Deleuze and Guattari discuss the relationship between the State and capitalism in both volumes of Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Each conceptualization has its own merits, though their thoughts in A Thousand Plateaus are much more refined. This analysis, largely inspired by Holland’s (2011) notion of schizonomadology, will use both theorizations primarily because of the explicit mentions of recoding (as infrequent as they are) as temporary and qualitative, yet necessary elements of the axiomatic in Anti-Oedipus. Although this chapter is primarily a review and clarification of Deleuze and Guattari’s perspective on this relationship, it also highlights points where their ideas require some transformation to address issues of contemporary urbanization. This, of course, is not to claim any inherent shortcomings in their system, but rather to point out how it can be adapted to a particular object of study, 35 years after the original publication Mille Plateaux.

The State and Capitalism in Anti-Oedipus[1]

“If it is true that the function of the modern State is the regulation of the decoded, deterritorialized flows, one of the principal aspects of this function consists in reterritorializing, so as to prevent the decoded flows from breaking loose at all the edges of the social axiomatic. One sometimes has the impression that the flows of capital would willingly dispatch themselves to the moon if the capitalist State were not there to bring them back to earth…This essential aspect of the regulation performed by the State is even more readily understood if one sees that it is directly based on the social and economic axiomatic of capitalism as such.”

Deleuze and Guattari 1983, 258

We must, as always, begin with desire. Yet, it is crucial to heed Deleuze and Guattari’s comment (1983, 33) on the relationship between desiring-production and social production:

“We can say that social production, under determinate conditions, derives primarily from desiring-production: which is to say that Homo natura comes first; But we must also say, more accurately, that desiring-production is first and foremost social in nature, and tends to free itself only at the end: which is to say that Homo historia comes first.”

Without undertaking a technical explication of the components of Deleuzoguattarian desire[2], we can begin with the idea that desire is connective and productive in nature. As such, it does not have any inherent loyalty toward its investments; conversely, it flows madly, making connections, disconnections, and conjunctions in the three passive syntheses of the unconscious.

A brief description of these syntheses is necessary to understand how it is that social institutions can organize desire. These syntheses are based in Kant’s syntheses of apperception (apprehension, reproduction, and recognition), but have been rerouted through Deleuze’s Bergson-inspired philosophy of time, as presented in Difference and Repetition, and transmuted into the unconscious register (cf. Holland 1999, 25-36):

  • The connective synthesis occurs in the pure present and is defined by continuous investments of desire. These connections can be understood as instinctual and are made between “partial objects,” rather than between whole bodies. The classic example is the baby’s mouth connecting to mother’s breast, while simultaneously making eye contact: these are two altogether different desiring connections.
  • The disjunctive synthesis is most easily understood as the contraction of past connections into the present, or more simply, as a recording of where desire has been invested. It is therefore both necessary and dangerous, because without it, no new connections could be made; however, at the same time the recording is antiproduction, and if it overpowers production it can stifle new connections altogether. This synthesis is especially important because it marks the genesis of representation (the recording) on the pre-individual level that can interact with representation on the social level to bind desire to particular representations. In the mother-infant example, this is the breaking off of the flow of milk to establish other connections: looking at the mother’s face, laughing at big brother, etc.
  • The conjunctive synthesis is the process by which a subjectivity arises in the wake of the first two syntheses. Therefore any recognition of desire, and any conscious enjoyment thereof, are retrospective. Put another way, this is to say that subject in question is not an agent, but is rather an effect of how his or her desires undergo the continuous connections and disjunctions of desire. In the case of the nursing infant, Holland (1999, 33), notes that a child who breaks the flow of milk to smile is consequently constituted “as ‘a snacker,’ ‘an extrovert,’ or whatever.”

Given the fundamental place accorded to desire and its inherent unruliness, these flows must be organized in order for any collectivity to exist. Critically, understanding how social organization works requires analyzing both the level of social institutions and the pre-individual level of desire. But how is this done?

Deleuze and Guattari are perfectly clear about the apparatus that is responsible for organizing desire: the socius. “The prime function incumbent upon the socius has always been to codify the flows of desire, to inscribe them, to record them, to see to it that no flow exists that is not properly dammed up, channeled, regulated” (1983, 33). In the opening section of chapter 3, Deleuze and Guattari echo this sentiment by writing, “to code desire – and the fear, the anguish of decoded flows – is the business of the socius” (1983, 139). The concept of the socius is grounded in Chapter 9 of Marx’s Grundrisse (1973) – wherein he discusses how the appropriation of the products of labor occurs – and is invoked to demonstrate the parallels between desiring-production and social production.[3]

Marx’s discussion proceeds from two familiar historic preconditions for the emergence of capitalism: the separation of the laborer from his labor, and the separation of labor from the objective conditions of its realization (Marx 1973, 471). Describing the first sedentary societies, Marx notes that the members of the community naively consider the body of the earth to be communal property, and thus consider the products of their labor to be theirs only through a double abstraction: from the earth itself to the community, and from the community to its members. In short, whereas labor as such is responsible for cultivating or molding natural material into useful forms, these “natural or divine presuppositions” are not at all production, but are instead imaginary claims on the products of labor (ibid., 472). In Deleuze and Guattari’s conceptualization, the socius thus

“falls back on (il se rabat sur) all production, constituting a surface over which the forces and agents of production are distributed, thereby appropriating for itself all surplus production and arrogating to itself both the whole and the parts of the process, which now seem to emanate from it as a quasi cause” (Deleuze and Guattari 1983, 10).

This concept is central to Deleuze and Guattari’s universal history of capitalism[4], in which they map the three periods of social organization, each of which corresponds to the three forms the socius: the earth, the despot, and capital.[5] Their use of term “social machine” for these forms of social organization is, as always, literal and “has men for its parts”:

“The social machine is literally a machine, irrespective of any metaphor, inasmuch as it exhibits an immobile motor and undertakes a variety of interventions: flows are set apart, elements are detached from a chain, and portions of the tasks to be performed are distributed” (Deleuze and Guattari 1983, 141)

Before stepping through their universal history, it is crucial to again note that each socius has to operate both in the registers of desiring-production and social production: that is, on pre-individual flows of desire and in relations of collective production and consumption.

In the discussion of the first form of social organization, the primitive territorial machine, it is bodies themselves that are distributed across the undivided earth.[6] The entire discussion hinges on the relationship between filiation and alliance, with the former being the human stock and the latter being political and economic ties (Deleuze and Guattari 1983, 146).[7] Although it goes unmentioned explicitly, Deleuze and Guattari’s debt to Spinozist metaphysics takes center stage here, in that the biological flow of humans, with the filiative relationship between stock (bodies) and the signifying chain (ideas), is coded as the socius subtracts bodies and detaches signification, as it installs a new relationship between them – specifically, one of debt as the determinant element of social organization (Deleuze and Guattari 1983, 149).[8] Debt, of course, relies on the qualitative valuation of bodies – both natural and artificial – and thus requires a “surplus value of code” (the predecessor of surplus value). The question, then, is how is this code established?

Following the second essay in Nietzsche’s On the Genealogy of Morals, Deleuze and Guattari locate the genesis of the memory necessary for lasting collectivities in the establishment of this debtor-creditor relation in prehistoric societies.[9] Nietzsche claims that this memory is constituted through direct bodily inscription, which marks the birth of debt and is the original attribution of meaning, or the coding of pure flows. In short, the trinity of the speaking voice, the hot irons scarring the skin, and the primal pleasure taken in witnessing the whole ordeal binds the members of the group together. Subsequently, as a member,

“one enjoys the advantages of a communality (oh what advantages! we sometimes underrate them today), one dwells protected, cared for, in peace and trustfulness, without fear of certain injuries and hostile acts to which the man outside, the ‘man without peace,’ is exposed” (Nietzsche 1989a, II, 9).

But if one betrays the group or fails to “make good” on the extended benefits – defaults, as it were, on the given line of credit – the community may punish or banish the offender. This process “breeds man” by establishing a relationship of debt to the group, to its history, and most importantly to its future: it “render[s] him capable of alliance” (Deleuze and Guattari 1983, 180).

The second social machine, the barbarian despotic machine, follows from this primitive construction when the multiplicity of these debts are redirected to a new socius, and pushed to infinity (Deleuze and Guattari 1983, 132). The primitive system of filiation and alliance is not destroyed but is reconstituted – a “derisory preservation” – with the despot placing himself in a divine lineage and shifting all primitive lateral alliances back to himself. However,

“[w]hat counts is not the person of the sovereign, nor even his function, which can be limited. It is the social machine that has profoundly changed: in place of the territorial machine, there is the ‘megamachine’ of the State, a functional pyramid that has the despot at its apex, an immobile motor, with the bureaucratic apparatus as its lateral surface and its transmission gear, and the villagers at its base, serving as its working parts” (Deleuze and Guattari 1983, 194).

This conception of the State is indeed explicitly drawn from the On the Genealogy of Morals (II, 17), but also owes herein unacknowledged debts to Thus Spoke Zarathustra (1977, II, “Of Great Events”). Recounting his visit to the island of fire, Zarathustra tells his followers of two of the earth’s “skin diseases”: domesticated man[10] and the “fire hound,” the latter of which Deleuze considers to be an image of “species-activity”: “deformed unnatural activity which serves reactive forces, which becomes mixed up with the Church and the State” (Deleuze 2006, 139). In response to Zarathustra’s telling the fire hound of his advice for kings and churches (“let yourselves be overthrown-so that you may return to life, and virtue return to you.”) the fire hound inquires, “Church? What is that?” Zarathustra’s response contains what was evidently misattributed by the translators of Anti-Oedipus to On the Genealogy of Morals,[11] but is nevertheless a succinct account of Nietzsche’s overall perspective on the State:

“[The Church] is a kind of state – the most mendacious kind. But be still, you hypocritical hound! You know your own kind best! Like you, the state is a hypocritical hound; like you, it likes to talk with smoke and bellowing – to make himself believe, like you, that he is talking out of the belly of reality. For he wants to be by all means the most important beast on earth, the state; and they believe him too (1977, II, “On Great Events”).

Nietzsche’s later perspective on the State echoes this sentiment, which is redoubled by Deleuze and Guattari. In particular, it serves as at least part of the basis for their assertion that “there has never been but a single State” (1983, 192, emphasis in the original) and, moreover, inspires their rendering of the State as a transcendent machine that operates through violence. For Nietzsche, “the oldest ‘state’ thus appeared as a fearful tyranny, as an oppressive and remorseless machine, and went on working until its raw material of people and semi-animals was at least not only thoroughly kneaded and pliant but also formed” (1989b, II, 17). Perhaps most importantly, Nietzsche’s account renders the State’s emergence as a violent break, an overcoming of lesser powers by stronger powers, and refutes any account of the State’s nature as being founded in social contract theory:

“I employed the word ‘state’: it is obvious what is meant – some pack of blond beasts of prey, a conqueror and a master race which, organized for war and with the ability to organize, unhesitatingly lays its terrible claws upon a populace perhaps tremendously superior in numbers but still formless and nomad. That is after all how the ‘state’ began on earth: I think sentimentalism which would have it begin with a ‘contract’ has been disposed of. He who can command, he is by nature ‘master,’ he who is violent in act and bearing – what has he to do with contracts!” (ibid.).

Under this new socius, the previous relationships between filiation and alliance, coding, and inscription are still operative, but they have been radically transformed. Again, the previous primitive relationship between alliance and filiation, wherein the former both determines the latter and remains the basis of surplus value, remains, but has now been “harnessed” by the despot. The relationships among bodies are still coded, but instead of being established through local rituals, they are overcoded by the State and directed toward its interests (controlling territory, self-perpetuation, etc.). Moreover, money replaces local codes as the universal form of surplus value that is used to perpetually pay the now infinite debt. Finally, the form of inscription is shifted from direct bodily inscription to writing. Instead of the body, voice, and eye remaining independent, as they were in the primitive system, the writing of laws (an abstraction of scarring the body) becomes both dominant in practice and always refers to – signifies – the absent voice of the despot. Like cattle being forced into slaughterhouse chutes, the “coded flows of the primitive machine are now forced into a bottleneck where the despotic machine overcodes them” (Deleuze and Guattari 1983, 199). This overcoding operation is the essence of Deleuze and Guattari’s conception of the State: it transforms the existing social relationships.

Before moving on to the civilized capitalist social machine, it is crucial to note the difference in nature between the State and the decoded flows that eventually constitute capitalism.[12] Following Nietzsche, Deleuze and Guattari assert that the break constituting the State’s emergence is unique in that “it is perhaps the only [social institution] to appear fully armed in the brain of those who institute it” (Deleuze and Guattari 1983, 218-9), while capitalism emerges slowly and out of contingent conjunctions of flows escaping the State’s grasp. In the same way as Nietzsche disposes of contract theory, his account of the State’s emergence should not at all be understood as a movement of rational creation, but instead follows from his model of the unconscious as a tangle of competing wills (1989a, I, 19). These “born organizers,” these founders of the State

“come like fate, without reason, consideration or pretext; they appear as lightning appears, too terrible, too sudden, too convincing, too ‘different’ even to be hated. Their work is an instinctive creation and imposition of forms; they are the most involuntary, unconscious artists there are – wherever they appear something new soon arises, a ruling structure that lives, in which parts and functions are delimited and coordinated, in which nothing whatever finds a place that has not first been assigned a ‘meaning’ in relation to the whole” (Nietzsche 1989b, II, 17).

Deleuze and Guattari consider this “cerebral ideality” of the State (the “Urstaat”) to be its origin; although it is never actualized, it is still real and exists virtually in all concrete instances of the State. Although Deleuze developed this philosophical schema in Difference and Repetition (1994) under the names of the virtual and the actual, here the authors make a quick – so quick that it is indeed almost unhelpful – reference to Marx to support their claim about “a way in which history proceeded from the abstract to the concrete” (1983, 221). Investigating this reference in greater detail will help illuminate Deleuze and Guattari’s fundamental debt to Marxian political economy.

In his explication of the method political economy in the introduction to the Grundrisse, Marx argues that to begin any analysis with the real and concrete is false, for concepts such as population are “chaotic conception[s] of the whole” (Marx 1973, 100). Any attempt to grasp something this broad makes for an empty abstraction if one neglects what constitutes it: classes, for example, which are in turn underpinned by wage labor and capital, which themselves also rest on concepts of exchange, division of labor, and prices. With this in mind, he outlines two ways to undertake political economic analysis.

The first method, which Marx ascribes to 17th century economists proceeds exactly in this fashion: from an abstract totality (the way in which the concrete world in front of us appears) to the simplest concrete determinations (division of labor, money, value), and attempts to theorize political economic relations from this point. However, Marx argues that this approach does not free these analyses from being empty abstractions because the simple concrete determinations are never used to reassemble the starting point in thought. However, the second method – “the scientifically correct method” – picks up where the first ends. By reconstructing the current state of affairs through these simple elements, one genuinely arrives at the concrete in thought:

“The concrete is concrete because it is the concentration of many determinations, hence unity of the diverse. It appears in the process of thinking, therefore, as a process of concentration, as a result, not as a point of departure, even though it is the point of departure in reality and hence also the point of departure for observation [Anschauung] and conception” (Marx 1973, 101, my emphasis)

Marx reminds us that while this is in no way the process by which the concrete – the objective world, the world as it exists in front of eyes – emerges, it is indeed the way in which the concrete in thought is born. The relationships of the world, in and of themselves, remain autonomous from thought, while the concrete in thought reproduces it.

To emphasize this difference between the “concrete substratum” of the objective world and even the simplest of concepts, Marx turns to Hegel’s claim in Elements of the Philosophy of Right that possession is the simplest juridical relation. Marx argues that, while this is true, possession as a concept in fact preexists juridical relationships, yet it still rests on more concrete social relations.[13] This leads directly to the passage that Deleuze and Guattari (1983, 221) quote:

“the simple categories are the expressions of relations within which the less developed concrete may have already realized itself before having posited the more many­sided connection or relation which is mentally expressed in the more concrete category; while the more developed concrete preserves the same category as a subordinate relation” (Marx 1973, 102).

Put another way, a simple category like possession can express the dominant social relations of a previous time – a pre-juridical time in this example – or the subordinate relations in a more developed epoch: one can, of course, possess something these days without it being their property. So, in this case, the development of the concepts can parallel historical development. Marx however, takes great care not to create a fixed link between conceptual and historical development. He notes the existence of societies that had attained “the highest forms of economy, e.g. cooperation [and] a developed division of labor ” before his own time, thus signaling a variable relationship between historical time and the social organization that conceptual thought strives to appropriate.

This freeing of abstract thought from historical development is central to Deleuze and Guattari’s conceptualization of state. Like all abstract concepts, such as the division of labor, it stands outside historical time, but its appearance is nevertheless always “a product of historic relations, and [possesses its] full validity only for and within these relations” (ibid., 105). Their argument is precisely this: the abstract concept of the state – all states, whether ancient city-states, socialist, capitalist, etc. – has always existed. All existing states are concretized in relation to the dominant forces of the historical epoch (the despot himself, capitalism, socialism, etc.). The movement from the despotic social machine to the capitalist social machine thus depends on a new set of dominant forces, and is marked by two aspects of the State’s becoming that our crucial for the present analysis: “its internalization in a field of increasingly decoded social forces forming a physical system [and] its spiritualization in supraterrestrial field that increasingly overcodes, forming a metaphysical system” (Deleuze and Guattari 1983, 222, my emphasis). This capacity to marshal spiritual imperatives, to overcode and organize social relationships, will be rendered as “recoding” under the capitalist machine, and will, moreover, help account for the qualitative dimensions of the SLU redevelopment.

The civilized capitalist machine emerges in an altogether different break from that of the State, and is slowly effected by the conjunction of decoded flows:

“Decoded flows strike the despotic State with latency; they submerge the tyrant, but they also cause him to return in unexpected forms; they democratize him, oligarchize him, segmentalize him, monarchize him, and always internalize and spiritualize him, while on the horizon there is the latent Urstaat, for the loss of which there is no consolation. It is now up to the State to recode as best as it can, by means of regular or exceptional operations, the product of the decoded flows” (Deleuze and Guattari 1983, 222).

The decoded flows that ultimately produce capitalism – “production in the form of money-capital, and the decoded flows of labor in the form of the ‘free worker’” (Deleuze and Guattari 1983, 33) – are but two of the wide range of flows that escape the State’s overcoding over time. For example, Deleuze and Guattari explain the fall of Rome through a particular set of decoded flows: the privatization of property, formation of great private fortunes, commodity production, and slave labor, but capitalism nevertheless does not arise. Instead, and in contradistinction to the State which “come[s] like fate, without reason, consideration or pretext” (Nietzsche 1989b, II, 17), the capitalist machine emerges contingently out of the slow march of history, specifically at a historical juncture in which generalized decoding was occurring. In other words, beyond the simple but necessary encounter of decoded flows in a place, there must necessarily be a conjunction of decoded flows at a time in which they can make enough connections to upend the overcoded desire of the despotic machine and constitute the new desiring-machine of capitalism. This generalized movement of decoding marks the second deterritorialization[14] of Deleuze and Guattari’s universal history (the first was the emergence of despotic overcoding), and accounts for the momentum required to create the third socius: capital. But how?

Deleuze and Guattari do not stop with this sort of generalization. Instead, they continue to draw on Marx – now referencing the necessity of capital and free labor for the birth of capitalism as proffered explicitly in Capital – as well as Althusser and Balibar’s (2009) comments thereupon and Maurice Dobb’s (1959) historical studies on the emergence of capital through privatized land. In Deleuzoguattarian parlance, capital as such emerges through

“the deterritorialization of wealth through monetary abstraction; the decoding of the flows of production through merchant capital; the decoding of States through financial capital and public debts; [and] the decoding of the means of production through the formation of industrial capital” (1983, 225).

The free worker also emerges through a similar suite of decodings and deterritorializations:

“the deterritorialization of the soil through privatization; the decoding of the instruments of production through appropriation; the loss of the means of consumption through the dissolution of the family and the corporation; and finally, the decoding of the worker in favor of the work itself or the machine” (ibid.).

An in-depth analysis of each of these claims would undoubtedly be fruitful, but for the present analysis we can note that when the open relationships of alliance and exchange that are merely mediated by money become beholden to it – along with other commodities, the means of production, and labor power itself – become part of a “self-contained fully economic system [then] industrial capital becomes the new socius at its center” (Holland 1999, 82-3).

Crucially, a brief comment on the defining elements of this new form of social organization bring us to the point where Deleuze and Guattari’s conception of political economy reveals its strength for analyzing SLU:

“It is no longer the age of cruelty or terror [as in the primitive and despotic machines, respectively], but the age of cynicism, accompanied by a strange piety. (The two taken together constitute humanism: cynicism is the physical immanence of the social field, and piety is the maintenance of a spiritualized Urstaat; cynicism is capital as the means of extorting surplus labor, but piety is this same capital as God-capital, whence all the forces of labor seem to emanate.)” (Deleuze and Guattari 1983, 225, my emphasis).

We must understand this quotation in terms of how capitalism handles social organization. In the place of qualitative social relationships that define the primitive and despotic social machines, the capitalist machine substitutes a quantitative system (money) that Deleuze and Guattari call an axiomatic. This system operates through the dual processes of deterritorialization and reterritorialization, and decoding and recoding, and constitutes a radical break from the functioning of the previously dominant machines.[15]

The deterritorialization and reterritorialization couple expresses capitalism’s perpetual self-expansion. As in the case of the deterritorialization and reterritorialization of the socius – wherein the organizing body is disassembled and reconstituted – these two movements correspond to capitalism’s “constant revolutionizing in the means of production” (Marx 1992, 264), as in the cases of, for example, steam power, electricity, the integrated circuit, and outsourcing. Innovation corresponds to the moment of deterritorialization, or the freeing up of creative energy, while its immediate application and valorization is reterritorialization. Under the capitalist axiomatic, where new axioms constantly integrate new ideas, practices, and processes, and direct them toward the accumulation of surplus value, it is clear that reterritorialization is the strongest movement.

Simultaneously, and of more interest to the present discussion, social organization in this system proceeds by decoding and recoding – the former of which corresponds to cynicism because all belief is evacuated and quantified; the latter of which expresses temporary and artificial codes (or belief systems) that promote the accumulation of surplus value. In contradistinction to the deterritorialization-reterritorialization couple, this process of recoding and is undeniably secondary to decoding.[16] Yet with the very magnitude of discourses around climate change, growth management, and economic development (among others), a discussion of these elements is central for the analysis of SLU. This is not at all to claim that piety is overtaking cynicism, but is merely a gesture to the possibility that there is room in Deleuze and Guattari’s system for the former, even if it is misguided, futile, or even ultimately more dangerous – all of which are real possibilities. In any case, an effort to incorporate these two movements demands are more detailed analysis of its roots.

Jason Read (2008, 147-8) sheds invaluable light on this relationship by pointing us to the relationship between Marx’s conception of the split between the civil society and the political sphere in “On the Jewish Question” and Peter Sloterdijk’s (1987, 192) assertion that “the nineteenth century develops a first form of the modern cynical consciousness that links a rigorous cynicism of means with an equally rigid moralism of ends.” For Marx (1978, 34), civil society is characterized by private beliefs and individual life, wherein men treat one another as means, degrade themselves to mere means, and, moreover, become “the plaything[s] of alien powers.” By contrast, in the political sphere man understands himself as part of a community, albeit it in the form of a State that transcends these immanent and effective differences, and consequently remains separate from and above civil society. Therefore,

“[t]he political state, in relation to civil society, is just as spiritual as is heaven in relation to earth. It stands in the same opposition to civil society, and overcomes it in the same manner as religion overcomes the narrowness of the profane world; i.e. it [civil society] has always to acknowledge it [the State] again, re-establish it, and allow itself to be dominated by it” (Marx 1978, 34)

In Sloterdijk’s terms, then, the State’s ends can be understood as moral or pious in the same sense as religious ends – a notion that resonates with Deleuze and Guattari’s idea of a “spiritualized Urstaat.” It should not be overlooked that Marx carefully builds this argument on top of empirical evidence from the founding documents of American and French states, and thus renders the transcendent State as artificial rather than divine. Specifically, he argues that the State is an institutionalization of civil society’s egoistic values.[17] Read (2008, 148) seemingly overlooks this internal dynamic when he describes the State as “the guarantor of ends, [while] the ideals of the citizen and the general good and means are left to the private realm, to the market of competing interests”: the State is indeed the guarantor of ends, but the private realm’s interests constantly disturb and remake those ends. Moreover, there is no reason to doubt that this framework for understanding the State could not also incorporate other values from civil society – including those that may not be exclusively egoistic, such as supporting environmental sustainability – and proffer them as moral obligations for the citizenry. The question of whether such a movement is merely a reformation of political emancipation that relies on the State as an intermediary that continues to separate social power from political power – therefore forestalling genuine human emancipation (cf. Marx 1978, 46) – is indeed a live one, and suggests that this is an important line to follow.

However, although this relation between private belief and its institutionalization in State may stand, the capitalist machine complicates everything. Read (2008, 148) opens up the discussion of contemporary values when he writes of “our own piety about the importance of books, organic food, etc.,” but it is only to make the point that, under capitalism, we now function in a collective sphere that is dominated by exchange value, and is thus cynical. For Read, even though we may privately believe in books and organic food, we still act “as if everything including labor power is exchangeable for everything else” (ibid.). This is indeed an inversion of Marx’s (1978) formulation of cynicism and piety – placing the former in the public sphere and the latter in the private sphere – and is a consequence of the new capitalist socius, but Read’s interpretation seemingly makes no room at all for the extraeconomic, and for a good reason. His assertion that desires “are already organized by the practices and relations (what Deleuze and Guattari call flows) of capitalism” (ibid.) is grounded in Deleuze and Guattari’s discussion of why the axiomatic differs from codes, specifically their assertions that “there is no longer any need for belief” (1983, 250) and the passage he partially cites:

“The person has become “private” in reality, insofar as he derives from abstract quantities and becomes concrete in the becoming-concrete of these same quantities. It is these quantities that are marked, no longer the persons themselves: your capital or your labor capacity, the rest is not important, [we’ll always find a place for you within the expanded limits of the system, even if an axiom has to be created just for you]” (1983, 251, Read (2008, 149) does not include the bracketed portion).

In short, does not matter what one believes; as long as she participates in the cynical system of exchange, the machine will keep on running, and surplus value will be distributed as planned.[18] The perspective of the individual – her interests and beliefs – which emerges from unconscious investments of desire[19] and are first and foremost susceptible to the organizational efforts of the capitalist socius, is completely absent, so any discussion of beliefs in reference to this portion of Anti-Oedipus is not particularly illuminating.

However, a few pages earlier, Deleuze and Guattari do address the role of the extraeconomic in relation to the economy. Crucially, there is a code when the socius claims the product of an economy (which is always the case), and it “is a sign of necessarily extraeconomic power, although its causes and effects lie within the economy” (Deleuze and Guattari 1983, 248). Moreover,

“the code relation is not only indirect, qualitative, and limited; because of these very characteristics, it is also extraeconomic, and by virtue of this fact engineers the couplings between qualified flows. Consequently it implies a system of collective appraisal and evaluation, and a set of organs of perception, or more precisely of belief, as a condition of existence and survival of the society in question” (ibid., my emphasis).

It is these systems of evaluation (belief, piety, values, morality) and the subsequent engineering of flows that are of particular interest in SLU: who is doing the engineering, the regulating, and on the behalf of what kinds of evaluation? Deleuze and Guattari are clear that such regulation falls under the purview of the State, but in the case of SLU, we will do well to ask whether or not the developers – particularly Vulcan, but also the others following their lead – have adopted some of these functions. Undertaking this sort of analysis will require turning to Deleuze and Guattari’s elaborations on the relationship between the State and capitalism in A Thousand Plateaus, to which we will turn momentarily.

To conclude: under the civilized capitalist machine, the axiomatic assumes responsibility for social production and reproduction, and the State is transformed into “the regulator of decoded flow as such, insofar as they are caught up in the axiomatic of capital” (Deleuze and Guattari 1983, 252). Arriving at this transformation of the State and its new role as attempting to regulate flows under capitalism is the first indication that Deleuze and Guattari’s system is more than capable of addressing the aspects of political economy required for critical urban studies.

The State and Capitalism in A Thousand Plateaus

Thus the States, in capitalism, are not canceled out but change form and take on a new meaning: models of realization for a worldwide axiomatic that exceeds them. But to exceed is not at all the same thing as doing without

Deleuze and Guattari 1987, 454

The conceptual tools for interrogating the relationship between the State and capitalism become much more refined in A Thousand Plateaus, particularly through the distinction between the State apparatus and the war machine, and how they interact in the global capitalist axiomatic. To avoid any confusion we must first note that even though the concept of the war machine is built on actual war, it is a generalization that “does not necessarily have war as its object, although war and the battle may be its necessary result (under certain conditions)” (Deleuze and Guattari 1987, 416). Of particular interest here is how the war machine constantly tries to operate autonomously but can nevertheless be appropriated by the State. This never results in any sort of cozy dialectical sublation but is instead a constant struggle between two forces of different natures.

The Nature of the State and the War Machine

The crux of Deleuze and Guattari’s argument is that the State and the war machine differ in nature and although they interact in many different configurations, they are ultimately irreducible to one another. Deleuze and Guattari claim that this difference in nature is attested to in several registers, two of which will be invoked here: mythology and ethnology.

First, drawing on Georges Dumézil’s (1988) comparative and empirical analysis of Indo-European mythology, Deleuze and Guattari develop their notion of the State with a far richer set of tools, replacing the despotic machine in Anti-Oedipus with the claim that political sovereignty has two heads or poles: “the magician-king and the jurist-priest” (1987, 351). It is important to note that they do not stray from their previous Nietzschean idea that the State “comes into the world fully formed and rises up in a single stroke” (1987, 427). Therefore, we should not consider them to be offering a theory of the State’s origin,[20] but rather “a series of relations through which to consider the State” (Read 2008, 144).

To take the inseparable yet antithetical pair which serves as the title to Dumézil’s book as an example,[21] the Indic god Varuna is the “binder” and expresses the fearful aspects of political sovereignty: he is the terrible, tyrannical, magical and omnipresent deity with “immediate prehension and action everywhere and over everything” (Dumézil 1988, 67); he corresponds to night, poorly executed sacrifice, otherworldliness, roasting food over flames, intoxicating drinks…in short, “the sovereign under his attacking aspect” (Dumézil 1988, 72). Mitra, by contrast, is the “organizer,” the god of the daytime, rewards for proper sacrifice, the human world, cooking with steam, and milk: “the sovereign under his reasoning aspect, luminous, ordered, calm, benevolent, priestly” (ibid). Mitra outlines proper conduct, Varuna enforces it. While this might seem like a dramatic departure from Deleuze and Guattari’s previous formulation of the State, there is in fact a direct connection: debt. In these debtor-creditor relations, one can “glimpse a collaboration between Mitra and Varuna, the former presiding benevolently over correctly executed exchanges, the latter ‘binding’ any defaulters” (Dumézil 1988, 98). For Deleuze and Guattari, then, sovereignty is constituted by the unity of these poles, both of which are always at play in varying intensities; together they delineate the interiority of the State’s milieu.

Deleuze and Guattari’s concept of the war machine is of an altogether different nature and is not contained within the State apparatus; it is, instead, a pure exteriority, directed against both heads of sovereignty, constantly untying bonds and betraying pacts. It will be further developed below in the discussion of Pierre Clastres’s work, but it is important to show how Dumézil’s investigations accommodate such a notion. Dumézil (1988, 61) cites the fascinating story of Manu, whose śraddhā[22] is so strong that he is prepared to hand over his wife to be sacrificed by two demonic priests. However, Indra the warrior-god – who operates outside the bond-pact couple defined by Varuna and Mitra, and in which Manu is ensnared – appears and intervenes, saving the wife, beheading the priests, and guaranteeing that Manu receives the benefits of his devotion. This pure exteriority defines the essence of the war machine: whereas the State apparatus binds and organizes, the war machine disaggregates and disperses.

It is crucial to note that in Dumézil’s account of Indra, the latter is by no means part of cynical outside group, but is instead marked by a morality that opposes that of the sovereign. To elaborate, Dumézil relies not on his knowledge of Indic culture, but instead on his familiarity with Germanic warrior groupings. Although these groups’ “economic morality…as well as their sexual morality and conduct in general, both in peace and in war, had nothing in common with the principles regulating the rest of society” (Dumézil 1988, 107) – as evidenced by their lack of possessions, excess, and ability to entertain themselves in any circumstances – this does not signify that they lacked internal principles of order. Instead, we must understand the difference to be “the opposition and blind law of the jurist and the flexible counter-law of the warrior” (Dumézil 1988, 110-1). In other words, they have an organizing principle, but it is one marked by flexibility and adaptation, not blind adherence to law. This dimension is central to the argument for using a Deleuzoguattarian approach to analyze the political, economic, and moral dimensions of SLU and will return in the war machine discussion.

The greatest strength of Dumézil’s work is the comparative nature of his study. Therefore, in order to understand his relevance of his work for SLU, it will be helpful to revisit how these relationships between capture and organization in mythology as well as debt in Indic mythology are also present in the Occident. Dumézil renders the distinction between the two poles of the State through a discussion of Romulus and Numa as the “two ‘fathers’ of the Roman state [who] both worked on the same material yet modeled it differently” (Dumézil 1988, 47). Briefly, Romulus occupies the same pole as Varuna and is a young adventurer, a bachelor, a passionate and self-made king who offends the senators and disappears and reappears swiftly, always accompanied by his armed guards who carry straps to bind members of the populace on his command.[23] Numa, his successor, is his antithesis: he is forty years old, married, without passions (including violence and ambition) and has lived in seclusion when the senators offer him the crown. Moreover, his first act as king is to dissolve Romulus’s guard and install the priesthood (flamonium), which would operate through a moral order rather than violence. Dumézil also points out the fact that these two kings ruled in succession, and that moving through the chronology of early kings, one sees an alternation between “war-loving, terrible kings” and “pious, peace-loving kings,” as if each reign emended the faults of the previous.

Dumézil also ascribes this debtor-creditor relationship to Roman law, in which debt is defined by the nexum and mutuum pair. Literally, “nexum is the state of the nexus, the insolvent debtor who was, very literally, bound and subjugated to the creditor,” while mutuum signifies “the money borrowed” (Dumézil 1988, 99). Although he notes the etymological relations between several languages, we can just focus here on the relationships between Sanskrit and Latin: nexum is derived from the same Indo-European root (*nedh-) as the Sanskrit naddha (“fastened”), while mutuum stems from the root (*mei-) which not only “gave us Mitra” but also the Sanskrit maithuna (“union, coitus, marriage”) (ibid.). In sum, the crux of his argument is that since nexum is the status of the borrower, and mutuum is the borrowed material, we must necessarily see these two components as an irreducible couple, even in the earliest incarnations of Roman law. These three pairs – Varuna-Mitra, Romulus-Numa, and nexummutuum – are only a selection of the parallels that Dumézil uncovers across the Indo-European world, but form the basis for how Deleuze and Guattari understand the nature of the State, as well as its antithesis, the war machine.

A similar dynamic between the State and the war machine can also be traced in ethnology, which comes to Deleuze and Guattari through Pierre Clastres, particularly his Society Against the State (1989) and Archeology of Violence (2010). In contradistinction to their invocation of Dumézil primarily to explain the nature of sovereignty, Deleuze and Guattari use Clastres, for the most part, to develop their understanding of the war machine’s nature. Striving to break with the traditional ethnocentric and evolutionist reading which maintains that primitive societies were not economically or politically developed enough for a State to form, Clastres instead “asks if it is not a potential concern of primitive societies to ward off or avert that monster [the State] they supposedly do not understand” (Deleuze and Guattari 1987, 357). Although Deleuze and Guattari specifically focus on war “as the surest mechanism directed against the formation of the State (ibid),” it is worth noting some of the other specifics of Clastres’s earlier investigation, which will assist us in describing the complicated relationship between the State and private sector activity in SLU.

First, we should note that Clastres (1989, 28) was primarily concerned with understanding how the political realm was constituted in South American indigenous societies, which

“are distinguished by their sense of democracy and taste for equality. The first explorers of Brazil and the ethnographers who came after often emphasized the fact that the most notable characteristic of the Indian chief consists of his almost complete lack of authority; among these people the political function appears barely differentiated.”

Above all, the titular chief is to be distinguished from the temporarily empowered chieftain, in that the former leads during times of peace and the latter only assumes authority during war. Clastres both notes that these two social roles were often filled by different individuals altogether, and that only very few tribes had chieftains with authority that extended beyond the immediate circumstances of war. The role of the chief as the relatively more permanent form of leadership is, then, the one that must be seen in relation to the State, even though it is of a completely different nature.

Clastres (1989, 29) describes four characteristics of the chief: he is a peacemaker or an arbiter that moderates the tribe’s internal conflicts; he is obliged to be generous to the point that he cannot reject the sometimes-exploitative demands of the tribe; he must be a skilled orator; finally, though somewhat supplementary but nevertheless central to Clastres’s argument, polygamy is his exclusive privilege. The functional aspect – the chief’s role as mediator, as “an ‘integrator’ of differences” (Clastres 1989, 60), as the guardian of both the esprit de corps[24] and the collectivity of bodies – must then be distinguished as the strictly political practice, while the latter three aspects are obligations/privileges of the role.[25] Clastres’s point is that the chief does not command, for he has no standing power.[26] Instead, the task of mediation is occasional and the chief’s performance is always susceptible to evaluation by the tribe. Moreover, he is not a judge and can make no demands, but instead remains “impotent”: he must rely on his rhetorical prowess and generosity to resolve disputes. This political role is, in turn, reinforced by its relationship to obligation and privilege.

The three realms in which the chief’s obligations and privileges conveniently correspond to the three modes of exchange that primarily define society: the exchange of objects, words, and women as wives (Clastres 1989, 37). It is indeed the chief’s relation to such exchanges through the aforementioned obligations that prevents him from obtaining any lasting power. More precisely, it is the unequal relationship between the privilege of polygamy and the obligations of material and verbal generosity that dissolves any notion of equal exchange and therefore the amassing of material or rhetorical power: ultimately, the chief gives much more than he receives.[27] As we move into the discussion of SLU, we will revisit the two aspects of generosity in the form of philanthropy (material) and supporting a shared mission, or esprit de corps (rhetorical).

But what about war as such? Deleuze and Guattari (1987, 357, emphasis in original) insist that Clastres identifies

war in primitive societies as the surest mechanism directed against the formation of the State: war maintains the dispersal and segmentarity of groups, and the warrior himself is caught in a process of accumulating exploits leading him to solitude and a prestigious but powerful death.”

Clastres’s later work, which focuses explicitly on war, can thus be understood as “substantial reworking” (Viveiros de Castro 2010, 10) of his hitherto cited research focusing on the role of the chief. Herein lies Clastres’s (2010, 277) inversion Hobbes, which Deleuze and Guattari adopt: “He [Hobbes] was able to see that war and the State are contradictory terms, that they cannot exist together, that each implies the negation of the other: war prevents the State, the State prevents war.”

Herein Clastres foregoes his previous focus on the role of the chief, and instead investigates how the function of war itself prevents an amassing of wealth and power, either to a particular tribe or to a subset of the tribe, specifically the warriors. First, he is adamant that the small, autonomous, undivided – meaning there is no social stratification[29] – tribes are intentional about maintaining this social arrangement and therefore always live on the brink of intertribal war. This is also the case internal to each tribe, as any surplus production would be the consequence of individual effort and subject to immediate liquidation by the collective. Moreover, while all men are trained as warriors, only those with the desire for prestige (and consequently, war) become committed to its pursuit. This however, proves to be a Sisyphean task for the ultimately tragic figure of the warrior, for the pursuit of prestige is an individual task, which keeps the warriors in competition with one another for collectively consumed spoils, and almost always results in premature death.

The primitive social field is, therefore, best understood in terms of “absolute difference,” with the threat of war serving as a means for maintaining a fragile equilibrium between the tribes, each of which has its own mechanisms for preventing the centralization of power and/or wealth: “[e]xternal segmentation, internal non-division are two faces of a single reality, two aspects of the same sociological functioning and of the same social logic” (Clastres 2010, 275). Second, however, this does not mean that primitive society is static and utopian; conversely, there is a complicated system of strategic alliances (executed through marriages), which also serve as the basis for exchange. Together, these two moments constitute the positive function of war, which is to preserve the being of this society and to ward off a State that would collapse these differences between communities through an external power (rather than this immanent organization) and stratify society (in contradistinction to the existing radically egalitarian society).

Never ones to remain faithful to the ideas of those who inspire them, Deleuze and Guattari transform this idea into their own. As we have seen, for Clastres, war literally signifies war and is a means for preserving a particular social configuration. For Deleuze and Guattari, however, war is by no means the sole object of the war machine. Instead, the nature of the war machine is generalized into a function of smoothing space: “[m]ake the desert, the steppe, grow; do not depopulate it, quite the contrary” (Deleuze and Guattari 1987, 417). This is their way of saying that the war machine’s function is to propagate the space of absolute differences that Clastres saw as defining primitive society. War as such becomes a special case and arises only when this function is impeded by the State, which has an antithetical function altogether: to striate, organize, and manage space. So here we have Clastres, repackaged: the war machine indeed opposes the State – and the entire urban phenomenon, for that matter, which is indeed an assertion that we will address – but instead of taking war as a conservative force maintaining a fragile equilibrium in a society against the State, it now must be seen as an active force propagating multiplicities and difference which is constantly threatened by the State’s striation efforts.[30] Put another way, a war machine can indeed undertake war, but this is just one of its capacities; its primary concern is to distribute pure differences. It is this characteristic that enables Deleuze and Guattari to juxtapose the State (as organizer) and capitalist axiomatic (as the purveyor of pure quantitative differences).

Interactions between the State and the War Machine

Drawing, then, on the empirical and theoretical work of Dumézil and Clastres, it is fairly straightforward to see how Deleuze and Guattari understand the State and the war machine as always coexisting and struggling, while nevertheless remaining irreducible to one another. Between its two poles of binding and organization, the State defines interiority, while the war machine expresses pure exteriority. Yet, despite the difference in nature between the two, the State can appropriate the war machine in the form of a military: “the jurist-king is a great organizer of war; but he gives it laws, lays out a field for it, makes it principled, imposes a discipline on it, [and] subordinates it to political ends” (Deleuze and Guattari 1987, 425). Again, such appropriation in no way implies a domestication once and for all, for like the State, the war machine also has two poles: at one pole, the war machine is appropriated by the State or uses the State to realize its own ends; at the other, the war machine’s object is flight, escape, and the creation of new alternatives.[31] Moreover, the act of appropriation not only transforms the war machine but also the State itself. [32] These interdependent transformations are key to understanding the emergence of the global capitalist axiomatic.

Deleuze and Guattari point out three categories of such appropriation, beginning with the classical situation in which States appropriate the war machine, makes limited war its sole object, and direct it toward particular political ends: “striating, securing, and expanding territory” (Holland 2011, 26).[33] Under this type of appropriation, von Clausewitz’s (1976, 28) famous assertion “war is nothing but the continuation of policy with other means” still holds. However, the rise of fascism marks the point at which this type of appropriation gives way to an autonomous war machine, which still takes the State’s ends as its aim, but now has a new object: unlimited war (or “total war,” to use Ludendorff’s (1936) chilling phrase), which is characterized by a full mobilization of resources as well as the annihilation of the “entire [enemy] population and its economy” (Deleuze and Guattari 1987, 421). This development is crucial for because it marks the first point at which the State has reconstituted a war machine that is out of its control, and in relation to which the State becomes secondary. Finally, following World War II, the war machine frees itself from State control and is able to pursue its own aim and object: the distribution of pure differences in a social field marked by a fragile equilibrium. Concretely, this takes the form of the global capitalist axiomatic and the attendant world order necessary for the accumulation of surplus value. In this new configuration States do not vanish – neither do local differences, such as variations in population, natural resources, wealth, industrial capacity, education, etc. – but are instead transformed into constituent parts of the axiomatic, or what Deleuze and Guattari somewhat vaguely call “models of realization.”

It is precisely these qualitatively differentiated models of realization that globalized flows of capital must pass through in order to create surplus value. In the language of Anti-Oedipus, this is the realm in which forms of piety could affect the cynical movements of capital, and consequently warrants our utmost attention when seeking to understand the values driving the redevelopment of SLU. This is not to say that this necessarily happens, for as Holland (2011, 26) succinctly puts it, “State politics and diplomacy, even war itself, are now merely the continuation of capital accumulation by other means.” The point is that the conceptual framework is capable of accommodating such movements without reducing them to ideology: models of realization do not necessarily veil the operations of capitalism but, instead, effectuate them. In this capacity they are certainly capable of deception, but they are ambivalent and are by no means required to function in that way.

What, then, are the characteristics of models of realization? First, and just as in the schema proffered in Anti-Oedipus, all models of realization are immanent to the capitalist axiomatic. Second, models of realization must be isomorphic – meaning that they have the same logical structure and can only be distinguished through an assessment of qualitative differences (Blanché 1962, 36) – in their relation to the single capitalist world market in which they “exactly coincide.” Third, like the capitalist axiomatic, axioms can also be continually added to each model of realization – even to an already saturated system – in order to accommodate any and all differences that arise.

Standing on the edge of an incredibly rich set of empirical details, we should remind ourselves that the great thinker of models of realization is neither Deleuze nor Guattari, but Foucault, at least in terms of finding and analyzing the details of how they work. The following two chapters will focus on the specifics of the SLU redevelopment, and will be guided by similarities between Foucault and Deleuze and Guattari’s notion of double articulation, as well Deleuze’s (1998) comments on Foucault and the latter’s methodological commitments as outlined in The Archaeology of Knowledge (2010).

[1] It is crucial to note that Deleuze and Guattari’s aim in constructing their genealogy of the relationship between social organization and capitalism is ultimately to show how the Oedipus complex is a form of repression historically specific to capitalism. However, the point of the genealogy at hand is to track how their thinking at the level of social production proceeds between their coauthored books, so many of the references to how desiring-production is organized through the incest taboo will be left out. For a complete treatment of these themes, see Holland (1999) and Buchanan (2008).

[2] For this, see Holland (2005)

[3] Deleuze and Guattari stress that the parallel they are drawing is intended “to be regarded as merely phenomenological: we are here drawing no conclusions whatsoever as to the nature and the relationship of the two productions, nor does the parallel we are about to establish provide any sort of a priori answer to the question whether desiring-production and social production are really two separate and distinct productions. Its one purpose is to point out the fact that the forms of social production, like those of desiring-production, involve an unengendered nonproductive attitude, an element of antiproduction coupled with the process, a full body that functions as a socius” (Deleuze and Guattari 1983, 10).

[4] Deleuze and Guattari claim that “it is correct to understand all history in the light of capitalism, provided that the rules formulated by Marx are followed exactly,” since desiring-production exists from the beginning and is liberated at the limit of capitalism, when “the deterritorialized socius gives way to the body without organs, and the decoded flows throw themselves into desiring-production” (1983, 140). For them, such a history is universal not because its fate is to occur everywhere, but rather because the unique process of capitalism has been so successful to date that “we now have the universality of the object defined as wealth, the product as such or again labor as such, but labor as past objectified labor” (Marx 1973, 104).

[5] However, it is also important to remember that the “nature of the relationship between desiring-production and social production” (Holland 1999, 61) also changes over time. Under the primitive territorial machine, for example, the earth as socius is “the savage unity of desire and production” (Deleuze and Guattari, 1983, 140).

[6] This is an important aspect of Deleuze and Guattari’s conception of territoriality, which differs from the notion of territory as a political subdivision of the planet (cf. Engels 2004, 114). Conversely, for Deleuze and Guattari, this abstract division instead represents the first deterritorialization, and falls under the despotic machine (1983, 145-6).

[7] Buchanan (2008, 99) notes that the notions of filiation and alliance are both central to understanding the political dimension of their work and typically overlooked.

[8] See the Ethics, E2P7, for the classic definition of parallelism: “The order and connection of ideas is the same as the order and connection of things.”

[9] David Graeber (2011, 78-9) helpfully points out that Nietzsche’s proposition is profoundly insane and that this is, in fact, part of the point, for it challenges the bourgeois economist’s notion that relationships between human beings are, above all else, based on exchange. Moreover, while Graeber considers this portion of Nietzsche’s account to be absurd, he also notes that Nietzsche’s analysis of how debt is transformed into a feeling of guilt is very true. Graeber’s subsequent claim (2011, 80) that the major world religions “arose amidst intense arguments about the role of money and the market in human life, and particularly about what these institutions meant for fundamental questions of what human beings owed to one another” points to how an allegedly conscious capitalism – as expressed in the redevelopment of SLU – could occur.

[10] This a reference to what Nietzche elaborates on as “bad conscience” in Beyond Good and Evil (V, 199) and, especially, in On the Genealogy of Morals (II, 16), where he writes, “I regard the bad conscience as the serious illness that man was bound to contract under the stress of the most fundamental change he ever experienced – that change which occurred when he found himself finally enclosed within the walls of society and peace.” It refers to the “instincts of wild, free, prowling man” that, unable to be discharged externally, are instead turned inward, resulting in the development of “what was later called his ‘soul.’”

[11] Deleuze and Guattari 1983, 192n40 refers the reader to On the Genealogy of Morals (II, 16), which, in fact, contains no reference to “the State-as-dog that ‘speaks with flaming roars.’” However, the original L’Anti-Oedipe reads “Il se peut que, spirituel ou temporel, tyrannique ou démocratique, capitaliste ou socialiste, il n’y ait jamais eu qu’un seul Etat, le chien-Etat qui « parle en fumée et hurlements »” (1972, PAGE #), which corresponds to Henri Albert’s French translation of Thus Spoke Zarathurstra (1903, 189): “L’État est un chien hypocrite comme toi-même, comme toi-même il aime à parler en fume et en hurlements, — pour faire croire, comme toi, que sa parolevient du fond des choses.”

[12] It should be understood that the term “decoding” should always be read as undoing, rather than interpreting, the codes.

[13] Such as the master-slave relationship or the family (Marx 1973, 102).

[14] The notion of deterritorialization is can be understood as the abstraction of the socius, or the movement toward what Deleuze and Guattari call the “body with organs,” which is a completely deterritorialized socius, and is only traversed by decoded flows. By contrast, the earth as socius is traversed by coded flows, the despotic socius by overcoded flows, and the capitalist socius – as we will see – by axiomatized flows. However, since capitalism emerges from and proceeds by a generalized decoding (whereas the socius’s primary function is organizing flows) it is necessary for this movement. It should also be understood that all deterritorializations are accompanied by reterritorializations: in this case the undoing and reconstitution of the socius.

[15] There are four primary characteristics that distinguish the axiomatic from coding: 1) Money as a general and quantitative equivalent is indifferent to qualitative coding, and 2) depends on decoded flows whose only relation is one of quantitative difference. 3) As pure differential relations, the limit of this system becomes “schizophrenia” (the absolute decoding of all flows) but is constantly displaced by new axioms and their temporary recoding function: “The strength of capitalism indeed resides in the fact that its axiomatic is never saturated, that it is always capable of adding a new axiom to the previous ones.” 4) From the perspective of social organization, individuals no longer need memory or belief, but are rather to be understood in terms of their capital or their labor capacity, both of which can be integrated into the overall system (cf. Deleuze and Guattari, 1983, 248-251).

[16] Recoding is, in fact, such a minor operation that it is only mentioned four times in Anti-Oedipus.

[17] Marx (1978, 42-3) focuses on the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen (1793), which declares that equality, liberty, security, and property are natural rights, and demonstrates that each renders man as an “isolated monad” rather than a collective being.

[18] Perhaps even more importantly, even if one is participating in cynical exchange, we should forget that decoded flows of desire are never completely axiomatized, a fact which is succinctly captured in phrases like “something always escapes” (Deleuze and Guattari 1987, 217) and “the [capitalist] system is leaking all over the place” (Deleuze 2004, 270).

[19] In a published conversation with Foucault, Deleuze notes that “the thrust of Marxism [is] to define the problem [of exploitation] essentially in terms of interest” when “there are investments of desire that function in a more profound and diffuse manner than our interests dictate” (Foucault 1977, 214-5). In short, it is unconscious desire which subtends and shapes interest.

[20] “[T]heses on the origin of the State are always tautological” (Deleuze and Guattari 1987, 427).

[21] Mitra-Varuna. In his discussion, Dumézil invokes a wide range of mythologies, language, and practices from Greece, Rome, northern Europe, Germany, Iran, etc.

[22] Dumézil (1988, 58) discusses how the Sanskrit word śraddhā is often “too hastily” understood as faith or trust, and is better described, following Sylvain Lévi, as “the state of mind of a sacrifice who knows how to perform his office correctly, and who also knows that his sacrifice, if performed in accordance with the rules, must produce its effect.”

[23] Lest we forget the myth of Romulus and Remus: the twins were fathered by Mars and tossed into the river Tiber by an uncle who had overthrown their grandfather as King. They were nursed to health by a she-wolf before being found by a shepherd and his wife who raise them as such. Born leaders, they attract many followers, kill their uncle and reinstall their grandfather as king before founding their own city. A dispute over the interpretation of the augury signaling where the city should be leads to Romulus killing Remus and founding Rome in his own name.

[24] Deleuze and Guattari (1987, 366) invoke the esprit de corps that the great medieval Muslim thinker Ibn Khaldūn uses to explain how Bedouin collectivities are held together.

[25] Or, in Clastres’s words (1989, 36-7): “To treat as homogenous elements the mode in which power is constituted, and constituted power’s mode of performance would, in effect, lead one to confuse the nature of chieftanship with its activity, the transcendental with the empirical aspect of the institution.”

[26] “Occa­sionally a chief accepts running that risk and attempts to put his personal interest ahead of the collective interest. Reversing the normal relationship that determines the leader as a means in the service of a socially defined end, he tries to make society into the means for achieving a purely private end: the tribe in the service of the chief and no longer the chief in the service of the tribe. If it “worked,” then we would have found the birthplace of political power, as force and violence; we would have the first incarnation, the mini­mal form of the State. But it never works” (Clastres 1989, 209). Clastres goes on to cite the cases of Fousiwe (Yanomami) and Geronimo (Apache), both of whom unsuccessfully tried to convince their tribes to enter their own personal wars.

[27] In fact, Clastres (1989, 28) notes that one of the only reason that the chief can be generous and therefore revered is that his wives help him to do so. To say that a feminist critique of this entire arrangement would be interesting is an understatement, and Clastres briefly discusses the complicated gender roles in the last essay of Archeology of Violence.

[28] The material privilege of Vulcan’s activity in SLU (profit) is remarkably less interesting than polygamy, but its abstract privilege (social standing) continues in the contemporary world largely unaltered.

[29] “Primitive society is unaware of – because it prevents the appearance of – the difference between rich and poor, the opposition between exploiters and the exploited, the domination of the chief over society” (Clastres 2010, 259).

[30] This is not to say that they have misread Clastres in any way, but rather to insist that they have generalized his work. Moreover, Viveiros de Castro (2010, 34) insists that Deleuze and Guattari have essentially completed Clastres’s work – which was cut short by his early death in 1977, three years before A Thousand Plateaus was published – by developing its philosophical content.

[31] The bulk of this dissertation will focus on the first of these poles, since the project at hand is sketching a framework for analyzing capitalist land development, but it is nonetheless crucial to note that the true political power to reshape entrenched patterns of development inheres in the latter pole.

[32] The word “appropriation” is potentially confusing because, as we will see, the war machine ultimately comes to be the stronger force in relation to the State. Therefore, to obviate any confusion, I suggest understanding it to signify a relationship in which the State is not “warded off” or “on the horizon,” but is, rather, fully present even if its primary task is aiding and abetting capital accumulation.

[33] Deleuze and Guattari discuss these three appropriations on page 466-7 of A Thousand Plateaus.

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