Slavoj Žižek begins his book Violence with a relatively simple but striking tale: “[t]here is an old story about a worker suspected of stealing: every evening, as he leaves the factory, the wheelbarrow he rolls in front of him is carefully inspected. The guards find nothing. It is always empty. Finally, the penny drops: what the worker is stealing is the wheelbarrows themselves…” The moral of the story? Things are not always as they appear. The story is simple and makes us chuckle, yet (hopefully) it is a nervous laughter. The story is also striking; the notion and role of deception in it haunts us. It makes us uncomfortable to think of the possibility that crime (something we refer to as violence) could go unnoticed in the banality of our lives. Things are not always as they appear. Žižek is not trying to cultivate anxiety; rather, our discomfort ought to set us on a journey. A journey on which our task is to study the factory, the worker, the wheelbarrow, or more accurately, what they might represent, in order to gain a deeper understanding of what is going on (of which the deceptive crime of the worker is a sign).
It is with this illustration that we approach the topic of violence. That is to say, while violence certainly includes concrete events in space and time and clearly identifiable agents, it is certainly not limited to such exteriorities. Violence, as Foucault offers, “[is] immanent in the sphere in which [it] operates.” Furthermore, this illustrates that the task of the pacifist/peace-builder is neither limited to urgent acts of resistance (such as filing petitions), nor to acts of resolution (such as building relationships through community programs). Rather, “[p]acifism is a habit of thinking and being which requires the skills necessary to identify and negotiate” different forms of violence (and peace). It is with the aforesaid task that we enter a discourse of the violence(s) immanent in two particular forms of society, and the shift from the first to the second. The first, a society of discipline, largely put forward by Foucault, and second, a society of control, drawing mainly on the work of Deleuze. In addition, we will discuss some of the implications, of what we learn regarding the two societies, for the pacifist.
Although capitalism was already well underway at the beginning of the nineteenth Century, the Industrial Revolution is a helpful gesture towards what Foucault calls a society of discipline. The pursuit of economic growth with the maturation of capitalism led to the creation of mines (extraction of resources), factories (manufacturing of goods), railways (transportation of resources and goods), etc. The interest of capitalism in the production of goods required a utilitarian workforce. This workforce was created by two significant moves: one, the move of farmers off the land and into the disciplines of economic growth in the cities (also known and urbanization), and two, the import of people from “poorer” countries as cheap labour (i.e. the Chinese who constructed the Canadian Pacific Railway).
Another way to narrate the creation of a society of discipline (in what is perhaps more explicitly theoretical/political language rather than historical/economic) is by carefully examining how the institutions of discipline, such as the factory, function. “Foucault has brilliantly analyzed the idea project of these environments of enclosure, particularly visible within the factory: to concentrate; to distribute in space; to order in time; to compose a productive force within the dimensions of space-time whose effects will be greater than the sum of its component forces.” Reiterating an earlier citation of Foucault, violence and manipulations of power are not only wielded by external, top down, explicitly oppressive agents, groups, and forms of government. As we have observed, violence is also very much immanent, internal, and woven into the structures and institutions of a society of discipline. Moreover, we have observed this within institutions (factories, schools, hospitals, barracks, etc.) which are generally considered neutral to questions of violence and peace. In studying the society of discipline, the pacifist cultivates skills in identifying forms of violence present in the banalities of our daily practices and experiences. It is then namely the pacifist who notes that the wheelbarrows are being stolen. The talk of the pacifist, in one sense, is to uncover the violence hidden to the unsuspecting and untrained eye. Basically, it is similar to the children’s game of hide and seek: the disciplines of society hide, the pacifist seeks.
The second form of society which I want to call attention to is what Deleuze calls “a society of control.” The name “society of control” is perhaps misleading as it might conjure up images of sovereign rule or dictatorship. What Deleuze wants to gesture towards with the name, however, is a second significant shift from societies of sovereignty. The first major shift was towards the aforementioned societies of discipline. While the society of discipline wove into its structures manipulations of power and violence, the society of control seeks to grasp these, to gain a handle on their movement and direction. The goal is that the power running through the veins of the institutions can eventually power itself. Instead of being embodied in a structure, the powers are codified and become free-floating, anonymous, and autonomous. The ideal efficiency is one of perpetual motion. The purpose of societies of control is not production, but the regulation, engineering, and manipulation of goods and services, for example. Societies of discipline and their pursuit of production are thus “generously donated” to developing countries, which societies of control will then administrate. One can see then, how Societies of control become increasingly difficult to identify, particularly in terms of identifying their violence and power manipulations. Deleuze offers an apt and helpful remark: “[p]erhaps it is money that expresses the distinction between the two societies best, since discipline always referred back to minted money that locks gold as a numerical standard, while control relates to floating rates of exchange, modulated according to a rate established by a set of standard currencies.” Or, in terms of our children’s game, hide and seek has metastasized into hide and seek tag. The implications of hide and seek tag are, of course, clear: those who are hiding are now also allowed to move from place to place freely, making it increasingly difficult to identify them in any particular space and time.
Pointing towards ourselves as perpetrators of violence, and towards the structures and codes which order and govern our everyday lives, is no easy task. It is also, most commonly, a foolish undertaking because the assumption is that a society in which violence is not commonly manifested physically (that is, violence that is embodied in flesh and blood and broken bones) is a society that is considered peaceful. Moreover, the elements of structure and order in such societies are simply that—structure and order; they are neutral and irrelevant to questions of violence and peace. And yet, the factory worker leaves each day with another wheelbarrow, suspected of crime, but one that is hidden. Thus, upon further questioning and scrutinizing of the two forms of societies, we being to notice that, indeed, they are not exempt of violence and power manipulation. In summary of our preliminary investigation we have come to some conclusions, but the task, the journey of cultivating skills of identification and negotiation of various forms of violence always continues.
 Slajov Žižek, Violence (New York: Picador, 2008)
 Or power, as Michel Foucault refers to it in chapter 2 of The History of Sexuality Volume 1: An Introduction, trans. Robert Hurley (New York: Random House, 1978).
 Foucault, The History of Sexuality, 92.
 Chris Huebner, “Whose Violence? Which Peace?” (Canadian Mennonite University, Winnipeg, MB, 10 September 2009).
 See Deleuze, “Postscript on Societies of Control.”
 Summarizing Deleuze, “Postscript on Societies of Control.”