Spectacular Capitalism: Guy Debord and the Practice of Radical Philosophy
Despite recent crises in the financial system, uprisings in Greece, France, Tunisia, and Bolivia, worldwide decline of faith in neoliberal trade policies, deepening ecological catastrophes, and global deficits of realized democracy, we still live in an era of “spectacular capitalism.” But what is “spectacular capitalism?” Spectacular capitalism is the dominant mythology of capitalism that disguises its internal logic and denies the macroeconomic reality of the actually existing capitalist world. Taking on this elusive mythology, and those who too easily accept it, Richard Gilman-Opalsky exposes the manipulative and self-serving narrative of spectacular capitalism.
Drawing on the work of Guy Debord, Gilman-Opalsky argues that the theory of practice and practice of theory are superseded by upheavals that do the work of philosophy. One could ask: Who better raises questions about public and private spheres of influence and control, Jürgen Habermas or the water war activists who made a rebellion in Cochabamba, Bolivia in the spring of 2000? Or, has any sociological theorist done better than the Zapatistas to reframe and raise questions about indigenous identity? Spectacular Capitalism makes the case not only for a new philosophy of praxis, but for praxis itself as the delivery mechanism for philosophy – for the field of human action, of contestation and conflict, to raise directly the most irresistible questions about the truth and morality of the existing state of affairs.
“Richard Gilman-Opalsky’s Spectacular Capitalism rescues Situationist theory and praxis from merely antiquarian and art-historical commentary and puts it in dialogue with the project of a radical philosophy for leaving the 21st century.” – McKenzie Wark, author of A Hacker Manifesto and Gamer Theory
Bio: Richard Gilman-Opalsky is Assistant Professor of Political Philosophy in the Department of Political Science at the University of Illinois at Springfield. He is the author of Unbounded Publics: Transgressive Public Spheres, Zapatismo, and Political Theory (Lexington Books, 2008), as well as numerous articles.
Acknowledgements and Dedication 7
A Priori 9
Chapter 1: Selectively Forgetting Baudrillard 34
1.1 A Critique in Broad Strokes 34
1.2 On Simulacra: Truth and Reality 41
1.3 A Farewell to History 48
1.4 Rescuing Praxis from the Wreckage 50
Chapter 2: Reconsidering Situationist Praxis 63
2.1 Spectacle and Depoliticization 64
2.2 Revolutionary Alternatives to Revolution 77
2.3 Reconsidering Situationist Praxis 81
Chapter 3: Socialism and Radical Philosophy 89
3.1 Socialist Spectacle and Philosophy 90
3.2 Capitalist Spectacle, Situationist Perpsective 97
3.3 Which Way Forward? A General Direction 100
Chapter 4: Theeses on Debord 113
134 pages, 6 x 9