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HIS330H5 Chapter Notes -Gilles Deleuze

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Kevin P.Coleman

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Gilles Deleuze writes “Postscript on the Societies of Control” in the L’Autre journal in
1990. He begins by reviewing the work of some famous authors; primarily Foucault’s work.
Focaults model succeeded in showing something termed societies of sovereignty which is
about how ruling people has changed. This is not all that changing, societal structures are also
continuously changing. The disciplinary societies of prisons, armed forces, and hospitals were
said to be currently in the process of being replaced what are termed societies of control”.
In Deleuze’s next section, Logic, he defines some terms for us that seem to be pretty
important. Firstly common language is termed as analogical. “A system of variable geometry” is
termed as numerical. I would have assumed this was solely about numbers but he makes the
distinction that this isn't just about binary numbers. The enclosures (I assume the hospitals and
armed forces that he mentioned previously) are molds and the forces that control these molds are
a modulation that is constantly changing.
In Logic, Deleuze focuses on the disciplinary societies and how they differ from
societies of control. He talks about juridical differences of apparent acquittal (disciplinary
societies) and limitless postponements (societies of control). How disciplinary societies
use watchwords while societies of control use a password (I don’t understand what he means
by these and I can’t seem to find if he ever defines them in this paper but it appears to refer to the
access of information and dealing with numbers of people). He makes comparisons between the
two societies throughout logic, even talking about how art has its own forms of enclosure. He
may have offered us a possible theoretical summary when he says “Control is short-term and of
rapid rates of turnover, but also continuous without limit, while discipline was of long duration,
infinities, and discontinuous”.
One quote from the Logic section that drew my attention was, “We are taught that
corporation have a soul, which is the most terrifying news in the world”. Maybe I am naive but I
like to think that corporations can have souls, and although they have clear aim to make money
and to CONTROL they may use some of this control earned as a way to better people or the
world. Of course some corporations do more good than others and some only do good to benefit
their own company.
The final section in Deleuze’s paper is Program in which he discusses the control
mechanism. He shows how the control mechanism operates in the school system the hospital
system, and the corporate system. The examples provided are extremely clear and help further
ones understanding of the topics discussed by Deleuze.
Note: I have bolded words he italicized in his paper.
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