How is Kafka's "In the Penal Colony" the representative of Althusser's concept of ISA and RSA? Give references from the text to justify your answer.

Kafka's "In the Penal Colony" is representative of ISAs and RSAs through the example of the machine itself, which is an aspect of the institutionalized violence of the colony and is a kind of grotesque work of art that literally inscribes the values of repression on the bodies of its victims.

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In Althusser's thought, Repressive State Apparatuses (RSAs) refer to state institutions that repress the working class through use of force. These institutions (the military, the courts, the police, etc.) are distinguished from Ideological State Apparatuses (ISAs), which repress the working class by propagating a set of values that tend to...

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In Althusser's thought, Repressive State Apparatuses (RSAs) refer to state institutions that repress the working class through use of force. These institutions (the military, the courts, the police, etc.) are distinguished from Ideological State Apparatuses (ISAs), which repress the working class by propagating a set of values that tend to reproduce the means of production. In a general sense, ISA's refer to different cultural institutions or practices, including education and literature.

The torture device can be thought of as an example of both. As part of the system of punishment in the penal colony, the instrument clearly has an institutional role in maintaining order in the colony. At the same time, the device also serves an ideological role, in that the officer sees it as a work of genius, one that embodies a whole set of values, as laid down by the first commandant.

These two functions are symbolically combined in the working of the machine, whose purpose is to use tiny needles to carve the condemned person's transgression into their skin. To the extent that the sentence is handed down by a "court" (in this case, a court of one, the officer), it is a form of official repression. But the nature of the sentence is to replicate the culture of the colony through this inscription on the body of the prisoner. In a sense, this writing forms a kind of "literature" for the colony.

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