A term introduced in Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari's account of nomadology in Mille Plateaux (1980), translated as A Thousand Plateaus (1987), to name and theorize artistic and political dissidence and creativity. It is, however, a highly ambiguous concept. Deleuze and Guattari introduce it as a historical concept, but then develop it into an aesthetic concept and it is not always clear how one gets from the former to the latter. As a historical concept, the derivation of the war machine is the counter-intuitive, but anthropologically plausible, argument that the war machine is not the property of the state, but was in fact formed in direct opposition to the state. The war machine is not the same thing as a standing army, which is the province of the state, and its primary object is not war. But the war machine is also vulnerable to capture, and the marauding hordes that sweep in from the desert are taken into the state and their objective changed. As an aesthetic concept, the war machine is the line of deviation inherent in every form that enables it to be transformed—it is, in effect, the pure potential for change.
Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies.