Posthumanism and Societies of Control
By, Lindsay Weinberg, Graduate Student in the History of Consciousness Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz
This paper analyzes the posthumanist theory of Rosi Braidotti to explore the appropriation and mobilization of all forms of life, animal and non-human, by advanced capitalism in relation to the shift from regimes of discipline (Foucault) to regimes of control (Deleuze). There is an underlying connection between the subject of humanism, particularly the individual, rights-bearing subject of liberal democracy whose body and personhood is disciplined and subjectivated through the use of biopower, and the transition to regimes of control, in which the subject is disembodied, fragmented, erased, and “reduced to their informational substrate in terms of materiality and vital capacity” (Braidotti 97). I will argue that through the transformation of molecular zoe power into data and information, whereby human, non-human subjects, and objective material conditions are instrumentalized for the purposes of exploitation and capital accumulation, we see the ways in which posthumanist discourse is produced by changes in models of capital accumulation. Zoe power is defined in Braidotti’s work as the being-alive-ness of matter: “Zoe…is the transversal force that cuts across and reconnects previously segregated species, categories, and domains. Zoe-centered egalitarianism is, for me, the core of the post-anthropocentric turn: it is a materialist, secular, grounded and unsentimental response to the opportunistic trans-species commodification of Life under advanced capitalism” (Braidotti 60). If part of posthumanism is the de-centering of the human subject and a critique of the discourses that frame the individual as a sovereign self with the freedom to choose and the freedom to sell her labor-power, constructed and disciplined in an environment of containment, confinement, and discipline, perhaps it can be argued that capitalism has already appropriated the posthumanist critique of humanism, in finding a means to accumulate value from a disembodied and decentered subject in deterritorialized space and time. Posthumanism is then not the overcoming of the humanism of western thought, or a critique of the systems of power that inform the construction of the rights-bearing individual of liberal democracy, but inextricably linked to a system of power that depoliticizes and reconfigures categories of difference while further entrenching sexualization, racialization, and naturalization through processes of disembodiment and the informatics of domination. It becomes critical to evaluate at what points along the production process and in what spaces within control regimes are subjects individuated and dividuated for the sake of accumulating value and producing
Lindsay Weinberg is a second year graduate student in the History of Consciousness Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Her current research concerns how value is produced out of information in the digital economy. She received her BA in English from Binghamton University in 2012.