Governments, regardless of type, tend to default to a feudal power structure. The operational differences among types of governments are the methods for aggregating power and the optics, not the objective.

The Panopticon is a type of institutional building designed by the English philosopher and social theorist Jeremy Bentham. The concept of the design is to allow a single watchman to observe (-opticon) all (pan-) inmates of an institution without the inmates being able to tell whether or not they are being watched. Although it is physically impossible for the single watchman to observe all cells at once, the fact that the inmates cannot know when they are being watched means that all inmates must act as though they are watched at all times, effectively controlling their own behavior constantly.

Bentham conceived the basic plan as being equally applicable to hospitals, schools, sanatoriums, daycares, and asylums. Bentham himself described the Panopticon as “a new mode of obtaining power of mind over mind, in a quantity hitherto without example.” Elsewhere, he described the Panopticon prison as “a mill for grinding rogues honest.”

The Panopticon is a way to transform the kinetic threat of state power into a perpetual coercive force, and in the era of big data, we find a new Panopticon has arisen. Any government’s primary objective is to implement the data Panopticon; it is wildly effective and thorough. The war on terror has provided the veneer of reasonableness and legal framework from which the Panopticon may operate. And it is not coincidence that the war on terror occurred concurrently with the state’s ability to implement a data Panopticon; it had to happen.

Examples abound, but one obvious example is taxes. The interest of the federal government regarding tax returns, in order of importance:

1. Warehouse liability

2. Create positive vassal relationship

3. Collect taxes

The motives of #1 and #2 are purposefully obscured by the veneer of supposed conspicuousness of #3, which is perpetuated even in its negativity to gild the federal government’s goals.

Minor Contentions

“2. Create positive vassal relationship” wherein in exchange for fealty and professed docility, vassals obtain protection and access to basic sustenance. It is extremely important that the government project of liability warehousing is viewed positively, and thus a majority of tax filers receive money from the government on this day.

Mission Objective

Complexity is the snare, and the result is the government warehousing of liability. Thus the panopticon creates a reification of the potential of power. The IRS and the federal government rule by this potentiality, and thus have a negative interest in simplicity.

This mass production of fealty perpetuates the fear of the all-seeing eye that fuels conformity. Social order and power structures are re-enforced through liability warehousing.

Idi Amin was known to have observed that no one can outrun a bullet, but the government has discovered and thoroughly mined faster bullets: data. Facebook, Google, and the cabal of morally bankrupt trolls have created a data panopticon, but their comparatively benign objective is profit. For the government, the panopticon is for grinding voters fearful. Your democracy is limited by your fear of the unelected machine that has purchased its immortality with the potentiality of liability.

Your knowledge of the Panopticon only increases its power; its effectiveness is predicated on its obviousness, and thus everything above may just be a work of the IRS; contemplate that. You must be in constant fear that you are being watched and you may have committed a crime so that the desired psychological and behavior modification occurs.

French theorists went panopticon-crazy in the 1960s. They dwelt on the potential power of the Panopticon and the ways in which it could (and was) being used for propping up dictators. They feared the Panopticon’s potential for cost-effective and efficient population control, perhaps without realizing that their exploration of this means of population control only made its emergence more feared and more likely. Since the Panopticon’s potential for control transcends its operational power only when the data prisoners fully appreciate the nature of the Panopticon, then one wonders if Edward Snowden was, in the final analysis, quite an intentional revelation. Knowledge of the Panopticon engenders fear even beyond the Panopticon’s operational powers, and leveraging fear is the ultimate control principle of any state.

So what does this have to do with Jeffrey Epstein?[1]

Some have hypothesized that his real business is a blackmail business. Some very high-profile people — Bill Clinton, Prince Andrew — have been connected to him (and his island). The hypothesis is that Epstein video records such people engaging in horrendous felonies, shows them the recording to ensure fealty, then extorts them for money and favor.

Possible, but that still doesn’t seem to explain Epstein’s money or protection. Any number of prosecutors would relish the idea of ensnaring the powerful and wealthy — such a case would define a career. Any number of politicians would promote such a case. Again, think of the positive press from cracking open and shutting down a global sex trafficking operation. How many people would Epstein have had to ensnare in order to generate hundreds of millions of dollars? (Neither Clinton nor Andrew have that kind of cash — you’d need billions in liquid cash to spin off millions regularly without people noticing.) And how many heads of state would need to be ensnared in order to effectively frighten every prosecutor from New York to Miami?

I suppose we shouldn’t ignore one other issue: if these people have the money to fund Epstein’s island (not to mention private jets and multiple other houses) and the power to protect him, then they certainly have the capacity to have him murdered.

The idea that Epstein was running a blackmail project — warehousing liability — seems somewhat credible. But the idea the Epstein was engaging this Panopticon for Epstein doesn’t. I can think of only one organization that (1) has a multi-billion-dollar black budget that can kick out $50 million annually without anyone noticing, (2) can protect someone globally, and (3) exists in large part to generate, warehouse, and make use of liability.

So while you noodle on that, let me tell you a story.

In the years following WW2, the world was a battleground between communists and everyone else. Indonesia was a prime battlefield. Losing Indonesia was viewed as losing southeast Asia. The KGB had an idea: send a group of women dressed as airline stewardesses to President Sukarno’s hotel room and film him. Then show him the film and blackmail him. A classic warehousing liability operation.

Sound familiar?

Problem is, it didn’t really work. President Sukarno was proud of his conquests. But the CIA didn’t get the message. They produced a pornographic film in L.A. with President Sukarno and Russian stewardess look-a-likes (or, according to some, actually had the male wearing a President Sukarno-mask … seriously).[2] To be clear: the CIA funded a porn studio to blackmail a President. In the 1950s. To be clearer: the CIA ‘enlisted’ the help of Hollywood types — connected and capable — to make the porn. (CIA agents didn’t actually operate the cameras.)

Still didn’t work. Sukarno wasn’t particularly concerned about his people thinking he had sex with assorted woman (he had four wives, after all).

So what lesson would one think the CIA learned from their failed porno-for-blackmail operation? That perhaps they needed to warehouse some liability greater than adult consensual sex? That perhaps they needed something more than a CIA-funded porn studio in L.A.? That perhaps they needed a sex-Guantanamo that produced a kind of liability that no constituents or shareholders would defend? The kind of liability that could with near certainty ruin a man of any stature and in any country?


Aside: imagine the most insane blackmail/extortion/assassination/secret war operation you can and the CIA has probably done it. Multi-year billion-USD/yr secret arms pipeline to (illegally) overthrow a government? Sure, why not? That was as recently as 2015 (Syria under Obama). The CIA must be the most optimistic organization on the planet because they never let their history of failure get the way of more failure.


About Nathan Allen

Founder of Xio Research (A.I.), Applied Magic (A.I.), and Andover (data). A.I. strategy and development leader at IBM. Academic training is in intellectual history; his most recent book, Weapon of Choice, examines the creation of American identity and modern Western power. Don’t get too excited, Weapon of Choice isn’t about wars but rather more about the seeming ex nihilo development of individual agency … which doesn’t really seem sexy until you consider that individual agency covers everything from voting rights to the cash in your wallet to the reason mass communication even makes sense…. Lectures on historical aspects of media, privacy/law, and power structures (mostly). Previous book: Arsonist.