Appropriating the War Machine

Though there have been a number of treatments of war as it exists in the aftermath of  Thousand Plateaus, (Manuel de Landa’s War in the Age of Intelligent Machines immediately comes to mind) this is the I’ve first of read of any military actually putting such ideas into practice. The fluency of Naveh’s Deleuzean vocabulary is interesting enough, but the reading about its actual implementation certainly lends a whole new perspective on Deleuze and Guattari’s near-lysergic ramblings.

What is most fascinating to me, though, is how Naveh adapts the technologies of the nomadic war machine without any hint of irony. As the duo states in A Thousand Plateaus:

One of the fundamental tasks of the State is to striate the space over which it reigns, or to utilize smooth spaces as a means of communication in the service of striated space. It is a vital concern of every State not only to vanquish nomadism but to control migrations and more generally, to establish a zone of rights over an entire “exterior,” over all flows traversing the ecumenon. If it can help it, the State does not dissociate itself from a process of capture of flows of all kinds, populations, commodities or commerce, money or capital, etc. There is still a need for fixed paths in well-defined directions, which restrict speed, regulate circulation, relativize movement, and measure in detail the relative movements of subjects and objects.  (ATM 385-6)


The State’s primary function is the regulation of these untamed spaces, however, Naveh manages to complicate this, although in ways that the two predict will occur. As the duo figures it, the war machine is precisely an operational or organizational scheme that exists against the State. It is aleatory and heterogeneous, a decentralized network that bifurcates and rejoins as a constant project of immanence. Some theorists have included terrorist organizations as potential war machines due to their provisional and becoming (as a process) structure. The smooth space that Naveh discusses is the space of the war machine, but he acknowledges it as the space actors of the State must reterritorialize. It does offer a somewhat terrifying prospect for the cultural theorist (I have to imagine Debord turning over in his grave) since, as several of them have anticipated, the only true end for their work is to be subordinated into the mechanism of the State. Deleuze and Guattari. being very well aware of this, include a figure that closely mirrors Naveh:

As for the other pole, the jurist-king is a great organizer of war; but he gives it laws, lays out a field for it, makes it principled, imposes a discipline upon it, subordinates it to political ends. He turns the war machine into a military institution, he appropriates the war machine for the State apparatus. (ATM 425)

The jurist-king, as opposed to the magic emperor, continues and begins again and re-appropriates when necessary. For him, war lacks a telos. We can see Virilio here as well. I don’t know if it would be exactly appropriate to refer to Naveh as such a figure, although his zeal for the work leads one to imagine he would find something attractive in the notion of subordinating the tools of the lawless in order to bring them into nomos.


Deleuze & Guatarri, A Thousand Plateaus 

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