The Society of the Spectacle

When Guy Debord made films to enable the audience to not be sucked in, leaving long blank silences, he may not have been thinking of Jean Baudrillard’s vision: a blank TV set, due to a strike. Both thinkers have been proven right. The audience is fully controlled by the spectacle. Would we be fascinated with an America v North Korea war, or just switch off? Dystopian visions offer a form of catharsis, and can offer hope. The world seems to have been on the brink since Trump came to power, but prior to his victory the end was predicted by either side should the opposition win. Has there ever been a point in history when the end of the world was not predicted? In the 1960s, when apparently we never had it so good, youth culture was condemned as bringing about Armageddon.

War might be constructed as madness, but it is often framed as natural, not just a logical reaction but an innately human trait. The need for any form of war, locally, nationally, or internationally, is engrained in the human psyche from birth. Without the other we do not have difference, or an identity. Paradoxically, defeating the other is a defeat of the self. Whether the self exists at all, or should exist, is a larger question. Is this where the problem starts? Within the Buddhist tradition, the self is a false construct, based on a false graspingness. This falseness is fed by capitalism and the society of the spectacle drives the creation of these desires.  To say this is natural would be inaccurate. Trump is now seen as creating more problems than he is solving. Inventing this theatre is one way to stay in power. The thought of the emperor without his new clothes may be just too much of a spectacle.

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