ChaosComputerClub e.V. Hamburg / FoeBuD e.V. Bielefeld

Cyberspace and the Way to the Inverse Panopticon

by Thomas Barth (overworked for DECODER, Milano)

1.   Introduction:  Guenther Anders' Philosophy

2.   The Dispersion of the Subject
2.1. Anders & Postmodernism
2.2. The Babbitization-Syndrom
2.3. Dissolution of the Present-Horizon

3.    New Aspects of Power
3.1. Panopticon, Television & Control -A New Device
3.2. Between Marx and Monitors: Viewpoints on  Information Society
3.3. The Control Society
3.4. Computerization and Anti-Control-Movement


Guenther Anders' (1902-1993) philosophy of humans in the technological
age is briefly introduced, especially his work on the mass-media  (The
World as a Phantom and a Matrix, 1956). The thesis of the dispersion or
dissolution of the subject is discussed with regard to Anders and some
postmodern authors, mainly Foucault. A parallel between dissolution of
world and individual caused by the mass-media (Anders) and the thesis of
the dissolved subject by the postmodern authors is supposed.  The ideas
introduced here are extended on the information technology and society.
Issues of Neomarxists and the Frankfurter Schule on explaining
information society are discussed. The Foucaultdian metaphor of
Panopticon/Panoptism, the "network of incarceration", of control,
surveillance and disciplines is questioned as to its actuality in the
modern societies. Deleuze's thesis of the change from a disciplinary
society into a control society is supported by an analysis of the
Panopticon/television-device. This is supposed as a mechanism of two
different networks of technology working together in controlling
behavior, illusions and desire, which makes the traditional
incarceration obsolete.

Computerization is considered as an important part of this change into
control society. According to Lyotard the creative and critical use of
the computer technology  by  a counter- culture of hackers  is
recommended as an anti-control movement.

1. Introduction: Guenther Anders' Philosophy of the Technological

The concept of the panopticon  needs an analysis in the broader context
of technology (especially of mass- media). Technology is the issue of a
philosopher, well known in German public but expulsed and mostly
concealed in the world of scientific and academic philosophy. The
recently deceased philosopher Guenther Anders had centered his work
outside of the academic area. His father, William Stern  ("Anders" was
the philosopher's artist-name) had been expelled to exile by the Nazis
and their academic accomplices. He was the founder of the Hamburg
University's Psychology section. Anders made ends meet by doing "odd
jobs" in the U.S.A., where he also worked as a factory worker, a fact
that furnished material for his critical analysis of the relationship
between man and technology.

His analysis of the destructive dimension of techno-scientific progress
is regarded today as "one of the great documents of self-criticism of
the left"  and is compared to Horkheimer and Adorno's "Dialectics of
Enlightenment": "Die Antiquiertheit des Menschen" (The Antiquity of Man)
, the first volume of which appeared in 1956. The basically
media-pessimistic tendency of his essay "The World as a Phantom and a
Matrix", which is contained in this book, has only been partly revised
by Anders in his preface to the fifth issue in 1979, as a consequence of
his perception of the media's Vietnam reports. The positive effect of
the latter he commented by: "Pictures perceived are certainly worse than
perceived reality,  but they are still better than nothing at all." (p.
VIII). It is the goal of this essay to compare Anders' theses with a few
more modern points of view, especially with Foucault's "Surveiller et
punir". The conclusions of Anders makes him to an anti- McLuhan, to
anti-prophet of the global village. His critic will give some
interesting hints how to deal with cyber- and other spaces.

2. The dispersion of the subject

2.1. Anders & postmodernism

An important thesis in structuralist and postmodern reflexion on culture
is the dissolution of the subject. The thesis proclaiming the "Death of
Man", uttered more often and more vigorously by his critics than by
Foucault himself, makes a point  of this blasphemy against the social
sciences . Even when considered as an "epistemological metaphor" , there
still has arisen some quarrel. Being an abstract result, this moderating
view of the subject seems to be astonishingly congruent with Guenther
Anders' observations on modern man: i.e. that mass media transform us
into scattered existences amidst some "ontological ambiguities". Are the
theoretical insights of the post-modernists only inspired by the
personal  relationship between their author and the world, a
relationship which  in turn is widely determined by the mass-media? Are
perhaps the postmodern theories a mere mirror of today's circumstances
of individual "reality production"?

Anders sees a cause of this new relationship in the irruption of
technical achievements, mainly mass-media, into our everyday world. The
"dispersion" (or "dissipation")  of the subject also occurs in his
phenomenological media theory, where he uses the same image as Foucault.
"Structuralism does not at all deny the existence of the subject, but it
makes the subject  crumble and systematically scatters it,  it denies
the subject's identity, dissolves it and makes it go from one place to
another, changes it into a subject that will always be a nomad".
(Deleuze op.cit.)

2.2. The Babbitization-Syndrom

Mass-media tend to bring closer to us people who are far away,  whom we
will never actually meet and who maybe are only fictitious, so that in
the end they seem to be closer than the real ones that we personally
know. This applies  not only to people but also to things, to sports,
culture, war, catastrophes - all these are abundant in our homes. The
neologism "Verbiederung" -babbitization, describes this process as a
distortion of the world which supports a simple form of world view, the
view of the bourgeois. The good and the bad are easy to discern, a
well-ordered scenery of frames guards the babbit, who is frightened of
everything alien, and in general, of the chaos of the world. But
shrunken to little two-dimensional puppets, the criminal and other
deviant monsters give us a nice thrill:  we know Batman will take them
into prison. Even real nuclear disasters are easy to consume, guarded by
the experts and by trustful official faces. Anders speaks of us being
systematically changed into "companions of the globe" by our electronic
tranquilizers. He also says that we should not mistake this as something
that enables us  to love the far-away, as a state of real brotherhood or
even mystical "Einsfuehlung", as it was found by cultural optimists like
Marshal McLuhan or Teilhard de Chardin in "Global Village" or
"Noosphere", respectively.

On the contrary, a media consumer rather grotesquely loses his ideas of
distance or difference. The everyday life of a normal consumer is marked
by an increasing disappearances of spacial categories. Railways, cars
and airoplanes make continents shrink to villages. The globe becomes a
supermarket where foreign countries and cultures can be consumed just
like at home in front of the television-set. The air passenger does not
feel the distance, his or her journey is transformed into mere movement.
At the core of these tendencies , i.e. of the globalization of the
living-room and the planetarization of the front garden, are the
electronic mass-media , especially the computer. Whoever really wants to
be up-to-date will not content himself with today's cosmopolitan
world-citizenship, but will at least found a "galactic union"  (as say
the articles of the Chaos Computer Club of Hamburg).

The product of the mass-media is a "babbitized" world, a cosy little
thing that enters our living-room, not necessarily logical but
self-consistent. It is effected mainly by distortion and levelling of
events. By this way of consuming the world, the spectator increasingly
becomes somebody who is directly involved, or at least this is what the
medium tries to suggest. The forced disappearance of differences within
the presented context goes hand in hand with the disappearance of the
frontier between the actual and the media-presented "realities".

2.3. Dissolution of the Present-Horizon

Is it really only pictures that the mass-media deliver? Doesn't the
technical connection that exists between us and the rooms where a live
transmission is being taken give us a part of actual presence there? If
we listen to a radio-transmitted concert, then we rightly  say that we
are listening to a symphony, and not to an "audio- picture" of that
symphony. But in this case our relationship to the world is only a half
of  something, and it is the passive half that is left to us.

The disciplining effect that this consumable surrogate-world can have
has been clearly expressed by Timothy Leary, a psychologist transformed
from a drug-apostle into a computer- and cyberspace-fan: "George Orwell
got it wrong. He was too optimistic. He wrote in 1984 that Big Brother
would watch us from screens on the walls of our living rooms or
bedrooms. But that is nothing. You could always duck out of sight. The
currant horror is that Americans voluntarily stick their amoeboid faces
toward the screen six or seven hours a day and suck up information that
Big Brother is putting there."

In spite of this condemnation to passivity, the illusion of reality of
the media acts upon us in a way of magical fascination. In opposite to
conventional pictures (photographs), those pictures transmitted by
television lack the time difference between original and model - which
is actually the case during live-transmissions, or otherwise apparent
because the actors  move. According to Anders, we could speak of a
"dissolution of the present- horizon".

The word "present" has a double function here which underlines the
beginning confusion: it means spacial presence (i. e. being present) as
well as temporal simultanity. The present is being shifted towards the
simultaneous, while its temporal aspect is even less distinct to the
media-user than the spacial aspect. G nther Anders goes as far as
speaking of these particularities of the media-world as an "ontological
ambiguity", because the transmitted events are present and absent at the
same time, real as well as fictitious, briefly:"... because they are
phantoms." (Vol.1, p. 131)

Not without a certain degree of justification, Anders remarks that
sometimes it happens that we are unable to say where we have spent the
afternoon: have we been in the garden, weeding, or have we rather been
on the football field, following the "audio-picture" of the match? If
afterwards somebody came to ask us the names of the children playing in
the garden, we might  rather be able to tell the names of the football
players whose acoustic phantoms had captured our attention. In
principle, we have been at both of the places, but at none of them
really; we were dispersed between them. It was this distraction that we
were looking for. This example clearly shows that not only do we not
know where we are, but we don't know what we are doing. We are
dispersed/distracted between two activities.

The computer gives its user a new quality of media-activity: to
manipulate the world beyond the screen. Computer freaks told us of
feelings like breaking through a magical wall, like conquering a new
mystical space (the Cyberspace). "Alice in wonderland" is an often
quoted tale in the computer science - perhaps not only because of the
logical games. Has the world of the media become less phantom-like by
computerization? The latter at least enables the user to take part
actively what happens. Or does he rather become a phantom while
manipulating the world behind the monitor, while electronically slipping
into networks as a being of data? However, the data-traveller and the
computer freak are substantially more lively phantoms than the figures
that t.v. sends into our homes. Their knowledge of the technological
networks certainly does extend their possibilities, but first of all the
"virtual vagabonds" have to make an effort in adaptation: they have to
learn a computer language which demands a stringent use of structures,
otherwise the electronic excursion will very soon end with a laconic
"syntax error".

The modern subject who tries to face and contend with the passive
consumption of phantoms and the infantilization of the media system is a
very disciplined subject. The discipline of the computer freak is
similar to that of the book culture, a culture which Anders perceived as
a victim of the media world. It is this exploratory discipline that will
now  be critically analyzed with the help of Foucault.

3.  New Aspects of Power:

3.1.Panopticon, Television & Control  -A  New Device

In the analysis of the relations of power, technology and individual, G
nther Anders seems to complete Foucaults' efforts. Anders' work
enlightens the capillar mechanisms of power in the field of mass media,
which Foucaults' Panoptism is neglecting. This blind spot of Foucaults'
theory missed a development, as a parallel to the panoptical process, of
a unique and enormously extensive system. It is enabling the many to see
the few. The panoptical tendency for the few to see and supervise the
many is contextualized by a remarcable counterpart: the development of
the total system of the modern mass media. Both of these systems are
based on unidirectional communication, both of them support the power of
groups which are already in power. The mass media are an ideological
frame of the beliefs necessary for the surveillance systems to be
functional. This "belief context" may be seen as propagation of "social
censures", telling us what we have to see as crimninal or deviant.
Social censures are a legitimation of surveillance and a part of the
pressure to normalize the subjects. The human actor in the context of
media-using  is only  a chooser and not a creator. Anders gives a deeper
parable of the situation of the user of mass media:

"As it was not to the king's pleasure that his son, walking
cross-country, would leave the marked and controlled roads in order to
find his own views, he gave him a horse and a cart. " Now you don't have
to walk any longer", the king said. But what he meant to say was: " Now
you may not walk any more". Effectively the meaning of his words was:
"Now you could not walk cross-country any more". (G. Anders, Vol.1, p.

According to Anders,  the "dispersion of the subject",  the dissolution
of its connections to the world by technology and media leads to a loss
of freedom of thinking; i. e.  a loss of that kind of freedom that
according to Foucault was won during the Enlightment when disciplines
were formed. Man, whose incapacitation  Anders complains of, is
according to Foucault "that man, about whom we are spoken to, and who to
liberate we are invited, is already intrinsically the result of a
subjection very much deeper than himself. There is a "soul" in him that
creates  an existence which itself is a part of that dominion which
exercises its power on the body". (Foucault 1977, p.42)

Not only the wily king, dominating his son, is that power, but also the
kind king who had taught the son how to walk, thus opening up his
freedom to rove about. Foucault seems to mention a point here that is
totally strange to Anders: the school of walking, or rather of marching,
already demands a certain constitution of the individual, i.e. the
disciplinary subject. The discipline necessary for any "enlightened
freedom" of thinking is attributed by Foucault to the subjection of the
body under the picture of the machine.

"The great book of man as a machine was written on two registers
simultaneously:on the anatomical and metaphysical register, the first
pages of which were written by Descartes and which later was continued
by doctors and philosophers, and on the techno-political register, that
was built from a huge lot of military-, school- and hospital regulations
as well as on empirical and rational procedures to control or to correct
the physical activities of man."  (Foucault 1977, p.174)

All the efforts to understand the functioning of the human body firstly
and then to exploit it were aimed at the acquisition of " infinitesimal
power over the active body". As a model for those regulations, Jeremy
Benthams "Panopticon" was chosen. In its original form as a prison, it
penetrates society in its entirety, an "archipelago of incarceration",
and so ensures a disciplining normalization. "The prison as a rigid
(cell-like) segmentation refers to an extendable and mobile function, a
controlled traffic, a network that also extends itself into the free
milieus, that might teach how to get along without any prison at all. It
is a bit like Kafka's "undelimited delay", which makes any arrest or
judgement obsolete."

This allusion on Kafka's "Prozess", made by Foucault's companion Gilles
Deleuze, shows up a new tendency which is no longer completely covered
by the image of an "archipelago of incarceration". The mass-media, only
marginally present in Kafka's work, could play an increasingly decisive
role by establishing a second network in society, a network whose
communication scheme is the inverse of that of the panoptism.

But how could we connect Guenther Anders skilfully performed  accusation
against the mass-media caused destruction of the (enlightened) subject
with Foucault's criticism, which starts at a very much more profound
level of reflexion? Or, to put it in other words, shouldn't we be glad
that the media contributed to liberate the subject? To liberate a
subject, which according to Foucault stuck in a rigid corset of "bodily
mechanics", from this false freedom of disciplinary-enlightenment? (This
point of view may have inspired  the media-optimistic works of Marshall

In Anders allegory, on the other hand, the mechanisms of incapacitation
(and de-disciplination?) correspond  to one of those positive effects of
precisely that power which Foucault refers to:

"We must cease once and for all to describe the effects of power in
negative terms: it >excludes<, it >represses<, it >censors<, it
>abstracts<, it >masks<, it >conceals<. In fact, power produces; it
produces reality; it produces domains of objects and rituals of truth:
the individual and its perceptions are results of this production."

Both of the authors at least seem to agree in their opinions on today's
human being as a beneficiary of only illusory freedoms: while here, the
mechanisms of the disciplines control the individual, there, the
mechanics of a mega-machine have put man out of power. As Foucault
concludes that "...there was no favor done to man when he was proclamed
to be a subject of history, or a master of speech..."" , Anders
complains that "...if there exists, as you would express it in
Heideggerian terms, a >who< of history, this >who< does not mean us, but

3.2.From Marx to Monitors: 

       Viewpoints on Information Society

Innovative forms of manipulation are need to be invented, a new type of
power may emerge. The reason for this change of power technology is
easily defined in marxist terms as a change on the economical base:

"Especially in the advanced sectors of the economy, the manipulation of
information tends to characterize human activity. (...) If advanced
capitalism is becoming an information society, in aditition to the older
configuration of a labor society, the labor premise can no longer be the
first principle of a critical theory. Domination cannot be theorized
from the point of view of the labor activity, of the subject acting on
matter to produce things."

Perhaps this interpretation of the category of work is too restrictive.
We will now have a look on one neomarxistic issue discussing Frankfurter
Schule  , which had  new ideas to explain the changing situation. Not
everyone favours a complete renewal of marxistic thinking.  Rick
Roderick  thinks that J rgen Habermas (the most famous" son "of Adorno's
and Horkheimer's theories) judges Karl Marx too negatively.  In his
monograph on the work of Habermas from the sixties to the eighties he
concluded that Habermas' critical review of marxistic society-theory
goes too far -not to the same extent as the Frankfurter Schule, but also
too far. Nevertheless, the critical (neo-) marxist Roderick tries to
give a benevolent and cooperative criticism of Habermas. The idea of
social rationality is discussed in front of the background of Marx, Max
Weber and the Frankfurter Schule. Habermas' reception of these paradigms
is interpreted as the attempt of taking the fragments of the tragedy of
enlightenment -left behind from Adornos total critic of occidental
rationality. A criticism of Kritische Theorie leads to the foundation of
a communication-theoretical trial to reconstruct critical theory
-centered on Habermas' ideas of universal pragmatics and evolution of

Roderick put the problem of rationality in normative foundation of
critical theory and in the theory-practice- problem into concrete terms:
In the formal semantic analysis of rationality and its relation to the
social context. In this perspective Roderick reflects Habermas' tension
between a transcendental and a historical dimension, result of the trial
of normatively founding critical theory by the idea of communicative
rationality: The paradigm-shift from a paradigm of production to a
paradigm of communication -with its theoretical core in the "Theorie
kommunikativen Handelns", the opus magnum of Habermas.

At last this point inflames Roderick's criticism of Habermas'
"misinterpretation of marxist theory". "Marx did not reduce the
development of species on the dimension of increasing
technical-instrumental rule over nature. It is only the interpretation
of the most narrow >scientific< marxists."(Roderick, p.181). In spite of
that in the marxist paradigm of production a subtle analysis of social
interaction is possible. -There may be an affinity to the ideas of Mark
Posters "mode of production versus mode of information", but Roderick
seems not to know Poster.

The next point is the discussion of the basic ideas of Habermas'
paradigm of communication: The 'ideale Sprechsituation', the
'kommunikatives Handeln' and the 'kommunikative Rationalitèt'. First he
mentioned a confusion of understanding and agreeing in Habermas term
'Verstèndigung' -a little sly-hint on the harmonistic tendencies. Then
he calls in question the occurence of 'ideale Sprechsituationen' in
relevant parts of normal life, and the optimistic hypothesis that
'Verstèndigung' must be the characteristic feature of language,
communication the most important competence of human species: Couldn't
misunderstanding, lies and disagreement be more characteristic, and
instrumentalization the most universal competence of the species? In his
critic of the 'quasi-transcendental dilemma' Roderick finds fault with
the insoluble ambivalence between aprioric and empiric elements in
Habermas' logic of development (taken from Piaget) -this seems not to do
Piaget's constructivism justice.

Roderick's ideas of a reformed paradigm of production (which Habermas'
theory of communication may complete) remain rather vague. A
Wittgenstein-like sounding quotation of Marx is not fully convincing,
even not if completed by the hint that today the marxist term 'Fabrik'
could be used for the whole society and that everyone could be regarded
as  a proletarian.

This part of the renewal of Habermas need not have been so opaque: In
the marxistic 'culture-historical' psychology ('activity theory') are
emerging more concrete attempts for redesigning the paradigm of
production with the goal of covering the social sector of communication.
The contribution of Arne Raeithel   tries explicitely to be an
alternative research strategy to Habermas' "Theorie kommunikativen
Handelns". Based on Vigotsky's classical work in marxistic
psycholinguistics, Raeithel suggested an extension of the marxist term
'work' from production to reproduction and intersubjective relationships
-i.e. social communication.

Roderick's survey of postmodern theoreticians also seems to lack depth.
It is limited to the dicussion of only Baudrillard, who tries to explain
the production in terms of an explicite 'paradigm of communication'.
Capitalism is in this view interpreted as a kind of discourse -which
uses an aggressive "terrorism of code"- while Marx is critizised for
remaining caught in the discourse of production of bourgeois economists,
planning his revolution as finishing of production. In the discussion
Roderick argues with his critic of Frankfurter Schule, underlining
parallels to the postmodern thinking. But in his preface he blamed
Habermas for undervaluing postmodern positions, wondering wether the
great rationalist is not able to argue against the ironical style of the
attacks of Derrida.

Even the most subtle exegesis of marxistic paradigm of production
-searching ideas for an communication- oriented critical theory- leaves
some of the doubts of Baudrillard -especially if one takes into
consideration the theses of J. F. Lyotard: This postmodern thinker
explained the latest technological developments, the process of
informatization of the western societies, at first as an exploitation of
a newly discovered power of production: The language (e.g. algorithms as
abstract machines). The new generation of 'linguistic-turn-marxists' ê
la Roderick in this point of view seems to be a pure reaction on the
latest chapter of the bourgeois discourse of production of economic
values; perhaps similar to the above-mentioned  interpretation of the
postmodernist movement  as reaction on the changing mechanisms of
production of the subject.

3.3.The Control Society

Back to Anders and Foucault: Their  attempts are needed to understand
the functioning of new power mechanisms working with new technologies of
media. Foucault's negative aspects of power, the masking and concealing,
make up part of the negative mechanisms of the media-world in Anders'
analysis; their effect, however, is according to Anders definitly
positive: the formation of new, standardized ways of thinking, the
possibility of being guided not by walls and fences, but by the
invitingly comfortable motorways of prefabricated world views.

Apparently, the restriction of the "enlightened" liberty of thought
would simultaneously bring about changes in the disciplinary mechanisms
that accompany this liberty. Deleuze mentions a change from a
disciplinary society into a control society . Although this difference
is still slightly indistinct in Deleuze's work, so that some have been
tempted to consider it as a part of the "fog of the frogs", it seems
useful to me to take up on the investigation at this point.

It appears that the new capitalism of the New Technologies was
constructed in a more refined manner, that it were no longer a struggle
for the mere distribution of matter. In an affluent society, it is the
logisticians of the immaterial who dominate.

"Services have become the centre or >soul< of an enterprise. Marketing
is the instrument of social control that is typical for the new
generation of our masters."

As Foucault says, "...power can no longer be considered as a guarantee
to maintain a form of production, but in fact power is one of the
constitutive elements of this way of production, power functions within
the heart of this way of production...", in order to "...define the life
time of the individuals as a working-time".

I feel tempted  to add here. not only working-time, but also
consuming-time, especially media-consuming-time. According to Anders,
who ever consumes media employs the most ephemeral and therefore best
form of services. Simultaneously he exposes himself to the strategies of
marketing business, i.e. to advertisements and commercials.

But how do the newly constructed  mechanisms of control work?
"...enclosures are moulds...controls are modulation..."   The
disciplining enclosure of a prison, which under the mechanism of
panoptism received its educational function, now recedes to give way to
a pure panoptism in the literal sense of the word. Everything is exposed
to the controlling instances while imprisonment itself only applies to
special cases of deviance. But today's control-surveillance must
neccessarily be completed by the watch of the controlled into the second
network of the mass-media; they must watch t.v. while being observed
from a distance. Their internalized directing process always needs a
fine adjustment with the help of the transmitted picture worlds. There
can be no doubt that the structures which had been formed under the
disciplines take their part here.

In advertising, as Anders remarks, it is most important to
"...manufacture the raw material of >sexual stimulus< into a desire for
goods and products..." and  "...the sexualization of today's advertising
world has reached its climax just in those countries where prevails a
tradition of puritanic taboos."

This marketing strategy falls on the fertile soil of a long-cultivated
"discursivation" of sex  (Foucault), in which "...the power instruments
working on sex do not follow a principle of strict selection, but rather
have followed a principle of dissemination and implantation of
polymorpheous sexualities."

The puritanic traditions of taboo should not be misunderstood by a
"repressive hypothesis" of sex, but on the contrary are an example for
the blossoming productivity of power:

"In these instances there was not an activity which was 'repressed', but
an extensive development of knowledge/power which shaped, constituted
and controlled practices according to complex rules. Hand in hand,
technologies of power and discourses are, according to Foucault,
positive, creative forces, not negative, preventive measures."

Even it seems as if Foucault did not clearly recognized  the  "gendered
character of all censures" , his concept of the positive mechanisms of
power does give us here a hint on  the structures, the directive
mechanisms of the mass-media are based on. What is more evident than
plucking the fruits of the dissemination of seeds mentioned above?
Marketing could divert the polymorpheous sexual desires onto the
glistening surfaces of varnished limousines. Today it is more profitable
to compose virtuos programs of behavior on the detailed keyboard of
sexual stimuli than to rely on the propaganda of disciplinating moral

What is the meaning of this transition to a more finely tuned form of
control over the individuals? To which other rules must the constitution
and socialisation of the subject obey? What symbols define its

" Disciplinary societies have two symbols: the signature,which denotes
the individual, and the number, which denotes its position in the large
mass. In a control society, it is the number -the number is a code word-
that is most important. The language of control is made of numbers,
which either allow or refuse the access to information. We are no longer
dealing with a reciprocity between mass and individuals. The individuals
have become dividuals and the mass has become data. The disciplinated
man was a discontinual producer of energy; man controlled is a man of
wave motion."

Masses moving stompingly and simultanously like the pistons of an
internal combustion engine are no longer up-to-date. Control society
allows wider liberties, more individuality; it is sufficient if the
guided desires of the "lonely crowd" move within the statistical mean of
the consumption cycles. But this individuality is different from what
individuality has meant before. The incarceration into a fixed room,
between the rigid walls of a discipline, is increasingly being
abolished. A procedure that Anders denotes as the invasion of media into
the private sphere, and whose effect on the subject he described
similarly to Deleuze's dividual: "The individual becomes a >divisum<. /
Das Individuum wird zum Divisum"

The meaning intended was a scattering of the subject over several,
partly phantomical, places. Deleuze suggests the no longer clear
positioning in a social space or in a hierarchy by the help of a number.
The numbers which are now attached to the >dividual< resp. which are
specific for it open up access to spaces of information. These space can
differ among the individuals but the spaces must not longer follow the
simple structure of top and down. The access code may constitute complex
interacting  levels of freedom of information. What has been stressed
here, once passively, then actively, always reflects a shift concerning
the meaning of the division of space. This shift is also increasingly
present in the core of the disciplinary society, i.e. the prison.

Virilio has his own ideas about Goffman's favourite theme, the total
institutions. These thoughts lead towards mass-media: "The installation
of television sets in prison cells, instead of only in common rooms as
before, should have alarmed us. This decision, which has hardly been
analyzed, represents a characteristic evolution of the customs of
incarceration. Since the times of Bentham one used to identify the
prison with the panopticon, in other words, with central surveilance,
where the inmates are constantly observed by the wardens in whose
permanent scope they live.

Whereas today, prisoners can survey the events of the world (...) >To
survey and to punish< belong together, as M.Foucault has found out. What
kind of punishment could this apparent enlargement of freedom of the
prisoners be, if not the typical punishment of advertisement: desire.
Such was also the statement of a prisoner who had been asked his opinion
concerning this change: >Television only  makes prison harder. You see
everything that you miss, everything that you have no right to get.<"

Here, the prisoner quoted by Virilio seems to be subject to a widespread
illusion: to think that everybody has a right to participate at the
glamourous world of wealth and happiness that television presents as
reality. But should he live in freedom, i.e. probably in a block in an
underdog ghetto, nothing would be different from his life in prison. The
only possibility to take part at the glamour of high-society-style
consumption which is constantly  celebrated on television would be
robbery. But just this might have been what brought him into prison
before. His lack of adaption is therefore not based on his illusionof
having a right to participate, but rather in his lacking illusion to
participate already. He does not accept pictures as reality, but
perceives them as an offer of something that really exists (for him),
neither of which is true. So far as that, he does not suffer from a
fundamental deviation, but he rather lacks of fine adjustment  in his
illusions and desires. Thus, it would probably be acceptable to survey
him outside prison  by means of an  'electronic necklace'. This and
other new means of control will transforme the character of society. The
core technology of the information society is the computer. But new
technologies will not only bring new possibilities of control, but also
new way to "duck away from the eye of big brother",  and even new kinds
of resistance.

3.4. Computerization and Anti-Control-Movement

The background of computerzitation is the crisis of trust in technology.
In 1970 to 1980 there was a significant change of the belief in the
beneficial effects of technology in Western Germany. The reasons were
the increasing number of averages from Seveso to Harrisburg and a strong
social movement as a lobby for ecology and environment. The uncontrolled
development of economy and technology seemed to be more and more like
the "mega-machine": A  cancer-like growing complex. Computerzitation
could be considered as a new core of the traditional industrial conquest
of reality.

"Modern" is in the interpretation of  Jean-Francois Lyotard the
consciousness of a lack of meaning accompanied by many activities.
Modernity is the history of the "grand narratives" of emancipation (Age
of Enlightenment) and opulence (colonialism, capitalism, industrialism).
In Marxism these narratives were integrated  so it is not very
surprising when the failure of modernity emerges first in the marxist
contries. ("Like most postmodernists, Lyotard suspects Marxists of self
aggrandizing motives.")  His hypotheses: These grand narratives are
today no longer plausible for the most socities and haven't still the
power of social, political and cultural integration. The language is
bursting asunder in heteronomous Sprachspiele (games of language,
communication cultures) with own rules of communication, truths and
world views.

In the Age of Enlightment scientific rationalism was the only way of
rationalism, the only way to truth. In Lyotard's opinion this was a
structurally wrong idea. The dream of "...a meta-language for all
meanings is mixing up completly incompatible kinds of discourse and
bears the monster of confused reason."  The increasing disintegration of
the basic legitimations of modernity leads to some effort of
integration. The most efficient power is the mega-machine itself: In the
process of informatization/ computerization. It is the rule of the
"blind calculating reason of the capital" over all heteronomous
Sprachspiele by one type of language: Capitalism is exploiting a new
power of production -the language. Informatization is the infiltration
of the whole society, the usurpation of all important symbolic

Lyotard recommends a new style of using technology which is very similar
to the practise of computerfreaks., e.g. on the Chaos Communication
Congress 1990. Unifying effect of communication technology should be
destroyed by using it in an avant-garde way.  Lyotard (in unison with
Chaos Computer Club) calls for free entry to all data bases, all
information. The ideas of the postmodern philosopher become reality in
some aspects of the computer-freak subculture:     the    free and
responsible use of technology, the creative misuse of the mobilization
infrastructure  (e.g. hacking the electronic networks, phonefreaking

But the situation is more difficult: First, the computer-freaks "hacks"
(inventions) may have an unintentional value,  - so his work could be
grist to the mega-machine's mill. Second, his  "hacks" may become
criminalized by society  e.g. by new laws  against so-called "computer
sabotage". Third,  the computerfreak is more deeply involved in the
information techniques than e.g.  the Greens are in nuclear power. He or
she uses it more intensively than most of the engineers payed by IBM. At
last, there is the danger of a psychological submission of the
subculture to the technological way of communicating and thinking. A
possible way  is mentioned in recent publications on (and of) the
counterculture of the hackers: as an anti-control-movement they may have
a similar function for the computer technology as the ecological
movement for the nuclear power technology. The political utopia of this
communication-ecology may be formulated, according to Foucault, as
"Inverse Panopticon". In the next chapter this idea will be explained in
the context of cyberspace.  The most important question is: " to
deal with the media without becoming part of it?"

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Stefan Kurtz,06.Jul.1995
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