AAG abstract — The Axiomatic State and Urban Governance

In late August, I posted this CFP on entrepreneurialism for the AAG in Chicago (which is, unfortunately, the same week as the Refrains of Freedom conference in Athens, so I am currently trying to decide which will be the best for me). Here is my abstract:

The Axiomatic State and Urban Governance

“Politics is by no means an apodictic science,” write Deleuze and Guattari, in A Thousand Plateaus. “It proceeds by experimentation, groping in the dark, injection, withdrawal, advances, retreats” (461). This conceptualization of political activity follows from an anti-dialectical, purely positive recasting of the relationship between capitalism and the State, where the former forces the latter to take on its axiomatic form (no aufheben required). Whereas capitalism must constantly expand, inventing new axioms to commodify more broadly and thereby displacing its own internal limit, the State constantly realizes and regulates these movements through its own set of axioms. To try and capture this movement under blanket terms like entrepreneurialism (Harvey 1989) or “roll-back” and “roll-out” neoliberalization (Peck and Tickell 2002) is to perform an economic reductionism that, as insightful as it may be, is not capable of addressing many of the movements of contemporary urban governance.

This essay brings together a Deleuzoguattarian conception of State-capital relations, Jessop’s (1993, 2002) arguments for a broader understanding of the modes of regulating capitalism in an urban context (specifically his notion of neocorporatism, which strives to balance social accords and profits), and empirical evidence from the diverse commitments of Seattle’s municipal government. In particular, it addresses affordable housing and microhousing debates, a new $15/hour minimum wage, efforts to combat transit cuts at the county level, and the promotion sustainable urban development, all while simultaneously stimulating a competitive business environment.


Deleuze, Gilles, and Felix Guattari. 1987. A Thousand Plateaus : Capitalism and Schizophrenia.Translated by Brian Massumi. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Harvey, David. 1989. “From Managerialism to Entrepreneurialism: The Transformation in Urban Governance in Late Capitalism.” Geografiska Annaler. Series B. Human Geography 71(1): 3–17.

Jessop, Bob. 1993. “Towards a Schumpeterian Workfare State? Preliminary Remarks on    Post-Fordist Political Economy.” Studies in Political Economy 40.

Jessop, Bob. 2002. “Liberalism, Neoliberalism, and Urban Governance: A State–Theoretical Perspective.” Antipode 34 (3): 452–72.

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