25 Aralık 2010 Cumartesi

Michel Foucault's “Discipline and Punish: The Body of the Condemned"

Foucault begins by comparing a public execution from 1757 to an account of prison rules from 1837. The changes between the two reveal how new codes of law and order developed in modern society. One important and new feature is the disappearance of torture; the body of the criminal disappeared from view. Punishment as spectacle disappeared; the exhibition of prisoners, the pillory and the public execution ended. Thus, we can talk about two models; model I (public execution/torture/punishment as public spectacle and model II (punishment as cure).
Model I- Public execution/Torture as public spectacle/Punishment as spectacle
- Physical punishment.
- The art of inflicting pain.
- Visible display of suffering.
- The body as the major target of penal repression.
- Gloomy festival of punishment.
- The punishment was thought to equal, if not to exceed, in savagery the crime itself.
- Accustom the spectators to a ferocity from which one wished to divert them.
- Make the executioner resemble a criminal, judges murders.
- To reverse the roles, to make the tortured criminal an object of pity or admiration.
- The public execution is now seen as a hearth in which violence bursts again into flame.
- A confused horror spread from the scaffold; it enveloped both executioner and condemned, it often turned the legal violence of the executioner into shame.
Model II- Punishment as a “cure”
- The disappearance of torture as public spectacle.
- The disappearance of the spectacle and the elimination of pain.
- Punishment had to become the most hidden part of the penal process.
- A combination of more subtle, more subdued sufferings.
- Depriving sufferings of their visible display.
- The effectiveness of punishment is seen as resulting from its inevitability, not from its visible intensity. It is the certainty of being punished and not the horrifying spectacle of public punishment that must discourage crime.
- Responsibility is to distributed.
- It is the conviction itself that marks the offender with the crime. The publicity has shifted to trial, and to the sentence. The execution itself is like an additional shame that justice is ashamed to impose on the condemned man; so it keeps its distance from the act. And the punishment takes place under the seal of secrecy.
- No desire to punish. Sentences intend to correct, reclaim and cure. A technique of improvement represses, in the penalty, the strict expiation of evil doing.
- This relieves the judges of the demeaning task of punishing.
- Punitive practices had become more reticent. One no longer touched the body, or at least as little as possible, but try to reach something other than the body itself.
- The punishment-body relation is not the same. The body serves as an instrument or intermediary. The goal is to deprive the body of a liberty that is regarded as a right and as property. Punishment has become an economy of suspended rights.
- All the regulations and rules have brought about a whole army of technicians: warders, doctors, chaplains, psychiatrists, psychologists, educationalists. They reassure it that the body and pain are not the ultimate objects of punitive action.
- Impose penalties free of pain. Deprive the prisoner of all rights, but do not inflict pain; take away life, but prevent the patient from feeling it.
- The same death for all. The execution lo longer bears the specific mark of the crime or the social status of the criminal. A death that lasts only a moment. No torture must be added to it in advance, no further actions performed upon the corpse. An execution that affects the life rather than the body. One death per condemned man, and one punishment for the condemned man alone.
- There is a change in the objective of punishment. If punishment no longer addresses the body, it must be the soul. A punishment that acts in depth on the hearth, the thoughts, the will, the inclinations.
- Crime, the object with which penal practice is concerned, has profoundly altered. The judgment passed on the passions, instincts, and anomalies. Acts of aggression are punished, so also, through them, is aggressivity; rape, but at the same time perversions; murders, but also drives and desires. It is these shadows lurking behind the case itself that are judged and punished.
- To supervise the individual, to neutralize his dangerous state of mind, to alter his criminal tendencies, and to continue even when this change has been achieved.
- The judges have gradually taken to judging something other than crimes, namely the soul of the criminal.
- Within the very judicial modality of judgment, other types of assessment have slipped in, profoundly altering its rules of elaboration.
- The question is no longer simply: ‘has the act been established and it is punishable?’ But also: ‘what is this act, what is this act of violence or this murder? To what level or to what field of reality does it belong? Is it a fantasy, a psychotic reaction, a delusional episode, a perverse action?’
- It is no longer simply: ‘who committed it?’ But: ‘how can we assign the causal process that produced it? Where did it originate in the author himself? Instinct, unconscious, environment, heredity?’
- It is no longer simply: What law punishes this offence?’ But: ‘What would be most appropriate measure to take? How do we see the future development of the offender? What should be the best way of rehabilitating him?’
- A scientifico-juridical complex.
- The sentence that condemns or acquits is not simply a judgment of guilt, a legal decision that lays down punishment, but within it, there is an assessment of normality and a technical prescription for possible normalization.
- The judge is not alone judging. The experts intervene before the sentence to assist the judges in their decision, not to pass a certain judgment. And they can also modify the penalties along the way. The whole machinery creates a proliferation of the authorities of judicial-decision making and extends of its powers of decision well beyond the sentence.
- Modern criminal justice has taken on so many extra-juridical elements not in order to be able to define them juridically and gradually to integrate them into the actual power to punish, but to make them function within the penal operation as non-judicial elements in order to stop this operation being simply a legal punishment. Today criminal justice functions and justifies itself only by this perpetual reference to something other than itself. Its fate is to be redefined by knowledge. A corpus of knowledge, techniques, “scientific” discourses is formed and becomes entangled with the practice of the power to punish.
- A correlative history of the modern soul and of a new power to judge.
- A genealogy of the present scientific-legal complex from which the power to punish derives its bases, justifications and rules, from which it extends its effects and by which it masks its exorbitant singularity.
- Four rules of the study:
1- To regard punishment as a complex social function. To consider not only repressive effects and punishment aspects of punitive mechanisms but also their positive effects.
2- To regard punishment as a political tactic. To analyze punitive methods not simply as consequences of legislation or as indicators of social structures, but as techniques possessing their own specificity in the more general field of other ways of exercising power.
3- Make the technology of power the very principle both of the humanization of the penal system and of the knowledge of man. Instead of treating the history of penal law and the history of the human sciences as two separate series, search whether there is not some common matrix or whether they do not both derive from a single process of epistemological-juridical formation.
4- Try to discover whether this entry of the soul on the scene of penal justice, and with it the insertion in legal practice of a whole corpus of “scientific” knowledge, is not the effect of a transformation of the way in which the body itself is invested by power relations.
- The body is invested with relations of power and domination. Its constitution as labor power is possible only if it is caught up in a system of subjection. This subjection is not only obtained by the instruments of violence or ideology. It can be direct, physical, pitting force against force, bearing on material elements, and yet without involving violence. It may be calculated, organized, technically thought out. It may be subtle, make use neither of weapons nor of terror and yet remain as a physical order. That is to say, there may be a knowledge of the body that is not exactly the science of its functioning, and a mastery of its forces that is more than the ability to conquer them: this knowledge and this mastery constitute what might be called the political technology of the body.
- The power exercised on the body is conceived not as a property but as a strategy, that its effects of domination are attributed not to appropriation, but to dispositions, maneuvers, tactics, techniques, functionings; that one should decipher in it a network of relations, constantly in tension, in activity, rather than privilege that one might possess; that one should take as its model a perpetual battle rather than a contract regulating a transaction or the conquest of a territory.
- The power is exercised rather than possessed. It is not the privilege of the dominant class, but the overall effect of its strategic positions, an effect that is manifested and sometimes extended by the position of those who are dominated.
- The power is not exercised simply as an obligation or a prohibition on those who do not have it. The power invests them, is transmitted by them and through them.
- These relations go right down into the depths of society.
- The power and knowledge directly imply one another. There is no power relation without the correlative constitution of a field of knowledge, nor any knowledge that does not presuppose and constitute at the same time power relations.
- Power and knowledge relations invest human bodies and subjugate them by turning them into objects of knowledge.
- The modern soul, unlike the soul represented by Christian theology, is not born in sin and subject to punishment, but is born rather out of methods of punishment, supervision and constraint.
- A certain type of power and knowledge are articulated in the soul. These power relations give rise to possible corpus of knowledge, and knowledge extends and reinforces the effects of this power. On this reality-reference, various concepts have been constructed and domains of analysis carved out: psyche, subjectivity, personality, consciousness, etc; on it have been built scientific techniques and discourses, and the moral claims of humanism.
- The soul is the prison of the body.
The remarks about the soul being the prison of the body reflect Foucault’s love of contradictions, but they also make a deeper point. The body is imprisoned because people can be controlled by sciences directed at the soul, such as psychiatry. Foucault attempts to chart a move from a situation where the criminal's body is attacked, to one where we are all disciplined and controlled. Finally, Foucault’s role in the prison reform movement is an important context for this section since he helped to run the French Groupe d’Information sur les Prisons (GIP) in the 1970s. The group distributed information on prisons to the public, and was concerned with letting prisoners speak for themselves. In a way, Foucault sees Discipline and Punish as a theoretical counterpart to the work he carried out in practice.

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