice). For my part, I admit that I am not sure what he means to say and how Justice is inscribed within his sociological and philosophical conceptions.
2 - My choice of the word “judgement” in the Petit lexique is indeed unfortunate because it seems to refer to the “judgement” of the courts or science, where it is always a question of measuring a fact or a case against other facts and cases on an external, objective, and transcendent scale. In this sense, the “judgement” of which I speak is not a judgement but indeed a “evaluation,” which is not at all the same thing. And it seems to to me that if Deleuze violently attacks “judgement,” he does not confuse judgement and evaluation insofar as it is precisely evaluation which makes it possible to indicate the reverse of judgement (“of God”), namely a judgement which would be interior, subjective and immanent. It seems to to me that all the philosophy of Nietzsche precisely implies this link between point of view and evaluation, the assertion of “values” which any prospect implies, i.e. an evaluation. This is what I wanted to say, but I will not have said all concerning the word “judgement.” In Spinoza’s terms, evaluation would be the way in which beings judge what is good and what is bad for them, good and bad encounters, encounters which give joy by increasing the power of the beings, and encounters which produce sadness by decreasing this power. The practical and historical implementation by anarchism of “federalism” is an immense and varied experiment in this conception of the relation between beings in which the determination is always subjective, interior, and thus immanent to the possible arrangements among beings.
3 - For me there is not any doubt that the “common” and “collective reason” proper to anarchism completely dispense with all “justification” (which implies the judgement of God) and all “communication.” It is the position of Deleuze but it is also what is unceasingly proclaimed by the libertarian movements in all their forms, texts, and practices. It is what it would be necessary to show in detail and in multiple ways, from the ceaseless criticism of “intermediaries,” of “representatives,” of “deputies” by anarcho-syndicalism to the conception of organs of coordination as “mailboxes” and places of statistical recording. I try to explain this through the entries on “economy” and “(mathematical) statistics,” where, as Leibniz writes, “instead of disputing, one could say, let us compute!”

4 - I agree with all that you say in this fourth point. Except that the universal which is no longer something formal nor given a priori
, which is constructed collectively in practice, and thus concrete, it is undoubtedly better to call it “common” to avoid all the misunderstandings implied by the concept of universality, a concept that one is always concerned (from a libertarian point of view) not to be able to surpass. If “nothing is more useful for man than man” and if my freedom depends on the freedom of the others, the maximum of others, it is precisely because each being is radically singular, “unique,” as Stirner said. The broadening is not numerical but qualitative. Doesn’t any new being add up to the same thing (what more could it be?) but an inevitably singular different which thus enriches the possible encounters and arrangements, encounters and arrangements the character of which, emancipatory or not, it is then a question of evaluating, i.e. their capacity to increase the associated beings’ power to act and extent of perception. In wishing to retain the universal which one could not “completely surpass,” and insofar as individuality and singularity would be only “significant in anarchism,” you risk remaining in the middle of the ford – that is to say, on the bank which you want to leave.

5 -
In this fifth point you again express your great hesitation (which I can understand). Can “perspectivism” and “life in common” do without any concept of truth? Yes, if by truth you understand all that we have just said about the universal, communication, and the divine and statist a priori that they imply in the massive and habitual character of their usage which they are always likely to preserve even when one seems to critique or weaken them. No, if by truth and universal one understands something radically subjective, interior and immanent to the associations which produce them. But in this case it is certainly preferable to give up such falsifying words.
My answers are much too quick, but one can continue to “discuss,” i.e. to confront points of view, standpoints, value judgments and thus the arguments, incomprehensions, and, perhaps, “agreements,” as the anarcho-syndicalists called the affinitary associations . . .
Very cordially
Daniel Colson