On the notion of micropolitics


In “Micropolitics and Segmentarity” Chapter of A Thousand Plateaus, Deleuze and Guattari carefully expose the intrinsic danger of molecular flights or escapes into indiscernibility in the face of molar segmentations of power. The chapter is a provocation to engage molar determinations, but also a warning. Not that they are responsible for it, but the fact that the dreaded collapse of the social order is always an involutional (or becoming) potential on the part of molecular subjectivities that engage rigid and linear terms of individual and collective determinations than it is on molar organizations.

The fact is there are only subjectivities inasmuch as there are only intensions (forces of multiplicity or singularities; in Spinoza, passions) that form extensive organization of subjects that people institutions, for instance, over time. But this is not to say that subjectivities are historically formless; their pre-individuating tendencies (or before their potentials are segmented, for instance, into social roles) are potentials for compositional determinations but the plane on which these compositions may take effect is already historical, that is to say, it is already organized according to points of determinations, signifying regimes, as Deleuze and Guattari put it, in relation to perceptions, which demarcate boundaries for self-effectuation of becomings. Lines of flights draw from these pre-individuating tendencies (in the Bergsonian sense), but will always be met by conditions of compositionality which are already pre-arranged by molar organizations and centralization mechanisms. What is more is that these conditions are differently segmented in the sense that lines of flights are also not immune to self-destructive tendencies as segmentary lines and lines of flight also overlap.

Cast in contemporary postmodern political challenges, the danger of microfascisms, as Deleuze and Guattari describe of rhizomatic or molecular assemblages ‘trapped in a thousand little monomanias, self-evident truths, and clarities that gush from every black hole’ (ATP, 228), is that they render politics devoid of signification. This has become generally the case in the global political landscape after the end of the Cold war when certainties were no longer subservient to conflicting hegemonies that wielded ideological truths. Certainties were deterritorialized into micro-assemblages at the expense of molar truths that despite their long history of segmenting rhizomatic subjectivities to molar forms of determinations (political, moral, economic, etc.) still carry within them their unspent molecular potentials, rather reterritorialized into rigid segmentary positions – every molar aggregate is supported by molecular elements, or ‘microinvestments’ that, for instance, Deleuze and Guattari early on describe in Anti-Oedipus, statistically constitute ‘macroscopic social formations’ (ibid.). Deleuze and Guattari also argue that the more molar an entity is, the more it is capable of deterritorialization, or the more molecular entities sustain it.  But also the more deterritorialized entities are, the closer they are to the danger of excessive singularization especially when larger organizing centers that lend them official expressions collapse (people have grown weary of a particular political organizing principle, for instance, as implemented by a central administration) or undergo new forms of territorialization. In the latter case, fascism, for instance, is not a unilateral molar intervention, but always already preceded by microfascisms that were already ‘sinking in voids’, which in the end become reterritorialized into lines of destruction. As Deleuze and Guattari observe, ‘it was this reversion of the line of flight into a line of destruction that already animated the molecular focuses of fascism, and made them interact in a war machine instead of resonating in State apparatus’ (ibid., 231). Here, we have seen strong connections to the fatal involution of microfascisms into extra-judicial killings, for instance.

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