The War Machine

Deleuze, Gilles and Félix Guattari. Nomadology: the War Machine. Trans. Brian Masumi. New York: Semiotext(e), 1986.

(excerpted by Clifford Stetner)

Axiom 1: The war machine is exterior to the State apparatus.

Proposition 1: This exteriority is first attested to in mythology, epic, drama and games.


Georges Dumézil in his definitive analyses of Indo-European mythology, has shown that political sovereignty, or domination, has two heads: the magician-king and the jurist priest, Rex and flamen, raj and Brahman, Romulus and Numa, Varuna and Mitra, the despot and the legislator, the binder and the organizer. Undoubtedly, these two poles stand in opposition term by term, as the obscure and the clear, the violent and the calm, the quick and the weighty, the fearsome and the regulated, the “bond” and the pact,” etc. [n1] But their opposition is only relative; they function as a pair, in alternation, as though they expressed a division of the One or constituted in themselves a sovereign unity.


…the State… either…uses policemen and jailers in place of warriors, has no arms and no need of them, operates through immediate, magical capture, “seizes” and “binds,” preventing all combat – or …army, but in a way that presupposes a juridical integration of war and the organization of military function. [n2] …irreducible to the State apparatus…

Indra, the warrior god, is in opposition to Varuna no less then to Mitra. [n3]… He unties the bond just as he betrays the pact.


Chess is a game of State…internal nature and intrinsic properties, from which their movements, situations and confrontations derive.

Go pieces are elements of a nonsubjectified machine assemblage with no intrinsic properties, but only situational ones.


The nomos of Go against the state of chess, nomos against polis. …chess codes and decodes space… Go proceeds altogether differently territorializing or deterritorializing it (make the outside a territory in space; consolidate that territory by the construction of a second, adjacent territory; deterritorialize the enemy by shattering his territory from within; deterritorialize oneself by renouncing, by going elsewhere . . . . Another justice, another movement, another space-time.


Dumézil analyzes the three “sins” of the warrior in the Indo-European tradition: against the king, against the priest, against the laws originating in the State (for example, a sexual transgression that compromises the distribution of men and women, or even a betrayal of the laws of war as instituted by the State).

It is not enough to affirm that the war machine is external to the apparatus. It is necessary to reach the point of conceiving the war machine as itself a pure form of exteriority, whereas the State apparatus constitutes the form of interiority we habitually take as a model, or according to which we are in the habit of thinking.