From: Chris Jones <ccjones@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sat, 18 Nov 2000 14:34:18 +1100
Thanks for that reply. It clarified a lot of confusion.
> But lets look at some actual nomads: mongols, sioux, 17th century pirates,
> etc. Can you say that they have no "state"? Really? That's the siginficance
> of this notion that the beginnings of the state are prehuman. By
> "prestatist", we do not mean "no state", but only that the state is not
> "full blown".
You have pointed to something here that was confusing. The
difference being the concept of nomadic (connected more with monad)
and the lived conditions of nomadic peoples. Marx argues the state
comes with class society on an international scale. Uptopian
socialists thought they could live with no state, while class society
continued elsewhere. Could you say these uptopians have no class
society or state? So, I think also in these terms you are quite
correct. Also prehuman is quite different to ahuman. Humanity
presupposes the state.
> I am not saying the state is "all there is", "fully formed", etc. Just that
> the state is more significant, pernacious, subtle, and thoroughgoing than we
> sometimes think, and paradoxically, at the same time, comically ill-formed,
> insignificant, and lacking in real sociopsychological extension.
The above reminds me of Lenin, as well, who put so much effort into
understanding the state. Given the way the Russian state was set up
prior to 1917 I can only admire this, despite the outcome of that
revolution. Yes, I can agree the state is much more than we are
invited to believe. Yet we are also invited to believe the state will
go on forever. Hegel's dialectical state, so far as I understand it,
invites this thinking. And, yes, it can appear quite comical, stupid
and silly (as can Hegel.) When you think about the state in Marxist
terms of class society, the state is much more then we may think and
the grandeur of Marx is writing the potential end of the state and
class society. I'll come back to your comments, again.
> "Nomads" in which sense, "philosophical" or "historical"? Thinking about the
> mongols, the sioux, et al as abolsutely exterior to the state is just wrong.
I can agree here. I will also return to this point.
> You have to ask yourself what the state *is* (I mean what are its traits,
> what does it *do*). Now its main thing is regulating. Does it surprise you
> that nomad societies are very regulated? Much less like BwOs or packs than
> you might think, actually.
The interesting thing here is that prior to any state intervention
and the English invasion Australian Aborigines also had a very
regulated way of living. The over two thousand different groups each
with a different language and very sophisicated and well defined
culture. Here we can play at some etymological gymnastics. Two sorts
of regulation come into the picture. Regulation which is about
government and the rule of law which is the state regulation. The
other sort is regulation which is living according to the needs of
the land. (Both from the OED) Here we have a possibility in the first
of Plato and then Kant's Law and perhaps another regulation which is
more an ethics.
Now to make a leap to philosophy and the concept of nomad and the
aesthetic model of haptic space, I think is is possible to say
haptic space has its own type of regulation and codes specific to
its environment. I cannot think haptic space as absolutely pure
decoded flow. Having said that, haptic space also involves
deterritorialisation to arrive at syntax, so it is a pre-syntax or
potential syntax. It involves composition on the plane of
composition, to take something from D&Gs materialist aesthetics. This
produces Worringers abstract and gothic line and the goddess
tradition in poetry writing. So haptic space is something that is yet
to be decided. In that way it remains a smooth space but presupposes
decision and syntax and composition.
What I think I have done above is give language a double twist. I
have twisted regulation into the state by rule of law and with the
other twist into a type of nomadic regulation, a type of nomadic
numbering. In nomadic regulation we have an aesthetics or a theory
of artistic composition. I'll leave that aside, because it is the
twist or folding of regulation into the state that I find in your
thinking interesting and can go places with.
Regulation as the rule of law is one thing the state does. In Plato's
time, the ruler measured law against what is said to be good. Kant
made a philosophical reversal of this concept of law. In modern law
good is measured against law. It is good because the law says it is
good. Heroin use is against the law so heroin use must be bad
because the law says heroin is bad. The rule of law as something the
state does becomes transcendental. The state takes on a
transcendental character. This is something else the modern state
does. When this modern capitalist state does this it takes on another
charactersitic of being a generalised state. That is it is
overarching or takes on a world view, a world or international
interest. What Lenin called the imperialist state. When the state
does this then there can be no absolute exterior to the state. The
people also dissappear and become subjects to an imperial state.
Twist this generalised transcendental state onto the plane
on the absolute horizon so it lays flat on this plane. This
overarching state becomes a figure on this plane. A type of parabolic
arch. Across the y axis of this arch, now a flat parabola, Marx draws
a line which marks the end of the state, class society and history.
But that line is yet to be drawn by the people. So we are still inside
the state. But inside the state is also smooth space, nomadic space,
which the state needs to striate. The modern state has done one hell
of a lot of striating making Marx's line all the more difficult, but
this line is still not impossible. So we have little gaps of smooth
space, which can erase these striations, where a people become. People
resist the state and history, making the state and history, until a
people can draw the line to end the state. So, the state withers away
not from the outside but from the inside by becoming. An engineering
project which builds a people. The historical nomads you wrote of are
now inside this generalised form of the state. They would have the
state in them in so far as they are in the state. So yes, to
say these nomadic peoples are absolutely exterior to the state is
wrong. I can relate this to your comments of the state being:
..."pernacious, subtle, and thoroughgoing than we sometimes think,
and paradoxically, at the same time, comically ill-formed"
The above may have too many gaps to hold water and a diversion from
what you are thinking but it is interesting to think the above plane
as a plane of composition (WIP).
> Though that's stating it too strongly.Better to say that the
> generalized mode of production and the state are so intimate as to
> be almost inseperable?
I don't think this goes against Marx, Lenin or even Trotsky.
Surplus, class society and the state come together. The
state serves to keep the surplus from the people and to make sure
the people dissappear, are asignifying, become subjects, and the
surplus flows to the ruling class who are also not a people.
Without the state this would not occur and the historic advances made
by capitalism may have also failed. Marx doesn't propose the end to
capital as a productive process but the private ownership of the
means of production.
> But Marx would have, I think, also
> allowed that thought can sometimes seem to precede history?
Yes, absolutely, Marx says thinking can precede actual
material historic events. His strongest statements regarding this
are often on art but even his own writings are an example. He even
makes possible the idea of some things being transhistorical and
going beyond history.
best wishes and hope I haven't made too much of a diversion from your
ps.. it was sloppy of me to appear to equate the state with
strata. Also, I don't expect an address directly to the above but I
am interested in a sort of parrallel thinking which seems to be
panning out here. Of course, anything which is wrong or you don't
agree with, please do tear to shreds.