Panoptic Malveillance and Mistrust

It follows that all is a guise for ‘panoptic malveillance’ and mistrust in a postmodern age. From ‘contracting’ to public-private partnerships to wars and military spending and police spending and analytical firms and data firms to journalism and media and legislation and job creation and startups and everything else, all is a guise for the ‘panoptic malveillance’ that is at the heart of the ‘digital order’ borne out of the postmodern age. In turn, the basic aim of ‘panoptic malveillance,’ as mentioned before, is ‘discipline.’ Thus, all that serves as a guise for ‘panoptic malveillance’ is essentially a guise for an authoritarian, mechanical, and repressive mode of ‘discipline.’ And these various ‘disciplines’ which I mentioned above aim to “characterize, classify, specialize; they distribute along a scale, around a norm, hierarchize individuals in relation to one another and, if necessary, disqualify and invalidate” to borrow from Foucault. 

In turn, these various Nazi-like ‘disciplines’ and the juridical-political pretexts such as the ‘Patriot Act’ and so forth which enabled these Nazi-like ‘disciplines’ to materialize end up making what is legal illegal, and what is illegal legal, given that “in the space and during the time in which they exercise their control and bring into play the asymmetries of their power, they effect a suspension of the law that is never total, but is never annulled either” as Foucault argued. 

The legal and political implications of a ‘digital order’ are also accompanied by social implications as well. As Byung-Chul Han wrote:

“Today, we pursue information without gaining knowledge. We take notice of everything without gaining any insight. We travel across the world without having an experience. We communicate incessantly without participating in a community. We collect vast quantities of data without following up on our recollections. We accumulate ‘friends’ and ‘followers’ without meeting an Other. In this way, information develops a form of life that has no stability or duration.”

Because of the social implications of the digital order, it follows that government “not only has to deal with a territory, with a domain, and with its subjects, but that is also has to deal with a complex and independent reality that has its own laws and mechanisms of reaction, its regulations as well as its possibilities of disturbance” to borrow from Foucault. In sum: “This new reality is society.” In particular, an international or global society that has fostered a concept of space or ‘spatialization’ that is unprecedented in both legal and historical terms. And it is a space that is beyond the grip of any military force, police force, or legal code and legal constitutional charter at the moment. 

Hence, there is incredible ambiguity involved in everything that is now occurring amidst our digital order which in turn cannot be easily resolved. But the ambiguity also fosters a strategic direction for the digital order, namely, the realization of greater freedoms and greater liberties than before. Less control and more freedom is perhaps the general directionality or trajectory that emerges out of the ambiguity of the current phase of our digital order. As Foucault argued: “The liberty of men is never assured by the institutions and laws that are intended to guarantee them.” It follows that liberty is guaranteed only by the exercise of liberty, and thus: “The guarantee of freedom is freedom.” 

Without the basic exercise of freedom and liberty, both the physical and social architectures or spaces for the exercise of any kind of freedom or liberty will close down, as in the case which Foucault highlighted and wrote about regarding the baths and brothels of Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome closing down suddenly, which in turn ushered in an age of medieval religiosity and the closing down of both the physical and social architectures and spaces for the exercise of basic freedoms, liberties, and pleasures in Europe. Hence, either more controls and restrictions over the architectures and the spaces for the exercise of basic freedoms, liberties, and pleasures is in store for us out of the ambiguity of our digital order as it stands currently, or more freedoms and liberties will emerge out of the current ambiguity. As a result, the situation is both complex, paradoxical, and uncertain. 

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