[-empyre-] the netopticon

marc garrett marc.garrett at furtherfield.org
Tue Jan 11 23:19:16 EST 2011

Hello Johannes & all,

First I would like to make clear (even though everyone probably knows 
this) that, neoliberlism is now an intrinsic part of the shift and creep 
of the panoptican, as well as what (Shoshan) suggests as "Netopticon", a 
socially networked Panoptic apparatus, as mentioned by Simon in his 

One of the most clearest definitions I have read on neoliberalism so 
far, is by Pierre Bourdieu.

"And yet the world is there, with the immediately visible effects of the 
implementation of the great neoliberal utopia: not only the poverty of 
an increasingly large segment of the most economically advanced 
societies, the extraordinary growth in income differences, the 
progressive disappearance of autonomous universes of cultural 
production, such as film, publishing, etc. through the intrusive 
imposition of commercial values, but also and above all two major 
trends. First is the destruction of all the collective institutions 
capable of counteracting the effects of the infernal machine, primarily 
those of the state, repository of all of the universal values associated 
with the idea of the public realm. Second is the imposition everywhere, 
in the upper spheres of the economy and the state as at the heart of 
corporations, of that sort of moral Darwinism that, with the cult of the 
winner, schooled in higher mathematics and bungee jumping, institutes 
the struggle of all against all and cynicism as the norm of all action 
and behaviour." The essence of neoliberalism. UTOPIA OF ENDLESS 
EXPLOITATION. Pierre Bourdieu. 

Combining this with Foucault's comments from Discipline and Punish 
"...'Discipline' may be identified neither with an institution nor with 
an apparatus; it is a type of power, a modality for its exercise, 
comprising a whole set of instruments, techniques, procedures, levels of 
application, targets; it is a 'physics' or an 'anatomy' of power, a 

The structures in place, show us that there is a mixture of engineered 
composites, and they have been entwined within our individual states or 
nations for a long time. Yet, because of the various ingredients already 
in place and the behaviours around managerial functionalities, producing 
and supporting these mechanised processes, whether consciously or not; 
we are left with a networked administration that sits seperate of 
governments and even some smaller businesses, but at the same time it is 
an international non-regulated tool, which can bring about powerful 
shifts and changes in everyday life, through systems connecting to 
surveillance and the Netopticon. A rather complex mix of objects, agents 
and networks exploiting and connecting via functional means with mediums 
such as digital networks, social media and the Internet across the board.

A form of meta-power that only respects itself and the languages and 
facilities which abide and respect its functions. The ingredients that 
contribute to this are (I am sure there are more), as Foucault says 
'discipline', as Christina astutely mentions 'efficiency' and the ever 
expansive networked lurker in the background, watching us all 'the all 
seeing eye', with data collection and active and general digital 

"Technology is becoming more advanced and the administration of this 
technology is becoming more sophisticated and soon, every car in the 
street will be considered and treated as persons, with human rights. 
This is not a conspiracy to enslave human beings, it is a result of 
having to develop usable administration systems for complex 
relationships. Slaves were not liberated because their owners felt sorry 
for them, slaves were given more rights as a way to manage them more 
productively in a more technologically advanced society." Heath Bunting. 
>From an interview - The Status Project: Data-Mining Our Identities. 

It is also interesting that you mention PCSO Watch's statement "We are 
all Police now". In light of the recent and outragous US demands that 
Twitter hand over data on Wikileaks and multiple Wikileaks supporters. 
"Mr Assange condemned the court order on Saturday, saying it amounted to 
harassment." http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-12141530

This tactic of scaring everyday people not to support Wikileaks, is not 
a new approach. In fact, the UK used similar attacks on the unemployed, 
by asking anyone who suspects that someone is 'working on the side' as 
well as receiving unemployment benefits, should inform the authorities. 
This tactic of harassment and exploiting the public's situation, of 
being connected with others; grass root groups and individuals, helps in 
creating divides, confusion and fear between them. This is where a 
reference to Foucault's 'Discipline and Punish' is worth considering, an 
exercise of power "...is not conceived as property, but as a strategy; 
its effects of domination are attributed not to 'appropriation,' but to 
dispositions, maneuvers, tactics, techniques, functionings..."

Wishing you well.


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