Notes on: Deleuze, G and Guattari, F. ( 2004) A Thousand Plateaus.London: Continuum Chapter 13. 7000 BC: Apparatus of Capture

Dave Harris

Back to Dumezil and the twin poles of magic and contract or as before [with a lot of stuff about how this can be detected in a number of myths 469 - 70]. We can conclude that the war machine is between these two poles and links them [with more myths]. At the same time, the war machine is exterior or already merely a part of the state, and therefore it is not the only factor that produces change or evolution. What is required is that the evolved state must resonate with the first, and recharge it, while the state cannot permit more than one milieu of interiority: that is there must be 'a unity of composition' (471), common to all states and all their stages of development. This is the process that we can call 'capture', which simply appears as self evident, without any distinct cause.

The usual explanations of the origins of states are inevitably tautological, assuming that something already exists to tie exogenous and endogenous factors, such as the war machine on the one hand, and private property or money on the other, and that these specific factors somehow form a civic culture. Engels is guilty of this tautology but, for example 'private property presupposes state public property', and public functions could not have existed before the very states that they imply. The state therefore seems to be some natural form that arises all at once.

There are different poles of capture. We can consider first imperial or despotic pole, of the kind found in Marx's work on asiatic modes of production. This form seems to have existed at least since neolithic times. The state apparatus is supposedly erected on agricultural communities, which it over codes, submitted them to the power of a single despot. This is arrangement acts as some primeval social bond ['this is the paradigm of the bond', 472]. We have 'machinic enslavement' operating through the regime of state signs. There is no necessary single king or tyrant, at least until private property arises: it is the community or the unity of the communities that dominates [as in mechanical solidarity]. Both concepts of land and money exist, but the foundational bond is the community, and any individuals are seen as only renting community assets. There must be some development of the productive forces producing a surplus which sustains a productive classes and public functions, but Marx was wrong to begin with the notion of a mode of production: one Anatolian neolithic empire was founded, apparently on 'the stock of uncultivated seeds and relatively tame animals from different territories' (473), as a foundation for agricultural and animal raising. In other words, the state presupposes such communities, a particular milieu, and it is the state that creates 'agriculture, animal raising, and metallurgy'. Similarly, it is 'the town that creates the country [as a resource, and with a particular type of agriculture', and the state that makes production into an organized mode] - 'it all begins with a chance intermixing', and from the very earlier stages of human history.

Evolutionism has already been seen to be inhabited with breaks or skipped stages. Clastres has already argued that so called primitive societies have not just failed to develop the stage of the state, but are better seen as 'counter - state societies organising mechanisms that ward off the state form' (474). Once the state develops, it produces 'an irreducible break'with previous forms. There is in his work an 'overmysterious presentiment of what they warded off and did not yet exist', but it has challenged ethnology to consider the findings of archaeology rather than to fence off their territory. Colonisation took place even in palaeolithic times. Ethnology is in danger of operating with the concept of 'society without history, or society against history'. That there are societies without states actually indicates that there have been states 'always and everywhere'. It is the same problem with writing, speech and language. So called primitive communities have never been self sufficient, except in 'an ethnological dream', and they always coexist with the state societies, often channeling communications with each other through states. Isolated speech communities really arise, when these channels are not available, when groups exist who do not understand one another, who do not speak the same tongue. Language is not the only tendency that '"seek" the state' (475): indeed, 'everything coexists, in perpetual interaction'[at the virtual level?].

The usual schemes of economic evolution [gatherers to farmers] are also 'impossible'. The same goes for evolutionary ethnology [nomads to sedentaries], and evolutionarily ecology [small bands to cities]. They contradict each other anyway - for example cities are needed to create agriculture without passing through small towns, and nomads do not precede sedentaries, but rather coexist with them. Indeed some nomadic populations have abandoned sedentary locations. This is how nomads came to invent the war machine, so that they could fill the space and oppose towns. We cannot even explain the development as a zigzag evolution: instead it is the same 'topology that defines primitive societies here, states there, and elsewhere war machines'. Mechanisms of capture, say of the war machine by the state are a matter of transport or transfer, not evolution. The nomad and the primitive [and all the other categories] exist 'only in becoming and in interaction'. These interactions are translated into a succession by evolutionary histories. All sorts of collectivities can exist, without being seen as preparations to develop states.

This [like other evolutionary schemes] still assumes a rather simple notion of causality. The natural sciences have developed quite complex notions of causal relations by comparison, including 'reverse causalities ... which imply an inversion of time', where there is an effect on the present of an action in the future [we used to call this teleology]. Most early societies had some vectors moving in the direction of the state, some mechanisms to ward it off, and some points of convergence. Different forms appear, showing 'irreducible contingency'. There are still problems with presentiment, in showing that it is genuinely something that has not appeared yet which is affecting the future. Once the state does appear, it acts as a convergent wave which destabilises so called primitive societies and their system of signs. This convergent wave clashes with the waves that were already developing among primitive peoples, with the two acting simultaneously rather than succeeding each other.

The resolution of forces that developed states with those that ward them off operate with thresholds of consistency that we find within the forces themselves [just as in the thermodynamic examples of DeLanda]. Different thresholds exist for towns and states so we should not see the urban revolution as the same as the state revolution - each can begin as an outgrowth of the other. There are other differences. Towns exist where we have roads and circuits, and they form 'a remarkable point' (477) [in the Leibniz sense, a point at which a curve suddenly changes direction]. Towns create differences between entries and exits. They polarise matter [for example between inert and human] they cause 'the phylum, the flow to pass through specific places, along horizontal lines', creating 'transconsistency, a network'[in two dimensions]. Towns operate with a threshold of deterritorialization, requiring anything which enters it to be 'deterritorialized enough to enter the network'. Maritime and commercial towns represent maximum deterritorialization. Towns do not just trade, but share spirituality as well, forming networks with anything, offering a power that forces coordination on anything - that's why towns look egalitarian, ruled by magistrates or civil servants, not arbitrary despots. But 'Who can say where the greatest civil violence resides?'(478).

 States are different and offer 'intraconsistency', making elements resonate together even if they are very diverse [for example geographically or ethnically]. The structure is one of a 'vertical hierarchized aggregate' that incorporates horizontal lines and sees them as matters of depth. This restricts the relations at the horizontal level, making some of them exterior. Any specific circuits of the state depend on resonance [I have criticised this term elsewhere as enabling Deleuze to weasel out of saying whether one thing causes the other, or how relations actually form]. Deterritorialization of state power is as a consequence of the territory itself becoming something able to isolate and stratify resonating elements: these are then recombined 'through subordination'. The state can be considered to be a multiple in terms of its multiple vertical cross sections and whether or not they are separated. The multiplicity [not in the machinic sense -- this is a problem with using ordinary words -- 'multiple-ness' would be better but clumsy]  of towns is different, depending on their connection to the horizontal network. We can now begin to see how primitive societies were able to ward off these thresholds while anticipating them. There are two potentials, one segmentary, the other egalitarian, 'encompassing and hierarchized'(479). The former stops a central point of power from crystallising, since the horizontal distributions prevent resonance. Segments require a third segment to communicate with both instead of developing town networks or state hierarchies. These thresholds of consistency implied deterritorialization of territorial codes.

Both city and state versions coexist, one as melody, the other as the harmonies. Both are needed to affectively striate space. They are not always coordinated, however, and in some cases towns can break free if state overcoding itself provokes 'decoded flows'. Sometimes towns have to achieve a certain autonomy if deterritorialization is to be coded, if, for example they focus on trade between employers, or on special commercial activities, which can make them relatively independent from their hinterlands. We can see this happening even in the ancient Greek world. We might even see [trading or merchant adventurer] capitalism as arising where local urban recoding breaks out of state overcoding. However, towns did not create capitalism in ancient Greece, since their commercial decoding also prevented an overall 'conjunction of decoded flows'. They might have anticipated capitalism but also helped to ward it off and did not cross the threshold. Here we see mechanisms producing social change as sometimes in conflict.

It took the full emergence of the state form for capitalism to triumph. The state realized the conjunction of decoded flows, which became an axiomatic, resubjugating towns [they are just repeating the same points in different forms and will repeat them again]. This was to turn into 'an independent, worldwide axiomatic' (480). What this shows is that social formations arise 'by machinic processes and not by modes of production'. Social mechanisms of prevention and anticipation form primitive societies, apparatuses of capture form state societies, polarization forms urban society, war machines form nomadic society, international organisations [also called 'ecumenical'] form encompassing different social formations. These formations exist within a [machinic?] social topology. They exist both extrinsically and intrinsically. They must both anticipate and ward off [I am still not convinced]. States cannot capture unless something already coexists and resists, or threatens to escape into autonomy or war. The war machine is neither lineal [like towns] nor geometric [like states].

We find extrinsic coexistence or 'interaction' in 'international aggregates', which obviously preexisted capitalism [as in the trading systems of the neolithic]. Again, we would be mistaken to see such developments as involving diffusion from a single centre. Instead, they are better seen as communication 'of potentials of very different orders', with diffusion happening between them, 'like everything that "grows" of the rhizome type'(481). Actual aggregates can be based around, say, religious or artistic themes. The diversity of the social formations is what is important, so commercial formations, for example can have cities but also nomadic segments, and different forms of economic organization. Thus ecumenical organizations transcend states. They do not homogenize as they spread [they do these days, mates], even if their organising principles might claim universality, as with religion or artistic movements- but even here, there are local adaptations as well as different social formations including 'nomads, bands, and primitives'.

Capitalism might homogenize, though, when colonizing, or clashing with feudal systems like the ottoman empire. When a world market becomes axiomatic, all countries have to participate even socialist ones, and 'social formations tend to become isomorphic'(482). But this is still not homogeneity, and isomorphy can coexist with heterogeneity [but which one dominates? Explanatory descriptive stuff at this level cannot discuss this]. There are still differences between centre and periphery, and social formations can develop on the periphery which are heteromorphic. There is also the third world.

We have been describing external coexistence, but there is also intrinsic coexistence of machinic processes, where one process can amplify another. The state captures certain elements, but not the whole matter of the phylum [so it does not explicitly coordinate some of these interactions] . There are different powers of transference as well [where one process can be transferred over to another, such as the 'anticipation - prevention mechanisms' which can be transferred into towns or whole states]. Sometimes these processes get clustered into bands 'which have their own towns, their own brand of internationalism' (483). There also powers of metamorphosis, where things get captured by states, but 'rise up again in other forms' [their example is war machines that morph into revolutions]. The forces of deterritorialization can oppose or combine with others, or subordinate some.

[Now were going to do some economics].  Exchange involves the concept of marginalism.  Marginal utility economics is weak but logical, so that 'Jevons, for example,[is] a kind of Lewis Carroll of economics' (483) [blimey -- I read bits of him as a student!] .  If two groups trade single objects with each other, they can come to some notion of the evaluation of each object without a very developed economic system, based on the value of the last object received.  Last or marginal in this sense means the last one that is traded before the exchange stops altogether.  It also marks the end of one assemblage and the beginning of another [the end of a trading assemblage, the beginning of another when each group provides their own objects instead of trading for them].  The marginal object of trade sets the value of the whole series, the penultimate value.  This also helps us see the difference [at last] between a limit and a threshold, with the limit representing the penultimate element in a series before a new kind of series has to begin.

Jevons and others used this notion of marginal utility to explain every day life [ the decision about how many items to manufacture, for example] .  Other examples might be what alcoholics call 'the last glass', the one that permits them to maintain their behaviour, or people who want the last word in a domestic squabble which retains a relationship.  In both cases, the value of all the elements, classes or words, are provided by the penultimate one.  Elements beyond this limit mean entering another assemblage.  Proust shows how a series of loves finally produces the artistic assemblage.

This is a way of helping us see how heterogeneous series can be equalized, without resorting either to exchange value or use value.  It also provides an example of the anticipation - evaluation that we were talking about before with Clastres.  The marginal value is already there with the first exchange.  Value does not depend on social labour but on the idea of the penultimate element, even though this value might take a while to develop.  Nevertheless, it is always anticipatory, present in the first exchanges.  The idea is that every group values an element up until the point where it it is necessary to change assemblage.  Thresholds are also implicit, outside the limit and kept at a distance.  This is also a form of group enunciation or collective enunciation.  Even violence can be treated in terms of its marginal utility [there is also a ritual element, slid in here somewhere, I think that the early stages before marginal utility is apparent]. 

Thresholds come after the limit has been reached.  There is no longer an interest in exchange of the past.  In economic terms, this moment also produces stockpiling, rather than just the short term stocks used to [smooth out supply and] develop exchange.  Additional circumstances are required as well to make stockpiling desirable for itself -- a new kind of assemblage.  Stockpiling must be made a matter of 'actual interest, a desirability' (486).  In particular, it is necessary that a parallel notion is developing, the development of territories into 'a Land'.  Once this is done, extensive cultivation can lead to intensive cultivation.  [I think the argument is that when territories were flexible and serial, as in hunter gathering, there was no interest in stockpiling].  In this way, elements of exchange can come to define territories, 'as an "index"'[hunter societies or pastoralist ones].  In the assemblage developed around stockpiling, new notions of spatial coexistence arise enabling simultaneous exploitation of different territories, including over time.  What develops are conceptions of 'symmetry, reflection, and global comparison', and we get our sedentary and global assemblages [almost a conventional evolutionary scheme here, despite the reservations above].

We can see the developments in the concept of ground rent as an abstract value.  It arises initially because different territories have different rates of productivity.  We can only compare the rates of different territories by referring to a stock, however [I am not at all sure about this.  I think the argument is that we need some notion of average value?].  Here, marginal utility takes on a more organized form, not just the value of an ordinal series, but a part of a cardinal set [enabling comparisons of the productivity of land within each settled territory].  We also get the notion of land ownership based on rent, and rent also indicates the source of the surplus profit, given the same expenditure on land and labour [as in Ricardo, a gift of nature arising from an otherwise perfectly fair and just  market system].  This is 'the very model of an apparatus of capture'(487). 

Land must first be deterritorialized, however, in the sense of not being associated necessarily with its traditional owners [with fertile land acquired by the wealthy or powerful?].  The fertility of a piece of land is what gives it its value in this case, and this in turn produces a striation of the earth.  Only the earth can be striated like this, with elements like air and water remaining unstriated and therefore unable to produce rent as their function.  The differences in quality of the land can be compared to each other, and sets of land can be appropriated and turned into private property.  The two coexist [but D&G favour arguing that the appropriation is a necessary condition for the system of comparative rent - I am not clear why].  Similarly, appropriation and comparison implies a centre of convergence, a town [or in philosophy 'the land is an idea of the town'].

Stock can also relate to other things than just the land, such as work.  Here, the productivity of work can be compared, and the surplus labour involved can be appropriated.  The notion of stockpiling underpins these apparently independent and '" free action"'developments (488).  That is because labour itself now becomes something that involves stockpiled activity: 'the worker is a stockpiled "actant"'.  However, there is no separation between labour and surplus labour, no way of defining necessary labour [as Marx insisted: for him, it was the labour necessary to reproduce the labour force, as I recall.  Again, we have an argument like the one above about stocks]: labour as a quantitative element presupposes appropriation of surplus labour, this time by entrepreneurs: 'there is no labour that is not predicated on surplus labour'.  Labour presupposes surplus labour and that's where it gets its value from, as an abstract force [I think the argument is that economists anyway struggle to articulate the value of free labour as an abstract matter, and so apply the notion of rent to it, just as Ricardo did -- D&G are Ricardians? Or are they just describing Ricardianism?].  In this sense entrepreneurial profit is an apparatus of capture, through the processes of labour and surplus labour.

The third apparatus of capture is taxation.  This was a major source of income and impulse to develop the money system rather than exchange.  Money emerges as 'the correlate of the stock; it is a subset of the stock'.  It helped value circulate from poor to rich.  It requires 'an apparatus of power under conditions of conservation, circulation, and turnover' (489), to maintain the relation between money and goods and services.  Taxation set up the money system, unlike as in the usual evolutionary scheme.  Money became not only necessary, but something that would circulate,, and its resonating qualities permit foreign trade, for example.  Again, it permits monopolistic appropriation, this time by the state.  We can develop much more regular forms of comparison pricing and equalization, and this is crucial in turning goods and services into commodities.  Current notions of indirect taxation preserve the early ideas that taxes are included in prices and indicate the value of commodities, regardless of their market value.  Indirect taxation therefore indexes or expresses a 'deeper movement' in the development of objective prices, and this will finally allow the other apparatuses of capture to become integrated or converge taxation developed the capitalist system and is thus 'particularly favourable to profits and even to rents'(490).

[A summary of these arguments appears 490 F, starting with a diagram].  The notion of stock emerges with a particular assemblage, a different one from primitive exchange.  That assemblage becomes an apparatus of capture, using the three mechanisms of rent, profit and taxation, and these three converge in 'an agency of overcoding (or signifiance)': despots simultaneously become landowners, entrepreneurs, and tax authorities.  Systems of comparison and appropriation form together and presuppose each other [this is what lies behind the argument about stocks determining the value of individual elements].  As a result, they form 'a white wall/black hole system of the kind of that, as we have seen, constitutes the face of the despot'[bit of a loose fit in my view].  As the state emerges, so does an overcoding and a general semiology.  The state hijacks those traits of expression that were found in the machinic phylum, and thus 'subjugates the phylum', imposing relations of equalization and homogenization, with a resonating set of expressions.  The power of this semiology has led some people to assume that it is the major independent factor.

[Then we discuss an economist, Schmitt].  Capitalism emerges when an undivided flow is appropriated and compared, as in the establishment of a stock or the emergence of monetary credit.  This undivided flow then becomes divided [into the strange arbitrary divisions of capitalism - land, labour and so on].  Appropriation takes time to develop from a system that existed originally just to connect economic actors, and this requires a particular development of semiology.  It is still misleading to consider wages as purchasing labour, however, since labour produces the possibilities of producing 'in a second moment' (492) [goods that can be purchased have to be produced first, requiring homogenization, seen best in the monetary system].  The system looks mysterious and magical, in terms of suggesting a correspondence between money and purchasing, and real goods.  In practice, the idealized elements, expressed in terms like 'the wage system'never correspond tightly to real wages, but exceed them.  Again 'capturing'[by semiology?] this excess justifies more material kinds of capture as in surplus labour [I think - it is very dense and technical, 492.  Here, D and G seem to be flirting with the notion of ideology after all].  The ability to capture like this 'is the object of monopolistic appropriation', which is inherent from the beginning, in the very 'constitution of the aggregate upon which the capture is effectuated'(493).

In this way, an abstract machine of capture presents itself as 'the very specific "order of reasons"'[still citing Schmitt I think].  [The example is hard to follow, but I think it says that the excess between the ideal and the real system can be easily appropriated because nothing tangible can actually be detected, and it is only the opportunity to appropriate that is captured - 'there is neither a thief nor victim, for the producer only loses what he does not have and has no chance of acquiring'.  I see this is pretty much what Marx was arguing about the realization that labour could be bought at a 'fair' price, but only putting it to work released labour power, which had not been properly paid for].  Once established, development can seem purely logical, 'in this logical apparatus of capture', which affects the entire apparatus.  The state  now comes to represent that apparatus, inevitably, without the need for any additional explanations: the state arises once primitive exchange has reached its limits and passed the threshold, propelled by some 'convergent wave that moves through the primitive series and draws them towards a threshold'[some vitalism at work again?].  This convergent wave always affects primitive peoples, although external circumstances provide different contingencies for the effectuation of the apparatus [Asiatic systems in one place and so on].  However, there is still some [rather mysterious] 'point of inversion as an autonomous, irreducible phenomenon' (494) [covering their backs again?].

It is therefore difficult to pinpoint state violence, which seems already 'preaccomplished' [natural, on the side of history?].  It is necessary violence, preceding capitalist modes of production and making them possible.  It is hard to see it as victimizing anyone, as above, since the system of ownership already justifies the capitalist as 'an independent owner', without the need to justify or explain this form.  There is a 'mutilation' already established.  However, despite Marx, primitive accumulation precedes the triumph of politics in the agricultural mode of production.  Primitive accumulation accompanies any apparatus of capture.  We might have to distinguish between different 'regimes of violence', between struggles, wars and policing, for example: struggle involves something like primitive daily violence, although what looks like specific forms still have their code, including one that relates to their marginal utility; war imply violence directed mostly against the state apparatuses [because they have already defined it that way]; crime is an infringement against legal justifications for captures; policing involves capturing and upholding the right to capture, as a kind of 'incorporated, structural violence distinct from every kind of direct violence' (495).  Policing violence depends on the claim that the state upholds and defines the law, and it is here that it exercises its monopoly.  The law itself arises from state overcoding.  Violence becomes lawful when it is directed against that which capturing apparatuses creates - so again it presupposes itself and preexists  in the processes of capture.  The state version of this is that violence is primal or natural, needing to be policed by the state.

[On the forms of the state].  The archaic despotic state overcodes, captures, and enslaves, creating a specific form of property, money and public works, nothing private, seemingly with no particular initiating conditions.  It then evolves or mutates.  There is an internal dynamic, since overcoding also frees up 'a large quantity of decoded flows that escape', where decoded means something that is no longer contained in a code.  They might be the remnants of primitive codes before they were were over coded.  But there are new flows as well, arising from the necessary independence that emerges from bureaucracy, say, or monetary flows that escape the tax form and go on to express themselves in things like commerce and banking.  There is also a private appropriation which grows up and becomes independent of the state, on the margins, escaping overcoding.  Thus private property does not emerge from the state nor from those suppressed by it like peasants and functionaries or slaves.  For Tõkel, the key role is played by freed slaves, who find themselves dislocated, and develop private property, trade or even metallurgy, which can be seen as producing forms of private slavery.  They play an important role in the war machine, and in the state.

We should see freed slaves as representing one example of an important 'collective figure of the Outsider' (496).  The potential for decoding is 'the correlate of the apparatus', and emerges not only internally but geographically, as when empires contact each other, say of the east and the west.  [Again they seem to be relying on some archaeologists here].  Effective states can face the problem of disposing of their surpluses, and the military happens to be effective at doing this.  So are specialized artisans.  Sometimes this works harmoniously to develop the state apparatus, but in other locations, contradictions [actually, 'an impasse', 497] develop - excessive control by overcoding produces unequal benefits [maybe --  this is quite a delirious argument], and those who do not benefit are not effectively incorporated.  Overcoding can also produce an adventurous merchant class who are able to plunder the stocks of other societies or trade for it.  This can benefit marginal societies as well who do not then need to reproduce the despotic system.  In particular, in the west, artisans and merchants did not depend on the state to the same extent or its surplus, since they could benefit from a diversified market.  In the east, artisans could emigrate to the margins and enjoy freer conditions.  Europe therefore decoded some of these oriental overcoded flows.  Surpluses were generated that did not depend on the code.  Somebody called Childe argues that this helped the western societies to develop without excessive coding or despotism: they benefited from international trade without having to constrain it.

In these circumstances, a public sphere provides an area for the development of private appropriation.  Public-private mixes appear and have to be regulated by personal relations of dependence rather than community relations [organic rather than mechanical solidarity].  The law changes, 'becoming subjective, conjunctive, "topical"'(498).  The state now has to conjoin decoded flows rather than produce overcoding.  Subjectification emerges, together with 'a regime of social subjection', and this can take diverse forms.  Local ['topical'] conjunctions appear.  The new notion of the public sphere emerged from particular 'evolved empires', together with the growth of autonomous cities or feudal systems.  Again, these developments 'presuppose an archaic empire that served as their foundation' (499), and grew from contacts with the other empires'.  Underneath, we see a new kind of subjectivity, that is both variable to the point of 'delirium' and yet capable of producing 'qualified acts that are the sources of rights and obligations'.

None of these new controls prevent decoded flows, however.  The 'ambiguity' of the new regimes is that they can only function with decoded flows, yet they must not be allowed to combine except in the form of 'topical conjunctions'.  This is a contingent effectuation, however, which explains why capitalism developed in some areas but not others.  The 'generalized conjunction' is required to overturn the earlier apparatus.  Marx gets close to this by suggesting that 'a single unqualified Subjectivity' emerged to 'capitalize' all the processes of subjectification, producing a single universal Subject with its own universal Object - wealth.  Circulation means that subjectivity becomes identified with society itself.  However, the dynamism of the system still requires that 'decoded flows overspill their conjunctions'(500): labour must become free labour, and wealth must become independent capital.  These developments 'introduce many contingencies and many different factors', but their conjunction constitutes capitalism, a conjunction between universal subject and universal object rather than topical conjunctions'.  This produces 'a general axiomatic of decoded flows'.  Personal bonds are no longer needed.  Private property itself can now change, referring to abstract rights, 'a new threshold of deterritorialization'.  The law need no longer base itself on customary codes, or a set of topics,  but can become an axiomatic, or civil code.

Once flows reach this abstract level, it looks as if a direct form of economic appropriation can exist, without the need for a state.  Capitalism develops a worldwide axiomatic which spreads everywhere and produces 'an enormous, so-called stateless, monetary mass that circulates' (501), 'a de facto supranational power'.  Capitalism has always been able to deterritorialize even better than the state, since the state's deterritorialization has always had an ultimate object, 'a higher unity', an ultimate territory.  In capitalism, labour in material forms is the object, and even private property becomes not a matter of owning the means of production 'but of convertible abstract rights'.  It is not surprising that capitalism often seems to oppose the state.

However, an axiomatic 'deals directly with purely functional elements and relations' which are realized in different domains of the same time. This is not the same as a code which is always relative to a domain.  Axiomatics are immanent in different 'models of realization' (502).  The state can be one of these models of realization, grouping together different sectors.  Axiomatics, however excessive, need these models, which is one reason why the state form proved more important than the town form in the development of capitalism.  To take a more modern example, NASA could have drawn from international capital, but the American government insisted on dominating it, and so did the USSR in its own case.  The state does have to provide 'compensatory reterritorializations', however.  Nevertheless, materialist analyses of the state are on the right lines [in stressing that the state performs functions for capital - homogenizing it, or removing external obstacles to its flow].

States are therefore best seen as 'immanent models of realization for an axiomatic of decoded flows', certainly not something transcendent.  They are using the term axiomatic not just as a metaphor, because the same theoretical problems encountered by models in an axiomatic are found in relation to the state.  In particular, models of realization are supposed to be isomorphic to the axiomatic, but this is not always possible: a single axiomatic might not be good at 'encompassing polymorphic models'.  This produces political problems:

  • First, despite their political differences, modern states are isomorphic to the capitalist axiomatic, even socialist states [but socialist ideology cannot fully accept this and occasionally restrains it?]. 
  • Second, different models or modes of production can develop that are only loosely connected with capitalism [conjugated]: socialist states in particular might be able to produce a set of these that end up as more powerful than the capitalist axiomatic [as in the current success of China].
  • Third, all states are not interchangeable, but nor do particular forms seem to be especially privileged [same as the second one I think]. 

Certainly, the formation of an actual nation states seems to involve a number of specifics.  They have to struggle against any imperial systems, overcome autonomous cities, crush their own minorities, some of which can call on the power of the older codes.  There is the 'natal', which is 'not necessarily innate', and the 'popular' which is 'not necessarily pregiven'(504).  Tangibly, there should be a land and a people which can be made into 'a nation—a refrain'.  It requires both cold and bloody means, together with 'upsurges of romanticism' and passion.  The natal implies a certain deterritorialization of both territories [the example is community land or imperial provinces], and people ['a decoding of the population' -it's fragmentation?].  These flows have to turn into something that gives consistency to land and people.  In the case of people it is 'the flow of naked labour', and for land it is the flow of capital.  These processes take the form of 'a collective subjectification', with its corresponding form of the state 'as a process of subjection'.  All this is necessary to realize the capitalist axiomatic.  Nations are not just ideological, however, but are 'passional and living forms', which realise the homogeneous and quantitative properties of capital.

We need to distinguish 'machine enslavement and social subjection'.  The first occurs when human beings become treated as parts of the machine together with others and with other things, under a single control.  Subjection involves the constitution of a human being as a subject capable of being linked to exterior objects, no longer a component of the machine but a worker or user.  The machine can subject a human without actually enslaving them.  The archaic imperial state develops the first kind as a kind of '"generalized slavery"', and Mumford is cited to support the view that machinism is to be taken literally not just metaphorically.  Modern capitalist states develop machines in the usual sense, technical machines, 'definable extrinsically' which subject human beings: this is an increasingly powerful mechanism.  The new free worker shows subjection in 'its most radical expression' (505), a kind of pure subjectification.  Capital has capitalists to produce 'the private subjectivity of capital', but proletarians are only 'subjects of the statement'.  With this mechanism, capitalism can argue quite rightly that humans are not being treated exactly like machines, that there is a difference between variable and constant capital.

Capitalism can be seen 'as a worldwide enterprise of subjectification by constituting an axiomatic of decoded flows'.  The social subject only really appears when the axiomatic appears in its models of realization, hence the difference in subjectivities between nations, for example.  The axiomatic still offers a form of machinic enslavement [make your bleeding minds up], but this is a reinvention.  Technical machines have developed themselves into cybernetic or informational forms, and again subjection is reconstructed.  The reversability of links between humans and machines produce a new regime of subjection.  Automation means an increase in the proportion of constant capital, and so 'surplus value becomes machinic'(506), and this model spreads.  Instead of repression or ideology, we now have a 'processes of normalisation, modulation, modeling, and information' affecting language, perception, desire and so on, and operating through micro assemblages.  For example, television subjects us if we use and consume it, and this subjection often uses a particular form of address [involves 'a subject of enunciation'in their terms]: modern television makes us not only consumers, not even subjects, 'but intrinsic component pieces', providing inputs and outputs, feedback that goes beyond just using the machine [better discussed in Adorno on the 'individualization' of mass culture] .  Exchanges of information like this are at the heart of the new kind of machinic enslavement.  The axiomatic and its models of realization 'constantly cross over into each other'.  Social subjection develops in proportion to the model of realization developed, acting just as machinic enslavement did: 'rather than stages, subjection and enslavement constitute two coexistent poles' (507).

So we have different forms of the state—imperial archaic ones with a machine of enslavement and overcoding; diverse states which operate with subjectification and subjection, and have to pursue conjunctions of decoded flows; modern nation states which feature an axiomatic realised in various models, featuring both social subjection and 'the new machinic enslavement', with diverse forms best seen as 'functions of isomorphy' related to the axiomatic.  External circumstances can affect the differences between the states, and have, for example, led to the oblivion of archaic empires.  At the internal level, states also seem to generate their own war machines directed against them, despite their efforts to impose a unity of composition.  However, these flows can sometimes be reappropriated in a 'general conjugation'.  We could see the connection of presupposition between archaic and premodern states [since the former provide the raw materials for the latter in the form of fragments], and premodern states often form their stocks on the basis of 'an evolved imperial form'.  There is a similar link between premodern and modern, since industrial revolutions need resources, and topical configurations could be seen to prefigure 'the great conjugation of decoded flows' in capitalism.  This is why capitalism appears to be present in a wide variety of countries, even if not always developing.  Similarly, modern states have a relation with the imperial ones, because modern ones attain a new absolute, a whole overarching '"megamachine"'(508) combining enslavement and subjectification.

States come into existence when they manage the unique moments of capture described above.  There might also be another pole, however, involving 'pact and contract', as an equally good way to combined decoded flows.  The second pole produces juridical forms like contracts.  These arise at an early form of subjectification, before it is obviously seen as subjection. Ideally, contracts are actually internalized within the same person [so a conscience makes us keep to the contract?].  There is therefore a whole range of moments of capture, from imperial bonds through subjective personal bonds, ending with 'the Subject that binds itself', as a triumph of 'the most magical operation'whereby capitalist energy becomes fully cosmopolitan and universal. The state does not guarantee subjective liberty, however, and nor is it just an agent of forced servitude.  Instead it encourages voluntary servitude in this magical form.  Machinic enslavement too can appear as if it is natural ['preaccomplished'], offering the same kind of voluntary servitude.

Politics proceeds by experimentation.  The factors are by no means all under control.  There is no world supergovernment, of course - even simple regulation of the economy shows itself to be too complex.  Politicians can be seen as heroes [by Galbraith apparently] who are able to cope with error and be constantly successful.  But there is a connection with capitalist axiomatics. [It is not that political axiomatics are somehow inadequately rational] . If we compare political axiomatics with scientific ones, we see that in science, the axiomatic does not oppose itself to 'experimentation and intuition' (509).  Axiomatics always eventually come up against something undecidable, beyond their power.  Scientific axiomatics are really best seen as a post hoc reordering of scientific findings rather than a cutting edge, something which seals off the lines of flight and weaves them back into the official nexum.  Occasionally, intuition produces a whole 'calculus of problems', requiring the development of a different abstract machine.  This is just like political axioms after all.

The axioms of capital are not fully formed theories or ideologies, but rather 'operative statements', they can be incorporated into assemblages of production and consumption, as 'primary statements', (510) givens.  Several can be found attached to the same flow: conjugating axioms helps conjugate flows.  Axioms can also allow for unsolvable variations.  Capitalist axioms tend to be continually added, for example to deal with world depression, the Russian revolution, challenges from working class movements and so on - hence Keynesian economics, or the Marshall  Plan.  Accommodating to foreign markets might multiply axioms, especially if there is an impact on the domestic market.  New subgroups of population might require them to master new flows.  Sometimes axioms have to be withdrawn or subtracted, reduced to a core, as in totalitarian states, or when the equilibrium of the whole system is at stake.  There can also be 'untamed evolutions' and unexpected variations.  Fascism followed the collapse of the domestic market and offered a reduction of axioms, but without dealing with foreign sectors: a war economy was fabricated instead, and new axioms needed to do with the domestic market rationally, as a kind of keynesianism.  However, fascism is a special case, a combination of multiplication of axioms and subtraction.

Can we describe these opposing tendencies in terms of 'saturation'[which seems to have some political implications as leading to an 'inversion']?  However, capitalism is an axiomatic that set its own limits and laws.  There are internal limits such as the tendency for the rate of profit to fall, or the problems of finding opportunities to realize capital, but these limits are being constantly set back.  These internal limits are what requires the axioms to be restricted or expanded, and combinations are perfectly possible [the example given is Brazil as a combination of totalitarianism and social democracy].  The point is not to discourage resistance, to argue that capitalism can always recuperate itself [although that is the implication, surely?].  The constant readjustments should always be seen against 'the workers' struggles' (512), which always exceed capitalist frameworks and affect their axioms.  All is well if local struggles also 'target national and international axioms', and 'the rural world' can be relevant here.  Living flows are never captured by axioms, but must be directed inside the axiomatic or at least oriented to prevent further 'technocratic perversion'.

We can see isomorphy between all modern states, but not homogeneity.  There is indeed a 'sole external world market' and some evidence for convergence with legal and social codes, say in Europe, with its single domestic market.  However,  totalitarian states are different in that the totality of capitalist axiomatics are not seen as a right or an end in themselves.  There are also divisions between west and east [in those days]: in socialist states, the mode of production is not capitalist, and it is not ruled by Capital but rather 'the Plan' (513).  Socialist states still have to relate to the single world market, however, but can do so almost as parasites, retaining the possibility of greater independence and creativity.  The division between north and south, centre and periphery, also displays differences and some independence, but this is much easier to integrate within central capitalism, dominating the third world, for example, as the centres of investment and sources of capital.  Here we have not so much independence as integration into an 'international division of labour'.  Other isomorphic relations exist between the USA and the other 'south American tyrannies', for example, and although capital dominates production, there are still differences, such as the persistence of 'archaic or transitional forms' (514).  Here, capital acts as the fundamental 'relation of production but in noncapitalist modes of production'.  Again, polymorphy is relatively integrated, providing 'a substitute for colonization'.  So we seem to have isomorphy between states of the centre, heteromorphy when thinking of relations between east and west, and polymorphy in the third world.  Again there is no need to be pessimistic about popular movements, but nor should we assume that there are wholly 'good' states.  [Typical political caution, considering formal possibilities only].

The capitalist axiomatic can be seen as possessing a higher potential power than that displayed in its models, a 'power of the continuum, tied to the axiomatic but exceeding it'.  This can be understood as a power of destruction or war, and is incarnated in particular 'financial, industrial and military technological complexes'.  This power is directed towards the development of constant capital, against variable capital, until human beings become 'a pure element of machinic enslavement' (515).  However, factors such as the depreciation of existing capital, and innovation, bring about the other characteristics of a war machine, for example in redistributing the whole world in order to exploit it.  The axiomatic seems to develop through a continuing number of thresholds, driven by this war machine.

Main conflicts now turn around east/west, and north/south.  The accumulation of arms as a result of the first division still leaves local wars as a possibility, but global stalemate allows the war machine to take on a supplementary direction in industrial/military complexes, and even in the political and judicial areas.  This shows the continuing efforts of the state to appropriate the war machine, although the development of 'total war' once threatened to make the war machine autonomous, especially in fascism.  After world war two, the war machine became more automated and focused on politics and the world order.  In this sense, Clausewitz can be reversed, and politics becomes the continuation of war.  In fascism, the war machine itself was materialized, and this persisted as a continuum surrounding the world economy, creating the world is a smooth space, permitting the actions of a single war machine: 'wars had become a part of peace', and even states became only parts of this machine [a lot of this cites Virilo again].  This development is responsible for 'technoscientific "capitalisation"'(516).  The war machine now operates against unspecified enemies, and preserves 'security'.

Capitalist axiomatics require a centre - the north.  The north/south axis has become particularly important, and stabilization of the centre could produce destabilization of the periphery [citing a then fashionable thesis].  This is only an abstraction, and they can be centres and peripheries inside the north as well.  Nevertheless, unequal exchange is indispensable to capitalism, but it also causes crises.  This is exactly like archaic empires overcoding flows and that the same time producing decoded flows.  In particular, flows of 'matter - energy' (517), of population, of food and of urbanism seem to create problems and no proliferation of capitalist axioms seem able to resolve them.  Thus the market produces 'class rupture', third worlds come to occupy centres, capitalist decentralisation often means a decoding of the centre and a new importance for 'national and territorial aggregates'[for example the encouragement of Arab nationalism?] [Amin is cited as a source here].  The tendency for production to be provided by the periphery, while the centre does 'post industrial activities'(518) can mean that underdevelopment is installed in the centre as well, in the form of insecure work: the state often has to intervene.  Negri is complimented on having seen the implications, where students merge with the marginalised.  The old regime of subjection was centred on labour as one pole of a series of binaries ['property - labour, bourgeoisie-proletariat'], but there are new categories now including 'intensive surplus labour' that doesn't look like traditional labour, and [precarious] extensive labour.  No amount of reduction or multiplication of axioms can prevent 'class ruptures', and this becomes increasingly evident.

Minorities are also emerging, seen in terms of a 'becoming', of course, resisting axioms 'constituting a redundant majority'[I am not at all sure what this means - -maybe a numerical majority].  In number terms, minorities can become majorities, as in the panics about the decline of the white proportion of the population.  The very concept of majority comes into question, together with the axioms based on it [but capitalist states have always defended the interests of an elite by pretending that these are also majority interests?  Would this work for ethnic minorities?].  Minorities are best understood 'as a non denumerable set' (519), connected by 'the "and"'.  Capitalist axioms sometimes represent this in terms like 'the masses', already implying 'multiplicities of escape and flux' [multiplicities in the normal sense here]. 

Our heroes think that there is a basis here 'for a worldwide movement'.  Minorities can resurrect the notions of nationality which resist being controlled.  Dissidents in socialist states are less powerful, and dependent on international politics [events make this difficult to sustain?].  Since nations cannot be reconstructed, such minorities create 'compositions that do not pass by way of the capitalist economy any more than they do the state form'.  States can reply by adding axioms like regionalism, but this is still not the solution, because the regions do not effectively translate into other minorities, and they still have to be integrated back into the majority.  The same applies to compensatory statuses for women, young people or 'erratic workers'.  The rise of the Asian societies threaten to make 'the white world the periphery of a yellow world' [and we can see how full of tension this wold be?] .  In all these cases, minorities continue to 'receive no adequate expression by becoming elements of the majority', by becoming a finite set, even if they became a new majority.  At the moment, they are able to assert 'the power of a non denumerable' (519-20).  That is the way to develop as a multiplicity: 'minority as a universal figure, or becoming - everybody/everything...  Woman: we all have to become that, whether we are male or female.  Non - white: we all have to become that, whether we are white, yellow or black' (520).

Again struggling with axioms is still worthwhile, however, as in women's struggle for the vote or for jobs, the struggles of the oppressed masses in the east or west.  We can see that these struggles 'are the index of another, coexistent combat', raising points 'that the axiomatic cannot tolerate'[very optimistic here], if people start to demand that they formulate their own problems and solutions, and 'hold to the Particular as an innovative form'.  Often there is a escalation from modest demands, revealing 'the impotence of the axiomatic'.  In those circumstances, flows can be opposed to axioms and their propositions.  Minorities exert power and not by entering the majority system, but bringing 'to bear the force of the non denumerable sets, however small they may be'.  We're not talking about anarchy vs. organization, but calculating the effects of non denumerable sets against axiomatics.  Although taking different forms of composition and organization, such a movement can be seen as 'a pure becoming of minorities'.

The axiomatic has its own non denumerable infinite set in the shape of the war machine, but this is not good at dealing with minorities, except by declaring war on them.  It is better at dealing with an unspecified enemy, and developing various kinds of social and technical adaptations, allegedly in response.  However, capitalism constantly produces problems for the war machine to deal with - the starving, the imprisoned dissidents, the exterminated minorities which only 'engenders a minority of that minority'[minorities persist in memory, or are represented by only a few survivors?].  It is impossible to liquidate all opponents.  Capitalism will also encounter a new problem, currently pending - relating itself to new resources which will require further redistributions [as in wars over water or oil?].  Those regions affected will be able to form or reform 'minoritarian aggregates'(521).

Integration often isn't a satisfactory solution any way, failing to subdue 'the power of minority, of particularity'.  The proletariat used to represent this best, but now appears as an acquired status, only a part of capital.  It is necessary to leave the 'plan(e) of capital altogether'.  It is however hard to see what a state would look like composed only of women or erratic workers, of people refusing work.  This shows that the state form is no longer appropriate for minorities, nor is capitalism.

Capitalism sets and then overcomes its own limits, but in doing so produces flows that escape its axiomatic.  It constitutes itself in denumerable sets as models, but the same time produces nondenumerable sets that disrupt them. It attempts to conjugate all the decoded and deterritorialized flows, but at the same time amplifies them.  In the circumstances, these flows can be seen as reterritorializing 'a new Land' (522), not a war machine by revolutionary movement, '(the connection of flows, the composition of nondenumerable aggregates, the becoming - minoritarian of everybody/everything)'.  A new plane of consistency opposes the plane of organization of capital and bureaucratic socialism.  This is 'a constructivism' [but constructivists need not get too excited because this is also] 'a "diagrammatism"', aimed at determining the conditions of the problem [at the virtual level] and developing transversal links between problems.

This will lead us with certain '"undecidable propositions"', referring not just to the uncertainty of the results of change, but to a necessary 'coexistence and inseparability' of flows which can not be conjugated [this is close to a version of the 'rising expectations' thesis of de Tocqueville?] .  These can be seen as 'lines of flight that are themselves connectable'.  The undecidable is useful for indicating the need for revolutionary decisions.  Even high technology and new forms of machinic enslavement cannot escape undecidable propositions and movements'.  These will not be just confined to to the work of experts and specialists, but can provide 'weapons for the becoming of everybody/everything, becoming - radio, becoming - electronic, becoming - molecular…'[referring us to a note mentioning all sorts of tensions in the present day, including the construction of alternative practices like pirate radio stations, urban community networks, alternatives to psychiatry and so on, with a reference to a collection on Italian autonomism, 642, n68].  It now seems that 'every struggle is a function of all these undecidable propositions', and this will construct 'revolutionary connections in opposition to the conjugations of the axiomatic'.

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