nice David Harvey quote

A pleasant surprise to hear David Harvey recommending something akin to what I’ve called nomad citizenship and free-market communism.

David Harvey, “I’m skeptical about the idea of reforming neoliberalism” (complete interview translated) | My Desiring-Machines

“there are many reason to stop thinking of capital as a dominant form of production of goods and services that we make today and to begin to think of alternative structures that develop use values for the worldwide population, outside of capitalist accumulation to produce everything in order to make profits and accumulate wealth and power. I believe that is what we should think about.”

Naomi Klein’s latest

Meanwhile, I was pleased to see the distinction between major and minor used to parse Naomi Klein’s excellent book on neo-liberalism and climate change (This Changes Everything), in a New Inquiry blogpost (later reposted to  Here’s what I had to say in response (on It is great to see the major/minor distinction being used to good effect to highlight two axes of struggle against neoliberal-capitalist-induced climate change: grass-roots (often indigenous) social movements and governmental policy changes. It is a serious mistake, however, to cast them as “incommensurable” and to claim they cannot coexist. Faced with imminent crisis, we cannot afford anarchist purism (or what Foucault called “state-phobia”): as laudable as the withering away or elimination of the state is in the long run, unless we address climate change directly with all the collective means at our disposal, we probably won’t have a long run. I agree that the minor currents identified here are clearly preferable in theory, but we also need changes in public policy to be able to move quickly enough “beyond the ecocidal logic of endless growth, and with it beyond capitalism” to avoid climate catastrophe. Perhaps in an even more charitable reading, Out of the Woods might agree. On a side note, readings that are more or less charitable are one thing; accounts that are inaccurate or misleading are quite another. Readers should be aware that the question of whether it is “possible to be a real environmentalist if you d[on]’t have kids” does not arise from Klein’s own convictions, as suggested here, but on the contrary from a position she explicitly critiques and disavows. Invocations of “reproductive futurism” and a “politics of the baby’s face” suggest a kind of queer purism that we can’t afford, either. Breeders and non-breeders alike must be enlisted in the struggle against neo-liberalism if we are to have a fighting chance at successfully addressing climate change.

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.

AAG 2014 CFP: Assembling life at the “margin”: Critical assemblage thinking and urban marginality

My Desiring-Machines

Michele presented a great paper in our panel last year at the AAG so I’m really looking forward to this panel he’s organizing:
Call for Papers: Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting 2014, Tampa, Florida, April 8-12th
Organised by Michele Lancione (UTS, Sydney; Cambridge University from Feb. 2013)
Assembling life at the “margin”: Critical assemblage thinking and urban marginality
Ethnographers, sociologists and urban geographers have mainly looked at the city as the inanimate backdrop against which social, cultural, and economical marginality takes place. Although the literature provides examples of fine-grained and situated accounts of urban poverty and marginality (e.g. Desjarlais 1997; Gowan 2010), it still falls short in taking the urban machinery fully into consideration in the instantiation of life at the margin (Lancione 2013). What role does the urban play in the daily processes of marginalisation? How do more-than-human agencies (Farías and Bender 2010), affective atmospheres (Anderson…

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On finalizing ‘Police State,’ and on the police-politics distinction

For Another Critique of the Pyramid

As I am finalizing my paper “Police State: The state, student activism, and spaces of politics after 1968 in Mexico City” (an intervention into political geographies of state power, also discussed here and here), I have enjoyed watching and rewatching this interview with Erik Swyngedouw (linked through Stuart Elden’s Progressive Geographies blog).

My formulation of the police-politics distinction (drawing from Rancière) is different than Swyngedouw’s distinction between “politics” and “the political,” but I find it nonetheless complementary. For me, “the police” is a name for the naturalization of inherited political classifications – a configuration of the world available to perception, which discourages politics. “Politics” cannot be pursued through the assertion of identities given by existing police order. To the contrary, politics is beyond what can be counted upon in the existing order; it is by definition unaccounted for. But if unaccounted for, it is also permanently possible. Moments…

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Political Affect

My Desiring-Machines

Over at becoming poor (our UW-based reading group) & nomad scholarship (our shared blog with the outside world, which began as a collaboration with one of Eugene Holland’s seminars at OSU) we are beginning to ramp up for another quarter of reading after a summer hiatus. One group will be reading A Thousand Plateaus and another (with some crossover) will be reading Protevi’s Political Affect.* I’ve been engaging with Protevi’s work a lot recently so I’m really excited about this move. So, while I’m waiting for my book to arrive, I’ve been keeping an eye on his posts at New APPS, like this one on political affect and football.

* If you’re interested in reading either of these books and posting thoughts on nomad scholarship, please get in touch!!

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The Down-Deep Delight of Democracy

The Rolling Blackout

This is an older post, I forgot to publish…

I received my copy of Mark Purcell’s newest book today and I immediately read it cover to cover. What follows is some first thoughts and a synopsis, and I imagine that as time passes I will be able to understand more fully the profundity of this work.

The book is decidedly about cultivating the “virtual object” of democracy, such that we are always on a path to it, never fully reaching it, but always becoming. Democracy is not some ideal utopia or endpoint, it is a process of continual realization of the power and potential of people to not only govern themselves, but to assure the fullest possibility of their potential, of their creativity, and of there productive ability. Democracy is something which has been continually assaulted and co-opted, but something that still lurks in places, in people, who practice governance of themselves…

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