Society of the Spectacle

Currently reading The society of the Spectacle by Guy Debord.I like it so far, I'm at the third chapter and things is getting deep. But I'm wondering whats the difference between the spectacle and ideology? And will a pro-bourgeoisie post-capitalist society also have a spectacle?

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As Debord has it, the Spectacle is a 1:1 map, superimposed over reality, so ideology is a part of it, but not the whole of it. Any modern society is spectacular, Debord doesn't really distinguish, aside from between the diffuse, integrated and concentrated forms of spectacular society (that's Capitalism, Social Democracy and Stalinism/Fascism respectively).

Before people lose their shit about the last bit, Debord really doesn't like Marxism-Leninism at all, although he's scathing of Trotskyism after Trotsky as well.

All society is spectacular.

Depends on its level of development. Debord argues that the Spectacle is quite modern (1920 I think?), seeming to suggest that it came in concurrently with the invention/popularisation of television, radio, etc.

Also, was Debord a Marxist-Anarchist?

U wot?

I agree there with him.
He is more of council communist ( german-dutch communist left ) with some positive new aligments and updates in theory

Sounds about right.

Take the Arthur legend in medieval Europe; they had LARP festivals around it even then, in much the same manner as they exist today. When it comes to spectularity and map-territory relations, Baudrillard does a much more thorough job than Debord, whose work consist of snippets.

Culture/enjoyment/communal experience isn't inherently a Spectacle though.

I'll admit to not knowing as much Baudrillard as I should, but I think something is lost in universalising the Spectacle to that extent. Something changed in the 20th Century, even if echos of what was happening had preceded it.

I agree, but this too goes beyond Debord's idea of the spectacle as an instrumentality. An example I can give of what I see as the change are things like polyamory. Not the tangible fact of the matter but its place, its presentation of life as a series of fantastical choices, of the virtual reality helmet as the ultimate emancipatory device.

Based Debord


What should I read before going onto Society of The Spectacle? I've heard some people say you need to have atleast read Vol 1 of Capital.

On a related topic: Is it possible to get a copy of Debord's board game? I really want to play it.

Certainly at least read Alienation of Labor, Commodity Fetishism, and sections from German Ideology. Reading Adorno & Horkheimer's Culture Industry would also really help, as it's really just an updated version of that for late capitalism. Benjamin's Short History of Photography and The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction are also beneficial.

The Spectacle is what we are left with after the (continual) process of "reification" (reeeeification for the memes) i.e. "becoming real". What "becomes real" are our relations to production, which are then expressed in our relations to everything else, thus, the spectacle is the signs and significations of every production and every reproduction of capitalist property relations, which are reflected back to us as the spectacular society, with which we do not engage. The alienated relations of production reproduce a society that is alien to us, thus we are separate from it, while being completely within it, we cannot affect it, only spectate, unless we engage in certain revolutionary acts ( like getting drunk and wandering around)

Aren't you confusing him with Baudrillard?

the spectacle is ideology materialized. I mean, it's the title of the last chapter ffs

I dunno, vol1 has some important bits like it's dialectical presentation and the chapter on commodity fetishism but I don't think you really need to understand the finer points of surplus value or anything

this, so much.

he is, sadly, though he was certainly influenced by Debord and the SI

That's how I was taught to think of it at University at least. The Prof was a former Situ.

This is brilliant for getting hold of some of the rarer Situationist writings if people are interested in that sort of thing.

tfw read society of the spectacle then got a dui

OP here. So am I getting this right? The whole subscription on youtube, twitch, facebook and monetization of friends and followers is the spectacle in its fullest form? Can you give me some more "hard evidence" of the spectacle?

That's only part of it. The spectacle is is about representations that are marshaled in service of the ideology of capital. So all representations you consume which are part of the circulation of capital also count; your investment in all kinds of brands, advertisements you come across, and any media consumption that furthers the rotation of capital or is propagandist, and so on. Social media is just another layer.