state + geography

  ---- by John Protevi
  In A Thousand Plateaus the state's production of striated space has complex relations to numerous other spatialising processes. Among them we find two familiar forms: the territories operated by primitive societies and the smooth spaces of nomads, as well as two less well-known forms; the networking of cities and the burrowing producing the holey space of itinerant metallurgists. In this entry we will concentrate on the relation of the spatialising processes of the state and the war machine, that is, on striating and smoothing, with some preliminary attention paid to territorialisation as practised by primitive social machines. We should stress that such spaces are never finished and isolated products, but are the results of processes in constant interchange with each other, so that, for example, we should speak of the 'smoothing of striated space' and the 'striating of smoothed space', that is, the interchange of smoothing and striating processes (D&G 1987: 474-5).
  The most straightforward relation is that between the state and striation. Given that the state apparatus must operate to transform the earth [terre] of primitive society and the ground [sol] of nomads into land [terre], striation is one of the fundamental tasks of state, presignifying, or primitive territories that allow for the free movements of bodies, regimes produce territories to tie production to the earth. Primitive territorialising practices continually ward off being striated from their exterior as long as they are able to challenge states. State striation results from the overcoding, centralisation and hierarchisation of primitive territories. Although primitive social machines operate by territories, they also can be said to operate a smooth space insofar as they allow for the free movement of bodies. Striation fastens upon the territorialised earth of primitive societies and transforms it into gridded plots so that people then occupy precisely located parcels of land. In thus fixing the land into comparable parcels, striation enables rent (D&G 1987: 440-1).
  Let us now consider the relation of the state to the nomad war machine, the cutting edge that smoothes striated space. In this sense, smooth space is the substance of expression of which the nomad war machine is the form of expression. The war machine was however long ago appropriated by states as their armies, yet this defeat is the moment of the war machine's non-geographical, that is, entirely social, proliferation: 'Could it be that it is at the moment the war machine ceases to exist, conquered by the State, that it displays to the utmost its irreducibility, that it scatters into thinking, loving, dying, or creating machines that have at their disposal vital or revolutionary powers capable of challenging the conquering State?' (D&G 1987: 356). This is no dialectics, or romanticism; the creativity the war machine effectuates is not the opposite of state capture. The war machine is that which effectuates non-organic life. In the contemporary world the war machine is taken up by its own process of material creativity which is both social and technological. As Deleuze and Guattari write: 'the war machine's form of exteriority is such that it exists only in its own metamorphoses; it exists in an industrial innovation as well as in a technological innovation, in a commercial circuit as well as in a religious creation, in all flows and currents that only secondarily allow themselves to be appropriated by the State' (D&G 1987: 360). Because of the emphasis on creativity, 'war is like the fall or failure of the war machine, the only object left for the war machine after it has lost its power to change' (D&G 1987: 230). The worst case for the failed war machine occurs when it 'has constructed itself a State apparatus capable only of destruction. When this happens, the war machine no longer draws mutant lines of flight, but a pure, cold line of abolition' (D&G 1987: 230). Here Deleuze and Guattari are referring to the Nazi regime.
  In a fascinating inversion correlative with the military aspect of what is commonly called globalisation, smooth space has become the regime of state security forces that can descend on the land at any point after gathering surveillance information. Along with the construction of a global smooth space of thorough security intervention, terrorist enemies are discovered everywhere. This results in 'a macropolitics of society by and for a micropolitics of insecurity' (D&G 1987: 216). The production of smooth space by state security forces also operates on a local scale; a case in point is in urban warfare. For instance, Weizman has drawn attention to the way in which the Israel Defense Forces used Deleuze and Guattari's concept of smooth space as a military strategy (W 2007).
  To conclude, we should note that it's not just states in their politicalmilitary aspect that produce smooth spaces. Contemporary capitalism, with its multinational corporations, produces a type of machinic enslavement, that is, 'a complex qualitative process bringing into play modes of transportation, urban models, the media, the entertainment industries, ways of perceiving and feeling'. The result: the creation of a new smooth space (D&G 1987: 492).
  Taking into account how security procedures operate, smoothing as a military strategy, and the machinic enslavement of contemporary capitalism, we can understand why Deleuze and Guattari warn: 'never believe that a smooth space will suffice to save us' (HD 2000: 500).

The Deleuze dictionary. . 2010.

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