Over at Anarchist Without Content the following lines, from among the post’s helpful and penetrating insights, made me seriously reflect–“Hardt and Negri do not go as far as to call Empire an abstract machine, but perhaps we should.”
These are helpful lines on offer with the rest out there about the limitations of Hardt and Negri’s bestseller. But we should also bear in mind, if we follow Deleuze closely, that a people most consistently qualifies as an abstract machine.
In theory both state and people are capable of deterritorialization and reterritorialization though they differ in terms of the directions that these movements of immanent composition imposes on the two different modalities of abstract machine. On the one hand, the state aims at a principle of finality and organization via a skillful synchronization of these movements; on the other hand, a people can continue utilizing those movements or creative rhythms in search of never-ending virtuality.
It is a continuation of the classic contradiction between residentiality and nomadic itinerancy. But I also agree that with the changing dynamics of state determination, the residentiality aspect may no longer apply as a fixed, positive location of determination as today’s state has become more trans-residential, trans-national. Still, and all the more, when the state has transformed into a self-volatilizing power, it becomes ever more self-conscious of its power of abstraction (because it also increases the possibility of its implosion; one of the reasons why the state has to periodically sponsor a crisis, a breach of its immanent principle of organization, to deodorize or unclog its system). Hence, the urgency of challenging the concreteness of state determination from behind, via a sort of, as Anarchist Without Content puts it, non-empiricism. From behind: as the state increases its abstractive power the challenge of resisting it shifts the focus of exposition, opposition and construction from empiricality (which the state can easily evade by becoming more abstract) into the non-empiricality of resistance where the heart of state power resides, that is, in the actuality of its abstraction.
Unfortunately, we have never radicalized abstraction to such an extent that its real power as an abstract machine, a machine capable of grounding abstraction to a halt by emphasizing that real abstraction is allergic to finality and organization, hence, state determination is not abstractive enough) is utilized to its concrete oppositional force.
In a nutshell, I wish to emphasize here that the state or the trans-residential Empire has no real concrete abstractive power vis-à-vis a people as an abstract machine. As an abstract machine a people is the true force that is not extensive to any product because it first of all refuses labor as a positive production principle (a lesson from Berardi). A people has force and force only. It creates; it does not produce. In contrast to Anarchist Without Content‘s observation that “Empire operates through management and circulation, but it is not extensive with its products,” we are rather of the opinion that the Empire has products dependent on the labor that it creates by real subsumption, the labor as an organ/ization principle that it invests in a people, in principle, a body without organs. The Empire is bursting at the seams. The Empire is full because it has its products.
As a final note, I wish to state that as a creating non-producer a people can survive the implosion of the Empire. It can survive even by foraging on the waste of the Empire. By waste I mean the goods that the Empire cannot entirely carry on its own hands.
See full post of Anarchist Without Content