Book Club #3 - Society of the Spectacle

We're reading buckos!

All links appear to have the same edition, linking multiple sources instead of posting a pdf so we don't have any bullshit where page 36 is blank or if a site goes down.

Supplementary/alternative reading
Annotated edition:
Comments from the author:

For this reading we should stick with the regular version of the text, with the annotated version being there to re-read in the future and the Comments being something to read afterwards individually. Update with observations, ask questions, and have lively discussions.

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Oh sheeit, I actually started on this one earlier but never got around to finishing it. Will keep tabs on this, for sure. Is there a schedule or anything like that?

That's actually a separate book, not just some comments. This is a better translation of it:

I'd say it clocks in closer to a pamplet, but it's supplementary and I thought anons might be interested in checking it out.

to OP I might read Debord. just finished a piece by Heinrich Laufenberg, going to Fritz Wolffhiem next, and maybe some Karl Radek, gotta look look into my Adorno collection. also need to find Sergey Nechayev's "The Fundamentals of the Future Social System" got some Hegel and Schopenhauer to read for non-political philosophy.

non-related pic ofc

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This is really hard to read tbh

Situationists are generally more complex than need be, in fact I'd argue a person could get the point of SotS without having to read the whole thing even though the whole thing itself is actually a short read most people think is as long as an encyclopedia before they open it. As a general rule of thumb, interpret things as simplistic as possible, because generally speaking with leftism, that's what they're going for, being simple.

Whoops didn't mean to sage.

You can always be the lazy student and just watch the film:
It only has excerpts from the text, not the whole thing, but it might help you to understand the basic themes which could make the reading easier.

Does it still exist? Anyone know where I can read the self critique?

The further in I "read" the less I start liking Debord.

I just finished up the Society of the Spectacle and thought of giving a long thought out review before realizing I could just do what Debord could have and shorten it. The start of the book is needlessly verbose and tedious but the 2nd half discussing history all the way to modern society gets really good, however Debord fails a lot about history and shouldn't always be taken as correct. Throughout reading the book I found myself drifting off to better prospects especially during the history part.
That is all there is to say about the book.

If you are such hot shit let's see your short and corrected version of SotS.

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Chill, Guy.

What, are you asking me to give a summary, re edit a book, rewrite it?

So does everyone need another week to finish?

Probably more…

I could use a few more days, personally. I'm only about halfway done and I want to also watch the movie that was linked.

Here's the poll for the next book:

Oh boy for the sheer shitstorm it would cause, I'm voting for it.

Should we maybe work out a schedule ahead of time based on the length of the work? A pamphlet or two in a week is doable for anybody, but a reading group should move at the pace of the slowest reader (which is also beneficial since it gives more time to digest the ideas and discuss). Maybe break books up according to page count or chapters?

I already read it. That book made me an atheist. It is a disturbing experience to realize that the book that you had assumed held the wisdom of the ages makes a lot more sense as a collection of Bronze Age myths and slave society morality tales than it does the word of God.


When the proletariat demonstrates through its own actions that this historical thought has not been forgotten, its refutation of that thought’s conclusion is at the same time a confirmation of its method.

what the fuck is this supposed to mean

There's not much scholarly analysis on the book quote for quote, ironcially googling it gives only leftist results, Marx quotes, and anti Imperialist stuff.
Well looking at 76 and 78 both are discussions of history, how Hegel interpreted it and similar aspects.
So you can use these as context but at the same time Debord quickly switches back to calling the French revolution a bourgeoisie revolution and starts talking about Marx so I can see why you're confused. Although for 76-78 it seems Debord is talking specifically about Hegelian views on history. Now I've never read Hegel and I never will., so I really can't say much else about this.

I understand what historical thought in the context is, what I don't know is, what did the proletariat do that refuted Hegel's conclusion but verified his method? Or is the when here supposed to be in the future, more of an unavoidable if?

He's talking about revolutionary practice refuting the Hegelian end of history (conclusion) with the very dialectical movement from the contradictions of capitalism into socialism via revolution (for Debord, worker's councils seizing the MoP, the Marxist method by which the proletariat confirms a historically grounded dialectical method)

So it happens in the future

Did any anarchists ever address Debord's criticism? It feels like some of it still applies.

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I can't find anything like "an anarchist response to Debord" that specifically addresses his criticisms in the book though there was a contemporary anarchist group that called the SI bourgeois fags, but anarchists/libcoms/libsocs and (hilariously) individualist anarchists are probably the groups most influenced by Situationists today so I assume his critique has impacted certain anarchists. I'd contest his critiques on Anarchism (ie the umbrella term for the anti-state socialism/communism) given that Bakunin's "invisible dictatorship" is contentious and allegedly not exactly how it is often portrayed by detractors, the differing forms of economic and political struggle employed by anarchists that developed with syndicalism and communist anarchism that weren't merely calls for revolution now, the critique of hierarchy applying found in God and the State being clear on experts and scientists (including experts on anarchism) wielding power, and the view of revolution being a spontaneous one-day affair being attributed to anarchists by Lenin rather than being found in any anarchist theory. However his criticism is accurate regarding anarchists (ie the supposed adherents to anti-state socialism/communism) and is good to digest to be able to assess the movement dare I say self-crit? to avoid falling into these traps that seem all too common for anarchists and fellow travelers.

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Source on this? I know the SI did the same with everyone.

I don't have it on hand but they said the SI was in line with the tendency of bourgeois kids showing everyone their asses before acclimating to bourgeois luxury. It didn't say anything profound and was just banter I found funny.

I looked at it, typical French arrogant faggotry. Makes sense but too condescending. No Ernst Niekisch called French people the women of Europe.

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Funny thing the reactionary right is using their tactics too. Lol.

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learn philosophy of right by the good Hegel, profesor of Max Stirner.

Anarchists are beautiful souls but dont know yet what State is concretly and it's not opposed to most things anarchists beleive. Rule of Law is inevitable in any group, Anarchism true anarchism only exists when alone or is ever present if you just ignore politics (alone yourself from other causes from their group laws, etc)

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His theory of time is fucking based why is nobody talking about it

I know it hurts your vagoo you sodomite. but its ok

I just finished this today, btw. Ask me anything about it

I have heard some people claim that the situationist concept of the spectacle is somewhat of an extension of the Marxist concept of alienation. In that view, the spectacle is the separation of yourself from yourself, you're just the spectator of your own life instead of being the actor. Do you think it's an accurate definition?

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Of course not. Debord makes it clear again and again that the Spectacle is not some fragment of the totality but the totality of fragmentation, the whole movement of an economy that exists only for itself. That you get to know yourself only through the image that the Spectacle presents to you is not the Spectacle itself, but a consequence of it and a technique it employs to enforce its reign of terror.

So the Spectacle is something systematic, operating at the scale of society, just like capitalism and the state are systematic too?

I don't understand this definition, can you elaborate and/or provide examples? That's something I noticed with situ theory, it's rather dense to digest.

You could say so, although I am not sure if systemic is the appropriate word.

There's no clear-cut definition since Debord is trying to analyse an ongoing change. He could just say for example, in 1967 this and this is the Spectacle, but that would be ahistorical and clearly useless as revolutionary theory. Most of the confusing terminology comes from Hegel.

I just finished reading this book independent of the study group (I might join for future works). The text was terse in only the way French prose can be, because of this I'm worried I might not have gotten everything I should've out of it. I was wondering if any of you went in for a second reading, and to what extent you applied the ideas to your own life? Reflecting on my own life the most significant part of Deborda's critique doesn't apply to me as I don't consume temporal or non-text media, nor do I sacrifice my individuality for fame (this seems very relevant to social media), but this doesn't liberate me from the underlying critique of the passivity, and when doing my own work I rarely avoid contribution to the spectacle. (by this I mean my work could be defused and reframed to contribute to the spectacle)

what the fuck are you doing in a left wing image board

Please join, not enough people read in general and less participate in this.
I've read it 3 times, and everytime I pick up on something new. I have a lot of trouble getting French works down on a single pass like this, Tiqqun/IC, and Theorie Communiste either because I'm a dumb-dumb burger or the French are pretentious. Likely both.

The mods can't ban instantly. Best to ignore the reactionary and liberal types or they'll sperg even more.

I've read it at least 4 times in two languages (neither is French, sadly), and will probably keep reading it until I die.

Yah, sure, I'll participate. I voted in the new poll and made a suggestion for the next poll.

Ah, It's good to hear I'm not alone, and also to find a somewhat renewable source of knowledge!