Selections from:

Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari

A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia

Translated by Brian Massumi


This text for use of Students of Philosophy 6600.  Unauthorized use is unauthorized.  Possible errors.

12 : 1227 (A.D.): Treatise on Nomadology-- The War Machine

Wood Chariot

Nomad Chariot. Entirely of Wood, Altai. Fifth to Fourth Centuries B.C.

AXIOM I. The war machine is exterior to the State apparatus.

PROPOSITION I. This exteriority is first attested to in mythology, epic, drama, and games.

Georges Dumézil. in his definitive analyses of Indo-European mythology, has shown that political sovereignty. or domination, has two heads: the magician- king and the jurist-priest, Rex and flamen, raj and Brahman, Romulus and Numa, Varuna and Mitra, the despot and the legislator, the binder and the organizer. Undoubtedly, these two poles stand in opposition term by term, as the obscure and the clear, the violent and the calm, the quick and the weighty. the fearsome and the regulated, the "bond" and the "pact," etc. But their opposition is only relative: they function as a pair, in alternation, as though they expressed a division of the One or constituted in themselves a sovereign unity. "At once antithetical and complementary. necessary to one another and consequently without hostility, lacking a


352 : 1227: Treatise on Nomadology-The War Machine

mythology of conflict: a specification on any one level automatically calls forth a homologous specification on another. The two together exhaust the field of the function." They are the principal elements of a State apparatus that proceeds by a One-Two, distributes binary distinctions, and forms a milieu of inferiority. It is a double articulation that makes the State apparatus into a stratum.

It will be noted that war is not contained within this apparatus. Either the State has at its disposal a violence that is not channeled through war-either it uses police officers and jailers in place of warriors, has no arms and no need of them, operates by immediate, magical capture. seizes" and "binds," preventing all combat-or, the State acquires an army, but in a way that presupposes a juridical integration of war and the organization of a military function.2 As for the war machine in itself, it seems to be irreducible to the State apparatus, to be outside its sovereignty and prior to its law:

it comes from elsewhere. Indra, the Warrior god, is in opposition to Varuna no less than Mitra. 3 He can no more he reduced to one or the other than he can constitute a third of their kind. Rather, he is like a pure and immeasurable multiplicity, the pack, an irruption of the ephemeral and the power of metamorphosis. He unties the bond just as he betrays the pact. He brings a furor to bear against sovereignty, a celerity against gravity, secrecy against the public, a power (puissance) against sovereignty, a machine against the apparatus. He bears witness to another kind of justice, one of incomprehensible cruelty at times, but at others of unequaled pity as well (because he unties bonds . . .).4 He bears witness, above all, to other relations with women, with animals, because he sees all things in relations of becoming, rather than implementing binary distributions between "states": a veritable becoming-animal of the warrior, a becoming-woman, which lies outside dualities of terms as well as correspondences between relations. In every respect, the war machine is of another species, another nature, another origin than the State apparatus.

Let us take a limited example and compare the war machine and the State apparatus in the context of the theory of games. Let us take chess and Go, from the standpoint of the game pieces, the relations between the pieces and the space involved. Chess is a game of State, or of the court: the emperor of China played it. Chess pieces are coded: they have an internal nature and intrinsic properties from which their movements, situations, and confrontations derive. They have qualities: a knight remains a knight, a pawn a pawn, a bishop a bishop. Each is like a subject of the statement endowed with a relative power, and these relative powers combine in a subject of enunciation, that is, the chess player or the game's form of interiority. Go pieces, in contrast, are pellets, disks, simple arithmetic units, and have only an anonymous, collective, or third-person function:


"It" makes a move. "It" could he a man, a woman, a louse, an elephant. Go pieces are elements of a nonsubjectified machine assemblage with no intrinsic properties, only situational ones. Thus the relations are very different in the two cases. Within their milieu of interiority, chess pieces entertain biunivocal relations with one another, and with the adversary's pieces: their functioning is structural. On the other hand, a Go piece has a milieu of exteriority, or extrinsic relations with nebulas or constellations, according to which it fulfills functions of insertion or situation, such as bordering, encircling, shattering. All by itself, a Go piece can destroy an entire constellation synchronically; a chess piece cannot (or can do so diachronically only). Chess is indeed a war, but an institutionalized, regulated, coded war, with a front, a rear, battles. But what is proper to Go is war without battle lines, with neither confrontation nor retreat, without battles even: pure strategy, whereas chess is a semiology. Finally, the space is not at all the same: in chess. it is a question of arranging a closed space for oneself, thus of going from one point to another, of occupying the maximum number of squares with the minimum number of pieces. In Go, it is a question arraying oneself in an open space, of holding space, of maintaining the possibility of springing up at any point: the movement is not from one point to another, but becomes perpetual, without aim or destination, without departure or arrival. The "smooth" space of Go, as against the "striated" space of chess. The nomos of Go against the State of chess, nomos against polis. The difference is that chess codes and decodes space, whereas Go proceeds altogether differently, territorializing or deterritorializing it (make the outside a territory in space: consolidate that territory by the construction of a second, adjacent territory; deterritorialize the enemy by shattering his territory from within; deterritorialize oneself by renouncing, by going elsewhere . . .). Another justice, another movement, another space-time.

"They come like fate, without reason, consideration, or pretext ..." "In some way that is incomprehensible they have pushed right into the capital.  At any rate, here they are: it seems that every morning there are more of them."'

Luc de Heusch analyzes a Bantu myth that leads us to the same schema: Nkongolo. an indigenous emperor and administrator of public works, a man of the public and a man of the police, gives his half-sisters to the hunter Mbidi, who assists him and then leaves. Mbidi's son, a man of secrecy, joins up with his father, only to return from the outside with that inconceivable thing, an army. He kills Nkongolo and proceeds to build a new State.6 "Between" the magical-despotic State and the juridical State containing a military institution, we see the flash of the war machine, arriving from without.

From the standpoint of the State, the originality of the man of war, his


eccentricity, necessarily appears in a negative form: stupidity, deformity, madness, illegitimacy, usurpation, sin. Dumézil analyzes the three "sins" of the warrior in the Indo-European tradition: against the king, against the priest, against the laws originating in the State (for example, a sexual transgression that compromises the distribution of men and women, or even a betrayal of the laws of war as instituted by the State).7 The warrior is in the position of betraying everything, including the function of the military, or of understanding nothing. It happens that historians, both bourgeois and Soviet, will follow this negative tradition and explain how Genghis Khan understood nothing: he "didn't understand" the phenomenon of the city. An easy thing to say. The problem is that the exteriority of the war machine in relation to the State apparatus is everywhere apparent but remains difficult to conceptualize. It is not enough to affirm that the war machine is external to the apparatus. It is necessary to reach the point of conceiving the war machine as itself a pure form of exteriority, whereas the State apparatus constitutes the form of interiority we habitually take as a model, or according to which we are in the habit of thinking. What complicates everything is that this extrinsic power of the war machine tends, under certain circumstances, to become confused with one of the two heads of the State apparatus. Sometimes it is confused with the magic violence of the State, at other times with the State's military institution. For instance, the war machine invents speed and secrecy; but there is all the same a certain speed and a certain secrecy that pertain to the State, relatively, secondarily. So there is a great danger of identifying the structural relation between the two poles of political sovereignty, and the dynamic interrelation of these two poles, with the power of war. Dumezil cites the lineage of the Roman kings: there is a Romulus-Numa relation that recurs throughout a series, with variants and an alternation between these two types of equally legitimate rulers; but there is also a relation with an "evil king." Tullus Hostilius, Tarquinius Superbus, an upsurge of the warrior as a disquieting and illegitimate character.8 Shakespeare's kings could also be invoked: even violence, murders, and perversion do not prevent the State lineage from producing "good" kings, but a disturbing character like Richard III slips in, announcing from the outset his intention to reinvent a war machine and impose its line (deformed, treacherous and traitorous, he claims a "secret close intent"9 totally different from the conquest of State power, and another

-an other--relation with women). In short, whenever the irruption of war power is confused with the line of State domination, everything gets muddled: the war machine can then be understood only through the categories of the negative, since nothing is left that remains outside the State. But, returned to its milieu of exteriority, the war machine is seen to be of another species, of another nature, of another origin. One would have to


say that it is located between the two heads of the State, between the two articulations, and that it is necessary in order to pass from one to the other. But "between" the two, in that instant, even ephemeral, if only a flash, it proclaims its own irreducibility. The State has no war machine of its own: it can only appropriate one in the form of a military institution, one that will continually cause it problems. This explains the mistrust States have their military institutions, in that the military institution inherits an extrinsic war machine. Karl von Clausewitz has a general sense of this situation when he treats the flow of absolute war as an Idea that States partially appropriate according to their political needs, and in relation to which they are more or less good "conductors."

Trapped between the two poles of political sovereignty, the man of war becomes outmoded, condemned, without a future, reduced to his own fury, which he turns against himself. The descendants of Hercules, Achilles, then Ajax, have enough strength left to proclaim their independence from Agamemnon, a man of the old State. But they are powerless when it comes to Ulysses, a man of the nascent modern State, the first man of the modern

State. And it is Ulysses who inherits Achilles' arms, only to convert them to other uses, submitting them to the laws of the State--not Ajax, who is condemned by the goddess he defied and against whom he sinned.10 No one has portrayed the situation of the man of war, at once eccentric and conjemned, better than Kleist. In Penthesilea, Achilles is already separated from his power: the war machine has passed over to the Amazons, a Stateless woman-people whose justice, religion, and loves are organized uniquely in a war mode. Descendants of the Scythians, the Amazons spring forth like lightning, "between" the two States, the Greek and the Trojan. They sweep away everything in their path. Achilles is brought before his double, Penthesilea. And in his ambiguous struggle, Achilles is unable to prevent himself from marrying the war machine, or from loving Penthesilea, and thus from betraying Agamemnon and Ulysses at the same time. Nevertheless, he already belongs enough to the Greek State that Penthesilea, for her part, cannot enter the passional relation of war with him without herself betraying the collective law of her people, the law of the pack that prohibits "choosing" the enemy and entering into one-to-one relationships or binary distinctions.

Throughout his work, Kleist celebrates the war machine, setting it against the State apparatus in a struggle that is lost from the start. Doubtless Arminius heralds a Germanic war machine that breaks with the imperial order of alliances and armies, and stands forever opposed to the Roman State. But the Prince of Homburg lives only in a dream and stands condemned for having reached victory in disobedience of the law of the State. As for Kohlhaas, his war machine can no longer be anything more than


banditry. Is it the destiny of the war machine, when the State triumphs, to be caught in this alternative: either to be nothing more than the disciplined, military organ of the State apparatus, or to turn against itself, to become a double suicide machine for a solitary man and a solitary woman? Goethe and Hegel, State thinkers both, see Kleist as a monster, and Kleist has lost from the start. Why is it, then, that the most uncanny modernity lies with him? It is because the elements of his work are secrecy, speed, and affect.11 And in Kleist the secret is no longer a content held within a form of interiority: rather, it becomes a form, identified with the form of exteriority that is always external to itself. Similarly, feelings become uprooted from the interiority of a "subject," to be projected violently outward into a milieu of pure exteriority that lends them an incredible velocity, a catapulting force: love or hate, they are no longer feelings but affects. And these affects are so many instances of the becoming-woman, the becoming-animal of the warrior (the bear, she-dogs). Affects transpierce the body like arrows, they are weapons of war. The deterritorialization velocity of affect. Even dreams (Homburg's, Pentheselea's) are externalized, by a system of relays and plug-ins, extrinsic linkages belonging to the war machine. Broken rings. This element of exteriority--which dominates everything, which Kleist invents in literature, which he is the first to invent--will give time a new rhythm: an endless succession of catatonic episodes or fainting spells, and flashes or rushes. Catatonia is: "This affect is too strong for me," and a flash is: "The power of this affect sweeps me away," so that the Self (Moi) is now nothing more than a character whose actions and emotions are desubjectified, perhaps even to the point of death. Such is Kleist's personal formula: a succession of flights of madness and catatonic freezes in which no subjective interiority remains. There is much of the East in Kleist: the Japanese fighter, interminably still, who then makes a move too quick to see. The Go player. Many things in modern art come from Kleist. Goethe and Hegel are old men next to Kleist. Could it be that it is at the moment the war machine ceases to exist, conquered by the State, that it displays to the utmost its irreducibility, that it scatters into thinking, loving, dying, or creating machines that have at their disposal vital or revolutionary powers capable of challenging the conquering State? Is the war machine already overtaken, condemned, appropriated as part of thc same process whereby it takes on new forms, undergoes a metamorphosis, affirms its irreducibility and exteriority, and deploys that milieu of pure exteriority that the occidental man of the State, or the occidental thinker, continually reduces to something other than itself?