Re: Surveillance and discipline

>I wonder how much of the crisis of discipline, which various
>correspondants have noticed, has to do with the fiscal crisis of the
>state, and of Western economies as a whole. Like so much of the
>"anti-liberal" thought of the '60s and early '70s, Foucault's theories
>were unreflexibly rooted in the relative economic boom of that period. In
>considering the possibilities for transcending the disciplinary system,
>he seems to have been inclined to favor "limit experiences" of one sort
>(literary) or another (popular justice.) What he did not consider, and
>what I think we may have paid insufficient attention to, is that the
>diwciplinary infrastructure may be dismantled like the highway
>infrastructure, a part of a general breakdown of "governmentation."

Yes, it may be dismantled, but it's not very likely. Even in times of
fiscal crisis, it's much more likely that this infrastructure would undergo
gradual changes and, in the future, one would think that one had a
completely different infrastructure than before (a notion which, of course,
Foucault's negative geneaologies are meant to deconstruct).

Right now (as evidenced in the most recent election campaigns), as a result
of the most recent financial slump and the increasing hype in the media
about crime (often contrary to the facts), the rhetoric of critiquing the
belief in the reformability of prisoners/the insane (which manifests itself
in the media primarily in the mouths of politicians enraged about
"defendant as victim (of society)" defenses) has intersected with the
rhetoric of "pork" (i.e. critique of big government, needless "liberal"
programs) and has resulted in elimination of various expenses, from
midnight basketball to beds for prisoners. But this intersection is not
something new;the question is whether this type of rhetoric is now extreme
enough that it evidences a qualitative and not just a quantitative change
now occurring in our nation's (as well as Western Europe's) penal system.
Nils Christie (CRIME CONTROL AS INDUSTRY) makes a good case for the
position that the amount of pain we administer is changing qualitatively.
P.S. It is interesting to note that a judge in Tennessee (I think) has
given permission for TV stations to broadcast an execution (the decision is
currently under appeal). I myself believe as well that this decision does
indeed harken back to the times of Damiens.

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