Infamy constitutes the ideal model of current punishment, since it marks the real and symbolic body of certain subjects, without any institutional mediation: individuals and social groups assume the right to accuse, judge and punish. So, there are formal institutions and, in addition, certain informal groups that neutralize, exclude, kill and imprison, both in reality and symbolically, exercising para-judicial and para-penal power. In more precise words, there is a penalty that does not necessarily pass through the judiciary or the legal process, but rather through the social and psychological court carried out by some agents of informal social control. The reality evidences the progressive absorption of the judicial process in the collective trial, without any guarantee or code other than the look, the social murmur and the instant judgment. Society is thus transformed into a permanent court that hates, labels and punishes, and whose immediacy, spontaneity and anonymity revive the infamy of the old systems of medieval penality, as well as the devastating totalitarian branding.
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- Michel Foucault
- Punitive society