In our first post we discussed Michel Foucault's philosophy of power in history, exploring how he used Utilitarian philosopher Jeremy Bentham's idea for a "Panopticon" prison represented a new "diagram" or model of social control. He called this practice of enclosure, observation and training "disciplinary power," based on collecting knowledge (rather than the violent "sovereign power" of Kings):
When Foucault's major work Discipline and Punish was re-released in 1991, it came with a new afterward by his friend and fellow philosopher Gilles Deleuze (1925-1995). Deleuze identified the model of "free-floating control" that he thought had come to rule in the postmodern era, expanding the disciplinary model's regulations into a network of information-gathering mechanisms maintained by universal data surveillance (make sure to watch the linked video). This is similar to what we see in the film when Project Insight's algorithm calculates a person's "threat level" based on all of the information it can find about them: as the corrupt Agent tells the Captain, "THE 21st CENTURY (i.e. the postmodern era) IS A DIGITAL BOOK. [WE LEARNED] HOW TO READ IT. Your bank records, medical histories, your voting patterns, emails, phone calls, your damn SAT scores!" Download and read this two-page document with an except from the essay and a age of commentary with examples.
Then post a response to one or both of the following questions:
1. Do you agree with Deleuze that our postmodern/digital era has become a kind of universal, data-driven panopticon? Cite examples to support your position (focus especially on what he say about schools).
2. Is it possible to find, as he puts it, "new weapons" to fight this evolving system of control? We might not have Captain America's super strength ("specimen!"), but, as Hannah Arendt reminded us, we all have the power of thought. Is there any way that thinking can help? Or are we better off accepting how things are?