Distribution Automatique

Wednesday, March 3

"Every given commodity fights for itself,
cannot acknowledge the others, and attempts
to impose itself everywhere as if it were the only
one. The spectacle then, is the epic poem of this struggle,
an epic which cannot be concluded by the fall of any
Troy. The spectacle does not sing the praises of
men and their weapons, but of commodities and
their passions. In this blind struggle, every commodity
pursuing its passion unconsciously realizes something
higher: the becoming-world of the commodity,
which is also the becoming-commodity of the
what is SPECIFIC in the commodity wears itself
out in the fight while the commodity-form moves
towards its absolute realization.

In the image of the society happily unified by
consumption, real division is only SUSPENDED
until the next non-accomplishment in the
consumable. Each specific product which represents
hope for a dazzling short-cut to the promised land
of total consumption, is ceremoniously presented
in its turn as the decisive entity. But as in the
case of the simultaneous diffusion of seemingly
aristocratic first-names carried by almost all
individuals of the same age, the objects from which
one expects a unique power could not have been proposed
for the devotion of the masses unless it had been
produced in large enough numbers to be consumed
massively. A product acquires prestiige only when
it is placed at the center of social life as the revealed
mystery of the ultimate goal of production.

The object which was prestigious in the spectacle becomes
vulgar as soon as it enters the home of the consumer, and
at the same time enters the homes of all the others. Too late,
it reveals its essential poverty, which it naturally gets from the'
misery of its production. But, by then, another object already
carries the justification of the system and the demand to be

The fraud of satisfaction must denounce itself by being
replaced, following the change of products and the
general conditions of production. That which asserted
its definitive excellence with perfect impudence nevertheless
changes, both in the diffuse and in the concentrated
spectacle, and it is the system alone which must continue.
Stalin, as well as the outmoded commodity are denounced
precisely by those who imposed them. Every NEW LIE of
advertising is also an AVOWAL of the previous lie. The
fall of every figure of totalitarian power reveals the ILLUSORY
COMMUNITY which approved him unanimously, and was no
more than an agglomoration of solitudes without illusions.

What the spectacle offers as eternal is based on change, and
must change with its base. The spectacle is abolutely
dogmatic and at the same time cannot really arrive with any
solid dogma. Nothing stops for it; this condition is natural to
it yet most contrary to its inclination.

The unreal unity proclaimed by the spectacle masks the class
division on which the real unity of the capitalist mode of
production rests. What obliges the producers to participate
in the construction of the world is also what separates them
from it. What brings together men liberated from their local
and national boundaries is also what pulls them apart. What requires
a more profound rationality is also what nourishes the irrationality
of hierarchical exploitation and repression. What creates
the abstract power of society creates its concrete UNFREEDOM."

Guy Debord
*Society of the Spectacle
and Other Films*