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Are Americans really free - Essay Example

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For the present report, I have chosen, I believe, a very burning issue of the modern American society - that of freedom. In fact, there has been much debate on this topic at different stages of development of the USA, and it is necessary to mention that the notion of freedom may change together with the times and peculiarities of the society…
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Are Americans really free
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Download file to see previous pages Historically, the USA is considered the birthplace of democracy, and which is important - democracy is an inborn feature of the American nation. The founding fathers of the Constitution of the United States can by no means be called the creators of our freedom - in fact, it already existed in the minds and, which is more important, lives of the colonists.
Taking into account all the above said, it seems irrelevant to even question the fact that the Americans are really free yes, things are not so unambiguous in the modern society, and there are phenomena and facts that certainly limit our freedom. In this report, we will concentrate upon the problem of the USA as a panoptic society and the way it limits personal freedom.
At the end of the 20th century (1975), a French philosopher Michel Foucault wrote a book Surveiller et punir (Disciple and punish) that gave a historical account of European prison, and the ideas contained in this book have become the basis for the new philosophy. The reason why we have to talk about Foucault's work is because the philosopher was the one who gave a new birth to the term "panopticum" that was first used by Jeremy Bentham in the 18th century to describe a prison allowing to constantly observe the prisoners, and which is more, ever since Foucault's book was released, the modern society began to be regarded as "panoptic" by some researchers.
Foucault shows, in effect, how the system of surveillance first practiced in nineteenth-century prisons - those 'complete and austere institutions', as Baltard called them - has increasingly spread throughout modern Westernized societies. This dynamic is terminologically reflected in the shift from what Jrgen Habermas originally called the 'structural transformation of public space' to what he came to call the 'colonization of the life-world'. Colonization has returned home, equipped with appropriate technology. A new, and no less 'peculiar', Apparatus is central to Foucault's account: Bentham's Panopticum. (The Lesser Evil 2003, p. 55)
Whereas M. Foucault begins from describing a prison, he finally reaches the conclusion that practically all social institutions are panoptic by their nature - i.e. hospital's wards, school or university's classes, etc. In a panopticum, "[a]n individual is an object of information, but is never a subject of communication". (Foucault 1999, pp. 292) Hence, since panopticum is meant to keep people from communicating, it is a way to suppress their freedom. As Foucault has it: "If there are criminals in the cells, there is no danger of a plot,.. if there are ill people-there is no danger of spreading infection. If there are insane people - there will be no risk of mutual violence; if these are schoolchildren - they will never be able to cheat; if workers are kept there-there are none of the pleasures which can keep them away from work". (Foucault 1999, pp. 293-294)
For the French philosopher, panopticum is not only a certain particular organisation - it is, in fact, a principle, a mechanism that acts in the society and serves as means of suppressing individualism, controlling people, turning them into a crowd, forcing onto them some particular type of behaviour - all in all, limiting their ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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