Re: [Foucault-L] The Panoptical society


have you read this?


Gilles Deleuze, "Postscript on the Societies of Control", from _OCTOBER_ 59,
Winter 1992, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, pp. 3-7.

OCTOBER (ISSN 0162-2870) (ISBN 0-262-75209-3) is published quarterly
(Summer, Fall, Winter, Spring) by the MIT Press, 55 Hayward Street,
Cambridge, Massachusetts 02142 and London, England.

This essay, which first appeared in *L'Autre journal*, no. 1 (May 1990), is
included in the forthcoming translation of *Pourparlers* (Paris: Editions
Minuit, 1990), to be published by Columbia University Press.

"Postscript on the Societies of Control"
Gilles Deleuze

1. Historical

Foucault located the *disciplinary societies* in the eighteenth and
nineteenth centuries; they reach their height at the outset of the
twentieth. They initiate the organization of vast spaces of enclosure. The
individual never ceases passing from one closed environment to another, each
having its own laws: first the family; then the school ("you are no longer
in your family"); then the barracks ("you are no longer at school"); then
the factory; from time to time the hospital; possibly the prison, the
preeminent instance of the enclosed environment. It's the prison that serves
as the analogical model: at the sight of some laborers, the heroine of
Rossellini's *Europa '51* could exclaim, "I thought I was seeing convicts."

Foucault has brilliantly analyzed the ideal project of these environments
of enclosure, particularly visible within the factory: 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 the sum of its
component forces. But what Foucault recognized as well was the transience of
this model: it succeeded that of the *societies of sovereignty*, the goal
and functions of which were something quite different (to tax rather than to
organize production, to rule on death rather than to administer life); the
transition took place over time, and Napoleon seemed to effect the
large-scale conversion from one society to the other. But in their turn the
disciplines underwent a crisis to the benefit of new forces that were
gradually instituted and which accelerated after World War II: a
disciplinary society was what we already no longer were, what we had ceased
to be.

We are in a generalized crisis in relation to all the environments of
enclosure--prison, hospital, factory, school, family. The family is an
"interior," in crisis like all other interiors--scholarly, professional,
etc. The administrations in charge never cease announcing supposedly
necessary reforms: to reform schools, to reform industries, hospitals, the
armed forces, prisons. But everyone knows that these institutions are
finished, whatever the length of their expiration periods. It's only a
matter of administering their last rites and of keeping people employed
until the installation of the new forces knocking at the door. These are the
*societies of control*, which are in the process of replacing disciplinary
societies. "Control" is the name Burroughs proposes as a term for the new
monster, one that Foucault recognizes as our immediate future. Paul Virilio
also is continually analyzing the ultrarapid forms of free-floating control
that replaced the old disciplines operating in the time frame of a closed
system. There is no need to invoke the extraordinary pharmaceutical
productions, the molecular engineering, the genetic manipulations, although
these are slated to enter the new process. There is no need to ask which is
the toughest regime, for it's within each of them that liberating and
enslaving forces confront one another. For example, in the crisis of the
hospital as environment of enclosure, neighborhood clinics, hospices, and
day care could at first express new freedom, but they could participate as
well in mechanisms of control that are equal to the harshest of
confinements. There is no need to fear or hope, but only to look for new

2. Logic

The different internments of spaces of enclosure through which the
individual passes are independent variables: each time one us supposed to
start from zero, and although a common language for all these places exists,
it is *analogical*. One the other hand, the different control mechanisms are
inseparable variations, forming a system of variable geometry the language
of which is numerical (which doesn't necessarily mean binary). Enclosures
are *molds*, distinct castings, but controls are a *modulation*, like a
self-deforming cast that will continuously change from one moment to the
other, or like a sieve whose mesh will transmute from point to point.

This is obvious in the matter of salaries: the factory was a body that
contained its internal forces at the level of equilibrium, the highest
possible in terms of production, the lowest possible in terms of wages; but
in a society of control, the corporation has replaced the factory, and the
corporation is a spirit, a gas. Of course the factory was already familiar
with the system of bonuses, but the corporation works more deeply to impose
a modulation of each salary, in states of perpetual metastability that
operate through challenges, contests, and highly comic group sessions. If
the most idiotic television game shows are so successful, it's because they
express the corporate situation with great precision. 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. The modulating principle of "salary according to merit" has not
failed to tempt national education itself. Indeed, just as the corporation
replaces the factory, *perpetual training* tends to replace the *school*,
and continuous control to replace the examination. Which is the surest way
of delivering the school over to the corporation.

In the disciplinary societies one was always starting again (from school to
the barracks, from the barracks to the factory), while in the societies of
control one is never finished with anything--the corporation, the
educational system, the armed services being metastable states coexisting in
one and the same modulation, like a universal system of deformation. In *The
Trial*, Kafka, who had already placed himself at the pivotal point between
two types of social formation, described the most fearsome of judicial
forms. The *apparent acquittal* of the disciplinary societies (between two
incarcerations); and the *limitless postponements* of the societies of
control (in continuous variation) are two very different modes of juridicial
life, and if our law is hesitant, itself in crisis, it's because we are
leaving one in order to enter the other. The disciplinary societies have two
poles: the signature that designates the *individual*, and the number or
administrative numeration that indicates his or her position within a *mass*.
This is because the disciplines never saw any incompatibility between these
two, and because at the same time power individualizes and masses together,
that is, constitutes those over whom it exercises power into a body and
molds the individuality of each member of that body. (Foucault saw the
origin of this double charge in the pastoral power of the priest--the flock
and each of its animals--but civil power moves in turn and by other means to
make itself lay "priest.") In the societies of control, on the other hand,
what is important is no longer either a signature or a number, but a code:
the code is a *password*, while on the other hand disciplinary societies are
regulated by *watchwords* (as much from the point of view of integration as
from that of resistance). The numerical language of control is made of codes
that mark access to information, or reject it. We no longer find ourselves
dealing with the mass/individual pair. Individuals have become *"dividuals,"
* and masses, samples, data, markets, or *"banks."* Perhaps it is money that
expresses the distinction between the two societies best, since discipline
always referred back to minted money that locks gold as numerical standard,
while control relates to floating rates of exchange, modulated according to
a rate established by a set of standard currencies. The old monetary mole is
the animal of the space of enclosure, but the serpent is that of the
societies of control. We have passed from one animal to the other, from the
mole to the serpent, in the system under which we live, but also in our
manner of living and in our relations with others. The disciplinary man was
a discontinuous producer of energy, but the man of control is undulatory, in
orbit, in a continuous network. Everywhere *surfing* has already replaced
the older *sports*.

Types of machines are easily matched with each type of society--not that
machines are determining, but because they express those social forms
capable of generating them and using them. The old societies of sovereignty
made use of simple machines--levers, pulleys, clocks; but the recent
disciplinary societies equipped themselves with machines involving energy,
with the passive danger of entropy and the active danger of sabotage; the
societies of control operate with machines of a third type, computers, whose
passive danger is jamming and whose active one is piracy or the introduction
of viruses. This technological evolution must be, even more profoundly, a
mutation of capitalism, an already well-known or familiar mutation that can
be summed up as follows: 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 worker's 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, even for the complex forms of textiles, metallurgy, or oil
production. 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 a capitalism for
production but for the product, which is to say, for being sold or marketed.
Thus 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 towards an owner--state or private
power--but coded figures--deformable and transformable--of a single
corporation that now has only stockholders. Even art has left the spaces of
enclosure in order to enter into the open circuits of the bank. The
conquests of the market are made by grabbing control and no longer by
disciplinary training, by fixing the exchange rate much more than by
lowering costs, by transformation of the product more than by specialization
of production. 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. It is true that capitalism has retained as a constant the extreme
poverty of three-quarters of humanity, too poor for debt, too numerous for
confinement: control will not only have to deal with erosions of frontiers
but with the explosions within shanty towns or ghettos.

3. Program

The conception of a control mechanism, giving the position of any element
within an open environment at any given instant (whether animal in a reserve
or human in a corporation, as with an electronic collar), is not necessarily
one of science fiction. F lix Guattari has imagined a city where one would
be able to leave one's apartment, one's street, one's neighborhood, thanks
to one's (dividual) electronic card that raises a given barrier; but the
card could just as easily be rejected on a given day or between certain
hours; what counts is not the barrier but the computer that tracks each
person's position--licit or illicit--and effects a universal modulation.

The socio-technological study of the mechanisms of control, grasped at
their inception, would have to be categorical and to describe what is
already in the process of substitution for the disciplinary sites of
enclosure, whose crisis is everywhere proclaimed. It may be that older
methods, borrowed from the former societies of sovereignty, will return to
the fore, but with the necessary modifications. What counts is that we are
at the beginning of something. In the *prison system*: the attempt to find
penalties of "substitution," at least for petty crimes, and the use of
electronic collars that force the convicted person to stay at home during
certain hours. For the *school system*: continuous forms of control, and the
effect on the school of perpetual training, the corresponding abandonment of
all university research, the introduction of the "corporation" at all levels
of schooling. For the *hospital system*: the new medicine "without doctor or
patient" that singles out potential sick people and subjects at risk, which
in no way attests to individuation--as they say--but substitutes for the
individual or numerical body the code of a "dividual" material to be
controlled. In the *corporate system*: new ways of handling money, profits,
and humans that no longer pass through the old factory form. These are very
small examples, but ones that will allow for better understanding of what is
meant by the crisis of the institutions, which is to say, the progressive
and dispersed installation of a new system of domination. One of the most
important questions will concern the ineptitude of the unions: tied to the
whole of their history of struggle against the disciplines or within the
spaces of enclosure, will they be able to adapt themselves or will they give
way to new forms of resistance against the societies of control? Can we
already grasp the rough outlines of the coming forms, capable of threatening
the joys of marketing? Many young people strangely boast of being
"motivated"; they re-request apprenticeships and permanent training. It's up
to them to discover what they're being made to serve, just as their elders
discovered, not without difficulty, the telos of the disciplines. The coils
of a serpent are even more complex that the burrows of a molehill.

On 17/01/2008, Clare O'Farrell <c.ofarrell@xxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
> Thomas says
> > Surveillance is not aimed to coerce obedience to rules
> >but, instead, to refine more subtle and subliminal means of control
> >People are not imprisoned into the web -- they are seduced into it
> >for "fun" or required into it for "work".
> >
> >In that sense, the new found interest in Foucault's analysis of
> >the Panopticon is behind the times. It might be helpful to
> >trace out the next shifts that have occurred, since Foucault died.
> Foucault had already realised the limitations of the disciplinary
> model -this is why he formulated his ideas on governmentality. He
> makes a comment about this somewhere. Governmentality amongst other
> things concerns how people's freedoms are manipulated so that they go
> along willingly with mechanisms that control their behaviour. It is a
> very complex interplay of freedom and 'guidance'. The 1st volume of
> The History of Sexuality also talks about creating a pleasure and
> desire to 'confess' which is another idea which could be used here.
> Somebody could do a really nice study on ICTs and governmentality and
> hidden panopticisms.
> --
> regards
> Clare
> ************************************************
> Clare O'Farrell
> email: c.ofarrell@xxxxxxxxxx
> website:
> ************************************************
> _______________________________________________
> Foucault-L mailing list

Martin Hardie
Law Lecturer
Institute of Koorie Education,
Deakin University (Geelong Campus)
Pigdons Road, Waurn Ponds,
Victoria, 3216, Australia.
Tel: +61 (0)3 5227 2492
Fax: + 61 (0)3 5227 2019
Mobile: + 61 (0)405 907 186

"Ladran, luego cabalgamos"
"They bark, and so we are riding"

  • Re: [Foucault-L] The Panoptical society
    • From: Thomas Lord
  • Replies
    [Foucault-L] The Panoptical society: Microsoft plans to monitor groups activities, Flora Sapio
    Re: [Foucault-L] The Panoptical society: Microsoft plans to monitor groups activities, Thomas Lord
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