Nomad Citizenship revisited

I’m planning to write what would be in effect a “last chapter” to be added to my book on Nomad Citizenship. In that book, I argue that nomad citizens should self-organize in groups that constitute alternatives to state citizenship, in order to participate in markets and other forms of exchange that constitute alternatives to capitalist markets.  In this additional “chapter,” I propose ways that nomad citizens can intervene in existing institutions, in addition to forming nomad groups of their own.  The aim, in other words, is to develop a political theory of the institution, drawing on both schizoanalysis and nomadology.

My point of departure will be Althusser – for despite fundamental agreement with him on some issues, Deleuze & Guattari vehemently rejected the notion of ideology – even the improved version Althusser developed in his famous essay on Ideological State Apparatuses.  For Deleuze & Guattari such “apparatuses” or institutions belong to neither ideology nor the state, and the aim of this paper is to show why Deleuze & Guattari reject ideology in favor of institutions, and how a political theory of the institution emerges from the two volumes of Capitalism and Schizophrenia that stimulates creativity rather than disobedience and promotes productive action rather than mere resistance.

The first step will be to show how the early Althusser’s locating ideology in the construction of the subject oedipalizes the latter through obedience to the law (thematized but not critiqued by Butler), whereas the pre-oedipal fractured self gets constituted in relation to the part-object Real and the post-oedipal subject gets constituted in relation to a fractured Symbolic order, whose supposed authority the schizophrenic subject denies. (The fractured Symbolic order is akin to Derrida’s non-centered structure.)

Against the kind of personification involved in subject-construction according to Sartre, Lacan, and Levinas, the schizophrenic subject is thus not constituted in relation to a person or even the figure of a person (police officer, sujet-supposé-savoir), but in relation to an assemblage or situation, which includes people but also includes things, material processes, and institutional arrangements.  The authority denied to the Symbolic Other gets displaced onto situations or institutions, which (as political theorist Mary Parker Follett has argued) contain authority immanently as formations of “related difference” (nomadic multiplicities).  This is akin to Badiou’s construction of the subject in fidelity to an Event – except that for Deleuze & Guattari such events are not rare, they are ubiquitous: they are called becomings.  Productive schizophrenic subjectivity [nomad citizenship] is constituted in relation to (some of) the becomings inherent in any situation.

The second step will be to show (in line with Gibson-Graham’s work) that fracturing the Symbolic order explodes the mode of production (featured in the first volume of Capitalism and Schizophrenia) into machinic processes: in the second volume, the mode of production is determined by machinic processes rather than the other way around.  In line with late Althusser, the question for a mode of production is always whether a given set of machinic processes, institutional arrangements and corresponding subjective roles maintains sufficient consistency for the mode to reproduce itself.  Lyotard’s postmodern condition entails a similarly fractured Symbolic order, in which machinic processes and institutions are construed in terms of “language-games”.

The final step will be to show that institutions as social machines are susceptible to change not by moves that merely repeat norms differently (Butler’s transgression, parody – mere disobedience) but by moves that change the rules of the language-game itself and thereby actually break institutional bad habits and create new ones, as Roberto Unger recommends in order to “realize democracy”.  Most institutions tend to secrete a transcendent model of organization (or self-preservation) which “fixes” the organization and reduces experimentation to almost zero, making the practices serve the organization rather than the other way around (“alienation”).  Nomadic groups keep organization subordinate to process, by diminishing the ordinary moves by which we reproduce institutions in favor of extraordinary moves by which we can continually change them, or “put them to flight” in a productive sense.

I welcome feedback, questions, and suggestions as I work through the development of this argument.


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