“Justice is no more than the immanent process of desire.” I’m sometimes thick, but this line from Deleuze and Guattari’s Kafka book, and Deleuze’s usage of the term justice generally, has always confused me. I think I have stubbornly insisted on reading justice in its standard usage, as an external, universal principle that must applied to and attained by any given situation or as equality before the law, even though that’s clearly not what D&G must have in mind.
And of course they don’t, but it took a recent experience with one of my kids to figure out what they do mean. My son just started a new school and has had a rough time adjusting. Adding to this difficulty is that he’s a bit of a dawdler and slacker — yes, yes, thank you very much, we are quite proud — and sometimes his lingering means that he has to do his schoolwork during playtime (which punishment pisses me off to no end and could eventually lead to a change of scenery for him). He really, really hates when this happens. Besides exacerbating his dawdling and demotivating him from doing the schoolwork, it makes him feel a great injustice: He repeatedly, and angrily, calls the experience unfair. It occurred to me as we talked about it the other day that his feeling of being wronged does not arise from the application of a transcendent idea to his situation, and neither is it a feeling of mistreatment because the other kids get to have playtime. He’s angry, and sad and perplexed, because he really likes to play and anything that prevents that is a blockage of his desire.
I’m tempted to say that’s a reasonable feeling for a six-year-old, but that would be another transcendent requirement. Instead I’ll say with my son and D&G that justice is the process in which desire finds an expression that doesn’t require external principle, regulation, or judgment.