The town is the correlate of the road. The town exists only as a function of circulation and of circuits; it is a singular point on the circuits which create it and which it creates. It is defined by entries and exits: something must enter it and exit from it. It imposes a frequency. It effects a polarization of matter, inert, living or human; it causes the phylum, the flow, to pass through specific places, along horizontal lines. It is a phenomenon of transconsistency, a network, because it is fundamentally in contact with other towns. It represents a threshold of deterritorialization because whatever the material involved, it must be deterritorialized enough to enter the network, to submit to the polarization, to follow the circuit of urban and road recoding. The maximum deterritorialization appears in the tendency of maritime and commercial towns to separate from the backcountry, from the countryside (Athens, Carthage, Venice). The commercial character of the town has often been emphasized, but the commerce in question is also spiritual, as in a network of monasteries or temple-cities. Towns are points-circuits of every kind, which enter into counterpoint along horizontal lines; they operate a complete but local
The State proceeds otherwise: it is a phenomenon of intraconsistency. It makes points resonate together, points that are not necessarily already
It is possible to reconstruct how primitive societies warded off both thresholds, while at the same time anticipating them. Levi-Strauss has shown that the same villages are susceptible to two presentations, one seminary and egalitarian, the other encompassing and hierarchies. These are like two potentials, one anticipating a central point common to two horizontal segments, the other anticipating a central point external to a straight line. Primitive societies do not lack formations of power; they even have many of them. But what prevents the potential central points from crystallizing, from taking on consistency, are precisely those mechanisms that keep the formations of power both from resonating together in a higher point and from becoming polarized at a common point: the circles are not concentric, and the two segments have need of a third segment through which to communicate. This is the sense in which primitive societies have not crossed either the town-threshold or the State-threshold.
If we now turn our attention to the two thresholds of consistency, it is clear that they imply a deterritorialization in relation to the primitive territorial code. It is futile to ask which came first, the city or the State, the urban or state revolution, because the two are in reciprocal presupposition. Both the melodic line of the towns and the harmonic cross-sections of the States are necessary to effect the striation of space. The only question that arises is the possibility that there may be an inverse relation at the heart of this reciprocity. For although the archaic imperial State necessarily included towns of considerable size, they remained all the more strictly subordinated to the State the more it extended its monopoly over foreign trade. On the other hand, the town tended to break free when the State’s overcoming itself provoked decoded flows. A decoding was coupled with the deterritorialization and amplified it: the necessary recoding was then achieved through a certain autonomy of the towns or else directly through corporative and commercial towns freed from the State-form. Thus towns arose that no longer had a connection to their own land because they assured the trade between empires or, better, because they themselves constituted a free commercial network with other towns. There is therefore an adventure proper to towns in the zones where the most intense decoding occurs: for example, the ancient Aegean world or the Western world: of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Could it not be said that capitalism is the fruit of the towns and arises when an urban recoding tends to replace State overcoming? This, however, was not the case. The towns did not create capitalism. The banking and commercial towns, being unproductive and indifferent to the backcountry, did not perform a recoding without also inhibiting I the general conjunction of decoded flows. If it is true that they anticipated capitalism, they in turn did not anticipate it without also warding it off. They do not cross this new threshold. Thus it is necessary to expand the hypothesis of mechanisms both anticipatory and inhibiting: these mechanisms are at play not only in primitive societies, but also in the conflict of towns ‘against’ the State and ‘against’ capitalism. Finally, it was through the State-form and not the town-form that capitalism triumphed: this occurred when the Western States became models of realization for an axiomatic of decoded flows, and in that way resubjugated the towns. As Braudel says, there were ‘always two runners, the state and the town’—two forms and two speeds of deterritorialization—and ‘the state usually won…everywhere in Europe, it disciplined the towns with instinctive relentlessness, whether or not it used violence…the states caught up with the forward gallop of the towns. But the relation is a reciprocal one: if it is the modern State that gives capitalism its models of realization, what is thus realized is an independent, worldwide axiomatic that is like a single City, megalopolis or ‘megamachine’ of which the States are parts or neighbourhoods.