"The spectacle, like modern society itself, is at once united and divided," wrote Guy Debord in the foundational text of Situationism, The Society of the Spectacle. Debord's point was that, in turning everyone into passive consumers, capitalism deliberately masks the core truths of social relations.
As a diagnosis of the market economy, that now seems almost quaint. And yet, as the furore around the commemoration of the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 atrocities becomes a veritable spectacle, I can't help wondering if there is a kernel of validity in Debord's wider method.
I say that because you might draw two conclusions about the various groups and individuals who've tried to hijack the commemoration. Firstly, that they regard themselves as the bearers of truths which the rest of us are too deadened or complacent to realize, as anyone who has condemned himself to a session surfing wingnut websites knows painfully. Secondly, that the camps which promote these truths are mutually exclusive; you cannot both fulminate against the "Islamization" of America and insist that 9/11 was a message to U.S. imperialism...More >>