Architecture Lose Control
posted by June 16 at 12:45 PMon
To see the point in history that marks the birth place of our society, control society, we should look here, at city planning:
But let’s take a step back.
In his short essay “Society of Control,” Gilles Deleuze separated this older order of society, one that’s under discipline:
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.”
From the current order, one under control:
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.
In the older form of society, management of the population was direct and rigid; in the present one, it is fluid and soft. And the end of control is you managing you, you schooling you, you doctoring you, you hiring you, you punishing you. In an environment that has you doing everything, self-help books thrive.
But control society has an origin. It’s in 19th century urban projects like Trafalgar Square and Haussmannization. What it is that dislocates these projects from their moment, disciplinary society, is that the management of the poor comes with real benefits. In the case of Trafalgar Square, fountains, art, an open space for leisure and also political activities; with Haussmannization, improved sanitation, the beautification of the city, and so on. But as open as they might be, both the square in London and the boulevards of Paris have as their essence the control of the poor with the visible benefits of life and the obscured threats of death—exposure to fresh air and sunshine comes with the exposure to cannon balls. From these open spaces issues a society that will obscure state power and replace it with the visibility (or simulacrum) of self-empowerment. In disciplinary society, your factory boss is your worst enemy; in control society, you are your own worst enemy.