German political scientist Jörg Becker characterises our society as “control society”. In doing so, he resumes, among others, the postmodern thread from Foucauldian industrial “disciplinary society” (with the panopticum as metaphor) to Deleuze and Guattari’s version of information society as “control society” in which individuals have internalised what otherwise would have caused punishment.
Becker says: “In the past, control was material, brute and violent. Today, control is besides and in addition smooth. There is a permanent anticipated inner willingness to accept control as beautiful, harmless and as a matter of course.”
If we break this statement down to surveillance, the crux seems to be that punishment is not yet ruled out: what is the rationale for ubiquitous surveillance? Isn’t it punishing of those who would not abide? Isn’t materiality, brutalness and violence in social relationships still the ultima ratio?
We will have time to discuss with Becker on 4 June 2015.
Becker is known for his publications on media and war. Below you see his most recent book. It will be issued that summer.