Obsolete Capitalism :: Control, Modulation and the Algebra of Evil in Burroughs and Deleuze :: Out in Sept. 2018 // Rizosfera publishing // The Strong of the Future // SF016 // Translated by Ettore Lancillotti and Letizia Rustichelli ::

Abstract :: “According to Deleuze’s Negotiations, the concept of “control” can be ascribed to William Burroughs. Since the seventies, it is possible to trace a deep intellectual and political convergence between Deleuze and Burroughs. This has happened across three levels of analysis: the control society, revolutionary communities and the schizo-culture. This essay attempts an analysis of the relationship between these two giants of twentieth century counterculture by borrowing their ‘control’ perspective. With the critical figure of Foucault on the background, the crucial political and philosophical passage from “discipline” to “control” appears in all its monstrosity. The struggle against Control, according to Deleuze and Burroughs, must be perpetrated through the invention of literary and philosophical “war machines” which try to hide from established wisdoms and dominant powers by gathering in communities made of unassimilable singularities. Burroughs’ untraceable and diagrammatic critique seems ever more precious as it is completely strange to the conformism of contemporary critical thought.” (Obsolete Capitalism).

Topics : control societies, algorithmic governmentality, revolutionary communities.


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Control societies are taking over from disciplinary societies. “Control” is the name proposed by Burroughs to characterize the new monster, and Foucault sees it fast approaching.

Gilles Deleuze


The new monster has a name: Control


Critical thought in the last thirty years has placed ever greater strategic importance on the concept of “control”, and it pointed at Gilles Deleuze as the first who developed the concept from a philosophical perspective imprinting on it a crucial trajectory. Deleuze has fruitfully adopted the terms “control” and “control society” in two texts since 1990: an interview which he gave to Toni Negri titled Control and Becoming, published on the first issue of the journal “Futur antérieur” (spring 1990), and the article Postscript on the Societies of Control published on “L’autre journal”, first issue, may 1990. In both writings, Deleuze points at William Burroughs as the father of the concept of “control”, and at Foucault as the theorist of disciplinary societies as well as the planner for the historic passage from discipline to control. In his Postscript on Control Societies, Deleuze argues:

Control societies are taking over from disciplinary societies. “Control” is the name proposed by Burroughs to characterize the new monster, and Foucault sees it fast approaching.

Which seems analogue to the reference to the concept of Control made in the interview conducted by Toni Negri for “Future antérieur”. Answering to a question on the historical forms through which power is exerted – Sovereignty, Discipline and Control – Deleuze said:

We’re definitely moving toward “control” societies that are no longer exactly disciplinary. Foucault’s often taken as the theorist of disciplinary societies and of their principal technology, confinement (not just in hospitals and prisons, but in schools, factories, and barracks). But he was actually one of the first to say that we’re moving away from disciplinary societies, we’ve already left them behind. We’re moving toward control societies that no longer operate by confining people but through continuous control and instant communication. Burroughs was the first to address this.



Obsolete Capitalism is a collective for pure independent research. Self-defined as “gypsy scholars”, the collective deals with philosophy, art and politics. Obsolete Capitalism edited and published «Moneta, rivoluzione e filosofia dell’avvenire. Deleuze, Foucault, Guattari, Klossowski e la politica accelerazionista di Nietzsche» (OCFP, 2016), «Archeologia delle minoranze » (OCFP, 2015) and «Birth of Digital Populism» (OCFP, 2014). With Rizosfera edizioni, Obsolete Capitalism published «Deleuze and the Algorithm of the Revolution» (Rizosfera/SF004), «The strong of the future. Nietzsche’s accelerationist fragment in Deleuze and Guattari’s Anti-Oedipus» (Rizosfera/SF001), «Acceleration, Revolution and Money in Deleuze and Guattari’s Anti-OEdipus» (Rizosfera/SF002) and «Dromology, Bolidism and Marxist Accelerationism» (Rizosfera/SF009). The collective also edits the online blogs Obsolete Capitalism, Rizomatika and Variazioni foucaultiane. The collective has a sonic sub-unit under Obsolete Capitalism Sound System moniker: it has released «La machine informatique dub» (first 12 EP, NUKFM label, 2016) and «Chaos Sive Natura» (first album, NUKFM, 2017).