Apr 18, 2011

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Pierre Clastres broke up with his mentor Claude Levi-Strauss to collaborate with Gilles Deleuze and Felix Gattari on their Anti-Oedipus. He is the rare breed of political anthropologist—a Nietzschean—and his work presents us with a generalogy of power in a native state. For him, tribal societies are not Rousseauist in essence; to the contrary, they practice systematic violence in order to prevent the rise in their midst of this “cold monster”: the state. Only by waging war with other tribes can they maintain the dispersion and autonomy of each group. In the same way, tribal chiefs are not all-powerful; to the contrary, they are rendered weak in order to remain dependent on the community. In a series of groundbreaking essays, Clastres turns around the analysis of power among South American Indians and rehabilitates violence as an affirmative act meant to protect the integrity of their societies. These “savages” are shrewd political minds who resist in advance any attempt at “globalization.”




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