Thursday, August 5, 2010

Society's Implicit War: Foucault's "Discipline & Punish" and Military History - Chapter II

This is the second chapter of a series of essays I am working on. The first one was posted on 7/23. These are long and strange writings I am doing. I am clearly not properly equipped to handle this stuff. But I am doing my best in the hopes that it will help me become properly equipped. Here is a table of contents.

2. The Monarch's Explicit Violence and the Government's Implied Discipline: Truth, Power/Knowledge, and Strategies in Torture and Prison

The Strategy of Torture: Tortured Bodies and Discourses of Truth
a. The Logic of Torture
b. Torture and the Production of Truth
c. The Centrality of the Body in Both Torture and Discipline

The Strategy of Prisons: Disciplined Bodies and Discourses of Truth
d. Discipline and the Production of Truth About Bodies: Power/Knowledge
e. Prisons as the Central Disciplinary Institution: Observation and the Panopticon

Social Strategies as Open-Strategies
f. Disciplinary Society’s Open-Strategies: The Worker Ants and the Big Picture
g. Criminals as Integral to Society’s Open-Strategies

The Monarch's Explicit Violence and the Government's Implied Discipline: Truth, Power/Knowledge, and Strategies

So here I want to establish, withe more detail, how the transition from torture to prison is in reality a transition from an explicit to an implicit war. I am going to explore this primarily by discussing the different methods that torture and prisons use to establish order within society. What are the means that the war is waged through, and how does that help us understand the difference? First I am going to talk about the strategy that torture embodied, and how torture was meant to produce truth about crime and the body of the condemned. Then I'll talk about the strategy that prisons and disciplinary society represent. In particular, I'll discuss how disciplinary society also functions by produced truth about crime and bodies, but it produces a more complex and interlocking body of knowledge that has roots in multiple institutions. Lastly I'll talk about the notion of 'open-strategies'. Foucault uses this idea to explain how it is that these overarching strategies of discipline and power/knowledge form without a single identifiable source. All kinds of people, ideas, and interests interact to create an overarching strategy. Individuals, however, can coopt these strategies to their own uses, they can engage with and manipulate institutions to further their individual goals, even if they can't change the overarching strategy they are taking part it. A powerful CEO, for example, may not be in control of the overarching economic strategy that has been in play for the last two centuries, but they can manipulate financial institutions and gain extra money, prestige, etc.. This is what makes these strategies 'open-strategies', they are the product of historical circumstance, and are larger than any individual person, but can be tapped into and manipulated to individual ends.

The Strategy of Torture: Bodies and Discourse

In this section I want to explore how it is that torture and public execution constitute a 'strategy' that was meant to secure domestic order. I am going to do this in three sections. First, I am going to discuss generally how torture possessed an internal logic. Second, I'm going to discuss how this logic was very specific in that it functioned primarily by generating discourse and 'truth' about bodies. Third, I'll discuss how the body remained the central figure in both torture and discipline. The body, therefore, is a continuity that links practices of torture with practices of discipline.

The Logic of Torture
Torture, while a seemingly excessive or brutal was actually a thought out system that was intended to achieve certain ends. It used physical violence, in calculated amounts, to maintain social order. It was a means of using physical violence to coerce people into behaving in certain ways, it was a war of sorts. Or, as Foucault says torture is "[i]nexplicable perhaps, but certainly neither irregular nor primitive. Torture is a technique; it is not an extreme expression of lawless rage" (33). Again, Foucault makes this point, saying of torture,"it was certainly cruel, but it was not savage. It was a regulated practice obeying a well-defined procedure; the various stages, their duration, their instruments used" (40). Torture is not to be thought of as thoughtless violence but as a strategic system that maintains social order through the calculated use of violence.

Foucault specifies that the strategy of torture actually resembles a duel between the monarch and the condemned criminal.
Magistrates, who served as representatives of the king, were actively competing against the men they tortured. In fact, they were required to attain a verbal confession from their prisoners: "the rule was that if the accused 'held out' and did not confess, the magistrate was forced to drop the charges. The tortured man had won" (41). Foucault describes this as a face off between the two, a duel: "In torture employed to extract a confession, there was an element of the investigation; there also was an element of the duel" (41). Seeing as how Clausewitz says war is essentially a duel, I am inclined to think of this one on one torture as a war of sorts. It is still an act of force the is meant to compel someone to do something.
I already quoted this above, but it is such a strong quotation that I'll share it again. Foucault's thoughts on the relationship between torture and war are very clear: "The right to punish, therefore, is an aspect of the sovereign's right to make war on his enemies: to punish belongs to 'that absolute power of life and death which Roman law calls merum imperium, right by virtue of which the prince sees that his law is respected by ordering the punishment of crime'" (48). And he also says that this strategy of violence led to the collapse of systems of torture (which I also explored in chapter I). "The dysfunction of power was related to a central excess: what might be called the monarchical 'super power', which identified the right to punish with the personal power of the sovereign" (80).

Now in this section I have simply said that torture was a system that was meant to accomplish certain goals, to control and punish criminals, to maintain social order in general. And that this torture was carried out in terms of a duel, and that it is an extension of war. Now I'm going to explore how it is that public torture is intended to produce 'truth' which influences the criminal and, more importantly, exposes the crowd witnessing the torture to the truth of the crime.

Torture and the Production of Truth
Now in this section I'm going to explain how torture functioned as a producer of 'truth'. It was a place, a spectacle, an event, that was meant to spread 'true' understanding about how a crime had happened and how the individual was responsible. When I say 'truth', I am trying to draw the distinction between truth and knowledge that Foucault uses. Unfortunately, I have a less than perfect grasp of the difference between knowledge and truth. But generally, truth should be thought of as a form of knowledge that manifests itself on an individual level to bring about a change in a single person or a group of people. Knowledge, on the other hand, is a more abstract, more general body of understanding that exists within society. Knowledge is external understanding, while truth is its manifestation in individual lives and actions. Torture of a criminal, therefore, is an opportunity to produce truth about a single person, about a single
body and to have it effect a large group of people. The truth about the crime is manifested in all of these individuals by the knowledge that is displayed in the torture of the criminals body. Indeed, Foucault confirms this distinction between knowledge and truth. "Knowledge of the offence, knowledge of the offender, knowledge of the law: these three conditions make it possible to ground a judgment in truth" (19). Anyways, now I'd like to explain exactly howtorture produces certain types of truth. In particular, truth seems to be produced by symbolically replicating the crime. Torture produces truth by dramatically reenacting crime for the audience.

Foucault claims that in torture the crime was often symbolically recreated so as to expose the crowd to the true nature of the offence. As Foucault writes: "There was the use of 'symbolic' torture in which the forms of the execution referred to the nature of the crime: the tongues of blasphemers were piereced, the impure were burnt, the right hand of murderers was cut off; sometimes the condemned many was made to carry the instrument of his crime – thus Damiens was made to hold in his guilty right hand the famous dagger with which he had committed the crime, hand and dagger being smeared with sulphur and burnt together. As Vico remarked, this old jurisprudence was 'an entire poetics'" (45). In other words, the quality of the torture is modified based on the specific nature of the crime being punished. The spectacle of torture is a creative replication of the crime.

Foucault even uses the word 'reenact' to describe the way that torture is used to produce the truth about a criminal: "There were even some cases of an almost theatrical reproduction of the crime in the execution of the guilty man – with the same instruments, the same gestures. Thus justice had the crime reenactedbefore the eyes of all, publishing it in its truth and at the same time annulling it in the death of the guilty man" (45). Foucault even provides specific examples of how crimes are reenacted in front of the public. One woman, for example, was dealt the same blows that she gave: "'[t]he executioner of the High Court of Justice will cut off her right hand, throw it in her presence into the fire, and, immediately afterwards, will strike her four blows with the cleaver with which she murdered the said Laleu, the first and second being on the head, the third on the left forearm and the fourth on the chest;...." (45). The reenactment of a crime, however, is not intended simply to punish the criminal by symbolically replicating the crime. It is also to make an impact on the public, so as to instill social order deeper within the social body. "The function of the public torture and execution," Foucault argues, "was to reveal the truth; and in this respect it continued, in the public eye, the work of the judicial torture conducted in private" (44). So the symbolic reenactment of a crime is meant to do two things: it reenacts the quality of the crime so as to reveal its true nature, and it reenacts it in front of the crowd so as to instill its lessons in the mind of the public.

I find this emphasis on reenactment (simulation) striking because I have a strong interest in simulation theory of mind. The terms reenactment and simulation are synonymous in many ways. So the questions that I immediately have are, 1. why does a theatrical reenactment of a crime produce truth about a crime, and 2. how does this reenactment instill a sense of order in the general population, how does it actually effect people's behavior? Well, as for the production of truth, it implies that truth about crime, understanding of a criminals mind, has to be achieved by engaging in a simulation of that crime. This implies some interesting connections between social understanding and simulative processes, I'll explore this at greater length in part II of this series of essays. And as for how this process of reenacting a crime is able to control the population, I suspect that this has something to do with how the public simulates authoritative perspectives. By executing someone in torture, and by reenacting the crime in front of them, the audience is essentially provided with a full narrative not only of brutal punishment, but of the series of acts that led the person to that punishment. Reenacting the crime in public torture, therefore, was a way to force individuals to internalize a narrative about the relationship between committing a crime and the results that would result (i.e. crime leads to violent torture). I think this has something to do with the internalization and simulation of authoritative perspectives. My blog post of 5/28 titled 'Ethical Behavior, The Internalization and Simulation of Perspectives, and The Idea of God' was actually aimed at exploring how morality might be instantiated (on the individual level of the subject) through a process of simulating authoritative perspectives. I am inclined to stick with this line of thought.

In conclusion, torture functioned strategically by producing the truth about a crime, and the body of the criminal was the site at which truth was actually produced. I don't think I stressed the importance of the body enough in this section, but the body is central. Further, this production of truth was often accomplished by theatrically 'reenacting' (simulating) the nature of the crime. The production of truth through this theatrical reenactment in torture is meant to accomplish two things: 1. it punishes the criminal by forcing them to experience the violence that they committed on another person, 2. it forces the crowd to mentally simulate the process that brought the criminal to torture by providing the audience with the evidence they need to construct a narrative of how the criminal came from the crime to the scaffold. In other words, torture's emphasis on producing the 'truth' about a crime seems to be wrapped up with simulative processes. It doesn't seem like truth can be produced, and thus neither criminals nor the population can be controlled, without recourse to physical and mental simulation. Furthermore, both to the criminals and the audience are forced to engage in forms of simulation. In part II I'll turn explicitly to the role of mental simulation in Foucault's depiction of torture and disciplinary power.

But before I do, I now want to discuss how prisons and other disciplinary institutions, just like torture, also functioned by producing the truth about bodies. The production of truth in prions is quite different than torture, however. In order to explain this transition in the production of truth about bodies (from torture to discipline) I want to briefly discuss how the body remained the central figure in both. That will simply be a transition. From there I will move to an explicit discussion of how disciplinary society produces elaborate truths about bodies, and how this leads to not only new judicial practices, but a new form of society in general that is focused on discipline and the close coupling of judicial power and forms of knowledge. In short, the body is the site for the production of truth in both torture and prisons, but with prisons forms of knowledge (rather than displays of violence) are the main way that judicial power permeates society. This linking between the production of elaborate knowledge about bodies and the strength of modern judicial power is where Foucault's concept of power/knowledge becomes relevant. Thus, after discussing the centrality of the body in both torture and discipline I will turn to the way that the prison systems also constituted a 'strategy', in which power/knowledge is central.

The Centrality of the Body in Torture and Discipline
In this section I want to explain how, despite the transition from torture to incarceration, the body remains the central point for the application of power. In other words, despite the non-corporeal nature of modern judiciary institutions (i.e. they no longer directly damage bodies), the body remains the central figure in the functioning of penal justice. As I said above, in the section on capitalism, changing economic and political situations necessitated that bodies be treated in new ways. As Foucault says, in both torture and prisons "the system of punishment are to be situated in a certain 'political economy' of the body: even if they do not make use of violent or bloody punishment, even if they use 'lenient' methods involving confinement or correction, it is always the body that is at issue – the body and its forces, their utility and their docility, their distribution and their submission" (25). And again Foucault stresses the emphasis on the body in modern penal practice when he asks the question:"can one write such a history [of prisons] against the background of a history of bodies, when such systems of punishment claim to have only the secret souls of criminals as their objective?" (25). The answer is yes.

But the body and its relationship to power takes on a very new character in the age of prisons.

The Strategy of Prisons: The Discourse of Disciplined Bodies

So, in this section I want to explain how it is that prison systems still function strategically by exercising control over bodies. Instead of applying violence to bodies, however, prison systems function by producing knowledge about bodies. By producing elaborate forms of knowledge judicial institutions are able toarticulate people, and thus are in a position to tell people what they are or are not. Furthermore, the forms of knowledge utilized to exercise judicial power are produced by a wide variety of institutions: medical, psychological, educational, and familial institutions all contribute a piece of knowledge that defines criminality. Thus, the strategy of prisons functions by producing an elaborate and dynamic forms of knowledge, it functions by building a discourse about bodies.

Foucault describes these forms of knowledge as disciplinary and normalizing in nature. That is, the discourse of prisons is about forcing bodies to behave in certain ways by producing knowledge that create forms of normativity. As I mentioned above, this relationship between discourse and prisons, between power and knowledge, is the origin of Foucault's well known notion of power/knowledge. They are inseparable. Forms of knowledge enable forms of power, and power never ceases to produce knowledge. I still have a lot of parsing to do with this idea, I need to cultivate a much more nuanced conception of it. But now I will try to explain how it is that prisons force discipline on its subjects by producing truth about bodies. I want to explain how power/knowledge became a thing.

Discipline and the Production of Truth About Bodies: Power/Knowledge

So first I feel like I need to explain more clearly what Foucault means when he talks about discipline, and how it is that discipline enables prison systems to function as they do. As I mentioned above, the rise of prisons cannot be explained by with reference to penal institutions alone. In fact, the prison systems are only constituted because they find support in a wide range of institutions that produce a semi-coherent discourse about bodies. Educational, medical, psychological, and other institutions all contribute different pieces of understanding that allow criminality to be defined as it is. This dynamism, this multiplicity in forms of knowledge is essential to understanding how prisons function as they do. Prisons cannot function without support from a wide variety of everyday institutions. This is why the reform of penal institutions at the end of the nineteenth century was, in reality, "an effort to adjust the mechanisms of power that frame the everyday lives of individuals; an adaption and a refinement of the machinery that assumes responsibility for and places under surveillance their everyday behavior, their identity, their activity, their apparently unimportant gestures;.... What was emerging no doubt was not so much a new respect for the humanity of the condemned... as a tendency towards a more finely tuned justice towards a closer penal mapping of the social body"(78). Thus the prisons are not an isolated phenomenon, they are part of a larger process in which the whole of the social body is subjected by different forms of knowledge. Again, Foucault confirms that prisons function only because society in general has made a move towards intense discipline: "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. This general principle defined an overall strategy that covered many different struggles" (81). Thus the strategy of prisons functions by producing an elaborate discourse that simultaneously covers the whole of society and divides it into distinct categories. Society thus becomes a coherent entity while the prisoner, the madman, the convict, the child, and the pervert can be recognized as distinct elements within the homogenous social body. So this is disciplinary society: a society that is saturated by knowledge about bodies and their workings; a society that seeks to maximize their potential and use them as much as possible; a society of power/knowledge: "We should admit rather that power produces knowledge (and not simply by encouraging it because it serves power or by applying it because it is useful); that power and knowledge directly imply one another; there there is no form of knowledge ,nor any knowledge that does not presuppose and constitute at the same time power relations" (27). It is not just violent coercion, it is articulable knowledge that subtly coerces.

These final two quotations should show that prisons cannot but draw on outside forms of knowledge, for Foucault claims that they were implementable "when, throughout the social body, procedures were being elaborated for distributing individuals, fixing them in space, classifying them, extracting from them the maximum in time and forces, training htier bodies, coding their continuous behavior, maintaining them in perfect visibility, forming around them an apparatus of observation, registration and recording, constituted on them a body of knowledge that is accumulated and centralized" (231). It isn't just a rise in a new type of judicial apparatus, it is the constitution of a new organization of society as a whole – it is the transition to disciplinary society. Foucault is even more explicit when he says, "Now the 'delinquent' makes it possible to join the two lines and to constitute under the authority of medicine, psychology or criminology, an individual in whom the offender of the law and the object of a scientific technique are superimposed – or almost – one upon the other.... in fabricating delinquency, it gave to criminal justice a unitary field of objects, authenticated by the 'sciences', and thus enabled it to function on a general horizon of 'truth'" (256). These new forms of knowledge have to be anchored in many disciplines that express the generality of 'criminality'.

But why does disciplinary society become a thing? Why does elaborate knowledge about bodies force people to live in certain ways? Why is elaborate knowledge now needed to control bodies? Why does torture no longer suffice? Well, again, Foucault believes that the rise of capitalist economies defined bodies in new ways: suddenly they are the harbingers of profit and wealth, suddenly bodies are integral to the successful functioning of the bodies. Thus the new economic situation demands "'docility', which joins the analysable body to the manipulable body. A body that is docile that may be subjected, used, transformed and improved" (136). In other words, power/knowledge is exercised because bodies have a new purpose within capitalist economies.

The rise of prisons is therefore inseparable from the development of other diverse forms of knowledge about bodies. The prison system could not exist unless the military, hospitals, mental institutions, and other institutions grounded in science produced knowledge about bodies. I want to explain how it is that these diverse institutions all produce a form of knowledge that contributes to the overarching discursive strategy of prisons, I want to show that all these institutions legitimize and enable disciplinary power to function.

So Foucault essentially lays out four different themes on how it is that disciplinary power functions in general in society and how this general climate of discipline enables the use of prisons systems. He says that discipline works by controlling space that people have access to, the efficiency of movement, time and geneses of individuals, and the tactical use of bodies. Those categories are awfully opaque, let me elaborate them in term.

Controlling space was one of the most important aspects of disciplinary power. It was essential to ensure that people could be constantly observed, so workshops, bathrooms, and other spaces were carefully organized to ensure the visibility of subjects. This took place in schools, factories, and other instititutions. Foucault claims that in 18th/19th century schools "latrines had been installed with half-doors, so that the supervisor on duty could see the head and legs of the pupils, and also with side walls sufficiently high 'that those inside cannot see one another'" (173). Economic isntitutions also controlled space to ensure maximum visibility. In the workplace head masters maintained control "By walking up and down the central aisle of the workshop, [where] it was possible to carry out a supervision that was both general and individual: to observe the worker's presence and application, and the quality of work; to compare workers with one another, to classify them according to skill and speed; to follow the successive stages of the production process" (145). As these examples show, the control of space was essential to disciplinary society because it ensured visibility. Later I will explore the relationship between observation and control more explicitly.

The efficiency of movement was also essential to disciplinary power. ""Disciplinary control," Foucault argues, "does not consist simply in teaching or imposing a series of particular gestures; it imposes the best relation between a gesture and the overall position of the body, which is its condition of efficiency and speed. In the correct us of the body, which makes possible a correct use of time, nothing must remain idle or useless" (152). It was revolutionary when people discovered that time and movement could be correlated to establish efficiency. Previously, Foucault claims, there was no sense that movement could be maximized, that production could be made more efficient by measuring the relationship between time and action. Foucault notes that discipline seeks to extract "from time, ever more available moments and, from each moment, ever more useful forces. This means that one must seek to intensify the use of the slightest moment, as if time, in its very fragmentation, were inexhaustible or as if, at least by an ever more detailed internal arrangement, one could tends towards an ideal point at which one maintained maximum speed and efficiency" ( 154). It is the relationship between action and time that enables disciplinary institutions to gauge the efficiency of movement.

The discovery of time as a means of regulating individuals also led to a concern for how individuals developed over time: the geneses of individuals was now monitored over time. From the time that an individual was born and entered into school systems they were monitored to ensure that people developed properly. This is what Foucault means when he says that"Disciplinary power has as its correlative an individuality that is not only analytical and 'cellular', but also natural and 'organic'" (156). It is 'organic' because it is something that is cultivated over time and allowed to grow. It is as if individuals are suddenly a potted plant that can be tended to and forced to grow in certain ways. Because this evolution takes place over time, over the whole course of a life, it has its appearance as natural and organic. I will turn to the 'naturalizing' power of discipline later.

Finally, disciplinary power arranges individuals in relation to one another to attain a tactical efficiency. Society is now regarded as a machine of sorts, and the military served as the intial model for tactical organization: "Discipline is no longer simply an art of distributing bodies, of extracting time from them and accumulating it, but of composing forces in order to obtain an efficient machine" (164). Bodies are no longer individual, they are part of something larger, part of the working of a whole social system that must function in relation to one another: "The individual body becomes an element that may be placed, novel, articulated on others. Its bravery or its strength are no longer the principal variables that define it; but the place it occupies, the interval it cover, the regularity, the good order according to which it operates its movements" (164). Finally, Foucault claims, "The disciplinary institutions secreted a machinery of control that functionined like a microscope of conduct; the fine, analytical divisions that they created formed around men an apparatus of observation, recording and training" (173). Indeed, Foucault claims that the military was the first institution to realize that individuals had to be made to move in unison with one another. I'll turn tot his more explicitly in the next section. But for now, it is enough to say that the arrangement of bodies in disciplinary society is tactical in its nature: it involves arranging bodies in relation to one another so as to attain the maximum control.

These four techniques, control of space, movement, geneses, and tactics, enable disciplinary society to function, and thus allow the prisons to be. Foucault believes that certain bureaucratic and adminstrative practices are essential to this. There must be techniques that ensure that "the body is offered up to new forms of knowledge. It is the body of exercise, rather than the body of speculative physics; a body manipulated by authority, rather than imbued with animal spirits; a body of useful training and not of rational mechanics,...." (155). That table (i.e. the organizational chart) is one of these disciplinary techniques: "The first great operation of discipline is, therefore, the constitution of 'tableaux vivants', which transforms the confused, useless or dangerous multitudes into orders multiplicities" (148) - In the use of the table "distribution and analysis, supervision and intelligibility – are inextricably bound up. In the eighteenth century, the table was both a technique of power and procedure of knowledge" (148). As Foucault summarizes: Discipline "operates four great techniques: it draws up tables; it prescribes movements; it imposes exercises; lastly, in order to obtain the combination of forces, it arranges 'tactics'" (167).

Just because disciplinary operates through knowledge produced from above, however, does not mean that this is exclusively a top down power. In fact, Foucault believes that power can only function as a system in which individuals, the bottom, interact with the top. It is a machine in which everything is constitutive of itself. Power could not function unless those being acted upon engaged with these forms of power/knowledge. In short, it is not repressive power, it is a network of power. "It was also organized," Foucault argues, "as a multiple, automatic and anonymous power for although surveillance rests on individuals, its functioning is that of a
network of relations from top to bottom, but also to a certain extent from bottom to top and laterally; this network 'holds' the whole together and traverses it in its entirety with the effects of power that derive from one another: supervisors, perpetually supervised" (177). Thus the relational nature of observation and discipline allows it to permeates all of society: "Through this micro-economy of a perpetual penality a differentiation that is not one of acts, but of individuals themselves of their nature, their potentialities, their level or their value. By assising acts with precision, discipline judges individuals 'in truth'; the penality that it implements is integrated into the cycle of knowledge of individuals" (181). Discipline functions strategically by enmeshing individuals in a network of observation that helps them constitute their individual identities. And because identities are always in relation to these disciplinary (State-run) institutions, individuals are therefore both subjugated by and subjected to these forms of power/knowledge. That is to say that disciplinary power is both the source of identity and the source of domination. "It had its own system of coercion," Foucault argues, "which seemed to be the code, but which in fact was discipline" (291).

In concluding this section on the strategy of discipline: Foucault believes that disciplinary society is "a sort of general recipe for the exercise of power over men: the 'mind' as a surface of inscription for power, with semiology as its tool; the submission of bodies through the control of ideas; the analysis of representations as a principle in a politics of bodies that was much more effective than the ritual anatomy of torture and execution" (102). Prison functions by producing a discourse about the use and nature of bodies. This allows discipline to penetrate mens minds, and it allows power to function automatically in the unconscious minds of every member of society. And further, prisons could not function without the support of a wide variety of institutions. "But we must not forget," Foucault argues, "that the prison, that concentrated and austere figure of all the disciplines, is not an endogenous elemet in the penal system as defined at the turn of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.... This prison came from elsewhere – from the mechanisms proper to a disciplinary power" (255-6). Furthermore, that the non-corporeal strategy of the prison systems still resembles battle. As Foucault says that "ultimately what presides over all these mechanisms is not the unitary functioning of an apparatus or an institution, but the necessity of combat and the rules of strategy. That, consequently, the notions of institutions of repression, rejection, exclusion, marginalization, are not adequate.... In this central and centralized humanity, the effect and instrument of complex power relations, bodies and forces subjected by multiple mechanisms of 'incarceration', objects for discourses that are in themselves elements for this strategy, we must hear the distant roar of battle" (308).

Now that I have established the nature of disciplinary society's strategy, and the militaristic themes of this strategy, I will discuss how prisons represent the central disciplinary institution. I want to discuss how the panopticon functions both as an architectural design in prisons, and more importantly, how the panopticon is a model for all of disciplinary society.

Prisons as the Central Disciplinary Institution: Observation and the Panopticon

Now in this section I want to explain how the prison system, of all the disciplinary institutions in modern society, functions as the central model of discipline. There are at least three ways in which prisons function as the central disciplinary institution. First, they are a place in which individuals are concentrated and observed, and thus it is a place where a consistent and elaborate body of knowledge can be produced. Second, the prison is the place in which all of the major disciplinary models overlap. Third, prisons, like other disciplinary institutions, are intended to transform and modify individuals.

So, Foucault explicitly argues that prisons are the central point for all knowledge about criminality, and that this penal knowledge extends to society at large. He claims that the overarching goal of the prison system was "the constitution of a body of knowledge that would regulate the exercise of penitentiary practice. The prison has not only to know the decision of the judges and to apply it in terms of establish regulations: it has to extract unceasingly from the inmate a body of knowledge that will make it possible to transform the penal measure into a penitentiary operation; which will make of the penalty required by the offence a modification of the inmate that will be of use to society" (251). In other words, the transformative forms of power/knowledge that are used in all disciplinary institutions find their groundings in the knowledge producing capacity of the prisons. Indeed, the prisons are dynamic and produce a multitude of knowledges and practices: "The carceral system combines in a single figure discourses and architectures, coercive regulations and scientfic propositions, real social effects and invincible utopias, programmes for correcting delinquents and mechanisms that reinforce delinquency" (271). It could even be said that 'discipline' as a general phenomena spread outward from penitentiary practices: "The prison, that darkest region in the apparatus of justice, is the place where the power to punish, which no longer dares to manifest itself openly, silently organizes field of objectivity in which punishment will be able to function openly as treatment and the sentence be inscribed among the discourses of knowledge" (256). Furthermore, Foucault believes that the 'normalization' of techniques of normalization found their grounding in the prison system: "The practice that normalized by compulsion the conduct of the undisciplined or dangerous could, in turn, by technical elaboration and rational reflection, be 'normalized'. The disciplinary technique became a 'discipline' which also had its school" (295). In short, prison systems were the main institution that produced an elaborate body of knowledge that allows disciplinary practices to spread throughout the whole of society. And once these disciplinary practices were created, they could be elaborated and 'normalized', in that they no longer appeared novel, but were seen simply as part of the social order. Thus prisons are the central disciplinary institution in terms of creating and refining practices of observation that led to the articulation of facts about bodies.

Prisons were also a tower of disciplinary practices because they combined practices from all of the other major disciplinary institutions. Foucault claims that the prison follows the model of the five major disciplinary institutions; it includes the family, the army, the workshop, the school, and the judicial model (293-4). Foucault describes this as a "superimposition of different models" that "makes it possible to indicate, in its specific features, the function of 'training'" (294). Prisons embodied educational institutions because they forced individuals to learn: "The eduction of the prisoner is for the authorities both an indispensable precaution in the interest of society and an obligation to the prisoner" (270). Further, the staff of prisons were often specially educated individuals that reinforced the pedagogical element of incarceration: "The prison regime must, at least in part, be supervised and administered by a specialized staff possessing the moral qualities and technical abilities required of educations" (270). Again, Foucault claims that the disciplinary practices contained in prisons permeated all of society: "The workshop, the school, the army were subject to a whole micro-penality of time (lateness, absences, interruptions of tasks), of activity (inattention, negligence, lack of zeal), of behaviour (impoliteness, disobedience), of speech (idle chatter, insolence), of the body )'incorrect' attitudes, irregular gestures, lack of cleanliness), of sexuality (impurity, indecency)" (178). The nature of penal institutions is connected to all of the other disciplinary institutions that exist in the society. At this point I'm losing track of my continuity a bit. Be forewarned, the people who will never read this. I am struggling.

Finally, prisons were meant to disciplinary centers that forced people to work and transform. In fact, it combined many of the transformative elements that were crucial to other disciplinary institutions, like hospitals, labor institutions, and educational institutions. Health is examined, people are classified, and observed. "Work must be one of the essential elements in the transformation and progressive socialization of convicts....It must enable him to learn or to practise a trade, and to provide the prisoner and his family with a source of income" (269-70). Restructuring lives is supposedly the primary purpose of prisons: "We have seen," Foucault believed, "that, in penal justice, the prison transformed the punitive procedure into a penitentiary technique; the carceral archipelago transported this technique from the penal institution to the entire social body" (298).

Lastly I would just like to say a few words about Foucault's discussion of the panopticon. The panopticon was initially conceptualized as a architectural design for prisons. It was the idea that a central tower could be built, and that cells could be built, so that a single person in the central tower could always see into everyone cells, while none of the prisoners could ever see inside the tower. Prisoners, therefore, never actually know if they are being watched, but there is the constant potential for being observed. It is this potential to be observed, and the prisoner's knowledge of this potential, that ensures that a prisoner will not attempt to escape and will not break rules.

The panopticon, however, is far more than a design for prisons. It is, for one thing, an architectural model that was adopted by schools, hospitals, workshops, and the military (it may have actually come from militaries). Furthermore, Foucault uses the notion of the panopticon not simply as an analyzer of prison design, but as a metaphor for how all of society is moving towards perpetual observation. Society itself, as a whole, is becoming panoptical. Observation is constant, and the architectural model simply served as the inspiration. Foucault expresses the generality of the panopticon frequently, but this quotation is especially demonstrative of its generality:
"In this panoptic society of which incarceration is the omnipresent armature, the delinquent is not outside the law; he is, from the very outset, in the law, at the very heart of the law, or at least in the midst of those mechanisms that transfer the individual imperceptibly from discipline to the law, from deviation to offence." (301). Anyways, prisons and the panopticon are the model for panopticism, but it should not be forgotten that all of society is moving towards the direction of constant observation. Society as a whole is becoming panoptical.

Anyways, so in this section I have argued that prisons represented the most powerful model of discipline. They helped spread discipline throughout the whole social body because they 1. produced a massive body of knowledge through constant observation of prisoners 2. integrated elements from each of the core disciplinary institutions and 3. popularized the idea that individuals needed to be and could be transformed. Finally, I briefly touched on the panopticon, claiming that is is something that is meant to describe society as a whole, and to consider it simply an architectural model would be missing Foucault's main argument.

Now that I have explained the strategy of discipline, (its discursive nature, its dependance on the production of knowledge, and the centrality of the prison), I want to talk about how this overarching strategy should be considered an 'open-strategy'.

Social Strategies as Open-Strategies
Now for a little while I felt very confused about what Foucault meant by strategy, or when he talked about how society and power functioned 'strategically'. I had always associated the word strategy with something like a high-commander, a president or a monarch making a decision. I always felt like that came down to an individual exercising power. I now understand, however, that Foucault's notion of strategy is much larger than that, and has to do with the orientation of society that is greater than any one individual person. In essence, society functions on specific 'rationalities' certain strategies, none of which are the product of any single person, but are rather the culmination of many people's decisions and actions. Strategies form when groups of people make decisions and send knowledge/power in new directions. Strategies form and change the way people live. And as I said, they are bigger than any one person, but they form based on the actions of individuals. Certain individuals, however, can tap into these overarching strategies, co-opt them for their own purposes, change them, use them as they see fit. So it is possible for a single individual to redefine the strategies that are guiding society. This is why Foucault refers to them as 'open-strategies', they have a determination beyond individuals and are thus strategic, but can be tapped into and used for individual gain, making them open. This is what I want to discuss in this section. First I'll talk about this notion of open-strategies in general, and then I'll discuss how prisoners and delinquents in particular fit into the open-strategies that developed during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century. Onward.

Disciplinary Society’s Open-Strategies: The Worker Ants and the Big Picture

First and foremost I want to explain this notion of open strategies with reference to a statement my friend Jason made. We were e-mailing about some stuff and he was reading DnP and actually used an analogy to worker ants that captured the notion of open-strategies well. He was speaking about different rationalities of government, and how these rationalities amount to a sort of strategy: "This rationality of government seems to me, among other things, to be a kind of underlying structure that orients experts and authorities of various stripes toward similar objectives--especially the more efficient and productive management of individuals and whole populations, which approaches F's neologism of "biopower." The best part (or worst, depending on your perspective) is that they, these experts, don't individually have to be aware of this relation they share or even of the final objective toward which their work tends. An analogy occurred to me the other day while I was watching some eager spring ants invade my downstairs bathroom. These experts, many if not most of whom are or have been at some point academics, they're like a phalanx of worker ants, all busily going about their own explorations with little idea that it will contribute to anything much bigger than themselves, their own careers, their bank accounts, their oeuvre, their childrens' college funds, whatever. It's just what they do, it's their dharma. And yet, it does add up to something else: that is, something more than a silly insect analogy. Sacrebleu, there's something just little bit perverse about likening academics to ants, which I rather like. We could use a little more self-effacing humor in the ivory tower. It gets so stuffy in there." A long quote from Jason, but again, I think this sort of idea captures the notion of open-strategies quite well. Let me elaborate and provide some textual evidence.

Now recall that the discursive strategy of prisons is able to succeed because of many large changes that took place in society in general. One of the most important was economic changes. The rise of capitalist economies necessitated new forms of punishment that treated bodies as economic assets. "The new juridical theory of penality," Foucault argues, "corresponds in fact to a new 'political economy' of the power to punish. This explain why the 'reform' did not have a single origin. It was not the more enlightened members of the public, nor the philosophes, who regarded themselves as enemies of despotism and friends of mankind; it was not even the social groups opposed to the parlementaires who instigated the reform. Or rather it was not they alone; in this sameoverall project of a new distribution of the power to punish, and of a new distribution of its effects, many different interests came together" (81). It requires the work and thought of many individuals to contribute to these large and deterministic social strategies. The development of economic system was clearly beyond the control of most people, and thus those that contributed to these overarching strategies were merely 'worker ants' so to speak. They were not aware of the larger social structure they were helping create. Yet, by their actions, they were likely effecting the development of capitalist economies. Again, Foucault describes this as a strategy: "one sees the emergence of a new strategy for the exercise of the power to punish. and 'reform', in the strict sense, as it was formulated in the theories of law or as it was outlined in the various projects, was the political or philosophical resumption of this strategy: to make of the punishment and repression of illegalities a regular function, coextensive with society; not to punish better to punish with an attenuated severity perhaps, but in order to punish with more universality and necessity; to insert the power to punish more deeply into the social body" (82).

Foucault also describes how individuals in powerful positions are able to co-opt and guide these open-strategies to a greater degree than bureaucrats and lower officials. In other words, certain people have more access to these open-strategies than other. Foucault claims that Napoleon Bonaparte was able to tap into the French judicial strategies and use them for his own devices: "Napoleon did not discover this world; but we know that he set out to organize it; and he wished to arrange around him a mechanism of power that would enable him to see the smallest event that occurred in the state he governed he intended,
by means of the rigorous discipline that he imposed 'to embrace the whole of this vast machine without the slightest detail escape his attention'" (141).

We have now become so enmeshed in this historical periods open-strategies that we hardly recognize them as novel. Prisons, for example, fit in so well with our overarching strategies of capitalism and religion that penitentiary practices that we think of them as universal: "This 'self-evident' character of the prison, which we find so difficult to abandon, is based first of all on the simple form of 'deprivation of liberty' (232). The deprivation of liberty, as Foucault claimed, is directly linked to the rise of capitalism and new associations of time, money, and 'freedom'. Foucault furthers the idea that we have lost touch with the contingency of prisons when he says: "The generality of punitive function that the eighteenth century sought in the 'ideological' technique of representations and signs now had as its support the extension, the material framework, complex, dispersed, but coherent, of the various carceral mechanisms" (299). In other words, prisons have become so embedded in our social standards that we fail to notice their strangeness. We regard them as natural. But, "The prison is 'natural', just as the use of time to measure exchanges is 'natural' in our society" (233). Neither the measurment of time nor the systematic incarceration of individuals is natural. Both are contingent and historically constituted processes that had a definite beginning.

I hope that this section adequately explains how it is that society's possess overarching, deterministic strategies that, at the same time, remain 'open' to the goals of individual people. They function primarily on historical momentum, they operate mainly through determinism. But people can become aware of them, tap into them, modify them, and bend them to their own wills. Whether these people become aware of them on the superficial level of society (i.e. working entirely within them) or people become aware of them on the deterministic level (i.e. they try to find strategies beyong these open-strategies) is something I'll discuss in chapter 6 of this project. In other words, while some people just think strategically (and work within the confines of open-strategies), I believe it may be possible to think 'meta-strategically'. Meta-strategic thinking would involve recognizing the historical determinism of strategy, and being able to search for strategic possibilities beyond open-strategies. It would be about not only guiding an open-strategy, but attempting to overcome it entirely.

Criminals as Integral to Society’s Open-Strategies

Now that I have, hopefully, explained this notion of open-strategies, I would like to explain how criminals actually are integral to modern society's strategy. They are not something that is meant to be removed. They are something that fit into a certain strategical and tactical social structure.

Foucault says very explicitly that prisons are not meant to rid the world of crime. But rather, they are intended to give it a new 'economy', a new place within the social order that maximizes their usefulness. So when people ask the question: why are the prison systems failing? why are they not successfully dealing with the problem of crime? Focally believes that those are the wrong questions to ask. Instead, he believes that "one should reverse the problem and ask oneself what is served by the failure of the prison; what is the use of these different phenomena that are continually being criticized; what is the use of these different phenomena that are continually being criticized; the maintenance of delinquency, the encouragement of recidivism, the transformation of the occasional offender into a habitual delinquent, the organization of a close milieu of delinquency" (272). In short, despite their professed task of ridding the world of crime, the prisons are actually intended to make the existence of crime more useful in society's overarching strategy. As Foucault says: "illegality was so deeply rooted and so necessary to the life of each social stratum, that it had in a sense its own coherence and economy" (82). Prisons are meant primarily to establish a new strategic function to the existence of criminals. Even more explicitly, Foucault says: "A penal system must be conceived as a mechanism intended to administer illegalities differentially, not to eliminate them all" (89). This is the strategic use of illegality: "Legal punishments are to be resituated in an overall strategy of illegalities. The 'failure' of the prison may be understood on this basis" (272). Again, Foucault cannot be more explicit about the social usefulness of criminality: "the existence of a legal prohibition creates around it a field of illegal practices, which one manages to supervise, while extracting from it an illicit profit through elements, themselves illegal, but rendered manipulable by their organization in delinquency. This organization is an instrument for administering and exploiting illegalities" (280).

There is further evidence that the prison systems operated not in terms of eliminating illegality, but in controlling it's spread and it's representation. Indeed, the display of criminals was considered when deciding how to represent illegality to the public. Foucault believes that this is evident in the disappearance of 'chain-gangs'. Previously, criminals were chained together and displayed in towns to show people what they had done. When 'humanism' began to penetrate penal practices, however, these public displays were abolished for something less crude and more disciplined: "It was necessary, therefore, the break with these public rites [the chain gang]; to subject the movements of convicts to the same mutation as the punishment themselves' and to bring them, too, under the veil of administrative decency" (263). Thus, as you can see, the treatment of criminals was modified in order to suit the overarching strategic needs of society. Criminals could no longer be tortured and paraded around – they had to be carefully represented, made to put on a show that would temper the public's perception of crime. This integration if illegality into social strategies can also be seen in the prisons systems failure to rehabilitate people: It is also clear that the prisons don't rehabilitate people , but perpetuate criminality: It casuses "all the results of non-rehabilitation (unemployment, prohibitions on residence, enforced residences, probation) make it al too easy for former prisoners to carry out the tasks assigned to them" (282).

Furthermore, Foucault argues that the role of criminals in the strategy of modern society was based on a historical determinism: "his acts of violence were seen as descending directly from old struggles" i.e. determinism (83). Even at the time that prisons were being created it was clear that they wouldn't be able to cure criminals, but were rather attempting to control them: "Instead of releasing corrected individuals, then, the prison was settling loose a swarm of dangerous delinquents throughout the population" (266). A man named Faucher even spoke of prisons as "'barracks of crime'"(267).

If we can learn to see prisons and their perpetual criticism as "a consequence rather than a contradiction" we will "be forced to suppose that the prison, and no doubt punishment in general, is not intended to eliminate offences, but rather to distinguish them, to distribute them,
to use them; that it is not so muich that they render docile those who are liable to transgress the law, but that they tend to assimilate the transgression of the laws in a general tactics of subjection. Penality would then appear to be a way of handling illegalities, of laying down the limits of tolerance, of giving free rein to some, of putting pressure on others, of excluding a particular section, of making another useful, of neutralizing certain individuals and of profiting from others" (272). Foucault succinctly summarizes: "In short, penality does not simply 'check' illegalities; it 'differentiaties' them, it provides them with a general 'economy'" (272).

Foucault believes that prisons make criminals integral by society's open strategies by making a distinction between illegality in delinquency. For delinquency cannot come into being until illegality has been codified. So, "No doubt delinquency is a form of illegality; certainly it has its roots in illegality; but it is an illegality that the 'carceral system', with all its ramifications, has invested, segmented, isolated, penetrated, organized, enclosed in a definite milieu, and to which it has given an instrumental role in relation to other illegalities. In short, although the juridical opposition is between legality and illegal practice, the strategic opposition is between illegalities and delinquency" (277). Foucault believes this is because "prison has succeeded extremely well in producing delinquency, a specific type, a politically or economically less dangerous – an, on occasion, usable – form of illegality; in producing delinquents, in an apparently marginal, but in fact centrally supervised milieu; in producing the delinquent as a pathologized subject" (277). In other words, when an individual is habitually breaking the law he is seen as a 'delinquent'. They can now be identified by this habitual illegality. They can now be said to possess a certain 'nature', and that nature is to break the law. Thus, the delinquent cannot exist until illegality has been clearly articulated and connected to a whole slew of other disciplinary institutions.

Illegality is also utilized in society's open-strategies by using criminals as part of the apparatus of power. They become informers, soldiers, unofficial members of the State's judicial institutions. Indeed, "The political use of delinquents – as informers and agents provocateurs – was a fact well before the nineteenth century" (280). But more importantly, delinquents constituted "a clandestine police force and standby army at the disposal of the state" (280). Foucault believes that the prison system couldn't function unless 'delinquents' existed: "It was then that the direct, institutional coupling of police and delinquency took place:the disturbing moment when criminality became one of the mechanisms of power" (283). He is so explicit when he says that the "production of delinquency and its investment by the penal apparatus must be taken for what they are: not the results of acquired once an for all, but tactics that shift according to how closely they reach their target. The split between delinquency and other illegalities, the way in which it is turned back upon them, its colonization by the dominant illegality – these all appear clearly in the way in which the police-prison system functions;...." (285). In short, the prison system creates "a whole tactic of confusion aimed at maintaining a permanent state of conflict" (286).

In this subsection I wanted to generally explain the notion of open-strategies. Then in this last section I explained how it is that criminals actually fit neatly into society's overarching strategy. They helped to define, in general, what legality and illegality meant. They were integrated into the functionings of power. The prison systems do not intend to destroy criminality, they intend to make use of it. And thus criminals are integral to the open-strategy that developed in France at the end of the eighteenth century.

Conclusions for Part I
I would now like to try and conclude Part I of this whole series of essays. Generally, I had two goals. In chapter I I wanted to establish that social order is founded on an ongoing war. That torture waged an explicit war, while prisons waged an implicit war. In Chapter II I tried to explain how torture and prisons both waged war not only through physical violence, but through the representation of violence. In torture violence was represented quite explicitly. It was a theatrical reenactment of a crime that was meant to produce the truth about the body of the criminal and about the power of the sovereign. In prison, however, the body began to be represented in brand new ways. The key factor in the representation of crime and violence in prisons is what Foucault call disciplinary society. Bodies are no longer represented as objects to be destroyed, but as economically valued assets that are to be maximized in terms of space, movement, observability, and productivity. Furthermore, I explained how the notion of the panopticon served to explain the way the observation and power are linked in disciplinary society. In either case, discourse and representation are the main ways that penal practices permeate and control the social body, whether they are representing torture, or are representing complex observation and production of knowledge. This is the reason that Foucault intimately links power and knowledge. Disciplinary society can only function on the basis of power/knowledge. Bodies are too valuable, physical violence is too unpredictable. Thus by producing elaborate forms of knowledge disciplinary society was able to naturalize delinquency and the punishments applied towards it. I then explained the notion of 'strategy', and in particular, how society possess 'open-strategies'. Having clarified those ideas, I was able to follow Foucault's argument that criminals are indeed integral to disciplinary society's overarching strategies. That is the jist of it.

In the next four chapters of these series of essays I am going to explore some other ideas. I am going to explore the relationship between panopticism and simulation theory of mind, and I am going to explore the practical possibilities for escaping the discourses that have been produced by our disciplinary society.

No comments:

Post a Comment