Covid and the panopticon

The ongoing and increasingly more threatening discussion about mandatory vaccination reminds one of the panopticon and Foucault’s expansion on the subject.

Michel Foucault, a French intellectual and critic, expanded the idea of the panopticon into a symbol of social control that extends into everyday life for all citizens, not just those in the prison system (Foucault 1970). He argues that social citizens always internalize authority, which is one source of power for prevailing norms and institutions. A driver, for example, might stop at a red light even when there are no other cars or police present. Even though there are not necessarily any repercussions, the police are an internalized authority- people tend to obey laws because those rules become self-imposed.

This is a profound and complicated idea, namely because the process entails a high degree of social intuition; the subject must be able to situate him or her self amidst a network of collective expectations. The crucial point is that the subject’s specific role within the network is incorporated as a part of the body and mind, which then manifests as self-discipline.

Related to this is also this book reviewFoucault in Warsaw‘.


Stumbled across this movie review. Totally missed it due to that social distancing, risk aversion, or is it a sort of sensation that Wittgenstein described as: “Often I feel that there is something in me like a lump which, were it to melt, would let me cry or I would then find the right words (or perhaps even a melody). But this some- thing (is it the heart?) in my case feels like leather & cannot melt. Or is it only that I am too much a coward to let the temperature rise sufficiently?

Here is Peter Webster with “A review of yet another tasteless but very expensive sub-blockbuster.” Get popcorn, it gets wacky.

“This latest production by an industry famous for its mind-numbing extravaganzas is – at best – a decidedly B-flick-quality wanabee sci-fi tale. Second-rate by virtue of a plot featuring extreme nonsensicality and a vapid, humorless screenplay, but fear-inducing and death-producing nonetheless, it cannot therefore be classed as merely a never-to-be-cult-status C-flick. The reader will see that my review of the movie is decidedly more imaginative and artistic than the film itself:

“The Jab” is featured from the very opening scenes as something everybody needs or be at risk of nobody seems quite sure what. All The Authorities constantly tell the citizenry that its benefits outweigh the risks, but none will make actual solid claims of what the benefits are apart from “maybe you won’t get as sick”. Compared to what?, the movie-goer will surely ask. And surely no one has a clue as to what risks are entailed since The Jab has not been rigorously tested. “Rigorously”? From what is presented, it seems that even the word “tested” is an overstatement. But things get weird quickly when The Jab is revealed to have incredible powers to induce its receivees to dispel all doubt, throw caution to the wind and ignore all counter-argument to become true believers in what is then claimed to be a civilization-rescuing medicine that is obviously mostly placebo**.

This might be the only suspenseful plot point of the whole film: Jabbed friends and foe alike start to react with furious indignation merely when it is suggested to them to consider alternative ideas. Families, and entire societies are ripped apart into warring camps, at first merely wars of insult and outrageous accusation, but soon evolving into roaming vigilante scenes with all the usual mayhem and destruction. And all of this mostly by suggestion, given the majority of Jabs might well be blank doses? Talk about weak plots! …”

You must be really sick not to read the full post.