John D Radcliff, Specializing in Interactive Technology & Education!

Can people govern themselves?

        Should government be involved in governing people or can people govern themselves?  This is an interesting question which is raised in both of Foucault's writings.  Government is designed to provide and maintain order over its citizens.  We see this in Foucault's example of how a town in Europe maintained control and containment of its citizens during the plague in the 17 century.  The town needed to protect the population at large so it confined the infected people to their homes and would monitor them.  At the end of the town gates there were observation posts and sentinels in each of the streets.  I believe that in this situation people need the government to get involved in order to keep the peace.  Image if these guards and sentinel towers were not in place.  Mass riots, looting and people coming and going as they please would spread the disease to the masses and throw this town into chaos. 

        Now if we look at a government trying to govern a person's personal life (e.g. acts of sodamy) then government intervention is not necessary.  What people do or experience in the privacy of their own homes is their own business with the exception of an unlawful act (e.g. murder) or an epidemic outbreak.  People can govern themselves on a daily basis even the need of police officers giving people traffic or parking tickets is a means for the state authority to make money which is unnecessary.  To control traffic or parking issues, cameras or other sensory devices can be used were the government or state authority can still try to make money.  Then when a discrepancy arises a person can use a lawyer or go to court to dispute the ticket issued by the optical or sensory device.  Also, any citizen can view street or red light cameras through the internet which creates a panoptic structure in society. 

        This is in effect a way people can govern the government or state authority even if monitoring devices are used to monitor a citizen's activities in public.  People can then take it one step further and have their concerns be heard on or offline which can keep the balance of power in check with a government.  The current panoptic structures in society have created a balance of power which has given people the ability to govern themselves and have the government step in when necessary.  The more governments increase their monitoring capacities or capabilities to montior citizens, a stronger form of panoptic governance is created.

Scales of Justice




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