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Violence, Territorialization, and Signification: The Political from Carl Schmitt and Gilles Deleuze

Author(s): Gavin Rae

Journal: Theoria and Praxis : International Journal of Interdisciplinary Thought
ISSN 2291-1286

Volume: 1;
Issue: 1;
Date: 2013;
Original page

Keywords: The Political | Schmitt | Deleuze | Violence | Signification | Territorialization

While Carl Schmitt is one of the main proponents of the question of the political with the consequence that his thinking on the subject has garnered much attention, not only is the question of the political in Gilles Deleuze relatively underdeveloped, but there has been virtually no work done on the relationship between the two. The orientating contention of this paper is that thinking the question of the political from the works of these two, very different, thinkers will not only start to bring these two thinkers together but, in so doing, will allow us to better understand their individual thinking in a way that draws out conclusions regarding the nature of the political. While Schmitt’s friend-enemy division is the normal focus of analyses, I will focus on the role that violence and territory plays in fostering and sustaining this distinction to suggest that Schmitt’s famous distinction actually points towards the intimate relationship between the political, violence, and territory. Having made this connection, I then turn to the work of Gilles Deleuze who, I argue, maintains that the political is linked to pre-individual processes of territorialization and signification. The conclusion reached is that thinking the political from Schmitt and Deleuze reveals that it is intimately connected to violence, territory, and signification, which are primordially determined by ever-changing pre-individual, socio-linguistic relations specific to each society. It is to this pre-individual, socio-linguistic field that attempts to answer the question of the political should attend.

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