Philosophy Is No Secret
10 min readMay 26, 2020

Selected from: Deleuze and Parnet, Dialogues II. pp.141–147.

“War is certainly not a metaphor. Like Félix, we assume that the war-machine has a nature and origin quite different from that of the apparatus of the State. The war-machine would have its origin among the nomadic shepherds, against the imperial sedentary peoples; it implies an arithmetical organization in an open space in which men and animals are distributed, as opposed to the geometrical organization of the State which divides our a closed space (even when the war-machine is related to a geometry, it is a quite different geometry, a sort of Archimedean geometry, a geometry of ‘problems’, and not of ‘theorems’ like Euclid’s). Conversely, State power does not rest on a war-machine, but on the exercise of binary machines which run through us and the abstract machine which overcodes us: a whole ‘police’. The war-machine, on the other hand, is run through with woman-becomings, animal-becomings, the becomings-imperceptible of the warrior (cf. the secret as the invention of the war-machine, as opposed to the ‘publicity’ of the despot or the man of the State). Dumézil has often emphasized this eccentric position of the warrior in relation to the State. Luc de Heusch shows how the war-machine comes from outside, hurling itself on to an already-developed State which did not include it. In one of his last texts Pierre Clastres explains how the function of war in primitive groups was precisely that of warding off the formation of a State apparatus. One might say that the State apparatus and the war-machine do not belong to the same lines, are not constructed on the same lines: while the State apparatus belongs to the lines of rigid segmentarity, and even conditions them in so far as it realizes their overcoding, the war-machine follows lines of flight and of the steepest gradient, coming from the heart of the steppe or the desert and sinking into the empire. Genghis Khan and the emperor of China. Military organization is an organization of flight — even the one which Moses gave to his people — not merely because it consists in fleeing something, or even in putting the enemy to flight, but because it traces, wherever it passes, a line of flight or deterritorialization which is at one with its own politics and its own strategy. Under these conditions, one of the most formidable problems which States will have will be that of integrating the war-machine into the form of an institutionalized army, to make it one with their general police (Tamburlaine is perhaps the most striking example of such a conversion). The army is never anything but a compromise. The war-machine may become mercenary or allow itself to be appropriated by the State to the very extent that it conquers it. But there will always be a tension between the State apparatus with its requirement for self-preservation and the war-machine in its undertaking to destroy the State, to destroy the subjects of the state and even to destroy itself or to dissolve itself along the line of flight. If there is no history from the viewpoint of nomads, although everything passes through them, to the point that they are like the noumena or the unknowable of history, it is because they cannot be separated from this task of abolition which makes the nomadic empires vanish as if of their own accord, at the same time as the war-machine is either destroyed or passes into the service of the State. In short, each time it is traced by a war-machine, the line of flight is converted into a line of abolition, of destruction of others and of itself. And that is the special danger of this type of line, which mingles with, but is not identical to, the previous dangers, To the extent that each time a line of flight turns into a line of death, we do not invoke an internal impulse of the ‘death instinct’ type, we invoke another assemblage of desire which brings into play a machine which is objectively or extrinsically definable. It is therefore not metaphorically that each time someone destroys others and destroys himself he has invented on his line of flight his own war-machine […]

The differences do not pass between the individual and the collective, for we see no duality between these two types of problem: there is no subject of enunciation, but every proper name is collective, every assemblage is already collective. Neither do the differences pass between the natural and the artificial since they both belong to the machine and interchange there. Nor between the spontaneous and the organized, since the only question is one of modes of organization. Nor between the segmentary and the centralized, since centralization is itself an organization which rests on a form of rigid segmentarity. The effective differences pass between the lines, even though they are all immanent to one another, all entangled in one another. This is why the question of schizoanalysis or pragmatics, micro-politics itself, never consists in interpreting, but merely in asking what are your lines, individual or group, and what are the dangers on each.

  1. What are your rigid segments, your binary and overcoding machines? For even these are not given to you ready-made, we are not simply divided up by binary machines of class, sex or age: there are others which we constatnly shift, invent without realizing it. And what are the dangers if we blow up these segments too quickly? Wouldn’t this kill the organism itself, the organism which possesses its own binary machines, even in its nerves and its brain?
  2. What are your supple lines, what are your fluxes and thresholds? Which is your set of relative deterritorializations and correlative reterritorializations? And the distribution of black holes: which are the black holes of each one of us, where a beast lurks or a micro-fascism thrives?
  3. What are your lines of flight, where the fluxes are combined, where the thresholds reach a point of adjacence and rupture? Are they still tolerable, or are they already caught up in a machine of destruction and self-destruction which could reconstitute a molar fascism? It may happen that an assemblage of desire and of enunciation is reduced to its most rigid lines, its devices of power. There are assemblages which have only these sorts of lines. But other dangers stalk each of them, more supple and viscous dangers, of which each of us alone is judge, as long as there is still time. The question ‘How is it that desire can desire its own repression?’ does not give rise to real theoretical difficulty, but to many practical difficulties each time. There is desire as soon as there is a machine or ‘body without organs’. But there are bodies without organs like hardened empty envelops, because their organic components have been blown up too quickly and too violently, an ‘overdose’. There are bodies without organs which are cancerous and fascist, in black holes or machines of abolition. How can desire outmanoeuvre all that by managing its plane of immanence and of consistence which each time runs up against these dangers?

There is no general prescription. We have done with all globalizing concepts. Even concepts are hecceities, events. What is interesting about concepts like desire, or machine, or assemblage is that they only have value in their variables, and in the maximum of variables which they allow. We are not for concepts as big as hollow teeth, THE law, THE master, THE rebel. We are not here to keep the tally of the dead and the victims of history, the martyrdom of the Gulags, and to draw the conclusion that ‘The revolution is impossible, but we thinkers must think the impossible since the impossible only exists through our thought!’ It seems to us that there would never have been the tiniest Gulag if the victims had kept up the same discourse as those who weep over them today. The victims would have had to think and live in a quite different way to give substance to those who weep in their name and who think in their name, and who give lessons in their name. It was their life-force which impelled them, not their bitterness; their sobriety, not their ambition; their anorexia, not their huge appetites, as Zola would have said. We have set out to write a book of life, not of accounts, or of the tribunal even of the people or of pure thought. The question of a revolution has never been utopian spontaneity versus State organization. When we challenge the model of the State apparatus or of the party organization which is modelled on the conquest of that apparatus, we do not, however, fall into the grotesque alternatives: either that of appealing to a state of nature, or to a spontaneous dynamic, or that of becoming the self-styled lucid thinker of an impossible revolution, whose very impossibility is such a source of pleasure. The question has always been organizational, not at all ideological: is an organization possible which is not modeled on the apparatus of the State, even to prefigure the State to come? Perhaps a war-machine with its lines of flight? In order to oppose the war-machine to the State apparatus in every assemblage — even a musical or literary one — it would be necessary to evaluate the degree of proximity to this or that pole. But how would a war-machine, in any domain whatever, become modern, and how would it ward off its own fascist dangers, when confronted by the totalitarian dangers of the State, its own dangers of destruction in comparison with the conservation of the State? In a certain way, it is very simple, this happens on its own and every day. The mistake would be to say: there is a globalizing State, the master of its plans and extending its traps; and then, a force of resistance which will adopt the form of the State even if it entails betraying us, or else which will fall into local spontaneous or partial struggles, even if it entails being suffocated and beaten every time. The most centralized State is not at all the master of its plans, it is also an experimenter, it performs injections, it is unable to look into the future: the economists of the State declare themselves incapable of predicting the increase in a monetary mass. American politics is forced to proceed by empirical injections, not at all by apodictic programmes. What a sad and sham game is played by those who speak of a supremely cunning Master, in order to present the image of themselves as rigorous, incorruptible and ‘pessimist’ thinkers. It is along the different lines of complex assemblages that the powers that be carry out their experiments, but along them also arise experimenters of another kind, thwarting predictions, tracing out active lines of flight, looking for the combination of these lines, increasing their speed or slowing it down, creating the plane of consistence fragment by fragment, with a war-machine which would weigh the dangers that it encountered at each step.

What characterizes our situation is both beyond and on this side of the State. Beyond national States, the development of a world market, the power of multinational companies, the outline of a ‘planetary’ organization, the extension of capitalism to the whole social body, clearly forms a great abstract machine which overcodes the monetary, industrial and technological fluxes, At the same time the means of exploitation, control and surveillance become more and more subtle and diffuse, in a certain sense molecular (the workers of the rich countries necessarily take part in the plundering of the Third world, men take part in the over-exploitation of women, etc.). But the abstract machine, with its dysfunctions, is no more infallible than the national States which are not able to regulate them on their own territory and from one territory to another. The State no longer has at its disposal the political, institutional or even financial means which would enable it to fend off the social repercussions of the machine; it is doubtful whether it can eternally rely on the old forms like the police, armies, bureaucracies, even trade union bureaucracies, collective installations, schools, families. Enormous land slides are happening on this side of the state, following lines of gradient or of flight, affecting principally:

(1) the marking out of territories; (2) the mechanisms of economic subjugation (new characteristics of unemployment, of inflation); (3) the basic regulatory frameworks (crisis of the school, of trade unions, of the army, of women . . .); (4) the nature of the demands which become qualitative as much as quantitative (‘quality of life’ rather than ‘standard of living’).

All this constitutes what can be called a right to desire. It is not surprising that all kinds of minority questions — linguistic, ethnic, regional, about sex, or youth — resurge not only as archaisms, but in up-to-date revolutionary forms which call once more into question in an entirely immanent manner both the global economy of the machine and the assemblages of national States. Instead of gambling on the eternal impossibility of the revolution and on the fascist return or a war-machine in general, why not think that a new type of revolution is in the course of becoming possible, and that all kinds of mutating, living machines conduct wars, are combined and race out a plane of consistence which undermines the plane of organization of the World and the States? For, once again, the world and its States are no more masters of their plane than revolutionaries are condemned to the deformation of theirs. Everything is played in uncertain games, ‘front to front, back to back, back to front . . .’. The question of the future of the revolution is a bad question because, in so far as it is asked, there are so many people who do not become revolutionaries, and this is exactly why it is done, to impede the question of the revolutionary-becoming of people, at every level, in every place.” (Deleuze and Parnet, Dialogues II. pp.141–147.)