Weatherman, the Militant Diagram, and the Problem of Political Passion

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Abstract:

This paper is a critique of the political figure of the militant. In particular it seeks to understand the ways militancy effectuates processes of political passion and a certain unworking or deterritorialisation of the self in relation to political organisations and the wider social environment within which militants would enact change. To this end the paper traces a diagram or abstract machine of militancy, a diagram comprised of Guattari's cartography of Leninism and the model of struggle set out by the Russian nihilist Sergei Nechaev. Foregrounding specific techniques and affective and semiotic registers, the paper explores a particular animation of abstract militant functions in the Weatherman organisation in the United States at the turn of the 1970s. It then sketches the principle outlines of a counter figure - an 'a-militant diagram', or dispersive ecology of political composition - that draws together Marx's figure of the party, Jacques Camatte's critique of the political 'racket', and Deleuze and Guattari's approach to the problem of the group and its outside.

Keywords: ACTIVISM; MILITANT; POLITICAL AFFECT; POLITICAL SEMIOTICS; WEATHER UNDERGROUND

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3898/newf.68.08.2009

Publication date: March 1, 2010

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  • new formations is an inter-disciplinary journal of culture, politics and theory. It covers a wide range of issues, from the seduction of perversity to questions of nationalism and postcolonialism.

    'essential reading for those who want to understand politics in the light of the most important trends in contemporary theory' Chantal Mouffe
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