The L.A. Riots: A Case Study in the Function of Deviance
Ultimately, Durkheim’s functionalist criterion for social order facilitates the dialectic of mass criminality followed by authoritarian state control. This fact is illustrated perfectly by the 1992 L.A. riots. With racial tensions exasperated by the Rodney King beating, a pretext for the invocation of martial law and the further erosion of civil liberties was not difficult to concoct. In fact, several reports claimed that Police Chief Daryl Gates intentionally “held back his officers, some of whom literally cried as they watched the ensuing chaos” (Hoffman, no pagination). One such report surfaced in the New York Times:
Commenting on the inaction of hundreds of police officers and National Guardsmen, one Deputy Chief confessed to the Los Angeles Times: "This is alien to everything we're supposed to do in a situation like this” (qutd. in Hoffman, no pagination). With the chaos already in progress, all those in power needed to do was sit back and watch. The disaster became a pretext for the implementation of police state policies. As Los Angeles burned, so did the Constitution.
The L.A. riots graphically illustrate the centrality of deviance to the oligarchs’ plan for a scientific dictatorship. All of the functions encapsulated within Durkheim’s functionalist model were met. First, the aftermath of the riots witnessed the imposition of a curfew and the deployment of heavily armed federal authorities in Los Angeles. With these draconian elements in place, the populace quickly conformed to a totalitarian climate. Meanwhile, the rioters were swiftly rounded up and indicted during televised court sessions. For the sake of conformity, an example had to be made.
Second, there was an ostensible sense of solidarity among the “law-aiding” citizens, albeit a unity motivated by fear and paranoia. Citizens were joined in their support of the absolute State, which masqueraded as a savior from social upheaval. Third, the L.A. riots provided a “safety-valve” for the abatement of growing urban unrest. It allowed the inner city inhabitants, which was growing more and more dissatisfied with the corrupt LAPD, to cathartically expel their anger. Fourth, the L.A. riots induced social change.
The event represents a major precedent in the invocation of police state mandates. Since then, law enforcement has become increasingly militaristic in nature. Within the Petri dish of society, a bacillus of totalitarianism was starting to grow.
Sociology: The Science of Control
It comes as little surprise that the operation protocol of the power elite is derivative of sociological theory. Historically, the social sciences find their proximate origins with technocratic theoreticians and sociopolitical Utopians. These thinkers would develop several of the theoretical constructs upon which socialist totalitarian machinations are premised. Sociology was predisposed to such authoritarian applications from the very beginning. Ever-present throughout sociological theory is the theme of a scientifically managed society. This deeply embedded theme is a direct corollary of the field’s technocratic heritage.
Sir Francis Bacon was one of the first theoreticians to formulate the concept of a scientifically managed society. Allegedly, Bacon was the Grand Master of the secret Rosicrucian Order (Howard 74). In turn, this organization was closely aligned with the Masonic Lodge (50). This organizational association is made evident by Bacon’s own literature. In 1627, he published The New Atlantis, which was replete with Freemasonic symbols (Howard 74). The title itself alludes to a mythological civilization that holds esoteric value for Masonry and its allied secret societies.
The paradigmatic character of the Atlantis myth is inherently scientistic, emphasizing scientific progress and the cognitive powers of man as the sole facilitators for humanity’s salvation. Not surprisingly, variants of this scientistic myth have underpinned every sociopolitical Utopian program throughout history. Within the context of sociopolitical Utopianism, science is synonymous with gnosis. It is an instrument wielded by the revolutionary, who amounts to little more than a secular Gnostic. Through the sorcery of science, the revolutionary hopes to eventually immanentize the Eschaton and create heaven on earth.
The New Atlantis presented Bacon’s hypothetical framework for an effective scientific dictatorship. Author Frank Fischer provides a most elucidating description of Bacon’s “Utopian concepts”:
The novel “describes the creation of the Invisible College advocated in Rosicrucian writings” (Howard 74). This Rosicrucian mandate for an “Invisible College” was realized with the formation of the Royal Society in 1660 (Howard 57). The creators of the Royal Society were also members of the Masonic Lodge. According to Baigent, Leigh, and Lincoln in Holy Blood, Holy Grail:
The Royal Society was an epistemological cartel, selectively bestowing legitimacy upon those scientific paradigms that proved politically and socially expedient to the wealthy oligarchical dynasties of the time. Among one of the many theories promulgated by the Royal Society was Darwinism. A central feature of Darwinism is natural selection. Ian Taylor observes that “the political doctrine implied by natural selection is elitist, and the principle derived according to Haeckel is ‘aristocratic in the strictest sense of the word’” (411). Of course, such a political doctrine provided the rationale for the perpetuation of the elite’s hegemony.
Bacon’s most immediate successor in the development of technocratic theory was Henri de Saint-Simon. Fischer states: “ . . .Saint-Simon’s work can be interpreted as a prescription for Bacon’s prophecy” (69). E.H. Carr characterizes Saint-Simon as “the precursor of socialism, the precursor of the technocrats, and the precursor of totalitarianism” (2). Saint-Simon’s philosophy was pure scientism and his vision for a Utopian society was premised entirely upon scientistic precepts. Fischer explains:
The technocratic character of Saint-Simon’s philosophy becomes evident in his “physiological” analysis of society and governance. Saint-Simon believed an effective social order was analogous to a living organism. Thus, society could be regulated according to the same “physiological realities” that purportedly underlie human thought and behavior (Billington 212). This physiological approach to governance is a theme echoed by various socialist totalitarian regimes. It provided the theoretical groundwork for Marxism. Billington explains:
Saint-Simon’s physiological analysis of society also inspired the scientific dictatorship of Nazi Germany. Ernst Haeckel, the famous evolutionist responsible for Hitler’s introduction to social Darwinism, openly espoused this physiological view. He contended that each cell of an organism, “though autonomous, is subordinated to the body as a whole; in the same way in the societies of bees, ants, and termites, in the vertebrate herds, and in the human state, each individual is subordinate to the social body of which he is a member” (qutd. in Keith 157). Herein is the central theme of all socialist totalitarian regimes: the subordination of the individual to the collective. Yet, there is always an “elite” that occupies the developmental capstone of the physiological state. For Haeckel, it was the mythical Aryan that exhibited “symmetry of all parts, and that equal development, which we call the type of perfect human beauty” (qutd. in Keith 85).
Auguste Comte was the “principal disciple” of Saint-Simon (Fischer 70). Building upon the scientistic concepts of his mentor, Comte developed ideas that:
The technocratic character of sociology is illustrated by the field’s inherent scientism. Comte contended that societies experienced three developmental stages: religious, metaphysical, and scientific (Thio 9). Comte asserted that the religious and metaphysical stages were marked by a “reliance on the superstition and speculation” (9). Of course, such thinking is consistent with materialism, which precludes the existence of supra-sensible entities. It also synchronizes with nominalism, which promulgates anti-metaphysics by rejecting man’s inherent ability of abstraction. All that remains is the ontological plane of the physical universe. The stage is set for the metaphysical claim of “self-creation” and its corresponding Gnostic claim of “self-salvation.” This theme underpins the philosophy of almost every contemporary sociopolitical utopian.
Remaining true to Saint-Simon’s scientistic heritage, Comte bestowed epistemological primacy upon the scientific stage. This last developmental stage would witness the rise of a technocracy where “sociologists would develop a scientific knowledge of society and would guide society in a peaceful, orderly evolution” (9). Comte called this new social order a “sociocracy” and promoted it as “religion of humanity” (Fischer 71). Astute readers will automatically discern echoes of Saint-Simon’s “New Christianity.” That a new theocratic order would be preceded by a secular one is hardly a consequence. Again, secularization is merely a segue for the installation of new religion and a new religious authority. According to Comte’s utopian vision, the social scientist constituted the inner priesthood of the new religious authority. Fischer explains:
Thus, guided by the ecclesiastical authority of sociology, humanity would continue its evolution onward and upwards. In the “Grand Being,” one may discern echoes of the Masonic concept of the Great Architect. It also reiterates the monistic ideas of Jung, Hegel, Wells, and others. All of these represent variants of evolutionary pantheism. Like classic pantheism, evolutionary pantheism depicts God as an immanent force pervading the fabric of the physical universe. However, evolutionary pantheism marries immanentism with Darwinian transformism. The resulting religion is a scientistic faith in progress. God becomes the emergent deity of man, who gradually migrates towards apotheosis through the process of evolution. Not surprisingly, sociologists like Emile Durkheim and Herbert Spencer advanced similar monistic theories.
Sociology’s inherent scientism reached fanatical levels during the 1920s. This period witnessed the rise of “scientific” sociology, which was also called “objectivism” (Bannister 3-4). Predictably, objectivism was preoccupied with quantifiable entities and empirical observations. “Objective” sociology restricted its inquiries entirely to “the observable externals of human behavior, thus carrying to a logical conclusion the strict inductionism of sensationalist psychology” (3). Sociologists were increasingly supplanting traditional metaphysics with an “ideology” premised on sense certainty. Robert Bannister expands on this anti-metaphysical approach:
Naturally, the reduction of man’s every thought and emotion to physical sensations is accompanied by the physiological interpretation of society. After all, if the purely sensate man is but a microcosm of the social whole, then it is reasonable to assume that the macrocosm is governed by the same physiological principles. Thus, human civilization became the “social organism.” The individual became little more than a cell, biologically subordinated to the physiological whole. Obviously, this collectivistic depiction of society underpins the philosophy of every contemporary scientific dictatorship.
Of course, the animal of society requires a zookeeper. This was precisely the role that the sociologist was designed to fill. While social engineering is hardly an American invention, the concept gained substantial political and social capital in the United States. Lester Ward, who is considered the founder of American sociology, believed that sociology was far more than a “fact-gathering” enterprise (Bannister 13). He contended that “its goal is a radical ‘sociocracy,’ not the palliatives that pass for social reform” (13). Ward’s “radical ‘sociocracy’” began to take shape shortly after World War II. Deviance is contributing to the erection of this radical sociocracy. In the mind of the oligarch, deviance is a natural physiological function of the social organism. Mass criminality is merely a part of the power elite’s ongoing experiment in social engineering.
The Rise of the Carceral State
Mass criminality is an instrument of cultural deconstruction. It facilitates the extension of the carceral system to the whole of the social body, creating a carceral culture. Just as prisoners require wardens and guards, a carceral culture requires a carceral state. As crime has steadily risen, society has witnessed the mass diffusion of what the late philosopher Michel Foucault called “panoptic schema.” Derived from Jeremy Bentham’s carceral model of the Panopticon, the panoptic schema is a mechanism that allows for complete surveillance of the subject (pan=all, optic=seeing).
Originally a hallmark of the prison system, the panoptic schema can assume numerous forms. It can be the security camera, the barbed wire fence, and the armed guard. However, it does have much more subtle manifestations.
Panoptic schema can also be bodied forth through the rigid timetabling of activities, which allows for the effective chronemic regulation of a subject’s day. It is tangibly enacted by the observational design of specific types of architecture, which readily lend themselves to the spatial regulation of the subject. Finally, it is within the mind of the subject himself, who has internalized all of these machinations of control and now monitors his own behavior.
According to Foucault, the elasticity of the panoptic schema allowed for its mass diffusion throughout society: “The panoptic schema, without disappearing as such or losing any of its properties, was destined to spread throughout the social body” (207). With the metastasis of the panoptic schema, Foucault observes that “its vocation was to become a generalized function” (207). The final result, Foucault observes, is a virtually mechanized society:
concept of the "panoptic machine" synchronizes very comfortably with
Weishaupt's society of Maschinenmenschen. Ever-present is the
machine motif, which was also a hallmark of the technocratic movement
of the early thirties. It comes as little surprise that the Bush administration,
which is governed largely by the technocratic neoconservatives, would
develop panoptic machinations like the Patriot Act and the Total Information
Awareness program. It is even less surprising that the ascendancy
of these panoptic machinations was facilitated by the so-called “War
on Terror.” The WTC attacks, which really amount to larger criminal
acts with higher degrees of coordination, facilitated the rise of
the present carceral state. This is the ultimate function of deviance.
It is an element of stability within the emergent scientific dictatorship.
For part 1 click
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Baigent, Michael, Richard Leigh, and Henry Lincoln. Holy Blood, Holy
Grail. New York: Delacorte, 1982.
© 2006 Phillip D. Collins
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Author Phillip D. Collins acted as the editor for The Hidden Face of Terrorism. He has also written articles for Paranoia Magazine, MKzine, NewsWithViews.com, and B.I.P.E.D.: The Official Website of Darwinian Dissent and Conspiracy Archive. He has an Associate of Arts and Science.
Currently, he is studying for a bachelor's degree in Communications at Wright State University. During the course of his seven-year college career, Phillip has studied philosophy, religion, and classic literature. He also co-authored the book, The Ascendancy of the Scientific Dictatorship: An Examination of Epistemic Autocracy, From the 19th to the 21st Century, which is available at: [Link]
The L.A. riots graphically illustrate the centrality of deviance to the oligarchs’ plan for a scientific dictatorship. All of the functions encapsulated within Durkheim’s functionalist model were met.