I've always found the "knowledge is power" concept very intriguing because of its simplicity and applicability. No matter the setting, this concept, which I consider a truism, can be viewed as a universal principle which applies to all human interactions.
And as I've thought about it, I've come to view these two components (knowledge and power) as inextricably linked in that one cannot exist without the other.
When it comes to the issue of the corporate-government total information awareness surveillance system, the "knowledge is power" concept could not have more relevance. And if so, then there is no better metaphor than Michel Foucault's take on late 18th century English philosopher Jeremy Bentham's "Panopticon."
Here's how the late (she passed away in 2012) Moya K. Mason saw it:
Dees Illustration Artwork
Along with other social theorists, Foucault believed that knowledge is always a form of power, but he took it a step further and told us that knowledge can be gained from power; producing it, not preventing it. Through observation, new knowledge is produced. In his view, knowledge is forever connected to power, and often wrote them in this way: power/knowledge. Foucault's theory states that knowledge is power:The emphasis is mine
Knowledge linked to power, not only assumes the authority of 'the truth' but has the power to make itself true. All knowledge, once applied in the real world, has effects, and in that sense at least, 'becomes true.' Knowledge, once used to regulate the conduct of others, entails constraint, regulation and the disciplining of practice. Thus, '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 (Foucault 1977,27).
Another relevant/related observation I've been intrigued with is what I consider to be an eerie passivity with which the population reacts in the face of increasing corporate-government corruption, criminality, and oppression.
Also, the utter inability for any type of social justice movement to take hold so it can grow and become powerful (organized, strategic, and cohesive) enough to be able to effect change, has been something I've been observing and thinking about for many years now.
I've always felt that there must be a logical explanation for this seemingly illogical docility exhibited by the population in the face of increasingly outrageous abuses and rampant government corruption.
I think that Foucault's Panopticon metaphor offers that explanation...
The Panopticon was a metaphor that allowed Foucault to explore the relationship between 1.) systems of social control and people in a disciplinary situation and, 2.) the power-knowledge concept. In his view, power and knowledge comes from observing others. It marked the transition to a disciplinary power, with every movement supervised and all events recorded. The result of this surveillance is acceptance of regulations and docility - a normalization of sorts, stemming from the threat of discipline.The emphasis is mine
Suitable behaviour is achieved not through total surveillance, but by panoptic discipline and inducing a population to conform by the internalization of this reality. The actions of the observer are based upon this monitoring and the behaviours he sees exhibited; the more one observes, the more powerful one becomes. The power comes from the knowledge the observer has accumulated from his observations of actions in a circular fashion, with knowledge and power reinforcing each other. Foucault says that "by being combined and generalized, they attained a level at which the formation of knowledge and the increase in power regularly reinforce one another in a circular process" (Foucault 1977).
I think this metaphor, this concept, applies perfectly to the current situation regarding the illegal and unconstitutional spying by the corporate-controlled NSA.
Here's how Heidi Boghosian, executive director of the National Lawyers Guild, and author of "Spying on Democracy" sees it:
This book ["Spying on Democracy"] documents the way relentless surveillance makes people in the United States less free. As government agencies shift from investigating criminal activity to preempting it, they have forged close relationships with corporations honing surveillance and intelligence-gathering techniques for use against Americans. By claiming that anyone who questions authority or engages in undesired political speech is a potential terrorist threat, this government-corporate partnership makes a mockery of civil liberties. The examples in these pages show how a free press, our legal system, activists, and other pillars of a democratic society—and even children—suffer as a consequence. As the assault by an alignment of consumer marketing and militarized policing grows, each single act of individual expression or resistance assumes greater importance. As individuals and communities, we need to dismantle this system if we are to restore and protect our civil liberties.Now, I argue that what makes this corporate-controlled total information awareness surveillance apparatus so pernicious, so dangerous, so Orwellian, is the fact that once combined with the effects of a propagandist media ("Research Study Explains How U.S. Media Brainwashes The Public"), and a security apparatus that actively engages in disrupting the formation of viable social justice movements, what we end up with is a totally paralyzed population, incapable of reacting to the increased oppression from the ruling elite, as it has done throughout the entire history of this country ("A People's History of The United States").
From its inception, the FBI has operated on the doctrine that the "preliminary stages of organization and preparation" must be frustrated, well before there is any clear and present danger of "revolutionary radicalism."The emphasis is mine
At its most extreme dimension, political dissidents have been eliminated outright or sent to prison for the rest of their lives. There are quite a number of individuals who have been handled in that fashion.
Many more, however, were "neutralized" by intimidation, harassment, discrediting, snitch jacketing, a whole assortment of authoritarian and illegal tactics.
I also argue that many of this tactics have not only continued to the present, but that they have become even more insidious and dangerous.
Counter-terror police officers collaborated with corporate entities to combat protests. Undercover police officers monitored and tracked the Occupy movement. A right-wing corporate-backed group hired a police officer to help protect a conference. These are some of the details revealed in a new report published by the Center for Media and Democracy’s Beau Hodai, along with DBA Press. The revelations are based on government documents the group obtained.The emphasis is mine
The report, titled " Dissent or Terror: How the Nation's Counter Terrorism Apparatus, In Partnership With Corporate America, Turned on Occupy Wall Street,” is an eye-opening look into how the U.S. counter-terror apparatus was used to track the Occupy movement in 2011 and 2012 and also help protect the business entities targeted by the movement. The report specifically looks at the activities of “fusion centers,” or law enforcement entities created after 9/11 that transform local police forces into counter-terror units in partnership with federal agencies like the Department of Homeland Security. The fusion centers devoted a lot of time--to the point of “obsession,” the report notes--to monitoring the Occupy movement, particularly for any “threats” to public safety or health and to whether there were “extremists” involved in the movement.
The conclusions that I draw from this situation is that, one, the constant propaganda bombardment we are being exposed to 24/7 helps in conditioning us to accept a worldview where we only have a limited number of (artificially-formulated) options; two, the fact that the corporate-government total information surveillance apparatus is so vast and overreaching, it has the capacity to manipulate us into remaining "docile" and malleable in the face of increasing oppression; three, we need to understand the importance of being fully aware about exactly how the corporate-government system is monitoring us, and the reason for that is, once again, because "knowledge is power."
Here's how Ms. Mason saw it:
Can we mobilize counter-power to form a resistance against the pervasiveness of an increasingly intrusive electronic society that is trying to manage the information it is tracking and collecting? Can we wage our own battles and develop some strategies to help us retain a semblance of individual anonymity and privacy? Can we develop our own system of power/knowledge as a form of resistance? Or should we just surrender to it? Surrender to the unseen power that endeavours to control us from afar? Or should we continue to adapt and submissively, quietly accept the prevailing philosophy of an increasingly monitored society? Or should we try to overcome?The emphasis is mine
I argue that the reason we can't seem to form a strong and united peaceful resistance and social justice movements is because of the effects of Panopticism in combination with an ongoing active campaign by the police state to prevent it, as we saw with the brutal suppression (surveillance, infiltration, psychological warfare) of the Occupy Wall Street movement.
Knowledge is power. We need to understand the true nature of the system, so we can then start formulating the right solutions; if we are being manipulated, then we need to fully understand exactly how that's happening; we need to know exactly how the corporate-government apparatus is illegally and unconstitutionally monitoring us with the total information awareness surveillance state; we need to unite in solidarity (unions, social justice activists, progressive groups, etc.) and formulate strategies to dismantled the Oligarchy, and the surveillance police state.
P.S. I welcome spirited debate about this topic, and I'm especially interested in hearing from people who do not agree with my position. However, I will not engage in discussion with people who write personal insults, or engage in disruptive behavior. I ask other serious people to do the same. To learn more about this subject, please visit the following links: New Community Guidelines / The 15 Rules of Web Disruption / Thirteen Rules for Truth Suppression / Disinformation: How It Works.
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