Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Northeast 'Experiment'

posted by Mr. Vidiot @ 5:25 PM Permalink

Social control is not sweeping but swarming the entire Northeast United States. Notice -- the schools, governmental facilities, highways, and other institutional complexes now resemble prisons. Let us invoke Foucault's word; panopticon. The gaze is now directed towards almost every aspect of our social life, in every social setting.

fTake for example the taken-for-granted “road trip.” The Northeast highway driving is no longer free, but is instead regulated to the confines of turnpikes, thruways and bridge tolls, some privately and some publicly owned. Further, your movements on these roadways are tracked with the “convenient” EZ Pass. Gas stations and fast food chains, all manufactured on the sides of these roadways, are equipped with police and cameras gazing at your every move and the speed at which you make that move. The days of the free road is replaced by the manufactured turnpike, where travelers move along the path as a prisoner from Cell Block D to the lunch room. All side roads are inaccessible or too congested to use. In the South, of which I have some familiarity, the roads remain open, clear, and organic, passing through real communities, free from the manufactured, state-controlled highways.

Recently, the Vidiot and I discussed the pending court decision on banning iPod use by citizens traveling by foot or car in New York City. As she presented this information, I hastened to realize that this was yet another aspect of social control, the iPod blocks corporate advertisement. In capitalism, it is foolish to separate social policy from the economy. The state upholds policy that is agreeable to corporate structures. The iPod is another example.

The Northeast, and New York City in particular, resembles a police state. It seems possible that an experiment is being conducted on creating an entire panopticon in the Northeast, an experiment that will eventually envelope the entire country. Guns are illegal and almost impossible for a law-abiding citizen to obtain. Permits are needed, even for small gatherings. Police are likely to break up, and violently if necessary, people who have gathered in a space. Cabaret licenses are needed to dance in any privately owned establishment. No alcoholic beverage can be consumed outdoors without the proper liscensing. Cameras, often hidden, are everywhere, insuring the ‘correct’ movements. Police cars cluster, ostensibly to intimidate ‘terrorists’, but in reality, flexing their military muscle at the population. Police stand on nearly every corner and nearly every subway stop, monitoring the flow of traffic, watching, gazing, looming, waiting to move on any who fits ‘the description’. At subways stations, they reserve the right to search your bags, touch your body, frisk you, feel you, put their eyes all over you, in search of anything they consider threatening, all under the guise of “safety.” The police on the corner, on the subway, on the streets, the illegality of gathering, of protesting, the cameras, the watchful and ever-suspectful policeman with the power to touch our bodies, to feel our legs and stomachs and our chests, watching, waiting, anticipating, is a sign our society is no longer hoping to pursue social control, they are actively engaged in the process. There is little resistance, and those who resist, we call thugs. They sit in prison and we dismiss them as a poor and uneducated underclass.

One might fear that failure to enforce these harsh rules might lead to higher crime, chaos and anarchy, a lack of social organization. But I've seen an absense of these rules and lo and behold, there were no murders. There were no assaults. And further, there was total peace and flow between to the social organization. In fact, the state -- with its police and other enforcement agencies -- disrupts the natural flow of human interaction. Anyone who's ever been at an anti-war demonstration knows that it's perfectly peaceful until it is disrupted by hostile police actions. (As an aside, I find it intriguing that another human being -- a policeman -- has the right to gaze over, inspect or touch me in order to ensure that some law is upheld.)

So, are we ready to roll over and accept our fate?

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