Deleuze posits the following (in so far as I understand it!) in his text Postscript on the Societies of Control:
SOCIETIES OF SOVEREIGNTY (up to 17th century)
goal: to tax
exemplified by: tools like simple machines: levers, pulleys, clocks
SOCIETIES OF DISCIPLINE (18 + 19th centuries, from Foucault)
examples of enclosure: family, school, barracks, factory, hospital, prison, distinct molds, independent variables, with analogous common language, each with own laws
exemplified by: machines involving energy, dangers of entropy and sabotage
journey: always starting again (from school, to barracks to factory)
manner of living: human is a discontinuous producer of energy, discipline was of long duration, finite (although the text reads ‘infinite’ and discontinuous
agency: capitalist owner
goal: to concentrate, to distribute in space, to order in time, to compose a productive force within the dimension of space-time whose effect will be greater than sum of component forces
strategy: to conquer via enclosure
regulation: via watchwords, there are 2 poles: the individual and position (signature, number within the mass (BODY)
SOCIETIES OF CONTROL (post WW II acceleration)
examples of control: factory gives way to corporation, modulation as control mechanisms are inseparable variations
exemplified by: machines of computers, danger of jamming, piracy, and introduction of viruses – technological evolution is a mutation of capitalism
journey: one is never finished with anything (corporation, educational system, armed services being metastable states)
manner of living: man is undulatory and in orbit, in continuous network (surfing replaces sports), control is short-term and of rapid rates of turnover, continuous and without limit
agency: owners give way to stockholders and marketing has become the center or ‘soul’ (BRAND) of the corporation
goal: individuals become dividuals, and masses, samples, data, markets or ‘banks’ (value not from one, but from the scale of what they produce)
strategy: capitalism of higher-order production CONQUERS through selling services and buying stocks (by fixing the exchange rate, by transforming the product, not lowering costs or specialization of production) capitalism not for production, but for the product (which is sold or marketed), on control mechanisms, what counts is not the barriers but the tracking of everyone’s position (closed loop system)
regulation: via code / passwords, numerical language of control that mark access to information or reject it (larger closed loop system)
All of that brings us to contemporary considerations and questions:
- Human is no longer human enclosed, but human in debt (if lucky enough – extreme poverty of ¾ of humanity, too poor for debt, too numerous for confinement).
- The crisis of the discipline institutions: progressive and dispersed installation of a new system of domination (though the administration of discipline never ceases to announce supposedly necessary reforms)
- Resistance: the question of Unions which have been historically struggling against enclosure and discipline. Provided weekends, the 40 hour work week, vacations.
- Question: What is the coming form capable of threatening the joys of marketing?
Regarding the last question, I’d respond with what happens when we are all marketers and when we are all brands?
“Our businessmen imagine themselves rebels, and our rebels sound more and more like ideologists of business.” – Thomas Frank, Dark Age, The Baffler
Although Deleuze doesn’t speak to it in this brief text, I think a a more contemporary and tangible framework would be useful to further understand and discuss societies of control. Maybe something like the panopticon, but not that because The Net is not a panopticon.
What about resistance? Unions have undoubtedly lost power as the manner in which we live in work (in the US anyway) has changed, but I’m assuming and wondering how late capitalism’s tools and strategies can be used against it.
“The strategy to convince people there’s a crisis is different from the strategy to solve the crisis… Protest is not the solution, it is the space maker.” – Deray Mckesson + Samuel Sinyangwe, Mapping Police Violence, Eyeo 15
Finally, what does the role of the technology we utilize/create in a space like ITP have to play in reinforcing power or introducing new systems of power and subverting power? Reminder to self to rewatch All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace.
All watched over by machines of loving grace from WHAT on Vimeo.