One or Many Machines

By A Salad of Pearls, 2 April 2013

Gerald Raunig, A Thousand Machines, Boston: Semiotext(e), 2010. Reviewed by a Salad of Pearls


Subtitled, ‘A Concise Philosophy of the Machine as Social Movement’, this small book amounts to a usefully compact wastebin of ideas and experiences drawn out of diffuse theorisations stemming from the 'social movements' of Western Europe which any putative reader can promptly digest and hereafter leave behind. Whilst many readers will appreciate (amongst the rather longer list that the book constitutes): accounts of the cop-eating anti-Fordist anti-machine of Claude Farraldo's Themroc, Sergei Tretiakov and Sergei Eisenstein's post-revolutionary experiments with the theatre and cinema of attractions and the lives of bicycles according to Flann O'Brien, I suspect few will really relish a somewhat instrumentalised regurgitation of Deleuze and Guattari's theory of machines at the service of the historicisation of 1990s and early 2000s interventions in so-called 'social movements'. That Sylvere Lothringer has published this second-hand rubbish when he owns the rights to the lively slim volume originals shows he is not necessarily the craven intellectual vulture most take him for. The satire contained in this book arguing that 'theater machines' of The PublixTheatreCaravan, Barcelona's Yomango, the Italian Chainworkers, the Umsonst campaigns in Germany, the Hamburg Superhelden, Euromayday, Reclaim the Streets parties, the Clown Army of the anti-G8 summits in Gleneagles and Heligendamm were more than rehearsals for utter defeat and festivals of cheerful subjagation would be darkly comic, if it wasn't by now completely irrelevant.



A punitive border regime is securely in place in Europe. The integration of workers in the North East West and South into a debt-driven, financialised regime of accumulation of capital is both complete and deepening. Machines continue to throw labour out of production and this continues to be but one of many factors driving a capitalist crisis which is in turn driving a cycle of attempts by more states to foist more austerity on more populations resulting in extensive social revolts. At this point we could either take a rest from present and desperate struggles, and instead attempt to establishing just how little carnivalesque micropolitical initiatives did to resist these achievements. Or, we can simply acknowledge that it matters now not a bit. I suggest the latter. Goodbye clowns, goodbye hopeless optimism, we'll probably not be seeing you.