Gerald Raunig – A Thousand Machines: A Concise Philosophy of the Machine as Social Movement


Semiotext(e), ISBN-13: 978-1584350859, March 31, 2010, English
After “Art and Revolution”, Gerald Raunig has written a different book elaborating on a concept formulated by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari about the machine, seen not as technical apparatus, but as a social composition. The reference is quite evident in the title (“A Thousand Machines”), but it’s only the starting point. Although close to “Art and Revolution”, with which it shares some material, “A Thousand Machines” is about the “machinic” and it can be configured among social subjects. In fact Raunig forms his idea of machinery as the emergence of a collective human intellect, different from Levy’s “collective intelligence” and closer to what Karl Marx defined as “General Intellect.” The book starts with an account of a quintessential machine: the bicycle. It’s amazing how, working through different representations of the bicycle, it turns out to be a good example of the machine described by Deleuze and Guattari. It’s a machine that makes sense only when it’s coupled with a human body, changing its inert state. And the human state changes too, becoming something that would have been impossible without a bicycle: a cyclist. The connection with Art and Revolution is evident when Raunig analyzes the role of machines in theater (focusing on Eisenstein and Tretyakov’s theatrical work) and connects it with the insurrectionist Viennese PublixTheatre Caravan. The chances of a machinic insurrection held by the precariat, are then strictly connected to the understanding of capitalism as another machine, finally to be reverse-engineered.