Many years ago, on a drive from Berlin to Paris, I found myself talking with an official at the French border. I don’t recall precisely what we had to discuss, but after a brief conversation he tried to express himself in English to inform me that I could enter the country. “I will control you,” he said.
He meant both that he would examine my passport, and see to it that I got across the border. This double sense of contrôle is relevant to Deleuze’s picture of a “post-disciplinary” society.
It’s a world that depends on a constant flow of people, information, commodities, and capital from one part of the planet to another. Controls of various kinds – institutional, electronic, pharmaceutical, and educational – are designed to facilitate the flow, not to inhibit it. The infrastructure invites and encourage individuals – or dividuals, as Deleuze christens them – to divide and distribute their time, skills, and attention among the many different corporate and state enterprises that float freely over the streams, vectors, platforms, channels, and interfaces.
The flow never stops, and there is nowhere that flows do not penetrate. Everything in society bears down on you at once, all the time, and everywhere, although you are apparently bringing this on yourself.
Deleuze was a brilliant philosopher, and that’s putting it too mildly. But his political and social thinking was not of the same caliber as his metaphysics.