Nietzsche’s Snowden: Tightrope Walking the Posthuman Dispositif

  • Richard J. Carlson


Edward Snowden’s disclosures on the National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance programs confirm exponential advances in pioneering, what Gilles Deleuze called, ‘societies of control.’ What makes Snowden’s revelations seem so futuristic and dystopian is the total interoperability and full spectrum dominance of Big Data technologies have produced a surveillance dispositif that aims to ‘Collect it All.’ Just as there is a periodicity shift in the transition from Michel Foucault‘s ‘disciplinary societies’ to Deleuze’s ‘societies of control’ today, approximately a quarter of century from when his postscript was penned, the advent of Big Data signals a shift from the early cybernetic control systems that Deleuze theorized. The first part of this paper describes societies of control in terms of emerging Big Data technologies, that I call the ‘posthuman dispositif.’ The second part develops resistance strategies by riffing on statements Deleuze makes in his book ‘Foucault’: “What resistance extracts… is the forces of a life…. Life is a sort of counter-power, a return flow of forces aimed backward toward the source of exploitation” (p. 92). As a concrete example of resistance I instance Edward Snowden’s transformation from C.I.A/N.S.A systems analyst to government whistle-blower. I contextualize Snowden’s flip by invoking Nietzsche’s ‘Thus Spake Zarathustra.’ Finally, I deploy Gilbert Simondon’s notion of the transindividual to explore resistance to the posthuman dispositif.


National Security National Security Agency Bare Life Dangerous Offender Exceptional Nation 
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© Springer India 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Independent ScholarPort AngelesUSA

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