Issue #78 To Our Enemies

To Our Enemies

Maurizio Lazzarato and Éric Alliez

Guy Debord and by Alice Becker-Ho’s boardgame The Game of War

Issue #78
December 2016

1. We are living in the time of the subjectivation of civil wars.1 We did not leave the period of triumph of the market, automation of governmentality, and depoliticization of the economy of debt to go back to the era of “world views” and the conflicts between them. We have entered a time of building new war machines.

2. Capitalism and neoliberalism carry wars within them like clouds carry storms. While the financialization of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries led to total war and the Russian Revolution, the 1929 crash and European civil wars, contemporary financialization is at the helm of global civil war and controls all its polarizations.

3. Since 2011, the multiple forms of subjectivation of civil wars have deeply altered both the semiology of capital and the pragmatics of the struggle to keep the manifold powers of war from being the perpetual framework of life. Among the experiments with anticapitalist machines, Occupy Wall Street in the US, the Indignados in Spain, the student movements in Chile and Quebec, and Greece in 2015 all fought with unequal arms against the debt economy and austerity policies. The “Arab Spring,” the major protests in Brazil, and the Gezi Park clashes in Turkey circulated the same watchwords of organization and disorder throughout the Global South. Nuit Debout in France is the latest development in a cycle of conflict and occupation that may have started with Tiananmen Square in 1989. On the side of power, neoliberalism promotes an authoritarian and policed post-democracy managed by market technicians to stoke the flames of its predatory economic policies, while the new right (or “strong right”) declares war on foreigners, immigrants, Muslims, and the underclasses in the name of the “de-demonized” extreme right. This extreme right openly comes to occupy the terrain of civil wars, which it subjectivizes by rekindling racial class warfare. Neofascist hegemony over the processes of subjectivation is confirmed by the renewed war on the autonomy of women and the becoming-minor of sexuality (in France, “La Manif pour tous”) as an extension of the endocolonial domain of civil war.

The era of limitless deterritorialization under Thatcher and Reagan is now followed by the racist, nationalist, sexist, and xenophobic reterritorialization of Trump, who has already become the leader of the new fascisms. The American Dream has been transformed into the nightmare of an insomniac planet.

4. There is a flagrant imbalance between the war machines of Capital and the new fascisms on the one hand, and the multiform struggles against the world-system of new capitalism on the other. It is a political imbalance but also an intellectual one. This text focuses on a void, a blank, a theoretical and practical repressed which is, however, always at the heart of the power and powerlessness of revolutionary movements: the concept of “war” and “civil war.”

5. “It’s like being in a war,” was heard in Athens during the weekend of July 11–12, 2015. And for good reason. The population was faced with a large-scale strategy of continuing war by means of debt: it completed the destruction of Greece and, at the same time, triggered the self-destruction of the “construction of Europe.” The goal of the European Commission, the ECB, and the IMF was never mediation or finding compromise but defeating the adversary on an open field.

The statement “It’s like being in a war” should be immediately corrected: it is a war. The reversibility of war and economy is at the very basis of capitalism. And it has been a long time since Carl Schmitt revealed the “pacifist” hypocrisy of neoliberalism by reestablishing the continuity between economy and war: the economy pursues the objectives of war through other means (“blocking credit, embargo on raw materials, devaluation of foreign currency”).

Two superior officers in the Chinese Air Force, Qiao Liang and Wang Xiangsui, define financial offensives as “bloodless wars”; a cold violence, just as cruel and effective as “bloody wars.” With globalization, as they explain, “while constricting the battlespace in the narrow sense, at the same time we have turned the entire world into a battlefield in the broad sense.”2 The expansion of war and the multiplication of its domain names has led to the establishment of a continuum between war, economy, and politics. Yet from the beginning, liberalism has been a philosophy of total war.

(Pope Francis seems to be preaching in the desert when he asserts, with a clarity that is lacking in politicians, experts of all stripes, and even the most hardened critics of capitalism, “Let’s recognize it. The world is in a state of war in bits and pieces … When I speak of war, I talk about real war. Not a war of religion. No. There is a war of interests. There is a war for money. There is a war for natural resources. There is a war for domination of peoples. This is the war.”3)

6. During that same year of 2015, a few months after the defeat of the Greek “radical left,” the president of the French Republic announced on the evening of November 13 that France was “at war” and declared a state of emergency. The law authorizing him to do so and authorizing the suspension of “democratic freedoms” to grant “extraordinary” powers to the administration of public security had been passed in 1955 during the colonial war in Algeria. Implemented in New Caledonia in 1984 and during the “suburban riots” in 2005, the state of emergency brought colonial and postcolonial war back into the spotlight.

What happened in Paris on an awful night in November is what occurs daily in cities in the Middle East. This is the horror that the millions of refugees “pouring” into Europe are fleeing. They are visible evidence of the oldest colonialist technology to regulate migratory movement by its “apocalyptic” extension in the “infinite wars” started by Christian fundamentalist George Bush and his cabinet of neocons. Neocolonial war is no longer taking place only in the “margins” of the world. In every way possible, it moves through the “center” by taking on the figure of the “internal Islamist enemy,” immigrants, refugees, and migrants. The eternal outcasts are not left out: the poor and impoverished workers, those in unstable jobs and long-term unemployment, and the “endocolonized” on both sides of the Atlantic …

7. The “stability pact” (“financial” state of emergency in Greece) and the “security pact” (“political” state of emergency in France) are two sides of the same coin. Constantly dismantling and restructuring the world-economy, the flows of credit and the flows of war are, with the States that integrate them, the condition of existence, production, and reproduction of contemporary capitalism.

Money and war are the global market’s military police, which is still referred to as the “governance” of the world-economy. In Europe, it is incarnated in the financial state of emergency that shrinks workers’ rights and social security rights (health, education, housing, and so forth.) to nothing while the antiterrorist state of emergency suspends their already emptied “democratic” rights.

8. Our first thesis is that war, money, and the State are constitutive or constituent forces, in other words the ontological forces of capitalism. The critique of political economy is insufficient to the extent that the economy does not replace war but continues it by other means, ones that go necessarily through the State: monetary regulation and the legitimate monopoly on force for internal and external wars. To produce the genealogy of capitalism and reconstruct its “development,” we must always engage and articulate together the critique of political economy, critique of war, and critique of the State.

The accumulation of and monopoly on property titles by Capital, and the accumulation of and monopoly on force by the State feed off of each other. Without the external exercise of war, and without the exercise of civil war by the State inside its borders, it would never have been possible to amass capital. And inversely: without the capture and valorization of wealth carried out by capital, the State would never have been able to exercise its administrative, legal, and governmental functions or organize armies of ever growing power. The expropriation of the means of production and the appropriation of the means of exercising force are the conditions of the formation of Capital and the constitution of the State that develop in parallel. Military proletarization goes hand in hand with industrial proletarization.

9. But what “war” are we talking about? Does the concept of “global civil war,” advanced at the same time (1961) by Carl Schmitt and Hannah Arendt, impose itself at the end of the Cold War as the most appropriate form? Do the categories of “infinite war,” “just war,” and “war on terrorism” correspond to the new conflicts of globalization?

And is it possible to use the syntagma of “the” war without immediately assuming the point of view of the State? The history of capitalism, since its origin, is crisscrossed and constituted by a multiplicity of wars: wars of class(es), race(s), sex(es),4 wars of subjectivity(ies), wars of civilization (the singular gave its capital letter to History). “Wars” and not the war is our second thesis. “Wars” as the foundation of internal and external order, as organizing principle of society. Wars, not only wars of class, but also military, civil, sex, and race wars are integrated so constitutively in the definition of Capital that Das Kapital should be rewritten from start to finish to account for their dynamic in its most real functioning. At all of the major turning points in capitalism, we do not find the “creative destruction” of Schumpeter carried out by entrepreneurial innovation, but always the enterprise of civil wars.

10. Since 1492, Year One of Capital, the formation of capital has unfolded through this multiplicity of wars on both sides of the Atlantic. Internal colonization (Europe) and external colonization (Americas) are parallel, mutually reinforcing, and together define the world-economy. This dual colonization defines what Marx called primitive accumulation. Unlike, if not Marx, then at least a certain long-dominant Marxism, we do not restrict primitive accumulation to a mere phase in the development of capital destined to be surpassed in and through the “specific mode of production” of capital. We consider that it constitutes a condition of existence that constantly accompanies the development of capital, such that if primitive accumulation is pursued in all of the forms of expropriation of a continued accumulation, then the wars of class, race, sex, and subjectivity are endless. The conjunction of the these wars, and in particular the wars against the poor and women in the internal colonization of Europe, and the wars against the “first” peoples in external colonization, precede and make possible the “class struggles” of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries by projecting them into a common war against productive pacification. Pacification obtained by any means (“bloody” and “not bloody”) is the goal of the war of capital as “social relationship.”

11. “By focusing exclusively on the relationship between capitalism and industrialism, in the end, Marx gives no attention to the close connection between these two phenomena and militarism.”5 War and the arms race have been conditions for both economic development and technological and scientific innovation since the start of capitalism. Each stage in the development of capital invents its own “Keynesianism of war.” The only fault in this thesis by Giovanni Arrighi is in limiting itself to “the” war between States and paying “no attention to the close connection” that Capital, technology, and science maintain with civil wars. A colonel in the French army sums up the directly economic functions of war as follows: “We are producers like any other.” He reveals one of the most troubling aspects of the concept of production and work, an aspect that economists, unions, and Marxist recruits avoid thematizing.

12. Since primitive accumulation, the strategic force of destructuration/restructuration of the world-economy is Capital in its most deterritorialized form: financial Capital (which had to be expressed as such before receiving its letters of credit from Balzac). Foucault critiques the Marxist conception of Capital because there will never be “the” capitalism but always a historically qualified “political-institutional ensemble” (an argument that received much attention).

Although Marx never in fact used the concept of capitalism, we must still maintain the distinction between it and “the” capital, because “its” logic, the logic of financial Capital (M–M’), is (still historically) the most operational one. What has been called the “financial crisis” shows it at work even in its most “innovative” post-critical performances. The multiplicity of State forms and transnational organizations of power, the plurality of political-institutional ensembles defining the variety of national “capitalisms,” are violently centralized, subordinated, and commanded by globalized financial Capital in its aim of “growth.” The multiplicity of power formations submits, more or less docilely (albeit more rather than less), to the logic of the most abstract property, that of the creditors. “The” Capital, with “its” logic (M–M’) of planetary reconfiguration of space through the constant acceleration of time, is an historical category, a “real abstraction” as Marx would say, producing the most real effects of universal privatization of “human” and “nonhuman” Earth, and removal of the “commons” of the world. (Think here of the land grabbing which is both a direct consequence of the “food crisis” of 2007–08 and one of the exit strategies from the “worst financial crisis in Global History.”) We are using the “historical-transcendental” concept of Capital in this way by pulling it (and dropping the capitalization as often as possible) towards the systematic colonization of the world of which it is the long-distance agent.

13. Why doesn’t the development of capitalism go through cities, which have long served as its vectors, but instead through the State? Because only the State, throughout the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries, was capable of achieving the expropriation/appropriation of the multiplicity of war machines of the feudal period (turned towards “private” wars), to centralize them and institutionalize them in a war machine transformed into an army with the legitimate monopoly on public force. The division of labor does not only take place in production, but also in the specialization of war and the professional soldier. While centralization and the exercise of force in a “regulated army” is the work of the State, it is also the condition for the accumulation of “wealth” by “civilized and opulent” nations at the expense of poor nations (Adam Smith)—which, in truth, are not nations at all but “wastelands” (John Locke).

14. The constitution of the State as a “megamachine” of power thus relied on the capture, centralization, and institutionalization of the means of exercising force. Starting in the 1870s, however, and especially under the effect of the brutal acceleration imposed by “total war,” Capital was no longer satisfied with maintaining a relationship of alliance with the State and its war machine. It started to appropriate it directly by integrating its instruments of polarization. The construction of this new capitalist war machine integrated the State, its sovereignty (political and military), and all its “administrative” functions by profoundly modifying them under the direction of financial Capital. Starting with the First World War, the model of scientific organization of labor and the military model of organization and execution of war deeply penetrated the political functioning of the State by reconfiguring the liberal division of powers under the hegemony of the executive, while inversely the politics, not of the State but of Capital, were imposed on the organization, execution, and aims or war. With neoliberalism, this process of capture of the war machine and the State was fully realized in the axiomatics of Integrated Global Capitalism. In this way, we bring in Félix Guattari’s IGC to serve our third thesis: Integrated Global Capitalism is the axiomatic of the war machine of Capital that was able to submit the military deterritorialization of the State to the superior deterritorialization of Capital. The machine of production is no longer distinguishable from the war machine integrating civilian and military, peace and war, in the single process of a continuum of isomorphic power in all its forms of valuation.

15. In the longue durée of the capital/war relationship, the outbreak of “economic war” between imperialisms at the end of the nineteenth century represented a turning point, a process of irreversible transformation of war and the economy, the State and society. Financial capital transmits the unlimitedness (of its valuation) to war by making it into a power without limits (total war). The conjunction of the unlimited flows of war and the unlimited flows of financial capital during the First World War pushed back the limits of both production and war by raising the terrifying specter of unlimited production for unlimited war. The two World Wars are responsible for realizing, for the first time, “total” subordination (or “real subsumption”) of society and its “productive forces” to the war economy through the organization and planning of production, labor and technology, science and consumption, at a hitherto unheard-of scale. Implicating the entire population in “production” was accompanied by the constitution of processes of mass subjectivation through the management of communications techniques and opinion creation. From the establishment of unprecedented research programs with the aim of “destruction” came scientific and technological discoveries that, transferred to the production of the means of production of “goods,” would constitute the new generations of constant capital. This entire process was missed by workerism (and post-workerism) in the short-circuit which made it situate the Great Bifurcation of Capital in the 1960s–70s, combined in this way with the critical movement of self-affirmation of workerism in the factory (it would take the arrival of post-Fordism to reach the “diffuse factory”).

16. The origin of welfare cannot be found solely within a logic of insurance against the risks of “work” and the risks of “life” (the Foucauldian school under managerial influence), but first and foremost in the logic of war. Warfare largely anticipated and prepared welfare. Starting in the 1930s, the two became indistinguishable.

The enormous militarization of total war, which transformed internationalist workers into sixty million nationalist soldiers, was “democratically” reterritorialized by and in welfare. The conversion of the war economy into the liberal economy, the conversion of the science and technology of the instruments of death into the means of production of “goods,” and the subjective conversion of the militarized population into “workers” took place thanks to the enormous apparatus of state intervention along with the active participation of “companies” (corporate capitalism). Warfare pursued its logic by other means in welfare. Keynes himself recognized that the policy of effective demand had no other model of realization than a regime of war.

17. Inserted in 1951 into his “Overcoming Metaphysics” (the overcoming in question was conceived during the Second World War), this passage by Heidegger defines exactly what the concepts of “war” and “peace” became at the end of the two total wars:

Changed into their deformation of essence, “war” and “peace” are taken up into erring, and disappear into the mere course of the escalating manufacture of what can be manufactured, because they have become unrecognizable with regard to any distinction. The question of when and where there will be peace cannot be answered not because the duration of war is unfathomable, but rather because the question already asks about something which no longer exists, since war is no longer anything which could terminate in peace. War has become a distortion of the consumption of beings which is continued in peace … This long war in its length slowly eventuated not in a peace of the traditional kind, but rather in a condition in which warlike characteristics are no longer as such at all and peaceful characteristics have become meaningless and without content.6

This passage was later rewritten at the end of A Thousand Plateaus to indicate how technical-scientific “capitalization” (referring to what we call the “military-industrial, scientific-university complex”) creates “a new conception of security as materialized war, as organized insecurity or molecularized, distributed, programmed catastrophe.”7

18. The Cold War is intensive socialization and capitalization of the real subsumption of society and populations in the war economy of the first half of the twentieth century. It constitutes a fundamental passage in the formation of the war machine of Capital, which does not appropriate the State and war without subordinating “knowledge” to its process. The Cold War stoked the hearth of technological and scientific production that had been lit by the total wars. Practically all contemporary technologies, and in particular cybernetics, computer, and information technologies, are, directly or indirectly, the fruits of total war re-totalized by the Cold War. What Marx called “General Intellect” was born of/in the “production for destruction” of total wars before being reorganized by the Operational Research (OR) of the Cold War into an instrument (R&D) of command and control of the world-economy. The war history of Capital constrains us to this other major displacement in relation to workerism and post-workerism. The order of labor (“Arbeit macht frei”) established by the total wars is transformed into a liberal-democratic order of full employment as an instrument of social regulation of the “mass-worker” and of his or her entire domestic environment.

19. ’68 is situated under the sign of the political reemergence of wars of class, race, sex, and subjectivity that the “working class” could no longer subordinate to its “interests” and its forms of organization (party-unions). While labor struggles “reached the highest absolute level of their development” in the United States (“Marx in Detroit”), they were also defeated there after the major postwar strikes. The destruction of the “order of labor” resulting from the total wars and continuing in and through the Cold War as “order of the wage system” was not only the objective of a new working class rediscovering its political autonomy; it is also the effect of the multiplicity of all these wars which, somewhat all at the same time, were inflamed by tracing back from the singular experiences of “group-subjects” that carried them towards their common conditions of subjective rupture. The wars of decolonization and of all the racial minorities, women, students, homosexuals, alternatives, antinuclear protesters, “lumpen,” and so on. thus define new modalities of struggle, organization, and especially the delegitimation of all “power-knowledge” throughout the 1960s and 1970s. We not only read the history of capital through war, but we also read war through ’68, which is the only possible way to make the theoretical and political passage from “war” to “wars.”

20. War and strategy occupy a central place in the revolutionary theory and practices of the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth century. Lenin, Mao, and General Giap conscientiously annotated Clausewitz’s On War. ’68 Thought refrained from theorizing war, with the notable exception of Foucault and Deleuze-Guattari. They not only proposed a reversal of Clausewitz’s celebrated formula (“war is the continuation of politics by other means”) by analyzing the modalities through which “politics” can be seen as war continued by other means: they especially and radically transformed the concepts of war and politics. Their problematization of war is strictly dependent on the mutations of capitalism and the struggles against it in the so-called postwar period, before crystallizing in the strange revolution of 1968: the “microphysics” of power advanced by Foucault is a critical actualization of “generalized civil war”; the “micropolitics” of Deleuze and Guattari is inseparable from the concept of “war machine” (its construction relies on the activist history of one of the pair). If we isolate the analysis of power relations from generalized civil war, like Foucauldian critique does, the theory of governmentality is nothing more than a variant of neoliberal “governance”; and if we cut micropolitics from the war machine, like Deleuzian critique does (it also undertakes an aestheticization of the war machine), only “minorities” remain that are powerless in the face of Capital, which keeps the initiative.

21. Siliconed by new technologies that they developed into a strike force, the military combined technological machines with war machines. The political consequences were formidable.

The USA planned and led the war in Afghanistan (2001) and in Iraq (2003) based on the principle “Clausewitz out, computer in” (the same operation is oddly enough used by the defenders of cognitive capitalism who dissolve the omni-reality of wars into computers and the “algorithms” that had served in the first place to wage them). Believing they could dissipate the “fog” and uncertainty of war by nothing less than the primitive accumulation of information, the strategists of hyper-technological, digital, and “network-centered” war quickly changed their tune: the victory that was so rapidly attained turned into a political-military disaster that triggered the disaster in the Middle East in situ, without sparing the Free World that had arrived bringing its values like a remake of Dr. Strangelove. The technical machine explains nothing and can do little without mobilizing all the other “machines.” Its efficacy and its very existence depend on the social machine and the war machine, which most often outline the technological avatar according to a model of society based on divisions, dominations, and exploitations (Fast Cars, Clean Bodies, to use the title of Kristin Ross’s fine work).

22. If the fall of the Wall delivered the death certificate of a mummy whose Communist prehistory ’68 made us forget, and if it is to be considered a nonevent (as the thesis of the End of History states in its melancholic way), the bloody fiasco of the imperial war machine’s first post-Communist wars made history. In part because of the debate that it started inside the military, where a new paradigm of war appeared. An antithesis of the industrial wars of the twentieth century, the new paradigm is defined as a “war amongst the population.” This concept, which inspired an improbable “military humanism,” is one we make our own by returning its meaning to the source and real terrain of wars of capital, and by rewriting this “war within the population” in the plural of our wars. The population is the battlefield in which counter-insurrectional operations of all kinds are underway. At the same time, and indistinguishably, they are both military and nonmilitary because they also carry the new identity of “bloody wars” and “non-bloody wars.”

Under Fordism, the State not only guaranteed State territorialization of Capital but also of war. As a result, globalization cannot not free capital from State control without also freeing war, which passes to a superior power of continuity by integrating the plane of capital. Deterritorialized war is no longer inter-State war at all, but an uninterrupted succession of multiple wars against populations, definitively sending “governmentality” to the side of governance in a common enterprise of denial of global civil wars. What is governed and what allows governing are the divisions that project wars into the heart of the population at the level of the real content of biopolitics. A biopolitical governmentality of war as differential distribution of instability and norm of “daily life.” The complete opposite of the Great Narrative of the liberal birth of biopolitics taking place in a famous course at the Collège de France in the break between the 1970s and 1980s.

23. Accentuating divisions, aggravating the polarization of every capitalist society, the debt economy transforms “global civil war” (Schmitt, Arendt) into interconnected civil wars: class wars, neocolonialist wars on “minorities,” wars on women, wars of subjectivity. The matrix of these civil wars is the colonial war. Colonial war was never a war between States but, in essence, a war in and against the population, where the distinctions between war and peace, between combatants and noncombatants, between economy, politics, and military were never used. Colonial war in and against populations is the model of the war that financial Capital unleashed starting in the 1970s in the name of a neoliberalism of combat. Its war is both fractal and transversal: fractal, because it indefinitely produces its invariance by constant changes of scale (its “irregularity” and the “cracks” it introduces operate at different scales of reality); and transversal, because it is simultaneously deployed at the macropolitical level (by playing on all of the major binary oppositions: social classes, whites and nonwhites, men and women) and the micropolitical level (by molecular “engineering” privileging the highest interactions). It can also connect the civilian and military levels in the Global South and North, in the Souths and Norths of everyone (or almost everyone). Its first characteristic is therefore to be less indiscriminate war than irregular war.

The war machine of capital which, in the early 1970s, definitively integrated the State, war, science, and technology, clearly declares the strategy of contemporary globalization: to bring to an end the very short history of reforming capital—Full Employment in a Free Society, according to the manifesto of Lord Beveridge published in 1944—by attacking everywhere and with all means available the conditions of reality of the power struggle that imposed it. An infernal creativity is deployed by the neoliberal political project in pretending to grant the “market” superhuman qualities of information processing: the market as the ultimate cyborg.

24. The newfound consistency of neofascisms starting with the financial “crisis” in 2008 represents a turning point in the waging of wars amongst populations. Their dimensions, both fractal and transversal, take on a new and formidable effectiveness in dividing and polarizing. The new fascisms challenge all of the resources of the “war machine,” because if the “war machine” is not necessarily identified with the State, it can also escape the control of Capital. While the war machine of Capital governs through an “inclusive” differentiation of property and wealth, the new fascist war machines function through exclusion based on racial, sexual, and national identity. The two logics seem incompatible. In reality, they inevitably converge (see “national preference”) as the state of economic and political emergency takes residence in the coercive time of global flow.

If the capitalist machine continues to be wary of the new fascisms, it is not because of its democratic principles (Capital is ontologically antidemocratic!) or the rule of law, but because, as it happened with Nazism, post-fascism can claim its “autonomy” from the war machine of Capital and escape its control. Isn’t this exactly the same thing that has happened with Islamic fascisms? Trained, armed, and financed by the US, they turned their weapons against the superpower and its allies who had instrumentalized them. From the West to the lands of the Caliphate and back, the neo-Nazis of all allegiances embody the suicidal subjectivation of the capitalist “mode of destruction.” It is also the final scene of the return of the colonial repressed: the jihadists of generation 2.0 haunt Western cities like their most internal enemy. Endocolonization also becomes the generalized conjugation of “topical” violence of the most intense domination of capitalism over populations. As for the process of convergence or divergence between the capitalist and neofascist war machines, it will depend on the evolution of the civil wars now underway and the risks that a future revolutionary process could run for private property, and more generally for the power of Capital.

25. Prohibiting the reduction of Capital and capitalism to a system or a structure, and of the economy to a history of self-enclosed cycles, wars of class, race, sex, and subjectivity also challenge every principle of autonomy in science and technology, every highway to “complexity” or emancipation forged by the progressive (and now accelerationist) idea of the movement of History.

Wars constantly inject the indeterminacy of conflict into open strategic relationships, making inoperable every mechanism of self-regulation (of the market) or every regulation by feedback (“man-machine systems” open their “complexity” to the future). The strategic “opening” of war is radically other than the systematic opening of cybernetics, which was not born in/of war for nothing. Capital is not structure or system; it is “machine” and war machine, of which the economy, politics, technology, the State, the media, and so forth are only the articulations informed by strategic relations. In the Marxist/Marxian definition of General Intellect, the war machine integrating science, technology, and communication into its functioning is curiously neglected for the sake of a hardly credible “communism of capital.”

26. Capital is not a mode of production without being at the same time a mode of destruction. The infinite accumulation that constantly moves its limits to recreate them again is at the same time unlimited, widespread destruction. The gains in productivity and gains of destructiveness progress in parallel. They manifest themselves in the generalized war that scientists prefer to call “Anthropocene” rather than “Capitalocene,” even if, in all evidence, the destruction of the environments in and through which we live does not begin with “humans” and their growing needs, but with Capital. The “ecological crisis” is not the result of a modernity and humanity blinded to the negative effects of technological development but the “fruit of the will” of some people to exercise absolute domination over other people through a global geopolitical strategy of unlimited exploitation of all human and nonhuman resources.

Capitalism is not only the deadliest civilization in the history of humanity, the one that introduced us to the “shame of being human”; it is also the civilization through which labor, science, and technology have created—another (absolute) privilege in the history of humanity—the possibility of (absolute) annihilation of all species and the planet that houses them. In the meantime, the “complexity” of (saving) “nature” still offers the prospect of healthy profits combining the techno utopia of geoengineering and the reality of the new markets of “polluting rights.” At the confluence of one and the other, the Capitalocene does not send capitalism to the Moon (it has been there and back); it completes the global merchandizing of the planet by asserting its rights to the well-named troposphere.

27. The logic of Capital is the logistics of an infinite valuation. It implies the accumulation of a power that is not merely economic for the simple reason that it is complicated by strategic power and knowledge of the strength and weakness of the classes struggling, to which it is applied and with which they are in constant explanation. Foucault tells us that the Marxists turned their attention to the concept of “class” to the detriment of the concept of “struggle.” Knowledge of strategy is thus evacuated in favor of an alternative enterprise of pacification (Tronti offers the most epic version of this). Who is strong and who is weak? In what way did the strong become weak, and why did the weak become strong? How to strengthen oneself and weaken the other to dominate and exploit it? We propose to follow and reinvent the anticapitalist path of French Nietzscheism.

28. Capital came out the victor in the total wars and in the confrontation with global revolution, for which the number for us is 1968. Since then, it has gone from victory to victory, perfecting its self-cooled motor, where it verifies that the first function of power is to deny the existence of civil wars by erasing even the memory of them (pacification is a scorched earth policy). Walter Benjamin is there to remind us that reactivating the memory of the victories and defeats from which the victors take their domination can only come from the “defeated.” Problem: the “defeated” of ’68 threw out the bath water of civil wars with the old Leninist baby at the end of the “Hot Autumn” sealed by the failure of the dialectic of the “party of autonomy.” Entry into the “winter years” on the edge of a second Cold War that ensures the triumph of the “people of capitalism” (“‘People’s Capitalism’—This IS America!”), the End of History will take the relay without stopping at a Gulf War that “did not take place.” Except there is a constellation of new wars, revolutionary machines, or mutant militants (Chiapas, Birmingham, Seattle, Washington, Genoa …) and new defeats. The new writing generations describe “the missing people” dreaming of insomnia and destituent processes unfortunately reserved for their friends.

29. We will cut it short, in addressing our enemies. Because this text has no other object, under the economy and its “democracy,” behind the technological revolutions and “mass intellectuality” of the General Intellect, than to make heard the “rumble” of real wars now underway in all of their multiplicity. A multiplicity which is not to be made but unmade and remade to charge the “masses or flows,” which are doubly subjects, with new possibilities. On the side of relations of power as subject to war or/and on the side of strategic relationships that are capable of projecting them to the rank of subjects of wars, with “their mutations, their quanta of deterritorialization, their connections, their precipitations.” In short, it is a question of drawing the lessons from what seems to us like the failure of the thought of ’68 which we have inherited, even in our inability to think and construct a collective war machine equal to the civil war unleashed in the name of neoliberalism and the absolute primacy of the economy as exclusive policy of capital. Everything is taking place as if ’68 was unable to think all the way, not its defeat (there are, since the New Philosophers, professionals in the matter), but the warring order of reasons that broke its insistence through a continuous destruction, placed in the present infinitive of the struggles of “resistance.”

30. It is not a question, it is not at all a question of stopping resistance. It is a question of dropping a “theoricism” satisfied with a strategic discourse that is powerless in the face of what is happening. And what has happened to us. Because if the mechanisms of power are constitutive, to the detriment of strategic relationships and the wars taking place there, there can only be phenomena of “resistance” against them. With the success we all know. Graecia docet.


This text is the introduction to Wars and Capital by Maurizio Lazzarato and Éric Alliez, translated from the French by Ames Hodges, forthcoming from Semiotext(e) in August 2017.


Qiao Liang and Wang Xiangsui, Unrestricted Warfare: China’s Master Plan to Destroy America (Los Angeles: Pan American Publishing, 2002), 190.


Philip Pullella and Wiktor Szary, “Pope says Europe attacks show ‘world at war,’ religion not to blame,” Reuters, July 27, 2016 .


We are using “war against women,” “war of the sexes,” and “gender war” interchangeably. Without entering into the debates that overlap feminism, the concepts of “woman,” “sex,” and “gender” (like that of “race”) do not refer to any essentialism but to the political construction of heterosexuality and the patriarchy as social norms of procreation, sexuality, and reproduction of the population, of which the nuclear family is the foundation. It is a continuous war waged against women to submit them to these processes of subjection, domination, and exploitation.


My translation from the French. —Translator’s note


Martin Heidegger, The End of Philosophy, trans. Joan Stambaugh (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003), 104–05.


Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, trans. Brian Massumi (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1987), 467.

War & Conflict, Capitalism, Marxism
Subjectivity, Money & Finance
Return to Issue #78

Translated from the French by Ames Hodges. This text is an excerpt of Maurizio Lazzarato and Éric Alliez’s forthcoming book Wars and Capital, to be published in English by Semiotext(e). The book’s release is scheduled for August 2017.


e-flux announcements are emailed press releases for art exhibitions from all over the world.

Agenda delivers news from galleries, art spaces, and publications, while Criticism publishes reviews of exhibitions and books.

Architecture announcements cover current architecture and design projects, symposia, exhibitions, and publications from all over the world.

Film announcements are newsletters about screenings, film festivals, and exhibitions of moving image.

Education announces academic employment opportunities, calls for applications, symposia, publications, exhibitions, and educational programs.

Sign up to receive information about events organized by e-flux at e-flux Screening Room, Bar Laika, or elsewhere.

I have read e-flux’s privacy policy and agree that e-flux may send me announcements to the email address entered above and that my data will be processed for this purpose in accordance with e-flux’s privacy policy*

Thank you for your interest in e-flux. Check your inbox to confirm your subscription.