The American Dream and the Panoptical Procedures That Deliver It.
Since the day the constitution was signed, it has functioned as a document that determines the actions of the American people. From this document has erupted an ideal of success, labeled by society as the "American Dream."" This dream typically includes things such as having an education, a nuclear family, and successful career. The constitution fashioned a nation of democracy, built "by the people and for the people."" Spring forward two hundred years. How can America, the land of the free and home of the brave, consist of a society that is self-driven and individualistic, yet still have this set, stereotypical ideal of success? The government's actions on the people create a sterile, conforming society. The ideals and standards set forth by the American government, social groups, religious societies, and individuals themselves tend to mirror the panoptical systems set forth in Michel Foucault's "Panopticism."" In his essay, Foucault uses the disciplinary mechanisms of the plague to relay the idea of the panopticon. He states, "The plague-stricken town, traversed throughout with hierarchy, surveillance, observation, writing; the town immobilized by the functioning of an extensive power that bears in a distinct way over all individual bodies "this is the utopia of the perfectly governed city- (Foucault 228). Just like the panopticon, the standards established by the American dream are stereotypical and generic, therefore affecting the individual dream of happiness. This in itself is a form of discipline, a "technique for assuring the ordering of human multiplicities- (Foucault 245). Individual lives are affected by this formulaic dream, likening the dream itself to a real device. .
Foucault described the panopticon as "a royal menagerie; the animal is replaced by man, individual distribution by specific grouping, and the king by the machinery of a furtive power.