Weatherman, the militant diagram, and the problem of political passion

Autumn 2009

This paper is a critique of the political figure of the militant. In particular it seeks to understand the ways militancy effectuates processes of political passion and a certain unworking or deterritorialisation of the self in relation to political organisations and the wider social environment within which militants would enact change. To this end the paper traces a diagram or abstract machine of militancy, a diagram comprised of Guattari’s cartography of Leninism and the model of struggle set out by the Russian nihilist Sergei Nechaev. Foregrounding specific techniques and affective and semiotic registers, the paper explores a particular animation of abstract militant functions in the Weatherman organisation in the United States at the turn of the 1970s. It then sketches the principle outlines of a counter figure - an ‘a-militant diagram’, or dispersive ecology of political composition -that draws together Marx’s figure of the party, Jacques Camatte’s critique of the political ‘racket’, and Deleuze and Guattari’s approach to the problem of the group and its outside.

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