Wednesday, January 09, 2019

Foucault, Discipline and Punish
The extension of the disciplinary methods is inscribed in a broad historical process: the development at about the same time of many other technologies – agronomical, industrial, economic. But it must be recognized that, compared with the mining industries, the emerging chemical industries or methods of national accountancy, compared with the blast furnaces or the steam engine, panopticism has received little attention. It is regarded as not much more than a bizarre little utopia, a perverse dream – rather as though Bentham had been the Fourier of a police society, and the Phalanstery had taken on the form of the Panopticon. And yet this represented the abstract formula of a very real technology, that of individuals. There were many reasons why it received little praise; the most obvious is that the discourses to which it gave rise rarely acquired, exception the academic classifications, the status of sciences; but the real reason is no doubt that the power that it operates and which it augments is a direct, physical power that men exercise upon one another. An inglorious culmination had an origin that could be only grudgingly acknowledged. But it would be unjust to compare the disciplinary techniques with such inventions as the steam engine or Amici's microscope. They are much less; and yet, in a way, they are much more. If a historical equivalent or at least a point of comparison had to be found for them, it would be rather in the 'inquisitorial' technique.

The eighteenth century invented the techniques of discipline and the examination, rather as the Middle Ages invented the judicial investigation. But it did so by quite different means.The investigation procedure, an old fiscal and administrative technique, had developed above all with the reorganization of the Church and the increase of the princely states in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. At this time it permeated to a very large degree the jurisprudence first of the ecclesiastical courts, then of the lay courts. The investigation as an authoritarian search for a truth observed or attested was thus opposed to the old procedures of the oath, the ordeal, the judicial duel, the judgement of God or even of the transaction between private individuals.
Montesquieu, The Spirit of the Laws
On the principle of democracy  
There need not be much integrity for a monarchical or despotic  government to maintain or sustain itself. The force of the laws in the  one and the prince's ever-raised arm in the Other can rule or contain  the whole. But in a popular state there must be an additional spring, which is VIRTUE.  
What I say is confirmed by the entire body of history and is quite in  conformity With the nature of things. For it is clear that less virtue is  needed in a monarchy, where the one who sees to the execution of the  laws judges himself above the laws, than in a popular government, where the one who sees to the execution of the laws feels that he is  subject to them himself and that he will bear their weight.   
It is also clear that the monarch who ceases to see to the execution of  the laws, through bad counsel or negligence, may easily repair the  damage; he has only to change his counsel or correct his own  negligence. But in a popular government when the laws have ceased to  be executed, as this can come only from the corruption of the republic,  the state is already lost. 
It was a fine spectacle in the last century to see the impotent attempts  of the English to establish democracy among themselves. As those who  took part in public affairs had no virtue at all, as their ambition was  excited by the success of the most audacious one [2] and the spirit of one  faction was repressed only by the spirit of another, the government was  constantly changing; the people, stunned, sought democracy and found  it nowhere. Finally, after much motion and many shocks and jolts, they  had to come to rest on the very government that had been proscribed. 
When Sulla wanted to return liberty to Rome, it could no longer be  accepted; Rome had but a weak remnant ofvirtue, and as it had ever  less, instead of reawakening after Caeser, Tiberius, Caius,* Claudius,  Nero, and Domitian, it became ever more enslaved; all the blows were  struck against tyrants, none against tyranny.  
2 Cromwell.  *Caligula.  
Foucault gets silly pretty quickly, but what's not's silly should have been for decades before, and yet it wasn't.  I'd never  heard of Bentham's panopticon before 1980. A few paragraphs and an illustration and was enough to make me want to puke.

And Montesquieu is so much better than the fucking Brits.

No comments: