From: Kenneth Johnson <kenn@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Wed, 29 Sep 1999 11:14:55 -0800
Roxana Kreimer wrote:
> An article that appeared in a dossier of the french journal Liberation
>distinguishes the english tradition (that considers that the identity
>document given by de police attempts agaist democratic freedom) from the
>one that rules in France or in spanish-spoken Countries, where although
>in theory police cannot take you to the police station if they dond´t see
>you steeling, you must always carry your identity document along the
>street. I am writing an article for an argentine magazine, and I would be
>very gratefull if somebody can tell me if in english or german spoken
>languages you must carry your document along the street, just in case you
>have problems with the police. Thanks Roxana Kreimer
Directly to your specific query, it is not a law that you must carry any
document in the US.
But despite theory, in the US it's pretty essential to have ID all the
time. The main adult ID is a driver's license, not issued directly by the
police but used by them. The police do issue ID cards on request and most
people who do not have a drivers license get them because without ID you
can't cash checks, get a job, etc.
The ultimate ID in the US however is a Social Security card, *now required
at birth*. There's been a lot of controversy over it because when this
program started the Govt promised it would never use this number as an ID.
It has nevertheless evolved into the most important tracking device on the
citizenry and now most if not all US States include this personal SS number
on the Drivers License. Here in Nevada, when people discovered their actual
DL number was an encryption of their SS number, which anyone who knew the
formula could decrypt, the libertarian controversy raged again but nothing
This is the realpolitick of theory opposed to practice - In a different
context but still applicable here Deleuze said theory is not opposed to
practice, it is practice.
I imagine every country needs some apparatus to know if their citizens are
'legitimate' and, despite theories on the "rights of Man", how else to find
the glitcher's disturbing the social order? But there are still a few
Nomadic spirits in the US who want nothing to do with "Law, Institutions
and Contracts" (Deleuze). But it's a tough go here.
Anyway, the whole question of social control is an ancient bag of worms.
Foucault's statement about "leaving it to the police to see that our papers
are in order" leaves me with a ponder. How much control is needed and how
is it to be implemented? The history of Man is written around these
questions. Questions of Power/Knowledge, its "Use and Abuse".