The machinic phylum is a broad group of “abstract machines” that drive processes of becoming. Becoming is the engine of space-time. It is the act of emergence, the act of evolution, the process of being driven by abstract machines. For DeLanda, Delueze & Guattari there is no just being there is only becoming. Everything is changing; this is to say objects in this world exist far from static equilibrium. These machines have several requirements for their definition. They must be concrete, abstract, and universal. To be concrete, the abstract machine must be able to be “found” in world around this. In this way, Delueze’s philosophy can be said to be empirical. To be abstract, the machinic process must be constructed as a pre-individual. This means that the process must exist without the intervention of specific context. DeLanda’s example of oscillators in Non-Organic Life is an example. The mechanics of the process exist without the need to bring up specific chemical reactions. The machine is said to drive all chemical oscillators, even though the actualization of the process will differ in each specific historical circumstance. Finally, the intensive engine is said to be universal in that it exist across a wide range of actualized processes. By being concrete, abstract and universal, abstract machines are said to be immanent in the material world. They arise from the differences between objects and behaviors. They can be thought to drive differentiation and be driven by difference. Because of the fact that abstract machines are inherent (immanent) in the world, this outlook is said to be materialist. It is through the processes of material and energetic flows (difference) that becoming (emergence) happens.
Life, organic or otherwise, comes from the intensive processes of a space Manuel DeLanda refers to as the machinic phylum in his essay Non-Organic Life. His use of this term comes from the philosophy of Gilles Delueze, including Delueze’s collaborations with Felix Guattari. Delueze and Guattari tend to not use any one term when referring to their concepts, instead, like the concepts they are talking about, they fluidly interchange several different words depending on the circumstances. In the case of the machinic phylum, Delueze and Guattari also use terms such as the Body without Organs (BwO), Plane of Immanence and Plane of Consistency. DeLanda in turn, also uses the term Intensive Spatium in his book Intensive Science, Virtual Philosophy. Each of these words is like a different gateway to the same concept, thus by virtue of each term we can gain a better understanding of the concept.