Autonomy at the limit: Playing with Deleuze and Guattari around contemporary rebellions

(This text is born of an experiment, an experiment in progress, that of thinking through our contemporary rebellions with the tools of contemporary philosophy.  Spain´s 15M is the example considered here and the hypothetical conclusion arrived at is that the movement is not a political subject in any conventional sense, nor does it have specific goals, identified programmatically, for example. Put very simply, it is not somebody aiming at something, but an anybody without purpose, a useless nobody; 15M´s radicalism lies here.

Parts of this text borrow freely from earlier posts on the site).

Sovereignty is revolt; it is not the exercise of power.  Authentic sovereignty refuses …

Georges Bataille, Inner Experience

Politics is active experimentation, since we do not know in advance which way a line is going to turn.

Gilles Deleuze, Many Politics

We don’t wish to take power, but rather destroy it; to destroy the monopoly of the user of force by the State, to destroy the relations of domination and control over the territory; to destroy the possibility of accumulation of private property, of alienation, of atomization, of the self; until a concept of the We within a collective society is constituted.

CSO Casablanca, Madrid

i.          The reflection here undertaken is an exercise in cartography, but not at the service of a state.  For the state, cartography is above all an instrument to trace territory, its limits and types, for the purpose of appropriation, consolidation and exploitation.  Our mapping, on the contrary, “is entirely oriented toward an experimentation in contact with the real.”[1]  The real, in this instance, is the 15th of May movement of Spain, the movement of the indignados, a part of our larger “time of riots”, according to Alain Badiou.[2]  The aim then is not to domesticate this reality in thought, identifying its component parts, analysing their mutual relations and relations to a broader social reality and then on this basis, proffering empirical generalisations about the movement, or hypothesising about what is necessary for its success or what may condemn it to failure.  It is rather, with Gilles Delueze and Felix Guattari as our guides, to develop an experiment in the conceptualisation of the 15M movement; a conceptualisation that is of the order of a making, and not of a representing.

(The risk here of course is that what is presented as 15M is the product of my thought, and my thought only.  But as no thought can be claimed as the exclusive property of any individual, perhaps the risk is less weighty than it appears to be).

“They don’t represent us”: this slogan-statement expressed from the earliest moments of the movement must be taken in the broadest sense possible, as a rejection not only of political representation, but also of all mediated relationships that can serve to control and fix those represented.  And this includes possible knowledge of the movement.  The mapping must thereby be understood as a part of what is mapped.  And because it is not to be equated with a tracing that stabilises, the map “is detachable, reversible, susceptible to constant modification.”[3]  That the mapping and the mapped somehow overlap, mutually shape each other, does invite however the perhaps obvious queries: what is the nature of the mapping, epistemologically and politically, and what is being mapped, ontologically?  But the questions themselves assume precisely what Deleuze’s and Guattari’s philosophy always sought to go beyond, namely, a subject-object divide that renders thought unthinkable.

Subject and object give a poor approximation of thought.  Thinking is neither a line drawn between subject and object nor a revolving of one around the other.  Rather, thinking takes place in the relationship of territory and the earth.[4]

To speak of mapping, as opposed to tracing, is to bring us before realities which defy the latter; it is to follow territories against the background of the earth that refuses all stable territories.  Among the many expressions of 15M, to take but one example, has been the organisation of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual affinity groups within the movement.  One such group is the Transmaricabollo of 15M in Madrid.  In the group’s first manifesto, its members speak as, give voice to, bodies and precarious identities, and the document concludes with the statement, “We animate the rebellion of bodies, and we place our bodies and pleasures above the logic of the market.”[5]  Yet what Deleuze and Guattari defend, and what the Transmaricabollo collective echoes, is that a “body is not defined by the form that determines it nor as a determinate substance or subject nor by the organs it possesses or the functions it fulfils.”[6]  The body is also, below or beneath any apparent form, “a longitude and a latitude”, that is, “the sum total of the material elements belonging to it under given relations of movement and rest, speed and slowness (longitude); the sum total of the intensive affects it is capable of at a given power or degree of potential (latitude).”[7]  This dimension of the body, its haecceity or thisness, is precisely what resists tracing.  It can however be mapped by what Deleuze and Guattari call an “intensity map”.[8]

Haeceities are forms of individuation not to be subsumed under categories such as “a person, subject, thing or substance.”[9]  They “consist entirely of relations of movement and rest between molecules or particles, capacities to affect and be affected.”[10]  All things, including  subjects, are, in addition to being things, haeceities; it is “this assemblage that is defined by a longitude and a latitude, by speeds and affects, independently of form and subjects, which belong to another plane.”[11]  This plane Deleuze and Guattari call the plane of consistency, and here nothing has beginning or end, origin or destination; whatever is, “it is always in the middle.”[12]  Comprised of a multiplicity of lines, it is a rhizome.[13]

The thisness of 15M begins, as its very name suggests, as a mere date in the calendar year of 2011.  It appears first as a protest called against Spanish government austerity measures, that then becomes an encampment in the Puerta del Sol square of Madrid, violently repressed in the night of the 16th to the 17th, only to be answered with the occupation of the square, an act repeated then in dozens of other cities throughout the country.  The “Spanish Revolution” had begun and it continues still in an exuberant plurality of forms.  All of this nevertheless took place in the absence of any overall planning, centralised organisation, leadership or overarching ideology.  15M’s singularity is not that of a unique, structured organisation.  It is perhaps best described as of the order of an event, as Deleuze employs this term in reading France’s May of 1968, but which he also considers to have characterised the Revolution of 1789, the Commune of 1871 and the Revolution of 1917.  Such movements, as events, are not reducible to any social determinism or causality.  They break with it and thereby open “up a new field of the possible.”[14]  More radically still than the older revolutions, May ’68 is described by Deleuze as a “pure event”, an event “free of all normal, or normative causality.”[15]  But so freed of all causality, it is also an agency that lacks any stable and homogeneous identity on the level of a subject.  (Edgar Morin would characterise May ’68 as a “revolution without a face”).[16]

The event of May ’68, as a “bifurcation”, “a deviation with respect to laws”[17], is in Deleuze’s and Guattari’s terms, a line of flight, a path of deterritorialisation, a becoming.  Conceived of relatively, it is an escape between assemblages of consistent, heterogeneous material (things/subjects), material (re)territorialised.  Absolutely, it is a deterritorialisation to the plane of consistency, thereby creating new multiplicities and/or dissolving older ones.  And if May ’68 is a bifurcation “left off”, according to Deleuze, it is because French society failed to form collective agencies that could express /capture the new subjectivities of the event and their desires, because it was a becoming that created no adequate territorialisations,[18] 15M may be read similarly, but also as pointing beyond May’68 and Deleuze’s own reading of it.

15M, in the many early manifestos that emerged from the movement, presented itself as struggling for dignity.  Those who gave it life rejected any representational role, spoke only for themselves; they were “joined by a singular cause of change”, a change which places human life above “political and economic interests”, a change governed by those who desire change.[19]  “An ethical revolution is necessary”(emphasis mine), the revolution of those, “like you”, the common and ordinary people, who have been reduced to the status of commodities.[20]  “We are anonymous, yet without us nothing would exist, for we move the world”.[21]  Or from the acampada of Valencia, “We have neither a name, nor a leader and nor are we in a hurry”.  Nameless and leaderless, depicted under a non-identifying white flag by the Spanish artist El Roto (Andrés Rábago García),[22] 15M is an ongoing experiment, a multiplicity of lines of flight balancing between balancing between deterritorialisations and territorialisations that is a becoming-revolutionary in a “combat”[23] against State and Capitalist forms.  The ambition here then is to map/think the becoming of 15M, its intensities, its “moments of excess”.[24]

ii.         A chimera points to what is imaginative, implausible, a general term to mark out an idea or a concept as unrealistic; in our so realistic present, a seemingly unanswerable objection to all that is proposed that is different from that which is perceived to be.  But the term here masquerades as descriptive, when in fact its function is normative.  One should not think the implausible, or differences beyond what is, nor, even more dangerously, act upon such thought.  To judge as chimerical is to exclude, and possibly even prohibit and condemn all that is not immediately present, actual.  And if this segmented, static reality is held to be the proper object of thought, then it is thought itself which is prohibited.  The chimerical is placed beyond the border of reality and reason.  It refers to a space of fantasy, delirium, madness; a space which then reflects back upon and helps to define what is real and reasonable.  To embrace the chimerical is then to engage in an act of transgression, to pursue a line of flight, a moment/event of rebellion.  Revolution is monstrous, for its nature is of the ancient chimera, not only of the order of “unreality”, but of a real that is polymorphous.  Unsusceptible to domestication, unpredictable in its movements, it is the life that feeds all creativity.

On the 9th of May, 2013, in the Plaza de Cabestreros, in the neighbourhood of Lavapiés of Madrid, the building that formerly housed the Centro Social Okupado El Laboratorio 2 (1999-2001) was retaken.  The day after, a statement presented the project to surrounding the neighbourhood, followed on the 20th by the Centre’s baptism: Centro Social (re)Okupado y Autogestionado La Quimera.

There are today in Madrid and in the surrounding area over two dozen self-managed occupied social centres that serve a variety of purposes, but which can perhaps all be summarised by the aim of forming spaces and times of resistance to the governance of territory by the space-time of the State and Capital.  These Centres are not all of course children of 15M, but 15M has served as a catalyst, when it has not been directly responsible, for their creation, along with occupations of residences for housing and of land for farming.  And the original statement of the social centre La Quimera reveals much of what is at stake in the politics of okupations.  The centre is presented as a liberated space, liberated from real estate speculation, as well as from state authority.  The purpose of the liberation “is to transform this dead, closed space, into a living, open one”, to make of it a collective space, where lives may be lived as fully as possible, where “we can develop our many different dimensions with other people”, a space “where we can make real what we believe in.”  The collective responsible for the occupation has however a history which predates La Quimera.  “We come from La Escoba, La Alarma, Malaya, La Mácula, Casablanca, Magerit, Raíces”: the names of a series of occupied social centres from Madrid’s past which have been, over the course of time, moments of territorialisation of the collective that has animated them, an assemblage today open, open to “all of the inhabitants of the neighbourhood, of the city, and from everywhere for those who wish to arrive here, who wish to come and live it and build it.”[25]

15M began with a call to take the streets (Toma la calle), that was followed by an act of occupation, the occupation of a central square in Madrid, an act to be repeated throughout Spain’s cities.  The squares, the plazas, became the concentrated spaces for the realisation/living of desires, and briefly, those who occupied them became the people.  But in the Puerta del Sol, one could also read, amidst the eruption of text that decorated the square, “This plaza has no borders”.  And as the acampada of Madrid is dismantled a month after its creation, to take on another life in a multiplicity of neighbourhood based assemblies, as well as thematic working groups, the following text appeared in Sol: “We are not going, we have moved to your consciousness.”

15M, since its emergence, has been essentially fluid.  It is a movement, a collection of movements that fill spaces, only then to move onto and into others.  As they pass, the spaces are taken, appropriated, transformed and settled, or abandoned.  The ephemeral has to this day haunted all that appears under its name.  Whatever solidity that emerges from it seems precarious, both because of its very nature and because throughout, it has been “hunted” by the mechanisms of the State.  Like a situationist experiment, 15M creations have consistently been set up “on the basis of more or less clearly recognised desires, a temporary field of activity favourable to these desires.”  In this manner, desires are clarified and new desires surge up “whose material roots will be precisely the new reality engendered by the situationist constructions.”[26]  15M occupies and moves through urban spaces lightly, like Deleuze’s and Guattari’s nomads, escaping and challenging the borders of territorial State control.

The nomads who animate A Thousand Plateaus are only secondarily the historical populations that the term is typically held to refer to.  For Deleuze and Guattari, nomadism is a concept, the concept of a war machine.  The machine, for our two authors, is what draws out changes in an assemblage, in a multiplicity in movement; it is “like a set of cutting edges that insert themselves into the assemblage undergoing deterritorialisation, and draw variations and mutations from it.”[27]  Social formations are in turn understood in light of this concept, with different types of social formations being associated with different machinic processes.  State societies are then defined by machinic apparatuses of capture.[28]  “The State is sovereignty.  But sovereignty only reigns over what it is capable of internalising, of appropriating locally.”[29]  Materially, the State depends upon territory, labour and fiscal revenue.[30]  The corresponding means of capturing these are respectively rent, profit and taxes, which together permit the material constitution of a Stock, a Supply, necessary for the existence of a State.[31]  In parallel, the State as Sovereign rests upon a decision that establishes the exception, but not only the exception as other, as enemy.  The decision also defines a territory that demarcates the limits of State authority.  The analysis here is of course Carl Schmitt’s, and to this extent Deleuze and Guattari follow him.  The “taking of land” in Schmitt’s The Nomos of the Earth complements the political decision on the “exception” of his Political Theology.[32]  The law of the land is a spatial order, an order of spatial location and delimitation which expresses the occupation of land by powers that then objectify and make manifest their “right” through law and territorial administration.  Political sovereignty demands a circumscribed and organised space; a striated space, as Deleuze and Guattari will refer to it.  In contrast, the “primary determination of nomads is to occupy and hold a smooth space: it is this aspect that determines them as nomad (essence).”[33]  To hold a space is however not to possess it.  The nomad space is smooth, unlimited, or impossible to delimit within fixed borders.  Its smoothness is nevertheless not the consequence of an intrinsic or produced homogeneity, but rather the result of how the space is moved over/through, with whatever may serve as marker doing so in a changing manner according to the movement.  The opposition then between State and nomad is an opposition between kinds of space, between distinct ways of mobilising space.  Nomadic territorialisation smoothes out space such that it becomes impossible to appropriate definitively, whereas the State requires invariable land markers to immobilise space, such that territories and populations can be identified and governed.  The nomad makes of the earth a great deterritorialised space, as well as being the greatest power of deterritorialising: the war machine.

To speak of war machines is not necessarily to speak of war.  The war machine is the invention of the nomad, “because it is in its essence the constitutive element of smooth space, the occupation of this space, displacement within this space, and the corresponding composition of people: this is its sole and veritable positive object (nomos).”[34]  If war follows on the nomadic, “it is because it collides with States and cities, as forces (of striation) opposing its positive object.”[35]  The war machine is then confronted by an enemy, the State.  The guerrilla wars of contemporary history are examples of such military conflict.  In this confrontation of spaces, battles between organised armies give way to asymmetrical conflicts, with the guerrilla giving precedence to mobility, lightness, speed, attacking points of weakness in the enemy lines, and deconstructing space where it is possible to do so.  The issue here however is not merely tactical; it is also political.[36]  The kind of space invented by the guerrilla is one with this nomadic agency.  The smooth space of the nomadic war machine is dissonant with the striated space of state centred politics, and opposes to it a politics of freedom.  Deleuze states this clearly in his very eloquent analysis of the work of T.E. Lawrence.  “The problem of guerrilla warfare merges with that of the desert: it is the problem of individuality or subjectivity, even if it is a group subjectivity, in which the fate of freedom is at stake, whereas the problem of wars and armies is the organisation of an anonymous mass subjected to objective rules, which set out to turn men into ‘types’.”[37]

15M is best thought of as a nomadic war machine.  Its combats are not fought however with military means, its guerrillas or partisans having only their naked bodies to resist the direct violence of the State.  But battle is avoided.  In the cracks of the state administered social body, in the fissures of a dysfunctional economy, movements and gestures of border transgression, of decoding, appear; lines of flight opening up other possibilities of life rooted in territorialities of experimentation.  The scale of the new realities may appear modest when compared to the territories of the Spanish State, not to mention those of global Capitalism.  Yet they are sizeable enough to affect the form of a moving archipelago.

It is of course impossible to speak of 15M as a single movement, as already intimated.  It has been rather a mobilisation within which different actors in society, some associated with older social and political projects, and others new to political activism, have coalesced around a common refusal of current political and economic realities, born of moral indignation.  And over the course of its short history, it has gathered to itself and given life to, a remarkable proliferation of political practices and discourses; indeed, so much so that it is today impossible to delimit the space of 15M.  That demands have emerged from the movement that are modest in scope (e.g., reform of the country’s electoral law, bankruptcy and eviction law and the constitution), defensive in character (e.g., protests against budget cuts to health and education, against labour reforms) and limited in ambition (e.g., free access to public transportation and no income taxes for the poor), is evident.  But more radical positions have also found expression which cannot in any obvious way be negotiated with the State and which avoid, seek to navigate around or contest, existing instruments of sovereignty.  This latter is the 15M of occupations, of the construction of alternative economies, of the refusal to distinguish between immigrant and Spaniard; the nomadic 15M of the war machine.

iii.        A Thousand Plateaus declares that the central political issue of our times is “that of smashing capitalism, of redefining socialism, of constituting a war machine capable of countering the world war machine [of global Capitalism] by other means.”[38]  What has so far been said of 15M is insufficient to establish the movement’s “credentials” as revolutionary, as announcing a becoming-revolutionary.

The first difficulty arises from the overly simple opposition presented between states and nomadic war machines, suggesting somehow an external relation of incompatibility and intrinsic opposition.  But Deleuze and Guattari are from defending such a naivety.  As they put the matter, never “believe that a smooth space will suffice to save us”.[39]  The binary opposition between State and war machine serves the heuristic end of illustrating a machinic process distinct from that of capture by the State.  But all social machinic processes can and do coexist in a diversity of relations which vary from situation to situation.  (Aside from State capture and the nomadic war machine, Deleuze and Guattari also speak of anticipation and warding off as definitive of primitive societies, polarisation as the force of cities, and globalising as characterising Capitalism). There is in fact no pure form of capture or war machine.  Individual machinic processes can also be appropriated one by the other (e.g., the State captures a war machine), transfer or move between each other, as well as change.[40]  “Each power is a force of deterritorialisation that can go along with the others or go against them … .  Each process can switch over to other powers, but also subordinate other processes to its own power.”[41]

Furthermore, lines of flight, radical deterritorialisations, are not themselves without danger, the danger of “turning into lines of abolition, of destruction, of others and oneself”; of leading only to death.[42]  In parallel, the State, traced out on lines of rigid and violent segments,  cannot be simply destroyed.  Deleuze suggests that such rigid classifications are reassuring, even while constructing us as fearful, pitiless and bitter creatures.  But construct us they do, and thus to simply destroy the state would be to destroy ourselves.  And lastly, as molecular and molar lines intersect, both in turn being crossed by lines of flight, a politics which focuses on one level to the exclusion of others does so at the risk of failure.  And a politics that altogether ignores the State, for fear of “recuperation”, condemns itself to irrelevance.[43]

Politically, the consequences of these complexities and difficulties are far reaching.  Deleuze and Guattari never propose that politics simply be read off an ontology, and this because no ontology is constructed independently of politics.[44]  And the question of revolution, according to Deleuze, has never reduced itself to a choice between utopian spontaneity or the organisation of a State.[45]  The question is, and has always been, an organisational one, and not at all ideological.[46]  Is “an organisation possible which is not modelled on the apparatus of the State, even to prefigure the State to come?”[47]  How “can one invent a new type of war machine … in spite of knowing that it leads us to abolition”?[48]  No obvious or simple answers are to be found to these questions.  As Deleuze says, “there is no general prescription.”[49]  Between global Capitalism, the State and revolutionaries, everything “is played in uncertain games.”[50]  What then is one to make of Deleuze’s “new type of revolution”?[51]  Part of the answer may lie in Deleuze’s and Guattari’s concept of the minority.

“Ours is becoming the age of minorities”[52] and in the struggle of minorities emerge alternative war machines, the possibility of revolutionary becomings.[53]  Two interconnected meanings are discernable in the elaboration of the concept.  The first refers to the negative of global Capitalism: the diversity of populations that are oppressed and/or marginalised by the overall regime of power, and who, in moments of crisis, may rise up against it.[54]  A second, more complex meaning is also however present.  A minority in this instance is defined through the assignment of an identity measured against a normative identity (e.g., “woman” defined against “man”, “black” against “white”, and the like).  The opposition in this instance is not a quantitative one (the minority may even be a qualitative majority).  Majority, in this case, is the standard or constant measure.  A determination different from it will therefore be considered as pertaining to a minority: “a subsystem or an outsystem.”[55]  But the power and domination of such a majority are inherently unstable, because the majority, expressed in the standard of measure of identity, is empty, is always nobody.[56]  The “average adult-white-heterosexual-European-male speaking a standard language”, for example, is nowhere to be found.[57]  Consequently, the ideal of attaining it is impossible.  There is then no becoming-majoritarian possible.  But where the opposition of majority and minority refers to fixed systems of identity attribution, centred ultimately around a standard devoid of content, the minoritarian “is a potential, creative and created, becoming”.[58] This is a becoming that begins in the minority (“I am woman”, “I am black”, etc.), but because it is an identity defined against an empty norm, it can only become by creating itself through itself, thereby overstepping and transgressing the imposed identity that fixed it as a minority.  (It can therefore be said of minoritarian becoming that it is a becoming-woman, a becoming-black, and so on).  A space then opens up for powers of becoming which escape the established regimes of power and domination, powers of becoming whose future territorialisations are unstable and unpredictable, but as such also nondenumerable.  The space and agency of becoming-minoritarian Deleuze and Guattari call autonomy.[59]

What is proper to the minority is to assert a power of the nondenumerable, even if that minority is comprised of a single member.  That is the formula for multiplicities.  Minority as a universal figure, or becoming-everybody/everything.[60]

What global Capital and states cannot tolerate is “when people demand to formulate their problems themselves, and to determine at least the particular conditions under which they can receive a more general solution.”[61]  The space of the nondenumerable minority thus runs up against the segmented agencies of power, not ignoring them, but combating them.

If organisation is the issue, then the question becomes what organisational form best expresses the desires of a minoritarian war machine and its lines of flight.  Without again any formal decision or planning, the assembly has appeared as the very heart of the self-organisation and creation of 15M.  Leaderless, horizontal, participatory, open, the assemblies of the movement have become schools of political participation, constituting simultaneously new agencies and shaping the very conditions of possibility of those agencies.  And self-organisation has taken the movement towards ever more significant forms of self-management.[62]  The assembly does not eliminate the tensions within the war machine.  The risk of the dissolution of 15M and all that it has made possible versus some type of opportunistic institutionalisation are real, at least in the short term.  The tension however is lived and the multiplicities of assemblies of anonymous indignados have so far displayed the wisdom necessary to navigate between the dangers, perhaps thereby projecting a future beyond May’68’s unfinished revolution.

iv.        What finally sustains the assemblies of 15M is affinity, lived as the love of friendship.  The task of responding to the social crises is not of course irrelevant and the choice of the assembly as the mode of organisation is of profound political consequence.  Nevertheless, to speak of friendship here may point us towards an altogether different conception of politics.

Deleuze had the occasion to write of Herman Melville’s Bartleby the Scrivener.  Deleuze reads the character of Bartleby from what he calls Bartleby’s formula: “I would prefer not to.”  The statement’s termination, “not to”, “leaves what it reject undetermined”, bestowing upon the phrase then a kind of “limit function”.[63]  It neither affirms nor negates, neither refuses nor accepts; the formula suspends both possibilities, and thus Bartleby withdraws from action.  “The formula is devastating because it eliminates the preferable just as mercilessly as the nonpreferred.  It not only abolishes the term it refers to, and that it rejects, but also abolishes the other term that it seemed to preserve, and that becomes impossible.  In fact, it renders them indistinct. … All particularity, all reference is abolished.”[64]  Bartleby expresses not a nihilistic will to nothingness, but rather a growing nothingness of the will.  He is urged to say yes or no to what is demanded of him, but either response would translate into his defeat.  His survival, his strength, is born of his withdrawal from all affirmation or negation; his pure passivity, his being “as being, and nothing more.”[65]  “If Bartleby had refused, he could still be seen as a rebel or insurrectionary, and as such would still have a social role.  But the formula stymies all speech acts, and at the same time, it makes Bartleby a pure outsider to whom no social position can be attributed.”[66]

Bartleby’s employer, the attorney, then finds that his efforts to understand and to help Bartleby are condemned to failure, for the attorney can only grasp another person from within a general, hierarchical distribution of social functions.  Bartleby’s radicalism is that he appears and prefers to be outside all such functionality.  Before it, he places preference, the preference not to prefer, or desire, the desire not to desire.  “Bartleby is the man without references, without possessions, without properties, without qualities, without particularities: he is too smooth for anyone to be able to hang any particularity on him.  Without past or future, he is instantaneous.”[67]  For Deleuze, Bartleby is one example among many to be found in 19th century literature of a search for a new man, a man without a name, and as nameless, a regicide or parricide.[68]  Such figures reveal the artificiality, emptiness and mediocrity of our world and its orders.  They reveal the possibility of a world beyond the father, the law, “a society of brothers as a new universality.”[69]  Deleuze’s brothers and sisters are not filial; they are not rooted in consanguinity.  They are tied rather by an “alliance”, a “blood pact”, “drawing its members into an unlimited becoming.”[70]  “A brother, a sister, all the more true for no longer being “his” or “hers”, since all “property”, all “proprietorship”, has disappeared.  A burning passion deeper than love, since it no longer has either substance or qualities, but traces a zone of indiscernibility in which it passes through all intensities in every direction”.[71]

Deleuze has perhaps no more messianic a reflection than this and finds in Bartleby the figure of a different kind of power of contestation, the power of refusing power.  “Bartleby is … the new Christ or the brother to us all.”[72] He is the member of a community freed from sovereignty, a political community of friends; of men and women without qualities or property, held together by nothing more than confidence in each other and in their ability to become, together, in this world.  And the greatest promise of 15M lies in this politics of friendship.


[1] Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, London: Continuum, 1988, p. 13.

[2] Alain Badiou, Le Réveil de l’Histoire: Circonstances 6, Nouvelles Éditions Lignes, 2011, 101-2.

[3] A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, p. 13.

[4] Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, What is Philosophy?, New York: Columbia University Press, 1994, p. 85.

[5] “Manifesto Transmaricabollo”, Madrid, June 4, 2011 (, retrieved June 10, 2013.



[6] A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, p. 287.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid., p. 181.

[9] Ibid., p. 287.



[10] Ibid., p. 288.

[11] Ibid., p. 289.

[12] Ibid., p. 290.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Gilles Deleuze, “May ’68 Did Not Take Place”, in Two Regimes of Madness, New York: Semiotext(e), 2007, p. 233.

[15] Ibid.

[16] Edgar Morin, “Un revolution sans visage”, in Edgar Morin, Claude Lefort, Cornelius Castoriadis, Mai 68: La Brèche suivit de Vingts ans après, Fayard, 2008.

[17] “May ’68 Did Not Take Place”, p. 233.

[18] Ibid. pp. 234-6.

[19] Manifesto(May 15), (, retrieved June 10, 2013; Declaration of Principles (Barcelona, May 20, 2011), (, retrieved June 10, 2013.

[20] ¡Democracia Real Ya! (Manifesto – English), (, retrieved June 10, 2013.

[21] Ibid.

[22] El Pais, 18/05/2011 (, retrieved June 10, 2013.

[23] Gilles Deleuze, “To Have Done with Judgment”, in Essays Critical and Clinical, London: Verso, 1998, pp. 132-5.

[24] The Free Association, Moments of Excess, (October 2004), (, retrieved June 10, 2013.

[25] Comunicado del Centro Social (re)Okupado La Quimera, posted 26th of May, 2013 ( , retrieved June 10, 2013.

[26] “Preliminary Problems in Constructing a Situation”, in Situationist International Anthology, Berkeley, CA: Bureau of Public Secrets, 1981, p. 43.

[27] A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, p. 367.

[28] Ibid., p. 480.

[29] Ibid., p. 397

[30] Ibid., p. 522.

[31] Ibid., pp. 483-95.

[32] Carl Schmitt, The Nomos of the Earth in the International Law of the Jus Publicum Europaeum, New York: Telos Press, 2006; Carl Schmitt, Political Theology, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005.

[33] A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, p. 452.

[34] Ibid., p. 460.

[35] Ibid.

[36] For a defense of the political nature of guerrilla war in the context of the Spanish Civil War/Revolution, see André Prudhommeaux, Cahiers de Terre libre and Catalogne 36-37, as selected in Daniel Guerin, Ni Dieu ni Maître: Anthologie de l’anarchisme/tome II, Paris: La Découverte, 1999.

[37] Gilles Deleuze, “The Shame and the Glory: T.E. Lawrence”, in Essays Critical and Clinical, p. 121.

[38] A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, pp. 521-2.

[39] Ibid., p. 551.

[40] Ibid., pp. 482-3.

[41] Ibid., p. 483.

[42] Gilles Deleuze and Claire Parnet, Dialogues II, New York : Columbia University Press, 2002, pp. 140; 142-5.

[43] Ibid., p. 138.

[44] A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, p. 225.

[45] Dialogues II, p. 145.

[46] Ibid.

[47] Ibid.

[48] Ibid., p. 143.

[49] Ibid., p. 144.

[50] Ibid., p. 147.

[51] Ibid.

[52] A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, p. 518.

[53] A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, p. 518-20; Dialogues II, pp. 146-7.

[54] Dialogues II, pp. 146-7.

[55] A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, p. 117.

[56] Ibid.

[57] Ibid.

[58] Ibid.

[59] Ibid., p. 118.

[60] Ibid., p. 520.

[61] Ibid.

[62] See: Ángel Calle Collado, “Las Assembleas: Le Médula del Movimiento”, in ¡Espabilemos! Argumentos desde el 15-M, Madrid: Catarata, 2012.

[63] Gilles Deleuze, “Bartelby; or, The Formula”, in Essays Critical and Clinical, p. 68.

[64] Ibid., p. 71.

[65] Ibid.

[66] Ibid., p. 73.

[67] Ibid., p. 74.

[68] Ibid.

[69] Ibid., p. 84.

[70] Ibid.

[71] Ibid.

[72] Ibid., p. 90.


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