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‘Democracy, Economics, and the Military’ – Manuel DeLanda

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This is a video of a lecture by the philosopher Manuel DeLanda, discussing politics and power, economics, and military discipline. He ties these three subjects together in a concise and well referenced thesis reinterpreting economic history. DeLanda stresses the importance of abandoning a binary logic of political study in recognition of the heterogeneous nature of socio-political networks.

There is a clear correlation here with Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari‘s theory of rhizomatic assemblage (see the book A Thousand Plateaus), as well as Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri‘s interpretation of political power through the interrelated network of the multitude (see the book Empire). DeLanda introduces the subject by quoting from Fernand Braudel‘s ‘History of Economic Systems’ to support his argument. The lecture brings together the theories of diverse historians, economists, and political philosophers in an attempt to reframe our understanding of political history and economic power.

DeLanda states that a unitary understanding of economics, such as seeing capitalism as a homogeneous system is simplistic and faulty. He presents the works of some institutional economists, such as John Kenneth Galbraith, as sometimes more discerning, and he explains that we must realize that the market and capitalism are not one and the same. He argues that a multiplicity of economic systems have coexisted within European and Western history, and that it is not useful to view economic history as a migration from one homogeneous system to the next (such as from feudalism all the way to monopoly capitalism).

Furthermore, DeLanda explains the impact of military discipline on contemporary industrial and economic discipline. As an example, he states that management science taught in business schools is an extension and translation of earlier theories from military operations research.

Here are some related readings to learn more about the subject:

Manuel DeLanda, ‘A new philosophy of society

Fernand Braudel, ‘On History

Fernand Braudel, ‘Civilization & Capitalism: 15th-18th Century

Fernand Braudel, ‘The Mediterranean: Volume II

Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, ‘A Thousand Plateaus’

Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, ‘Empire’

Michel Foucault, ‘Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison

Immanuel Wallerstein, ‘Time and Duration: The Unexcluded Middle

Thorstein Veblen, ‘Conspicuous Consumption

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