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Hello and welcome to this tenth episode of De Dicto dedicated today to Discipliny and Punish by Michel Foucault. Michel Foucault is one of the most important French philosophers
of the twentieth century, his work influenced and inspired a significant numberof researchers, so much so that is one of the most cited authors in
world. Although it is not a criterion of quality! His work is crossed by the question
of the relationship between knowledge and power. We will discover one of its aspects in this
tenth episode of De Dicto, with one of his best-known works, Discipline
and punish. As the subtitle indicates, Discipline
and punishing which is published in 1975 (1977 in english), seeks to understand “the birth of the prison”. The
problem of the book is there: how the device(“dispostif”) of the prison appeared and what
were the conditions of its emergence Discipline and Punish is divided into four major parts and the first is entitled TORTURE. And as promised, it starts with the description
of the execution of Robert-François Damiens, sentenced to horrible punishments for having tried
to assassinate Louis XV in 1757. This description does not save any
detail: Damiens is tenured, that is to say to tear the flesh with tongs,
then we throw boiling oil on his body, in public he is quartered by
horses, a very long operation that hardly work, the executioners must then
cut themselves limbs, these are thrown at the stake, then follows the rest of the
body. Foucault, without any transition, then exposes
the regulation written three quarters of a century later of a prison for young prisoners. It’s about a very strict schedule
which governs the lives of prisoners. Every moment of their existence is timed
and monitored. “We have then a execution and time table “writes Foucault. Between the two, almost a century has passed
and the public tortures disappeared for the benefit of a punishment and surveillance device
concealed behind walls and bars from the prison. What happened to the penal style
as Foucault calls it changed to this point? To answer this question,
Foucault undertakes, from a perspective initiated by Nietzsche, to trace the genealogy
and I invite you to watch the episode of Dicto dedicated to the Genealogy of Morality to learn more! Foucault therefore takes up the idea of ​​genealogy to make his genealogy of the prison to understand how the prison was born and how the accompanying society could emerge. Foucault remarks that the punishment evolves
towards new ways of thinking about the body convicts. Under the old regime the public torment
which acts as a punitive spectacle allows to show royal power and impress
the crowd. Gradually, during the seventeenth century,
public punishment is judged unfavorably, he would only repeat the horror of
crimes committed. It’s about changing the relationship between
body and punishment. The idea is no longer to torture him but
to put it to work, to correct it, to straighten it up, make it useful. We are going to age, says Foucault, of the
punitive sobriety. It’s the political economy of the bodies
which is changing to aim for social efficiency And this political economy of the bodies extends
beyond the prison to shape a real disciplinary society that organizes and quadrille
the life of individuals. The power is no longer centralized
nor really localizable, it becomes diffuse, it operates in a network and multiplies itself
in the form of micropower. This is what Foucault calls a microphysics
of power: subjection is closer to the individuals,
power relations are formed and they are allowed by the establishment of knowledge about the bodies,
the bodies of children, the body of fools, the bodies of the colonized, the body of the workers,
etc. This knowledge that Foucault calls a “power-knowledge” optimizes the profitability of the bodies at the economic level. I quote Foucault: “it is largely as a force production that the body is invested with relations of power and domination but, on the other hand, its constitution as labour power is possible only if it is caught up in a system of subjection, the body becomes useful force only if it is
both a productive body and a subjected body.” In other words, to make a body useful, we must know him well. The rest of the book will focus on showing
how the model of the prison that is being built at the end of the 18th century and then in the 19th century
century is actually the model of a society which monitor and discipline individuals or to put it another way a subjugation society, whether at school, in hospitals, in prisons, in factories, etc. Prison is really only the aspect
the most obvious of the disciplinary society. In the second chapter entitled Punishment, Foucault shows that in the 19th century a project criminal reform that seeks to think
new ways to punish. During the old regime, it existed according to
Foucault “illegalisms”, that is to say outlaw practices that were more
or less tolerated depending the social class. Laws or ordinances could not
be applied to allow a functionning more efficient of society. For example, some social groups could
escape the tax, at the same time, theft was tolerated for the categories of the poorest individuals. In the 18th century, the situation changes,
the increase of bourgeois wealth as well as that of the general population
reduce the tolerance for popular illegalisms. Foucault then shows that new distribution of illegalism
takes place: the bourgeoisie seizes illegitimate rights that allows him
to create its own conditions for derogations to the economic rules, the working classes
keep the illegitimacy of property based mainly on the theft that becomes completely
intolerable. The penal reform which is undertaken consists
therefore to repress the illegality of goods, that is to say that of the popular classes. Foucault writes: “Lay down new principles for regularizing, refining, universalizing the art of punishing. Homogenize its application. Reduce its economic and political cost by increasing its effectiveness and by multiplying its circuits. In short, constitute a new economy and a new tech-nology of the power to punish. These are no doubt the essential raisons d’être of penal reform in the eighteenth century. It will then be a question of renewing the way which we consider criminals, this one
will become one who stands by his action out of society, he becomes, the fool,
the monster, the abnormal that will have to lock up, control, and study. New ways of punishing
to be put in place. In the first place, it is necessary that each crime
match a punishment, the criminal must to have in mind the punishment he risks
when he commits his crime. The punishment must be analogous to
crime. The punishment must also make the crime
repelling and the sentences must have a duration which corresponds to the gravity of the misdeeds. Then, the sentences must be useful. As Foucault writes: “the ideal
would be for the convict to appears as a sort of profitable property: a slave at the service of all.” Fifth, the sentence must be
visible, not for free but for serve as a lesson in public morality. And finally, we must make sure that the crime
no longer something glorious. In view of these proposals, several
power technologies are polled and debated, and that’s the prison
which will eventually take over. The third part of Monitoring and Punishing is called Discipline and he’s trying to understand why prison got
imposed as the preferred form of punishment. Foucault asks: “how did the
coercive, corporal, solitary, secret model of the power to punish replace the
representative,, scenic, signifying, public, collective model? ”
As indicated in the first chapter of this third part, it is actually about
make “docile bodies”, produce an uninterrupted coercion that quadrille
the activities of individuals in space and in time. This is what Foucault calls a “discipline”
which requires an art of distributions, distribution of activities provided by employment
time, the timing of the gestures, the setting in place of bodily exercises, examinations
bodies and minds that we keep traces in the drawers of administrations
school, medical, etc. Discipline Foucault writes, is “no longer
simply an art of distributing the bodies, of extracting time from them and accumulating it,
but of composing forces in order to obtain an efficient machine. ” This discipline is established and produces power in places as different as
schools, hospitals, factories, military barracks, but it stands out
perfectly in the prisons. In these places are organized a surveillance
by which every individual is monitored, including the supervisor. It’s about training, to make right,
to normalize behaviors. A formidable device symbolizes perfectly
disciplinary society: this is the panoptic. Panoptic is a type of architecture
circular designed by the English philosopher Jeremy Bentham. Especially suitable for prisons,
the panoptic allows to design cells forming a circle in which the prisoners
are monitored by a single guard placed in a central tower and that can not be
seen. Prisoners are likely to be
always seen without knowing if they really are. As a result, the prisoners have the impression
to be always monitored but if they are not really. They then end up watching each other
themselves, they integrate themselves and in themselves surveillance, discipline. The power can work automatically. He integrated himself into the bodies themselves,
who continually watched and became docile can be studied
and become objet of knowledge. This is the panoptic model that reflects
according to Foucault the best the disciplinary society and the mechanisms of micro-powers that ensure
efficiency and profitability. “Is it surprising,” notes Foucault, “that
prison resemble factories, schools, barracks, hospitals, which all resemble prisons? ” And so we come to the last part of the book called Prison. So it’s the prison that symbolizes the best
disciplinary society for Foucault. In the fourth and last part of
book, Foucault shows how “this detestable solution which one seems unable to do without “is a device which aims to produce clinical knowledge
on individuals while transforming them. It takes the theme of illegalism
showing that the prison is the producer a new type of offense: delinquency. Prison produces delinquency, detention
produces recurrence. Therefore, the prison is denounced as
being a failure. But the offenders were the subject of
know disciplinary, they are stuck, distinguished among others, according to characteristics
specific. They are therefore all the better controllable,
both in the prison and outside. To create a new economy of
illegalisms, which by the device of the disciplinary society, is regulated and
organized. The delinquents can be useful, he thwarts
the most popular illegalisms for serve the illegalisms of the dominant classes
and at the same time the exercise of police power. Delinquents can act as indicators,
agents provocateurs, henchmen against strikers, they can intimidate,
submit. Foucault writes to summarize the process
: “Police surveillance provides the prison with,offenders, which the prison transforms into delinquents, the targets and auxiliaries of police supervisions, which regularly send back a certain number of them in prison. ” Foucault concludes his book with the notion the “carceral” that refers to the central thesis
to the book, namely that the model of the prison, the carceral model, is
the model of the disciplinary society. We can even talk about a carceral town whose
the inhabitants would be disciplinary individuals, monitoring themselves by monitoring
other. Prison makes it possible to legitimize power
discipline within the whole society. Punish is thus confused with caring, educating,
know. Disciplinary society, thanks to the mechanisms
of know-power, allowed the humanities to be constituted, it has never been so
easy to produce knowledge about beings humans with the grid provided by
the carceral model. We have seen, Discipline and punish, speak well
more than prison and thus defends a strong thesis, the emergence of prison
it’s the emergence of a disciplinary society in which individuals become
objects of powers and knowledge.

Reynold King

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