Deleuze and Guattari’s ‘War Machine’ as a Critique of Hegel’s Political Philosophy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

511 Downloads (Pure)


This paper elaborates Deleuze and Guattari’s ‘war machine’ in relation to key theses in Hegel’s political philosophy, with the aim of showing how it illuminates the conditions under which politics and political institutions as Hegel understands them both emerge and are compromised. After first introducing the idea of the war machine and its appropriation by discussing it in relation to Carl Schmitt’s theory of partisan warfare, it examines both the war machine and Hegel’s theory of the State by way of a focus on Hegel’s discussions of drive (Trieb) and semblance (Schein). Regarding the first, the paper explores how both Hegel and Deleuze and Guattari conceive of social structure in terms of a structure of drives even while they differ in their understandings of the drives in relation to desire and subjectivity. Regarding the second, the paper explores how moments of semblance identified by Hegel as he develops his system of Right reveal points where the war machine can emerge from within State structures. The paper argues that the war machine concept challenges understandings of politics built on friend/enemy antagonisms and the use of external conflict to secure internal unity, the former being Schmitt’s explicit political project and the second being the place at which Hegel’s project ultimately finds itself when it fails to secure the rational structure of Ethical Life.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)304-325
Number of pages22
JournalHegel Bulletin
Issue number2
Early online date7 May 2018
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2018

Cite this