- minoritarian + revolution
- ---- by Janell WatsonDeleuze and Guattari were deeply marked by the events of May 1968, and made frequent references back to Lenin and the Bolshevik revolution, but always with an eye to possible revolutions to come. Today it is becoming increasingly plausible that, as they intuited, future revolutions will arise out of the world's marginalised minorities rather than out of class struggle (D&G 1987: 469-73). Guattari, as political activist, was sympathetic to minority nationalitarian movements, including those of the Palestinians, Armenians, Basques, Irish, Corsicans, Lithuanians, Uyghurs, Roma, Indians, and Aboriginal Australians, and he supported homosexual and women's movements; whilst Deleuze wrote several supportive articles about the Palestinian cause.However, despite the history of revolutionary movements evoked in Capitalism and Schizophrenia (the Bolsheviks in 1917, French students in 1968, minorities today), according to Deleuze and Guattari, revolution itself is not historical, nor are the minoritarian groups which incite them. Paradoxically, history is made only by those who oppose history. Revolution is untimely, in Nietzsche's sense (D&G 1987: 292-6). Minorities lie outside of history because they operate at the margins of the state, which excludes them. To explain in Deleuzo-Guattarian terms, revolution is a-historical because it is a molecular minoritarian becoming, whereas history is a molar majoritarian state apparatus. Minority and revolution are both becomings. Unlike the more static concepts of being or identity, becoming emphasises transformation on the molecular level. Deleuze has described May 1968 as a becoming (D 1995: 171-2). Revolutions entail becoming because revolution is by nature molecular, as reﬂected in the title of Guattari's book Molecular Revolution.This outsider relation to history is one of many similarities between Deleuze and Guattari's minorities and their nomads, who simply have no history (D&G 1987: 393-4). Like the nomads who also operate in opposition to the State, minorities are undenumerable multiplicities which are capable of following lines of flight and of forming war machines. Although Deleuze and Guattari do not explicitly say so, minorities could be understood as the nomads of the current epoch, the global capitalist counterpart to the ancient nomadic peoples in the time of the Roman Empire. One difference between the ancient and current periods would be their respective forms of territoriality: according to A Thousand Plateaus, territories organised into empires dominated in the earlier era, while radically deterritorialised capital dominates now. Whereas the term nomad originally designated a particular way of occupying territory, the term minority derives from mathematics. This distinction blurs with Deleuze and Guattari's peculiar adaptations of the two terms, since they associate nomads with a way of counting, and in their usage minority does not refer to a quantity but to a relation to power. However, the concept of minority is much better suited to the deterritorialised capitalist landscape because it is much less tied to a territorial context. Sedentary, the opposite of nomadic, hardly applies to the most powerful state formations today, whereas majority, the opposite of minority, does apply to capitalist states.Deleuze and Guattari championed minorities not only in the political sphere, but also within philosophy and science, repeatedly arguing that all creativity and mutation necessarily come from a minoritarian position. They claim that revolutionary innovation always comes from nomad or minor science rather than from state science. Nomad thought aligns itself with a singular race, a specific minority, unlike classical thought that posits a universal subject (D&G 1987: 361-9). Deleuze associates philosophy itself with a 'revolutionary becoming' which, he says, has nothing to do with historical revolutions, although philosophy is always profoundly interconnected with the geopolitics of its time (D 2006: 379). Deleuze and Guattari locate thought between territory and the earth, as evidenced by Greek philosophy's relation to the city and modern philosophy's relation to capitalism - the city and capitalism understood as two different configurations of territory in relation to the earth. They recount a history of philosophy marked by nationalitarianisms: there are English, French, German philosophies. Whereas nationalism excludes based on a single criterion (such as race, ethnicity, or language) and legitimates itself by claims based on linear history, nationalitarianism fosters complex heterogeneous subjectivities and opposes the standardization imposed by capitalism and the state (G 1986 55-70). Philosophy is nationalitarian because even though it thrives only amidst deterritorialisation and even though philosophers are always strangers or immigrants, philosophical concepts always belong to a territory. Art and philosophy summon a minor race. Philosophy takes capitalist territorialisation to the absolute, pushing toward revolution defined as an absolute deterritorialisation which calls forth a new earth and a new people. This new people and new earth will not come from democracies, which are majorities (D&G 1994: 85-113).Unfortunately, it is not enough to become minoritarian to launch a revolution. Although revolution is by definition minoritarian, minoritarian logic is not necessarily revolutionary. Races are always minoritarian by definition (Deleuze and Guattari insist there is no dominant race), but race can always morph into racism, fascism, or microfascism, which also operate on a molecular level (D&G 1987: 379, 214-15). The state cannot function without its outside, without its minorities, despite their constant exertion of potentially revolutionary resistance. Capitalism is particularly adept at capturing whatever is unleashed by the revolutionary creativity of minorities.
The Deleuze dictionary. Revised Edition Edited by Adrian Parr . 2010.