discipline, control, contribution

Gilles Deleuze’s Postscript on the Societies of Control, 1990

Here is a fascinating documentary on the shift from Foucault’s disciplinary society to Deleuze’s control society.  Disciplinary society is made up of bounded institutions through which we all pass in our lives:  family, school, hospital, prison, factory.  The control society, dominated by the corporation, is like an all encompassing gas which pits us against each other, in a shifting, never certain obligation to aims of the new global market.

What follows control? Watch the film.

From the documentary:

The factory constituted individuals as a single body to the double advantage of the boss who surveyed each element within the mass, and the unions who mobilized a mass resistance; but the corporation constantly presents the brashest rivalry as a healthy form of emulation, an excellent motivational force that opposes individuals against one another and runs through each dividing each within.

Gilles Deleuze, Postscript on the Societies of Control

Nineteenth century capitalism is a capitalism of concentration for production and for property.  It therefore erects a factory as a space of enclosure, the capitalist being the owner of the means of production, but also, progressively, the owner of other spaces conceived through analogy (the workers familial house, the school).  As for markets they are conquered sometimes by specialization, sometimes by colonization, sometimes by lowering the costs of production.

But in the present situation, capitalism is no longer involved in production, which it often relegates to the Third World.  It’s a capitalism of higher-order production.  It no longer buys raw materials and no longer sells the finished products:  it buys the finished products or assembles parts.  What it wants to sell is services, but what it wants to buy is stocks.  This is no longer capitalism for production but for the product, which is to say for being sold or marketed.  Thus it is essentially dispersive, and the factory has given way to the corporation.  The family, the school, the army, the factory are no longer the distinct analogical spaces that converge toward an owner, state or private power, but coded figures – deformable and transformable – of a single corporation that now has only stockholders.  The conquests of the market are made by grabbing control and no longer by disciplinary training. Corruption thereby gains a new power.

Marketing has become the center or the ‘soul’ of the corporation.  We are taught that corporations have a soul which is the most terrifying news in the world.  The operation of markets is now the instrument of social control and forms the impudent breed of our masters.  Control is short-term and of rapid rates of turnover, but also continuous and without limit, while discipline was of long duration, infinite and discontinuous.  Man is no longer man enclosed, but man in debt.

Gilles Deleuze, Postscript on the Societies of Control

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