nomadicism + citizenship

  ---- by Eugene Holland
  The concept of 'nomadicism' that Deleuze and Guattari develop refers less to placeless, itinerant tribes-people than to groups whose organisation is immanent to the relations composing them. Put differently, the organisation of a nomadic group is not imposed from above by a transcendent command. An improvisational jazz band forms a nomadic group, in contrast with a symphony orchestra: in the former, group coherence arises immanently from the activity of improvising itself, whereas in the symphony orchestra, it is imposed from above by a conductor performing a composer's pre-established score.
  Until recently, citizenship has been thought and practised mostly in relation to the nation-state. Social groups considered on this scale have of course always included a rich entanglement of heterogeneous groupings of various sizes and kinds, involving varying degrees of allegiance to families; neighbourhoods; professional organisations; ethnic, sexual, and other affinity groups; religious denominations, and so on. But State citizenship commands allegiance of a qualitatively different and homogenising kind, largely because it can declare war and thereby legitimate killing in its name and demand the sacrifice of citizens' lives for its own sake (as formulated in Carl Schmitt's magnum opus, The Concept of the Political). This 'vertical' masterallegiance to the State transcends all other 'horizontal' allegiances within the State, making State citizenship literally a matter of life and death.
  Nomad citizenship is a utopian concept created to re-articulate and suggest solutions to the problem posed by the lethal nature of modern nation-state citizenship. Terrorised citizens - citizens terrorised in large part by their own State governments by the hyped spectre of some enemy or other - are all too easily mobilised to give their lives and take others' lives in war; in fact, little else States do inspire in citizens the kind of devotion that war does. At the same time, war waged in the name of the State gives capitalism a longer and longer lease on life by forestalling its perennial crises of overproduction: nothing addresses over-production and keeps the wheels of industry turning like a good war - especially today's high-tech wars in which each guided missile strike or smart bomb explosion means instant millions of dollars in replacement costs. In this context, the concept of nomad citizenship is created in order to break the monopoly exercised by the State over conceptions and practices of citizenship, and to add or substitute alternative forms of belonging and allegiance.
  Of course, all kinds of heterogeneous groups and allegiances already exist, some of which were listed above; to the degree that these groups self-organise more or less spontaneously or immanently rather than under command from above, they could imply nomadic forms of citizenship. Yet most of these groups involve or require some degree of face-to-face contact and are hence understood to take place among friends in a shared space. But there is another, properly placeless dimension to nomad citizenship which is linked to the burgeoning world market and exemplified in the fair trade movement.We might call this the economic or market component of nomad citizenship, for it depends on the capacity of market exchange to link far-flung groups or individuals together in a social bond that defines them neither as friends nor as enemies, but simply as temporary partners in exchange. In this way, the market is able to capitalise on differences without turning them into enmities. For the virtue of market exchange - provided of course that it is voluntary and fair; that it is a postcapitalist market - is that it enriches the lives of nomad citizens by making regional, ethnic, religious, cultural (and many other) differences available to everyone, regardless of who or where they are.

The Deleuze dictionary. . 2010.

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  • nomadicism + citizenship —    by Eugene Holland   The concept of nomadicism that Deleuze and Guattari develop refers less to placeless, itinerant tribes people than to groups whose organisation is immanent to the relations composing them. Put differently, the organisation… …   The Deleuze dictionary

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