Panopticism :

Chris Carlson

The Panopticon is a marvelous machine which whatever use one may wish to put it to produces homogenous effects of power. Panopticism is a style of controlling the individual and making him conform to the system. That system could refer to the police or the world as a whole. There is never a definite top position, therefore, everyone feels as if they are being monitored by someone else. It is for this reason that this disciplinary mechanism is so effective.

The Panopticon serves as a tool for discipline and a laboratory of power. The capabilities of a Panopticon are endless. It is the basis for the government while it could also aid in the criminal activities for the mafia. In the government there is a system of checks and balances where nothing can get accomplished without the authorization of a higher ranked official. Once these ideas are passed they are then imposed on the individuals of society by other organizations. Whether it be the police, the IRA, or a neighborhood watch group. The Panopticon can serve the public in many ways. It can defend a country, reform prisoners, treat the ill and educate the public. It does this by creating channels of power and distributing them to the individuals. In the Panopticon, no one individual shall be granted too much power so as to place his or her own values upon the masses. The concept behind Panopticism is the distribution of power in order to better society as a whole. The historical problems with power have proven, when it is unevenly distributed, those with the power take advantage and impose their values on the public. For instance, Hitler was given too much power and he massacred millions of innocent people. The Panopticon, on the other hand, serves to increase the wealth, welfare, education and spirituality of society. The Panopticon does punish but it does so in a means of reform. It attempts to restore the individual to a being that can be a productive and positive influence. The system has two main purposes, the distribution of power and the means of establishing discipline.

Every aspect of the world has the ideas and principles of Panopticism behind them. The world is full of intricate and complicated people. These people group together to create tribes, governments, countries and or civilizations. What are the rules? How are we, the most complicated form of life that we know of, supposed to act towards one another? The panoptic system has implemented itself upon the world. It has created a system where no one force can overcome the next without any serious implications. If our country had one person in complete control we would be in grave danger. What if this individual decided he didn't like people with blonde hair? If one was granted enough power he could round up all of those with blonde hair and execute them. The Panopticon prevents this. It forms a intricate network of the distribution of power so that one never feels that he can act without repercussions. This form of control goes so far as to question, how do we know that we are not being watched by other forms of life? Right now, as I write this paper there might be some other form of life monitoring my every action. Not to mention that our own government can follow us with the invention of satellites. This is why the system is ingrained so deeply within its society. No matter what level of society one is on he doesn't know if he is being watched.

The police force in our government is a prime example of Panopticism in our society. The police enforce discipline and they are given enough power to protect us from the ills of society. Yet they are not given too much so that they can control us. If an officer decides that he does not like an individual he has just arrested, the officer does not have the right to impose his own values upon the offender. He must act in accordance to a higher authority. If he disobeys this authority he is subject to disciplinary actions. The beauty of the system is that this officer never knows when he could get caught breaking the rules. Even though this officer upholds justice, he himself is subject to the laws he maintains. This is what makes the Panopticon so strong. The citizens of our society look the police as the bad guys.

Where would we be without a police force? They are here to protect those that are benefiting society. Just the fact that there is a police force acts as a deterrent to those who might be considering an illegal activity. This network of who is watching who one of the concepts is behind Panopticism and it is what makes the police force so successful. The Panopticon is a multi-functional form of organization. It serves as a distribution of power that provides, produces and protects the individuals contained within its' limits. It includes institutions such as a hospital, schoolhouse, government or even a prison. One might feel that each of these organizations have different objectives.

Panopticism shows that all of these forms of order have a unified purpose, to benefit any individual in society and help society by bettering that individual.

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