Deleuze: The Machinic Enslavement and the Dividual in Control Societies

Social subjection, however, is only one form, strategy and method of constituting the modern subject. Let us therefore turn to the second important form of subjectivation, the individual. Deleuze/Guattari call this process, which is different from social subjection, and which divides, divides and reassembles the subjects, making them more fluid, more flexible and more variable and transforming them into individuals, “machinic enslavement” or “social subjugation”, which can only function with the help of the new operational, non-representative and a-signifying semiotics. In the mode of machinic enslavement, the individual can no longer be understood as an individualized subject, an economic subject or a citizen, but he/she must be described as a part or a component of the fabric of enterprises, financial systems, the media, the state and its collective institutions. (Cf. Lazzarato 2014: 23ff.) Deleuze has even set a historical date for the emergence of the individual in the postscript on the control societies; he links this date to the media-technological upheaval from the analogue to the numerical, the transition from systematically contoured and interchangeable units regulated by norms to continuums of variations in the numerical itself, whose control instrument is statistical normalisation. The medium of control is no longer disciplining, but modulation, which incessantly forces individuals to behave in ways such as flexibility, continuous learning and adaptation to socio-economic machines. (Cf. Deleuze 1993b)
Whereas in Fordism workers were still temporally fixed at the site of the factory and integrated into the assembly line machines like cogwheels, their coupling with the cybernetic machines is to be understood more as machine interpenetration, which takes place more often than ever at the non-location of the company, which today is characterized less by products than by striking business ideas, which in principle spread everywhere, can be divided into different production processes and executed by flexible working groups. This type of coupling between machine and human refers to the cybernetic figure of communication, which regulates the traffic between organisms and machines. According to Deleuze/Guattari, the machines of cybernetics serve a system “that restores a regime of general subjugation: retrogressive and reversible ‘man-machine systems’ replace the old, non-regressive and irreversible relations between the two parts. The relationship between man and machine is based on mutual, internal communication, and no longer on use or activity. (Deleuze/Guattari 1992: 635). It is no coincidence that Deleuze/Guattari use the term “communication” here, and this can first be placed in the context of what is called “structural coupling” or “interpenetration” in systems theory. In systems theory, it is said that with the variation of the medium (writing) through which communication and consciousness are coupled, there is a change in the structures of communication with which consciousness interacts. For Deleuze/Guattari, however, it is not about the interaction of separately determined systems, but rather about the co-existence, co-production and co-variation of human-machine complexes and semiotic-material apparatuses and practices; indeed, it is about heterogeneous and processual mixtures, interpenetrations and concrete symbioses. The apparatuses themselves consist of specific arrangements that result from folds, cuts and exclusions and are at the same time intraactions that produce certain phenomena. (cf. Barad 2015: 92) The co makes it impossible here to refer to the origin, to the previous and to the one-sided precondition, in so far as the “social machine” (Deleuze/Guattari) that transforms the technical machines is itself constructed from machine mixtures. This leaves the question of determination unresolved, so that the danger of a circular conception is not averted. From an economic point of view, the specification of the relation between variable and constant capital needs to be examined (including the surplus, the production of which tends to increase capital intensity or the organic composition of capital: the constant part increases in relation to the variable part). If, as noted above, the assembly line on which workers had to integrate along a line was the starting point for the emergence of operations management, in the case of cybernetic machines we are dealing with the machine-to-machine relations between man-machines and machine-to-machine complexes, which require a much more flexible management in relation to the operational economy. Cybernetic management does not consider the assembly line as a static cost factor, but rather sees it in its dynamics or as the potential of the production lines to expand the algorithmised utilisation process endlessly. It is within these relations that the mobile design of lines takes place, with each component of the system (including the human agent) being put into service for the optimisation of the processes of capitalisation, not in terms of a static product, but of the incessant optimisation of the lines themselves. (Cf. Raunig 2015: 87ff.)
The machinic commissioning must always fall back on a-significant semiotics (diagrams, plans, schemes, indices, currencies, equations, software etc.), which appeal less to the consciousness of the agents or rely on representation and therefore ultimately do not need a subject as a speaker to be addressed. In general, both the subject and the object are characterised here by ambiguity, because according to Guattari both concepts can be understood as hybrids, as parts of subjectivation-objectivation complexes, whereby objects lose their objectivity and subjects their subjectivity. Objectless objects are parts of vectors capable of generating a kind of proto-subjectivity, and this also means that machines, objects and signs propose, enable or forbid, encourage or instigate certain actions to individuals, which are power relations in the sense of Michel Foucault, in which actions influence other actions. (Cf. Lazzarato 2014: 39f.) These power relations do not at all express intersubjective relations, but include actions on actions within machine agencies, in which machines, objects and signs not only themselves appear as agents, but increasingly determine the practices and activities of individuals. In the mode of machinic enslavement the individuals form a complex social body with the machines. To this end, the machinic enslavement of qua machine processes activates a series of pre-personal, pre-cognitive and pre-verbal forces (perceptions, senses, affects, desires) and binds these in turn to supra-economic forces (economy, knowledge, technology, sociality), which in turn take up, regulate and manage the various potentials of the individuals. In the process, the individuals are being pushed more than ever to the periphery of the technical-economic systems.
Deleuze/Guattari ultimately relate their concept of machinic enslavement rather vaguely to cybernetics and the sciences of automation, in the narrower sense of the term to operations management or the governance of all components of a machine system. 1 Machinic enslavement is to be understood as a mode of interlocking, connecting and coupling, even merging individuals who have already been biologically divided with machine complexes that operationalize the control and regulation of individuals, whereby this type of coupling tends to function without repression or ideology, but rather requires the techniques of modulation and modeling to guarantee a functional interpenetration between humans and machines. (Ibid.: 55ff.) In the mode of machinic enslavement, the person no longer functions as an entrepreneurial subject (human capital or form of enterprise), but rather co-exists with the machines as their functional part or co-varies with the machines as a variable component of the far more variable machine structure. These structures are also to be understood as subjectivation machines that functionalise the interpersonal relations of the subjects among themselves, the family complexes and the forms of participation in the digital media. In this context, Guattari refers early on to the modes of functioning of modern finance, to mass media and computer-aided devices, but also to the reference universes of music and to universes that express themselves in the moment of creation beyond chronological time, as singularities – it has always been a question here of technologized complexes that are called non-human or that link the human to machinic semioses, to ritornels. (Cf. Guattari 2014: 18)
In the context of social subjugation, the individual remains dependent on external objects (machines, money, communication) which he or she uses as a means or medium, and this within the framework of a human subject-object logic. In the mode of machinic enslavement that Deleuze/Guattari introduce as a differentiated and at the same time complementary logic to social subjection, however, one no longer needs to worry about the dualisms of old humanism. Indeed, the modes of operation of machinic enslavement do not know any essential distinction between humans and machines, between human and non-human agents, or between subject and object, nature and culture, etc. Instead of speaking of individuals as “divisive individuals” who are adjacent to the machine or who border on it, it is now urgently recommended that the divisive individuals and the machine complexes form a machine apparatus (condensation of material-semiotic practices), a machine agency, qua the modes of coupling, entanglement and fusion.2 (ibid.:80f.) This is a very specific setting of a relationship or a relation, which is only inadequately named with the system-theoretical term “interpenetration”, but even the talk of attaching or connecting humans to the machine does not quite fit the facts. Machine enslavement is increasingly concerned with the envelopment of the individual by a massive environment, i.e. a specific dependence of the individual on the machines, qua division, integration and fusion, with a machinic magnetism and its attraction, which, combined with a monitoring power, whether from smartphones or NSA networks, incessantly sucks the human actors into networks, clouds and machine apparatuses. At this point Gerald Raunig speaks of ubiquitous access to data tapping points, whose protocols and orders remain largely invisible (Raunig 2015: 144)
The individual functions as a divided entity in these processes similar to the non-human components, be they technical machines, organisational processes, semiotics etc. In these human-machine apparatuses, in which the machine complexes increasingly communicate with each other independently of the human actors, both components are recurring parts of production, communication and consumption; processes that are mostly aimed at producing profitable inputs and outputs. Both human and non-human agents (the agents are not persons and the semiotics are not representative) function in the machine processes as (moving) points within the connection, conjunction and disjunction of flows that flow in networks, be they economic, social or communicative networks. 3
The individuals are constantly changing their functions, taking on a drive, transmission, transformation or tool function in the machine structure, acting as raw material and product, as working tool and object of work at the same time. The individuals do not behave statically at all, rather they are transformed and modulated in the machine processes through the functionalities of looping and sampling, even of glitch, and this refers both to the aspect of passively operating with itself and letting the machines operate; to a certain extent the individual activates these functions himself. (Guattari 2014: 96f.) Think, for example, of the typification or self-activated adaptation of the individual to serially produced entities or profiles. In this respect, the individual is always also a type of … (citizen, consumer, patient, producer, etc.) The individual remains coupled to a machine “outside”, or more precisely sewn together with the forces of the “outside”, such as the scattered work with the silicon of cybernetic machines or life with the exogenous factors of genetic engineering. For Deleuze, the individual possesses a mosaic-like, recombinant “soul” – if soul is still the right word at all to form, inform and reform in a somewhat varied way in relation to the metastable strands of business, education and bioinformatic ecosystems. Today the individual not only has to co-exist with all technologies and techniques, but also to co-vary.4 This notion is, incidentally, not so far removed from Donna Haraway’s Cyborg Manifesto, but what is decisively new about Deleuze/Guattari is simply that, with regard to the problem of the coupling of man and machine, the diagram concept is introduced as a superfold, a double helix, a fractal topography rather than a simply folded topography.5
A further constitutive dimension of the individual is that it is connected to the various machines of economy, communication and state through various affinities – production of consciousness, specific time techniques and cognition – machine complexes that today are inseparable from digitalisation. The individuals have long since ceased to be integrated into the machinery and its lines, as in Taylorism, through direct supervision, control and scientifically organised disciplining, but are now being divided ever more finely, bound to digital lines and binary codes and thus connected to the machine complexes (crowdsourcing, online presence etc.) by far more flexible and effective methods. (ibid.) However, this type of connection does not only produce passive individuals, but rather promotes peculiar subjectivations in order to finally even achieve the active mobilisation of individuals via their multiple participation in the social networks, which, however, always remains shaped by the codes of capital and science, so that the optimisation of the socio-economic system is made one’s own business via the optimisation of one’s own self-modeling. A specific sensor technology of the digital apparatuses connects to perception, sensation and thinking, merges, so to speak, with the neuronal microstructure and directs the competence of time and affect, integrates the individuals qua mail and telephone traffic into the relations of network environments, which in turn are saturated with objects and semiotics that create a penetrating and accelerating connectivity and complexity. In this context, Luciano Floridi speaks of “hyper-connectivity” (Floridi 2015: 43), which is determined by the “L-law” that captures the utility of the complexity of a network (the possible connections between a number of nodes plus the speed; growth of utility proportional to the square of the number of connecting nodes; ibid.) Under these technological conditions, the new “Inforg” (ibid.:129) is created, which is built into the networks as a module, if they still need the diversion via the subject at all, in order to process operating and communicating objects in a modular way. (Network interconnection devices, which are molecularly divided, store and process various digital operations and anticipate events with regard to their usability).
Individual modes of operation seamlessly connect to the cybernetic disposition of a neutral person without inwardness – an I without an I – which is constituted primarily by its outwardness, its relations and its prepositions. Think of a person who, equipped with the Apple Watch, can check his or her behaviour and performance every second by reading statistics that ultimately generated each of their behaviours. Think of a quantified ego that tries to control, measure and, in particular, optimise its gestures, affects and emotions. And not only that, this “ego without an ego” wants to constantly communicate itself to others in order to generate exhibitionist participation in the networks. The “Invisible Committee” writes about this: “‘I’ share my location via GPS, my mood, my view, my report on what I have seen today that is unbelievable or incredibly banal. I ran; I immediately shared my running distance, my time, my achievements and my self-assessment. I am constantly posting photos of my holidays, my parties, my riots, my colleagues, what I will eat and what I will cross. I don’t seem to be doing anything, and yet I am constantly producing data. Whether I am working or not, my daily life remains fully exploitable as a store of information. I am constantly improving the algorithm.” (Invisible Committee 2015: 109-110)
And even functions such as enjoyment, which until now have been on the passive side of consumption, are now being fed into the circulation of capital in an activity-postulating way. By means of a consumer loan, for example, pleasure becomes part of a 24-hour speculation on free living with the home as the first goal and price. Now, when one starts to celebrate the constraints to which one is subject as freedom, the system of freedom is a perfidious one – think of the self-tracking of people who equip their bodies with all kinds of sensors to measure their blood pressure, blood sugar level and fat percentage in 24/7 mode and then put this data on the net. Such social optimisations, which Sloterdijk sarcastically refers to as “modes of verticality tension”, now function by means of sensors that take measurements, by means of smartphones that provide, absorb and visualise data, and generally by means of computers that give memory to the self-optimisations poured into terabytes – and these optimisations are now organised in analogue form – and this is not too far-fetched – to the processes of digitised securitisation and differential derivative price movements.6
Companies are constantly fuelling competition between individuals by no longer paying them according to wage groups but according to personal performance, so that each individual must be careful to maximise his or her performance, which goes hand in hand with adapting to new technologies and changing social constellations. This kind of subjectivation is executed by monetary technological machines which, by sharing them, incessantly shape even the sub-individual molecular flows of cognition, emotions and sensitivities. Machinic enslavement works with decoded flows (abstract flows of labour, money capital flows, signs, flows of subjectivation, etc.) that do not revolve around the individual and human subjectivity, but rather set in motion enormous social machines that diagrammatically organise the distribution of bodies, cognition, gazes and light. This type of subjectivation is homogenised by capitalisation, but at the same time new differences and new diversities are created; niche markets that affect individuals in ever smaller participation processes (targeted addressing of advertising by creating interest profiles that supposedly express wish potentials).
Using the mobile phone as an example, Agamben shows what he calls “desubjectivation”. He writes: “Those who allow themselves to be captured by the dispositive ‘mobile phone’ […] do not acquire a new subjectivity, but only a number by means of which they can be controlled if necessary” (Agamben 2008: 29). For Agamben, there is currently no moment when the individual is no longer “shaped, contaminated and controlled by any dispositive”. Thus, especially when Agamben calls these processes de-subjectivation, one must speak of division. Or at least of simulated individuals, who are perceived by the organisations of administration and surveillance mainly as statistical variables and risk factors, as potential for rebellion and addressees of biopolitical self-sufficiency, as derivatives of celebrities and casting participants. Michaela Ott has pointed out that the concept of the subject has always included Old Husserian subjugation, so that de-subjectivation can also be read positively as subjugation, and this is contrary to Agamben’s original intention. (Ott 2015: 27)
The individual also remains divided in terms of its pre-individual affects, sensory and neuroplasticity. Even Adorno spoke of total socialisation, which leads to an ever deeper weakening of the ego, to the decomposition of the individual, i.e. the ego falls back into a state of dissociation and ambiguity as a quasi-schizophrenic ego.7 (Cf. Breuer 1995: 95)
Deleuze’s quite libertarian call to develop new abilities and affects, ways of thinking and perceptions, would in the case of the individual now actually be reduced to the adaptation and connection to media machines and technologies – up to the integration of various digital devices into the body, the connection of smartphones to the sensory organs, and the merging of the human being with its engineered wish operators. Here we can speak of concurrence (cf. Ott 2015: 31), when individuals receive images, texts and sounds within the digital media largely unfiltered, absorb advertising texts and affirm contradictory information, even absorb it in the long term. It is easy to see that the kind of machinic agencies and their a-significant semiotics described so far do not only need the individuals as (divided) parts, but literally tear them apart; at least there is constant division with regard to the intelligence, cognition, physicality and memory of the individuals, and from this it can easily be concluded that the individuals no longer need and no longer possess an ego as a speaker configuring them. Nevertheless, this kind of permanent modulation requires a certain cohesive power of the individuals, which, however, does not lead to the reassembly of an individual, but at most statistically recreates it as a machined individual.
While the disciplinary societies were structured around the relation between the individual and the masses, the control societies articulate themselves through the dyad “individuals and databases”. On the one hand institutions of inclusion, on the other hand processes of control operating in open milieus. On the one hand signatures and administrative numbering, on the other hand codes and passwords as conditions for access. But there is now a third technology that uses both the signature as part of the political semiotics of the discipline and the codes in the open milieus or apparatuses of control. This technology focuses more on “individuals” who are conceived as indivisible spatio-temporal units, but who, when it comes to their constitution, remain dependent on the mobilisation of a divisible material that is aggregated in databases and algorithmically processed. These technologies thus belong neither entirely to the disciplining of individuals nor entirely to division through control. And here the individual and the divisive are not in correlation or even opposition to each other, but can be continuously combined. Such a synthesis becomes possible when business practices produce structural forms that address quasi-individuals, who in turn are integrated into a divided whole. This is a highly structured individuality, woven mainly from statistical individualities and constantly reassembled in strands of net-shaped activities, so that it can be registered and controlled as a distinct entity by the digital machines. In the quantified-self-movement there is a constant self-evaluation of individuals and the production of discrete data that are fed into social networks in order to create control effects on individuals through the various feedback mechanisms. (Raunig 2015: 163) The production of this form of individuality belongs neither to discipline nor to control, but to targeting, the target-group oriented and precise access, as we find it today in the police, military and marketing, for example. In special test procedures, methods are now used to select and control behaviour by means of “large-scale anomaly detection” programmes. The results of these tests depend on what is currently defined as normative division or normality, which is not normative imperatives but (empirical) normalisations without a norm. This kind of normalisation is quasi learned by the machines, namely by analysing the frequencies and repetitions within given sets of activities (subject-directed advertising qua statistics as in Amazon). And normalisation correlates with the dominant ideology, which sees individual freedom confirmed when the individual follows his ego path through life, although he is certainly exposed to the danger of being considered suspicious precisely because of this. The above figures of normalisation do not follow any logical model of standardisation or uniformisation. By using time-space patterns to filter behaviour, the various instruments no longer possess specific model trajectories.
Thus, the individuals or the “new” de-individuals today primarily incorporate a statistical existence that is recorded, controlled and regulated by various private companies, opinion institutes and the institutions of the state. The individuals are classified as biopolitical and genetic existences with the help of statistical methods or probability theory and classified into different population groups. At the same time, risk profiles indicating the affective, physical and mental abilities of individuals are constantly being regenerated, recombined and subjected to various tests. The individuals now exist as a bundle of characteristics, behaviour patterns and relations. The resulting taxonomies allow the modularisation of services and at the same time the participation in economic and social processes – they call for the construction of so-called risk subjects. The registration of the recombinant potencies of living and dying, which are recorded in the statistics as risk factors, does not require the construction of a social subject or social intelligence. (Cf. Braidotti 2014: 121) In this very context Baudrillard points to a scattered individual, which, by cloning, continually branches out and multiplies in constantly tested and testing lines of individualisation. (Baudrillard 1982: 45) This interpretation perhaps already shows the new statistically-individually organised de-individual. If we continue to speak of the individual at this point, however, then such an individual, as a differentiated and divided subject-object, must be quite capable of multiplication, i.e. it must participate in divisualism, it must actively pursue its own calculation and performance as a risk factor, and this within the framework of a determination which financial capital performs in the last instance. As a thoroughly active part of an electronic body, the individual exists today in the “sampler spectrum of media force fields which navigate (it) with the help of communication satellites positioned in orbits far out in space. (Kroker/Weinstein 1997: 35). In the context of the appropriation and consumption of a differential sign system, Baudrillard speaks of the localisation of individuals in a spider web of negative, positive, unilateral or bilateral relationships (Baudrillard 2015: 250), whereby individuals are required to be permanently flexible and mobile in order to establish optimal sociability, so that a compulsion for mobility is created. Compatibility is mixed with compatibility. Baudrillard also speaks of an individual who becomes a calculating factor and is integrated into a sociometric calculation program. (Ibid.: 251) This is what makes the individual.
The various control mechanisms that serve to stabilise the respective processes of subjectivation require the coupling of the individuals to the test, which permanently evaluates them as potential risk factors – a technique that Foucault classified as racist inasmuch as, by means of the technologies of power qua statistics, the population is grouped on specific scales on the basis of its genetic characteristics and its physical-cognitive abilities. A test in which the answer is already generated by the question no longer represents a questioning at all in reality, but rather, if it is still sometimes carried out in the context of a binary yes/no game, urges scaling: from a biogenetic point of view, the test leads to the classification and scaling of individuals (carriers of financially calculable and exploitable data) into those who embody healthy life and those who embody human waste, which, however, as a spare parts store for the healthy strata of the population, seems absolutely necessary to guarantee their lives.8 The subject of the test today is the individual, its result perhaps even a new de-individual, who is not only functionally identified as a sample, but who, throughout his life, when he carries out tests, is asked by the machines to comply with the referendum or ultimatum that he is able to represent and carry out life worth living, especially as a consumer, as a statistical risk factor. It is immediately apparent here that the processes of differential normalisation and control can be indexed with terms such as growth rate, cost factor, opportunity and degree of freedom. The integration of the individuals into a digitised system architecture, whose basic modes of operation are probabilistic and statistical, is apparently almost unstoppable. In principle, each part can be interconnected with any other if a suitable standard or code is available to exchange the respective signals in a common language. One is no longer a consumer, but is consumed. The partial and affective relations are processed as data from economic machines that have specific mapping and tracking programs. These systems know the desires, affects and individuality of the individual very well.9
Google and Facebook, social databases that transform users into data generators and at the same time offer them free services financed by the sale of data supplied by users, are probably the most up-to-date and powerful machine complexes collecting and sharing data today, and thus at the same time regulate and control the behaviour, reading habits and leisure time preferences, taste, clothing and opinions of individuals – and this through processes of informationalisation, in which the individuals whose profiles are composed through algorithms are themselves relay stations or function as inputs and outputs of production-consumption machines. And finally, we know that today’s workers are no longer chained to the factory floor, but rather precariously employed or temporary consumers carry their chains around with them in the form of laptops, smartphones, tablets and their modes of operation. These devices are necessary utensils, even if the point is that temporary workers, who today are often talked up as individual workers, are often employed below their qualifications as part of mobile work groups in this or that job, depending on the requirements, and are completely in the low-wage sector, without pension schemes, protection against dismissal etc. However, smart technologies not only enable control, but also the incitement to freedom – they are to be understood as materialisations of machine enslavement in the fabric, they enable processes of deterritorialisation and reterritorialisation, so that the assessment of these technologies can only ever take place in the context of a specific socio-economic fabric.
Today, individuals are increasingly condensed onto typing fingers, spastic bodies and attention-reducing and at the same time nerve-racking information recordings as they desperately try to keep up with the speed and masses of information by cryptically surfing the social networks. With the term spasm (convulsion), which Guattari uses in his latest book Chaosmose (Guattari 2014), he wants to point to the excessive and compulsive acceleration of the rhythms of the economic, technological and social, to a forced vibration of all rhythms in the everyday spaces of social communication. Guattari refers here in particular to the field of cognitive work and the nervous strain associated with it, to which individuals are currently increasingly exposed in the machine networks and systems. Consequently, spasm is to be understood as an effect of the violent penetration of capital into the field of communication and information technologies, which in turn constantly affect the spheres of cognition, sensitivity, neuronality and the unconscious. Here, indeed, a) the notion of the interaction between economy and technology must be relativised in so far as we are dealing with capital as a determination in the last instance, and b) one can speak of an onlife experience in so far as the online world is increasingly penetrating the offline world (ubiquitous computing). (to the latter Floridi 2015: 67)
According to Bifo Berardi, the vibration that is created in postfordist capitalism by the digitalised acceleration of economic and social processes, which leads on the one hand to an increase in nervous tension and on the other hand to a loss of basal attention capacities, is the spasm. In a cocktail that leads to overexcitement and exhaustion at the same time – being tense and overexcited – it finally becomes a life’s work to permanently balance the respective current elasticities between the two poles and to search for fictitious balances. Berardi is fully aware that the semioticians of the social brain have long since lost their ability to produce collective, common meanings (without universals) in other spaces; the collective choruses can no longer resonate with the infotechnical environments, which is also the spasm. (Cf. Berardi 2011)
It has often been pointed out in neurobiology that the human brain processes far too slowly to be able to process the exponentially increasing amounts of information flowing through the infotechnical semiotic machines. Bifo Beradi has repeatedly described how the speeds of capital permanently challenge and overtax the neuro-physical energies of individuals, challenging their cognition and emotions to unconditionally follow the current network productivity. Cyberspace, as a principally boundless sphere, transcends individual cybertime; the latter understood as a time of attention, memory and imagination that has only limited potential.10 In the face of the information floods and their accelerations, human psyches and brains reach their limits, resulting in an oscillation between nervous energies mobilised by overexcitation and inner retreat. (ibid.) However, it is not only a question of the amount of information that could possibly be handled by a new collective navigational intelligence, but also of the lack of innovation it contains. In this respect, the abundance only conceals how pitiful the content of a large part of what is produced and consumed today. What we experience is to be understood more as a crisis of the new than as a crisis of abundance production per se.
Recent research in the neurosciences confirms that the incessant imperative to constantly choose, indeed to demand to know, to choose and to decide, far exceeds and exhausts the cognitive-emotional capacity of individuals. And this is especially true when the distributed and at the same time exhausted brain, which is clocked in a completely different way than the automatically running digital processes, is permanently connected to them via the smartphone. For this reason, according to Berardi, in view of the stress generated by the accelerated hyper-productivity of the network, individuals would at some point simply have to collapse or at least lose themselves in panic attacks in order to then display the corresponding psychopathological reactions (burnout, depression, ADHD, suicide etc.).11
The exhausted social brain is thus the result of a whole series of panic attacks. Kroker already identified panic in the 1990s as the basic psychological mood of digitalised culture, “a melange of melancholy inside, blended with a lot of madness on the surface. (Kroker, Kroker, Cook 1999: 22) Panic, followed by depressive break-ins and/or manic-depressive phases. And even quasi-pathologies such as Internet addiction still produce a kind of excess, in terms of the imperatives of productivity, which, however, are not only about access to future exploitation, but also about the colonisation of the present. Moreover, the present is now extremely saturated with the past, so that the past is no longer perceived as such. This leads to the flattening of time and, in a complementary way, to the loss of the idea of a future that could be different from our present. (The prefix “hyper” stands for both acceleration and exhaustion: hyper-accumulation, hyper-speed, hyperventilation, hyperactivity, hyper-burnout – hypervirtualised and at the same time monitored, over-medicated, overwhelmed, over-communicated, etc.)
In the catastrophic, even apocalyptic visions of Baudrillard, Kroker or Bifo Berardi, one may recognize a way of rethinking the current processes of subjectivation, as a turning away from an energetic-affirmative subjectivation, which still inspired the revolutionary theories of the twentieth century, and as a turning towards a theory of implosion, which refers to processes of subjectivation that result in the depression and exhaustion of individuals. But this theoretical operation, to add a comment on a black Deleuze, could also open the way for stratagems aimed at a new subject of creative subtraction, which will be used to bid farewell to the exchange between life and capital. Behind this could be an autonomous power that no longer makes demands, and this implies that nothing is said about power. Instead, the aim is to interrupt the cycle of power by means of political non-participation, which makes the colourful and diverse new (digital) worlds irrelevant, since productivist modernity, with its subservience, sticks to the imperative of the new, even if this is usually, to use Adorno’s words, the new of the always the same, to the progress of the development of productive forces, to the rising rates of profit and the latest gadgets. There is nothing more to be added to this world, rather one should actively subtract oneself from it collectively.

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