Outline of “Apparatus of Capture” Plateau – Deleuze and Guattari

A Thousand Plateaus: “Capture”

Outline by “Anarchist Without Content”

PDF here.

Draft copy. Do not cite without permission. Please email comments or suggestions.

Proposition X.  The state and its poles

The back and forth between these two poles constitute the complementarity of the State

–‘animates the State with a curious rhythm’ [424]





Emit signs that capture, tie knots at a distance



sends to battle warriors not his own

courvee  (?)



encasts the war machine (bond)

binds without combat (suspend weapons, throws net)

–diff than capturing the spoils of war (?)





Right and technology, the law and the tool


great organizer of war

gives war laws (lays out field, imposes discipline, subordinates it to political ends)

appropriates the war machine (turns it into institution)




War Machine

man of war



severs the bonds of the magic-emperor

protests the alliances/pacts of jurist-king

–unbinder + betrayer


different order (order not absent)

signs/tools of st8 à jewelry/weapons



***State Violence = Mutilation [425-6]

diff btween work and war

-War: preaccomplished violence (mutilation/death “comes first”)

-Work: preaccomplished violence + myth of life (zombie, “the living dead”)

— “The State apparatus needs, at its summit as at its base, predisabled people, preexisting amputees, the stillborn, the congenitally infirm, the one-eyed and one-armed.” [426]

à Nietzsche and conscience



three-part thesis of WM, and the 2 poles of the st8( a ‘tempting hypothesis’) (426):

“The war machine is ‘between’ two poles of political sovereignty and assures the passage from one pole to the other” (WM as state-effect)

– Three examples, Norse (Dumezil), Roman, Greek (Detienne). [426]


D&G = NO! WM = autonomous, secondarily taken up by the State (427)

  1. WM exterior, explains nothing about the st8
  2. ‘evolution’ of the st8 only happens through the contract pole
    1. must be in resonance with the conquest pole, which recharges it
    2. st8 only has one milieu of interiority: unity of composition (“in spite of all the differences in organization ad development among States.”)
    3. all st8s have both poles, though the org of the two varies
    4. “this interior essence or this unity of the State ‘capture,”
      1. “magic capture” because it always appears as preaccomplished and self-presupposing



“We are always brought back to the idea of a State that comes into a world fully formed and rises up in a single stroke, the unconditioned Urstaat.”


Proposition XI: Which comes first? (427)


first pole of capture: imperial/despotic (conquest) (Marx’s Asiatic)

–“Archaeology discovers it everywhere, often lost in oblivion, at the horizon of all systems or States.”


Following the Marxist def, pole 1:

–“A St8 app is erected upon the primitive ag communities, which already have lineal-territorial codes; but it overcodes them, submitting them to the power of a despotic emperor” who is:

  1. sole/transcendent public-property owner (428)
  2. master of the surplus or the stock
  3. organizer or large-scale works (surplus labor)
  4. source of public functions and bureaucracy

–“the paradigm of the bond, the knot”


-Regime of signs of the st8: overcoding or the Signifier

-System: machinic enslavement / megamachine

-NOT KING/TYRANT, which is retroactively applied after private property has arisen


**everything public:

  1. ownership of land is communal
  2. (land does not exist as an alienable commodity)
  3. each individual is an owner only insofar as he/she is a member of the community
  4. the eminent prop of the despot is that of the supposed Unity of the community
  5. functionaries have land only if it comes with position
  6. money may exist, but not for buying/selling – but for the tax that functionaries owe the emperor

nexum / bond

RENT–“something is lent or even given without a transfer of ownership, without private appropriation, and the compensation for it does not come in the form of interest or profit .. but rather as a “rent” that accrues to him”


Archaeological Origin of States

NOT the material “State presupposes advanced agricultural communities and developed forces of production.”

–“On the contrary, the State is established directly in a milieu of hunter-gatherers having no prior [pg] agriculture or metallurgy, and it is the State that creates agriculture, animal raising, and metallurgy; it does so first on its own soil, then imposes them upon the surrounding world.” (428-9)

–“It is not the country that progressively creates the town but the town that creates the country.”

****”It is not the State the presupposes a mode of production; quite the opposite, it is the State that makes production a “mode.””



Rejection of economic and ecologic evolutionism: the state pre-exists capitalism

Clastres’ args: (429)

  1. “societies termed primitive are not societies without a State, in the sense that they failed to reach a certain stage, but are counter-State societies organizing mechanisms that ward off the State-form, which make its crystallization impossible.”
  2. “when the State arises, it is in the form of an irreducible break, since it is not the result of a progressive development of the forces of production (even the “Neolithic revolution” cannot be defined in terms of an economic infrastructure).12”
    1. fn 12: Clastres SATS, “We have seen that, according to C, primitive war is one of the principal mechanisms of warding off the State in that it maintains the opposition and dispersion of small segmentary groups.  But also, from this viewpoint, primitive war remains subordinated to these preventive mechanisms and does not become autonomous as a machine, even when it compromises a specialized body.” (p565)
    2. Clastres — “presentiment” whereby counter-State autarkies warded off states before they existed! (429)
      1. D&G criticize ‘ethnology’ for not considering “the coexistence between primitive societies and empires, even those of Paleolithic times”
      2. Therefore: “Everything is not of the State precisely because there have been States always and everywhere.
        1. i.     Writing, speech, language presuppose States
  3. And that “the self-sufficiency, autarky, independence, preexistence of primitive communities, is an ethnological dream.”
  4. “not that these communities necessarily depend on States, but they (pg brk) coexist with them in a complex network” (429-30)
    1. connections between communities, “channeled through States, even if States effected only a partial and local capture of them.” (430) [hypothetical]
    2. language as “between those who do not speak the same tongue”
      1. i.     opp of lang determines commonality – lang determines difference!
      2. ii.     “language is made… for translation, not for communication”
  5. LOF “there are as many tendencies that “seek” the State… as there are movements within the State or outside it that tend to stray form it or guard themselves against it”  “everything coexists, in perpetual interaction”
  6. Zig-Zag evolution
    1. Nomads usually “populations that abandoned their semiurban sedentarity”
    2. Above example: fn 13: “According to Griaznov, it was the sedentary farmers who went out on the steppe and became nomadic, during the Bronze Age: This it the case of the zigzag movement in evolution. See The Ancient Civilization of Southern Siberia, p97-8, 131-3
    3. *WAR MACHINE:
      1. W-M is not just warding but anti-state
      2. “It is under these conditions [zig-zag evolution] that the nomads invented the war machine, as that which occupies or fills nomad space and opposes towns and States, which its tendency is to abolish.  Primitive peoples already had mechanisms of war that converged to prevent the State formation; but these mechanisms change when they gain autonomy in the form of a specific nomadism machine that strike back against the State.” (430)
        1. i.     “We cannot, however, infer from this even a zigzag evolution that would go from primitive peoples to States, from States to nomad war machines; or at least the zigzagging is not successive but passes through the loci of a topology that defines primitive societies here, States there, and elsewhere war machines.  And even when the State appropriates the war machine, one again changing its nature, it is a phenomenon of transport, of transfer, and not one of evolution.  The nomad exists only in becoming, and in interaction; the same goes for the primitive.”
  7. *************“All history does is to translate a coexistence of becomings into a succession.”


ORIGINS / warding off

Hunter-gatherers, NOT the first primitives! (431)

—whole section on causality (and how only zig-zag causality, which poses a ‘reverse causality without finality’)

“reverse causality”

***”what does not yet exist is already in action, in a different form than that of its existence” (virtual threshold)

“thresholds of consistency that are themselves coexistent,” “coexists with what has yet to cross it” (432)

—-“ [the State] was already acting before it appeared, as the actual limit these primitive societies warded off, or as the point toward which they converged but could not reach without self-destructing” (431)

— “to ward off is also to anticipate.”  (two processes: anticipatory mechanisms, warding off)



St8’s dialectical inversion (431)

Once the st8 exists à acts back on hunter-gatherers, imposing ag, animal raising, extensive div of labor, etc

–before st8 appears, already acting in the form of centrifugal/divergent wave (“a wave that cancels itself out precisely at the point of convergence marking the inversion of signs or the appearance of the State (hence the functional and intrinsic instability of these primitive societies).14”)  [st8 performs a dialectical inversion]

–fn14: Jean Robert’s “inversion of signs and messages” – periphery à center, switches to townàrural


recap: two-step forming of state (432)

1st: threshold/degree beyond what is anticipated takes on consistency (or the anticipatory mech make it fail)

2nd: “what is conjured away ceases to be so and arrives”



diff btwn urban systems:



Town = outgrowth of palace



Urban, Town

Palace = concretion of town



TOWN vs. ST8

Town (432)

-town as f(x) of circulation

-entries/exist, matter, imposes frequency

-“causes the phylum”, the flow, to pass


trans-consistency (network) – with other towns


Threshold of DT, “whatever that material involved, it must be DT enough to enter the network, submit to the polarization, to follow the circuit of urban and road recoding”


Towns as polarization/middle of forced coordination


Fn16: ‘political power does not imply the State-form”



State (433)

-St8 as stratification

-forms vertical, hierarchized aggregate that spans horizontal lines in a dimension of depth

-isolates: cuts off rx w/ other elements à exterior


intra-consistency: making points resonate together

–an internal circuit, “a zone of recurrence that isolates itself from the remainder of the network”

–“echo chamber”


DT – territory as object, mat to stratify, make resonate


Multiplicity of st8s – “there are as many st8 as there are vertical cross sections in a dimension of depth”

–“each st8 is a global (not local) integration, a reduandancy of resonance (not of freq), an operation of the strat of the territo (not of the polar of the milieu).




“It is possible to reconstruct how primitive societies warded off both thresholds while at the same time anticipating them”


Levi-Strauss, “the same villages are susceptible to two presentations”

  1. segmentary (hierarchized)
  2. egalitarian (encompassing)

“two potential:

n  one anticipating a central point common to two horizontal segments, [town]

n  the other anticipating a central point external to a straight line [st8]”


“Primitive societies do not lack formation of power; they even have many of them.  But what prevents the potential central points from crystallizing, from taking on consistency, are precisely those mechanisms that keep the formations of power both”

  • from resonating together in higher point and [st8-threshold for intra-consistency]
    • by preventing circles from becoming concentric (resonating together)
  • from becoming polarized at a common point [town-threshold for trans-consistency]
    • by requiring a ‘third village’ to “prevent the direction circuit from closing”


While the st8 needed the town, is there a form of the town breaking free from the st8? (434)

“the town tended to break free when the State’s overcoding itself provoked decoded flows”

–towns that assured trade btwn empires, or ‘better yet’ their own free commercial network with other towns

CAP = fx of Town or State?       (every form ‘anticipate + inhibit’)

“It was through the state-form and not the town-form that capitalism triumphed” (434)


Braudel: “there were ‘always two runners, the state and the town’ – 2 forms and 2 speed of DT”

–st8 caught up “with the forward gallop of the towns”, usually won with discipline and violence

–but it’s a reciprocal relation: st8 capture + direct towns

******EMPIRE = same relationship (434-5)

::worldwide axiomatic = single City (megalopolis/megamachine) of which the St8 are parts/neighborhoods



“we define social formations by machinic processes and not by modes of production”

—MOP depend on machinic processes


Five social forms, and their machinic processes (all ‘the object of a social topology’)

(1)  primitive societies // mechanisms of prevention-anticipation

(2)  St8 societies // apparatuses of capture

(3)  Urban societies // instruments of polarization

(4)  Nomadic societies // war machines

(5)  International/ecumenical organizations // encompassment of heterogeneous social forms


*It is the extrinsic coexistence – interaction – that is brought to its own expression in international aggregates


Diffusion/diffusionism: [[DIFFUSE SOVEREIGNTY, EMPIRE, ETC]]

–“badly formulated if one assumes a center at which the diffusion would begin” (A2: strike against st8)

–“diffusion occurs only through the placing in communication of potentials of very different orders: all diffusion happens in the in-between, goes between, like everything that ‘grows’ of the rhizome type”

–“An international ecumenical org does not process from an imperial center that imposes itself upon and homogenizes an exterior milieu; neither is it reducible to relations between St8s, for example (the League of nations, the United Nations).  On the contrary, it constitutes an intermediate milieu between the different coexistent orders. Therefore it is not exclusively commercial or economic, but is also religious, artistic, etc.  From this standpoint we shall call an international organization anything that has the capacity to move through diverse social formations simultaneously: States, towns, deserts, war machines, primitive societies. “ (435, my emph)

–Samir Amin against economism from Unequal Development

–“The point of departure for ecumenical org is not a St8, even an imperial one; the imperial St8 is only one part of it, and it constitutes a part of it in its own mode, according to its own order, which consists in capturing everything it can.  It does not proceed by progressive homogenization, or by totalization, but by the taking on of consistency or the consolidation of the diverse as such.”

–ex: Monotheism’s universality is non-homogenous, “it makes itself felt only by spreading everywhere”


A2: Homogenization:

Axiomatic = isomorphic (more on this later)

–it would be wrong to confuse isomorphy with hetero-homo/geneity [CAP IS NOT TRANS-CONSISTENCY]

–isomorphism “centers” heterogeneous states on the world market (“exo-consistency”?)



–even more: “each process can switch over to other powers, but also subordinate other processes to its own power” (437)

(“there is not only an external coexstience of formations but also an intrinsic coexistence of machinic processes”)

(1)capture’s “power of appropriation” captures phylum, but also war machines, and anticipation-prevention

(2) anticipation-prevention = ‘high power of transference” – st8s ward off cap, cap wards/repels own limits, etc

(3) war machines’ power of metamorphosis – cap by st8s, but resist that capture, change, objects not war (rev?)



Proposition XII. Capture


“potlatch” marginalism

–Within Limit/ penultimate (last possible move before change/ last point while safety-valve)

–v. threshold/ ultimate/inevitable change (438)


“the economics of everyday life”

– the drunk, the last glass.  The ‘last word’ in a domestic squabble.  ‘last love’


limit (439)


exchange (not of value, but appearances)


threshold (440)

‘when the apparent exchange is no longer of interest’ (post-potlatch)

–the moment stockpiling begins!  (‘infinite debt’)

n  lost interest in exchange

n  desirability of stockpiling

  • else object would be destroyed/depleted
  • depletion = warding off to maintain assemblage

stockpiling provides stock for a “future assemblage”

n  problem of knowing what the other assemblage is and why the stock would be useful

ex: itinerant vs. non-itinerant farming


[Ricardo and some rent stuff I’m not following (440-1) – probably just refers back to basic Ricardian rent-theory.]

///////NEEDS WORK HERE!!!!!!

Three types of capture:

  • Ground Rent-2 potentialities of DT: land as comparable and exploited lands are appropriable (441)
  • Profit- Labor-quantitative comparison of activities; surplus labor-monopolistic appropriation of labor by the entrepreneur (441-442). Primitive groups have free action.
  • Taxation- money is derived from taxation, taxation enables ground rent and profit/labor. “Money is a correlate of stock […] always distributed by an apparatus of power under conditions of conservation, circulation, and turnover.” “It is direction in taxation that the equivalence and simultaneity” of ground rent, profit, and taxation develop (443). Taxation is means for foreign trade.

Stock comes from the apparatus of capture.

Comparison always presupposes appropriation (444).


Taxation – indirect taxes produce value/price, etc


Bernard Schmidt – argues that constitution of abstract labor = by giving them purchasing power (to close the circuit) rather than labor-power.



State violence is preaccomplished (447).

–primitive accumulation

–“from a standpoint within the cap mode of prod, it is very difficult to say who is the thief and who is the victim, or even where the violence resides.  That is because the worker is born entirely naked and the capitalist objectively “clothed”, an independent owner.  That which gave the worker the capitalist this form eludes us because it operates in other modes of production.  It is a violence that posits itself as preaccomplished, even though it is reactivated every day.”


Diff violence:

(1)  Struggle – primitive violence, blow-by-blow, ritualized and coded

(2)  War – mobilization and autonomization of violence

(3)  Crime – violence of illegality that consists in taking possession of something to which one has no ‘right’

(4)  State policing/ lawful violence –

  1. consists in capturing while simultaneously constituting a right to capture
  2. incorporate, structural violence distinct
  3. Reichstaat (Hegel) – monopoly on violence
  4. State overcoding is structural violence that defines the law as not violence of war
  5. “there is lawful violence wherever violence contributes to the creation of that which it is used against”
  6. in contradistinction to prim violence – presupposes itself, preexists its own use
    1. i.     why it says “violence is primal”
    2. ii.     ‘a natural phenomenon the responsibility for which does not lie with the state’



Proposition XIII: The State and Its Forms

*1. Archaic State of Plunder

The archaic State does not overcode without also freeing a large quantity of decoded flows that escape from it…the overcoding of the archaic State itself makes possible and gives rise to new flows that escape from it”  (448-9).

Example 1: Private Property

-Private property “can arise neither on the side of the emperor-despot nor on the side of the peasants” (449).

-But rather, freed slaves, “flows that are themselves decoded” (449).

Example 2: Capitalism

-For capitalism to be realized “there must be a whole integral of decoded flows, a whole generalized conjunction that overspills and overturns the preceding apparatuses” (452)

-Leads to the “becoming-necessary” of capitalism (453). cf. Althusser

*2. The “2nd Pole”

“The public sphere no longer characterizes the objective nature of property but is instead the shared means for a now private appropriation” (451)

Four Points:

1) The bond becomes personal, no longer communal or based on public office.

2) Law becomes ‘topical’, organizing conjunctions of decoded flows as such.

3) Regimes of signs superseded by subjectification.

4) Machinic enslavement replaced by social subjection.


*3. Capitalism

a general axiomatic of decoded flows…a new threshold of deterritorialization” (453).

Both property and law change functions.

Most extreme case in Empire or ‘worldwide axiomatic’


“an enormous, so-called stateless, monetary mass that circulates through foreign exchange and across borders, eluding control by the States, forming a multinational ecumenical organization, constitution a de facto supranational power untouched by governmental decisions” (453).


“capitalism has from the beginning mobilized a force of deterritorialization infinitely surpassing the deterritorialization proper to the state” (453).


5 Aspects of Empire (454-5)

1)    object = commodity (not earth-as-despot)

2)    ownership = abstract rights

3)    social formation = international division of labor

4)    states (1) = models of realization (but axiomatic ‘exceeds’ them)

5)    states (2) = moderate DT of cap with compensatory RT



4. Isomorphism & Nationalism – 455-6

Isomorphism addressed more substantially later 464-9


*5. Machinic Enslavement vs Social Subjection (456-9)

Machinic Enslavement = cog in a machine

Social Subjection = tethered to a machine as a user

-ex: “Double-Freedom” of Labor Power


“Third Age” Co-Extensive Subjection and Enslavement

-humans-machines assemblages

“modern power is not at all reducible to the classical alternative “repression or ideology” but implies processes of normalization, modulation, modeling and information…both subjection and enslavement taken to extremes, as two simultaneous parts that constantly reinforce and nourish each other.” (458)


Example: TV (cf. Bernard Stiegler & Theory, Culture & Society Volume 26, issue 2-3 (March 2009))


6. ‘Universal History of States” : Typological Re-Summarization

-“all the States resonate together” (459)

-“there is always an empire on the horizon, which for the subjective States plays the role of signifier and encompassing element”

-“Capitalism has reawakened the Urstaat, and given it new strength” (460).

-“Even subjection is only a relay for the fundamental movement of the State, named, civil capture or machinic enslavement.  The State is assuredly not the locus of liberty, nor the agent of a forced servitude or war capture” (460).


Proposition XIV: Axiomatics and the Presentday Situation

Axiomatics (theorematics) vs. Intuitionism (problematics)

-opposed to the “great axiomaticians” who are “men of State science, who seal off the lines of flight ath are so frequent in mathematics, who would imposed a new nexum, if only a temporary one, and who lay down the official policies of science” (461).

-“an entirely different abstract machine, one working in the undecidable and the fugitive” (461).


Seven (7) Givens:

*1) addition/subtraction

Axioms: “not theoretical propositions, or ideological formulas, but operative statements that constitute the semiological form of Capital and enter as component parts into assemblages of production, circulation, and consumption” (461).

-“primary statement, which do not derive from or depend upon another statement”


Addition: “master flows” (462)

“social democracy” – organization of domestic market to meet foreign market

Subtraction: fall back on small number of axioms regulating dominant flows

“anarcho-capitalism” – exclusive promotion of foreign sector

Special Case: “fascism” – war economy – fictive proliferation of axioms: “multiplication by subtraction”

—fascism extracts war from politics, war becomes economic


*2) saturation

Capitalism ‘works by breaking down’ (cf. Anti-Oedipus) (463) [‘haven’t found the threshold of cap’)

“all it confronts are its own limits (the periodic depreciation of existing capital); all it repels or displaces are its own limits (the formation of new capital, in new industrial with a high profit rate).”


Struggles At the Level of the Axiomatic Key

“There is always a fundamental difference between living flows and the axioms that subordinate them to centers of control and decision making, that make a given segment correspond to them, which measure their quanta.” (464)

“But the pressure of living flows, and of the problems they pose and impose, must be exerted inside the axiomatic…” (464).


3) models, isomorphy

*4) power (puissance)

Capitalism’s drive to war, its transformation to a suicide state, new role described by inversion of Clausewitz’s maxim: “politics is the continuation of war by other means” (no longer needing fascism)

Object of post-WW II war machine is ‘peace’ and ‘world-order’ (policing)

“Wars had become part of peace…the States no longer appropriated the war machine; they reconstituted a war machine of which they themselves were only the parts”(467).


Virilio’s Five Points:

(1) wm object = peace of terror                  (3) terror of maintaining status quo

(2) technoscientific ‘capitalization’ (4) war on “unspecified enemy”         (5) security as war

*5) included middle

Four flows that “the axiomatic never ceases to create” but denies itself the means to resolve:

(1) energy (2) population (3) food (4) urbanization (468)


“And the States of the center deal not only with the Third World, each of them has not only an external Third World, but there are internal Third Worlds that rise up within them and work them from the inside” (468)

à ‘precarity’ (469)


6) minorities

minor not by number but (a) distance from norm (b) non-denumerability (469-70)

“nationalitarian” / “we are all _____” (470)

-***struggle at the axiom: (a) “the index of another coexistent combat” &

(b) “always constitutes a point that the axiomatic cannot tolerate” (470-1)

***7) undecidable propositions (471)

i) war machine attacks on minorities / “unspecified enemy”, “camps”

ii) integration of minorities

iii) strategy of refusal (leaving plan(e) of capital)

iv) capitalism always ‘spinning off’ a) flows b) land c) w/m

v) oppositions between plane of consistency and cap/state


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