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‘New Concepts for Unknown Lands’: Deleuze & Guattari’s Non-Nationalitarianisms

  • Philip Leonard

Abstract

In a radical departure from the idea that European modernity leaves as its legacy an emergent global syncretism, an intensification of worldwide culture, and a collapsing of spatial distance into a uniform proximity, Hardt and Negri argue that power has become delocalized and diffuse, to be found not in the ascendance of a newly dominating nation-state, but in the operations of transnational markets that are irreducible to national territoriality. ‘Empire’ is the newly inflected term for what is, according to Hardt and Negri, a global condition that encompasses all cultural forms, yet leaves world culture disharmonious and acentred. Working to deconstitute systemic totalities at the very moment that it restructures the international community, Empire is illimitable since its rule extends to enclose all social strata, but at the same time it seizes for itself an interiority that transcends history: ‘Empire’, they write, ‘can only be conceived as a universal republic, a network of powers and counterpowers structured in a boundless and inclusive architecture’.1

Keywords

Minor Literature Conceptual Invention Major Language Smooth Space Postcolonial Theory 
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Notes

  1. 1.
    Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Empire (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2000), p. 166.Google Scholar
  2. 5.
    Finding sense in Deleuze and Guattari’s work is neither possible nor desirable. Their work is based on an idea of ‘writing as a flow, not a code’ (Gilles Deleuze, ‘Letter to a Harsh Critic’, in Negotiations 1972–1990, trans. Martin Joughin (New York: Columbia University Press, 1995), p. 7); it is a ‘philosophy of the phantasm’ (Michel Foucault, ‘Theatrum Philosophicum’, in Language, Counter-Memory, Practice: Selected Essays and Interviews, ed. Donald F. Bouchard, trans. Donald F. Bouchard and Sherry Simon (Oxford: Blackwell, 1977), p. 169), with a ‘luminously schematic’ style (Fredric Jameson, ‘Marxism and Dualism in Deleuze’, South Atlantic Quarterly, 96: 3 (1997), p. 395); and ‘Reduction or extrapolation of their content from this process is almost impossible’ (Tom Conley, ‘From Multiplicities to Folds: On Style and Form in Deleuze’, South Atlantic Quarterly, 96: 3 (1997), p. 637). Attempting to avoid a reduction of their ideas, this chapter will focus on particular moments in their collaborative works: ‘1227: Treatise on Nomadology: — The War Machine’ and ‘7000B.C: Apparatus of Capture’ in A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, trans. Brian Massumi (London: Athlone, 1988), ‘What is a Minor Literature? in Kafka: Toward a MinorLiterature, trans. Dana Polan (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1986), and ‘Geophilosophy’ in What is Philosophy?, trans. Graham Burchell and Hugh Tomlinson (London: Verso, 1994).Google Scholar
  3. 6.
    Gregory J. Seignworth and J. Macgregor Wise, ‘Introduction: Deleuze and Guattari in Cultural Studies’, Cultural Studies 14: 2 (2000), p. 139.Google Scholar
  4. 7.
    Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, trans. Robert Hurley, Mark Seem and Helen R. Lane (London: Athlone, 1984), p. 136.Google Scholar
  5. 12.
    On Deleuze and Guattari and deconstruction, see Ronald Bogue, Deleuze and Guattari, (London: Routledge, 1989), pp. 156–9; Bruce Baugh, ‘Making the Difference: Deleuze’s Difference and Derrida’s Différance’, Social Semiotics 7: 2 (1997), pp. 127–46. Following Deleuze’s death in 1995, Derrida declares his feeling that ‘Deleuze undoubtedly still remains, despite so many dissimilarities, the one among all those of my “generation” to whom I have always judged myself to be the closest. I never felt the slightest “objection” arising in me, not even potentially, against any of his works, even if I happened to grumble a bit about one or another of the propositions found in Anti-Oedipus… or perhaps about the idea that philosophy consists in “creating” concepts’, Jacques Derrida, ‘I’m Going to Have to Wander All Alone’, trans. Leonard Lawlor, Philosophy Today, 42: 1 (1998), p. 3.Google Scholar
  6. 26.
    Arjun Appadurai, Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1996), p. 37.Google Scholar
  7. 27.
    Manuel de Landa, A Thousand Years of Non-Linear History (New York: Zone, 1997), p. 262.Google Scholar
  8. 29.
    Gyan Prakash, ‘Who’s Afraid of Postcoloniality?’, Social Text, 14: 4 (1996), p. 199.Google Scholar
  9. 30.
    Timothy W. Luke, ‘New Order or Neo-World Orders: Power, Politics and Ideology in Informationalizing Glocalities’, in Mike Featherstone, Scott Lash and Roland Robertson (eds), Global Modernities (London: Sage, 1995), p. 99.Google Scholar
  10. 33.
    For some commentators, Deleuze and Guattari’s characterization of nomadic disruption remains unconvincing. Christopher Miller, for example, recognizes that ‘nomad thought’ is ‘one of the most compelling models of postidentitarian thinking available in the marketplace of theoretical ideas today’. Christopher Miller, Nationalists and Nomads: Essays on Francophone African Literature and Culture (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998), p. 173. But he also argues that their reliance upon established anthropological sources allows ‘a reading of Deleuze and Guattari’s nomadology as representational and arborescent instead of free and rhizomorphous. If Deleuze and Guattari’s nomad thought is in fact arborescent, if it is rooted in and follows from the practices of, for example, a violently representational, colonial ethnography while at the same time claiming to be anticolonial, antianthropological, and nonrepresentational, then it might have to be considered as one of the “pseudomultiplicities” that the authors abhor’, Miller, Nationalists and Nomads, pp. 181–2.Google Scholar
  11. 49.
    The notion of a ‘major literature’ is one that Deleuze appears to move away from in his own, later writing. In ‘Literature and Life’, for example, he states that all writing is in a process of becoming: ‘Writing is a question of becoming, always incomplete, always in the midst of being formed’, Gilles Deleuze, ‘Literature and Life’, in Essays Critical and Clinical, trans. Daniel W. Smith and Michael A. Greco (London: Verso, 1998), p. 1. He further claims, following Proust, that all writing effects a deterritorialization of linguistic order, a creation of a new vocabulary and a transformation of discursive nationality: literature ‘brings about not only a decomposition or destruction of the maternal language, but also the invention of a new language within language… a foreign language cannot be hollowed out in one language without language as a whole being toppled or pushed to a limit’. Other forms of textual production do exist, though for Deleuze these cannot be called ‘writing’ or ‘literature’: ‘among all those who make books, even among the mad, there are very few who can call themselves writers’, Deleuze, ‘Literature and Life’, pp. 5–6.Google Scholar
  12. 54.
    Reda Bensmaia, ‘On the Concept of Minor Literature From Kafka to Kateb Yacine’, trans. Jennifer Curtiss Gage, in Constantin V. Boundas and Dorothea Olkowski, Gilles Deleuze and the Theatre of Philosophy (London: Routledge, 1994), p. 220.Google Scholar
  13. 57.
    Leela Gandhi, Postcolonial Theory: A Critical Introduction (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1998), p. 84.Google Scholar
  14. 58.
    Gilles Deleuze and Claire Parnet, ‘On the Superiority of Anglo-American Literature’, in Dialogues, trans. Hugh l’omlinson and Barbara Habberjam (London: Athlone, 1987), p. 43.Google Scholar
  15. 59.
    Eugene W. Holland, ‘Marx and Poststructuralist Philosophies of Difference’, South Atlantic Quarterly, 96: 3 (1997), pp. 530–1.Google Scholar
  16. 61.
    Cf Bhabha: ‘The conditions of minority discourse — “deterritoriality”, political immediacy, collective value — do not answer the question of emergence-as-enunciation; for it is the performative act of enunciation — Deleuze and Guattari’s list of metaphors of minority discourse, such as tearing away, vibrating with a new intensity, a ladder, a circuit — that fleshes out minority inscription as a mode of agency’. Homi Bhabha, ‘Editor’s Introduction: Minority Maneuvers and Unsettled Negotiations’, Criticallnquiry, 23: 3 (1997), p. 441.Google Scholar
  17. 65.
    Alice A. Jardine, Gynesis: Configurations of Woman and Modernity (Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1985), p. 217.Google Scholar
  18. 67.
    Rosi Braidotti, ‘Toward a New Nomadism: Feminist Deleuzian Tracks; or, Metaphysics and Metabolism’, in Boundas and Olkowski (eds), Gilles Deleuze and the Theatre ofPhilosophy, p. 169.Google Scholar
  19. 69.
    Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, p. 276, cited in Elizabeth Grosz, “‘A Thousand Tiny Sexes”: Feminism and Rhizomatics’, in Boundas and Olkowski, Gilles Deleuze and the Theatre ofPhilosophy, p. 207.Google Scholar
  20. 71.
    Gilles Deleuze and Claire Parnet, ‘Many Politics’, in Dialogues, p. 128.Google Scholar
  21. 77.
    Friedrich Nietzsche, The Will to Power, trans. Walter Kaufmann and R.J. Hollingdale (New York: Vintage, 1967), p. 231.Google Scholar
  22. 89.
    Deleuze and Guattari, What is Philosophy?, p. 94. John Ratchman offers an eloquent and detailed account of the concept in The Deleuze Connections (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2000).Google Scholar
  23. 98.
    In this manner, Deleuze and Guattari bring together two issues - the birth of Europe and the emergence of capitalism - that concern Samir Amin: ‘The myth of Greek ancestry performs an essential function in the Eurocentric construct. It is an emotional claim, artificially constructed in order to evade the real question - why did capitalism appear in Europe before it did elsewhere? - by replacing it instead, amidst a panoply of false answers, with the idea that the Greek heritage predisposed Europe to rationality. In this myth, Greece was the mother of rational philosophy, while the “Orient” never succeeded in going beyond metaphysics’. Samir Amin, Eurocentrism, trans. Russell Moore (London: Zed Books, 1989), p. 91.Google Scholar
  24. 111.
    What differentiates Deleuze and Guattari’s work from that of Hardt and Negri is the recognition of the way in which conceptual invention is shaped by, as well as a critical response to, established systems of thought. Timothy Brennan asks: ‘How does one borrow ideas without assuming their contextual resonances as first formulated in a system, regardless of whether such a system is summoned for contemporary use? Because Hardt and Negri ignore this logical difficulty, they have little choice but to revert to a functional relationship to the concepts they adduce. As such, their “new constellations” are rendered vulgarly pragmatic’. Timothy Brennan, ‘The Empire’s New Clothes’, Critical Inquiry, 29: 2 (2003), p. 359.Google Scholar
  25. 112.
    Jean-Luc Nancy, ‘The Deleuzian Fold of Thought’, in Paul Patton (ed.), Deleuze: A Critical Reader (Oxford: Blackwell, 1996), pp. 110–11.Google Scholar
  26. 113.
    Gilles Deleuze, ‘A Portrait of Foucault’, in Negotiations, p. 103.Google Scholar

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© Philip Leonard 2005

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  • Philip Leonard

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