The Society of the Spectacle Quotes

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The Society of the Spectacle The Society of the Spectacle by Guy Debord
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“... just as early industrial capitalism moved the focus of existence from being to having, post-industrial culture has moved that focus from having to appearing.”
Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle
“Quotations are useful in periods of ignorance or obscurantist beliefs.”
Guy Debord, Society of the Spectacle
“The more powerful the class, the more it claims not to exist.”
Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle
“Like lost children we live our unfinished adventures.”
Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle
“The spectacle is not a collection of images, but a social relation among people, mediated by images.”
Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle
“The more he identifies with the dominant images of need, the less he understands his own life and his own desires. The spectacle’s estrangement from the acting subject is expressed by the fact that the individual’s gestures are no longer his own; they are the gestures of someone else who represents them to him.”
Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle
“Spectacle is the sun that never sets over the empire of modern passivity”
Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle
“The spectacle is the nightmare of imprisoned modern society which ultimately expresses nothing more than its desire to sleep. The spectacle is the guardian of sleep.”
Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle
“The story of terrorism is written by the state and it is therefore highly instructive… compared with terrorism, everything else must be acceptable, or in any case more rational and democratic.”
Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle
“The reigning economic system is a vicious circle of isolation. Its technologies are based on isolation, and they contribute to that same isolation. From automobiles to television, the goods that the spectacular system chooses to produce also serve it as weapons for constantly reinforcing the conditions that engender “lonely crowds.”
Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle
“This society eliminates geographical distance only to produce a new internal separation.”
Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle
“Where the real world changes into simple images, the simple images become real beings and effective motivations of hypnotic behavior.”
Guy Debord, Society Of The Spectacle
“The loss of quality that is so evident at every level of spectacular language, from the objects it glorifies to the behavior it regulates, stems from the basic nature of a production system that shuns reality. The commodity form reduces everything to quantitative equivalence. The quantitative is what it develops, and it can develop only within the quantitative.”
Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle
“The first stage of the economy’s domination of social life brought about an evident degradation of being into having — human fulfillment was no longer equated with what one was, but with what one possessed. The present stage, in which social life has become completely dominated by the accumulated productions of the economy, is bringing about a general shift from having to appearing — all “having” must now derive its immediate prestige and its ultimate purpose from appearances. At the same time all individual reality has become social, in the sense that it is shaped by social forces and is directly dependent on them. Individual reality is allowed to appear only if it is not actually real.”
Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle
“The spectacle is a social relation between people that is mediated by an accumulation of images that serve to alienate us from a genuinely lived life. The image is thus an historical mutation of the form of commodity fetishism.”
Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle
“The society whose modernisation has reached the stage of integrated spectacle
is characterised by the combined effect of five principal factors: incessant technological renewal, integration of state and economy, generalised secrecy, unanswerable lies, and eternal present . . .
— The Society of the Spectacle”
Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle
“The more powerful the class, the more it claims not to exist, and its power is employed above all to enforce this claim. It is modest only on this one point, however, because this officially nonexistent bureaucracy simultaneously attributes the crowning achievements of history to its own infallible leadership. Though its existence is everywhere in evidence, the bureaucracy must be invisible as a class. As a result, all social life becomes insane.”
Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle
“capitalism could appropriate even the most radical ideas and return them safely in the form of harmless ideologies.”
Guy Debord, Society Of The Spectacle
“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 sign 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 world. Thus, by means of a ruse of commodity logic, what's specific in the commodity wears itself out in the fight while the commodity-form moves toward its absolute realization.”
Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle
“Capital is no longer the invisible center governing the production process; as it accumulates, it spreads to the ends of the earth in the form of tangible objects. The entire expanse of society is its portrait.”
Guy Debord, Society of the Spectacle
“Life insurance ads merely insinuate that he may be guilty of dying without having provided for the smooth continuation of the system following the resultant economic loss, while the promoters of the “American way of death” stress his capacity to preserve most of the appearances of life in his post-mortem state. On all the other fronts of advertising bombardment it is strictly forbidden to grow old. Everybody is urged to economize on their “youth-capital,” though such capital, however carefully managed, has little prospect of attaining the durable and cumulative properties of economic capital. This social absence of death coincides with the social absence of life.”
Guy Debord, Society of the Spectacle
“La réalité du temps a été remplacée par la publicité du temps.”
Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle
“Le tourisme, se ramène fondamentalement au loisir d'aller voir ce qui est devenu banal.”
Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle
“The spectacle is not a collection of images; it is a social relation between people that is mediated by images.”
Guy Debord, Society of the Spectacle
“But a lie that can no longer be challenged becomes insane.”
Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle
“Economic growth has liberated societies from the natural pressures that forced them into an immediate struggle for survival; but they have not yet been liberated from their liberator. The commodity’s independence has spread to the entire economy it now dominates. This economy has transformed the world, but it has merely transformed it into a world dominated by the economy.”
Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle
“In societies dominated by modern conditions of production, life is presented as an immense accumulation of spectacles. Everything that was directly lived has receded into a representation.”
Guy Debord, Society of the Spectacle
“The more you consume the less you live,”
Guy Debord, Society Of The Spectacle
“Separation is itself an integral part of the unity of this world, of a global social practice split into reality and image. The social practice confronted by an autonomous spectacle is at the same time the real totality which contains that spectacle. But the split within this totality mutilates it to the point that the spectacle seems to be its goal.”
Guy Debord, Society of the Spectacle
“Whereas during the primitive stage of capitalist accumulation “political economy considers the proletarian only as a worker,” who only needs to be allotted the indispensable minimum for maintaining his labor power, and never considers him “in his leisure and humanity,” this ruling-class perspective is revised as soon as commodity abundance reaches a level that requires an additional collaboration from him. Once his workday is over, the worker is suddenly redeemed from the total contempt toward him that is so clearly implied by every aspect of the organization and surveillance of production, and finds himself seemingly treated like a grownup, with a great show of politeness, in his new role as a consumer.”
Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle

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