[-empyre-] contesting the netopticon

Simon Biggs simon at littlepig.org.uk
Wed Jan 12 17:07:35 EST 2011

On behalf of Marc Garrett

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 introduction.

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 technology."

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."

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.


Simon Biggs
simon at littlepig.org.uk

s.biggs at eca.ac.uk

More information about the empyre mailing list