flock state



All this expansion of policies based on extermination, torture, incarceration, the war on drugs, crime, the poor and black population provided parts of a machine that produces desire

The recent video of the ministers' meeting together with the note from the reserve military that point to a risk of civil war is a way of appearing of the Bando State. Bunch is precisely a relationship[I], more than simply a state of affairs. What defines the band is the relationship by which what is outside the law is included in it by its own exclusion. This is what Agamben calls inclusive exclusion as a characteristic of the State of exception as a relationship between violence and law or violence and State that originates from the Rule of Law itself. The rule of law or the juridical-political order would have this band structure that defines Sovereignty as a unit or an interiority that always presupposes an outside that can be appropriated by law, that is, an outside that can and must be included by law as outside. Deleuze and Guattari point out how Sovereignty is only exercised over an outside, how it “only reigns over what it is capable of internalizing, of appropriating locally”. However, following Hegel's assertion that "every State contains within itself the essential moments of its existence", Deleuze and Guattari add that the State-form presupposes itself, a presupposition by which it interiorizes its outside as if it already belonged to itself. always its form, rightfully belonged. An outside that is not that of foreign policy between States, but that of an exteriority in which the law would not be in force, like a land without law, but which, for that very reason, is appropriated by its reference to the State or the Law. This is because the State or the interiority of the law in its generality or universality can only originally apply where it does not apply or does not have effective validity, that is, it can only be applied by the State of exception that consists of a situation in which the law it is at the same time outside itself, in which law and outlaw are pradoxically confused. Or, to put it another way, the form of the law is only realized through its exteriorization, which consists precisely in violence with the force of law against an outside that seeks to capture and submit to this law.

“The statement according to which 'the rule lives only by the exception' must therefore be taken at the foot of the letter. Law has no other life than the one it manages to capture within itself through the inclusive exclusion of exception: he is nourished by her and, without her, he is a dead letter”.[ii]

From the point of view of the formation of the State, it is as if there were, thus, an “original accumulation” from which the State produces what it exercises itself on, that is why “the State police or the violence of law” constitutes a historical regime of specific violence, because “it consists of capturing at the same time that it constitutes a right of capture. It is a structural, incorporated violence that opposes all direct violence. The State has often been defined as a 'monopoly of violence', but this definition refers back to another, which determines the State as a 'state of law'”. (Deleuze, G.; Guattari, F. Thousand Plateaus 13). It is precisely because of this specific link between violence and law, law being founded on a violence of capture, which means that State actions do not appear as violence, or, when they do appear, appear as violence that responds to violence by a outside the threat, therefore, that State violence appears “magically” as legal violence in a presupposed way.

This original violence, which is reproduced in states of normality and which is fundamental, comes to light or surface in exceptional situations, but it is also verified in border territories, where the law is in force through its suspension and has in this suspension the condition of its realization from the establishment of an order that is, paradoxically, suspended, from the creation of an effective reality that corresponds to the law. That is why Agamben, on this problem of the relationship of law with its reference in the order of facts, will say:

 “Law has a normative character, it is a norm (in the proper sense of 'square') not because it commands and prescribes, but inasmuch as it must, above all, create the scope of its own reference in real life, normalize it”.[iii]

At the same time that the State must create – through the inclusion of something that is excluded from the law – an order to which the law refers, this outside or that which is excluded already refers, however, to a presupposed legal order. Thus, there is a reciprocal presupposition between the law and its outside, so that what is captured is already presupposed, configuring the paradox of Sovereignty and the State of exception: not an anomie external to the structure of law, but a structural and internal violence to the right itself and through which the right is placed in effective reality, creates an objectivity that corresponds to it. This paradox becomes evident for Agamben when creating and activating legal devices such as the State of Siege or Emergency, whereby the State places itself through legal channels outside the legal system itself, claiming a situation of necessity that threatens the order of law and that becomes it tries to re-establish the nexus of law with its outside.

Deleuze and Guattari argue, therefore, that the law is precisely this nexus or this bond that makes State violence a proper and structural regime of social relations. Which means, therefore, that the State should not be thought of as an instrument external to social classes that would be appropriated by divided sociological groups for a monopolistic exercise over a reality that would be external. As it is a constitutive structural relationship of the State itself, the State produces an order that corresponds to it based on a relationship of capture. Thus, the State, as a social form, is presupposed to its concrete processes of realization and to the objects over which it is exercised and intrinsically constitutes its relations of domination: between Sovereign and subjects, rulers and ruled. It's a lesson the authors draw from Clastres and his study of societies against the state. These are characterized precisely by a mode of relationship in which there is no hierarchical division and the emergence of the State cannot be, thus, explained as an instrument of class domination that would already be pre-established, as if the structure of social relations existed before even of the very form or mode of production to which they belong. On the contrary, the appearance of the State marks a qualitative rupture in relations: the State secretes class division and the relationship of capturing its outside, it is the very form of the different types of monopolies: land rent, tribute, violence and the over-product of public work.[iv]

It is with this in mind that Deleuze and Guattari will be able to follow an analysis of the State as a fetishistic form of social relationship that constitutes an objective reality, which is “an apparent objective movement”, that is, a nature or reality produced by the form of the State and their monopolistic capture modes. This is what Sibertin-Blanc points out: “In this sense, monopoly has a fetishist structure. It is the main effect of the 'apparent objective movement' of the State-form. Static fetish, the monopoly fact is base fetishism”.[v]


If it is true that there is at the foundation of the State an original violence in the form of a primitive accumulation by which the State creates what it exercises and by which the social relation proper to the State-form is reproduced, it is nevertheless necessary to analyze further specifically how it works under capitalism. A question from which we can think, in a very summary way, the question of the historicity of the State. The original violence, with regard to the formation of the modern State and European public law, within which the Sovereign States recognized themselves, was territorialized precisely in America. The exception or violence originating from the State not only has a structural topos, but is also spatially and temporally specialized. Colonization consisted precisely in this spatialization of the exception where a nomos only applied or prevailed by suspending itself from this capture of its outside. Agamben thus shows how America appeared to the consciousness of modern theorists of law, such as Locke and Hobbes, as a state of nature in which everything is lawful, a “free and legally empty” space. This awareness is only possible because such space already refers to the European nomos, its exception has a structural link with the legal space established in Europe and which disciplined relations between States. In this way, the state of nature helps us less to understand Amerindian societies than modern state societies and their original violence: “the state of nature is, in fact, a state of exception”.[vi]

The modern apprehension of anti-State societies as “faithless, lawless, kingless” societies is, first of all, an apprehension that takes Western state, monarchic and Catholic societies as a point of reference or positivity. But, more than that, it is an apprehension or an awareness that is already formed by the state formations’ relationship of exception and by which they seek to include, through exclusion, their outside, thus legitimizing the State’s violence over a space colonial exception. It is the colony, thus, the nomos, the origin of the rule of law of modernity, before the concentration camp itself, as Agamben wanted. It is this frontier relationship, between external and internal, that gives the historicity of the modern State.

This process of formation of modern States is, moreover, that of the formation of the capitalist machine. If the State plays a preponderant role there, it is in the creation of a social machine that exceeds and determines it. The State is overtaken by a form of social relationship based on the accumulation of money. For Deleuze and Guattari, States “change their form and take on a new meaning: a model for the realization of a world axiomatics that goes beyond them”. Since this axiomatic is the requirement to value value, to accumulate money, the State becomes, therefore, a model of realization of value, or, in other words, forms of territorialization of Capital. We can think, therefore, of the constant role in the history of State Capitalism of fixing the workforce, of ensuring that it finds money and generates surplus value production. One of these forms of territorialization comes from nationalization. Constituting a nation-state implies “a decoding of the population. It is on these decoded and deterritorialized flows that the nation is constituted, and is not separated from the modern State that gives consistency to the land and the corresponding people. It is the naked flow of labor that makes the people, as it is the flow of capital that makes the land and its equipment”.

What differentiates the modern State from pre-capitalist States is precisely the fact that the State is no longer properly territorial, that is, that it no longer has the land as its object, but is a State of population, which is a State that has as its object abstract flows of labor and money, people and goods that must be governed from a science of the State and by a growing process of technization of the art of governing. It is at this point, incidentally, that Agamben sees the emergence of biopolitics. That is, what the State seeks to include in the legal form is precisely biological life, which, however, is not a pre-existing data of law: bare life, life that can be killed is precisely life without law, that is, life biological as a result of its inclusion in the political-legal order after its suspension (which is carried out based on racial, gender and class criteria). Following our argument, the biologization of politics and politicization of biological reality (race and sex as biopolitical objects that refer to primitive accumulation, with the commodification of the black body and reproduction as a matter of State) presupposes, however, abstract work, as naked living labor, and money as the general form of wealth.

It is Foucault who shows, in Security, Territory and Population, that population as a species, that is, as a biological fact, appears in the XNUMXth century as an object of political economy as a science of government and of the governments of States when, simultaneously, the economy appears as a specific social reality on which the government of States is exercised:

“It is thanks to the perception of the specific problems of the population and thanks to the isolation of that level of reality that is called economy, that the problem of the government could finally be thought, reflected and calculated outside the legal framework of the economy”. [vii]

That the population emerges as an object of government, that it is a question of governing the conditions of the population, its health, its life and that the biological life of the population be thought of in relation to economic wealth is what redefines the role of sovereignty, and which causes sovereignty to be determined by a social relationship that goes beyond it and is no longer centered on guaranteeing the will of an absolute sovereign. This change marks a shift from a society that had the State as its social synthesis, its determining form of organization, centered on the figure of Sovereignty, to a society based on the production of abstract wealth: “I believe that we have an important rupture here, while the purpose of sovereignty is in itself, and while it draws its instruments from itself in the form of law, the end of government is in the things it directs; it must be sought in the perfection, in the maximization or in the intensification of the processes it directs”[viii].

The State has the function, therefore, of regulating and guaranteeing the endless process of accumulation of quantitative abstract wealth. Regulating a process, therefore, within which the State no longer has any determining role. Since the accumulation of money is crucial, the State is compelled, as an apparatus for regulating or managing quantitative flows of money and people, to a growing technization by which it regulates population and economic phenomena, relying on a set of sciences or knowledge of the State that would allow controlling such phenomena in their own laws, and, consequently, led to an impersonality of power characteristic of modernity and which was pointed out by Foucault. It is with this change that the power of the State becomes limited in order to make it as less onerous as possible, normalized and disciplined with a view to the objectives of bourgeois society.

This means that the relation of Gang or the State of Exception has to be understood from its nexus with the process of economic accumulation: sovereign or gang violence becomes linked no longer to the figure of the sovereign, but to Capital and its history: the exception is the violence of law by which the right of capitalist accumulation is enforced. That is why in capitalism, despite the sovereignty of the State no longer playing any determining role, there is a constant nostalgia for an all-powerful State, especially when what is at stake is the expansion of the imposition of Capital (for example, in colonization by which work began to be imposed on the Amerindian and African populations through enslavement) or in times of crisis when it is a matter of guaranteeing the realization of economic relations threatened by “coups and world dictatorships, local dictators and all-out police”. powerful".


The Bolsonarist State is precisely a Gang State, with its ministers, deputies and other bureaucracy officials being members of this sovereign gang. As a gang, they are both outside and inside the law.

The state of abandonment to which portions of the population are subjected finds its correspondence in this State of band or, if you like, in the State of exception. But it would be necessary to make a kind of genealogy of this current gang state that was fermented in years of policies based on genocide and mass incarceration and on a neoliberal or business rationale that even became part of the illegal market of protection by militia gangs. The presupposition of the current state of affairs are years of exercise of a capitalism that, through its government, provoked the formation and expansion of several gangs with umbilical relations with the State, war machines that not only weave alliances with the State, but have taken over the State. . Thus, it would be necessary to see the current formation of gangs beyond the sphere of the State, and refer it to an axiomatic or to a much more universal and abstract form of relationship. that become part of them, not least because their logic is not simply political in a state sense, but is also marketing, being an economic enterprise that exceeds the State, withdraws from it its monopoly of violence and uses it as a means of economic plunder, confusing every economic processes with the realization of war and politics as the continuation of this economic war by other means.

What is fascist in this government and its emergence should therefore be sought at a more molecular level than in the political centralization of the State: it should be sought in the dirty work of the jailer disseminated over the years by the policy of expanding the prison-industrial park, the militias that appear in territory “abandoned” by the State (where the State is present by suspending rights, by its action of exception, of violence), by the role that military agents start to play articulated with policies of focused social assistance and by the biographical and everyday marking of urban militarization, incarceration and genocide. Like micro-black holes that have germinated and are now sucking up everything by resonance, the exception becomes a daily social nexus, a bargaining chip in Brazilian society.

All this expansion of policies based on extermination, torture, incarceration, the war on drugs, on crime, on the poor and black population provided parts of a machine that produces desire: “Desire is never an undifferentiated instinctual energy, but it results in characteristic of an elaborate montage, of an engineering of high interactions: a whole flexible segmentarity that deals with molecular energies and eventually determines the desire to already be fascist”. That is why the base of around 30% of Bolsonaro is consistent, it is a very efficient machine that operated for years at a micropolitical level, inside prisons, in cities, in neighborhoods, in families, through the media, etc., carrying out a micro-management of small fears, insecurity and abandonment from the war against an internal enemy.

Deleuze and Guattari locate in the Cold War the formation of a world war machine, which exceeds the States and becomes autonomous in relation to its national objectives. The outline of an autonomous war machine was fascism, that is, it is in fascism:

“This is a war machine. And when fascism builds a totalitarian state for itself, it is no longer in the sense of a seizure of power by a state army, but, on the contrary, in the sense of appropriation of the state by a war machine. (...) There is in fascism a realized nihilism. It is that, unlike the totalitarian State, which strives to close all possible lines of flight, fascism is built on an intense line of flight, which it transforms into a line of pure destruction and abolition”.[ix]

But fascism was just the beginning of what would become a war machine that becomes autonomous from the state and becomes total war. So in the cold war:

“There was no longer any need for fascism. Fascists had been but precursor children, and the absolute peace of survival won where total war had failed. We were already in the third world war. The war machine reigned over all axiomatics as the power of the continuum that surrounded the 'world-economy', and put all parts of the universe in contact”.[X]

The cold war would be a total war waged worldwide for peace and against a dispersed enemy and would be required by the continuation of the capitalist world-economy that required investment in a technological-military-financial complex for its realization. Such a total war would be characterized: 1) by being a total mobilization of capital investment in constant and variable capital to constitute a war economy. 2) by a total annihilation that does not only target the enemy army, but the entire population and its economy. 3) by the constitution of a war machine that is no longer restricted to the determinations of the State, since the object is an unlimited war, that is, that does not even have a restricted and determined horizon of realization. In this respect, when war as an object becomes unlimited, its ends are no longer restricted to political determinations, but becomes the very permanence of war. It is in crossing this political threshold of determining the ends of war that an autonomous and global war machine begins to be constituted, which outlines the new orders, the ends, in such a way that “States are nothing more than objects or appropriate means for this new machine"[xi] The cold war, by making peace the object of war, by blurring the distinction between times of peace and times of exception, thus consolidates the autonomization of unlimited war that exceeds the States and their decisions about war with limited objectives, in that sense. sense: “it is politics that becomes the continuation of war, it is peace that technically liberates the unlimited material process of total war.”

From this point of view, the war of the Brazilian military dictatorship against the internal enemy was part of this historic change in the notion of war and the constitution of a permanent and autonomous world war machine, which would continue in democracy as a war on crime and a war on drugs.[xii] This new form of war constitutes, moreover, an irregular war against civilians themselves, who, according to the new military doctrines, are no longer distinguishable from terrorists or criminals. As Achille Mbembe argues in Critique of Black Reason, the new forms of war operate without distinction between internal and external, national and transnational, legal and illegal:

“Faced with the transformation of the economy of violence in the world, liberal democratic regimes now consider themselves in an almost permanent state of war against new elusive, mobile and reticular enemies. The stage for this new form of war (which requires a total conception of defense and the construction of principles of tolerance for exceptions and infractions) is simultaneously external and internal. The classic combat paradigm that opposes two entities on a delimited battlefield, and where the risk of death is reciprocal, is replaced by a vertical logic with two protagonists: the prey and the predator”[xiii]

Let us remember that it is this conception of war – that transforms the city into a state of siege, and that it is a war waged against the poor, black and peripheral people, precisely targeting people who are increasingly “abandoned” by the State in the same period. while they are excluded from the mercantile order centered on work, without, however, being able to leave this form of de facto sociability[xiv], becoming increasingly superfluous from the point of view of the capitalist system – which appeared in the speech of Michel Temer’s then secretary of justice, in 2018, regarding the fight against drug trafficking in Rio de Janeiro:

 “The modern war is not the one we fought in 1945, where you had enemy terrain, an enemy in uniform, structured, with a battalion, platoon, company, etc. You don't know who the enemy is, the fight takes place anywhere in the national territory. You don't know what weapon will come, you don't know how many will come. Your enemy has no long-established line of command, he has two or three lines and that's it. You don't have a nerve center to attack, fight and dismantle the battalion. The Army has no headquarters, it is scattered anywhere, anywhere in the national territory.”[xv]

Evidently, resorting to “extra-economic” means of violence is not a novelty in the history of capitalism, but there must be a change in it by which we can understand the change in violence under the law of capital in its permanent crisis from the 80s onwards. This crisis thus marks the end of a war that could have been carried out together with “social development”. No longer being a violence of imposition of the form of valuation and its territorialities in an ascending history of accumulation of monetary flows, it must have something of a violence of disintegration that must be carried out to maintain the game of forms of social relations that can no longer be established in its “normalized” logical-historical unfolding, but which has in its own anomie, or in its own irregularity, the way to maintain it, thus forming sovereign gangs executing relations in crisis. Stephen Graham in Cities Besieged – The new military urbanism, demonstrates that another aspect of the wars carried out since the 80s by the great powers against Middle Eastern countries that have become enemies is to lead to a “demodernization” based on the destruction of their infrastructure, making them return “to the age of stone". A similar effect is produced by the austerity policies articulated with the wars against the poor that have been waged in Brazil for years: they lead to the destruction of the social infrastructures that allow the socialization of wealth (health, education, social security), at the same time people to daily violence on the outskirts typical of war zones. That is, if modernization meant a process of ascending integration of all humanity within the capitalist social order, demodernization means its disintegration without anything being put in place, eliminating entire States and regions.

Agamben, therefore, can speak of a historical trend in which the exception increasingly enters the foreground of social life: the historical process of normalization of power in order to give way to the exception or to direct and unregulated violence. This process, as we have indicated, is structurally linked to an absolute crisis of capitalism that began in the 80s. Such a crisis consists in making labor expenditure structurally obsolete as the foundation of socially produced wealth, which, operating as a “negative emancipation ” has catastrophic and necropolitical results. This is the centrality of Bando's relationship, which is not only a political-legal relationship, but, as we have seen, an economic one, which means that more and more social relationships based on goods and money can only be established by resorting to violence and social looting: maintaining the economic game is only possible, more and more, by urban expropriation based on removals to guarantee financial speculation, by resorting to the use of weapons to carry out undertakings such as: sale of security, supply of gas, energy and transport. And the use of the State for enrichment, transforming the State itself into an object of plunder by gangs or war machines.

The military note indicates how the Bolsonaro government is signed by individuals who form an assemblage very different from the military institution itself, which implies another enunciative assemblage, which is not that of the army, it is an assemblage of its own, extra-institutional, despite permeating the institutions. It is a group with more ecumenical than nationalist tendencies, as they are based on the suspension not only of the State's law, on the abstraction of the Form of the law and the capture that it accomplishes of its outside, but on a permanent anomaly of the capacity of money to create money as a social body. The nexus of social categories: merchandise, work, money, etc., is no longer made without the exception, illegality, violation of rights, armed violence and its extension as a social metastasis in which the conservation of the social form is only possible by looting, by banditry.

*Danilo Augusto de Oliveira Costa is a master's student in the philosophy department at USP.


[I] It is from Agamben that I borrow the term bando, in turn inspired by Jean-Luc Nancy. The ancient Germanic term designates both the exclusion of the community and the command of the Sovereign, but which in Agamben designates more precisely a relationship that is not only political-juridical, but a relationship that constitutes the relationship between State and life, what is outside and inside. of a political community defined by the rule of law. Here I will keep these meanings but modify them as well. On this, see AGAMBEN, G. Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life. P.36.

[ii] AGAMBEN, G. Homo Sacer: sovereign power and bare life. Belo Horizonte: Editora UFMG, p. 202.

[iii] Ibidem, p. 33

[iv] CLASTRES, P. Society Against the State. In: Society Against the State.

[v] Blanc–Sibertin. Politique et Etat chez Deleuze e Guattari: Essai sur le materialisme Histórico-machinique

[vi] AGAMBEN, G. Homo Sacer. Op. Cit., p. 115.

[vii] FOUCAULT, M. Security, Territory, Population. São Paulo: Martins Fontes, 2008, p. 138

[viii] Ibid p. 132.

[ix] Deleuze, G. Guattari, F. A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia 2, Vol..3. São Paulo: Editora 34

[X]. Deleuze, G. Guattari, F. A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia 2, Vol..5. P. 182

[xi] On aspects of total war, see Deleuze, G. Guattari, F. Op.Cit., p. 115.

[xii] Gabriel Feltran thus shows how war becomes central to understanding our democracy: São Paulo, 2015: Sobre a Guerra. Blog of BOITEMPO.

[xiii] MBEMBE, A. Critique of Black Reason.

[xiv] Mbembe thus dramatizes our historical situation: “If, yesterday, the drama of the subject was to be exploited by capital, today, the tragedy of the crowd is that it can no longer be exploited at all, it is to be the object of humiliation in a superfluous humanity, given over to abandonment, which is no longer even useful for the functioning of capital”. (Mbembe, A, Critique of Black Reason).

[xv] “There is no war that is not lethal”, says Torquato Jardim to Correio Braziliense.

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