Control Societies and Capitalism

Monday, February 10th, 2014 by sdileonardi

Deleuze enumerates the shift from discipline to control society with a variety of examples. What I find most compelling is the control society’s dependence upon late-capitalism, to the point where they are virtually indistinguishable. Just as Foucault well documents how sovereign power was dispersed into a set of disciplinary institutions, Deleuze describes the exchange of power through a process of privatization of the same institutions. 

The factory to corporation transformation is his obvious starting point, as they encapsulate the agenda and objectives of capital desire. From there however, the end of the school, the hospital, and the prison can only be predicted through a vision of privatization. We can easily witness the reality of these claims as under-acheiving public schools are  closing in favor of private and charter schools. And Angela Y. Davis and other prison abolitionists have long drawn attention to the corporate by-outs of prisons and the growing concern that comes from turning inmates into a profit margin.

I think it is this central position of capitalism to the problem at hand that motivates Deleuze to turn to the union as a solution. He hopes that the union, as the vital point of resistance to corporate bullying, is able to adapt to the new tactics of control societies, as though variations of union resistance will automatically become the strategies of the disenfranchised home owner, prisoner, patient, etc. 

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One comment on “Control Societies and Capitalism

  1. Lori Emerson says:

    Sean, I appreciate how you’re able to get right to the heart of what Deleuze is after – and so elegantly, precisely. My only question for you – maybe more for future posts – is, given the state of things, what could be the role of writing, art? Is it possible for art/writing to intervene or enact resistance or simply document the control society…without capitulating? While I want to believe that the answer is YES, literature can and does intervene but I so rarely come across convincing examples.

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