Foucault 2: Government Surveillance & Prison | Philosophy Tube


Welcome back. In Part 1 we talked about French
philosopher Michel Foucault’s thesis that the penal system – that’s laws, policing, and survellance – exists not to prevent crime but to defend the power of the ruling class. And that was supposed to explain some of the odd and inconsistent ways we see those systems actually being applied in the real world. But in this Part 2 it’s time to learn about how he thinks the penal system defends the power of the ruling class – what is the mechanism there? And in order to understand that, we need to talk about Bentham. 18th and 19th Century English philosopher
Jeremy Bentham designed a hypothetical prison called the ‘Panopticon.’ The Panopticon is a circular prison with cells built into the circular wall and a central observation tower. From the tower you can see into every cell, and from each cell you can see that the tower is there. But the tower is designed with shutters and blinds so that the prisoners can’t see into it, they can only see that it’s there. So at any moment the prisoners can’t be sure that they’re being
watched but they know there’s a pretty good chance they might be. The name Panopticon is a reference
to Argus Panoptes, a mythological Greek giant with 100 eyes. And the upshot of this design, Bentham thought, is that the prisoners would bloody well behave themselves all the time! Just knowing that you’re visible, he thought, would be enough to keep you in line. You wouldn’t need whips or chains or truncheons – most of the time: you keep them in reserve, just in case. But most of the time the prisoners would regulate their own conduct. He thought that as far as possible the prisoners should actually be under 24/7 surveillance but the
great thing about the Panopticon’s design, he thought, is that even if you can’t quite manage that the prisoners are gonna behave themselves anyway because they don’t know whether or not they’re being watched 24/7. He also goes on at great length describing how the Panopticon could be privately run and profitable, which will be important in a second. What Foucault realised is that the Panopticon is more than a building. It’s the embodiment of a set of four principles. The first is
Pervasive Power: the tower sees into every cell and sees everything that goes on, so it can regulate everything. The second is Obscure Power: the tower sees into the cells, but the prisoners can’t see into the tower, and they can’t ever know when, how, or why they’re being observed. Third: direct violence is replaced by structural violence. Bentham makes a big deal about how you wouldn’t need chains or beatings – that prisoners would behave themselves “without being coerced.”
But what he doesn’t realise is that the structure of the Panopticon itself is coercive. It subjugates the prisoners just by being there. If you’d like to know more about the difference between direct violence and structural violence there are some links in the doobleydoo. The fourth principle is related: and that’s that working towards power’s goals is the only option available. Bentham thought that you could make the Panopticon profitable: you could make the prisoners work on whatever you wanted and then sell the things they make for profit if the only alternative was to sit in their cells and and eat bread and water. That’s taking the structural violence and using it for the benefit of those in power. By using these four principles the people
running the Panopticon can expand their power into every facet of the prisoners’ lives
and mould them into the kind of obedient workers that they want. The question they start with is, ‘What is good for me?’ not ‘What is good for the prisoners?’ or even, ‘Should
these people be prisoners in the first place?’ And because the Panopticon is a set of principles Bentham thought you could make a panoptic hospital, you could make a panoptic school, you could make a panoptic mental ward – And Foucault realised you could even make a panoptic country. There’s a connection between being seen
and being known. When we learn something we might say, “Oh, I see!” or if we don’t
understand: “I’m in the dark.” The more power knows, the more it sees into the prisoners’ cells, the more pervasive it becomes. So let’s shift now from the hypothetical to the real world. When Edward Snowden revealed that the US, UK, Australian, New Zealand, and Canadian governments were monitoring citizens’ phone calls and emails, and even forcing internet service providers to hand over personal information – why were they gathering all that data? Is there any reason to believe that all those people might be criminals? Six British journalists are currently suing the Metropolitan Police Force because they found they were on the Met’s ‘Domestic Extremism Watchlist.’ These
are political journalists: they take photos of political protests, a perfectly respectable job. I’ve even met some of them, they’re quite nice. But they found that their movements, their phone numbers, their addresses, even their clothing and medical records had all been noted on a police computer somewhere. Why? Last time we talked about the police stopping and searching people in the UK. If that happens to you the police may ask you for your name and address, even though you’re not always actually required to give them that information. So why do they ask? Well, the official answer to all these is that it’s hard to tell a criminal from a normal person and some
investigation techniques, especially those that rely on technology, are unfortunately a little bit blunt. And yeah, Ok, maybe that’s part of it. But Foucault would say that all that surveillance serves the ulterior purpose of expanding power. Allowing it to see further into the prisoners’ cells and regulate what it finds there. That last one, stop and search, might also serve the purpose of reminding you that the tower is there. In the UK less than half of all stop and searches end in an arrest and you are much more likely to get stopped and searched if you’re a black or minority ethnic person – that is explained if the purpose of stop and search is more about reminding you that the police are watching and less to do with actually catching criminals. If you are in the UK and you want to know more about your rights with stop and search – what kinds of things you have to tell the police and what you don’t have to tell them – the London Campaign Against Police & State Violence is a great resource. Links
in the doobleydoo. Remember, you don’t have to forget legitimate
security concerns – you can be a police officer or work for MI5 and still read
Foucault! You can be an anarchist or police abolitionist and still read Foucault! What he’s reminding us is that surveillance is necessarily a form of control. Some people say that when it comes to government surveillance the good have nothing to fear, but Foucault argues that if you’re being surveilled that is necessarily opposed to your freedom. And it’s never politically neutral. If the people who design and staff the tower in the Panopticon are sexist, racist, transphobic, ableist, against sex workers, are particularly fond of capitalism, or whatever, then the Panopticon itself and the behaviours that it enforces on its prisoners will reflect that. Foucault calls the penal system, “A subtle, calculated technology of subjection.” If you’re having conversations in your class about this, or you’re writing comments, you might wanna think about how could we dismantle panoptic structures and replace them with alternative law enforcement strategies; do we need to do that? Do you agree with Foucault? Do you think that he’s right? And would changing who sits in the tower necessarily make a Panoptic system better? I always need help paying the bills and giving away free education so Patreon.com/PhilosophyTube is where you can just give a tiny bit each month and that really really helps me out. Alterantively if you can’t do a regular donation I have a tip jar at PayPal.me/PhilosophyTube; it’s like putting a hat round at the end of a lecture.
And as always don’t forget to subscribe!

Maurice Vega

100 Responses

  1. This ties in so well with your Racism, Law, and Politics videos, in particular the notion of race as a tool designed to preserve power. The US allows slavery of those convicted of crimes so it could criminalize Black people and continue with business as usual.

  2. This is such a useful channel. You have no idea how many of my politics essays you have helped me pass simply by having a space where you discuss things like this. Thank you for your hard work!

  3. Again, by providing explanations based on the end result (e.g. stop and search doesn't always work, so this serves to remind you and reinforce power) you end up with some odd claims, and I'm not sure these explanations add anything.

    In a for-profit prison, you need to have prisoners so you can charge the state costs. If I work as a nurse in a prison, and I save an inmate's life, my actions help the prison charge money by having to house that inmate. So it could be said that I am 'serving power's interests' or that I am 'complicit in power structures' or that 'power works through my actions'. But this is all silly, I'm just saving someone's life, someone who is in a prison for committing a crime. We can debate about the ethics of for-profit prisons and why the inmate is there in the first place, but none of this shows that you've somehow discovered something about power we all need to be aware of when I save someone's life.

    These discussions and concepts are vague, they're ambiguous, and it's hard to find any consensus on when something meaningful is being said vs when something is just being reframed into new words without adding any new information. There's a reason analytic philosophers don't spend much time on this (and no, it isn't because power told them not to).

  4. So Santa Claus is a panoptic structure for children? After all, we do tell kids:

    You better watch out,
    You better not cry,
    You better not pout,
    I'm telling you why:
    Santa Claus is coming to town!

    He's making a list,
    And checking it twice,
    Gonna find out who's naughty or nice.
    Santa Claus is coming to town!

    He sees you when you're sleeping,
    He knows when you're awake.
    He knows when you've been bad or good,
    So be good for goodness sake!

    Maybe it is this childhood indoctrination to the concept of Santa Claus (or gods, or whatever omnipotent concept exists in the society one grows up in) that causes us as adults to change our behavior when we think we're being observed. Would our behavior while being observed change as adults if we'd never known of such concepts as kids?

  5. Great episode!
    I was wondering if you had ever considered making an episode (or series) on phenomenology? That would be fascinating.

  6. Is there a system of governance that doesn't rely on the threat of violence? I don't think there is. I think what matters is that we are presumed innocent until there's reason to believe otherwise, have a reasonable expectation of privacy and are given the benefit of the doubt when evidence is lacking. Where you draw those lines is up to you based on how much freedom you want vs how much security you want.
    Clearly there's a point where our desire for freedom far outweighs our need for security or we'd all be volunteering to live in solitary confinement.

  7. It's impossible to get away from panoptic structures. Anyone who knows how to Google can probably find my home address within an hour. I think the question we should be asking is:
    "Given that at least some fundamental panopic structures are practically inescapable, is there a way to eliminate human biases from panoptic structures entirely? How should they be regulated? Is there a way to regulate crime in a way that makes it so the citizens don't have to fear the cameras, and have them only be there for surveillance?
    After all, when I walk into a bank I know I'm being watched from every angle, and yet I don't feel oppressed by the cameras. Why can't that be the case for entire countries and governments?

    The simple solution would obviously be "put an idealized being in the tower. Someone who is not prejudiced, perfectly logical, perfectly empathetic…."
    …suddenly I understand the entire concept of religious institutions.

    And that makes sense: why do some belief systems inspire fear and hatred, while others inspire hope and love? Because their interpretation of how God acts, how the man in the tower acts, changes the way they behave.

    Who is in the tower, and who the prisoners believe is in the tower, changes not only how prisoners are treated, but also how they act. Who knows? Maybe a sufficiently kind head of the prison would make prisoners feel like they aren't watched.

    I think panoptic structures, much like religious institutions and states, are neither inherently good nor bad. But if you don't treat them carefully they can mess up badly, and if you get someone in power who believes in "vanquishing the evildoers", then you better run, cause that's authoritarianism.

  8. A while ago I asked you which neuroscience book I should read. You replied that you had no idea and I should let you know if I find a good one. Long story short: "Incognito" by David Eagleman is an easy read which contains much knowledge. It also has a segment about the prison system and how it should be. You definitely should read it. Currently I'm all about to read "phantoms in the brain" by V.S. Ramachandran. I'll message you my oppinion afterwards.

  9. The tower would be more effective if there was a way to broadcast somebodies wrong.
    I fear this constantly when expressing myself on the internet. The state and corporations are only towers within the tower of the public now.
    If a Panopticon government is not consistent or too punishing no reasonable prisoner would comply with it.
    but a angry crowd does not need or desire to hold onto the power it just react to something they dislike.

  10. On the other hand, 4chan. There's a difference I think between being observed by law enforcement and being observed by anyone at all.

  11. Upon first exposure to the idea of the Panopticon it was pretty evident that Western governments had clearly taken the lesson to heart. And the thing is, fear-mongering by politicians has enabled it to a larger degree than almost anything else. We the citizens (or at least the majority thereof) have practically demanded it of our governments, especially post-9/11.

    Dismantling such a pervasive and even popular system at this stage would require a dramatic shift in education. So many happily sacrifice their privacy for trivialities of convenience (Facebook, etc) that the very idea that privacy was once something valued and adamantly protected by all is starting to seem archaic in the minds of the young, especially in the US where government doesn't seem to care much about consumer protection anymore at a policy level.

  12. Just wanted to say that I don't think the occurrence of panopticon like structures in societies necessarily serves a purpose for any particular individuals or groups exactly, which I think you were implying (I don't mean to put words in your mouth so sorry if thats the case). I think its more akin to a natural law in the same way that wealth tends to become more unequally distributed over time without intervention.

    That is to say, I don't think there are many individuals out there that see the panopticon society as a good thing. But for those people whose job it is to increase levels of security, and find patterns in behaviour associated with criminal (from their point of view) activity, the incentives are stacked in such a way that the decisions that lead to a more panopticon-like structure are more preferable for that decision maker. However, because these decisions tend to accrue more power to the people in a position to make them, we get a kind of feedback loop in which the panoptic power stucture grows indefinitely without robust checks and balances or in the worst case-scenario, violent revolution at the cost who knows how many lives.

    I suppose that in times and places in which there is an elevated perception – illusory or not – of threat, society as a whole gives more freedom and resources to those decision makers and we get a more panoptic society as a result. And at the individual level, we maybe devote more of our limited cognitive and physical capacity to achieving safety and that would also be a cog in that particular machine.

    Mostly speculation but I think there's something more accurate (that's not the word, but I can't think of a better one – appropriate?) about that way of thinking about it.

  13. So, I can't help but notice that the idea of an omniscient God is sort of the ultimate Panopticon. God sees everything you do, judges you based on your actions, and has the power to punish you for anything He deems to be misbehavior. It's no wonder that religious organizations have such a strong hold over people, and it's one reason I think religions like Christianity can be so harmful to the mental health of their adherents.

  14. Thank you for one of the most interesting conversations about decriminalization and surveillance I've seen in quite a while! I know it's uncommon to hear from someone sincerely questioning their own beliefs in social media spaces, so I'm particularly happy to admit that I feel this conversation has really problematized some of my views on surveillance! I look forward to brushing up on my Bentham and my Foucault, and giving this one a very thorough thinking through.

  15. Hey oli, love your work. Why, under Foucault's interpretation, should hate crimes be punished? It seems most hate crimes, more or the less, strengthening the ruling class

  16. Thanks for these two vids on prison/punishment, they're excellent. I'll definitely be watching them again, taking notes, and using these vids for educating students (and my right wing family members who are all about that retributive justice!). Cheers from across the pond!

  17. this is what jehovahs witnesses do. their religious system is set up so that everyone feels watched and so they all behave according to the strict cult rules of the religion at all times. it's damaging.

  18. So my theatre history professor is a huge Foucault fan and talked about him, Bentham and the panopticon in relation to melodrama in (I think) the 18th or 19th century, but it was all way too dense for me to ever understand. Thank you for helping me to understand a little more, and making me more interested in the subject. Cheers.

  19. I felt that this discussion of Foucault is incomplete without two important points: (1) That this sort of panopticon-induced self-policing is not itself restricted to just the legal system; and (2) That this self-policing not only controls people, but also normalizes them and their behavior.

    Normalization of people and behaviors bleeds into non-judicial branches, including and especially (but not limited to) the psychiatric field. Foucault wrote a lot about how the medical field pathologizes behavior — both that deemed criminal and that deemed non-criminal — as an extension of this panopticon-esque self-policing. He talked quite a bit about the medicalization of the judicial field and how the two fields started to blur together, the effect of which was a more effective means of establishing control and normalization. If people view certain behaviors as abnormal, they will choose for themselves not to engage in them, which is a more effective means of control than direct violence. Thus by pathologizing certain behaviors, such as homosexuality, the psychiatric community can effectively cause people to not engage in that behavior (structural violence as more effective than direct violence). This turns them into "normal" (read: desirous and productive to the ruling powers) citizens.

    And this brings us into how the function of both judicial and extra-judicial panopticons is really about enforcing a standard of conformity. Structural violence against queer people, disabled people, and people of color causes them to seek to normalize their own behaviors and their own attitudes, such as how some queer people engage in deeply queerphobic rhetoric and practices or how some people of color will bleach their skin or undergo surgery to appear more white and thereby meet a white-centric beauty standard. But it's not only the people whose behaviors and identities are marginalized who engage in this self-policing; it affects everyone in the society. No one wants to be pathologized or othered, and so we all police our own expressions of identity, like prisoners in Bentham's panopticon.

    And I feel that this latter point — that we not only make ourselves more productive to the Powers That Be but normalize ourselves — is especially important given Foucault's status as (a) A man who had sex with other men, and (b) A founder of queer theory.

    The idea that we as people, consciously or not, police our ideas, behaviors, and identities — that we in essence police ourselves — to normalize them (and ourselves) is a backbone for a lot of contemporary queer theory. And it's one that rings true to at least my own experiences as a queer person. And I think it would apply to Foucault's lived experience as a queer man living in much more openly oppressive times than the present day. So while I do like this video, I think those are essential points and that you should have brought them up.

  20. I'm a philosophy student myself (third year) but my degree also has other topics. I've actually been studying about the Panopticon in correlation with cyber culture and psychoanalysis. It's fascinating! Great video as per usual, I recommend your channel all the time 🙂

  21. For those interested in structural violence I will also strongly recommend David Graeber's "The Utopia of Rules: On Technology, Stupidity and the Secret Joys of Bureaucracy".

  22. Hey Olly, could u let me know how I can contact you? You made a big mistake explaining Foucault, especially in the 1st video and I would like to discuss it with you in detail.

  23. This seems to apply everywhere — grading systems in schools, omnipresent security cameras, even social media to an extent. I wonder, though, if that's necessarily bad. After all, without systems of incentives and disincentives, it's nearly impossible to get large amounts of people to follow through with difficult long-term undertakings (education especially). Even excluding mandatory follow-through, it's still important for us to make accurate records of what people do (transcripts, resumés, etc.), and these papers are, to a certain extent, panoptic.

    How might one distinguish between helpful and harmful panopticons? Is it merely picking and choosing which aspects of our own society we think are worth forcing on others? Or are there varying degrees of violence in panopticons, some of which are acceptable and some of which aren't?

  24. the beautiful thing is. We the people (should) make the law, so the survaillance there to ensure everybody, that is, the people who made the rules, stick to their own rules. In that case all the survaillance is very useful to everybody. In the prison it's the guards against the inmates. Outside the prison it is the common people checking other common people.

    Let's put it the other way around. We made a set of rules in a country and people don't stick to the rules (by stealing our car for instance). Without the survaillance (like having the car linked to your name) the thief could get away. With survaillance, yes, common people know what car you drive, but they won't care, you are just doing your thing. But when your car gets stolen, it can easily be found and the thief gets punished

  25. I'm definitely against excessive government surveillance, but it sounds like you made a bit of a leap. You first explain how power can be exercised through surveillance, or the possibility of surveillance. Then you bring up the fact that there has been shady government surveillance going on, and you seem to imply a link. But that surveillance was supposed to be secret, so how could it have been intended kept anyone in line in this penoptic manner?

  26. You mentioned, I think it was 3 times; that minorities get stopped and searched more than whites, well, men get stopped more than women too; because men commit more crimes. Just look at the USA, they keep records of what races commit which crimes, and black commit 60 percent of the murders, even though they're only 13 percent of the population, crimes like rape follow similar patterns.

    Don't you think it's useful for people to know why certain people get profiled, so people don't just think it's blind hatred due to their skin colors?

    pls respond

  27. I would like to add that surveillance is not done just by organizations (such as the government or private companies), but also by society itself. If the cultural hegemony is racist, sexist, anti-LGBT, classist, etc, the mere knowledge that people might be watching you "in particular" for being black, female, trans, poor, etc, serves as a kind of surveillance on its own.

    I know that goes a bit beyond the scope of the penal system, but it's worth pointing out that institucionalized surveillance is just a part of the big picture.

    These Foucault videos are the perfect introduction to Olly's videos about race and racialization.

  28. Hi,I really like how you explained the topic, I have one doubt though.This obviously may not apply for all cases but can't public surveillance be a great way of collecting factual information that can be used in favour of individuals,for example for tracing scams or preventing terrorist attacks.I mean off course goverments(or single politicians :o) may be using part of this surveillance with a political or controlling approach in mind but can't public surveillance policies also be partly motivated by the wellbeing of people? This leads to another question if individuals acknowledge and allow public surveillance as a means to improving their security and reject this political/controlling approach wouldn't that be freedom? Note: Excuse my english, Im from Perú,also love your vids man

  29. So you want to know how to break through the power structure of the panopticon? Start by critically and precisely identifying the power structure, its origins, its means for maintaining itself, and finally its aim(s). Essentially you conduct a historical investigation. If anyone is really interested in understanding the current power structure at present I very highly recommend an excellent film titled "Communism by The Backdoor" by Dennis Wise. It is one of the most revelatory documentaries I have ever seen (the other being "Adolf Hitler: The Greatest Story NEVER Told"). Best wishes to all!

  30. There is a word in English called "personal space ". Loosing that can affect ones mental health . It's not about fear of getting exploited by men in power (which is inevitable fate for almost every human being on earth including those in power too).. we evolved as social animal and so we enjoy getting people's attention but on the other hand we desire theirs acceptance and so we constantly try to project better (little bit of fake) part of ourselves .

    As a kid When my class teacher asked why I don't want to become president of India. I had only one reply that I hated being constantly surrounded and watched by security guards, and who likes ones privacy being invaded although doing nothing illegal.

  31. Hi Ollie,
    I think a few years ago there were stories coming out of UK about the police having arrest and speeding ticket targets. The idea of targets on policing always rubbed me the wrong because I think it gives an incentive for miscarriages of justice by the police. If we accept that the job of the of the penal system is to defend the ruling class ( still trying to formulate my own opinion on the idea and intend to read more) what role, do you think that miscarriages of justice play in the penal system in defending the ruling class. Get the feeling you might have spoken about this in another video but I'm not sure.

    Also I just want to thank you for making these videos, I have recently became more politically aware (would hesitate to say active since I don't really do anything) and I consider myself on the center-left. However, your videos have really helped broaden my understanding of lots of political issues in our country (I'm from the UK too) and helped me see the dangers of having a wishy-washy centrist positions on issues of equality and power.

    P.S. Even though the Tories have lost a lot of ground in the polls, this election is terrifying.

  32. Religion installed a virtual panoptic structure by telling people there is an invisible man watching them. Worked out damn well for religion. (Not so much for all the people slaughtered to fight about religion.)

  33. Only 12k views? Only ~10% of you subscribers?
    Way is that? This was a good video, It should at least have the same number of views as you have subscribers.
    And if we only count the population that consider English to be a every day langruge, at least 500 milion people. There must be more than 12k people that would like to know more about Foucault, surveillance and prison.
    So why do youtube not percent this video to people?
    I am not saying that they are hiding behind "the algoritme" and that they do not want people to ponder about surveillance between watching cat videos, but I am differently not saying that they want people to ponder over surveillance between watching cat videos.

    Keep up the good work, I will add Foucault to my wishlist on audible, thanks for that, and sorry by the lov view count, it deserves much more.

    uhhh. A cat on a roomba with…

  34. This kind of reminded me of idea of God in a couple of ways. Always watching. Seeing you but you can't see him/her. Knowing this leads you to want to always make good decisions because you know there is punishment (hell) waiting for you if not. Just a quick thought that was on my mind. I know it differs a bit from what he is saying in the video. Also, this is not to bash any believers.

  35. It'd be nice if you included the third dispositive as well, these two vids seem to focus on the first two.

  36. amazingly enough many prisoners do not care about this surveillance,these are people not known for exceptional impulse control.

  37. Those inside the tower are all ex-prisoners, who believe that this was the only alternative to the cell. But they don't see that the fear of being sent back controls them just as effectively.

  38. Pt2 even better. Thank you. I have a really difficult time reading Foucault – perhaps now I can try again. Any suggestion from you which book is a good place to start?

  39. The less people believe theay are surveilled from heavens (by God), the more they will be surveilled from the "Panopticon".

  40. What if existence of the tower is enough to create the tension of being surveillance even though there might be no one in the tower then can we say that we don't really need any real physical surveillance but to make a situation or phenomenon to make the person feel as if he is being watched. For example, not crossing red light even if we can see there is no car passing by and there is no chance of accident.

  41. I think that all prisoners should be locked up together even if their crime was a big crime I think they should be evaluated and was it self-defense or wasn't that cold blood murder cuz I self defense and somebody kill somebody and they were trying to save their life they get locked up with this real hard like criminals and get raped and beat up and that's just not fair I mean drug at drug addicts and drug dealers the ones who end up selling drugs because they just needed some quick money it's stupid yes but I didn't have a record and you know that they're not in the game they should be locked up you are in a lot of people life but I have family member who's locked up each other stupid mistakes never really did anything drug sale I'm not saying it's good or anything cuz it's not but sometime when they come out in the store to hold your per person do not know how to live out in society can't get a job and then I'm going back for some more stupid stuff I'm Auto texting so this thing probably all checked up early in the morning and I'm tired but I'm up

  42. What if we sit in the tower? What if the apparatus of the surveillance state is run by the public directly? Its extent equally controlled by them?

  43. I mean at least with stuff like the NSA and other forms of surveillance you can avoid them, to some extent. Unless you completely stop using anything that isn't on the dark web you'll be surveilled but you can do things like use Linux or an encrypted browser.

  44. Ok good, you get to the point of Panopticism. But the point about Panopticism isn't just about government surveillance…you know what, I'll send you an email about this

  45. I don't even think those in authority know they even perpetuate this.Like puppets, they advance the surveillance state agenda and will ultimately be the victims of it like everyone else.That sounds like a paranoid conspiracy theory but its so crazy that its not.

  46. Do you have any sources about the 4 principles of the panopticon or somewhere where I can read more about it? Thanks

  47. how important do people think it is that the power tower (TM) in the case of mass surveillance wasnt visible? and that they wanted it kept that way?

  48. I learnt about this in a lecture on cultural theories. It's pretty creepy if you think about it.

  49. Dude, I am a philosopher and I teach on Foucault. I just want to say that your channel is really good. I really applaud this work. You explain it well, your own ideas are great and I think the editing is not halfway bad.
    All the best to you.

    Greetings from Rotterdam (NL)

    Leonhard de Paepe

  50. The usefulness for the working class to be imprisoned, especially POC, for those in power is not just simply the slave labor it creates in the form of prison labor. Removing those imprisoned from the voting roles is another way imprisonment is "useful" to those in power. It is part of the new Jim Crow in the United States.
    Corporations profiting off of incarceration is not limited to the disgraceful privately run prisons. Corporations benefit tremendously from government run prisons and incarceration as well.There are many companies that sell supplies to run the prison (from uniforms to plastic cutlery) to various correction departments at the state and federal level.

  51. I will never forget the face of my middle school art teacher, possibly the most respected teacher by the students at that time, the afternoon it was his duty to monitor after school detention. He walked in late, looked at us with an angry face full of disgust, slammed a thin folder of papers on the front desk, then said something like, ''I have to take roll then you'll work for a little while and we'll all go home.'' After sitting down he said, ''This is ridiculous they make you stay after school.'' He didn't say anything after roll, never smiled once during the entire detention, and just read a newspaper the whole time. At that moment, and not a moment earlier, I began to question authority and probably unknowingly started leaning towards Foucault's philosophies.

    I heard he died this year so R.I.P. Larry Woodson

  52. All these techniques of control seem a lot more evident in totalitarian societies like China , USSR, Cuba , North Korea, however this theory seems to disregard this reality and focus on democratic societies.

  53. Thanks! I was telling my roommate that in class I was learning about Foucault's thoughts on the Panopticon and they said, "Oh, I think Philosophy Tube has some videos on that!" Extra information is always helpful.

  54. One thing about authoritarianism is the arbitrary and disproportionate use of power. Authoritarian leaders view laws as tools to control the masses and authoritarian followers love to see the “others” in the 99% smacked down. The authoritarian government of our future will choose their victims often not by what they have done, but by who they are. Since the authoritarian corporate/government power “knows everything” people will believe the tRümped up charges against the enemies/victims of the corporate/government power structure. Kkkangaroo kkkourts will be kept hopping in a media cirkkkus for the entertainment of the tRümpenproletariat and the terrorization and infuriation of the rest of the 99%.

  55. I think it's a balancing act. Too much surveillance ie. Stalinist USSR, N Korea or Nazi Germany, and freedom vanishes and people get murdered by the state. Too little, like the reduction in Stop and Search, and people get murdered on the street and freedom vanishes.

  56. Wouldn't the people doing the surveillance get board with watching the prisoners or the people they are required to watch? I remember talking with a Russian guy who was required to survey private phone calls during the soviet times. I thought, Christ, that would be the most boring job out there. To listen in on people's private conversations. Or am I just naive?
    I also wonder how much paranoia plays into this?

  57. one of the better niche feelings in life is hearing a word in a Joanna Newsom song and then having it explained by Philosophy Tube

  58. Came here because I just got a vinyl of Isis' album Panopticon in the mail and read a quote by Foucault on the jacket. Came here for more. Interesting stuff. Thanks Olly.

  59. Utilitarianism was the greatest ideology of power ever constructed. We should all marvel at like, like how Medievals would marvel before Satan's horrific majesty.

  60. I grew up in a cult-family, and I was watched and monitored a lot.
    This actually made me realise further how much it is hard, to grow without privecy. People who didn't had their information used against them don't know how scary it is to have people much stronger being able to do things, just because.
    Part of my way to deal with this is to keep the secret amount minimal, but it requires people to be ok with others being unlike them.

  61. Hi, thanks for another great video. As an undergrad, I'm really inspired by your videos but would love to know if you have tips of having a broad and deep level of knowledge, when you have to balance it with university reading lists, plus usual social/life commitments (not necessarily going out, but I think we can all agree that a night of wine and netflix can be considered a bit of a life remedy!). I'm so inspired by the breadth/depth of knowledge you have, and would love to be able to think similarly and apply it to my studies.

  62. Personally i know those things from the criminally underrated series PERSON OF INTEREST, which had those topics explicit suvelience from social media, any electric tool with a wifi ever, … and even the slogan you are being watched. That was pre snowden reveal which proves it was common knowledge already for those interested. It also is exploring various philosophies and dilemmas while being fun and having impressive production quality, acting and writing.
    Snowden was maybe leaking it, but it has already known by savy experts. Good for him making it public, public, but i find the series better, and more entertaining at tackling that while being semi realistic. Basically the entertaining approach. They go throughly that the government spies on us too, and why we should be scared of super ais.

  63. You explained Panopticon better than any A-Level English teacher talking about surveillance in Hamlet than I've ever seen

  64. I think there is a bit of a dilemma surrounding information. It's only as good as the way you use it.
    Giving information about you to somebody else gives them power over you. Surveillance is a form of forcefully taking information from somebody.
    And that is a scary thought and can be and has been abused throughout history in horrifying ways.
    But it also can and did help with shaping reforms to the better.
    More effective ways to help people. (flipside: to harm them).
    The ability to organize protests (flipside: to squash them).
    So I'd say, yeah, it kinda does depend on who is sitting in that tower. But also who the people in prison think is sitting in the tower. I think if you partially remove the obscuring effect – it's not necessary to know whether you're being watched, but, running on the assumption that you are being watched, at least you should be able to tell who that watcher would currently be. Don't ask me how to actually implement that though. I have no idea. – but anyway if you add at least sufficient transparency, that very much changes the picture.
    It's still a kind of monstrous design though. Because, at least as stated, the prisoners don't have any control at all over who's sitting in there. If they could choose that, it'd already be a better situation…

    Ok I see where I'm going with this (No I didn't when I started this comment) – basically, it's nice if you change every single aspect about it that makes it not nice. Well d'uh.
    Anyway, my original point was going to be, information is a dangerous but useful weapon. And I'm really not sure what would be the right way to aggregate said information. I think it's necessary to obtain information to "do the right thing", but it's also sufficient for deliberately "doing the wrong thing", morally speaking. But how far can we go with this information gathering? What kind of information is fair game to just, basically, forcibly take? What should be opt-in or opt-out? Is there information that should be completely private under all circumstances? Like, stuff an individual might know that, if they reveal those facts to other individuals, they should be punished for doing so? None of those questions, to me, have a clear answer and I'm really not sure where I even stand on that.
    It's easy to say Privacy Always Wins and I prefer that stance as, basically, a default. It's definitely superior to the opposite where People In Power know literally everything about you without you having any say in the matter at all. But I don't think it's the be-all-end-all. I think there might be room for some information that a state has a right for, in so far as it can use that information to improve the general population's status. It must not, however, abuse that information to harm its population. How to enforce this is a different question though…
    Ok that was unnecessarily rambly. I hope it's clear enough anyway.

  65. Thank you, Philosophy Tube. Here is a like from me. I will share so that others can watch as well.
    Cheers!

  66. I wonder if the tower is always bad. For example, taxes.when you do your taxes, the government sees all your stuff, but gives you cuts for certian kinds of behavior – having kids, using nicotine aids, installing solar panels. And is any of that bad?

  67. It didn't occur to me until right now that I know more about Jeremy Bentham's corpse than I did about his life and that it might be worth actively changing that. Thank you.

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