The breakdown of the criminal justice system in general and of prisons in particular is not a bug – it’s a feature. As institutions collapse, the lines between inside and outside blur. This allows previously domain-specific modes of subjectification to permeate society. Calls to reform prisons and the judicial system are hopelessly naïve because the prison now extends throughout the social terrain. We are in a state of omni-crisis where all institutions break down by design to justify the extension of technologies of domination outside of their original domain. This omni-crisis is exported globally, paving the way for new forms of colonialism and imperialism on the grounds that collapsed institutions must be reformed to their previous grandeur.
[Michael Hardt is an American political philosopher, “The Global Society of Control” Discourse , Fall 1998, Vol. 20, No. 3 https://www.jstor.org/stable/41389503] green = short
The passage from disciplinary society to the society of control is characterized first of all by the collapse of the walls that defined the institutions. There is progressively less distinction, in other words, between inside and outside. This is really part of a general change in the way that power marks space in the passage from modernity to postmodernity. Modern sovereignty has always been conceived in terms of a (real or imagined) territory and the relation of that territory to its outside. Early modern social theorists, for example, from Hobbes to Rousseau, understood the civil order as a limited and interior space that is opposed or contrasted to the external order of nature. The bounded space of civil order, its place, is defined by its separation from the external spaces of nature. In an analogous fashion, the theorists of modern psychology understood drives, passions, instincts, and the unconscious metaphorically in spatial terms as an outside within the human mind, a continuation of nature deep within us. Here the sovereignty of the Self rests on a dialectical relation between the natural order of drives and the civil order of reason or consciousness. Finally, modern anthropol- ogy's various discourses on primitive societies often function as the outside that defines the bounds of the civil world. The process of modernization, then, in all these varied contexts, is the internaliza- tion of the outside, that is, the civilization of nature.
In the postmodern world, however, this dialectic between inside and outside, between the civil order and the natural order, has come to an end. This is one precise sense in which the contemporary world is postmodern. "Postmodernism," Fredric Jameson tells us, "is what you have when the modernization process is complete and nature is gone for good."3 Certainly we continue to have forests and crickets and thunderstorms in our world, and we continue to understand our psyches as driven by natural instincts and passions, but we have no nature in the sense that these forces and phenomena are no longer understood as outside, that is, they are not seen as original and independent of the artifice of the civil order. In a postmodern world all phenomena and forces are artificial, or as some might say, part of history. The modern dialectic of inside and outside has been replaced by a play of degrees and intensities, of hybridity and artificiality.
Secondly, the outside has also declined in terms of a rather different modern dialectic that defined the relation between pub- lic and private in liberal political theory. The public spaces of modern society, which constitute the place of liberal politics, tend to disappear in the postmodern world. According to the liberal tradition, the modern individual, at home in its private spaces, regards the public as its outside. The outside is the place proper to politics, where the action of the individual is exposed in the presence of others and there seeks recognition. In the process of postmodernization, however, such public spaces are increasingly becoming privatized. The urban landscape is shifting from the modern focus on the common square and the public encounter to the closed spaces of malls, freeways, and gated communities. The architecture and urban planning of megalopolises such as Los Angeles and Sao Paulo have tended to limit public access and interaction as well as limited chance encounters of different social subjects, creating rather a series of protected interior and isolated spaces. Alternatively, consider how the banlieu of Paris has become a series of amorphous and indefinite spaces that promote isolation rather than any interaction or communication. Public space has been privatized to such an extent that it no longer makes sense to understand social organization in terms of a dialectic be- tween private and public spaces, between inside and outside.The place of modern liberal politics has disappeared and thus from this optic our postmodern and imperial society is characterized by a deficit of the political.In effect, the place of politics has been de- actualized.
In this regard, Guy Debord's analysis of the society of the spectacle, thirty years after its composition, seems ever more apt and urgent.4 In postmodern society the spectacle is a virtual place, or more accurately, a non-place of politics. The spectacle is at once unified and diffuse in such a way that it is impossible to distinguish any inside from outside - the natural from the social, the private from the public. The liberal notion of the public, the place outside where we act in the presence of others, has been both universalized (because we are always now under the gaze of others, monitored by safety cameras) and sublimated or de-actualized in the virtual spaces of the spectacle. The end of the outside is the end of liberal politics
Finally, from the perspective of Empire, or rather from that of the contemporary world order, there is no longer an outside also in a third sense, a properly military sense. When Francis Fukuyama claims that the contemporary historical passage is defined by the end of history, he means that the era of major conflicts has come to an end: in other words, sovereign power will no longer con- front its Other, it will no longer face its outside, but rather pro- gressively expand its boundaries to envelop the entire globe as its proper domain.5 The history of imperialist, interimperialist, and anti-imperialist wars is over. The end of that history has ushered in the reign of peace. Or really, we have entered the era of minor and internal conflicts. Every imperial war is a civil war, a police action- from Los Angeles and Granada to Mogadishu and Sarajevo. In fact, the separation of tasks between the external and internal arms of power (between the army and the police, the CIA and the FBI) is increasingly vague and indeterminate
In our terms the end of history that Fukuyama refers to is the end of the crisis at the center of modernity, the coherent and defin- ing conflict that was the foundation and raison d’etre for modern sovereignty. History has ended precisely and only to the extent that it is conceived in Hegelian terms- as the movement of a dialectic of contradictions, a play of absolute negations and subsumption. The binaries that defined modern conflict have become blurred. The Other that might delimit a sovereign Self has become fractured and indistinct, and there is no longer an outside that can bound the place of sovereignty. At one point in the Cold War, in an exaggerated version of the crisis of modernity, every enemy imaginable (from women's garden clubs and Hollywood films to national liberation movements) could be identified as communist, that is, part of the unified enemy. The outside is what gave the crisis of the modern and imperialist world its coherence.Today it is increasingly difficult for the ideologues of the United States to name the enemy, or rather there seem to be minor and elusive enemies everywhere.6 The end of the crisis of modernity has given rise to a proliferation of minor and indefinite crises in the imperial society of control, or as we prefer, to an omni-crisis
It is useful to remember here that the capitalist market is one machine that has always run counter toany division between inside and outside. The capitalist market is thwarted by exclusions and it thrives by including always increasing numbers within its sphere. Profit can only be generated through contact, engagement, interchange, and commerce. The realization of the world market would constitute the point of arrival of this tendency. In its ideal form there is no outside to the world market: the entire globe is its domain.7 We might use the form of the world market as a model for understanding the form of imperial sovereignty in its entirety. Perhaps, just as Foucault recognized the panopticon as the diagram of modern power and disciplinary society, the world market might serve adequately (even though it is not an architecture; it is really an anti-architecture) as the diagram of imperial power and the society of control
The striated space of modernity constructs places that are con- tinually engaged in and founded on a dialectical play with their outsides. The space of imperial sovereignty, in contrast, is smooth. It might appear that it is free of the binary divisions of modern boundaries, or striation, but really it is criss-crossed by so many fault lines that it only appears as a continuous, uniform space. In this sense, the clearly defined crisis of modernity gives way to an omni- crisis in the imperial framework. In this smooth space of empire, there is no place of power- it is both everywhere and nowhere.The empire is an u-topos , or rather a non-place.
The progressive lack of distinction between inside and outside in the passage from disciplinary society to the society of control, has important implications for the form of the social production of subjectivity. One of the central and most common theses of the institutional analyses of modern social theory is that subjectivity is not pre-given and original but at least to some degree formed in the field of social forces. The subjectivities that interact on the social plane are themselves substantially created by society. In this sense, these institutional analyses have progressively emptied out any notion of a presocial subjectivity; rather the production of subjectivity is rooted firmly in the functioning of the major social institutions, such as the prison, the family, the factory, and the school. Two aspects of this production process should be high-lighted. First, subjectivity is not regarded as something fixed or given. It is a constant process of generation. When the boss hails you on the shopfloor, or the gradeschool principle hails you in the school corridor a subjectivity is formed. The material practices set out for the subject in the context of the institution (be they kneeling down to pray or changing hundreds of diapers) are the production process of its own subjectivity. In a reflexive way, then, through its own actions the subject is acted on, generated. Second, the institutions provide above all a discrete place (the home, the chapel, the classroom, the shopfloor) where the production of subjectivity is enacted. The various institutions of modern society should be viewed as an archipelago of factories of subjectivity. In the course of a life, an individual passes linearly into and out of these various institutions (from the school to the barracks to the factory) and is formed by them. Each institution has its own rules and logics of subjectivation: "School tells us: 'You're not at home anymore'; the army tells us: 'You're not in school anymore.' "12 On the other hand, within the walls of each institution the individual is at least partially shielded from the forces of the other institutions- in the convent one is normally safe from the apparatus of the family, at home one is normally out of reach of factory discipline. The relation between inside and outside is central to the functioning of the modern institutions. In effect, the clearly delimited place of the institutions is reflected in the regular and fixed form of the subjectivities produced
In the passage to the society of control, the first aspect of the modern disciplinary condition is certainly still the case, that is, subjectivities are still produced in the social factory. In fact, the social institutions produce subjectivity in an ever more intense way. We might say that postmodernism is what you have when the modern theory of social constructivism is taken to its extreme and all subjectivity is recognized as artificial. The passage, then, is not one of opposition but rather of intensification. As we said earlier, the contemporary crisis of the institutions means that the enclosures that used to define the limited space of the institutions have broken down so that the logic that once functioned primarily within the institutional walls now spreads across the entire social terrain.We should note, however, that this omni-crisis of the institutions looks very different in different cases. In the United States, for example, there are continually decreasing proportions of the population involved in the nuclear family while steadily increasing proportions are confined to prisons. Both institutions, though, the nuclear family and the prison, can be said to be equally everywhere in crisis, in the sense that the place of their effectivity is increasingly undefined. The walls of the institutions are breaking down so that inside and outside become indistinguishable.One should not think that the crisis of the nuclear family has brought a decline in the forces of patriarchy- on the contrary, discourses and practices of "family values" seem to be everywhere across the social field. The old feminist slogan "the personal is political" has been reversed in such a way that the boundaries between public and private have been fractured, unleashing circuits of control throughout the "intimate public sphere."13 The crisis of the prison too means that carceral logics and techniques have increasingly spread to other domains of society.The production of subjectivity in the imperial society of control tends to be not limited to any specific places. One is always still in the family, always still in school, always still in prison, and so forth. In the general breakdown, then, the functioning of the institutions is both more intensive and more extensive. The institutions work even though they break down - and perhaps they work all the better the more they break down.Their logics pass in waves of intensity across undulating social surfaces. The indefinacy of the place of the production corresponds to the indeterminacy of the form of the subjectivities produced. The imperial social institutions of control might be seen then in a fluid process of the generation and corruption of subjectivity
Control is thus an intensification and generalization of discipline, when the boundaries of the institutions have been breached, corrupted, so that there is no longer a distinction between inside and outside.The Ideological State Apparatusses should also be recognized as operating in the society of control, perhaps with more intensity and flexibility that Althusser ever imagined
This passage is not isolated to the most economically advanced and powerful countries, but tends to be generalized to different degrees across the world. The apologia of colonial administration always involved its establishment of social and political institutions in the colonies. Today's noncolonial forms of domination equally involve the export of institutions. The project of political modern- ization in underdeveloped or subordinated countries is concerned centrally with the establishment of a stable set of institutions that constitute the backbone of a new civil society. The disciplinary regimes necessary to establish the global Fordist system of production, for example, required that a whole array of social and political institutions be in place. We can even point to examples of this exportation in direct and individual terms (which are only indicative of a more general and diffuse process) in which primary institutions in Europe and the United States adopt and foster fledgling institutions: official unions such as the AFL form and encourage foreign offspring, First World economists help create financial institutions and teach fiscal responsibility, and even par- liaments and the U.S. Congress teach forms and procedures of rule. Well, whereas in the process of modernization the most powerful countries export institutional forms to the subordinated ones, in the present process of postmodernization what is exported is the general crisis of the institutions.The Empire's institutional structure is like a software program that carries a virus along with it, so that it is continually modulating and corrupting the institutional forms around it. We have to forget any notion of a linear sequence of forms that each society must pass through- from so-called "prim- itiveness" to "civilization"- as if Latin American or African societies today could take the form that European society had 100 years ago. Each contemporary social formation is linked together as part of the imperial design. Those who are clamoring today for a new constitution of civil society as the vehicle for the transition from either socialist States or dictatorial regimes are merely nostalgic for a previous stage of capitalist society and stuck in a dream of political modernization that was not really so rosy even when it had a certain effectivity. Imperial postmodernization, in any case, makes all that irrevocably a thing of the past. The society of control is tendentially everywhere the order of the day.