Discipline and Punish. Part Two. Previously on Discipline and Punish. Vicious, graphic, visible torture Display of sovereign’s power Body of offender as opportunity for power’s display Spectacle. Social control “celebrations”. Discipline And Punish Torture
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Discipline and Punish
Where is protest against public execution coming from?
How does humanity as measure of punishment become attached to leniency and the economy of punishment? (74.9-75.1)
Calls for a more regular, effective, sensible, efficient system.
A poorly organized economy of power “Paralysis of justice”
“many different interests come together” in this “movement
A cleaning up of the system
“In short, the power to judge should no longer depend on the innumerable, discontinuous, sometimes contradictory privileges of sovereignty, but on the continuously distributed effects of public power.” (81.6)
Corporate property could not tolerate property illegality at all – in fact, it needed guarantee of property to be able to operate – need for certainty and risk protection at the very heart of what it was (85.6)
Everyday illegality had been mundane aspect of life. Now it annoys a rising class of actor
Less about annoying the king than about interfering with the bourgeoisie
“In short, penal reform was born at the point of junction between the struggle against the super-power of the sovereign and that against the infra-power of acquired and tolerated illegalities.” (87.8)
The right to punish has been shifted from the vengeance of the sovereign to the defense of society (90.7).
Let’s start with a consideration of the overall structure of this part of the book.
One prime component of discipline, Foucault claims, is the ordering, separation, and distribution of individuals in space. You can think of this as discipline’s mistrust of amorphous (shapeless), spontaneous, gatherings.
Foucault begins his discussion of “panopticism” with a description of the “plague mentality” or that style of thinking that seems to spring forth almost naturally when we are faced with a plague situation…
What is the best thing to do in the face of a plague? When a disease is seen as potentially attacking anyone and everyone, when it feels as if it is “evil” among us, when any sense that scapegoats might work has been superseded by a realization that we are up against something bigger than that, what do we do?
…in how society thinks about problems.
In the old system, the paradigmatic case is the leper. The leper is treated by wearing a mark and by having to live outside the city walls or in a lepers’ colony. The model demonstrated by this is that of pure community – those who don’t fit in are simply ostracized.
Recall, in this connection, the reaction of the Puritans to their community problems in the first decades of the Massachusetts Bay Colony – they constantly tried to identify who belonged and who did not and then tried to send those who didn’t out.
By contrast, the plague mentality sees the evil as “among us” and responds to it by restructuring the community itself, segmenting it’s members, putting people in boxes. Rather than mark the evil doer, the whole society is broken down into categories and distributions. Everyone has a proper position. This approach is based on the ideal of the disciplined society, well ordered, clearly structured, etc.
“The plague as a form, at once real and imaginary, of disorder has as its medical and political correlative discipline. Behind the disciplinary mechanisms can be read the haunting memory of ‘contagions’, of the plague, of rebellions, crimes, vagabondage, desertions, people who appear and disappear, live and die in disorder” (198.3).
In the face of such disorder, The crowd or “multiplicity” which is a compact mass of interacting individuals becomes a collection of separated individualities. From the guard’s point of view, a crowd is transformed into a multiplicity that can be numbered and supervised while from the inmate’s point of view a crowd has become a sequestered and observed solitude (201.3).
Hence the major effect of the Panopticon: to induce in the inmate a state of consciousness and permanent visibility that assures the automatic functioning of power. So to arrange things that the surveillance is permanent in its effects, even if it is discontinuous in its action; that the perfection of power should tend to render its actual exercise unnecessary; that this architectural apparatus should be a machine for creating and sustaining a power relation independent of the person who exercises it; in short, that the in-mates should be caught up in a power situation of which they themselves are the bearers. (201.5)
For Bentham the idea of the panopticon was that power should be visible but unverifiable.
For me, I am reminded that the point is to create a form of social organization that has properties of GOD -- cf. what they teach little kids: knows everything, always watching, you can't see him…. In other words…
…Unobtrusive Control Abounds
But it is not the whole story
Informal Control Still Dominates – we control one another most of the time