Life as Art
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Life as Art

Nomads in Dystopia 1

A Deleuzian Ethic in the Context of a Society of Control

Image by Public Co from Pixabay

Liberal democracy is a form of government that can work in a manner consistent with a Deleuzian philosophy of difference. But it is not a transcendent or perfectionist vision of society.

Liberal democracy is offered up in these writings as a means of facilitating conditions in which citizens might freely choose to live fulfilling lives, provided it functions openly and pragmatically.

Utopian Visions

In other writings, I have touched on political ideologies based on utopian visions that assert a perfectionist telos, and an end to history.

In the 20th century, organic states borne out of fascist and communist ideologies have without fail resulted in totalitarian societies.

Clearly, such forms of government cannot possibly be contemplated as states that enable the pursuit of a life of becoming, one rich in the critical freedom to choose how one might remain open and transform.

Such states are closed, and seek to separate life from its active force. Such states prioritize static power relations in the name of pre-selected and unchallengeable ends, thus abstracting and extracting from each citizen their will to power, and eliminating any opportunity for the pursuit of a fulfilling life.

Such states promulgate striation and reterritorialization to the limit, attempting to snuff out permanently that which is virtual and deterritorializes.

Liberalism Usurped

But it is not only totalitarian states that undermine the will to power.

The liberal democracy can and does continually legislate and execute so as to unduly exercise control over its citizens in a manner that is inconsistent with living a life of becoming.

Earlier, I mentioned Deleuze’s views on societies of control, that they operate via ubiquitous social monitoring and coercion.

It is now time to revisit the concept of societal control in more depth, and in light of my attempt here to justify the liberal democracy as a means of creating the political conditions consistent with living a fulfilling life.

Maintaining the Open and New

If the liberal democracy presents only a fragile opportunity and skeletal framework for the pursuit of a life of becoming, we must ask what physiology can ensure or maximize our chances of ensuring that it continues to operate in aid of the open and new?

In other words, how can we defend the open and pragmatic democracy from forces in such a society that would undermine its inherent ability to deterritorialize and remain open?

What capacity does becoming minor, the minoritarian, have for fending against omni-present control that would seek to separate life, in all contexts, from its active force to create and produce?

What would a nomadic political ethic entail?

I hope you enjoyed this article. Thanks for reading!


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Excerpt from my forthcoming book, Becoming: A Life of Pure Difference (Gilles Deleuze and the Philosophy of the New) Copyright © 2021 by Tomas Byrne. Learn more here.



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