control society + state theory
- ---- by Kenneth SurinIn his short but prescient essay 'Postscript on Control Societies' Deleuze says that in the age of the societies of control (as opposed to the disciplinary societies of the previous epoch famously analysed by Michel Foucault), capital has become a vast 'international ecumenical organization' that is able to harmonise into a single overarching assemblage even the most disparate forms (commercial, religious, artistic, and so forth) and entities. In this new dispensation, productive labour, dominated now by the myriad forms of intellectual labour and service provision, has expanded to cover every segment of society: the exponentially extended scope of capital is coterminous with the constant availability of everything that creates surplus-value. Human consciousness, leisure, play, and so on, are no longer left to 'private' domains but are instead directly encompassed by the latest regimes of accumulation. The boundary between home and workplace becomes increasingly blurred, as does the demarcation between 'regular' work and 'casual' labour. Capitalism becomes informalised, even as it becomes ubiquitous. Capitalism's telos has always involved the creation of an economic order that will be able to dispense with the State, and in its current phase this telos has become more palpably visible. Where Deleuze is concerned, this development does not require the State and its appurtenances to be abolished. Rather, the traditional separation between State and society is now no longer sustainable. Society and State now form one all-embracing matrix, in which all capital has become translatable into social capital, and so the production of social cooperation, undertaken primarily by the service and informational industries in the advanced economies, has become a crucial one for capitalism.This need to maintain constant control over the forms of social cooperation in turn requires that education, training, business, never end: the business time-scale is now '24/7' so that the Tokyo stock exchange opens when the one in New York closes, in an unending cycle; training is 'on the job' as opposed to being based on the traditional apprenticeship model (itself a holdover from feudalism); and education becomes 'continuing education', that is, something that continues throughout life, and is not confined to those aged six to twenty-two. This essentially dispersive propensity is reﬂected in the present regime of capitalist accumulation, where production is now meta-production, that is, no longer focused in the advanced economies on the use of raw materials to produce finished goods, but rather the sale of services (especially in the domain of finance and credit) and already finished products. Social control is no longer left to schools and police forces, but is now a branch of marketing, as even politics has become 'retail politics', in which politicians seek desperately for an image of themselves to market to the electorate, and when public relations consultants are more important to prime ministers and presidents than good and wise civil servants. Recording, whether in administration or business, is no longer based on the written document kept in the appropriate box of files, but on bar-coding and other forms of electronic tagging.The implications of the above-mentioned developments for state theory are momentous. The state itself has become fragmented and compartmentalised, and has accrued more power to itself in some spheres while totally relinquishing power in others. However, if the State has mutated in the era of control societies, it retains the function of regulating, in conjunction with capital, the 'accords' that channel social and political power. In his book on Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz, Deleuze maintains that state and non-state formations are constituted on the basis of such 'concerts' or 'accords'. These 'accords' are organising principles which make possible the grouping into particular configurations of whole ranges of events, personages, processes, institutions, movements, and so forth, such that the resulting configurations become integrated formations. As a set of accords or axioms governing the accords that regulate the operations of the various components of an immensely powerful and comprehensive system of accumulation, capital is situated at the crossing-point of all kinds of formations, and thus has the capacity to integrate and recompose capitalist and non-capitalist sectors or modes of production. Capital, the 'accord of accords' par excellence, can bring together heterogeneous phenomena, and make them express the same world, that of capitalist accumulation.Accords are constituted by selection criteria, which specify what is to be included or excluded by the terms of the accord in question. These criteria also determine with which other possible or actual accords a particular accord will be consonant (or dissonant). The criteria that constitute accords are usually defined and described by narratives governed by a certain normative vision of truth, goodness and beauty (reminiscent of the so-called mediaeval transcendentals, albeit translated where necessary into the appropriate contemporary vernacular). A less portentous way of making this point would be to say that accords are inherently axiological, value-laden. What seems to be happening today, and this is a generalisation that is tendentious, is that these superimposed narratives and the selection criteria they sanction, criteria which may or may not be explicitly formulated or entertained, are being weakened or qualified in ways that deprive them of their force. Such selection criteria, policed by the State, tend to function by assigning privileges of rank and order to the objects they subsume ('Le Pen is more French than Zidane', 'Turks are not Europeans', and so on), as the loss or attenuation of the customary force of such accords makes dissonances and contradictions difficult or even impossible to resolve, and, correlatively, makes divergences easier to affirm. Events, objects and personages can now be assigned to several divergent and even incompossible series. The functioning of capital in the control societies requires that the State become internally pluralised.
The Deleuze dictionary. Revised Edition Edited by Adrian Parr . 2010.
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