La Société du spectacle (1973) – Guy Debord [MultiSub]


simar films presents the society of the spectacle a film written and directed
by guy debord… based on his book
“the society of the spectacle” in the detournment of
preexisting films, use was made
of the works of: as well as the works of a certain
number of bureaucratic filmmakers of the so-called
socialist countries. the commentary of the
present film, completed…. October 1974, consists
entirely of excerpts… from the first edition of “the
society of the spectacle” (1967) Since each particular
sentiment… is only a partial
aspect of life, and not the entirety
of life… life burns to pour out… through the diversity
of the sentiments, and thus rediscover itself
in the sum of diversity. In love, the separate
still exists, but not as separated:
as united, and the living reencounters
the living. THIS FILM IS DEDICATED
TO ALICE BECKER-HO. All life in societies where modern
conditions of production reign… announces itself as an immense
accumulation of spectacles. All that was
directly lived… has moved away into
a representation. The images which have detached
themselves from each aspect of life, dissolve in a common flow. where the unity of this life
can no longer be established. Reality considered partially… deploys itself in its own
general unity… as a pseudo-world apart, an object only of
contemplation. The specialization of the images
of the world finds itself again, fulfilled, in the world of the image
made autonomous, where the liar has
lied to himself. The spectacle in general, as the concrete
inversion of life, is the autonomous movement
of the non-living. The spectacle presents itself at one
and the same time as society itself, as part of society, and as instrument of unification. As a part of society, it is the sector that concentrates all
looking and all consciousness. From the very fact that
this sector is separate, it is the place of the abused gaze
and of false consciousness, and the unification
it accomplishes… is nothing other than an
official language of… generalized separation. At the end of these deliberations, we have appreciated
what was… positive and also made plain
that much remains to be done. The spectacle is not a
collection of images, but a social relation
among persons, mediated by images. The spectacle, understood
in its totality, is both the result and the project
of the existing mode of production. It is not a supplement
to the real world, its superadded decoration. It is the heart of the unrealism
of the real society. In all its particular forms, information or propaganda, advertising or direct
consumption of entertainment, the spectacle constitutes… the present model of
socially dominant life. It is the omnipresent
affirmation of… the choice already
made in production, and its corollary consumption. Separation itself forms a part
of the unity of the world, in the global social praxis… that has split into reality
and into image. Social praxis, in the presence of which the
autonomous spectacle is set up, is also the real totality which
contains the spectacle. But the split in
this totality… mutilates it to the point of making
the spectacle appear as its goal. In the world- which is in reality
turned upside down- the true… is a moment of the false. Considered in its
own terms, the spectacle is the
affirmation of appearance… and the affirmation of all human
life, that is to say social life, as simple appearance. But the critique that attains
the truth of the spectacle… discovers it as the visible
negation of life; as a negation of life… become visible. The spectacle presents itself
as an enormous, indisputable… and inaccessible positivity. It says nothing more than: “what appears is good; what is good appears.” The attitude that it requires
as its principle… is this passive acceptance… that it has in fact
already obtained… in its manner of appearing
without reply, in its monopoly over
appearance. The spectacle forces the
submission of living men… to the degree that the economy
has forced their total submission. It is no more than the economy
developing on its own behalf. It is the faithful reflection
of the production of things, and the unfaithful objectification
of the producers. Where the real world
changes into simple images, the simple images
become real beings, and the efficient motivations
of an hypnotic behavior. To the degree that necessity
is socially dreamed, the dream becomes necessary. The spectacle is the bad dream
of enchained modern society, which ultimately expresses
only its desire to sleep. The spectacle is the
guardian of this sleep. The fact that the practical
power of modern society… has broken off of
its own accord… and established an independent
realm in the spectacle… can only be explained
by this additional fact… that practical power
continued to lack cohesion, and had remained in
contradiction with itself. The oldest social specialization, the specialization of power, is at the root of
the spectacle. The spectacle is thus… a specialized activity which speaks
for the ensemble of the others. It is the diplomatic representation
of hierarchical society to itself, where every other form
of speech is banned. The most modern is here
the most archaic as well. The generalized split
of the spectacle… is inseparable from
the modern State, that is to say, from the general
form of the split in society, product of the division
of social labor… and agent of class domination. In the spectacle, one part of the world
represents itself to the world, and is superior to it. The spectacle is merely the common
language of this separation. What binds the spectators… is merely the irreversible relation
to the very center which… maintains their isolation. The spectacle reunites
the separated, but reunites it as separated. The worker does not
produce himself, it produces an independent
power. The success of this
production, its abundance, returns to the producer as an
abundance of dispossession. All time and space of his
world become strange to him… with the accumulation of
his alienated products. The very forces which
have escaped us… show themselves in
their full power. Man, separated from
his own production, produces ever more… powerfully the all the
details of his world, and thus finds himself ever
more separated from his world. The more his life is now
his own production, the more he is
separated from his life. The spectacle is capital… at such a degree of accumulation
that it becomes image. One might still recognize some
cinematographic value in this film, if this rhythm were to be maintained,
it will not be maintained. Critical theory… should communicate itself
in its own language. It is the language
of contradiction, which should be
dialectical in its form, as it is in its content. It is the critique of the totality, and historical critique. It is not a “degree
zero of writing”, but its overturning. It is not a negation of style, but the style of negation. In its very style, the exposition of dialectical
theory is a scandal… and an abomination according to
the rules of the dominant language, and for the taste they have
educated because in the… positive use of
existing concepts, it includes both
the intelligence… of their rediscovered fluidity, and their necessary
destruction. The style which contains
its own critique… should express the domination
of present critique… over its entire past. Through it, the mode of exposition
of dialectical theory… attests to the negative
spirit which is in it. “Truth is not like the product
in which the trace of the tool… can no longer be found.” This theoretical consciousness
of movement, in which the very trace of
movement should be present, manifests itself by the
overturning of established.. relations between concepts, and by the detournement of all
the acquisitions of previous critique. Ideas improve. The meaning of words
participates in this. Plagiarism is necessary. Progress implies it. It clings to an
author’s phrase, makes use of
his expressions, erases a false idea, replaces it with
the right idea. Detuornement is the
fluid language… of anti-ideology, It appears in
communication… that knows it cannot
pretend definitely… possess any
guaranty in itself. It is, at the
highest point, the language that no
previous and supra-critical… reference can confirm. On the contrary, it is
its own coherence, in itself and with the
practical facts, that can confirm the
old grain of truth… that it brings back. Detournement has based
its cause on nothing… exterior to its own truth
as present critique. What, in theoretical
formulation, presents itself as
openly detourned, in denying all durable
autonomy to the sphere… of the expressed
theoretical, by causing the
intervention there, by means of this violence, of the action that destroys and
carries off all the existing order, recalls that this existence
of the theoretical… is nothing in itself, and only come
to be known… through historical action, and the historical
correction which… is its true fidelity. What the spectacle has
taken from reality… must now be retaken
from the spectacle. The spectacular expropriators
must be expropriated in their turn. The world is already filmed.
It’s now a matter of transforming it. It is a matter of
possessing in fact… the community of dialogue
and the play with time… which have been represented
by poetico-artistic work. When art, having
become independent, represents its world
with sparkling colors, a moment of life
has grown old, and it may never again
be rejuvenated… with sparkling colors. It may be evoked
only in memory. The greatness of art… begins to appear… only at the end of life. Having fun, Mr. Logan? I couldn’t sleep. That stuff help any? Makes the night
go faster. What’s keeping you awake? Dreams. Bad dreams. Yeah, I get’em
sometimes too. Here, this’ll chase’em away. I tried that. Didn’t
seem to help me any. How many men
have you forgotten? As many women as
you have remembered. Thus, after the direct
practice of art has ceased… to be what is most
eminent and this.. predicate has devolved
to the theory as such, it now breaks off
from the latter, insofar as synthetic
post-theoretical practice… is constituted, which
has as its mission, first of all, to be the
foundation and truth of art, as well as of philosophy. August von Cieszkowski,
Prolegomena to Historiosophy Thought of the social
organization of appearance… is itself obscured… by the generalized sub-
communication that it defends. The specialists of power
of the spectacle, absolute power within
its system of… language without reply, are absolutely corrupted… by their experience
of contempt, and by the success
of that contempt. They find their contempt
again confirmed… by the knowledge of the
contemptible man… who the spectator
really is. In this essential movement
of the spectacle, which consists
of recapturing… within itself everything that
existed in human activity… in a fluid state, in order to possess it… in a coagulated state, as things which have
become the exclusive value, by their formulation in
negative of lived value, we recognize our
old enemy… who knows so well how
to appear at first glance… something trivial
and ,self-evident when it is, on the
contrary, so complex, and so full of metaphysical
subtleties, the commodity. This is the principle of
commodity fetishism, the domination of
society by… “intangible things as well
as by tangible things,” that reaches its absolute
fulfillment in the spectacle. where the tangible world
finds itself replaced… by a selection of images
which exists above it, and which at the same
time has made itself… recognized as the tangible
par excellence. The world at once
present and absent… that the spectacle
makes visible… is the world of
the commodity… dominating everything
that is lived. And the world of the commodity
is thus shown as it is, for its movement
is identical… to the distancing of men… from one another and from
their global production. The domination of commodity… was at first exercised in an
occult fashion over the economy, that itself, as the material base
of social life, remained unrecognized
and misunderstood, like the familiar which
remains nonetheless unknown. In a society where the
concrete commodity… remains rare or
in the minority, the apparent domination
of money presents itself… as the emissary
with full powers… who speaks in the name
of an unknown power. With the industrial
revolution, the division of labor
in manufacturing… and mass production
for the world market, the commodity effectively
appears… as a power that actually
comes to occupy social life. It is then that political
economy comes… to constitute the dominant science
and the science of domination. The spectacle is a
permanent opium war… to enforce the identification
of goods with commodities, and of satisfaction… with survival increasing
according to its own laws. But if consumable survival
is something which should… always increase, it’s because it never ceases
to contain privation. If there is nothing beyond
increased survival, no point where
it ceases to grow, it’s because it is not
itself beyond privation, but rather, it is
enriched privation. Exchange value could take form
only as the agent of use value, but its victory by means
of its own weapons… has created the conditions of
its autonomous domination. Mobilizing all
human practice… and seizing the monopoly
over satisfaction, it ends up directing
practice. The process of exchange… is identified with all
possible practice, and reduces it
to its mercy. Exchange value is the
condottiere of use value, that ends up waging the
war in its own interest. Use value, which was
implicitly comprised… by exchange value, should now be
explicitly proclaimed, in the inverted reality
of the spectacle, precisely because its
factual reality is eaten… away by the overdeveloped
commodity economy; and because a pseudo-
justification becomes… necessary for
false life. The concentrated result
of social labor, at the moment of
economic abundance, becomes apparent, and forces the submission
of all reality to appearance, which is now
its product. Capital is no longer
the invisible center… that directs the mode
of production: its accumulation extends
it to the periphery… in the form of tangible
objects. The entire expanse of
society is its portrait. The spectacle, like the
modern society, is at once united
and divided. Like society, it builds its unity
on tearing things to pieces, But contradiction, when it emerges
in the spectacle, is in its turn
contradicted… by an inversion
of its meaning; so that the division
demonstrated is unitary, while the unity
demonstrated is divided. The struggle of powers,
which have been…. set up for directing the same
socio-economic system, is deployed as official
contradiction, belonging in fact
to real unity, this latter takes place… on a global scale as well
as within each nation. The spectacular false
struggles… of the rival forms
of separate power… are also real, in that they translate the
unequal and conflict laden… development of the system, the relatively contradictory
interests of the classes, or of the subdivisions of classes
that recognize the system, and define their own
participation in its power. These diverse oppositions
can present themselves in… the spectacle by completely
different criteria, as absolutely different
forms of society. But in terms of their
actual reality, as particular sectors, the truth of their
particularity… resides in the universal
system that contains them: in the unique movement… that has made the planet
its field, capitalism. The movement of banalization, which, in the shimmering
diversions of the spectacle, dominates modern
society globally, also dominates it
at every point… where the developed
consumption of commodities… has in appearance
multiplied… the roles and the objects
from which to choose. The survival of the religion
and of the family- which remains the principal form
of the inheritance of class power- and therefore of the moral
repression which they assure, can be combined as one… with the redundant
affirmation… of the enjoyment
of this world, this world being produced… precisely only as
pseudo-enjoyment… which preserves
repression within it. To the smug acceptance
of what exists, purely spectacular
revolt can be added… as something identical: this translates
the simple fact… that even dissatisfaction became
a commodity at the moment… that economic abundance
found itself capable… of extending its production… to the point of utilizing even
that sort of raw material. By concentrating in himself
the image of a possible role, the star, the spectacular representation
of living man, thus concentrates
this banality. The condition of the star… is the specialization of
the apparently lived, the object of the
identification… with apparent life
without depth, that should compensate for the
fragmentation of productive… specializations actually lived. Stars exist in order to represent
varied types of life styles… and styles of understanding
society, free to be exercised
globally. They incarnate the inaccessible
result of social labor… by miming the by-products
of this labor… that are magically transferred
above it as its goal: power and vacations, decision-making and
consumption, that are at the beginning and the
end of an undisputed process. There, governmental power… is personified as pseudo-star; here, the star of consumption
gets itself elected by plebiscite… as pseudo-power over
the lived. But, just as these star activities
are not really global, neither are they varied. It’s the unity of poverty… that is hidden under
spectacular oppositions. If some of the diverse forms
of the same alienation… do battle among themselves
in the guise of total choice, it’s because they’re all built upon
the real repressed contradictions. According to the necessities of
the particular stage of poverty… which they believe
and maintain, the spectacle exists in a
concentrated form, or in a diffused form. In the two cases, it’s only an image of
happy unification… surrounded by desolation
and terror, at the tranquil center
of misfortune. The concentrated spectacular… belongs essentially to
bureaucratic capitalism, while it can be imported as a
technique of state power… over more backward
mixed economies, or in certain moments of
crisis of advanced capitalism. Bureaucratic ownership,
in fact, is itself concentrated
in the sense that… the individual bureaucrat has
a relation to the possession… of the global economy… only through the intermediary
of bureaucratic community, and only as a member
of this community. Besides, the less developed
production of commodities… is represented as well in
a concentrated form: the commodity the bureaucracy
controls… is the totality of
social labor, and what it sells
back to society… is mass survival. The dictatorship of bureaucratic
economics… cannot allow the
exploited masses… any notable margin
of choice, since it is supposed to have
chosen it all by itself… and since any other
external choice, whether it concerns
food or music, is thus already the choice
of its complete destruction. The diffuse spectacular… accompanies the abundance
of commodities, the unperturbed development
of modern capitalism. Here each commodity
taken by itself… is justified in the name of the
greatness of production… of the totality of objects, of which the spectacle is
an apologetic catalogue. Irreconcilable claims elbow their
way on the stage of the unified… spectacle of the economics
of abundance, to the point that different
star-commodities… simultaneously support their
contradictory projects… for managing society, where the spectacle
of automobiles… aims at perfect traffic circulation
which destroys old cities, while the spectacle of the city
itself requires museum districts. So the already problematic
satisfaction, which is reputed to belong to
the consumption of the whole, is immediately falsified… in that the real consumer can
directly touch only a succession… of fragments of this
commodity happiness, fragments from which… the quality lent to the whole
is evidently absent every time. Each given commodity
struggles for itself, cannot recognize the others, claims to impose itself everywhere
as if it were the only one. The spectacle is then the epic
poem of this confrontation… that the fall of no Troy
could conclude. The spectacle sings not
men and their arms, but commodities and
their passions. It’s in this blind struggle… that each commodity,
by following its passion, in fact realizes in the unconscious
something higher: the becoming-world
of commodity, which is as well the becoming-
commodity of the world. Thus, by a ruse of
commodity reasoning, the particularness
of the commodity… is used up as
it does battle, while the commodity-form… goes towards its absolute
realization. In the image of the happy
unification of society… through consumption, the real division is suspended… only until the next non-
accomplishment in the consumable. Each particular product which
should represent the hope… of a lightning shortcut, to the promised land
of total consumption… is ceremoniously presented
in its turn… as the decisive singularity. But as in the case of the
instantaneous spread… of fashions in apparently
aristocratic first names… which practically all individuals the
same age will be found to bear, the object from which one
expects a singular power… can only be offered for the
devotion of the masses, because it’s been manufactured
in great enough numbers… to be consumed en masse. The prestigious character of
this product, whatever it may be, comes only from its
having been placed… at the center of
social life, as the revealed mystery… of the ultimate end
of production. The object that was prestigious
in the spectacle.. becomes vulgar the instant
it enters one consumer’s home, at the same time as the
homes of all others. It reveals too late its
essential poverty, that is tied to the poverty
of its production. But already, there’s another object that carries
the justification of the system… ant the requirement of
being recognized. The imposture of satisfaction… must denounce itself
in replacing itself, in following the change
of products… and those of the general
conditions of production. What affirmed with the most
perfect impudence… its own definitive excellence
changes, however, in the diffuse spectacle- though it does so as well in
the concentrated spectacle- ant it’s the system alone
which must continue: Stalin, as well as the
outmoded commodity, are denounced by the same
ones who imposed them. Each new lie in
advertising… is also the admission
of the preceding lie. Each collapse of a figure
of totalitarian power… reveals the illusory
community… that unanimously approved it, and which was only an
agglomeration of solitudes… without illusions. What the spectacle
presents as perpetual… is founded upon change, and must change
with its base. The spectacle is absolutely
dogmatic, and at the same time,
can lead to no solid dogma. Nothing stops for it, this is the state most
natural to it… and yet the most contrary
to its inclination. The unreal unity which
the spectacle proclaims… is the mask of the
class division on which… on which the real unity of the
capitalist mode of production rests. What obliges producers
to participate… in the construction
of the world… is also what separates
them from it. What brings together men
freed of their local and… national limitations is also what
distances them from one another. What requires the
deepening of rationality… is also what nourishes the
irrationality of hierarchical… exploitation and repression. What makes the power
of society abstract… makes its freedom
concrete. Are we living proletarians,
are we living? This age, which we recount and
where everything we account for… no longer belongs to us,
is this life? And can we not perceive what we
lose unceasingly with the years? Are rest and nourishment
not weak remedies… for the continual illness
that torments us? and what we call the last, is it
anything, properly understood, but a redoubling, and the final
attack, as it were, of the evil… that we bring into the world
in being born? Capitalist production
has unified space, which is no longer limited
by external societies. This unification is at the same
time an extensive and intensive… process of banalization. Just as the accumulation of
commodities mass produced… for the abstract space… of the market was
to break down… all regional and legal
barriers, and all of the corporate
restrictions of the middle ages… which maintained the quality
of artisanal production- it was also to dissolve
the autonomy… and the quality of places. This power of
homogenization… is the heavy artillery… that brought down all
the walls of China. It is in order to become ever
more identical with itself, to better approach
motionless monotony… that the free space
of the commodity… is henceforth constantly
modified and reconstructed. This society that suppresses
geographical distance… gathers distance internally, as spectacular separation. By product of the circulation
of commodities, human circulation considered
as a form of consumption, tourism reduces fundamentally
to the leisure of going to see… what has become banal. The economic management of the
frequentation of different places… is already by itself the
guarantee of their equivalence. The same modernization that
withdrew time from travel… withdrew from it as well
the reality of space. The society founded on the
expansion of alienated… industrial labor becomes, quite
normally from one end to the other, unhealthy, noisy, ugly,
and dirty as a factory. The society which models
all of its surroundings… has constructed its own
special technology… for working the concrete
base of this set of tasks: its own territory. Urbanism is this takeover
of the natural and human… environment by capitalism,
which… logically developing into
absolute domination, can and must… remake the totality
of space… as its own decor. Man returns to inhabit caves
but the worker now inhabits… them only by precarious title
and they are for him… a strange power that he can
daily lack, and from which… he can also daily be expelled
if he does not pay. And he must pay for
this house of death. – Marx, 1844 Manuscripts If all the technological forces
of capitalist economy… must be understood as
affecting separations, in the case of urbanism, we are dealing with the
outfitting of their general base, with the handling of the land
suitable for their deployment; with the very technology
of separation. For the first time,
a new architecture, which in every previous epoch
had been reserved for the… satisfaction of the
ruling classes, is directly destined
for the poor. The formal poverty and
the gigantic expanse… of this new experience
of habitat… both originate in its
mass character, which is implied both
by its destination… and by modern conditions
of construction. The authoritarian
decision- making, that manages territory abstractly
as the territory of abstraction, is of course at the center
of these modern… conditions of construction. The threshold crossed
in the growth… of the material
power of society, and the delay in the conscious
domination of this power, are spread out for
display in urbanism. The environment, which is
reconstructed ever more… hastily for repressive control
and for profit, at the same time… becomes ever more fragile
and incites further vandalism. Capitalism, in its spectacular state,
rebuilds a fake version of everything, and produces incendiaries.
Thus its decor becomes… everywhere inflammable
as a high school in France. History which threatens
this twilight world… is also the force that can
bring the submission of… space to lived time. The proletarian revolution is this
critique of human geography, through which individuals
and communities… must construct the
sites and events… corresponding to
the appropriation, not only of their labor, but of their total history. In this moving
game-space, and from the freely chosen
variations of the rules of the game, autonomy of place may
be rediscovered, without reintroducing an
exclusive attachment to the land, and thus, bring back the reality
of the journey, and of life, understood as a journey
having its entire meaning… within itself. – What’s your pleasure?
– Whiskey. The time of production,
the commodity-time, is an infinite accumulation
of equivalent intervals. It is the abstraction
of irreversible time, of which all segments must
prove on the chronometer… only their quantitative
equality. This time is, in its
entire effective reality, just what it is in its
exchangeable character. the general time of
human non-development… exists as well in the
complementary aspect… of a consumable time
which returns… to the daily life
of society, from this determined
production, as pseudo-cyclical time. Pseudo-cyclical time… is that of the consumption of
modern economic survival, augmented survival, where the
experience of daily life… remains deprived of decision-
making and is forced to submit, no longer to the natural order,
but to the pseudo-nature… developed in
alienated labor; and therefore this
time quite… naturally rediscovers
the old cyclical rhythm… which governs pre-
industrial societies. Pseudo-cyclical time
both finds… its support in the natural
imprints of cyclical time, and from them composes
new homologous combinations: day and night, weekly work
and leisure, the recurrence of
vacation periods. Consumable pseudo-cyclical
time is spectacular time, both as the time of the
consumption of images, in the narrow sense, and as the image of the
consumption of time, in its entire extended
sense. The time of the
consumption of images, the medium of
all commodities, is inseparably the field… where the instruments of the
spectacle hold full sway, and the goal that the
latter presents globally, as the location and
central figure… of all private consumption. the social image of the
consumption of time, for its part, is exclusively dominated… by moments of leisure
pursuits and vacations, moments represented
at a distance… and postulated
as desirable, like all spectacular
commodities. These commodities are here
explicitly presented… as the moment
of real life, it is only a matter of waiting
for its cyclical return. But in these very moments
assigned to life, it is still the spectacle… which is to be seen
and reproduced, as it attains a greater
intensity. What was represented
as real life… reveals itself simply… as more truly
spectacular life. While the consumption of
cyclical time in ancient societies… was in accord with the
real labor of these societies, the pseudo-cyclical
consumption… of a developed economy finds
itself in contradiction with… the irreversible abstract
time of its production. While cyclical time was
the time of static illusion, really lived, spectacular time… is the time of reality as
it transforms itself, lived in illusion. What’s always new
in the process of… the production of things… is never found
in consumption, which remains the extended
return of the same. Because dead labor continues
to dominate living labor, in spectacular time the
past dominates the present. Another side of the deficiency
of general historical life… is that individual life
has as yet no history. The pseudo-events
that crowd… into spectacular
dramatization, have not been lived by those
who are informed by them, and what’s more, they are lost in the inflation
of their hurried replacement, with each thrust of the
spectacular machinery. Furthermore, what was
really lived… is without relation… to the irreversible official
time of the society, and in direct opposition… to the pseudo-cyclical
rhythm of the… consumable by-products
of this time. This individual experience of
separate daily life remains… without a language, without concept, without critical access
to its own past, which is recorded
nowhere. It is not communicated. It is not understood
and is forgotten… to the profit of the false
spectacular memory… of the non-memorable. That’s the way it goes, with
friends. Lose one, find one. Play something for me,
Mr. Guitar. Anything special? Just put a lot
of love in it. He ain’t gonna play so good all
stretched out on that crap table. What’s eating
the fancy man? I don’t know, what’s
your trouble, Kid? I’m in no trouble,
he is. Fooling with strange woman
can bring a man a lot of grief. You a strange woman? Only to strangers. What’s going on
with you two? Just what you
see friend. Ooh, you picked the wrong
place to come to, mister. The lady sent for
me, not you. Head, I’m gonna
kill you mister; tails, you can play
her a tune. Play me a tune. Play something else. The spectacle, as the present social
organization… of the paralysis of history
and of memory, of the abandonment
of history… erected on the basis
of historical time, is the false consciousness
of time. Under the fashions… which cancel themselves and are
recomposed on the frivolous… surface of contemplated
pseudo-cyclical time, the grand style
of the epoch is… always to be found in what
is oriented by the obvious… and secret necessity
of revolution. It was approaching
midnight. And therefore, since
I cannot prove a lover, to entertain these fair
well-spoken days, [?]I am determined
to prove a villain,[?] and hate the idle
pleasures of these days. Reasoning about
history is, inseparably, reasoning
about power. Greece was
the moment… when power and its
transformations were… argued and understood, the democracy of the
masters of society. That was the inverse of the
conditions known to the… despotic State,
where power… settles its accounts
only with itself, in the inaccessible
obscurity… of its most concentrated
point, through a palace
revolution, that success or failure… render equally
beyond discussion. In the Chronicle of the North
men act in silence, they make war, they conclude
peace, but they themselves… never say, nor does the chronicle
add, why they make war, for what reason they make peace;
in the city in the court of the prince, there is nothing to be heard,
all is silent, all sit behind… closed doors, and deliberate
for themselves; the doors open, the men come out onto the scene,
they perform some action, but… they act in silence. Soloviev, History of Russia
From the Most Ancient Times. When the dry, unexplained
chronology of… divinized power
speaking to its servants, that wishes to be understood
only as the earthly execution… of the commandments of myth, can be surmounted… and becomes conscious
history, it has been necessary for
real participation in history… to be lived by
extended groups. Out of this practical
communication… among those who
recognized each other… as the possessors of
a singular present, who experienced the
qualitative richness of events… as their activity… and as the place where
they resided -their epoch-, is born the general language
of historical communication. Those for whom irreversible
time existed… discover in it both… the memorable and
the threat of oblivion: “Herodotous of Halicarnassus
presents here the results… of his researches, so that time might not
abolish the acts of men…” – Good evening, York.
– Good evening, sir. How about a cup
of coffee? Be prepared to remain
all winter, all next winter, if necessary. I’ve waited a long time
for that order, Sir… – which of course I didn’t hear.
– Of course you didn’t hear. If you fail, I assure you the members
of your court martial will… be the men who rode with
us down at Shenandoah. I’ll hand pick’em myself. Shenandoah. I wonder what history
will say about Shenandoah. The victory of the
bourgeoisie… is the victory of profoundly
historical time, because it is the time… of the economic production
that transforms the society, permanently and from
top to bottom. As long as agrarian
production… remains the principal
labor, cyclical time… which remains present
at the base of society… nourishes the combined
forces of tradition, that will put the breaks
on movement. But the irreversible time
of bourgeois economics… extirpates these survivals, throughout the entire world. History, that until then
appeared only… as the movement of
the ruling class, and thus written as
the history of events, is now comprised of
general movement, and in this harsh movement
individuals are sacrificed. History which discovers its
base in political economy… now knows of the existence of
what had been its unconscious, but which remains, nonetheless, the unconscious
which it cannot bring to light. It is only this blind
prehistory, a new fatality which
no one dominates, that the commodity economy
has democratized. Thus the bourgeoisie has
made known to and… imposed upon society, an irreversible historical
time, but refuses to society
its usage. “History was, but
it is no more,” because the class of the
owners of the economy, which cannot break with
economic history, must repress as an
immediate threat… any irreversible
use of time. The ruling class, made up of specialists in
the possession of things, who are themselves, because
of that, a possession of things, must tie their fate… to the maintenance
of this reified history, to the permanence of a
new immobility in history. For the first time, the worker,
at the base of society, is not a stranger to history
in a material sense, for now it is by means of this base
that society irreversibly moves. In the demand to live the
historical time that it makes, the proletariat finds, the simple unforgettable center
of its revolutionary project; and each of its attempts,
smashed until now, to execute this project… marks a possible
point of departure… for new historical life. With the development
of capitalism, irreversible time is
unified globally. Universal history
becomes a reality, for the entire world is assembled
for the development of this time. But this history which is
everywhere at one the same, is still only, the intra-
historical refusal of history. The time of economic
production, cut into equal
abstract fragments, appears across the entire
planet as the same day. Unified irreversible time is
the time of the world market, and as a corollary of
the world spectacle. The irreversible time of
production is first of all… the measure of commodities. Thus, the time which is
officially affirmed across… the entire expanse of the globe
as the general time of society, signifying only the specialized
interests which constitute it, is merely one
particular time. The class struggles
of the long… revolutionary epoch… inaugurated by the rise
of the bourgeoisie… develop inseparably from
historical thought, dialectics, thought which no longer stops
at an investigation of the meaning… of what is, but rises to the
knowledge of the dissolution… of all that is; and in the movement
dissolves all separation. This historical thought is still
only the consciousness… which arrives late, and which declares its
justification post festum. Thus, it has surpassed
separation only in thought. The paradox which
consists in suspending… the meaning of all
reality in favor of… its historical accomplishment, and in revealing this
meaning at the same time… by constituting itself as the
accomplishment of history, devolves from the
simple fact… that the thinker of the
bourgeois revolutions… of the 17th and 18th
centuries… sought in his philosophy… only reconciliation
with their results. When the proletariat
demonstrates… by its own existence
in acts that… this historical thought
is not forgotten, the denial of the conclusion… is also the confirmation
of the method. The flaw of Marx’s theory… is naturally the flaw in the
revolutionary struggle… of the proletariat
of his epoch. The working class did not
decree permanent revolution… in Germany in 1848; the Commune was defeated
in isolation. Revolutionary theory can
thus not yet attain… its own total existence. All theoretical insufficiency… in the scientific defense
of proletarian revolution- in the content as well as in
the form of its exposition- can be traced
back to an… identification of the proletariat
with the bourgeoisie… from the point of view of the
revolutionary seizure of power. The only two classes which effectively
correspond to Marx’s theory, the two pure classes towards which
the entire analysis of Capital leads, the bourgeoisie and
the proletariat, are likewise, the only two
revolutionary classes in history, but under different
conditions: the bourgeois revolution
is over; the proletarian revolution
is a project, born on the basis of the
preceding revolution, but differing from it
qualitatively. By neglecting the originality of
the historical role of the bourgeoisie, one masks the concrete
originality… of the proletarian project… which can accomplish… nothing save by carrying
its own colors… and by knowing “the
immensity of its tasks”. The bourgeoisie came
to power… because it is the class of the
economy in development. The proletariat can become a
power itself only by becoming… the class of consciousness. The maturing of productive
forces… cannot guarantee
such power, even by the detour of increased
dispossession that it brings. The Jacobin seizure
of the State… cannot be its instrument. No ideology can… be of use to disguise partial
goals as general goals, for it can maintain… no partial reality which
actually belongs to it. The ideological alienation
of theory… can longer recognize then
the practical verification of… unified historical thought
which it betrayed, when such a verification
arose… in the spontaneous
struggles of workers; it can only conspire
to repress… the appearance and memory
of such a thing. However, these historical forms which
have appeared within the struggle… are precisely the
practical milieu… which was missing for theory
in order for it to be true. They are a requirement
of theory, but had not been
formulated theoretically. The Soviet, was not a discovery
of theory. And already, the highest
theoretical truth… of the International Workingmen’s
Association… was in its existence
in practice. You’ll learn just how much the
bread of strangers tastes of salt, and just how rude
a passage it is, to descend and to climb
the stairways of strangers. [?]And the heaviest burden
you will carry,[?] will be the bad and
inept company… that you will fall in with
in this valley of exile. [?]So that it will be a credit
to your honor, thereafter,[?] to have been a party
unto yourself alone. The same historical
moment, when bolshevism triumphed
for itself in Russia, and… when social democracy fought
victoriously for the old world, marks the outright birth… an order of things… at the heart of the domination
of the modern spectacle, worker representation… came into radical opposition
to the class itself. Those who want to institute
a State capitalism as the… property of a totalitarian bureaucracy
and not destroy the Councils; or those who want to abolish
class society and do not condemn… all unions and the specialized
hierarchical parties- they will… endure but a short while. The stalinist epoch… reveals the ultimate reality
of the bureaucracy: it is the continuation of the
power of the economy, the salvaging of the essential
of commodity society, that is, labor as commodity. This is the proof of the
independent economy… which dominates society… to the point of recreating
for its own ends… the class domination
necessary to it: that is, the bourgeoisie… created an autonomous
power which… as long as this
autonomy subsists, can even do without
a bourgeoisie. Totalitarian bureaucracy
is not… “the last property-owning
class in history”… in Bruno Rizzi’s sense, but only a substitute
ruling class… for the commodity
economy. Faltering capitalist
ownership… is replaced by a simplified,
less diversified by-product, concentrated in the collective
ownership of the bureaucratic class. This underdeveloped
form of ruling class… is also the expression of the
economic underdevelopment; its only perspective is the
delay in this development… in certain regions
of the world. It is the worker’s party, organized according to the
bourgeois model of separation, which furnished the
hierarchical-statist cadre… for this supplementary edition
of the ruling class. The ideological-totalitarian
class in power… is the power of a world
turned upside down: the stronger it is, the more it asserts
it does not exist, and its power serves it foremost
to assert its non-existence. It is modest on
this single point, for its official non-existence
must also coincide… with the nec plus ultra of
historical development, which is due simultaneously
to its infallible leadership. Spread out everywhere, bureaucracy should be the
invisible class for consciousness, so that all of social life
becomes insane. The social organization
of the absolute lie… devolves from this
fundamental contradiction. The higher we ascend in this
bureaucracy of intelligence, the more wondrous are the
pates that we encounter. -Marx, Remarks on the Recent Rulings
by the Prussian Board of Censors Stalinism was the reign of terror
within the bureaucratic class itself. Terrorism which is the foundation
of the power of this class… must also strike
this class, for it has no juridical
guarantee, no recognized existence
as the class of ownership, that it could extend to
each of its members. Its real ownership
is dissimulated, and it came
to ownership… only by the route of
false consciousness. False consciousness maintains
its absolute power… only by absolute terror, where any true motivation
is ultimately lost. The members of the
bureaucratic class in power… have no right of possession
over society, except collectively, as participants in
a fundamental lie: they must play the role
of the proletariat… directing a socialist
society; they must be actors faithful to
the text of ideological infidelity. But effective participation… in this deceptive entity… requires this participation
be recognized as truthful. No bureaucrat can individually
maintain his right to power, for to prove he is a
socialist proletarian… would be to show himself as
the opposite of a bureaucrat; and to prove he is a
bureaucrat is impossible, since the official truth of the
bureaucracy is not to be. In this way, each bureaucrat
is absolutely dependent… upon a central
guarantee by ideology, which recognizes a
collective participation… in its “socialist power”… by all bureaucrats it
does not annihilate. If the bureaucrats taken as a
group decide upon everything, the coherence of their
own class… can be assured only
by the concentration… of their terrorist power
in a single person. In this person… resides the only practical
truth of the lie in power: the indisputable fixing of its
constantly corrected frontier. Stalin decides with
no possible appeal… who finally is a propertied
bureaucrat, that is to say, who is to be
called “proletarian in power”, or else “traitor in the pay of
the Mikado and Wall Street.” Bureaucratic atoms… find the common essence
of their right, only in the person
of Stalin. Stalin is this sovereign
of the world, who knows himself in this way
to be the absolute person, for whose consciousness
there exists no higher spirit. The sovereign of the world
possesses the effective… consciousness of
what he is: -the universal power
of effectivity- in the destructive violence
that he exercises against… the Self of his subjects
who form a contrast for him. Just as he is the power
which defines… the terrain of domination, he is also “the power
ravaging this terrain.” Comrades! Alarming news. The Reichstag is
in flames. Fascist Radio claims… that Communists started
the Reichstag fire. A monstrous provocation
by the Nazi government. The meeting is over. They want to outlaw
our party… to choke off the voice
of the working class. As long as there are
communists in Germany… the fight against
Hitler will never end. …fight for peace
among all peoples… …for Hitler, comrades,
Hitler is war! There is a valley in Spain
called Jarama. It’s a place that we
all know too well. For ’tis there that we
wasted our manhood. And most of our
old age as well. This social peace,
reestablished at great cost… had lasted but a few years
when there appeared, in order to announce its end,
those who were to enter… the history of crime under
the name of “Situationists”. When the proletariat discovers
that its own exteriorized force… conspires in the permanent
reinforcement of capitalist society, no longer just in
the form of labor, but also in the form
of the unions, of the parties or
of the state power… that it had constituted
in order to emancipate… itself, it discovers as well by
concrete historical experience… that it is the class
totally inimical… to all fixed exteriorization… and to all specialization
of power. It carries the revolution which
can leave nothing outside itself, the requirement of the
permanent domination… of the present
over the past, and the total critique
of separation; and it must find the adequate
form in action of this. No quantitative improvement
of its poverty, no illusion of hierarchical
integration, is a durable remedy
for its dissatisfaction… for the proletariat cannot
truly recognize itself… in a particular wrong which
it might have suffered, nor for that matter in the
redress of a particular wrong, nor of a great number
of these wrongs, but only in the
absolute wrong… of being relegated to
the margins of life. Comrades: the Sud-Aviation
factory at Nantes having been… occupied for two days by the
workers and the students… of that city, the movement
extending today to various… factories [N.M.P.P. Paris,
Renault- Cleon and others] the Occupation Committee of the
Sorbonne calls for the immediate… occupation of all factories in France
and the formation of workers councils. Comrades, broadcast and reproduce
this call as quickly as possible. Sorbonne, May 16, 15:00 Occupation of the factories.
Workers Councils. And the month of May
will never return, from today until the
end of the world… of the spectacle, without
us being remembered… Comrades! Humanity of will only
be happy on the day when the… Down with spectacular
commodity society! Don’t flatter yourself that
they have no such plan, they must of necessity have
one; and if chance willed them… not to have formed one,
the very force of things… would lead them to one;
conquest engenders conquest, and victory gives the
thirst for victory. Machivaelli, Letter
to Francesco Vetton Run quickly, comrade,
the old world is behind you! From February 25th,
a thousand strange systems… impetuously sallied forth from
the spirit of the innovators… and spread through the
troubled spirit of the masses… It seemed that from the shock
of the revolution, society had… been reduced to dust and that
a competition had opened… to determine the new form
to be given to the edifice… to be built in its place; each
one proposed his plan, this one produced it in the
newspapers, that one in posters… that quickly covered the walls;
another in the open air by means… of spoken words. One pretended
to destroy inequality of fortunes, another the inequality of
intelligence, a third undertook… to level the most ancient of
inequalities, that of man and woman; they indicated specific remedies
for poverty and remedies for this… evil of labor which has tormented
humanity as long as it has existed. Tocqueville, Memoirs. But neither wood
nor fire… found appeasement, [?]nor satisfaction nor rest,[?] in any heat,
small or great, nor in any semblance, until fire… was made one with wood… and communicated
to it its very nature… But then it happens that they
are accused of vandalism… and that their disrespect for
the machine is blamed and… stigmatized. These critiques
would be founded if there were… on the part of the workers a
systematic will to deterioration, with no concern for a goal.
However, this is not the case. If the workers attack the machines
it is not for pleasure or for casual… amusement it is because an
imperious necessity… obliges them to do so.
Emile Pouget, Sabotage By the new signs of negation, misunderstood and falsified by
the management of the spectacle, that are multiplying in the most
economically advanced countries, one may already draw
the conclusion that… a new epoch
has opened: after the first attempt
at worker subversion, it is now capitalist abundance
which has failed. When the anti-union struggles
of western workers… are repressed first
by the unions, and when rebellious
currents of youth… launch a first formless
protest, in which, however, the refusal of the old
specialized politics, of art, of daily life, is
immediately implicated, it’s there that may be found
the two faces of a new… spontaneous struggle which
begins with a criminal aspect. These are the
advance signs… of the second proletarian
assault against class society. Once more Poland is covered
in a bloody winding sheet… and we have remained
impotent spectators. Declaration of French workers
at the meeting of the foundation… of the Internationale,
September 28, 1864 When the ever deepening… realization of capitalist
alienation at all levels, rendering ever more
difficult for workers… the recognition and naming
of their own property, leaves them with
the alternative of… refusing the totality of
their misery or nothing, the revolutionary organization
must know that it can no longer… combat alienation with
alienated means. The very development
of class society… to the point of the spectacular
organization of non-life… thus leads the revolutionary
project to become visibly… what it was already
essentially. Revolutionary theory… is now the enemy of all
revolutionary ideology, and knows that it is. Let us consider, however, the content of this
experience in its entirety: this content is work
which disappears… The fact of disappearing
is also effectively real, and is attached to the work and
itself disappears with the latter; [?]the negative goes under with the
positive, of which it is the negation.[?] It would obviously be very
convenient to make history… if one had only to engage in
struggle under unerringly… favorable circumstances.
To completely destroy this society, it is clearly necessary to be
ready to launch against it, ten times in succession or more,
assaults of an importance… comparable to that of May 1968;
and to hold as inevitable… inconveniences a certain number
of defeats and civil wars. The goals which count in
universal history must be…. affirmed with energy
and will. 7th Michigan! Forward, ho! Trot, ho! Gallop, ho! Charge! 5th and 6th Michigan!
Forward, ho! Trot, ho! Gallop, ho! Charge! Fight, you Wolverines!
1st Michigan, charge! What on the contrary constitutes
the merit of our theory, is not the fact of its having
a correct idea, but of having… been naturally led to conceive
this idea. In sum, one cannot… reiterate it too strongly that
here -as in the entire domain… of praxis- theory is there much
more to educate the practitioner, to give him a sense of judgment,
then to serve him as an… indispensable support at every
step that the accomplishment… of this task necessitates.
Clausewitz, The Campaign of 1814

50 thoughts on “La Société du spectacle (1973) – Guy Debord [MultiSub]

  1. Je suis très impressionne par la pertinence des analyses marxistes sur monde moderne. Les "théories" libérales-libertaires modernes (Je devrais dire : a la mode) sont ridiculement pauvres. Elles n'expliquent rien, elles ne font que se justifier.

  2. Ce concept a été développé par Michel Clouscard. Je trouve personnellement que ce "rapprochement" en apparence contradictoire représente bien l'esprit économique et politique contemporain . Cet auteur à aussi parlé de "la société où tout est permis, mais rien est possible".

  3. La société du spectacle (1973)[1]
        a.k.a. The Society of the Spectacle (1973)
    Documentary [1 h 28 min]
    Leonid Brezhnev, Fidel Castro, Guy Debord, Jacques Duclos
    Director: Guy Debord
    Writers: Guy Debord, Guy Debord
    IMDb user rating: [2] ★★★★★★★☆☆☆ 7.3/10 (311 votes)

  4. IMdB
    Wikipedia La Société du spectacle (1973) – Guy Debord [MultiSub]
    AKA: La société du spectacle (1973)
    FRENCH LANGUAGE | ENGLISH / MULTI CLOSE CAPTIONS
    Found footage is used to critique mass marketing and its role in the alienation of modern society. This is, I think, a very relevant topic that may help one to understand today's MEDIA CULTURE.
    WARNING: I found the narration to be atrocious. You may want to mute the sound and play some music or something whilst watching this film.
    I RECOMMEND YOU WATCH THIS SHORT modern interpretation of The Society of the Spectacle (1973) BEFORE watching the film linked above.
    The Society of the Spectacle Pt 1 [9:26]
    The Society of the Spectacle Pt 2 [9:15]

  5. The world doesn't change in one day or a century. The Christianity brought revolutionary idea of a brotherhood, but began to dominate only in 1000 years. Ideas of Guy Debord will change the world , but not instantly.

  6. Je voudrais faire passer cette vidéo à mes eléves de Français, mais c'est trop dur pour eux sans sous-titres. Porriez-vous y metre? Merci bien!

  7. Sommes-nous tous devenus des situationnistes ? C'est-à-dire critique face à la dimension aliénante des médias et en même temps de plus en plus en contrôle du monde de l'image par la culture de l'auto-représentation de soi par réseaux sociaux interposés ?

  8. D'une ampleur subversive plutôt rare en ces temps de disette, si ce n'est d'engeance intellectuelle… Debord et les situationnistes s'inscrivent dans un courant radical historique, celui inspiré en partie des Présocratiques. Ce rapport de filiation s'enracine jusqu'aux premières communautés humaines, celles de l'Être. Communautés de l'Être contre sociétés de l'avoir, celles qui, tout au long des siècles nous ont façonné, pour aboutir à l'humanité hors-sol qui nous caractérise aujourd'hui ("réalité virtuelle" plus prégnante que jamais !). Façonnement de notre imaginaire, jusqu'au tréfonds de nos Êtres justement. Malgré tout, notre matrice originelle résurgente veille, nos lointains ancêtres ont été chasseurs, cueilleurs, pendant des millénaires, incomparablement plus que la minuscule parenthèse homo-oeconomicus. Debord (et tant d'autres !) n'est rien de plus (comme sa filiation historique radicale : Présocratiques, Hegel, Marx, R.Luxemburg, etc…) qu'un révélateur de cette évidence que nous portons en nous. L'auto mouvement immanent de la vie n'aura JAMAIS le sens que veut lui donner notre Histoire très contemporaine, loin s'en faut ! Il existe encore (comme Debord, Marx…) des "auteurs-révélateurs" que la toute puissante novlangue orwellienne à l'oeuvre dans le spectacle de la fétichisation marchande ne peut totalement obérer, jusqu'à présent… Alors…bonnes lectures !

  9. N'était-il plus pratique de rendre le documentaire accessible en employant des phrases moins enchevêtrées ? Vulgariser ses idées avec des mots simples en évitant ce délire verbal. On peut affirmer simplement l'originalité de sa pensée.

  10. Est-ce que je peux divulguer ce film dans mon blogue? Je suis professeur et responsable d'une bibliothèque d'arts. On a le livre, mas je voudrais divulguer li livre et le film en simultannée. Merci!

  11. "The arming of the WHOLE proletariat with rifles, guns, and ammunition should be carried out AT ONCE" – Marx, "Address to the Communist League"; "Communists disdain to conceal their views and aims. They OPENLY declare that their ends can ONLY be attained by the FORCIBLE overthrow of all existing social conditions" Marx "The Communist Manifesto"…

    BE AWARE! Marxism is nothing but BLOODSHED!

  12. https://ysengrimus.wordpress.com/2017/11/15/mes-seize-aphorismes-utiles-tires-de-la-societe-du-spectacle-de-guy-debord-1967/

  13. LoControl Drawing_004 #5Lamy M16
    Smash the control images – Smash the control machine
    Insta: @wilfriedopteynde

  14. What is the name of the movie behind this movie? is the scene taken by some other appropriate movie for his book or is it the piece of the Debord uniqe movie? tnx

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