Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Bentham's Panopticon

More philosophical meandering...

Much hysteria and over-reaction has been bandied over the past 2 days regarding big government and the like. It is to be expected.

I note a veritable avalanche of news (planted or not) that seeks to demonstrate constant government infringement on the private lives of citizens (from national identity cards to cameras in national forest campgrounds to the ever-increasing hold of municipalities, state, and Federal governments to levy taxes). I am currently looking to the sky to see if Black Helicopters are performing malicious fly-bys or more helpful leaflet drops here in my native Chicago.

Well, not really.

It is an unfortunate axiom that POWER NEVER SUBSIDES. Once unleashed, institutions, bureaucracies, committees, businesses, etc. do not voluntarily concede territory. They become the institutional equivalent of a species that wishes to propagate itself. This activity is clearly non-exclusive to Government. The wonderful counter valence to this is that most large organizations have no idea what they are doing.

Jeremy Bentham created the Panopticon (surely George Orwell/Eric Blair read about this) in order to control prison populations. However, the practical result of his invention was a paradigm change. Instead of punishing prisoners physically, the state now exerted control over their minds. The constant surveillance, or threat of same, was something totally different from what Bentham envisioned. In today's age of instantaneous information, we should all be aware of the parallels and dangers of Bentham's Panopticon.

Again, POWER NEVER SUBSIDES VOLUNTARILY. It is unnatural. Once created, any organism seeks to vent itself upon the world. The mirror of this is the need for humans to manufacture enemies in times of uncertainty...and those enemies whose combat requires very little effort will be favored by most. It is very EASY to assign conspiracy theories and narratives to the current tempest.

Goodness...I think I just paraphrased Nietzsche. Good night all.

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