Panopticon: The Ideal Social Order


Chris Carlson
English 1-53

"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, suppose 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 looks the police as the bad guys. Where would we be
without a police force? They are here to protect