Legion. An amalgamated journal.

On strategies and tactics

A distinction between strategies and tactics appears to provide a more adequate initial schema. I call a strategy the calculation (or manipulation) of power relationships that becomes possible as soon as a subject with a will and power (a business, an army, a city, a scientific institution) can be isolated. It postulates a place that can be delimited as its own and serve as the base from which relations with an exteriority composed of targets or threats (customers or competitors, enemies, the country surrounding the city, objectives and objects of research, etc.) can be managed.


By contrast with a strategy (whose successive shapes introduce a certain play into this formal schema and whose link with a particular historical configuration of rationality should also be clarified), a tactic is a calculated action determined by the absence of a proper locus. No determination of exteriority, then, provides it with the condition necessary for autonomy. The space of a tactic is the space of the other.


In sum, strategies are actions which, thanks to the establishment of a place of power (the property of a proper), elaborate theoretical places (systems and totalizing discourses) capable of articulating an ensemble of physical places in which forces are distributed. […] Tactics are procedures that gain validity in relation to the pertinence the lend to timeā€”to the circumstances which the precise instant of an intervention transforms into a favorable situation, to the rapidity of the movements that change the organization of a space, to the relations among successive movements in an action, to the possible intersections of durations and heterogenous rhythms, etc.

Michel de Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life, Tr. Steven Rendall (University of California Press, 2002), 35-38.

Garrett Dash Nelson

September 27th, 2008 at 2:02 pm