So another social post, but what can I do when inspiration hits my door? This piece was conceived after the suggestion to read a piece of Gilles Deleuze called "Society of Control". Its main concept is the transition of societies that are labeled as disciplinary, societies that organize themselves around closed spaces of certain laws. The person moves from a space to other, i.e. from the family, to work, to hospital, adhering to each rule-set of the enclosure.
Transcending these disciplinary societies is the new model of society of control. In this new sense:
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.
Sounds familiar? Thought so myself, so I decided to apply this view on a few pillars I found interesting.
Deleuze somewhat touches on machine production, commenting:
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.
However by observing carefully the software industry, we can observe the same transition in computers and especially software. The first forms of computers aligned with disciplinary society. They were huge machines, with many users and complex rules, constituting an enclosure in themselves. Even in recent years, buying for example Windows 95, would buy you a monolithic operating system, stable and with highly defined interactions.
The transition can be traced on the release of the first iPhone. Although the rolling model of software was experimented with at free software projects, the control it imposed was realized as the AppStore. In there software was "assured" by a central agency and also it updated on its own, many times changing interaction with the user. The user now was at a perpetual state of learning.
This was made even more extreme after the solidification of computers as always connected devices. By being exposed to the threats of networking, computers had to be always updating, always changing, to keep all virus and malware away. Windows Update has become a meme of interrupting users. Web applications break the contract with their users at any chance, by releasing often, experimenting with the users, creating new interfaces on the fly, new end user agreements and privacy policies. At the same time the publicity imposed by this connectivity brought the corporation in the mind of the user, who would filter his communication through corporation conduct rules.
Constant tracking, advertising and insidious psychological operations are then used to explore the next depths of control.
In work the effects are mostly evident. The modern worker jumps around jobs, constantly seeking to acquire more professional skills. The gratification of the process is gamified, with corporation needs appearing as "hobbies" in individuals. Apart from the obvious introduction of the "corporation" in schools/universities, it has even invaded the free time of workers, becoming a spook of productivity, a constant feeling of distress.
The new work place is a place of uncertainty, where the corporation extends from education in non-visible borders; it expands gradually into the visible sphere as a continuous function of renewable needs.
Ideology as seen as a product, can also be seen as constructed the forms of societal organization. Since the spiritual corporation, with its ethereal promises invaded the worker, his ideology morphed to that. By leaving behind the infinite identity of nation - the thousand years Reich - and left/right, the new worker has accepted a continuous stream of post-modern group identity. From "alt-right" to "SJW", the person accepts a constantly changing set of beliefs, evolved not by its discourse, but externally as part of media campaigns or cyber-trolling.
The person can't any longer argue for its beliefs. While in disciplinary societies freedom of speech was unaccounted for since the system already reigned upon the partial enclosures, in so cities of control speech is an impediment to the group identity. New ways of outrage or enthusiasm emerge every day, respect gets legalized or abolished, conduct is based upon artificial constraints - not unlike the ones imposed by proper business conduct. Friendship, sexuality and communication are commodified by ever changing contracts, promising liberation and safety.
The resulting landscape is one of reproducing anxiety. Not conforming to any of these contracts ostracizes the person out of discord - it's labeled as fascist, leftist, etc-phobe. Canceling works as ultimate force to not speaking. Corporations fire people based on out of work incidents, so that the worker's social life has to be marketable. In this way even the personal expression is invaded by the corporate agenda, resulting in people "producing" themselves as business consumables, products that add surplus value to themselves.
Please send any comments you have on this. What are your ideas? What are the new resistances we can develop? Are we doomed?