Machine/ Flow/ Territory
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In his lecture of 14th March 1979, within the series, The Birth of the Biopolitical, Michel Foucault discusses in some depth the American form of neo-liberalism, contrasting it with the development of neo-liberalism in Germany before and during World War Two. With respect to the radical approaches to neo-liberalism of Theodore Schulz and Gary Becker, Foucault offers a succinct shorthand understanding of the notion of self as human capital within neo-liberal economic rationality. This self is an “ability-machine” and an “incomestream” or “flow.” The English translator of The Birth of the Biopolitical, Graham Burchell, offers a curious footnote on this succinct abbreviation, machine/flow: “The word “machine” seems to be Foucault’s, an allusion or wink to L’Anti-Oedipe of Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari”. Indeed the machine/flow couple is a crucial territorializing and deterritorialising ensemble of relations for Deleuze and Guattari in both volumes of Capitalism and schizophrenia. That “wink” to D & G, suggested by Burchell, opens the space for a compelling engagement with an ongoing understanding of Foucault’s critical philosophical writings and Deleuze’s own work. But here we are afforded an opportunity to engage the extent to which the machinic/flows ensemble in Deleuze and Guattari, or their political concerns with capitalism, are an allied diagnostic to Foucault’s writings on the governmentality of neo-liberalism, particularly in relation to the radical notions of the movement of freedom in a self’s relation to herself, that is opened in an analytics of the political rationality of neo-liberalism. This paper approaches an understanding of “territory” in relation to the emphasis given by both Deleuze and Foucault to fundamental transformations, particularly since the second half of the twentieth century, to sovereign juridical understanding of subject-rights, to neo-liberal understandings of entrepreneurial self-enterprise as inequity of competition: territory becoming milieu, becoming flow.