La société du l'Abonnement (The Society of the Subscription)
Alexander J. Hellert , HON400: All College Honors Colloquium
Faculty Mentor(s): Professor David N. Ben-Merre, English
My presentation uses French Situationist philosopher Guy Debord's concept of “spectacle” to describe an emerging form of Capitalism Without Private Property. The spectacle was defined as “not a collection of images, but a social relation among people, mediated by images.” Whilst the Situationists of Debord's time argued authentic social life devolved into accumulating wealth, later just the appearance of wealth, today the system is removing private ownership entirely. Non-perishable commodities will be owned in common by corporations rather than by their users. This is expressed in ride-sharing services replacing car ownership, the Internet of Things connecting rented appliances together, the end of DVDs or CDs and the rise of streaming services, cloud computing replacing software ownership and so much more. Solutions to this all-encompassing problem are difficult since Debord rightly argues that the system sterilizes and commodifies radical ideas into safe ones that don't challenge power. I further argue that Debord's 1968 rebellious ideology fails to solve the problem of bourgeois dominance but rather entrenches it. Situationist concepts like Detournement (a kind of plagiarism of system approved image used against itself) and Psychogeography (effects of physical environment on mental well-being) themselves are commodified by capitalism just in the way Debord should have predicted they would. I paint a bleak picture of overcoming the spectacle and its accompanied commodity fetishization. I must inform you I don't own a copy of Société du Spectacle, instead relying on my Google Play eBook, subject to the whims of Google's terms of service.
Hellert, Alexander J., "La société du l'Abonnement (The Society of the Subscription)" (2021). Communication and Humanities. 11.