FOUCAULT : Goverment Surveillance & Prison


On the 2nd of March 1757 Robert-Francois Damiens, who had attempted to assassinate King Louis XV of France, was taken through the streets of Paris wearing nothing but a shirt and holding a torch of burning wax to the Place de Grave, where the flesh was torn from his chest, arms, thighs and calves with red-hot pincers; his right hand, holding the knife with which he had committed the crime, was burnt with sulphur so the knife and his hand melted together, and, molten lead, boiling oil, burning resin, wax and sulphur was poured on his wounds.

His body was drawn and quartered by four horses, and his limbs and body were burned, and his ashes were thrown to the winds.

And I thought my weekend was bad! French philosopher Michel Foucault says that the way a society treats and defines its criminals says a lot about the nature of power in that society. The punishment of criminals has changed a lot over the last 250 years. It used to be very public and very gruesome, like the execution of Damiens, a spectacular reminder of the violence that made the boss the boss.

And it focused mainly on the body too: with executions, torture, branding, flogging, burning – all ways of inflicting physical pain. Nowadays punishment takes place further from the public eye. Further from government control too, with privately run prisons in operation.

The penal system – that’s law, policing, and surveillance – has also expanded hugely. You can’t live in a remote fishing village and act like you don’t know who the King is anymore, there are no “outlaws” – the law is everywhere, and applies everywhere, especially with surveillance, which we’ll be talking about in Part 2.

Nowadays punishment ostensibly aims more at the mind than the body as well. The story is that rather than inflicting punishment for punishment’s sake, the function of punishment is to prevent crime or reform criminals. But despite that, crime still happens.

And reoffending rates are pretty high. In fact some people have even argued that going to prison makes it more likely that you’ll reoffend. And there are some other odd things about the way the penal system functions too: for instance it seems to prioritise certain types of crime. A while ago in my country, the UK, a lot of companies were found to have been underpaying their staff; and they were forced to give them backpay and the companies were “named and shamed.” As a private citizen, try stealing that amount of money from a company and you won’t just have to give it back; you go to prison. We worry in my country a lot about benefit fraud but corporate tax avoidance costs us far more every year. Your local drug dealer or sex worker probably worry about getting their doors kicked in and getting dragged away by the police, but how many of the people responsible for the 2008 financial crash ever saw the inside of a jail?

And where banks were forced to pay settlements and fines a lot of that money came from shareholders and was tax deductible! In my country the police can stop and search you under certain circumstances, but you’re much more likely to get stopped and searched if you’re a black or minority ethnic person, and less than half of all stop and searches actually end in anyone being arrested.

So for a system that is supposed to prevent crime and reform criminals fairly and justly, the penal system sure has a funny way of going about it! And yet whenever anyone points this out the supposed answer is always, “More police, more prisons, more of the same.” Foucault says that’s because the penal system isn’t supposed to prevent crime, or reform criminals, or even dole out justice.

It exists to defend the power of the ruling class. Pause: step away from the comments section! Before I give you the details and before you leave a comment, you need to understand what this means. When Foucault says, ‘The penal system exists to defend the power of the ruling class’

He is not saying that there’s some shadowy conspiracy of bankers and politicians planning to use the penal system to take over the world, right?


‘The penal system exists to defend the power of the ruling class’

is like saying, ‘The human eye is designed for taking in light.’

The human eye was not designed: it evolved. But saying,

“designed to take in light”

Gets across the idea that it’s very good at that job and pressure to do that job was instrumental in its development. I It’s perfectly possible that many of the people in the penal system – lawyers, judges, police officers – really want to prevent crime and really want to do good and are lovely people.

That is completely consistent with what Foucault is saying: you can be a police officer and read Foucault. Please do! What he’s asking though is, when the penal system fails to achieve its stated goals who benefits from that failure? It’s also worth revisiting what philosophers and academics mean when they talk about “class.”

Classes are ways of talking about groups of people who are in similar situations or have similar experiences especially in terms of their access to money and power. If you’re in the same class as someone else it does not mean that your experience are identical. It’s a little bit like when we talk about the weather.

We know that not every air molecules in a weather front has the same temperature, speed, and direction; those molecules act as individuals. But we can model trends in groups of them and ask what we can learn by looking at those trends. Especially when we’re talking about the penal system and who gets arrested and who gets stopped and searched, never forget that things like race, gender, and ability can massively impact which class you fall into.

Okay, now we’re ready to continue. Foucault thinks that the function of the penal system is to recycle “waste product” into something useful, or at least profitable. That waste product is criminals, but only criminals of certain kinds: the ones not useful to the ruling classes.

That’s why a lot of the injustices we mentioned earlier tend to get treated a bit more leniently: if you’re a “job creator” you are very useful to the ruling classes especially when power is explicitly capitalist, as it is in the West. Because the law is set by the ruling classes they are very well represented in the administrators of the law: the politicians, the judges, the lawyers, the criminologists, these people are often white, often wealthy, often highly educated.

Not always, just often: remember weather fronts. Whereas the working classes, those surplus to power’s requirements, are more often found among those on the receiving end of penal justice. If you ever get the chance, as I have, just go and sit in a courtroom for a day and take a look at the differences between the kinds of people being accused of crimes generally and the kinds of people doing the accusing, generally.

If Foucault is right then as technology makes more and more traditionally working class jobs obsolete we would expect to see a rise in the prison population – and we have. Foucault says all that happens because the penal system isn’t supposed to be just, or fair, or even prevent crime, it’s supposed to make people useful to the ruling classes. He writes, “Prison, and no doubt punishment in general, is not intended to eliminate offences, but rather to distinguish them, to distribute them, to use them; that it is not so much that they render docile those who are liable to transgress the law, but that they tend to assimilate the transgression of the laws in a general tactics of subjection.” So now you know Foucualt’s general thesis – that the penal system is a tool for defending the power of the ruling class.

But save your questions and comments for Part 2, because you need to know how that works, you need to know the mechanism. In Part 2 we’ll be talking about government surveillance, prisons, and forced labour!

Welcome back. In Part 1 we talked about French philosopher Michel Foucault’s thesis that the penal system – that’s laws, policing, and survellance – exists not to prevent crime but to defend the power of the ruling class.

And that was supposed to explain some of the odd and inconsistent ways we see those systems actually being applied in the real world.

But in this Part 2 it’s time to learn about how he thinks the penal system defends the power of the ruling class – what is the mechanism there?

And in order to understand that, we need to talk about Bentham. 18th and 19th Century English philosopher Jeremy Bentham designed a hypothetical prison called the ‘Panopticon.’ The Panopticon is a circular prison with cells built into the circular wall and a central observation tower.

From the tower you can see into every cell, and from each cell you can see that the tower is there. But the tower is designed with shutters and blinds so that the prisoners can’t see into it, they can only see that it’s there. So at any moment the prisoners can’t be sure that they’re being watched but they know there’s a pretty good chance they might be. The name Panopticon is a reference to Argus Panoptes, a mythological Greek giant with 100 eyes. And the upshot of this design, Bentham thought, is that the prisoners would bloody well behave themselves all the time!

Just knowing that you’re visible, he thought, would be enough to keep you in line.

You wouldn’t need whips or chains or truncheons – most of the time: you keep them in reserve, just in case. But most of the time the prisoners would regulate their own conduct. He thought that as far as possible the prisoners should actually be under 24/7 surveillance but the great thing about the Panopticon’s design, he thought, is that even if you can’t quite manage that the prisoners are gonna behave themselves anyway because they don’t know whether or not they’re being watched 24/7.

He also goes on at great length describing how the Panopticon could be privately run and profitable, which will be important in a second. What Foucault realised is that the Panopticon is more than a building.

It’s the embodiment of a set of four principles. The first is Pervasive Power: the tower sees into every cell and sees everything that goes on, so it can regulate everything. The second is Obscure Power: the tower sees into the cells, but the prisoners can’t see into the tower, and they can’t ever know when, how, or why they’re being observed. Third: direct violence is replaced by structural violence.

Bentham makes a big deal about how you wouldn’t need chains or beatings – that prisoners would behave themselves “without being coerced.”

But what he doesn’t realise is that the structure of the Panopticon itself is coercive. It subjugates the prisoners just by being there. If you’d like to know more about the difference between direct violence and structural violence there are some links in the doobleydoo.

The fourth principle is related: and that’s that working towards power’s goals is the only option available. Bentham thought that you could make the Panopticon profitable: you could make the prisoners work on whatever you wanted and then sell the things they make for profit if the only alternative was to sit in their cells and and eat bread and water.

That’s taking the structural violence and using it for the benefit of those in power. By using these four principles the people running the Panopticon can expand their power into every facet of the prisoners’ lives and mould them into the kind of obedient workers that they want. The question they start with is,

‘What is good for me?’


‘What is good for the prisoners?’

or even,

‘Should these people be prisoners in the first place?’

And because the Panopticon is a set of principles Bentham thought you could make a panoptic hospital, you could make a panoptic school, you could make a panoptic mental ward – And Foucault realised you could even make a panoptic country.

There’s a connection between being seen and being known. When we learn something we might say,

“Oh, I see!”

or if we don’t understand:

“I’m in the dark.”

The more power knows, the more it sees into the prisoners’ cells, the more pervasive it becomes. So let’s shift now from the hypothetical to the real world. When Edward Snowden revealed that the US, UK, Australian, New Zealand, and Canadian governments were monitoring citizens’ phone calls and emails, and even forcing internet service providers to hand over personal information – why were they gathering all that data? Is there any reason to believe that all those people might be criminals?

Six British journalists are currently suing the Metropolitan Police Force because they found they were on the Met’s ‘Domestic Extremism Watchlist.’ These are political journalists: they take photos of political protests, a perfectly respectable job. I’ve even met some of them, they’re quite nice. But they found that their movements, their phone numbers, their addresses, even their clothing and medical records had all been noted on a police computer somewhere. Why?

Last time we talked about the police stopping and searching people in the UK. If that happens to you the police may ask you for your name and address, even though you’re not always actually required to give them that information. So why do they ask?

Well, the official answer to all these is that it’s hard to tell a criminal from a normal person and some investigation techniques, especially those that rely on technology, are unfortunately a little bit blunt.

And yeah, Ok, maybe that’s part of it. But Foucault would say that all that surveillance serves the ulterior purpose of expanding power. Allowing it to see further into the prisoners’ cells and regulate what it finds there.

That last one, stop and search, might also serve the purpose of reminding you that the tower is there. In the UK less than half of all stop and searches end in an arrest and you are much more likely to get stopped and searched if you’re a black or minority ethnic person – that is explained if the purpose of stop and search is more about reminding you that the police are watching and less to do with actually catching criminals. If you are in the UK and you want to know more about your rights with stop and search – what kinds of things you have to tell the police and what you don’t have to tell them – the London Campaign Against Police & State Violence is a great resource. Links in the doobleydoo.

Remember, you don’t have to forget legitimate security concerns – you can be a police officer or work for MI5 and still read Foucault!

You can be an anarchist or police abolitionist and still read Foucault! What he’s reminding us is that surveillance is necessarily a form of control. Some people say that when it comes to government surveillance the good have nothing to fear, but Foucault argues that if you’re being surveilled that is necessarily opposed to your freedom. And it’s never politically neutral.

If the people who design and staff the tower in the Panopticon are sexist, racist, transphobic, ableist, against sex workers, are particularly fond of capitalism, or whatever, then the Panopticon itself and the behaviours that it enforces on its prisoners will reflect that. Foucault calls the penal system, “A subtle, calculated technology of subjection.”

If you’re having conversations in your class about this, or you’re writing comments, you might wanna think about how could we dismantle panoptic structures and replace them with alternative law enforcement strategies; do we need to do that? Do you agree with Foucault?

Do you think that he’s right?

And would changing who sits in the tower necessarily make a Panoptic system better?





Pengertian Hegemoni

Istilah hegemoni berasal dari bahasa Yunani kuno yaitu ‘eugemonia’. Sebagaimana yang dikemukakan encylclopedia Britanica dalam prakteknya di Yunani, diterapkan untuk menunjukkan dominasi posisi yang diklaim oleh negara-negara kota (polism atau citystates) secaara individual misalnya yang dilakukan opleh negara Athena dan Sparta terhadap negara-negara lain yang sejajar (Hendarto, 1993:73).

Jika dikaitkan pada masa kini, pengertian hegemoni menunjukkan sebuah kepemimpinan dari suatu negara tertentu yang bukan hanya sebuah negara kota terhadap negara-negara lain yang berhubungan secara longgar maupun secara ketat terintegrasi dalam negara “pemimpin”. Dalam politik internasional dapat dilihat ketika adanya perang pengaruh pada perang dingin antara Amerika Serikat dengan Uni Sovyet yang biasanya disebut sebagai perang untuk menjadi kekuatan hegemonik dunia.[1] Adapun teori hegemoni yang dicetuskan Gramsci adalah:

Sebuah pandangan hidup dan cara berpikir yang dominan, yang di dalamnya sebuah konsep tentang kenyataan disebarluaskan dalam masyarakat baik secara institusional maupun perorangan; (ideologi) mendiktekan seluruh cita rasa, kebiasaan moral, prinsip-prinsip religius dan politik, serta seluruh hubungan-hubungan sosial, khususnya dalam makna intelektual dan moral.”[2]

Berdasarkan pemikiran Gramsci tersebut dapat dijelaskan bahwa hegemoni merupakan suatu kekuasaan atau dominasi atas nilai-nilai kehidupan, norma, maupun kebudayaan sekelompok masyarakat yang akhirnya berubah menjadi doktrin terhadap kelompok masyarakat lainnya dimana kelompok yang didominasi tersebut secara sadar mengikutinya. Kelompok yang didominasi oleh kelompok lain (penguasa) tidak merasa ditindas dan merasa itu sebagai hal yang seharusnya terjadi.[3]

Dengan demikian mekanisme penguasaan masyarakat dominan dapat dijelaskan sebagai berikut:Kelas dominan melakukan penguasaan kepada kelas bawah menggunakan ideologi. Masyarakat kelas dominan merekayasa kesadaran masyarakat kelas bawah sehingga tanpa disadari, mereka rela dan mendukung kekuasaan kelas dominan.


Berdasarkan pemikiran Gramsci tersebut dapat dijelaskan bahwa hegemoni merupakan suatu kekuasaan atau dominasi atas nilai-nilai kehidupan, norma, maupun kebudayaan sekelompok masyarakat yang akhirnya berubah menjadi doktrin terhadap kelompok masyarakat lainnya dimana kelompok yang didominasi tersebut secara sadar mengikutinya. Kelompok yang didominasi oleh kelompok lain (penguasa) tidak merasa ditindas dan merasa itu sebagai hal yang seharusnya terjadi. jika direfleksikan ke dalam kehidupan sosial-politik di Indonesia saat ini, maka saya mencoba mengambil contoh adanya ‘pasar modern ‘ yang marak saat ini dan menyebar hampir keseluruh wilayah di Indonesia. Pasar modern ini contohnya ada berbagai macam, diantaranya yang saya tahu adalah mini market (Alfamart,Indomaret, dsb) lalu adanya Mall yang dekat dengan rumah saya yaitu Metropolitan Mall, Giant, Bekasi Cyber Park, Bekasi Square, dsb. Serta makin maraknya bisnis waralaba yang ada dan datang dari Barat seperti KFC, McDonald, CFC, A&W, dsb.

Dari ketiga contoh tersebut dapat dikategorikan ke dalam bentuk hegemoni yang dilakukan oleh klas-klas borjuis menurut Gramsci dan penikmatnya termasuk klas proletarian. Dalam tulisan ini saya akan lebih memfokuskan pada refleksi tentang hegemoni dalam bentuk mall. Karena menurut saya mall adalah salah satu bentuk hegemoni berlapiskan budaya. Jika kita perhatikan, kini semakin maraknya pembangunan mall-mall di tanah air baik di ibu kota maupun di daerah. Dengan hadirnya mall di hampir setiap daerah, ternyata menimbulkan dampak yang cukup berarti. Melalui mall banyak hal yang dapat terjadi, lifestyle kita dipengaruhi. Mulai dari fashion, makanan, dsb. seolah-olah mall adalah sesuatu yang mempunyai legitimasi untuk membuat parameter seperti apakah seharusnya lifestyle  masyarakat saat ini. Mall lah yang dapat menjustifikasi mana yang modern dan mana yang norak. Disitulah, terjadi hegemoni budaya yang dikemas dalam pola lifestyle yang berpola pada kebudayaan tertentu.

Dan disini negara pun ikut menjadi pelaku dari tindakan ‘hegemoni’. Peran negara sebagai pemegang kekuasaan tertinggi maka negara punya andil besar telah memberikan ijin bagi para pengusaha mall untuk mendirikan usahanya dan mengalahkan pasar tradisional. Maka dapat disimpulkan bahwa hegemoni yang dilakukan oleh mall mempunyai dampak yang signifikan dalam masyarakat Indonesia masa kini.

Mengapa Gramsci Penting dalam Studi HI?

Sejak Robert Cox menulis buku Power, Production, and World Orders (1977), perspektif Gramscian mulai diperkenalkan dalam studi Hubungan Internasional. Perspektif ini seperti menjadi ‘undangan untuk angkat kaki dari tatanan dunia yang berlaku saat ini dan mempertanyakan apa jadinya tatanan itu’ (Cox, 1981 via Sugiono, 1999: 17). Karya Cox meramaikan perdebatan dalam studi Hubungan Internasional (HI) yang kala itu masih didominasi oleh pendekatan realisme, yang menerima begitu saja konsep ‘kepentingan nasional,’ ‘negara sebagai aktor tunggal,’ dan sejenisnya, dalam Hubungan Internasional.

Walaupun Gramsci tidak menulis spesifik dalam tema Hubungan Internasional, teori Gramsci tentang Hegemoni menjadi satu batu loncatan untuk memahami bagaimana sebuah kekuatan dunia dikonsolidasikan. Inilah yang menjadi concern utama dari Muhadi Sugiono, ketika mendiskusikan analisis Gramsci secara teoretik. Teori Gramsci berada di bawah satu tema tunggal ‘hegemoni’ (h. 19). Gramsci mendefinisikan ‘hegemoni’ sebagai ‘kepemimpinan moral dan intelektual secara konsensual’ yang mengimplikasikan adanya kepatuhan secara sadar atas kekuasaan seseorang (h. 31). Dalam perspektif ini, kekuasaan dibangun bukan melalui koersi, kekerasan, dan paksaan, melainkan melalui konsensus atau kontrol (h. 35).

Bagaimana hegemoni tersebut diciptakan? Proses penciptaan hegemoni memerlukan apa yang disebut sebagai ‘blok historis,’ atau ‘hubungan resiprokal antara wilayah aktivitas etik, politik, maupun ideologis dengan wilayah ekonomi.’ Blok historis adalah aliansi dari berbagai kekuatan sosial yang disatukan secara politis dalam satu perangkat ide-ide hegemonik’ (h. 42). Hegemoni itu sendiri diciptakan melalui praktek penundukkan dan persetujuan. Sementara menundukkan dan memenangkan persetujuan kelompok lain, sebuah kelompok harus mampu menciptakan ‘blok historis’ guna memperjuangkan ide-idenya menjadi sebuah pandangan dunia yang universal.

Oleh sebab itu, ‘ide’ memainkan peran penting (h. 39). Agar sebuah kelompok bisa menundukkan dan memenangkan persetujuan dari kelompok lain, maka ia mesti melakukan ‘importasi’ ide. Karenanya, bagi Gramsci, sebuah ide hanya akan menemukan momentum transformatifnya jika ia menjadi ideologi. Menurut Gramsci, sebuah ide tidak lahir secara spontan, ia pasti ‘memiliki pusat informasi, iradiasi, persebaran, persuasi… yang mengembangkan dan menghadirkan keduanya dalam realitas politik mutakhir’ (h. 40). Artinya, untuk menciptakan dan memproduksi hegemoni, sebuah kelompok membutuhkan ideologi dimana ideologi tersebut mesti memiliki basis material, didorong oleh seorang ‘intelektual,’ dan kemudian menjadi pandangan universal. Hanya dengan kondisi itulah maka penundukkan dan persetujuan menjadi mungkin dilakukan.

Konsekuensi logisnya, untuk menciptakan hegemoni diperlukan seorang ‘intelektual organik’ yang mampu menggerakkan blok historis dengan ide-idenya. Menurut Gramsci, setiap orang adalah intelektual, tetapi tidak semua orang memiliki fungsi intelektual (di masyarakat). Setiap kekuatan sosial yang hegemonik, ditopang oleh intelektual yang memproduksi pengetahuan dan memberi legitimasi pada tatanan yang dibangun oleh kekuatan sosial tersebut (h. 44). Peran sentral intelektual inilah yang kemudian membawa kekuatan tersebut menjadi kekuatan yang hegemonik.

Namun, tentu saja, pada dasarnya, ada kekuatan-kekuatan lain yang saling berkontestasi dan berupaya untuk menjadi hegemon. Oleh sebab itulah, Gramsci melihat bahwa status hegemonik sebuah kekuatan sosial akan sangat ditentukan oleh kemampuannya memenangkan ‘perang posisi,’ yaitu ‘proses transformasi kultural yang menghancurkan posisi hegemonik tertentu’(h. 46). Untuk menghancurkan hegemoni, maka perlu diciptakan kondisi-kondisi yang memungkinkan krisis hegemonik itu terjadi sehingga membuka jalan bagi adanya perubahan sosial.

Pendekatan Gramscian sebagaimana dianalisis oleh Sugiono (dan juga, dalam beberapa hal, Cox) sangat menekankan aspek suprastruktur (ide) dibanding produksi. Hal ini terlihat jelas pada kerangka berpikir Sugiono yang melihat Gramsci ‘melampaui pandangan determinisme ekonomi Marx’ (h. 13). Akan tetapi, pandangan ini bukannya tanpa sanggahan. Lorenzo Fusaro, misalnya, melihat bahwa Gramsci, secara fundamental, justru mengambil kerangka berpikir yang sangat Marxian – dalam arti sejarah ia pandang sebagai sesuatu yang ‘objektif’ dan ‘independen dari hubungan sosial manusia’ karena ia memiliki pijakan pada relasi produksi yang dilakukan oleh manusia (Fusaro, 2011).

Dalam analisis Fusaro, hegemoni pada dasarnya harus dilihat dalam kerangka hubungan produksi yang material, bukan sekadar transformasi ide-ide. Bahwa ide-ide, dalam analisis Gramscian, adalah penting, tetapi ia bersifat instrumental. Hal ini sebetulnya diakui sendiri oleh Cox dalam karyanya yang terbaru, The Political Economy of Plural World (2004), bahwa realitas manusia dilahirkan mula-mula dari produksi, walaupun ia sendiri malu-malu untuk mengakui bahwa argumennya berasal dari Marx (Cox, 2004: 31. cf. p. 27). Femia (2008) cukup tepat ketika mengritik pandangan Cox dan perspektif serupa yang ‘terpengaruh’ oleh pandangan post-Marxisme yang memiliki problem dalam melihat sisi objektif dari pemikiran Gramsci. Hal ini bisa berakibat pada ‘reduksi’ pandangan Gramsci menjadi anti-saintifik dan membuat kita gagal menjadikan Gramsci sebagai pisau analisis yang memadai dan objektif untuk mengiris tabir yang meliputi realitas sosial, wa bil khusus realitas kapitalisme global kontemporer.

Dengan demikian, untuk memahami Gramsci, dan lebih jauh, menjadikan Gramsci sebagai ‘pisau’ untuk mengupas perkembangan kapitalisme global kontemporer, kita tidak cukup melihat hanya pada kerangka gagasan/ideologi, tetapi juga fondasi apa yang memungkinkan gagasan itu terbentuk. Pada titik inilah kita meletakkan konsep ‘hegemoni’. Ada ungkapan menarik dari Gramsci, bahwa ‘a class is dominant in two ways, that is, it is “leading” and “dominant”…. one should not count solely on the power and material force which such a position gives in order to exercise political leadership or hegemony’ (Gramsci, 1929: 41 via Fusaro, 2011). Ungkapan ini memberikan clue untuk memahami ‘hegemoni’ dalam cara yang berbeda – bukan tujuan; melainkan strategi untuk mengokohkan kekuasaan.

‘Hegemoni’ perlu dipahami sebagai cara/strategi untuk melegitimasi kekuasaan material (power and material force) yang sudah dibangun. Sehingga, bukan hanya gagasan yang menentukan, tetapi basis material apa yang menyebabkan gagasan tersebut bisa bertahan. Dalam perspektif ini, kita dapat melihat bahwa hegemoni adalah cara peneguhan kekuasaan setelah menguasai basis produksi. Maka, ‘intelektual organik’ bisa kita pahami sebagai ‘intelektual yang merepresentasikan kelompok sosial tertentu dalam relasi produksi yang ada di masyarakat, dan membawa gagasan-gagasan untuk membuat tatanan yang ia bentuk bisa bertahan secara hegemonik. Keberadaan intelektual bersifat instrumental terhadap relasi produksi yang ada.


Nezar Patria, Antonio Gramsci Negara & Hegemoni, (Yogyakarta : Pustaka Pelajar. 1999)

Artikel “Hegemoni budaya”,  Jumat, 11 September 2009, dalam situs

[1] Nezar Patria, Antonio Gramsci Negara & Hegemoni, (Yogyakarta : Pustaka Pelajar. 1999) hal. 116






Hey guy its voluntary, its not real capitalism!

If nobody was forced to do anything then they probably chose to do this because it was better for them than not doing it

That makes it a lesser of two evils choice. Structural coercion.

“It’s a fact that you need resources to survive…”

And since such resources in a capitalist system are enclosed via private property norms, that gives those that “own” such resources a position of hierarchical power over those that do not.

Is child labor denial the cappie version of holocaust denial?

Ancoms, you only have two options here. Either A. defend this, or B. find a way to blame this on capitalism.

“A six year old with a job is making morel money then a six year old without a job. If he goes to school and geta and education what happens the the poor coal baron….. He’d have to pay a grown man twice as much and then he couldn’t afford his new castle… The free market provides!”

Child labor is actually usually a symptom of poverty in which a child HAS to work in order for them/their family to survive. If they go to school rather than work it’s likely they’re family won’t survive well.

You retards want to know about child labor? Go read Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder. That will give you a good look into the life of a 9 year old round about 1880. Just a warning, you will find out that you are a pussy assed little bitch. Especially you Chuck Kandler.

Don’t have to do either actually. Child labor used to be a necessary evil of sorts, as it is the result of abject poverty, which is the default position of humanity and so would have been present at the start of any economic system. Capitalism created an abundance of wealth, and reduced the cost of living to well below the value of our children’s time and health. We no longer need to make such sacrifice


The Best Time I Pretended I Hadn’t Heard of Slavoj Žižek


One weird trick to frustrate the hell out of a Marxist bro


The other night, I pretended I didn’t know who Slavoj Žižek, the Slovenian Hegelian Marxist and cultural critic, was. I’ve done this before, but never to such triumphant effect. This Marxist bro I was talking to made a reference to Žižek that he obviously assumed I would get, and my heart sank. He was a nice guy, actually, but I saw the conversation stretching out in front of us, and I saw myself having to say things about Žižek and listen to him say things about Žižek, and I saw that I really did not want this to happen. “This is a bar,” I wanted to say, the same way that my grandmother might have said “This is a church.” A bar is not the appropriate venue for a loud, show-offy conversation about The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology.

At first, I thought I might be able to get away with ignoring the reference. Not so. He made another one, and then another one, and then said, sort of desperately, “Žižek argues that…” I saw the gap, and I took it. I asked him who that was, and he assumed I hadn’t heard him over the music. “ŽIŽEK” he shouted. “SLAVOJ ŽIŽEK.” I told him I’d never heard of such a person, and his eyes widened. His attempts to explain were met with the same denials. Celebrity philosopher? Nope. Lacan? Nope. Hegel? Nope. I stopped short of saying I had never heard of Karl Marx, but only just. This guy couldn’t believe it. How could I have never heard of Žižek?

He moved through the stages that everyone moves through when they have fallen prey to the Žižek Maneuver: disbelief, defiance, and finally, dizzy irritation. Maybe even a bit of actual anger. I could see that he thought I might be messing with him, but he could not prove it. He gave up on me shortly afterwards, and ignored me for the rest of the night. Later I saw him talking to his friends and pointing at me. I imagined what he was saying: “That girl over there, she doesn’t even know who Žižek is. ŽIŽEK.” I smiled at him and waved.


This is the Žižek game, and I am going to teach you how to play it. Think of these instructions as the opposite of the ones offered in “How to Be Polite,” Paul Ford’s beautiful essay about graciousness and its effects on other people. Ford’s advice is meant to be lived by. My advice is intended only for special occasions. It is for when you have an itch to scratch, and that itch is called, “a puerile desire to get on other people’s nerves.” All you do is stonily deny any knowledge of a person or cultural touchstone that you should, by virtue of your other cultural reference points, be aware of. These will of course be different for everyone, but my favorites include:

Žižek, John Updike, MORRISSEY (only for experts), Radiohead, Twin Peaks, David Lynch in general, Banksy (only for streetfighters), Withnail and I, Bauhaus (movement), Bauhaus (band), Afrika Burn, the expression “garbage person,” A Clockwork Orange, Steampunk (this one is really good), Jack Kerouac, “Gilmore Girls,” Woody Allen, the expression “grammar nerd,” the expression “grammar Nazi,” cocktails, bongs, magical realism, millennials, Cards Against Humanity, trance parties, bunting, many comedians, William Gibson, burlesque, the Beats, The God Delusion, sloths, anarchism, Joy Division, CrossFit, “The Mighty Boosh,” and Fight Club.


Find someone who is crazy about Morrissey, and pretend you have no idea who that is. It drives people nuts. I don’t know why, but it does. Just kidding, I know exactly why, because I myself have been on the receiving end of the Žižek Maneuver. This girl I had a bit of a crush on told me she had never watched “Twin Peaks,” and it damn near killed me. The reason I had a crush on her in the first place is because we liked so many of the same books, and movies, and music. How could she have never watched “Twin Peaks?” Was she messing with me? How? It did not for a second occur to me that she just hadn’t got round to it. My immediate response was to believe that she had deliberately not watched it in order to get on my nerves. When she told me later that of course she had watched “Twin Peaks,” my eye started twitching.

This is the beating heart of the Žižek Game: the disbelief that something you care about has failed to register on the consciousness of another. The agony of suspecting that someone has looked at Slavoj Žižek’s Wikipedia page and thought “I do not need to know about this man.”

The game has a few rules. They are there for your safety, as well as that of your opponent.

1. This game can only be played with people who don’t know you very well. Otherwise you will be out there lying to some bros about how you don’t know what Fight Club is, and your brother will just lean over and say “Bullshit. I’ve watched it with you twice.” Game over.

2. Choose your opponent carefully. It has to be someone who is cut from the same cloth, because they need to be stunned by your apparent ignorance. I live in Cape Town, which feels like one of the most cliquey cities in the world, so it’s easy for me to find people to play with. It might be harder where you are.

3. Choose your subject carefully, too. The game works best when you choose something that is normally the prompt for a great deal of intellectual posturing, of talking in a loud, bored voice.

4. Your success in this game depends on your ability to cope with people thinking you are dumb. This is so important. Adolescent conditioning—I grew up in a city with a strong surf/skate subculture of people who like to get extremely high—means that I am not only comfortable with people thinking I am dumb, I actually lean into it. I pretend I’ve never heard of Roman Polanski all the time. I do not falter, and neither must you. Your opponent must never have the satisfaction of looking down on you. When they begin to scoff and roll their eyes, because how could you have never heard of the Weimar Republic, you must simply smile and shrug your shoulders. If you look abashed, your opponent has won.

5. Please note: do not confuse this game with the phenomenon known as “performative dislike of something that other people love.” Saying that you hate the Beatles is not at all the same thing as saying that you have never heard of the Beatles.

6. Most importantly: Don’t do this to anyone who will be hurt by it, as opposed to merely irritated. If a nerd is holding forth enthusiastically on his chosen topic, it’s unkind to say that you don’t know what he’s talking about. He will be crushed. Similarly, if someone is very excited about something, it’s best just to go along with it. When I was about eleven, my dad got a new job and, with it, a company car. This was a big deal. My family had a long history of owning extremely shitty and/or impractical cars, so any departure from this tradition was cause for celebration. (That my dad’s new car was a Volvo station wagon should give some idea of how low the bar was.) I told this girl at my school about it, the day after the car arrived at our house. She was the first person I saw, and I just burst out with it: “My dad got a Volvo.” Don’t laugh — I was only eleven, and his previous car had been 1983 Renault sedan whose front doors didn’t close properly, so it let in a lot of rain. The interior was often damp and muggy as a result, like a greenhouse, and sometimes there were little mushrooms growing on the floor of the passenger side. The Volvo, with its Swedish engineering, and its doors that closed every time, was thrilling to me. The girl (she was very popular) looked at me with narrowed eyes and said “I don’t know what a Volvo even is.” Whether or not she was telling the truth is irrelevant. Maybe she really didn’t know what a Volvo is, or maybe she just wanted me to be quiet, but I remember a feeling of deflation far beyond what was reasonable. What was I supposed to say? “A Volvo is a kind of car?”


As I said, this really is only for special occasions, but up there are the rules for when you need them. And you will, one day, need them. You’ll be out, and someone will start to talk about Žižek. This is a bar, you will think, as you begin to panic about what the future holds. Now you know what to do. Go forth and conquer.



Terlepas sepakat atau tidaknya kita terhadap pandangan politik PKI (tidak semua tokoh kiri sepakat dengan PKI, di era PKI masih eksis pun ada partai-partai kiri lain yang tidak sehaluan dengan PKI, seperti PSI dan Partai Murba), wawancara ini menunjukan bahwa paradigma Pancasila sebagai ideologi tunggal di Indonesia tidak ada sebelum Orde Baru berkuasa.

Related: Video orasi Soekarno mengenai Pancasila dan komunisme.