The Society of the Spectacle

Never underestimate the tyranny of illusion. It is awesome in its power, terrifying in its scope, and absolutely hegemonic in its inherent nature. With the accelerating pace of pseudo-real fictions circulating amongst the minds of men, the more divorced those afflicted become from their own humanity.



Conspicuous consumption is an enemy of Liberty, for it tricks its victims to surrender a significant chunk of their productive energies over to valueless products that were manufactured from capital that was artificially pooled thanks to undue government privilege (and not because of genuine market demand). One could argue that it is a type of tax, but this is not entirely accurate, for the conspicuous consumer did, in fact, consent to the transaction. Instead, I would suggest that the solicitation and provision of corporate goods is more indicative of widespread rampant fraud, and thus should be differentiated from other kinds of fraud that are coercively inflicted upon the populace and thus robs them of their wealth by way of government, such as fractional reserve lending.

Although, in order to perpetuate such a scam, the target must be persuaded, not threatened. This is where the spectacle comes in:


“The spectacle does not realize philosophy, it philosophizes reality, reducing everyone’s concrete life to a universe of speculation…[t]he spectacle is the material reconstruction of the religious illusion. Spectacular technology has not dispersed the religious mists into which human beings had projected their own alienated powers, it has merely brought those mists down to earth, to the point that even the most mundane aspects of life have become impenetrable and unbreathable. The illusory paradise that represented a total denial of earthly life is no longer projected into the heavens, it is embedded in earthly life itself.”


The author here seems to suggest that this spectacle he speaks of is reminiscent of organized religions, complete with its own proselytizing priest-class.; it is, oxymoronically, a secular religion. He goes on to detail more of the spectacle’s authoritarian nature:


“The spectacle is the ruling order’s nonstop discourse about itself, its never-ending monologue of self-praise, its self-portrait at the stage of totalitarian domination of all aspects of life. The fetishistic appearance of pure objectivity in spectacular relations conceals their true character as relations between people and between classes: a second Nature, with its own inescapable laws, seems to dominate our environment…[t]he spectacle keeps people in a state of unconsciousness as they pass through practical chances in their conditions of existence. Like a factitious god, it engenders itself and makes its own rules…[b]ut the spectacle is not merely a matter of images, nor even of images plus sounds. It is whatever escapes people’s activity, whatever eludes their practical reconsideration and correction. It is the opposite of dialogue. Wherever representation becomes independent, the spectacle regenerates itself.”


In other words, the spectacle is a vehicle for the Establishment’s full spectrum domination of any given population. It is not there to teach you, empower you, or provide for you in any way; it’s sole purpose is to suck your natural life force right out of you, turning you in a vapid and shallow drone who does what he’s told to do by whomever is posing as “Authority” at any given moment, no matter how arbitrary or immoral those orders actually are to your personal well-being.

Speaking of vapid and shallow drones, there are also the all too familiar role models they are supposed to emulate:


“Stars – spectacular representations of living human beings – project this general banality into images of permitted roles. As specialists of apparent life, stars serve as superficial objects that people can identify with in order to compensate for the fragmented productive specializations that they actually live. The function of these celebrities is to act out various lifestyles or sociopolitical viewpoints in a full, totally free manner….[t]he agent of the spectacle who is put on stage as a star is the opposite of an individual; he is as clearly the enemy of his own individuality as the individuality of others. Entering the spectacle as a model to be identified with, he renounces all autonomous qualities in order to identify himself with the general law of obedience to the succession of things…[t]the admirable people who personify the system are well known for not being what they seem; they attain greatness by stooping below the reality of the most insignificant individual life, and everyone knows it.”


If anyone ever wanted to know why I abhored such things as celebrity gossip, this is why. Its not real, none of it is. But then what is so dangerous about the society of the spectacle, some may ask. Well, I would then refer you to the political implications of its hegemonic existence:


“Bureaucratic property is itself concentrated, in that the individual bureaucrat takes part in the ownership of the entire economy only through his membership in the community of bureaucrats…[t]he dictatorship of the bureaucratic economy cannot leave the exploited masses any significant margin of choice because it has had to make all the choices itself, and any choice made independently of it, whether regarding food or music or anything else, thus amounts to a declaration of war against it. The dictatorship must be enforced by permanent violence. Its spectacle imposes an image of the good which subsumes everything that officially exists, an image which is usually concentrated in a single individual, the guarantor of the system’s totalitarian cohesion. Everyone must magically identify with this absolute start or disappear…[t]he dominion of the concentrated spectacle is a police state.”


Wow, probably one of the best descriptions of corporatism I have ever read. Notice also how Debord equates the consumerist spectacle as being indicative of a police state. In this respect, it reminds me of how tyrants need a central bank in order to fund such a police state in the first place (of course, other techniques, such as unconstitutional direct taxes and civil asset forfeiture, are used with abandon by the Standing Army as well). Possibly the absolutely scariest element of this spectacle is another of its essential characteristics; that of doublethink:


“The spectacle is totally dogmatic, yet it is incapable of arriving at any really solid dogma. Nothing stands still for it. This instability is the spectacle’s natural condition, but it is completely contrary to its natural inclination.”


There you have it folks…an openly avowed socialist admitting on record that corporatism is throughly illogical and self-contradictory. It might behoove those libertarians who oh so delicately court the likes of corporations such as Wal-Mart to re-check their premises, because I can guarantee that at least one of them is totally just plain wrong.

Guy Debord’s The Society of the Spectacle is an eye-opening account by a political dissident of the 1960s witnessing the rise of corporations following the conclusion of the Second World War. I think the deeper lesson to be learned here though, especially for the Patriot Community, is that the fundamental problem ensconced by the Carnival of Distractions, is that it replaces the spectacle of the mainstream media by becoming its own spectacle, all the while telling its audiences that’s it not a spectacle at all! This is the most important realization of all…that there is more than one spectacle. Not only are there are multiple ones, but possibly worst of all, they compete with each other for your bottom dollar, thus copying exactly what the Establishment does to the mass populace on a daily basis. Such a business practice should be beneath what is supposed to be the superior morality of political agitators who claim to want to secure their Liberty. Or is it I who erred as to their true motives? Only time will tell.

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