Total security

“If you want total security, go to prison. There you’re fed, clothed, given medical care and so on. The only thing missing is freedom.” — Dwight D. Eisenhower

7 thoughts on “Total security

  1. Andrew Gelman

    Prison is really dangerous, no? I had the impression that people get assaulted there all the time. This doesn’t sound like total security to me.

  2. Foucault depicted this society already as prison by reference to Bentham’s prison designs, whose building structure causes prisoners to internalize commandments to the point that prison wards become dispensable. A Panopitcon is cost effective and efficient. Rendered to society: People confuse autonomous decisions (or freedom) with their reactions to the signals of a structural dictate made by the invisible hand and universal competition. This basically (but not inevitably) pre-formulates decisisons, perceptions and so on.

    Personally, I don’t like Eisenhower’s call to overmodesty. He considers satisfied basic needs as benefit of prisons as he knows that basic needs aren’t guaranteed outside of a prison. He uses his strawman ‘prison’, in which freedom was not taken away to provide people with food, to upgrade the image of the severities of a worker’s life. Food, medical care and clothes have to be natural uncertainties in a state of highest productivity and almost no crop failures.

  3. There’s a continuum between security and freedom, and neither extreme is obtainable. But we choose where we want to be on the continuum.

    And of course it’s even more complicated than that. But I take the quote as a reminder that one often has to make tradeoffs between security and freedom.

  4. … And there are safe prisons which don’t involve being behind bars.

    Well I know it wasn't you who held me down
    Heaven knows it wasn't you who set me free
    So often times it happens that we live our lives in chains
    And we never even know we have the key.

    — from “Already Gone” by the Eagles

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