Svyatoslav Kaspe 1
  • 1 National Research University Higher School of Economics, 20 Myasnitskaya Str., Moscow, 101000, Russian Federation

Light and Power: The Panopticon as a Political Form and its Variations

2020, vol. 19, No. 1, pp. 9–34 [issue contents]
After Michel Foucault, Bentham’s Panopticon became a widely recognized image of the modern state. The article focuses on some aspects of this strong metaphor that were not taken into account by Foucault or most other researchers. The question of the sources of light in the Panopticon, also understood metaphorically as a sine qua non for the exercise of power and for its legitimacy at the same time, allows to describe such variations of the state’s political form that is based on either a “political religion” (adjacent to a totalitarian phenomenon), or secular (adjacent to liberalism) and based on the “civil religion” (the most complicated of all). A key variable here is the mode to interface the political and the sacred. If in the pre-modern era the openness of political forms for influences emanating from the sacred was presumed, in modern states the political reaches autonomy; the political becomes emancipated from the sacred, and occupies its place in the most radical scenarios. The author argues that in the future, the highest sustainability will be demonstrated by those variations of the state political form in which this autonomy is not completed, or where the connections between the political and the sacred are maintained, albeit at a reduced level, that is, those in which “civil religion” is practiced.
Citation: Kaspe S. (2020) Svet i vlast': Panoptikon kak politicheskaya formai ee variatsii [Light and Power: The Panopticon as a Political Form and its Variations]. The Russian Sociological Review, vol. 19, no 1, pp. 9-34 (in Russian)
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