November 15, 1997
Following in the wake of his groundbreaking work, War in the Age of Intelligent Machines, Manuel De Landa presents a brilliant, radical synthesis of historical developments during the last one thousand years. A Thousand Years of Nonlinear History sketches the outlines of a renewed materialist history in the tradition of Fernand Braudel, Gilles Deleuze, and Felix Guattari, while engaging – in an unprecedented manner – the critical new understanding of material processes derived from the sciences of dynamics. Working against prevailing attitudes that see history merely as the arena of texts, discourses, ideologies, and metaphors, De Landa traces the concrete movements and interplays of matter and energy through human populations in the last millennium. The result is an entirely novel approach to the study of human societies and their always mobile, semi-stable forms, cities, economies, technologies, and languages.
De Landa attacks three domains that have given shape to human societies. In every case – economics, biology, and linguistics – he discloses the self-directed processes of matter and energy interfacing with the whim and will of human history itself to form a panoramic vision of the West, free of rigid teleology and naïve notions of progress, and even more important, free of any deterministic source for its urban, institutional, and technological forms. The source of all concrete forms in the West’s history rather are shown to derive from internal morphogenetic capabilities that lie within the flow of matter-energy itself.