Re: madness

John Ransom's posting of the article from the Times on the fate of the
"mad" in our society is certainly pertinent to the study of Foucault.
I would add, for much the same reason, the article by Patricia J.
Williams from _The Nation_ (March 9, 1998) called "The Slough of
Despond." I cannot quote the whole piece here, but her take-off is
from an encounter with welfare recipients being lured into a program
to train them as prison guards (reported in the Wall Street Journal--where
else?) "a bold program to launch people straight from welfare into
demanding careers--as prison guards,' it is sponsored by what in another
era we might have thought of as an unholy alliance between the Department
of Corrections and the Department of Social Services, and is designed
to address a 30 percent growth in South Carolina's inmate population
since 1990." Williams goes on to observe "Prison expansion is the
fastest growing industry in the public sector of the American economy."
And as has been pointed out in several recent articles (references on
request), it is also a very fast-growing industry in the so-called
"private sector" -- the prison-for-profit movement may well realize
Bentham's ideal panopticon if allowed--the statistics clearly indicate
that as the profit motive kicks into the prisonmanagerialcomplex, the
incentive is to fill those beds (just as, macabrely, the hospital
industry needs to fill its beds at the same time the insurance companies
are forcing sick people to go home)-- so we have the spectacle of increasing
numbers of adolescents tried as adults as well as vastly increasing
groups of imprisoned though non-threatening individuals. The obsession
with control (observation videocameras more and more frequently installed,
police patrolling formerly public places--paradoxically "public" but
extensions of the private life, now neither public nor private but
observed and regimented) is only one of the forms of dementia afoot
among the polity as we approach the silliest reification -- the
"millenium" (remember all those times the Big Guy came down and
ended the world before--well, same as it ever was, here he comes
Tom Dillingham

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