Title: Society of the Spectacle;
Author: Guy Debord;
Written: 1967;                                                                                                             +--------------------------------------+
Translation: Black & Red, 1977;                                                                                            |                NOTES                 |
Transcription: Greg Adargo;                                                                                                +--------------------------------------+
Notes: Tresdon Jones;

                                                                                                 +--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------+
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+                              | Humans participating in the modern mode of production are bound by having a          |
| Chapter 1 “Separation Perfected”                                | ---------------------------> | hyper-specialized jobs.                                                              |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+                              |                                                                                      |
                                                                                                 | This is presented to us as something desirable, especially when more capital is      |
                                                                                                 | involved, however this perverse specialization actually strips us of our potential.  |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+                              |                                                                                      |
| But certainly for the present age, which prefers the sign to    |                              | Modern workers are effective in only a small sliver of the spectrum of human         |
| the thing signified, the copy to the original, representation   |                              | activity that the skills we do have are no longer serviceable because we lack the    |
| to reality, the appearance to the essence... illusion only is   |                              | prerequisite skills to put our knowledge into use.                                   |
| sacred, truth profane. Nay, sacredness is held to be enhanced   |                              +--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------+
| in proportion as truth decreases and illusion increases, so     |
| that the highest degree of illusion comes to be the highest     |
| degree of sacredness. - Feuerbach, Preface to the second        |
| edition of The Essence of Christianity                          |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
                                                                                                 +--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------+
                              1.                                                                 | "modern conditions of production" is in reference to the hyper-specialized,          |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+                              | capital-focused work that has monopolized 'work' entirely in many places.            |
| In societies where modern conditions of production prevail,     |                              |                                                                                      |
| all of life presents itself as an immense accumulation of       | ---------------------------> | We can call this mode of production capitalism - an ideology which is already quite  |
| spectacles. Everything that was directly lived has moved away   |                              | prevalent across the globe and gaining force.                                        |
| into a representation.                                          |                              |                                                                                      |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+                              | We can contrast this with older modes of production wherein if we determined as a    |
                                                                                                 | community we need shelter then we build it, and we have it.                          |
                              2.                                                                 |                                                                                      |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+                              | The modern mode is that we determine we need shelter, so we make sandwiches, write   |
| The images detached from every aspect of life fuse in a         |                              | software, build houses for others, until we are able to transact for a shelter.      |
| common stream in which the unity of this life can no longer     |                              | The difference between the old and the new is the production for the utility of the  |
| be reestablished. Reality considered partially unfolds, in      |                              | produced vs the production for the capital associated.                               |
| its own general unity, as a pseudo-world apart, an object of    |                              +--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------+
| mere contemplation. The specialization of images of the world   |
| is completed in the world of the autonomous image, where the    |
| liar has lied to himself. The spectacle in general, as the      |
| concrete inversion of life, is the autonomous movement of the   |
| non-living.                                                     |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                              3.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The spectacle presents itself simultaneously as all of          |
| society, as part of society, and as instrument of               |
| unification. As a part of society it is specifically the        |
| sector which concentrates all gazing and all consciousness.     |
| Due to the very fact that this sector is separate, it is the    |
| common ground of the deceived gaze and of false                 |
| consciousness, and the unification it achieves is nothing but   |
| an official language of generalized separation.                 |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                              4.                                                                 +--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------+
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+                              | Guy clears up an understandable misconception that the spectacle is identical to the |
| The spectacle is not a collection of images, but a social       | ---------------------------> | artifacts which we can see in the world -                                            |
| relation among people, mediated by images.                      |                              | The spectacle encompasses more than that, it determines how people relate to one     |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+                              | another as a result of these tangibles.                                              |
                                                                                                 +--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------+
                              5.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The spectacle cannot be understood as an abuse of the world     |
| of vision, as a product of the techniques of mass               |
| dissemination of images. It is, rather, a Weltanschauung        |
| which has become actual, materially translated. It is a world   |
| vision which has become objectified.                            |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                              6.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The spectacle grasped in its totality is both the result and    |
| the project of the existing mode of production. It is not a     |
| supplement to the real world, an additional decoration. It is   |
| the heart of the unrealism of the real society. In all its      |
| specific forms, as information or propaganda, as                |
| advertisement or direct entertainment consumption, the          |
| spectacle is the present model of socially dominant life. It    |
| is the omnipresent affirmation of the choice already made in    |
| production and its corollary consumption. The spectacle’s       |
| form and content are identically the total justification of     |
| the existing system’s conditions and goals. The spectacle is    |
| also the permanent presence of this justification, since it     |
| occupies the main part of the time lived outside of modern      |
| production.                                                     |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                              7.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| Separation is itself part of the unity of the world, of the     |
| global social praxis split up into reality and image. The       |
| social practice which the autonomous spectacle confronts is     |
| also the real totality which contains the spectacle. But the    |
| split within this totality mutilates it to the point of         |
| making the spectacle appear as its goal. The language of the    |
| spectacle consists of signs of the ruling production, which     |
| at the same time are the ultimate goal of this production.      |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                              8.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| One cannot abstractly contrast the spectacle to actual social   |
| activity: such a division is itself divided. The spectacle      |
| which inverts the real is in fact produced. Lived reality is    |
| materially invaded by the contemplation of the spectacle        |
| while simultaneously absorbing the spectacular order, giving    |
| it positive cohesiveness. Objective reality is present on       |
| both sides. Every notion fixed this way has no other basis      |
| than its passage into the opposite: reality rises up within     |
| the spectacle, and the spectacle is real. This reciprocal       |
| alienation is the essence and the support of the existing       |
| society.                                                        |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                              9.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| In a world which really is topsy-turvy, the true is a moment    |
| of the false.                                                   |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                             10.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The concept of spectacle unifies and explains a great           |
| diversity of apparent phenomena. The diversity and the          |
| contrasts are appearances of a socially organized appearance,   |
| the general truth of which must itself be recognized.           |
| Considered in its own terms, the spectacle is affirmation of    |
| appearance and affirmation of all human life, namely social     |
| life, as mere appearance. But the critique which reaches the    |
| truth of the spectacle exposes it as the visible negation of    |
| life, as a negation of life which has become visible.           |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                             11.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| To describe the spectacle, its formation, its functions and     |
| the forces which tend to dissolve it, one must artificially     |
| distinguish certain inseparable elements. When analyzing the    |
| spectacle one speaks, to some extent, the language of the       |
| spectacular itself in the sense that one moves through the      |
| methodological terrain of the very society which expresses      |
| itself in the spectacle. But the spectacle is nothing other     |
| than the sense of the total practice of a social-economic       |
| formation, its use of time. It is the historical movement in    |
| which we are caught.                                            |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                             12.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The spectacle presents itself as something enormously           |
| positive, indisputable and inaccessible. It says nothing more   |
| than “that which appears is good, that which is good appears.   |
| The attitude which it demands in principle is passive           |
| acceptance which in fact it already obtained by its manner of   |
| appearing without reply, by its monopoly of appearance.         |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                             13.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The basically tautological character of the spectacle flows     |                              +--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------+
| from the simple fact that its means are simultaneously its      | ---------------------------> | "The means of the spectacle are simultaneously its ends" - namely a distracted and   |
| ends. It is the sun which never sets over the empire of         |                              | ineffectual proletariat.                                                             |
| modern passivity. It covers the entire surface of the world     |                              +--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------+
| and bathes endlessly in its own glory.                          |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                             14.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The society which rests on modern industry is not               |                              +--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------+
| accidentally or superficially spectacular, it is                | ---------------------------> | "The goal is nothing, development everything. The spectacle aims at nothing other    |
| fundamentally spectaclist. In the spectacle, which is the       |                              | than itself" - The spectacle has no condition for termination.                       |
| image of the ruling economy, the goal is nothing, development   |                              +--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------+
| everything. The spectacle aims at nothing other than itself.    |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                             15.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| As the indispensable decoration of the objects produced         |                              +--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------+
| today, as the general expose of the rationality of the          | ---------------------------> | "The spectacle is the main production of modern day society."                        |
| system, as the advanced economic sector which directly shapes   |                              +--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------+
| a growing multitude of image-objects, the spectacle is the      |
| main production of present-day society.                         |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                             16.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The spectacle subjugates living men to itself to the extent     |                              +--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------+
| that the economy has totally subjugated them. It is no more     | ---------------------------> | "[The spectacle] is no more than the economy developing for itself".                 |
| than the economy developing for itself. It is the true          |                              +--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------+
| reflection of the production of things, and the false           |
| objectification of the producers.                               |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                             17.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+                              +--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------+
| The first phase of the domination of the economy over social    | ---------------------------> | The economy has dominated social life by the "degradation of being into having". The |
| life brought into the definition of all human realization the   |                              | passive nature of having leads to a further "sliding of having into appearing".      |
| obvious degradation of being into having. The present phase     |                              +--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------+
| of total occupation of social life by the accumulated results   |
| of the economy leads to a generalized sliding of having into    |
| appearing, from which all actual “having” must draw its         |
| immediate prestige and its ultimate function. At the same       |
| time all individual reality has become social reality           |
| directly dependent on social power and shaped by it. It is      |
| allowed to appear only to the extent that it is not.            |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                             18.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| Where the real world changes into simple images, the simple     |
| images become real beings and effective motivations of          |
| hypnotic behavior. The spectacle, as a tendency to make one     |
| see the world by means of various specialized mediations (it    |
| can no longer be grasped directly), naturally finds vision to   |
| be the privileged human sense which the sense of touch was      |
| for other epochs; the most abstract, the most mystifiable       |
| sense corresponds to the generalized abstraction of             |
| present-day society. But the spectacle is not identifiable      |
| with mere gazing, even combined with hearing. It is that        |
| which escapes the activity of men, that which escapes           |
| reconsideration and correction by their work. It is the         |
| opposite of dialogue. Wherever there is independent             |
| representation, the spectacle reconstitutes itself.             |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                             19.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The spectacle inherits all the weaknesses of the Western        |
| philosophical project which undertook to comprehend activity    |
| in terms of the categories of seeing; furthermore, it is        |
| based on the incessant spread of the precise technical          |
| rationality which grew out of this thought. The spectacle       |
| does not realize philosophy, it philosophizes reality. The      |
| concrete life of everyone has been degraded into a              |
| speculative universe.                                           |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                             20.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| Philosophy, the power of separate thought and the thought of    |
| separate power, could never by itself supersede theology. The   |
| spectacle is the material reconstruction of the religious       |
| illusion. Spectacular technology has not dispelled the          |
| religious clouds where men had placed their own powers          |                              +--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------+
| detached from themselves; it has only tied them to an earthly   |                              | "Spectacular technology has not dispelled the religious clouds where men had placed  |
| base. The most earthly life thus becomes opaque and             | ---------------------------> | their own powers detached from themselves; it has only tied them to an earthly       |
| unbreathable. It no longer projects into the sky but shelters   |                              | base."                                                                               |
| within itself its absolute denial, its fallacious paradise.     |                              +--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------+
| The spectacle is the technical realization of the exile of      |
| human powers into a beyond; it is separation perfected within   |
| the interior of man.                                            |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                             21.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| To the extent that necessity is socially dreamed, the dream     |
| becomes necessary. 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.                                                       |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                             22.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The fact that the practical power of modern society detached    |
| itself and built an independent empire in the spectacle can     |
| be explained only by the fact that this practical power         |
| continued to lack cohesion and remained in contradiction with   |
| itself.                                                         |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                             23.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The oldest social specialization, the specialization of         |
| power, is at the root of the spectacle. The spectacle is thus   |
| a specialized activity which speaks for all the others. It is   |
| the diplomatic representation of hierarchic society to          |
| itself, where all other expression is banned. Here the most     |
| modern is also the most archaic.                                |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                             24.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The spectacle is the existing order’s uninterrupted discourse   |
| about itself, its laudatory monologue. It is the                |
| self-portrait of power in the epoch of its totalitarian         |
| management of the conditions of existence. The fetishistic,     |
| purely objective appearance of spectacular relations conceals   |
| the fact that they are relations among men and classes: a       |
| second nature with its fatal laws seems to dominate our         |
| environment. But the spectacle is not the necessary product     |
| of technical development seen as a natural development. The     |
| society of the spectacle is on the contrary the form which      |
| chooses its own technical content. If the spectacle, taken in   |
| the limited sense of “mass media” which are its most glaring    |
| superficial manifestation, seems to invade society as mere      |
| equipment, this equipment is in no way neutral but is the       |
| very means suited to its total self-movement. If the social     |
| needs of the epoch in which such techniques are developed can   |
| only be satisfied through their mediation, if the               |
| administration of this society and all contact among men can    |
| no longer take place except through the intermediary of this    |
| power of instantaneous communication, it is because this        |
| “communication” is essentially unilateral. The concentration    |
| of “communication” is thus an accumulation, in the hands of     |
| the existing system’s administration, of the means which        |
| allow it to carry on this particular administration. The        |
| generalized cleavage of the spectacle is inseparable from the   |
| modern State, namely from the general form of cleavage within   |
| society, the product of the division of social labor and the    |
| organ of class domination.                                      |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                             25.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| Separation is the alpha and omega of the spectacle. The         |
| institutionalization of the social division of labor, the       |
| formation of classes, had given rise to a first sacred          |
| contemplation, the mythical order with which every power        |
| shrouds itself from the beginning. The sacred has justified     |
| the cosmic and ontological order which corresponded to the      |
| interests of the masters; it has explained and embellished      |
| that which society could not do. Thus all separate power has    |
| been spectacular, but the adherence of all to an immobile       |
| image only signified the common acceptance of an imaginary      |
| prolongation of the poverty of real social activity, still      |
| largely felt as a unitary condition. The modern spectacle, on   |
| the contrary, expresses what society can do, but in this        |
| expression the permitted is absolutely opposed to the           |
| possible. The spectacle is the preservation of                  |
| unconsciousness within the practical change of the conditions   |
| of existence. It is its own product, and it has made its own    |
| rules: it is a pseudo-sacred entity. It shows what it is:       |
| separate power developing in itself, in the growth of           |
| productivity by means of the incessant refinement of the        |
| division of labor into a parcellization of gestures which are   |
| then dominated by the independent movement of machines; and     |
| working for an ever-expanding market. All community and all     |
| critical sense are dissolved during this movement in which      |
| the forces that could grow by separating are not yet            |
| reunited.                                                       |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
                                                                                                 +--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------+
                             26.                                                                 | "The success of the economic system of separation is the proletarianization of the   |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+                              | world." - the proletariat points to the class of workers in an economic system which |
| With the generalized separation of the worker and his           |                              | has only its labor power to trade.                                                   |
| products, every unitary view of accomplished activity and all   |                              |                                                                                      |
| direct personal communication among producers are lost.         |                              | Not owning their own productions, workers become proletarian by definition.          |
| Accompanying the progress of accumulation of separate           | ---------------------------> | They may have some money but even this is only a representation of labor-power       |
| products and the concentration of the productive process,       |                              | either past or future.                                                               |
| unity and communication become the exclusive attribute of the   |                              |                                                                                      |
| system’s management. The success of the economic system of      |                              | For instance if somebody pays me $4 to make them a sandwich (labor), I can pay       |
| separation is the proletarianization of the world.              |                              | somebody $3 to make me some coffee (more labor).                                     |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+                              | That person can then go ahead and pay somebody $9 to clean their house or 3          |
                                                                                                 | cups-of-coffee-labor-units.                                                          |
                             27.                                                                 |                                                                                      |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+                              | We have been reduced to trading labor - this is the proletarianization of the world. |
| Due to the success of separate production as production of      |                              +--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------+
| the separate, the fundamental experience which in primitive     |
| societies is attached to a central task is in the process of    |                              +--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------+
| being displaced, at the crest of the system’s development. by   |                              | "Due to the success of separate production as production of the separate,            |
| non-work, by inactivity. But this inactivity is in no way       |                              | the fundamental experience which in primitive societies is attached to a central     |
| liberated from productive activity: it depends on productive    |                              | task is in the process of being displaced, at the crest of the system's development. |
| activity and is an uneasy and admiring submission to the        |                              | by non-work, by inactivity."                                                         |
| necessities and results of production; it is itself a product   | ---------------------------> |                                                                                      |
| of its rationality. There can be no freedom outside of          |                              | Primitive societies were marked by their success in focusing effort toward a goal    |
| activity, and in the context of the spectacle all activity is   |                              | and completing it. Nowadays needs and efforts are too fragmented for a society to    |
| negated. just as real activity has been captured in its         |                              | define itself by a central task, thus that which becomes common to all is non-work.  |
| entirety for the global construction of this result. Thus the   |                              | This creates further fission in the ability for a society to produce for itself      |
| present “liberation from labor,” the increase of leisure, is    |                              | among itself, bolstering production of the separate.                                 |
| in no way a liberation within labor, nor a liberation from      |                              +--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------+
| the world shaped by this labor. None of the activity lost in    |
| labor can be regained in the submission to its result.          |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
                                                                                                 +--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------+
                             28.                                                                 | The spectacle prefers goods that isolate with a facade of shared experience - cars,  |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+                              | TVs, internet, all these goods make us feel as though we're taking apart in a        |
| The economic system founded on isolation is a circular          |                              | communal experience (traffic, movie plot, memes) even though we're clearly           |
| production of isolation. The technology is based on             |                              | experiencing these things on our own and for ourself.                                |
| isolation, and the technical process isolates in turn. From     |                              |                                                                                      |
| the automobile to television, all the goods selected by the     | ---------------------------> | We can see this in the fact that schools do not teach how to grow food or build a    |
| spectacular system are also its weapons for a constant          |                              | house, it is presented as more important to learn "marketable" skills to purchase    |
| reinforcement of the conditions of isolation of “lonely         |                              | these isolating goods than to actually share experiences & goals.                    |
| crowds.” The spectacle constantly rediscovers its own           |                              +--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------+
| assumptions more concretely.                                    |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                             29.                                                                 +--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------+
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+                              | All specific labor, production of goods for the produced good has been abstracted    |
| The spectacle originates in the loss of the unity of the        |                              | into "work" which is to say "making money".                                          |
| world, and the gigantic expansion of the modern spectacle       |                              |                                                                                      |
| expresses the totality of this loss: the abstraction of all     |                              | The spectacle, "whose mode of being concrete is precisely abstraction - reunites the |
| specific labor and the general abstraction of the entirety of   |                              | separate, but reunites it as separate."                                              |
| production are perfectly rendered in the spectacle, whose       | ---------------------------> |                                                                                      |
| mode of being concrete is precisely abstraction. In the         |                              | The spectacle gives us some idea that we're working toward something bigger because  |
| spectacle, one part of the world represents itself to the       |                              | everybody is participating in this vague notion of "work" but as guy has made clear  |
| world and is superior to it. The spectacle is nothing more      |                              | a few passages ago, there is no termination condition for the spectacle; we are not  |
| than the common language of this separation. What binds the     |                              | building toward anything but building itself.                                        |
| spectators together is no more than an irreversible relation    |                              +--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------+
| at the very center which maintains their isolation. The         |
| spectacle reunites the separate, but reunites it as separate.   |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                             30.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The alienation of the spectator to the profit of the            |
| contemplated object (which is the result of his own             |
| unconscious activity) is expressed in the following way: the    |
| more he contemplates the less he lives; the more he accepts     |
| recognizing himself in the dominant images of need, the less    |
| he understands his own existence and his own desires. The       |
| externality of the spectacle in relation to the active man      |
| appears in the fact that his own gestures are no longer his     |
| but those of another who represents them to him. This is why    |
| the spectator feels at home nowhere, because the spectacle is   |
| everywhere.                                                     |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                             31.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+                              +--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------+
| The worker does not produce himself; he produces an             |                              | "The worker does not produce himself; he produces an independent power.              |
| independent power. The success of this production, its          |                              | The success of this production, its abundance, returns to the producer as an         |
| abundance, returns to the producer as an abundance of           |                              | abundance of dispossession."                                                         |
| dispossession. All the time and space of his world become       | ---------------------------> |                                                                                      |
| foreign to him with the accumulation of his alienated           |                              | Guy would be taken back by the subscription economy we indulge in now in which we    |
| products. The spectacle is the map of this new world, a map     |                              | pay more and more to own less and less. Spotify owns our playlists, Dropbox owns our |
| which exactly covers its territory. The very powers which       |                              | files, Netflix owns our movies.                                                      |
| escaped us show themselves to us in all their force.            |                              +--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------+
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                             32.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The spectacle within society corresponds to a concrete          |
| manufacture of alienation. Economic expansion is mainly the     |
| expansion of this specific industrial production. What grows    |
| with the economy in motion for itself can only be the very      |
| alienation which was at its origin.                             |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                             33.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| Separated from his product, man himself produces all the        |
| details of his world with ever increasing power, and thus       |
| finds himself ever more separated from his world. The more      |
| his life is now his product, the more he is separated from      |
| his life.                                                       |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                             34.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+                              +--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------+
| The spectacle is capital to such a degree of accumulation       | ---------------------------> | The spectacle is a never ending game of trading capital (labor-units) and piling it  |
| that it becomes an image.                                       |                              | up or not having enough.                                                             |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+                              +--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------+



+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| Chapter 2 “Commodity as Spectacle”                              |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+


+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The commodity can only be understood in its undistorted         |
| essence when it becomes the universal category of society as    |
| a whole. Only in this context does the reification produced     |
| by commodity relations assume decisive importance both for      |
| the objective evolution of society and for the stance adopted   |
| by men towards it. Only then does the commodity become          |
| crucial for the subjugation of men’s consciousness to the       |
| forms in which this reification finds expression.... As labor   |
| is progressively rationalized and mechanized man’s lack of      |
| will is reinforced by the way in which his activity becomes     |
| less and less active and more and more contemplative. -         |
| Lukacs, History and Class Consciousness                         |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                             35.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| In the essential movement of the spectacle, which consists of   |
| taking up all that existed in human activity in a fluid state   |
| so as to possess it in a congealed state as things which have   |
| become the exclusive value by their formulation in negative     |
| of lived value, we recognize our old enemy, the commodity,      |
| who knows so well how to seem at first glance something         |
| trivial and obvious, while on the contrary it is so complex     |
| and so full of metaphysical subtleties.                         |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                             36.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| This is the principle of commodity fetishism, the domination    |
| of society by “intangible as well as tangible things,” which    |
| reaches its absolute fulfillment in the spectacle, where the    |
| tangible world is replaced by a selection of images which       |
| exist above it, and which simultaneously impose themselves as   |
| the tangible par excellence.                                    |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                             37.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The world at once present and absent which the spectacle        |
| makes visible is the world of the commodity dominating all      |
| that is lived. The world of the commodity is thus shown for     |
| what it is, because its movement is identical to the            |
| estrangement of men among themselves and in relation to their   |
| global product.                                                 |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                             38.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The loss of quality so evident at all levels of spectacular     |
| language, from the objects it praises to the behavior it        |
| regulates, merely translates the fundamental traits of the      |
| real production which brushes reality aside: the                |
| commodity-form is through and through equal to itself, the      |
| category of the quantitative. The quantitative is what the      |
| commodity-form develops, and it can develop only within the     |
| quantitative.                                                   |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                             39.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| This development which excludes the qualitative is itself, as   |
| development, subject to qualitative change: the spectacle       |
| indicates that it has crossed the threshold of its own          |
| abundance; this is as yet true only locally at some points,     |
| but is already true on the universal scale which is the         |
| original context of the commodity, a context which its          |
| practical movement, encompassing the Earth as a world market,   |
| has verified.                                                   |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                             40.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The development of productive forces has been the real          |
| unconscious history which built and modified the conditions     |
| of existence of human groups as conditions of survival, and     |
| extended those conditions: the economic basis of all their      |
| undertakings. In a primitive economy, the commodity sector      |
| represented a surplus of survival. The production of            |
| commodities, which implies the exchange of varied products      |
| among independent producers, could for a long time remain       |
| craft production, contained within a marginal economic          |
| function where its quantitative truth was still masked.         |
| However, where commodity production met the social conditions   |
| of large scale commerce and of the accumulation of capitals,    |
| it seized total domination over the economy. The entire         |
| economy then became what the commodity had shown itself to be   |
| in the course of this conquest: a process of quantitative       |
| development. This incessant expansion of economic power in      |
| the form of the commodity, which transformed human labor into   |
| commodity-labor, into wage-labor, cumulatively led to an        |
| abundance in which the primary question of survival is          |
| undoubtedly resolved, but in such a way that it is constantly   |
| rediscovered; it is continually posed again each time at a      |
| higher level. Economic growth frees societies from the          |
| natural pressure which required their direct struggle for       |
| survival, but at that point it is from their liberator that     |
| they are not liberated. The independence of the commodity is    |
| extended to the entire economy over which it rules. The         |
| economy transforms the world, but transforms it only into a     |
| world of economy. The pseudo-nature within which human labor    |
| is alienated demands that it be served ad infinitum, and this   |
| service, being judged and absolved only by itself, in fact      |
| acquires the totality of socially permissible efforts and       |
| projects as its servants. The abundance of commodities,         |
| namely, of commodity relations, can be nothing more than        |
| increased survival.                                             |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                             41.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The commodity’s domination was at first exerted over the        |
| economy in an occult manner; the economy itself, the material   |
| basis of social life, remained unperceived and not              |
| understood, like the familiar which is not necessarily known.   |
| In a society where the concrete commodity is rare or unusual,   |
| money, apparently dominant, presents itself as an emissary      |
| armed with full powers who speaks in the name of an unknown     |
| force. With the industrial revolution, the division of labor    |
| in manufactures, and mass production for the world market,      |
| the commodity appears in fact as a power which comes to         |
| occupy social life. It is then that political economy takes     |
| shape, as the dominant science and the science of domination.   |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                             42.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The spectacle is the moment when the commodity has attained     |
| the total occupation of social life. Not only is the relation   |
| to the commodity visible but it is all one sees: the world      |
| one sees is its world. Modern economic production extends its   |
| dictatorship extensively and intensively. In the least          |
| industrialized places, its reign is already attested by a few   |
| star commodities and by the imperialist domination imposed by   |
| regions which are ahead in the development of productivity.     |
| In the advanced regions, social space is invaded by a           |
| continuous superimposition of geological layers of              |
| commodities. At this point in the “second industrial            |
| revolution,” alienated consumption becomes for the masses a     |
| duty supplementary to alienated production. It is all the       |
| sold labor of a society which globally becomes the total        |
| commodity for which the cycle must be continued. For this to    |
| be done, the total commodity has to return as a fragment to     |
| the fragmented individual, absolutely separated from the        |
| productive forces operating as a whole. Thus it is here that    |
| the specialized science of domination must in turn              |
| specialize: it fragments itself into sociology,                 |
| psychotechnics, cybernetics, semiology, etc., watching over     |
| the self-regulation of every level of the process.              |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                             43.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| Whereas in the primitive phase of capitalist accumulation,      |
| “political economy sees in the proletarian only the worker”     |
| who must receive the minimum indispensable for the              |
| conservation of his labor power, without ever seeing him “in    |
| his leisure and humanity,” these ideas of the ruling class      |
| are reversed as soon as the production of commodities reaches   |
| a level of abundance which requires a surplus of                |
| collaboration from the worker. This worker, suddenly redeemed   |
| from the total contempt which is clearly shown him by all the   |
| varieties of organization and supervision of production,        |
| finds himself every day, outside of production and in the       |
| guise of a consumer, seemingly treated as an adult, with        |
| zealous politeness. At this point the humanism of the           |
| commodity takes charge of the worker’s “leisure and             |
| humanity,” simply because now political economy can and must    |
| dominate these spheres as political economy. Thus the           |
| “perfected denial of man” has taken charge of the totality of   |
| human existence.                                                |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                             44.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The spectacle is a permanent opium war which aims to make       |
| people identify goods with commodities and satisfaction with    |
| survival that increases according to its own laws. But if       |
| consumable survival is something which must always increase,    |
| this is because it continues to contain privation. If there     |
| is nothing beyond increasing survival, if there is no point     |
| where it might stop growing, this is not because it is beyond   |
| privation, but because it is enriched privation.                |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                             45.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| Automation, the most advanced sector of modern industry as      |
| well as the model which perfectly sums up its practice,         |
| drives the commodity world toward the following                 |
| contradiction: the technical equipment which objectively        |
| eliminates labor must at the same time preserve labor as a      |
| commodity and as the only source of the commodity. If the       |
| social labor (time) engaged by the society is not to diminish   |
| because of automation (or any other less extreme form of        |
| increasing the productivity of labor), then new jobs have to    |
| be created. Services, the tertiary sector, swell the ranks of   |
| the army of distribution and are a eulogy to the current        |
| commodities; the additional forces which are mobilized just     |
| happen to be suitable for the organization of redundant labor   |
| required by the artificial needs for such commodities.          |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                             46.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| Exchange value could arise only as an agent of use value, but   |
| its victory by means of its own weapons created the             |
| conditions for its autonomous domination. Mobilizing all        |
| human use and establishing a monopoly over its satisfaction,    |
| exchange value has ended up by directing use. The process of    |
| exchange became identified with all possible use and reduced    |
| use to the mercy of exchange. Exchange value is the             |
| condottiere of use value who ends up waging the war for         |
| himself.                                                        |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                             47.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The tendency of use value to fall, this constant of             |
| capitalist economy, develops a new form of privation within     |
| increased survival: the new privation is not far removed from   |
| the old penury since it requires most men to participate as     |
| wage workers in the endless pursuit of its attainment, and      |
| since everyone knows he must submit or die. The reality of      |
| this blackmail accounts for the general acceptance of the       |
| illusion at the heart of the consumption of modern              |
| commodities: use in its most impoverished form (food and        |
| lodging) today exists only to the extent that it is             |
| imprisoned in the illusory wealth of increased survival. The    |
| real consumer becomes a consumer of illusions. The commodity    |
| is this factually real illusion, and the spectacle is its       |
| general manifestation.                                          |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                             48.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| In the inverted reality of the spectacle, use value (which      |
| was implicitly contained in exchange value) must now be         |
| explicitly proclaimed precisely because its factual reality     |
| is eroded by the overdeveloped commodity economy and because    |
| counterfeit life requires a pseudo-justification.               |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                             49.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The spectacle is the other side of money: it is the general     |
| abstract equivalent of all commodities. Money dominated         |
| society as the representation of general equivalence, namely,   |
| of the exchangeability of different goods whose uses could      |
| not be compared. The spectacle is the developed modern          |
| complement of money where the totality of the commodity world   |
| appears as a whole, as a general equivalence for what the       |
| entire society can be and can do. The spectacle is the money    |
| which one only looks at, because in the spectacle the           |
| totality of use is already exchanged for the totality of        |
| abstract representation. The spectacle is not only the          |
| servant of pseudo-use, it is already in itself the pseudo-use   |
| of life.                                                        |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                             50.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| At the moment of economic abundance, the concentrated result    |
| of social labor becomes visible and subjugates all reality to   |
| appearance, which is now its product. Capital is no longer      |
| the invisible center which directs the mode of production:      |
| its accumulation spreads it all the way to the periphery in     |
| the form of tangible objects. The entire expanse of society     |
| is its portrait.                                                |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                             51.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The victory of the autonomous economy must at the same time     |
| be its defeat. The forces which it has unleashed eliminate      |
| the economic necessity which was the immutable basis of         |
| earlier societies. When economic necessity is replaced by the   |
| necessity for boundless economic development, the               |
| satisfaction of primary human needs is replaced by an           |
| uninterrupted fabrication of pseudo-needs which are reduced     |
| to the single pseudo-need of maintaining the reign of the       |
| autonomous economy. The autonomous economy permanently breaks   |
| away from fundamental need to the extent that it emerges from   |
| the social unconscious which unknowingly depended on it. “All   |
| that is conscious wears out. What is unconscious remains        |
| unalterable. But once freed, does it not fall to ruins in       |
| turn?” (Freud).                                                 |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                             52.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| As soon as society discovers that it depends on the economy,    |
| the economy, in fact, depends on society. This subterranean     |
| force, which grew until it appeared sovereign, has lost its     |
| power. That which was the economic it must become the I. The    |
| subject can emerge only from society, namely from the           |
| struggle within society. The subject’s possible existence       |
| depends on the outcome of the class struggle which shows        |
| itself to be the product and the producer of the economic       |
| foundation of history.                                          |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                             53.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The consciousness of desire and the desire for consciousness    |
| are identically the project which, in its negative form,        |
| seeks the abolition of classes, the workers’ direct             |
| possession of every aspect of their activity. Its opposite is   |
| the society of the spectacle, where the commodity               |
| contemplates itself in a world it has created.                  |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+



+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| Chapter 3 “Unity and Division Within Appearance”                |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+


+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| A lively new polemic about the concepts “one divides into       |
| two” and “two fuse into one” is unfolding on the                |
| philosophical front in this country. This debate is a           |
| struggle between those who are for and those who are against    |
| the materialist dialectic, a struggle between two conceptions   |
| of the world: the proletarian conception and the bourgeois      |
| conception. Those who maintain that “one divides into two” is   |
| the fundamental law of things are on the side of the            |
| materialist dialectic; those who maintain that the              |
| fundamental law of things is that “two fuse into one” are       |
| against the materialist dialectic. The two sides have drawn a   |
| clear line of demarcation between them, and their arguments     |
| are diametrically opposed. This polemic is a reflection, on     |
| the ideological level, of the acute and complex class           |
| struggle taking place in China and in the world. - Red Flag,    |
| (Peking), 21 September 1964                                     |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                             54.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The spectacle, like modern society, is at once unified and      |
| divided. Like society, it builds its unity on the               |
| disjunction. But the contradiction, when it emerges in the      |
| spectacle, is in turn contradicted by a reversal of its         |
| meaning, so that the demonstrated division is unitary, while    |
| the demonstrated unity is divided.                              |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                             55.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The struggle of powers constituted for the management of the    |
| same socio-economic system is disseminated as the official      |
| contradiction but is in fact part of the real unity–on a        |
| world scale as well as within every nation.                     |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                             56.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The spectacular sham struggles of rival forms of separate       |
| power are at the same time real in that they translate the      |
| unequal and antagonistic development of the system, the         |
| relatively contradictory interests of classes or subdivisions   |
| of classes which acknowledge the system and define themselves   |
| as participants within its power. Just as the development of    |
| the most advanced economy is a clash between some priorities    |
| and others, the totalitarian management of the economy by a     |
| State bureaucracy and the condition of the countries within     |
| the sphere of colonization or semi-colonization are defined     |
| by specific peculiarities in the varieties of production and    |
| power. These diverse oppositions can be passed off in the       |
| spectacle as absolutely distinct forms of society (by means     |
| of any number of different criteria). But in actual fact, the   |
| truth of the uniqueness of all these specific sectors resides   |
| in the universal system that contains them: the unique          |
| movement that makes the planet its field, capitalism.           |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                             57.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The society which carries the spectacle does not dominate the   |
| underdeveloped regions by its economic hegemony alone. It       |
| dominates them as the society of the spectacle. Even where      |
| the material base is still absent, modern society has already   |
| invaded the social surface of each continent by means of the    |
| spectacle. It defines the program of the ruling class and       |
| presides over its formation, just as it presents pseudo-goods   |
| to be coveted, it offers false models of revolution to local    |
| revolutionaries. The spectacle of bureaucratic power, which     |
| holds sway over some industrial countries, is an integral       |
| part of the total spectacle, its general pseudo-negation and    |
| support. The spectacle displays certain totalitarian            |
| specializations of communication and administration when        |
| viewed locally, but when viewed in terms of the functioning     |
| of the entire system these specializations merge in a world     |
| division of spectacular tasks.                                  |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                             58.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The division of spectacular tasks preserves the entirety of     |
| the existing order and especially the dominant pole of its      |
| development. The root of the spectacle is within the abundant   |
| economy the source of the fruits which ultimately take over     |
| the spectacular market despite the ideological-police           |
| protectionist barriers of local spectacles aspiring to          |
| autarchy.                                                       |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                             59.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| Under the shimmering diversions of the spectacle,               |
| banalization dominates modern society the world over and at     |
| every point where the developed consumption of commodities      |
| has seemingly multiplied the roles and objects to choose        |
| from. The remains of religion and of the family (the            |
| principal relic of the heritage of class power) and the moral   |
| repression they assure, merge whenever the enjoyment of this    |
| world is affirmed–this world being nothing other than           |
| repressive pseudo-enjoyment. The smug acceptance of what        |
| exists can also merge with purely spectacular rebellion; this   |
| reflects the simple fact that dissatisfaction itself became a   |
| commodity as soon as economic abundance could extend            |
| production to the processing of such raw materials.             |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                             60.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The celebrity, the spectacular representation of a living       |
| human being, embodies this banality by embodying the image of   |
| a possible role. Being a star means specializing in the         |
| seemingly lived; the star is the object of identification       |
| with the shallow seeming life that has to compensate for the    |
| fragmented productive specializations which are actually        |
| lived. Celebrities exist to act out various styles of living    |
| and viewing society unfettered, free to express themselves      |
| globally. They embody the inaccessible result of social labor   |
| by dramatizing its by-products magically projected above it     |
| as its goal: power and vacations, decision and consumption,     |
| which are the beginning and end of an undiscussed process. In   |
| one case state power personalizes itself as a pseudo-star; in   |
| another a star of consumption gets elected as a pseudo-power    |
| over the lived. But just as the activities of the star are      |
| not really global, they are not really varied.                  |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                             61.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The agent of the spectacle placed on stage as a star is the     |
| opposite of the individual, the enemy of the individual in      |
| himself as well as in others. Passing into the spectacle as a   |
| model for identification, the agent renounces all autonomous    |
| qualities in order to identify himself with the general law     |
| of obedience to the course of things. The consumption           |
| celebrity superficially represents different types of           |
| personality and shows each of these types having equal access   |
| to the totality of consumption and finding similar happiness    |
| there. The decision celebrity must possess a complete stock     |
| of accepted human qualities. Official differences between       |
| stars are wiped out by the official similarity which is the     |
| presupposition of their excellence in everything. Khrushchev    |
| became a general so as to make decisions on the battle of       |
| Kursk, not on the spot, but at the twentieth anniversary,       |
| when he was master of the State. Kennedy remained an orator     |
| even to the point of proclaiming the eulogy over his own        |
| tomb, since Theodore Sorenson continued to edit speeches for    |
| the successor in the style which had characterized the          |
| personality of the deceased. The admirable people in whom the   |
| system personifies itself are well known for not being what     |
| they are; they became great men by stooping below the reality   |
| of the smallest individual life, and everyone knows it.         |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                             62.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| False choice in spectacular abundance, a choice which lies in   |
| the juxtaposition of competing and complimentary spectacles     |
| and also in the juxtaposition of roles (signified and carried   |
| mainly by things) which are at once exclusive and               |
| overlapping, develops into a struggle of vaporous qualities     |
| meant to stimulate loyalty to quantitative triviality. This     |
| resurrects false archaic oppositions, regionalisms and          |
| racisms which serve to raise the vulgar hierarchic ranks of     |
| consumption to a preposterous ontological superiority. In       |
| this way, the endless series of trivial confrontations is set   |
| up again. from competitive sports to elections, mobilizing a    |
| sub-ludic interest. Wherever there is abundant consumption, a   |
| major spectacular opposition between youth and adults comes     |
| to the fore among the false roles–false because the adult,      |
| master of his life, does not exist and because youth, the       |
| transformation of what exists, is in no way the property of     |
| those who are now young, but of the economic system, of the     |
| dynamism of capitalism. Things rule and are young; things       |
| confront and replace one another.                               |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                             63.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| What hides under the spectacular oppositions is a unity of      |
| misery. Behind the masks of total choice, different forms of    |
| the same alienation confront each other, all of them built on   |
| real contradictions which are repressed. The spectacle exists   |
| in a concentrated or a diffuse form depending on the            |
| necessities of the particular stage of misery which it denies   |
| and supports. In both cases, the spectacle is nothing more      |
| than an image of happy unification surrounded by desolation     |
| and fear at the tranquil center of misery.                      |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                             64.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The concentrated spectacle belongs essentially to               |
| bureaucratic capitalism, even though it may be imported as a    |
| technique of state power in mixed backward economies or, at     |
| certain moments of crisis, in advanced capitalism. In fact,     |
| bureaucratic property itself is concentrated in such a way      |
| that the individual bureaucrat relates to the ownership of      |
| the global economy only through an intermediary, the            |
| bureaucratic community, and only as a member of this            |
| community. Moreover, the production of commodities, less        |
| developed in bureaucratic capitalism, also takes on a           |
| concentrated form: the commodity the bureaucracy holds on to    |
| is the totality of social labor, and what it sells back to      |
| society is wholesale survival. The dictatorship of the          |
| bureaucratic economy cannot leave the exploited masses any      |
| significant margin of choice, since the bureaucracy itself      |
| has to choose everything and since any other external choice,   |
| whether it concern food or music, is already a choice to        |
| destroy the bureaucracy completely. This dictatorship must be   |
| accompanied by permanent violence. The imposed image of the     |
| good envelops in its spectacle the totality of what             |
| officially exists, and is usually concentrated in one man,      |
| who is the guarantee of totalitarian cohesion. Everyone must    |
| magically identify with this absolute celebrity or disappear.   |
| This celebrity is master of non-consumption, and the heroic     |
| image which gives an acceptable meaning to the absolute         |
| exploitation that primitive accumulation accelerated by         |
| terror really is. If every Chinese must learn Mao, and thus     |
| be Mao, it is because he can be nothing else. Wherever the      |
| concentrated spectacle rules, so does the police.               |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                             65.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The diffuse spectacle accompanies the abundance of              |
| commodities, the undisturbed development of modern              |
| capitalism. Here every individual commodity is justified in     |
| the name of the grandeur of the production of the totality of   |
| objects of which the spectacle is an apologetic catalogue.      |
| Irreconcilable claims crowd the stage of the affluent           |
| economy’s unified spectacle; different star-commodities         |
| simultaneously support contradictory projects for               |
| provisioning society: the spectacle of automobiles demands a    |
| perfect transport network which destroys old cities, while      |
| the spectacle of the city itself requires museum-areas.         |
| Therefore the already problematic satisfaction which is         |
| supposed to come from the consumption of the whole, is          |
| falsified immediately since the actual consumer can directly    |
| touch only a succession of fragments of this commodity          |
| happiness, fragments in which the quality attributed to the     |
| whole is obviously missing every time.                          |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                             66.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| 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   |
| 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.       |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                             67.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The satisfaction which no longer comes from the use of          |
| abundant commodities is now sought in the recognition of        |
| their value as commodities: the use of commodities becomes      |
| sufficient unto itself; the consumer is filled with religious   |
| fervor for the sovereign liberty of the commodities. Waves of   |
| enthusiasm for a given product, supported and spread by all     |
| the media of communication, are thus propagated with            |
| lightning speed. A style of dress emerges from a film; a        |
| magazine promotes night spots which launch various clothing     |
| fads. Just when the mass of commodities slides toward           |
| puerility, the puerile itself becomes a special commodity;      |
| this is epitomized by the gadget. We can recognize a mystical   |
| abandon to the transcendence of the commodity in free gifts,    |
| such as key chains which are not bought but are included by     |
| advertisers with prestigious purchases, or which flow by        |
| exchange in their own sphere. One who collects the key chains   |
| which have been manufactured for collection, accumulates the    |
| indulgences of the commodity, a glorious sign of his real       |
| presence among the faithful. Reified man advertises the proof   |
| of his intimacy with the commodity. The fetishism of            |
| commodities reaches moments of fervent exaltation similar to    |
| the ecstasies of the convulsions and miracles of the old        |
| religious fetishism. The only use which remains here is the     |
| fundamental use of submission.                                  |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                             68.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The pseudo-need imposed by modern consumption clearly cannot    |
| be opposed by any genuine need or desire which is not itself    |
| shaped by society and its history. The abundant commodity       |
| stands for the total breach in the organic development of       |
| social needs. Its mechanical accumulation liberates unlimited   |
| artificiality, in the face of which living desire is            |
| helpless. The cumulative power of independent artificiality     |
| sows everywhere the falsification of social life.               |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                             69.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| In the image of the society happily unified by consumption,     |
| real division is only suspended until the next                  |
| non-accomplishment in consumption. Every single product         |
| represents the hope for a dazzling shortcut to the promised     |
| land of total consumption and is ceremoniously presented as     |
| the decisive entity. But as with the diffusion of seemingly     |
| aristocratic first names carried by almost all individuals of   |
| the same age, the objects which promise unique powers can be    |
| recommended to the devotion of the masses only if they’re       |
| produced in quantities large enough for mass consumption. A     |
| product acquires prestige when it is placed at the center of    |
| social life as the revealed mystery of the ultimate goal of     |
| production. But the object which was prestigious in the         |
| spectacle becomes vulgar as soon as it is taken home by its     |
| consumer–and by all its other consumers. It reveals its         |
| essential poverty (which naturally comes to it from the         |
| misery of its production) too late. But by then another         |
| object already carries the justification of the system and      |
| demands to be acknowledged.                                     |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                             70.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The fraud of satisfaction exposes itself by being replaced,     |
| by following the change of products and of the general          |
| conditions of production. That which asserted its definitive    |
| excellence with perfect impudence nevertheless changes, both    |
| in the diffuse and 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 with              |
| totalitarian power reveals the illusory community which had     |
| approved him unanimously, and which had been nothing more       |
| than an agglomeration of solitudes without illusions.           |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                             71.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| What the spectacle offers as eternal is based on change and     |
| must change with its base. The spectacle is absolutely          |
| dogmatic and at the same time cannot really achieve any solid   |
| dogma. Nothing stops for the spectacle; this condition is       |
| natural to it, yet completely opposed to its inclination.       |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                             72.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The unreal unity proclaimed by the spectacle masks the class    |
| division on which the real unity of the capitalist made 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 mare profound rationality is also what nourishes     |
| the irrationality of hierarchic exploitation and repression.    |
| What creates the abstract power of society creates its          |
| concrete unfreedom.                                             |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+



+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| Chapter 4 “The Proletariat as Subject and as Representation”    |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+


+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The equal right of all to the goods and enjoyment of this       |
| world, the destruction of all authority, the negation of all    |
| moral restraints – these, at bottom, are the raison d’etre of   |
| the March 18th insurrection and the charter of the fearsome     |
| organization that furnished it with an army. - Enquete          |
| parlementaire sur l’insurrection du 18 mars                     |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                             73.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The real movement which suppresses existing conditions rules    |
| over society from the moment of the bourgeoisie’s victory in    |
| the economy, and visibly after the political translation of     |
| this victory. The development of productive forces shatters     |
| the old relations of production and all static order turns to   |
| dust. Whatever was absolute becomes historical.                 |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                             74.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| By being thrown into history, by having to participate in the   |
| labor and struggles which make up history, men find             |
| themselves obliged to view their relations in a clear manner.   |
| This history has no object distinct from what takes place       |
| within it, even though the last unconscious metaphysical        |
| vision of the historical epoch could look at the productive     |
| progression through which history has unfolded as the very      |
| object of history. The subject of history can be none other     |
| than the living producing himself, becoming master and          |
| possessor of his world which is history, and existing as        |
| consciousness of his game.                                      |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                             75.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The class struggles of the long revolutionary epoch             |
| inaugurated by the rise of the bourgeoisie, develop together    |
| with the thought of history, the dialectic, the thought which   |
| no longer stops to look for the meaning of what is, but rises   |
| to a knowledge of the dissolution of all that is, and in its    |
| movement dissolves all separation.                              |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                             76.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| Hegel no longer had to interpret the world, but the             |
| transformation of the world. By only interpreting the           |
| transformation, Hegel is only the philosophical completion of   |
| philosophy. He wants to understand a world which makes          |
| itself. This historical thought is as yet only the              |
| consciousness which always arrives too late, and which          |
| pronounces the justification after the fact. Thus it has gone   |
| beyond separation only in thought. The paradox which consists   |
| of making the meaning of all reality depend on its historical   |
| completion, and at the same time of revealing this meaning as   |
| it makes itself the completion of history, flows from the       |
| simple fact that the thinker of the bourgeois revolutions of    |
| the 17th and 18th centuries sought in his philosophy only a     |
| reconciliation with the results of these revolutions. Even as   |
| a philosophy of the bourgeois revolution, it does not express   |
| the entire process of this revolution, but only its final       |
| conclusion. In this sense, it is “not a philosophy of the       |
| revolution, but of the restoration” (Karl Korsch, Theses on     |
| Hegel and Revolution). Hegel did, for the last time, the work   |
| of the philosopher, “the glorification of what exists”; but     |
| what existed for him could already be nothing less than the     |
| totality of historical movement. The external position of       |
| thought having in fact been preserved, it could he masked       |
| only by the identification of thought with an earlier project   |
| of Spirit, absolute hero who did what he wanted and wanted      |
| what he did, and whose accomplishment coincides with the        |
| present. Thus philosophy, which dies in the thought of          |
| history, can now glorify its world only by renouncing it,       |
| since in order to speak, it must presuppose that this total     |
| history to which it has reduced everything is already           |
| complete, and that the only tribunal where the judgment of      |
| truth could be given is closed.                                 |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                             77.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| When the proletariat demonstrates by its own existence,         |
| through acts, that this thought of history is not forgotten,    |
| the exposure of the conclusion is at the same time the          |
| confirmation of the method.                                     |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                             78.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The thought of history can be saved only by becoming            |
| practical thought; and the practice of the proletariat as a     |
| revolutionary class cannot be less than historical              |
| consciousness operating on the totality of its world. All the   |
| theoretical currents of the revolutionary workers’ movement     |
| grew out of a critical confrontation with Hegelian              |
| thought–Stirner and Bakunin as well as Marx.                    |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                             79.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The inseparability of Marx’s theory from the Hegelian method    |
| is itself inseparable from the revolutionary character of       |
| this theory, namely from its truth. This first relationship     |
| has been generally ignored, misunderstood, and even denounced   |
| as the weakness of what fallaciously became a marxist           |
| doctrine. Bernstein, in his Evolutionary Socialism: A           |
| Criticism and Affirmation (Die Voraussetzungen des              |
| Sozialismus und die Aufgaben der Sozialdemokratie), perfectly   |
| reveals the connection between the dialectical method and       |
| historical partisanship, by deploring the unscientific          |
| forecasts of the 1847 Manifesto on the imminence of             |
| proletarian revolution in Germany: “This historical             |
| self-deception, so erroneous that any political visionary       |
| could hardly have improved on it, would be incomprehensible     |
| in a Marx, who at that time had already seriously studied       |
| economics, if we did not see in this the product of a relic     |
| of the antithetical Hegelian dialectic from which Marx, no      |
| less than Engels, could never completely free himself. In       |
| those times of general effervescence, this was all the more     |
| fatal to him.”                                                  |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                             80.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The inversion carried out by Marx to “recover through           |
| transfer” the thought of the bourgeois revolutions does not     |
| trivially consist of putting the materialist development of     |
| productive forces in the place of the journey of the Hegelian   |
| Spirit moving towards its encounter with itself in time, its    |
| objectification being identical to its alienation, and its      |
| historical wounds leaving no scars. History become real no      |
| longer has an end. Marx ruined Hegel’s position as separate     |
| from what happens, as well as contemplation by any supreme      |
| external agent whatever. From now on, theory has to know only   |
| what it does. As opposed to this, contemplation of the          |
| economy’s movement within the dominant thought of the present   |
| society is the untranscended heritage of the undialectical      |
| part of Hegel’s search for a circular system: it is an          |
| approval which has lost the dimension of the concept and        |
| which no longer needs a Hegelianism to justify itself,          |
| because the movement which it praises is no more than a         |
| sector without a world view, a sector whose mechanical          |
| development effectively dominates the whole. Marx’s project     |
| is the project of a conscious history. The quantitative which   |
| arises in the blind development of merely economic productive   |
| forces must be transformed into a qualitative historical        |
| appropriation. The critique of political economy is the first   |
| act of this end of prehistory: “Of all the instruments of       |
| production the greatest productive power is the revolutionary   |
| class itself.”                                                  |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                             81.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| What closely links Marx’s theory with scientific thought is     |
| the rational understanding of the forces which really operate   |
| in society. But Marx’s theory is fundamentally beyond           |
| scientific thought, and it preserves scientific thought only    |
| by superseding it: what is in question is an understanding of   |
| struggle, and not of law. “We know only one science: the        |
| science of history” (The German Ideology).                      |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                             82.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The bourgeois epoch, which wants to give a scientific           |
| foundation to history, overlooks the fact that this available   |
| science needed a historical foundation along with the           |
| economy. Inversely, history directly depends on economic        |
| knowledge only to the extent that it remains economic           |
| history. The extent to which the viewpoint of scientific        |
| observation could overlook the role of history in the economy   |
| (the global process which modifies its own basic scientific     |
| premises) is shown by the vanity of those socialist             |
| calculations which thought they had established the exact       |
| periodicity of crises. Now that the constant intervention of    |
| the State has succeeded in compensating for the effect of       |
| tendencies toward crisis, the same type of reasoning sees in    |
| this equilibrium a definitive economic harmony’. The project    |
| of mastering the economy, the project of appropriating          |
| history, if it must know–and absorb–the science of society,     |
| cannot itself be scientific. The revolutionary viewpoint of a   |
| movement which thinks it can dominate current history by        |
| means of scientific knowledge remains bourgeois.                |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                             83.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The utopian currents of socialism, although themselves          |
| historically grounded in the critique of the existing social    |
| organization, can rightly be called utopian to the extent       |
| that they reject history–namely the real struggle taking        |
| place, as well as the passage of time beyond the immutable      |
| perfection of their picture of a happy society–but not          |
| because they reject science. On the contrary. the utopian       |
| thinkers are completely dominated by the scientific thought     |
| of earlier centuries. They sought the completion of this        |
| general rational system: they did not in any way consider       |
| themselves disarmed prophets, since they believed in the        |
| social power of scientific proof and even, in the case of       |
| Saint-Simonism, in the seizure of power by science. “How did    |
| they want to seize through struggle what must be proved?”       |
| asked Sombart. The scientific conception of the utopians did    |
| not extend to the knowledge that some social groups have        |
| interests in the existing situation, forces to maintain it,     |
| and also forms of false consciousness corresponding to such     |
| positions. This conception did not even reach the historical    |
| reality of the development of science itself, which was         |
| oriented largely by the social demand of agents who selected    |
| not only what could be admitted, but also what could be         |
| studied. The utopian socialists, remaining prisoners of the     |
| mode of exposition of scientific truth, conceived this truth    |
| in terms of its pure abstract image–an image which had been     |
| imposed at a much earlier stage of society. As Sorel            |
| observed, it is on the model of astronomy that the utopians     |
| thought they would discover and demonstrate the laws of         |
| society. The harmony envisaged by them, hostile to history,     |
| grows out of the attempt to apply to society the science        |
| least dependent on history. This harmony is introduced with     |
| the experimental innocence of Newtonianism, and the happy       |
| destiny which is constantly postulated “plays in their social   |
| science a role analogous to the role of inertia in rational”    |
| (Materiaux pour une theorie du proletariat).                    |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                             84.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The deterministic-scientific facet in Marx’s thought was        |
| precisely the gap through which the process of                  |
| “ideologization” penetrated, during his own lifetime, into      |
| the theoretical heritage left to the workers’ movement. The     |
| arrival of the historical subject continues to be postponed,    |
| and it is economics, the historical science par excellence,     |
| which tends increasingly to guarantee the necessity of its      |
| own future negation. But what is pushed out of the field of     |
| theoretical vision in this manner is revolutionary practice,    |
| the only truth of this negation. What becomes important is to   |
| study economic development with patience, and to continue to    |
| accept suffering with a Hegelian tranquility, so that the       |
| result remains “a graveyard of good intentions.” It is          |
| suddenly discovered that, according to the science of           |
| revolution, consciousness always comes too soon, and has to     |
| be taught. “History has shown that we, and all who thought as   |
| we did, were wrong. History has clearly shown that the state    |
| of economic development on the continent at that time was far   |
| from being ripe” Engels was to say in 1895. Throughout his      |
| life, Marx had maintained a unitary point of view in his        |
| theory, but the exposition of the theory was carried out on     |
| the terrain of the dominant thought and became precise in the   |
| form of critiques of particular disciplines, principally the    |
| critique of the fundamental science of bourgeois society,       |
| political economy. It is this mutilation, later accepted as     |
| definitive, which has constituted “marxism.”                    |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                             85.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The weakness of Marx’s theory is naturally the weakness of      |
| the revolutionary struggle of the proletariat of his time.      |
| The working class did not set off the permanent revolution in   |
| the Germany of 1848; the Commune was defeated in isolation.     |
| Revolutionary theory thus could not yet achieve its own total   |
| existence. The fact that Marx was reduced to defending and      |
| clarifying it with cloistered, scholarly work, in the British   |
| Museum, caused a loss in the theory itself. The scientific      |
| justifications Marx elaborated about the future development     |
| of the working class and the organizational practice that       |
| went with them became obstacles to proletarian consciousness    |
| at a later stage.                                               |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                             86.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| All the theoretical insufficiencies of content as well as       |
| form of exposition of the scientific defense of proletarian     |
| revolution can be traced to the identification of the           |
| proletariat with the bourgeoisie from the standpoint of the     |
| revolutionary seizure of power.                                 |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                             87.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| By grounding the proof of the scientific validity of            |
| proletarian power on repeated past attempts, Marx obscured      |
| his historical thought, from the Manifesto on, and was forced   |
| to support a linear image of the development of modes of        |
| production brought on by class struggles which end, each        |
| time, “with a revolutionary transformation of the entire        |
| society or with mutual destruction of the classes in            |
| struggle.” But in the observable reality of history, as Marx    |
| pointed out elsewhere, the “Asiatic mode of production”         |
| preserved its immobility in spite of all class                  |
| confrontations, just as the serf uprisings never defeated the   |
| landlords, nor the slave revolts of Antiquity the free men.     |
| The linear schema loses sight of the fact that the              |
| bourgeoisie is the only revolutionary class that ever won; at   |
| the same time it is the only class for which the development    |
| of the economy was the cause and the consequence of its         |
| taking hold of society. The same simplification led Marx to     |
| neglect the economic role of the State in the management of a   |
| class society. If the rising bourgeoisie seemed to liberate     |
| the economy from the State, this took place only to the         |
| extent that the former State was an instrument of class         |
| oppression in a static economy. The bourgeoisie developed its   |
| autonomous economic power in the medieval period of the         |
| weakening of the State, at the moment of feudal fragmentation   |
| of balanced powers. But the modern State which, through         |
| Mercantilism, began to support the development of the           |
| bourgeoisie, and which finally became its State at the time     |
| of “laisser faire, laisser passer,” was to reveal later that    |
| it was endowed with the central power of calculated             |
| management of the economic process. With the concept of         |
| Bonapartism, Marx was nevertheless able to describe the shape   |
| of the modern statist bureaucracy, the fusion of capital and    |
| State, the formation of a “national power of capital over       |
| labor, a public force organized for social enslavement,”        |
| where the bourgeoisie renounces all historical life which is    |
| not reduced to the economic history of things and would like    |
| to “be condemned to the same political nothingness as other     |
| classes.” Here the socio-political foundations of the modern    |
| spectacle are already established, negatively defining the      |
| proletariat as the only pretender to historical life.           |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                             88.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The only two classes which effectively correspond to Marx’s     |
| theory, the two pure classes towards which the entire           |
| analysis of Capital leads, the bourgeoisie and the              |
| proletariat, are also the only two revolutionary classes in     |
| history, but in very different conditions: the bourgeois        |
| revolution is over; the proletarian revolution is a project     |
| born on the foundation of the preceding revolution but          |
| differing from it qualitatively. By neglecting the              |
| originality of the historical role of the bourgeoisie, one      |
| masks the concrete originality of the proletarian project,      |
| which can attain nothing unless it carries its own banners      |
| and knows the “immensity of its tasks.” The bourgeoisie came    |
| to power because it is the class of the developing economy.     |
| The proletariat cannot itself come to power except by           |
| becoming the class of consciousness. The growth of productive   |
| forces cannot guarantee such power, even by way of the          |
| increasing dispossession which it brings about. A Jacobin       |
| seizure of power cannot be its instrument. No ideology can      |
| help the proletariat disguise its partial goals as general      |
| goals, because the proletariat cannot preserve any partial      |
| reality which is really its own.                                |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                             89.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| If Marx, in a given period of his participation in the          |
| struggle of the proletariat, expected too much from             |
| scientific forecasting, to the point of creating the            |
| intellectual foundation for the illusions of economism, it is   |
| known that he did not personally succumb to those illusions.    |
| In a well-known letter of December 7, 1867, accompanying an     |
| article where he himself criticized Capital, an article which   |
| Engels would later present to the press as the work of an       |
| adversary, Marx clearly disclosed the limits of his own         |
| science: ” . . . The subjective tendency of the author (which   |
| was perhaps imposed on him by his political position and his    |
| past), namely the manner in which he views and presents to      |
| others the ultimate results of the real movement, the real      |
| social process, has no relation to his own actual analysis.”    |
| Thus Marx, by denouncing the “tendentious conclusions” of his   |
| own objective analysis, and by the irony of the “perhaps”       |
| with reference to the extra-scientific choices imposed on       |
| him, at the same time shows the methodological key to the       |
| fusion of the two aspects.                                      |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                             90.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The fusion of knowledge and action must be realized in the      |
| historical struggle itself, in such a way that each of these    |
| terms guarantees the truth of the other. The formation of the   |
| proletarian class into a subject means the organization of      |
| revolutionary struggles and the organization of society at      |
| the revolutionary moment: it is then that the practical         |
| conditions of consciousness must exist, conditions in which     |
| the theory of praxis is confirmed by becoming practical         |
| theory. However, this central question of organization was      |
| the question least developed by revolutionary theory at the     |
| time when the workers’ movement was founded, namely when this   |
| theory still had the unitary character which came from the      |
| thought of history. (Theory had undertaken precisely this       |
| task in order to develop a unitary historical practice.) This   |
| question is in fact the locus of inconsistency of this          |
| theory, allowing the return of statist and hierarchic methods   |
| of application borrowed from the bourgeois revolution. The      |
| forms of organization of the workers’ movement which were       |
| developed on the basis of this renunciation of theory have in   |
| turn prevented the maintenance of a unitary theory, breaking    |
| it up into varied specialized and partial disciplines. Due to   |
| the betrayal of unitary historical thought, this ideological    |
| estrangement from theory can no longer recognize the            |
| practical verification of this thought when such verification   |
| emerges in spontaneous struggles of workers; all it can do is   |
| repress every manifestation and memory of such verification.    |
| Yet these historical forms which appeared in struggle are       |
| precisely the practical milieu which the theory needed in       |
| order to be true. They are requirements of the theory which     |
| have not been formulated theoretically. The soviet was not a    |
| theoretical discovery; yet its existence in practice was        |
| already the highest theoretical truth of the International      |
| Workingmen’s Association.                                       |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                             91.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The first successes of the struggle of the International led    |
| it to free itself from the confused influences of the           |
| dominant ideology which survived in it. But the defeat and      |
| repression which it soon encountered brought to the             |
| foreground a conflict between two conceptions of the            |
| proletarian revolution. Both of these conceptions contain an    |
| authoritarian dimension and thus abandon the conscious          |
| self-emancipation of the working class. In effect, the          |
| quarrel between Marxists and Bakuninists (which became          |
| irreconcilable) was two-edged, referring at once to power in    |
| the revolutionary society and to the organization of the        |
| present movement, and when the positions of the adversaries     |
| passed from one aspect to the other, they reversed              |
| themselves. Bakunin fought the illusion of abolishing classes   |
| by the authoritarian use of state power, foreseeing the         |
| reconstitution of a dominant bureaucratic class and the         |
| dictatorship of the most knowledgeable, or those who would be   |
| reputed to be such. Marx thought that the growth of economic    |
| contradictions inseparable from democratic education of the     |
| workers would reduce the role of the proletarian State to a     |
| simple phase of legalizing the new social relations imposing    |
| themselves objectively, and denounced Bakunin and his           |
| followers for the authoritarianism of a conspiratorial elite    |
| which deliberately placed itself above the International and    |
| formulated the extravagant design of imposing on society the    |
| irresponsible dictatorship of those who are most                |
| revolutionary, or those who would designate themselves to be    |
| such. Bakunin, in fact, recruited followers on the basis of     |
| such a perspective: “Invisible pilots in the center of the      |
| popular storm, we must direct it, not with a visible power,     |
| but with the collective dictatorship of all the allies. A       |
| dictatorship without badge, without title, without official     |
| right, yet all the more powerful because it will have none of   |
| the appearances of power.” Thus two ideologies of the           |
| workers’ revolution opposed each other, each containing a       |
| partially true critique, but losing the unity of the thought    |
| of history, and instituting themselves into ideological         |
| authorities. Powerful organizations, like German                |
| Social-Democracy and the Iberian Anarchist Federation           |
| faithfully served one or the other of these ideologies; and     |
| everywhere the result was very different from what had been     |
| desired.                                                        |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                             92.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The strength and the weakness of the real anarchist struggle    |
| resides in its viewing the goal of proletarian revolution as    |
| immediately present (the pretensions of anarchism in its        |
| individualist variants have always been laughable). From the    |
| historical thought of modern class struggles collectivist       |
| anarchism retains only the conclusion, and its exclusive        |
| insistence on this conclusion is accompanied by deliberate      |
| contempt for method. Thus its critique of the political         |
| struggle has remained abstract, while its choice of economic    |
| struggle is affirmed only as a function of the illusion of a    |
| definitive solution brought about by one single blow on this    |
| terrain–on the day of the general strike or the insurrection.   |
| The anarchists have an ideal to realize. Anarchism remains a    |
| merely ideological negation of the State and of classes,        |
| namely of the social conditions of separate ideology. It is     |
| the ideology of pure liberty which equalizes everything and     |
| dismisses the very idea of historical evil. This viewpoint      |
| which fuses all partial desires has given anarchism the merit   |
| of representing the rejection of existing conditions in favor   |
| of the whole of life, and not of a privileged critical          |
| specialization; but this fusion is considered in the            |
| absolute, according to individual caprice, before its actual    |
| realization, thus condemning anarchism to an incoherence too    |
| easily seen through. Anarchism has merely to repeat and to      |
| replay the same simple, total conclusion in every single        |
| struggle, because this first conclusion was from the            |
| beginning identified with the entire outcome of the movement.   |
| Thus Bakunin could write in 1873, when he left the Federation   |
| Jurassiene: “During the past nine years, more ideas have been   |
| developed within the International than would be needed to      |
| save the world, if ideas alone could save it, and I challenge   |
| anyone to invent a new one. It is no longer the time for        |
| ideas, but for facts and acts.” There is no doubt that this     |
| conception retains an element of the historical thought of      |
| the proletariat, the certainty that ideas must become           |
| practice, but it leaves the historical terrain by assuming      |
| that the adequate forms for this passage to practice have       |
| already been found and will never change.                       |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                             93.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The anarchists, who distinguish themselves explicitly from      |
| the rest of the workers’ movement by their ideological          |
| conviction, reproduce this separation of competences among      |
| themselves; they provide a terrain favorable to informal        |
| domination over all anarchist organizations by propagandists    |
| and defenders of their ideology, specialists who are in         |
| general more mediocre the more their intellectual activity      |
| consists of the repetition of certain definitive truths.        |
| Ideological respect for unanimity of decision has on the        |
| whole been favorable to the uncontrolled authority, within      |
| the organization itself, of specialists in freedom; and         |
| revolutionary anarchism expects the same type of unanimity      |
| from the liberated population, obtained by the same means.      |
| Furthermore, the refusal to take into account the opposition    |
| between the conditions of a minority grouped in the present     |
| struggle and of a society of free individuals, has nourished    |
| a permanent separation among anarchists at the moment of        |
| common decision, as is shown by an infinity of anarchist        |
| insurrections in Spain, confined and destroyed on a local       |
| level.                                                          |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                             94.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The illusion entertained more or less explicitly by genuine     |
| anarchism is the permanent imminence of an instantaneously      |
| accomplished revolution which will prove the truth of the       |
| ideology and of the mode of practical organization derived      |
| from the ideology. In 1936, anarchism in fact led a social      |
| revolution, the most advanced model of proletarian power in     |
| all time. In this context it should be noted that the signal    |
| for a general insurrection had been imposed by a                |
| pronunciamiento of the army. Furthermore, to the extent that    |
| this revolution was not completed during the first days         |
| (because of the existence of Franco’s power in half the         |
| country, strongly supported from abroad while the rest of the   |
| international proletarian movement was already defeated, and    |
| because of remains of bourgeois forces or other statist         |
| workers’ parties within the camp of the Republic) the           |
| organized anarchist movement showed itself unable to extend     |
| the demi-victories of the revolution, or even to defend them.   |
| Its known leaders became ministers and hostages of the          |
| bourgeois State which destroyed the revolution only to lose     |
| the civil war.                                                  |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                             95.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The “orthodox Marxism” of the Second International is the       |
| scientific ideology of the socialist revolution: it             |
| identifies its whole truth with objective processes in the      |
| economy and with the progress of a recognition of this          |
| necessity by the working class educated by the organization.    |
| This ideology rediscovers the confidence in pedagogical         |
| demonstration which had characterized utopian socialism, but    |
| mixes it with a contemplative reference to the course of        |
| history: this attitude has lost as much of the Hegelian         |
| dimension of a total history as it has lost the immobile        |
| image of totality in the utopian critique (most highly          |
| developed by Fourier). This scientific attitude can do no       |
| more than revive a symmetry of ethical choices; it is from      |
| this attitude that the nonsense of Hilferding springs when he   |
| states that recognizing the necessity of socialism gives “no    |
| indication of the practical attitude to be adopted. For it is   |
| one thing to recognize a necessity, and it is quite another     |
| thing to put oneself at the service of this necessity”          |
| (Finanzkapital). Those who failed to recognize that for Marx    |
| and for the revolutionary proletariat the unitary thought of    |
| history was in no way distinct from the practical attitude to   |
| be adopted, regularly became victims of the practice they       |
| adopted.                                                        |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                             96.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The ideology of the social-democratic organization gave power   |
| to professors who educated the working class, and the form of   |
| organization which was adopted was the form most suitable for   |
| this passive apprenticeship. The participation of socialists    |
| of the Second International in political and economic           |
| struggles was admittedly concrete but profoundly uncritical.    |
| It was conducted in the name of revolutionary illusion by       |
| means of an obviously reformist practice. The revolutionary     |
| ideology was to be shattered by the very success of those who   |
| held it. The separate position of the movement’s deputies and   |
| journalists attracted the already recruited bourgeois           |
| intellectuals toward a bourgeois mode of life. Even those who   |
| had been recruited from the struggles of industrial workers     |
| and who were themselves workers, were transformed by the        |
| union bureaucracy into brokers of labor power who sold labor    |
| as a commodity, for a just price. If their activity was to      |
| retain some appearance of being revolutionary, capitalism       |
| would have had to be conveniently unable to support             |
| economically this reformism which it tolerated politically      |
| (in the legalistic agitation of the social-democrats). But      |
| such an antagonism, guaranteed by their science, was            |
| constantly belied by history.                                   |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                             97.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| Bernstein, the social-democrat furthest from political          |
| ideology and most openly attached to the methodology of         |
| bourgeois science, had the honesty to want to demonstrate the   |
| reality of this contradiction; the English workers’ reformist   |
| movement had also demonstrated it, by doing without             |
| revolutionary ideology. But the contradiction was               |
| definitively demonstrated only by historical development        |
| itself. Although full of illusions in other respects,           |
| Bernstein had denied that a crisis of capitalist production     |
| would miraculously force the hand of socialists who wanted to   |
| inherit the revolution only by this legitimate rite. The        |
| profound social upheaval which arose with the first world       |
| war, though fertile with the awakening of consciousness,        |
| twice demonstrated that the social-democratic hierarchy had     |
| not educated revolutionarily; and had in no way transformed     |
| the German workers into theoreticians: first when the vast      |
| majority of the party rallied to the imperialist war; next      |
| when, in defeat, it squashed the Spartakist revolutionaries.    |
| The ex-worker Ebert still believed in sin, since he admitted    |
| that he hated revolution “like sin.” The same leader showed     |
| himself a precursor of the socialist representation which       |
| soon after confronted the Russian proletariat as its absolute   |
| enemy; he even formulated exactly the same program for this     |
| new alienation: “Socialism means working a lot”.                |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                             98.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| Lenin, as a Marxist thinker, was no more than a consistent      |
| and faithful Kautskyist who applied the revolutionary           |
| ideology of “orthodox Marxism” to Russian conditions,           |
| conditions unfavorable to the reformist practice carried on     |
| elsewhere by the Second International. In the Russian           |
| context, the external management of the proletariat, acting     |
| by means of a disciplined clandestine party subordinated to     |
| intellectuals transformed into “professional                    |
| revolutionaries,” becomes a profession which refuses to deal    |
| with the ruling professions of capitalist society (the          |
| Czarist political regime being in any case unable to offer      |
| such opportunities which are based on an advanced stage of      |
| bourgeois power). It therefore became the profession of the     |
| absolute management of society.                                 |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                             99.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| With the war and the collapse of the social-democratic          |
| international in the face of the war, the authoritarian         |
| ideological radicalism of the Bolsheviks spread all over the    |
| world. The bloody end of the democratic illusions of the        |
| workers’ movement transformed the entire world into a Russia,   |
| and Bolshevism, reigning over the first revolutionary breach    |
| brought on by this epoch of crisis, offered to proletarians     |
| of all lands its hierarchic and ideological model, so that      |
| they could “speak Russian” to the ruling class. Lenin did not   |
| reproach the Marxism of the Second International for being a    |
| revolutionary ideology, but for ceasing to be one.              |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            100.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The historical moment when Bolshevism triumphed for itself in   |
| Russia and when social-democracy fought victoriously for the    |
| old world marks the inauguration of the state of affairs        |
| which is at the heart of the domination of the modern           |
| spectacle: the representation of the working class radically    |
| opposes itself to the working class.                            |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            101.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| “In all previous revolutions,” wrote Rosa Luxemburg in Rote     |
| Fahne of December 21, 1918, “the combatants faced each other    |
| directly: class against class, program against program. In      |
| the present revolution, the troops protecting the old order     |
| do not intervene under the insignia of the ruling class, but    |
| under the flag of a ‘social-democratic party.’ If the central   |
| question of revolution had been posed openly and honestly:      |
| capitalism or socialism? the great mass of the proletariat      |
| would today have no doubts or hesitations.” Thus, a few days    |
| before its destruction, the radical current of the German       |
| proletariat discovered the secret of the new conditions which   |
| had been created by the preceding process (toward which the     |
| representation of the working class had greatly contributed):   |
| the spectacular organization of defense of the existing         |
| order, the social reign of appearances where no ” “central      |
| question” can any longer be posed “openly and honestly.” The    |
| revolutionary representation of the proletariat had at this     |
| stage become both the main factor and the central result of     |
| the general falsification of society.                           |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            102.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The organization of the proletariat on the Bolshevik model      |
| which emerged from Russian backwardness and from the            |
| abandonment of revolutionary struggle by the workers’           |
| movement of advanced countries, found in this backwardness      |
| all the conditions which carried this form of organization      |
| toward the counter-revolutionary inversion which it             |
| unconsciously contained at its source. The continuing retreat   |
| of the mass of the European workers’ movement in the face of    |
| the Hic Rhodus, hic salta of the 1918-1920 period, a retreat    |
| which included the violent destruction of its radical           |
| minority, favored the completion of the Bolshevik development   |
| and let this fraudulent outcome present itself to the world     |
| as the only proletarian solution. By seizing state monopoly     |
| over representation and defense of workers’ power, the          |
| Bolshevik party justified itself and became what it was: the    |
| party of the proprietors of the proletariat (essentially        |
| eliminating earlier forms of property).                         |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            103.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| During twenty years of unresolved theoretical debate, the       |
| varied tendencies of Russian social-democracy had examined      |
| all the conditions for the liquidation of Czarism: the          |
| weakness of the bourgeoisie, the weight of the peasant          |
| majority and the decisive role of a concentrated and            |
| combative but hardly numerous proletariat. The debate was       |
| resolved in practice by means of a factor which had not been    |
| present in the hypotheses: a revolutionary bureaucracy which    |
| directed the proletariat seized State power and gave society    |
| a new class domination. Strictly bourgeois revolution had       |
| been impossible; the “democratic dictatorship of workers and    |
| peasants” was meaningless; the proletarian power of the         |
| Soviets could not maintain itself simultaneously against the    |
| class of small landowners, against the national and             |
| international White reaction, and against its own               |
| representation externalized and alienated in the form of a      |
| workers’ party of absolute masters of State economy,            |
| expression, and soon of thought. The theory of permanent        |
| revolution of Trotsky and Parvus, which Lenin adopted in        |
| April 1917, was the only theory which became true for           |
| countries where the social development of the bourgeoisie was   |
| retarded, but this theory became true only after the            |
| introduction of the unknown factor: the class power of the      |
| bureaucracy. In the numerous arguments among the Bolshevik      |
| directors, Lenin was the most consistent defender of the        |
| concentration of dictatorial power in the hands of the          |
| supreme representatives of ideology. Lenin was right every      |
| time against his adversaries in that be supported the           |
| solution implied by earlier choices of absolute minority        |
| Power: the democracy which was kept from peasants by means of   |
| the state would have to be kept from workers as well, which     |
| led to keeping it from communist leaders of unions, from the    |
| entire party, and finally from leading party bureaucrats. At    |
| the Tenth Congress, when the Kronstadt Soviet had been          |
| defeated by arms and buried under calumny, Lenin pronounced     |
| against the leftist bureaucrats of the “Workers’ Opposition”    |
| the following conclusion (the logic of which Stalin later       |
| extended to a complete division of the world): “Here or there   |
| with a rifle, but not with opposition. ... We’ve had enough     |
| opposition.”                                                    |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            104.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| After Kronstadt, the bureaucracy–sole proprietor of a State     |
| Capitalism–consolidated its power internally by means of a      |
| temporary alliance with the peasantry (with the “new economic   |
| policy”) and externally by using workers regimented into the    |
| bureaucratic parties of the Third International as supports     |
| for Russian diplomacy, thus sabotaging the entire               |
| revolutionary movement and supporting bourgeois governments     |
| whose aid it needed in international politics (the power of     |
| the Kuonmintang in China in 1925-27, the Popular Front in       |
| Spain and in France, etc.). The bureaucratic society            |
| continued the consolidation by terrorizing the peasantry in     |
| order to implement the mast brutal primitive capitalist         |
| accumulation in history. The industrialization of the Stalin    |
| epoch revealed the reality behind the bureaucracy: the          |
| continuation of the power of the economy and the preservation   |
| of the essence of the market society commodity labor. The       |
| independent economy, which dominates society to the extent of   |
| reinstituting the class domination it needs for its own ends,   |
| is thus confirmed. Which is to say that the bourgeoisie         |
| created an autonomous power which, so long as its autonomy      |
| lasts, can even do without a bourgeoisie. The totalitarian      |
| bureaucracy is not “the last owning class in history” in the    |
| sense of Bruna Rizzi; it is only a substitute ruling class      |
| for the commodity economy. Capitalist private property in       |
| decline is replaced by a simplified, less diversified           |
| surrogate which is condensed as collective property of the      |
| bureaucratic class. This underdeveloped ruling class is the     |
| expression of economic underdevelopment, and has no             |
| perspective other than to overcome the retardation of this      |
| development in certain regions of the world. It was the         |
| workers’ party organized according to the bourgeois model of    |
| separation which furnished the hierarchical-statist cadre for   |
| this supplementary edition of a ruling class. While in one of   |
| Stalin’s prisons, Anton Ciliga observed that “technical         |
| questions of organization turned out to be social               |
| questions”(Lenin and the Revolution).                           |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            105.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| Revolutionary ideology, the coherence of the separate, of       |
| which Leninism represents the greatest voluntaristic attempt,   |
| supervising a reality which rejects it, with Stalinism          |
| returns to its truth in incoherence. At that paint ideology     |
| is no longer a weapon, but a goal. The lie which is no longer   |
| challenged becomes lunacy. Reality as well as the goal          |
| dissolve in the totalitarian ideological proclamation: all it   |
| says is all there is. This is a local primitivism of the        |
| spectacle, whose role is nevertheless essential in the          |
| development of the world spectacle. The ideology which is       |
| materialized in this context has not economically transformed   |
| the world, as has capitalism which reached the stage of         |
| abundance; it has merely transformed perception by means of     |
| the police.                                                     |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            106.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The totalitarian-ideological class in power is the power of a   |
| topsy-turvy world: the stranger it is, the more it claims not   |
| to exist, and its force serves above all to affirm its          |
| nonexistence. It is modest only on this point, because its      |
| official nonexistence must also coincide with the nec plus      |
| ultra of historical development which must at the same time     |
| be attributed to its infallible command. Extended everywhere,   |
| the bureaucracy must be the class invisible to consciousness;   |
| as a result all social life becomes insane. The social          |
| organization of the absolute lie flows from this fundamental    |
| contradiction.                                                  |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            107.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| Stalinism was the reign of terror within the bureaucratic       |
| class itself. The terrorism at the base of this class’s power   |
| must also strike this class because it possesses no juridical   |
| guarantee, no recognized existence as owning class, which it    |
| could extend to every one of its members. Its real property     |
| being hidden, the bureaucracy became proprietor by way of       |
| false consciousness. False consciousness can maintain its       |
| absolute power only by means of absolute terror, where all      |
| real motives are ultimately lost. The members of the            |
| bureaucratic class in power have a right of ownership over      |
| society only collectively, as participants in a fundamental     |
| lie: they have to play the role of the proletariat directing    |
| a socialist society; they have to be actors loyal to a script   |
| of ideological disloyalty. But effective participation in       |
| this falsehood requires that it be recognized as actual         |
| participation. No bureaucrat can support his right to power     |
| individually, since proving that he’s a socialist proletarian   |
| would mean presenting himself as the opposite of a              |
| bureaucrat, and proving that he’s a bureaucrat is impossible    |
| since the official truth of the bureaucracy is that it does     |
| not exist. Thus every bureaucrat depends absolutely on the      |
| central guarantee of the ideology which recognizes the          |
| collective participation in its “socialist power” of all the    |
| bureaucrats it does not annihilate. If all the bureaucrats      |
| taken together decide everything, the cohesion of their own     |
| class can be assured only by the concentration of their         |
| terrorist power in a single person. In this person resides      |
| the only practical truth of falsehood in power: the             |
| indisputable permanence of its constantly adjusted frontier.    |
| Stalin decides without appeal who is ultimately to be a         |
| possessing bureaucrat; in other words, who should be named “a   |
| proletarian in power” and who “a traitor in the pay of the      |
| Mikado or of Wall Street.” The bureaucratic atoms find the      |
| common essence of their right only in the person of Stalin.     |
| Stalin is the world sovereign who in this manner knows          |
| himself as the absolute person for whose consciousness there    |
| is no higher spirit. “The sovereign of the world has            |
| effective consciousness of what he is–the universal power of    |
| efficacy–in the destructive violence which he exerts against    |
| the Self of his subjects, the contrasting others.” Just as he   |
| is the power that defines the terrain of domination, he is      |
| “the power which ravages this terrain.”                         |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            108.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| When ideology, having become absolute through the possession    |
| of absolute power, changes from partial knowledge into          |
| totalitarian falsehood, the thought of history is so            |
| perfectly annihilated that history itself, even at the level    |
| of the most empirical knowledge, can no longer exist. The       |
| totalitarian bureaucratic society lives in a perpetual          |
| present where everything that happened exists for it only as    |
| a place accessible to its police. The project already           |
| formulated by Napoleon of “the ruler directing the energy of    |
| memory” has found its total concretization in a permanent       |
| manipulation of the past, not only of meanings but of facts     |
| as well. But the price paid for this emancipation from all      |
| historical reality is the loss of the rational reference        |
| which is indispensable to the historical society, capitalism.   |
| It is known how much the scientific application of insane       |
| ideology has cost the Russian economy, if only through the      |
| imposture of Lysenko. The contradiction of the totalitarian     |
| bureaucracy administering an industrialized society, caught     |
| between its need for rationality and its rejection of the       |
| rational, is one of its main deficiencies with regard to        |
| normal capitalist development. Just as the bureaucracy cannot   |
| resolve the question of agriculture the way capitalism had      |
| done, it is ultimately inferior to capitalism in industrial     |
| production, planned from the top and based on unreality and     |
| generalized falsehood.                                          |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            109.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| Between the two world wars, the revolutionary workers’          |
| movement was annihilated by the joint action of the Stalinist   |
| bureaucracy and of fascist totalitarianism which had borrowed   |
| its form of organization from the totalitarian party tried      |
| out in Russia. Fascism was an extremist defense of the          |
| bourgeois economy threatened by crisis and by proletarian       |
| subversion. Fascism is a state of siege in capitalist           |
| society, by means of which this society saves itself and        |
| gives itself stop-gap rationalization by making the State       |
| intervene massively in its management. But this                 |
| rationalization is itself burdened by the immense               |
| irrationality of its means. Although fascism rallies to the     |
| defense of the main points of bourgeois ideology which has      |
| become conservative (the family, property, the moral order,     |
| the nation), reuniting the petty-bourgeoisie and the            |
| unemployed routed by crisis or deceived by the impotence of     |
| socialist revolution, it is not itself fundamentally            |
| ideological. It presents itself as it is: a violent             |
| resurrection of myth which demands participation in a           |
| community defined by archaic pseudo-values: race, blood, the    |
| leader. Fascism is technically-equipped archaism. Its           |
| decomposed ersatz of myth is revived in the spectacular         |
| context of the most modern means of conditioning and            |
| illusion. Thus it is one of the factors in the formation of     |
| the modern spectacle, and its role in the destruction of the    |
| old workers’ movement makes it one of the fundamental forces    |
| of present-day society. However, since fascism is also the      |
| most costly form of preserving the capitalist order, it         |
| usually had to leave the front of the stage to the great        |
| roles played by the capitalist States; it is eliminated by      |
| stronger and more rational forms of the same order.             |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            110.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| Now that the Russian bureaucracy has finally succeeded in       |
| doing away with the remains of bourgeois property which         |
| hampered its rule over the economy, in developing this          |
| property for its own use, and in being recognized externally    |
| among the great powers, it wants to enjoy its world calmly      |
| and to suppress the arbitrary element which had been exerted    |
| over it: it denounces the Stalinism of its origin. But the      |
| denunciation remains Stalinist, arbitrary, unexplained and      |
| continually corrected, because the ideological lie at its       |
| origin can never be revealed. Thus the bureaucracy can          |
| liberalize neither culturally nor politically because its       |
| existence as a class depends on its ideological monopoly        |
| which, with all its weight, is its only title to property.      |
| The ideology has no doubt lost the passion of its positive      |
| affirmation, but the indifferent triviality which survives      |
| still has the repressive function of prohibiting the            |
| slightest competition, of holding captive the totality of       |
| thought. Thus the bureaucracy is bound to an ideology which     |
| is no longer believed by anyone. What used to be terrorist      |
| has become a laughing matter, but this laughing matter can      |
| maintain itself only by preserving, as a last resort, the       |
| terrorism it would like to be rid of. Thus precisely at the     |
| moment when the bureaucracy wants to demonstrate its            |
| superiority on the terrain of capitalism it reveals itself to   |
| be a poor relation of capitalism. Just as its actual history    |
| contradicts its claims and its vulgarly entertained ignorance   |
| contradicts its scientific pretentions, so its project of       |
| becoming a rival to the bourgeoisie in the production of        |
| commodity abundance is blocked by the fact that this            |
| abundance carries its implicit ideology within itself, and is   |
| usually accompanied by an indefinitely extended freedom of      |
| spectacular false choices, a pseudo-freedom which remains       |
| irreconcilable with the bureaucratic ideology.                  |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            111.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| At the present moment of its development, the bureaucracy’s     |
| title to ideological property is already collapsing             |
| internationally. The power which established itself             |
| nationally as a fundamentally internationalist model must       |
| admit that it can no longer pretend to maintain its false       |
| cohesion over and above every national frontier. The unequal    |
| economic development of some bureaucracies with competing       |
| interests, who succeeded in acquiring their “socialism”         |
| beyond the single country, has led to the public and total      |
| confrontation between the Russian lie and the Chinese lie.      |
| From this point on, every bureaucracy in power, or every        |
| totalitarian party which is a candidate to the power left       |
| behind by the Stalinist period in some national working         |
| classes, must follow its own path. The global decomposition     |
| of the alliance of bureaucratic mystification is further        |
| aggravated by manifestations of internal negation which began   |
| to be visible to the world with the East Berlin workers’        |
| revolt, opposing the bureaucrats with the demand for “a         |
| government of steel workers,” manifestations which already      |
| once led all the way to the power of workers’ councils in       |
| Hungary. However, the global decomposition of the               |
| bureaucratic alliance is in the last analysis the least         |
| favorable factor for the present development of capitalist      |
| society. The bourgeoisie is in the process of losing the        |
| adversary which objectively supported it by providing an        |
| illusory unification of all negation of the existing order.     |
| This division of labor within the spectacle comes to an end     |
| when the pseudo-revolutionary role in turn divides. The         |
| spectacular element of the collapse of the workers’ movement    |
| will itself collapse.                                           |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            112.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The Leninist illusion has no contemporary base outside of the   |
| various Trotskyist tendencies. Here the identification of the   |
| proletarian project with a hierarchic organization of           |
| ideology stubbornly survives the experience of all its          |
| results. The distance which separates Trotskyism from a         |
| revolutionary critique of the present society allows            |
| Trotskyism to maintain a deferential attitude toward            |
| positions which were already false when they were used in a     |
| real combat. Trotsky remained basically in solidarity with      |
| the high bureaucracy until 1927, seeking to capture it so as    |
| to make it resume genuinely Bolshevik action externally (it     |
| is known that in order to conceal Lenin’s famous “testament”    |
| he went so far as to slanderously disavow his supporter Max     |
| Eastman, who had made it public). Trotsky was condemned by      |
| his basic perspective, because as soon as the bureaucracy       |
| recognizes itself in its result as a counterrevolutionary       |
| class internally, it must also choose, in the name of           |
| revolution, to be effectively counter-revolutionary             |
| externally, just as it is at home. Trotsky’s subsequent         |
| struggle for the Fourth International contains the same         |
| inconsistency. All his life he refused to recognize the         |
| bureaucracy as the power of a separate class, because during    |
| the second Russian revolution he became an unconditional        |
| supporter of the Bolshevik form of organization. When Lukacs,   |
| in 1923, showed that this form was the long-sought mediation    |
| between theory and practice, in which the proletarians are no   |
| longer “spectators” of the events which happen in their         |
| organization, but consciously choose and live these events,     |
| he described as actual merits of the Bolshevik party            |
| everything that the Bolshevik party was not. Except for his     |
| profound theoretical work, Lukacs was still an ideologue        |
| speaking in the name of the power most grossly external to      |
| the proletarian movement, believing and making believe that     |
| he, himself, with his entire personality, was within this       |
| power as if it were his own. But the sequel showed just how     |
| this power disowns and suppresses its lackeys; in Lukacs’       |
| endless self-repudiations, just what he had identified with     |
| became visible and clear as a caricature: he had identified     |
| with the opposite of himself and of what he had supported in    |
| History and Class Consciousness. Lukacs is the best proof of    |
| the fundamental rule which judges all the intellectuals of      |
| this century: what they respect is an exact measure of their    |
| own despicable reality. Yet Lenin had hardly encouraged this    |
| type of illusion about his activity, considering that “a        |
| political party cannot examine its members to see if there      |
| are contradictions between their philosophy and the party       |
| program.” The real party whose imaginary portrait Lukacs had    |
| inopportunely drawn was coherent for only one precise and       |
| partial task: to seize State power.                             |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            113.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The neo-Leninist illusion of present-day Trotskyism,            |
| constantly exposed by the reality of modern bourgeois as well   |
| as bureaucratic capitalist societies, naturally finds a         |
| favored field of application in “underdeveloped” countries      |
| which are formally independent. Here the illusion of some       |
| variant of state and bureaucratic socialism is consciously      |
| manipulated by local ruling classes as simply the ideology of   |
| economic development. The hybrid composition of these classes   |
| is more or less clearly related to their standing along the     |
| bourgeois-bureaucratic spectrum. Their games on an              |
| international scale with the two poles of existing capitalist   |
| power, as well as their ideological compromises (notably with   |
| Islam), express the hybrid reality of their social base and     |
| remove from this final byproduct of ideological socialism       |
| everything serious except the police. A bureaucracy             |
| establishes itself by staffing a national struggle and an       |
| agrarian peasant revolt; from that point on, as in China, it    |
| tends to apply the Stalinist model of industrialization in      |
| societies less developed than Russia was in 1917. A             |
| bureaucracy able to industrialize the nation can set itself     |
| up from among the petty-bourgeoisie, or out of army cadres      |
| who seize power, as in Egypt. A bureaucracy which sets itself   |
| up as a para-statist leadership during the struggle can, on     |
| certain questions, seek the equilibrium point of a compromise   |
| in order to fuse with a weak national bourgeoisie, as in        |
| Algeria at the beginning of its war of independence. Finally,   |
| in the former colonies of black Africa which remain openly      |
| tied to the American and European bourgeoisie, a bourgeoisie    |
| constitutes itself (usually on the basis of the power of        |
| traditional tribal chiefs) by seizing the State. These          |
| countries, where foreign imperialism remains the real master    |
| of the economy, enter a stage where the compradores have        |
| gotten an indigenous State as compensation for their sale of    |
| indigenous products, a State which is independent in the face   |
| of the local masses but not in the face of imperialism. This    |
| is an artificial bourgeoisie which is not able to accumulate,   |
| but which simply squanders the share of surplus value from      |
| local labor which reaches it as well as the foreign subsidies   |
| from the States or monopolies which protect it. Because of      |
| the obvious incapacity of these bourgeois classes to fulfill    |
| the normal economic function of a bourgeoisie, each of them     |
| faces a subversion based on the bureaucratic model, more or     |
| less adapted to local peculiarities, and eager to seize the     |
| heritage of this bourgeoisie. But the very success of a         |
| bureaucracy in its fundamental project of industrialization     |
| necessarily contains the perspective of its historical          |
| defeat: by accumulating capital it accumulates a proletariat    |
| and thus creates its own negation in a country where it did     |
| not yet exist.                                                  |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            114.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| In this complex and terrible development which has carried      |
| the epoch of class struggles toward new conditions, the         |
| proletariat of the industrial countries has completely lost     |
| the affirmation of its autonomous perspective and also, in      |
| the last analysis, its illusions, but not its being. It has     |
| not been suppressed. It remains irreducibly in existence        |
| within the intensified alienation of modern capitalism: it is   |
| the immense majority of workers who have lost all power over    |
| the use of their lives and who, once they know this, redefine   |
| themselves as the proletariat, as negation at work within       |
| this society. The proletariat is objectively reinforced by      |
| the progressive disappearance of the peasantry and by the       |
| extension of the logic of factory labor to a large sector of    |
| “services” and intellectual professions. Subjectively the       |
| proletariat is still far removed from its practical class       |
| consciousness, not only among white collar workers but also     |
| among wage workers who have as yet discovered only the          |
| impotence and mystification of the old politics.                |
| Nevertheless, when the proletariat discovers that its own       |
| externalized power collaborates in the constant reinforcement   |
| of capitalist society, not only in the form of its labor but    |
| also in the form of unions, of parties, or of the state power   |
| it had built to emancipate itself, it also discovers from       |
| concrete historical experience that it is the class totally     |
| opposed to all congealed externalization and all                |
| specialization of power. It carries the revolution which        |
| cannot let anything remain outside of itself, the demand for    |
| the permanent domination of the present over the past, and      |
| the total critique of separation. It is this that must find     |
| its suitable form in action. No quantitative amelioration of    |
| its misery, no illusion of hierarchic integration is a          |
| lasting cure for its dissatisfaction, because the proletariat   |
| cannot truly recognize itself in a particular wrong it          |
| suffered nor in the righting of a particular wrong. It cannot   |
| recognize itself in the righting of a large number of wrongs    |
| either, but only in the absolute wrong of being relegated to    |
| the margin of life.                                             |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            115.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The new signs of negation multiplying in the economically       |
| developed countries, signs which are misunderstood and          |
| falsified by spectacular arrangement, already enable us to      |
| draw the conclusion that a new epoch has begun: now, after      |
| the workers’ first attempt at subversion, it is capitalist      |
| abundance which has failed. When anti-union struggles of        |
| Western workers are repressed first of all by unions, and       |
| when the first amorphous protests launched by rebellious        |
| currents of youth directly imply the rejection of the old       |
| specialized politics, of art and of daily life, we see two      |
| sides of a new spontaneous struggle which begins under a        |
| criminal guise. These are the portents of a second              |
| proletarian assault against class society. When the last        |
| children of this still immobile army reappear on this           |
| battleground which was altered and yet remains the same, they   |
| follow a new “General Ludd” who, this time, urges them to       |
| destroy the machines of permitted consumption.                  |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            116.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| “The political form at last discovered in which the economic    |
| emancipation of labor could be realized” has in this century    |
| acquired a clear outline in the revolutionary workers’          |
| Councils which concentrate in themselves all the functions of   |
| decision and execution, and federate with each other by means   |
| of delegates responsible to the base and revocable at any       |
| moment. Their actual existence has as yet been no more than a   |
| brief sketch, quickly opposed and defeated by various           |
| defensive forces of class society, among which their own        |
| false consciousness must often be included. Pannekoek rightly   |
| insisted that choosing the power of workers’ Councils “poses    |
| problems” rather than providing a solution. Yet it is           |
| precisely in this power where the problems of the proletarian   |
| revolution can find their real solution. This is where the      |
| objective conditions of historical consciousness are            |
| reunited. This is where direct active communication is          |
| realized, where specialization, hierarchy and separation end,   |
| where the existing conditions have been transformed “into       |
| conditions of unity.” Here the proletarian subject can emerge   |
| from his struggle against contemplation: his consciousness is   |
| equal to the practical organization which it undertakes         |
| because this consciousness is itself inseparable from           |
| coherent intervention in history.                               |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            117.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| In the power of the Councils, which must internationally        |
| supplant all other power, the proletarian movement is its own   |
| product and this product is the producer himself. He is to      |
| himself his own goal. Only there is the spectacular negation    |
| of life negated in its turn.                                    |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            118.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The appearance of the Councils was the highest reality of the   |
| proletarian movement in the first quarter of this century, a    |
| reality which was not seen or was travestied because it         |
| disappeared along with the rest of the movement that was        |
| negated and eliminated by the entire historical experience of   |
| the time. At the new moment of proletarian critique, this       |
| result returns as the only undefeated point of the defeated     |
| movement. Historical consciousness, which knows that this is    |
| the only milieu where it can exist, can now recognize this      |
| reality, no longer at the periphery of what is ebbing, but at   |
| the center of what is rising.                                   |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            119.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| A revolutionary organization existing before the power of the   |
| Councils (it will find its own farm through struggle), for      |
| all these historical reasons, already knows that it does not    |
| represent the working class. It must recognize itself as no     |
| more than a radical separation from the world of separation.    |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            120.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The revolutionary organization is the coherent expression of    |
| the theory of praxis entering into non-unilateral               |
| communication with practical struggles, in the process of       |
| becoming practical theory. Its own practice is the              |
| generalization of communication and of coherence in these       |
| struggles. At the revolutionary moment of dissolution of        |
| social separation, this organization must recognize its own     |
| dissolution as a separate organization.                         |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            121.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The revolutionary organization can be nothing less than a       |
| unitary critique of society, namely a critique which does not   |
| compromise with any form of separate power anywhere in the      |
| world, and a critique proclaimed globally against all the       |
| aspects of alienated social life. In the struggle between the   |
| revolutionary organization and class society, the weapons are   |
| nothing other than the essence of the combatants themselves:    |
| the revolutionary organization cannot reproduce within itself   |
| the dominant society’s conditions of separation and             |
| hierarchy. It must struggle constantly against its              |
| deformation in the ruling spectacle. The only limit to          |
| participation in the total democracy of the revolutionary       |
| organization is the recognition and self-appropriation of the   |
| coherence of its critique by all its members, a coherence       |
| which must be proved in the critical theory as such and in      |
| the relation between the theory and practical activity.         |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            122.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| When constantly growing capitalist alienation at all levels     |
| makes it increasingly difficult for workers to recognize and    |
| name their own misery, forcing them to face the alternative     |
| of rejecting the totality of their misery or nothing, the       |
| revolutionary organization has to learn that it can no longer   |
| combat alienation with alienated forms.                         |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            123.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| Proletarian revolution depends entirely on the condition        |
| that, for the first time, theory as intelligence of human       |
| practice be recognized and lived by the masses. It requires     |
| workers to become dialecticians and to inscribe their thought   |
| into practice. Thus it demands of men without quality more      |
| than the bourgeois revolution demanded of the qualified men     |
| which it delegated to carry out its tasks (since the partial    |
| ideological consciousness constructed by a part of the          |
| bourgeois class was based on the economy, this central part     |
| of social life in which this class was already in power). The   |
| very development of class society to the stage of spectacular   |
| organization of non-life thus leads the revolutionary project   |
| to become visibly what it already was essentially.              |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            124.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| Revolutionary theory is now the enemy of all revolutionary      |
| ideology and knows it.                                          |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+



+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| Chapter 5 “Time and History”                                    |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+


+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| O, gentlemen, the time of life is short!... And if we live,     |
| we live to tread on kings. - Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part I      |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            125.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| Man, “the negative being who is only to the extent that he      |
| suppresses Being,” is identical to time. Man’s appropriation    |
| of his own nature is at the same time his grasp of the          |
| unfolding of the universe. “History is itself a real part of    |
| natural history, of the transformation of nature into man”      |
| (Marx). Inversely, this “natural history” has no actual         |
| existence other than through the process of human history,      |
| the only part which recaptures this historical totality, like   |
| the modern telescope whose sight captures, in time, the         |
| retreat of nebulae at the periphery of the universe. History    |
| has always existed, but not always in a historical form. The    |
| temporalization of man as effected through the mediation of a   |
| society is equivalent to a humanization of time. The            |
| unconscious movement of time manifests itself and becomes       |
| true within historical consciousness.                           |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            126.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| Properly historical movement, although still hidden, begins     |
| in the slow and intangible formation of the “real nature of     |
| man,” this “nature born within human history–within the         |
| generating action of human society,” but even though that       |
| society developed a technology and a language and is already    |
| a product of its own history, it is conscious only of a         |
| perpetual present. There, all knowledge, confined within the    |
| memory of the oldest, is always carried by the living.          |
| Neither death nor procreation is grasped as a law of time.      |
| Time remains immobile, like an enclosed space. A more complex   |
| society which finally becomes conscious of time devotes         |
| itself to negating it because it sees in time not what          |
| passes, but only what returns. A static society organizes       |
| time in terms of its immediate experience of nature, on the     |
| model of cyclical time.                                         |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            127.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| Cyclical time already dominates the experience of nomadic       |
| populations because they find the same conditions repeated at   |
| every moment of their journey: Hegel notes that “the            |
| wandering of nomads is only formal because it is limited to     |
| uniform spaces.” The society which, by fixing itself in place   |
| locally, gives space a content by arranging individualized      |
| places, thus finds itself enclosed inside this localization.    |
| The temporal return to similar places now becomes the pure      |
| return of time in the same place, the repetition of a series    |
| of gestures. The transition from pastoral nomadism to           |
| sedentary agriculture is the end of the lazy liberty without    |
| content, the beginning of labor. The agrarian mode of           |
| production in general, dominated by the rhythm of the           |
| seasons, is the basis for fully constituted cyclical time.      |
| Eternity is internal to it; it is the return of the same here   |
| on earth. Myth is the unitary construction of the thought       |
| which guarantees the entire cosmic order surrounding the        |
| order which this society has in fact already realized within    |
| its frontiers.                                                  |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            128.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The social appropriation of time, the production of man by      |
| human labor, develops within a society divided into classes.    |
| The power which constituted itself above the penury of the      |
| society of cyclical time, the class which organizes the         |
| social labor and appropriates the limited surplus value,        |
| simultaneously appropriates the temporal surplus value of its   |
| organization of social time: it possesses for itself alone      |
| the irreversible time of the living. The wealth that can be     |
| concentrated in the realm of power and materially used up in    |
| sumptuous feasts is also used up as a squandering of            |
| historical time at the surface of society. The owners of        |
| historical surplus value possess the knowledge and the          |
| enjoyment of lived events. Separated from the collective        |
| organization of time which predominates with the repetitive     |
| production at the base of social life, this time flows above    |
| its own static community. This is the time of adventure and     |
| war, when the masters of the cyclical society travel through    |
| their personal histories, and it is also the time which         |
| appears in confrontations with foreign communities, in the      |
| derangement of the unchangeable order of the society. History   |
| then passes before men as an alien factor, as that which they   |
| never wanted and against which they thought themselves          |
| protected. But by way of this detour returns the human          |
| negative anxiety which had been at the very origin of the       |
| entire development that had fallen asleep.                      |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            129.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| Cyclical time in itself is time without conflict. But           |
| conflict is installed within this infancy of time: history      |
| first struggles to be history in the practical activity of      |
| masters. This history superficially creates the irreversible;   |
| its movement constitutes precisely the time it uses up within   |
| the interior of the inexhaustible time of cyclical society.     |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            130.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| “Frozen societies” are those which slowed down their            |
| historical activity to the limit and maintained in constant     |
| equilibrium their opposition to the natural and human           |
| environment as well as their internal oppositions. If the       |
| extreme diversity of institutions established for this          |
| purpose demonstrates the flexibility of the self-creation of    |
| human nature, this demonstration becomes obvious only for the   |
| external observer, for the anthropologist who returns from      |
| historical time. In each of these societies a definitive        |
| structuring excluded change. Absolute conformism in existing    |
| social practices. with which all human possibilities are        |
| identified for all time, has no external limit other than the   |
| fear of falling back into formless animality. Here, in order    |
| to remain human, men must remain the same.                      |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            131.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The birth of political power which seems to be related to the   |
| last great technological revolutions (like iron smelting), at   |
| the threshold of a period which would not experience profound   |
| shocks until the appearance of industry, also marks the         |
| moment when kinship ties begin to dissolve. From then on, the   |
| succession of generations leaves the sphere of pure cyclical    |
| nature in order to become an event-oriented succession of       |
| powers. Irreversible time is now the time of those who rule,    |
| and dynasties are its first measure. Writing is its weapon.     |
| In writing, language attains its complete independent reality   |
| as mediation between consciousnesses. But this independence     |
| is identical to the general independence of separate power as   |
| the mediation which constitutes society. With writing there     |
| appears a consciousness which is no longer carried and          |
| transmitted directly among the living: an impersonal memory,    |
| the memory of the administration of society. “Writings are      |
| the thoughts of the State; archives are its memory”             |
| (Novalis).                                                      |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            132.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The chronicle is the expression of the irreversible time of     |
| power and also the instrument that preserves the                |
| voluntaristic progression of this time from its predecessor,    |
| since this orientation of time collapses with the fall of       |
| every specific power and returns to the indifferent oblivion    |
| of cyclical time, the only time known to peasant masses who,    |
| during the collapse of empires and their chronologies, never    |
| change. The owners of history have given time a meaning: a      |
| direction which is also a significance. But this history        |
| deploys itself and succumbs separately, leaving the             |
| underlying society unchanged precisely because this history     |
| remains separated from the common reality. This is why we       |
| reduce the history of Oriental empires to the history of        |
| religions: the chronologies which have fallen to ruins left     |
| no more than the apparently autonomous history of the           |
| illusions which enveloped them. The masters who make history    |
| their private property, under the protection of myth, possess   |
| first of all a private ownership of the mode of illusion: in    |
| China and Egypt they long held a monopoly over the              |
| immortality of the soul, just as their famous early dynasties   |
| are imaginary arrangements of the past. But the masters’        |
| possession of illusion is at that moment the only possible      |
| possession of a common history and of their own history. The    |
| growth of their real historical power goes together with a      |
| popularization of the possession of myth and illusion. All      |
| this flows from the simple fact that, to the extent that the    |
| masters took it upon themselves to guarantee the permanence     |
| of cyclical time mythically, as in the seasonal rites of        |
| Chinese emperors, they themselves achieved a relative           |
| liberation from cyclical time.                                  |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            133.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The dry unexplained chronology of divine power speaking to      |
| its servants, which wants to be understood only as the          |
| earthly execution of the commandments of myth, can be           |
| surmounted and become conscious history; this requires that     |
| real participation in history be lived by extended groups.      |
| Out of this practical communication among those who             |
| recognized each other as possessors of a singular present,      |
| who experienced the qualitative richness of events as their     |
| activity and as the place where they lived–their epoch–arises   |
| the general language of historical communication. Those for     |
| whom irreversible time has existed discover within it the       |
| memorable as well as the menace of forgetting: “Herodotus of    |
| Halicarnassus here presents the results of his study, so that   |
| time may not abolish the works of men...”                       |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            134.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| Reasoning about history is inseparably reasoning about power.   |
| Greece was the moment when power and its change were            |
| discussed and understood, the democracy of the masters of       |
| society. Greek conditions were the inverse of the conditions    |
| known to the despotic State, where power settles its accounts   |
| only with itself within the inaccessible obscurity of its       |
| densest point: through palace revolution, which is placed       |
| beyond the pale of discussion by success or failure alike.      |
| However, the power shared among the Greek communities existed   |
| only with the expenditure of a social life whose production     |
| remained separate and static within the servile class. Only     |
| those who do not work live. In the division among the Greek     |
| communities, and in the struggle to exploit foreign cities,     |
| the principle of separation which internally grounded each of   |
| them was externalized. Greece, which had dreamed of universal   |
| history, did not succeed in unifying itself in the face of      |
| invasion–or even in unifying the calendars of its independent   |
| cities. In Greece historical time became conscious, but not     |
| yet conscious of itself.                                        |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            135.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| After the disappearance of the locally favorable conditions     |
| known to the Greek communities, the regression of western       |
| historical thought was not accompanied by a rehabilitation of   |
| ancient mythic organizations. Out of the confrontations of      |
| the Mediterranean populations, out of the formation and         |
| collapse of the Roman State, appeared semi-historical           |
| religions which became fundamental factors in the new           |
| consciousness of time, and in the new armor of separate         |
| power.                                                          |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            136.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The monotheistic religions were a compromise between myth and   |
| history, between cyclical time which still dominated            |
| production and irreversible time where populations clash and    |
| regroup. The religions which grew out of Judaism are abstract   |
| universal acknowledgements of irreversible time which is        |
| democratized, opened to all, but in the realm of illusion.      |
| Time is totally oriented toward a single final event: “The      |
| Kingdom of God is at hand.” These religions arose on the soil   |
| of history, and established themselves there. But there they    |
| still preserve themselves in radical opposition to history.     |
| Semi-historical religion establishes a qualitative point of     |
| departure in time (the birth of Christ, the flight of           |
| Mohammed), but its irreversible time–introducing real           |
| accumulation which in Islam can take the form of a conquest,    |
| or in Reformation Christianity the form of increased capital    |
| is actually inverted in religious thought and becomes a         |
| countdown: the hope of access to the genuine other world        |
| before time runs out, the expectation of the last Judgment.     |
| Eternity came out of cyclical time and is beyond it. Eternity   |
| is the element which holds back the irreversibility of time,    |
| suppressing history within history itself by placing itself     |
| on the other side of irreversible time as a pure punctual       |
| element to which cyclical time returned and abolished itself.   |
| Bossuet will still say: “And by means of the time that passes   |
| we enter into the eternity which does not pass.”                |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            137.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The Middle Ages, this incomplete mythical world whose           |
| perfection lay outside it, is the moment when cyclical time,    |
| which still regulates the greater part of production, is        |
| really chewed away by history. A certain irreversible           |
| temporality is recognized individually in everyone, in the      |
| succession of stages of life, in the consideration of life as   |
| a journey, a passage with no return through a world whose       |
| meaning lies elsewhere: the pilgrim is the man who leaves       |
| cyclical time and becomes in reality the traveller that         |
| everyone is symbolically. Personal historical life still        |
| finds its fulfillment within the sphere of power, within        |
| participation in struggles led by power and in struggles over   |
| disputed power; but the irreversible time of power is shared    |
| to infinity under the general unification of the oriented       |
| time of the Christian era, in a world of armed faith, where     |
| the game of the masters revolves around fidelity and disputes   |
| over owed fidelity. This feudal society, born out of the        |
| encounter of “the organizational structure of the conquering    |
| army as it developed during the conquest” with “the             |
| productive forces found in the conquered country” (German       |
| Ideology) and in the organization of these productive forces    |
| one must count their religious language divided the             |
| domination of society between the Church and the state power,   |
| in turn subdivided in the complex relations of suzerainty and   |
| vassalage of territorial tenures and urban communes. In this    |
| diversity of possible historical life, the irreversible time    |
| which silently carried off the underlying society, the time     |
| lived by the bourgeoisie in the production of commodities, in   |
| the foundation and expansion of cities and in the commercial    |
| discovery of the earth–practical experimentation which          |
| forever destroyed all mythical organization of the              |
| cosmos–slowly revealed itself as the unknown work of this       |
| epoch when the great official historical undertaking of this    |
| world collapsed with the Crusades.                              |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            138.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| During the decline of the Middle Ages, the irreversible time    |
| which invades society is experienced by the consciousness       |
| attached to the ancient order in the form of an obsession       |
| with death. This is the melancholy of the demise of a world,    |
| the last world where the security of myth still counterpoised   |
| history, and for this melancholy everything worldly moves       |
| only toward corruption. The great revolts of the European       |
| peasants are also their attempt to respond to history–which     |
| was violently wrenching the peasants out of the patriarchal     |
| sleep that had guaranteed their feudal tutelage. This           |
| millenarian utopia of achieving heaven on earth revives what    |
| was at the origin of semi-historical religion, when Christian   |
| communities which grew out of Judaic messianism responded to    |
| the troubles and unhappiness of the epoch by looking to the     |
| imminent realization of the Kingdom of God and brought a        |
| disquieting and subversive factor into ancient society. When    |
| Christianity reached the point of sharing power within the      |
| empire, it exposed what still survived of this hope as a        |
| simple superstition: that is the meaning of the Augustinian     |
| affirmation, archetype of all the satisfecit of modern          |
| ideology, according to which the established Church has         |
| already for a long time been this kingdom one spoke of. The     |
| social revolt of the millenarian peasantry defines itself       |
| naturally first of all as a will to destroy the Church. But     |
| millenarianism spreads in the historical world, and not on      |
| the terrain of myth. Modern revolutionary expectations are      |
| not irrational continuations of the religious passion of        |
| millenarianism, as Norman Cohn thought he had demonstrated in   |
| The Pursuit of the Millennium. On the contrary, it is           |
| millenarianism, revolutionary class struggle speaking the       |
| language of religion for the last time, which is already a      |
| modern revolutionary tendency that as yet lacks the             |
| consciousness that it is only historical. The millenarians      |
| had to lose because they could not recognize the revolution     |
| as their own operation. The fact that they waited to act on     |
| the basis of an external sign of God’s decision is the          |
| translation into thought of the practice of insurgent           |
| peasants following chiefs taken from outside their ranks. The   |
| peasant class could not attain an adequate consciousness of     |
| the functioning of society or of the way to lead its own        |
| struggle: because it lacked these conditions of unity in its    |
| action and consciousness, it expressed its project and led      |
| its wars with the imagery of an earthly paradise.               |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            139.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The new possession of historical life, the Renaissance, which   |
| finds its past and its legitimacy in Antiquity, carries with    |
| it a joyous rupture with eternity. Its irreversible time is     |
| that of the infinite accumulation of knowledge, and the         |
| historical consciousness which grows out of the experience of   |
| democratic communities and of the forces which ruin them will   |
| take up, with Machiavelli, the analysis of desanctified         |
| power, saying the unspeakable about the State. In the           |
| exuberant life of the Italian cities, in the art of the         |
| festival, life is experienced as enjoyment of the passage of    |
| time. But this enjoyment of passage is itself a passing         |
| enjoyment. The song of Lorenzo di Medici considered by          |
| Burckhardt to be the expression of “the very spirit of the      |
| Renaissance” is the eulogy which this fragile feast of          |
| history pronounces on itself: “How beautiful the spring of      |
| life which vanishes so quickly.”                                |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            140.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The constant movement of monopolization of historical life by   |
| the State of the absolute monarchy, transitional form toward    |
| complete domination by the bourgeois class, brings into clear   |
| view the new irreversible time of the bourgeoisie. The          |
| bourgeoisie is attached to labor time, which is liberated for   |
| the first time from the cyclical. With the bourgeoisie, work    |
| becomes labor which transforms historical conditions. The       |
| bourgeoisie is the first ruling class for which labor is a      |
| value. And the bourgeoisie which suppresses all privilege,      |
| which recognizes no value that does not flow from the           |
| exploitation of labor, has justly identified with labor its     |
| own value as a dominant class, and has made the progress of     |
| labor its own progress. The class which accumulates             |
| commodities and capital continually modifies nature by          |
| modifying labor itself, by unleashing its productivity. All     |
| social life has already been concentrated within the            |
| ornamental poverty of the Court, the tinsel of the cold state   |
| administration which culminates in “the vocation of king”;      |
| and all particular historical liberty has had to consent to     |
| its defeat. The liberty of the irreversible temporal game of    |
| the nobles is consumed in their last lost battles, the wars     |
| of the Fronde and the rising of the Scotch for                  |
| Charles-Edward. The world’s foundation has changed.             |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            141.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The victory of the bourgeoisie is the victory of profoundly     |
| historical time, because this is the time of economic           |
| production which transforms society, continuously and from      |
| top to bottom. So long as agrarian production remains the       |
| central activity, the cyclical time which remains at the base   |
| of society nourishes the coalesced forces of tradition which    |
| fetter all movement. But the irreversible time of the           |
| bourgeois economy eradicates these vestiges on every corner     |
| of the globe. History, which until then had seemed to be only   |
| the movement of individuals of the ruling class, and thus was   |
| written as the history of events, is now understood as the      |
| general movement, and in this relentless movement individuals   |
| are sacrificed. This history which discovers its foundation     |
| in political economy now knows of the existence of what had     |
| been its unconscious, but this still cannot be brought to       |
| light and remains unconscious. This blind prehistory, a new     |
| fatality dominated by no one, is all that the commodity         |
| economy democratized.                                           |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            142.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The history which is present in all the depths of society       |
| tends to be lost at the surface. The triumph of irreversible    |
| time is also its metamorphosis into the time of things,         |
| because the weapon of its victory was precisely the mass        |
| production of objects according to the laws of the commodity.   |
| The main product which economic development has transferred     |
| from luxurious scarcity to daily consumption is therefore       |
| history, but only in the form of the history of the abstract    |
| movement of things which dominates all qualitative use of       |
| life. While the earlier cyclical time had supported a growing   |
| part of historical time lived by individuals and groups, the    |
| domination of the irreversible time of production tends,        |
| socially, to eliminate this lived time.                         |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            143.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| Thus the bourgeoisie made known to society and imposed on it    |
| an irreversible historical time, but kept its use from          |
| society. “There was history, but there is no more,” because     |
| the class of owners of the economy, which cannot break with     |
| economic history, is directly threatened by all other           |
| irreversible use of time and must repress it. The ruling        |
| class, made up of specialists in the possession of things who   |
| are themselves therefore a possession of things, must link      |
| its fate with the preservation of this reified history, with    |
| the permanence of a new immobility within history. For the      |
| first time the worker, at the base of society, is not           |
| materially a stranger to history, because it is now the base    |
| that irreversibly moves society. In the demand to live the      |
| historical time which it makes, the proletariat finds the       |
| simple unforgettable center of its revolutionary project; and   |
| every attempt (thwarted until now) to realize this project      |
| marks a point of possible departure for new historical life.    |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            144.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The irreversible time of the bourgeoisie in power at first      |
| presented itself under its own name, as an absolute origin,     |
| Year One of the Republic. But the revolutionary ideology of     |
| general freedom which had destroyed the last remnants of the    |
| mythical organization of values and the entire traditional      |
| regulation of society, already made visible the real will       |
| which it had clothed in Roman dress: the freedom of             |
| generalized commerce. The commodity society, now discovering    |
| that it needed to reconstruct the passivity which it had        |
| profoundly shaken in order to set up its own pure reign,        |
| finds that “Christianity with its cultus of abstract man ...    |
| is the most fitting form of religion” (Capital). Thus the       |
| bourgeoisie establishes a compromise with this religion, a      |
| compromise which also expresses itself in the presentation of   |
| time: its own calendar abandoned, its irreversible time         |
| returns to unwind within the Christian era whose succession     |
| it continues.                                                   |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            145.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| With the development of capitalism, irreversible time is        |
| unified on a world scale. Universal history becomes a reality   |
| because the entire world is gathered under the development of   |
| this time. But this history, which is everywhere                |
| simultaneously the same, is still only the refusal within       |
| history of history itself. What appears the world over as the   |
| same day is the time of economic production cut up into equal   |
| abstract fragments. Unified irreversible time is the time of    |
| the world market and, as a corollary, of the world spectacle.   |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            146.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The irreversible time of production is first of all the         |
| measure of commodities. Therefore the time officially           |
| affirmed over the entire expanse of the globe as the general    |
| time of society refers only to the specialized interests        |
| which constitute it and is no more than a particular time.      |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+



+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| Chapter 6 “Spectacular Time”                                    |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+


+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| We have nothing that is ours except time, which even those      |
| without a roof can enjoy. - Baltasar Gracian, Oraculo Manual    |
| y Arte de Prudencia                                             |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            147.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The time of production, commodity-time, is an infinite          |
| accumulation of equivalent intervals. It is the abstraction     |
| of irreversible time, all of whose segments must prove on the   |
| chronometer their merely quantitative equality. This time is    |
| in reality exactly what it is in its exchangeable character.    |
| In this social domination by commodity-time, “time is           |
| everything, man is nothing; he is at most the carcass of        |
| time” (Poverty of Philosophy). This is time devalued, the       |
| complete inversion of time as “the field of human               |
| development.”                                                   |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            148.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The general time of human non-development also exists in the    |
| complementary form of consumable time which returns as          |
| pseudo-cyclical time to the daily life of the society based     |
| on this determined production.                                  |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            149.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| Pseudo-cyclical time is actually no more than the consumable    |
| disguise of the commodity-time of production. It contains the   |
| essential properties of commodity-time, namely exchangeable     |
| homogeneous units and the suppression of the qualitative        |
| dimension. But being the by-product of this time which aims     |
| to retard concrete daily life and to keep it retarded, it       |
| must be charged with pseudo-valuations and appear in a          |
| sequence of falsely individualized moments.                     |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            150.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| Pseudo-cyclical time is the time of consumption of modern       |
| economic survival, of increased survival, where daily life      |
| continues to be deprived of decision and remains bound, no      |
| longer to the natural order, but to the pseudo-nature           |
| developed in alienated labor; and thus this time naturally      |
| reestablishes the ancient cyclical rhythm which regulated the   |
| survival of preindustrial societies. Pseudo-cyclical time       |
| leans on the natural remains of cyclical time and also uses     |
| it to compose new homologous combinations: day and night,       |
| work and weekly rest, the recurrence of vacations.              |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            151.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| Pseudo-cyclical time is a time transformed by industry. The     |
| time which has its basis in the production of commodities is    |
| itself a consumable commodity which includes everything that    |
| previously (during the phase of dissolution of the old          |
| unitary society) was differentiated into private life,          |
| economic life, political life. All the consumable time of       |
| modern society comes to be treated as a raw material for        |
| varied new products which impose themselves on the market as    |
| uses of socially organized time. “A product which already       |
| exists in a form which makes it suitable for consumption can    |
| nevertheless in its turn become a raw material for another      |
| product” (Capital).                                             |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            152.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| In its most advanced sector, concentrated capitalism orients    |
| itself towards the sale of “completely equipped” blocks of      |
| time, each one constituting a single unified commodity which    |
| integrates a number of diverse commodities. In the expanding    |
| economy of “services” and leisure, this gives rise to the       |
| formula of calculated payment in which “everything’s            |
| included”: spectacular environment, the collective              |
| pseudo-displacement of vacations, subscriptions to cultural     |
| consumption, and the sale of sociability itself in the form     |
| of “passionate conversations” and “meetings with                |
| personalities.” This sort of spectacular commodity, which can   |
| obviously circulate only because of the increased poverty of    |
| the corresponding realities, just as obviously fits among the   |
| pilot-articles of modernized sales techniques by being          |
| payable on credit.                                              |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            153.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| Consumable pseudo-cyclical time is spectacular time, both as    |
| the time of consumption of images in the narrow sense, and as   |
| the image of consumption of time in the broad sense. The time   |
| of image-consumption, the medium of all commodities, is         |
| inseparably the field where the instruments of the spectacle    |
| exert themselves fully, and also their goal, the location and   |
| main form of all specific consumption: it is known that the     |
| time-saving constantly sought by modern society, whether in     |
| the speed of vehicles or in the use of dried soups, is          |
| concretely translated for the population of the United States   |
| in the fact that the mere contemplation of television           |
| occupies it for an average of three to six hours a day. The     |
| social image of the consumption of time, in turn, is            |
| exclusively dominated by moments of leisure and vacation,       |
| moments presented at a distance and desirable by definition,    |
| like every spectacular commodity. Here this commodity is        |
| explicitly presented as the moment of real life, and the        |
| point is to wait for its cyclical return. But even in those     |
| very moments reserved for living, it is still the spectacle     |
| that is to be seen and reproduced, becoming ever more           |
| intense. What was represented as genuine life reveals itself    |
| simply as more genuinely spectacular life.                      |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            154.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The epoch which displays its time to itself as essentially      |
| the sudden return of multiple festivities is also an epoch      |
| without festivals. What was, in cyclical time, the moment of    |
| a community’s participation in the luxurious expenditure of     |
| life is impossible for the society without community or         |
| luxury. When its vulgarized pseudo-festivals, parodies of the   |
| dialogue and the gift, incite a surplus of economic             |
| expenditure, they lead only to deception always compensated     |
| by the promise of a new deception. In the spectacle, the        |
| lower the use value of modern survival-time, the more highly    |
| it is exalted. The reality of time has been replaced by the     |
| advertisement of time.                                          |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            155.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| While the consumption of cyclical time in ancient societies     |
| was consistent with the real labor of those societies, the      |
| pseudo-cyclical consumption of the developed economy is in      |
| contradiction with the abstract irreversible time of its        |
| production. While cyclical time was the time of immobile        |
| illusion, really lived, spectacular time is the time of         |
| self-changing reality, lived in illusion.                       |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            156.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| What is constantly new in the process of production of things   |
| is not found in consumption, which remains the expanded         |
| repetition of the same. In spectacular time, since dead labor   |
| continues to dominate living labor, the past dominates the      |
| present.                                                        |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            157.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| Another side of the deficiency of general historical life is    |
| that individual life as yet has no history. The pseudo-events   |
| which rush by in spectacular dramatizations have not been       |
| lived by those informed of them; moreover they are lost in      |
| the inflation of their hurried replacement at every throb of    |
| the spectacular machinery. Furthermore, what is really lived    |
| has no relation to the official irreversible time of society    |
| and is in direct opposition to the pseudo-cyclical rhythm of    |
| the consumable by-product of this time. This individual         |
| experience of separate daily life remains without language,     |
| without concept, without critical access to its own past        |
| which has been recorded nowhere. It is not communicated. It     |
| is not understood and is forgotten to the profit of the false   |
| spectacular memory of the unmemorable.                          |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            158.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The spectacle, as the present social organization of the        |
| paralysis of history and memory, of the abandonment of          |
| history built on the foundation of historical time, is the      |
| false consciousness of time.                                    |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            159.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The preliminary condition required for propelling workers to    |
| the status of “free” producers and consumers of commodity       |
| time was the violent expropriation of their own time. The       |
| spectacular return of time became possible only after this      |
| first dispossession of the producer.                            |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            160.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The irreducibly biological element which remains in labor,      |
| both in the dependence on the natural cycle of waking and       |
| sleep and in the existence of irreversible time in the          |
| expenditure of an individual life, is a mere accessory from     |
| the point of view of modern production; consequently, these     |
| elements are ignored in the official proclamations of the       |
| movement of production and in the consumable trophies which     |
| are the accessible translation of this incessant victory. The   |
| spectator’s consciousness, immobilized in the falsified         |
| center of the movement of its world, no longer experiences      |
| its life as a passage toward self-realization and toward        |
| death. One who has renounced using his life can no longer       |
| admit his death. Life insurance advertisements suggest merely   |
| that he is guilty of dying without ensuring the regularity of   |
| the system after this economic loss; and the advertisement of   |
| the American way of death insists on his capacity to maintain   |
| in this encounter the greatest possible number of appearances   |
| of life. On all other fronts of the advertising onslaught, it   |
| is strictly forbidden to grow old. Even a “youth-capital,”      |
| contrived for each and all and put to the most mediocre uses,   |
| could never acquire the durable and cumulative reality of       |
| financial capital. This social absence of death is identical    |
| to the social absence of life.                                  |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            161.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| Time, as Hegel showed, is the necessary alienation, the         |
| environment where the subject realizes himself by losing        |
| himself, where he becomes other in order to become truly        |
| himself. Precisely the opposite is true in the dominant         |
| alienation, which is undergone by the producer of an alien      |
| present. In this spatial alienation, the society that           |
| radically separates the subject from the activity it takes      |
| from him, separates him first of all from his own time. It is   |
| this surmountable social alienation that has prohibited and     |
| petrified the possibilities and risks of the living             |
| alienation of time.                                             |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            162.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| Under the visible fashions which disappear and reappear on      |
| the trivial surface of contemplated pseudo-cyclical time, the   |
| grand style of the age is always located in what is oriented    |
| by the obvious and secret necessity of revolution.              |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            163.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The natural basis of time, the actual experience of the flow    |
| of time, becomes human and social by existing for man. The      |
| restricted condition of human practice, labor at various        |
| stages, is what has humanized and also dehumanized time as      |
| cyclical and as separate irreversible time of economic          |
| production. The revolutionary project of realizing a            |
| classless society, a generalized historical life, is the        |
| project of a withering away of the social measure of time, to   |
| the benefit of a playful model of irreversible time of          |
| individuals and groups, a model in which independent            |
| federated times are simultaneously present. It is the program   |
| of a total realization, within the context of time, of          |
| communism which suppresses “all that exists independently of    |
| individuals.”                                                   |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            164.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The world already possesses the dream of a time whose           |
| consciousness it must now possess in order to actually live     |
| it.                                                             |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+



+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| Chapter 7 “The Organization of Territory”.                      |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+


+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| And he who becomes master of a city used to being free and      |
| does not destroy her can expect to be destroyed by her,         |
| because always she has as pretext in rebellion the name of      |
| liberty and her old customs, which never through either         |
| length of time or benefits are forgotten, and in spite of       |
| anything that can be done or foreseen, unless citizens are      |
| disunited or dispersed, they do not forget that name and        |
| those institutions... - Machiavelli, The Prince                 |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            165.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| Capitalist production has unified space, which is no longer     |
| bounded by external societies. This unification is at the       |
| same time an extensive and intensive process of banalization.   |
| The accumulation of commodities produced in mass for the        |
| abstract space of the market, which had to break down all       |
| regional and legal barriers and all the corporative             |
| restrictions of the Middle Ages that preserved the quality of   |
| craft production, also had to destroy the autonomy and          |
| quality of places. This power of homogenization is the heavy    |
| artillery which brought down all Chinese walls.                 |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            166.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| In order to become ever more identical to itself, to get as     |
| close as possible to motionless monotony, the free space of     |
| the commodity is henceforth constantly modified and             |
| reconstructed.                                                  |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            167.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| This society which eliminates geographical distance             |
| reproduces distance internally as spectacular separation.       |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            168.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| Tourism, human circulation considered as consumption, a         |
| by-product of the circulation of commodities, is                |
| fundamentally nothing more than the leisure of going to see     |
| what has become banal. The economic organization of visits to   |
| different places is already in itself the guarantee of their    |
| equivalence. The same modernization that removed time from      |
| the voyage also removed from it the reality of space.           |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            169.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The society that molds all of its surroundings has developed    |
| a special technique for shaping its very territory, the solid   |
| ground of this collection of tasks. Urbanism is capitalism’s    |
| seizure of the natural and human environment; developing        |
| logically into absolute domination, capitalism can and must     |
| now remake the totality of space into its own setting.          |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            170.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The capitalist need which is satisfied by urbanism in the       |
| form of a visible freezing of life can be expressed in          |
| Hegelian terms as the absolute predominance of “the peaceful    |
| coexistence of space” over “the restless becoming in the        |
| passage of time.”                                               |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            171.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| If all the technical forces of capitalism must be understood    |
| as tools for the making of separations, in the case of          |
| urbanism we are dealing with the equipment at the basis of      |
| these technical forces, with the treatment of the ground that   |
| suits their deployment, with the very technique of              |
| separation.                                                     |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            172.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| Urbanism is the modern fulfillment of the uninterrupted task    |
| which safeguards class power: the preservation of the           |
| atomization of workers who had been dangerously brought         |
| together by urban conditions of production. The constant        |
| struggle that had to be waged against every possible form of    |
| their coming together discovers its favored field in            |
| urbanism. After the experiences of the French Revolution, the   |
| efforts of all established powers to increase the means of      |
| maintaining order in the streets finally culminates in the      |
| suppression of the street. “With the present means of           |
| long-distance mass communication, sprawling isolation has       |
| proved an even more effective method of keeping a population    |
| under control,” says Lewis Mumford in The City in History,      |
| describing “henceforth a one-way world.” But the general        |
| movement of isolation, which is the reality of urbanism, must   |
| also include a controlled reintegration of workers depending    |
| on the needs of production and consumption that can be          |
| planned. Integration into the system requires that isolated     |
| individuals be recaptured and isolated together: factories      |
| and halls of culture, tourist resorts and housing               |
| developments are expressly organized to serve this              |
| pseudo-community that follows the isolated individual right     |
| into the family cell. The widespread use of receivers of the    |
| spectacular message enables the individual to fill his          |
| isolation with the dominant images–images which derive their    |
| power precisely from this isolation.                            |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            173.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| For the first time a new architecture, which in all previous    |
| epochs had been reserved for the satisfaction of the ruling     |
| classes, is directly aimed at the poor. The formal poverty      |
| and the gigantic spread of this new living experience both      |
| come from its mass character, which is implicit in its          |
| purpose and in modern conditions of construction.               |
| Authoritarian decision, which abstractly organizes territory    |
| into territory of abstraction, is obviously at the heart of     |
| these modern conditions of construction. The same               |
| architecture appears in all industrializing countries that      |
| are backward in this respect, as a suitable terrain for the     |
| new type of social existence which is to be implanted there.    |
| The threshold crossed by the growth of society’s material       |
| power alongside the lag in the conscious domination of this     |
| power, are displayed as clearly by urbanism as by problems of   |
| thermonuclear armament or of birth control (where the           |
| possibility of manipulating heredity has already been           |
| reached).                                                       |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            174.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The present is already the time of the self-destruction of      |
| the urban milieu. The explosion of cities which cover the       |
| countryside with “formless masses of urban residues” (Lewis     |
| Mumford) is directly regulated by the imperatives of            |
| consumption. The dictatorship of the automobile,                |
| pilot-product of the first phase of commodity abundance, has    |
| been stamped into the environment with the domination of the    |
| freeway, which dislocates old urban centers and requires an     |
| ever-larger dispersion. At the same time, stages of             |
| incomplete reorganization of the urban fabric polarize          |
| temporarily around “distribution factories,” enormous           |
| shopping centers built on the bare ground of parking lots;      |
| and these temples of frenzied consumption, after bringing       |
| about a partial rearrangement of congestion, themselves flee    |
| within the centrifugal movement which rejects them as soon as   |
| they in turn become overburdened secondary centers. But the     |
| technical organization of consumption is only the first         |
| element of the general dissolution which has led the city to    |
| the point of consuming itself.                                  |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            175.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| Economic history, which developed entirely around the           |
| opposition between town and country, has reached a level of     |
| success which simultaneously cancels out both terms. The        |
| current paralysis of total historical development for the       |
| sake of the mere continuation of the economy’s independent      |
| movement makes the moment when town and country begin to        |
| disappear, not the supersession of their cleavage, but their    |
| simultaneous collapse. The reciprocal erosion of town and       |
| country, product of the failure of the historical movement      |
| through which existing urban reality should have been           |
| surmounted, is visible in the eclectic melange of their         |
| decayed elements which cover the most industrially advanced     |
| zones.                                                          |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            176.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| Universal history was born in cities and reached maturity at    |
| the moment of the decisive victory of city over country. To     |
| Marx, one of the greatest revolutionary merits of the           |
| bourgeoisie was “the subjection of the country to the city”     |
| whose very air emancipates. But if the history of the city is   |
| the history of freedom, it is also the history of tyranny, of   |
| state administration that controls the countryside and the      |
| city itself. The city could as yet only struggle for            |
| historical freedom, but not possess it. The city is the locus   |
| of history because it is conscious of the past and also         |
| concentrates the social power that makes the historical         |
| undertaking possible. The present tendency to liquidate the     |
| city is thus merely another expression of the delay in the      |
| subordination of the economy to historical consciousness and    |
| in the unification of society reassuming the powers that were   |
| detached from it.                                               |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            177.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| “The countryside shows the exact opposite: isolation and        |
| separation” (German Ideology). Urbanism destroys cities and     |
| reestablishes a pseudo-countryside which lacks the natural      |
| relations of the old countryside as well as the direct social   |
| relations which were directly challenged by the historical      |
| city. A new artificial peasantry is recreated by the            |
| conditions of housing and spectacular control in today’s        |
| “organized territory”: the geographic dispersal and             |
| narrowmindedness that always kept the peasantry from            |
| undertaking independent action and from affirming itself as a   |
| creative historical force again today become characteristics    |
| of the producers–the movement of a world which they             |
| themselves produce remaining as completely beyond their reach   |
| as the natural rhythm of tasks was for the agrarian society.    |
| But when this peasantry, which was the unshakable foundation    |
| of “Oriental despotism” and whose very fragmentation called     |
| for bureaucratic centralization reemerges as a product of the   |
| conditions of growth of modern state bureaucracy, its apathy    |
| must now be historically manufactured and maintained; natural   |
| ignorance has been replaced by the organized spectacle of       |
| error. The “new towns” of the technological pseudo-peasantry    |
| clearly inscribe on the landscape their rupture with the        |
| historical time on which they are built; their motto could      |
| be: “On this spot nothing will ever happen, and nothing ever    |
| has.” It is obviously because history, which must be            |
| liberated in the cities, has not yet been liberated, that the   |
| forces of historical absence begin to compose their own         |
| exclusive landscape.                                            |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            178.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| History, which threatens this twilight world, is also the       |
| force which could subject space to lived time. Proletarian      |
| revolution is the critique of human geography through which     |
| individuals and communities have to create places and events    |
| suitable for the appropriation, no longer just of their         |
| labor, but of their total history. In this game’s changing      |
| space, and in the freely chosen variations in the game’s        |
| rules, the autonomy of place can be rediscovered without the    |
| reintroduction of an exclusive attachment to the land, thus     |
| bringing back the reality of the voyage and of life             |
| understood as a voyage which contains its entire meaning        |
| within itself.                                                  |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            179.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The greatest revolutionary idea concerning urbanism is not      |
| itself urbanistic, technological or esthetic. It is the         |
| decision to reconstruct the entire environment in accordance    |
| with the needs of the power of the Workers’ Councils, of the    |
| anti-statist dictatorship of the proletariat, of enforceable    |
| dialogue. And the power of the Councils which can be            |
| effective only if it transforms existing conditions in their    |
| entirety, cannot assign itself a smaller task if it wants to    |
| be recognized and to recognize itself in its world.             |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+



+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| Chapter 8 “Negation and Consumption Within Culture”             |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+


+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| Do you seriously think we shall live long enough to see a       |
| political revolution? – we, the contemporaries of these         |
| Germans? My friend, you believe what you want to believe....    |
| Let us judge Germany on the basis of its present history –      |
| and surely you are not going to object that all its history     |
| is falsified, or that all its present public life does not      |
| reflect the actual state of the people? Read whatever papers    |
| you please, and you cannot fail to be convinced that we never   |
| stop (and you must concede that the censorship prevents no      |
| one from stopping) celebrating the freedom and national         |
| happiness that we enjoy... - Ruge to Marx, March 1843.          |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            180.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| In the historical society divided into classes, culture is      |
| the general sphere of knowledge and of representations of the   |
| lived; which is to say that culture is the power of             |
| generalization existing apart, as division of intellectual      |
| labor and as intellectual labor of division. Culture detaches   |
| itself from the unity of the society of myth “when the power    |
| of unification disappears from the life of man and when         |
| opposites lose their living relation and interaction and        |
| acquire autonomy... (Hegel’s Treatise on the Differences        |
| between the Systems of Fichte and Schelling). By gaining its    |
| independence, culture begins an imperialist movement of         |
| enrichment which is at the same time the decline of its         |
| independence. The history which creates the relative autonomy   |
| of culture and the ideological illusions about this autonomy    |
| also expresses itself as history of culture. And the entire     |
| victorious history of culture can be understood as the          |
| history of the revelation of its inadequacy, as a march         |
| toward its self-suppression. Culture is the locus of the        |
| search for lost unity. In this search for unity, culture as a   |
| separate sphere is obliged to negate itself.                    |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            181.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The struggle between tradition and innovation, which is the     |
| principle of internal cultural development in historical        |
| societies, can be carried on only through the permanent         |
| victory of innovation. Yet cultural innovation is carried by    |
| nothing other than the total historical movement which, by      |
| becoming conscious of its totality, tends to supersede its      |
| own cultural presuppositions and moves toward the suppression   |
| of all separation.                                              |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            182.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The growth of knowledge about society, which includes the       |
| understanding of history as the heart of culture, derives       |
| from itself an irreversible knowledge, which is expressed by    |
| the destruction of God. But this “first condition of any        |
| critique” is also the first obligation of a critique without    |
| end. When it is no longer possible to maintain a single rule    |
| of conduct, every result of culture forces culture to advance   |
| toward its dissolution. Like philosophy at the moment when it   |
| gained its full autonomy, every discipline which becomes        |
| autonomous has to collapse, first of all as a pretention to     |
| explain social totality coherently, and finally even as a       |
| fragmented tool which can be used within its own boundaries.    |
| The lack of rationality of separate culture is the element      |
| which condemns it to disappear, because within it the victory   |
| of the rational is already present as a requirement.            |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            183.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| Culture grew out of the history which abolished the way of      |
| life of the old world, but as a separate sphere it is still     |
| no more than perceptible intelligence and communication,        |
| which remain partial in a partially historical society. It is   |
| the sense of a world which hardly makes sense.                  |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            184.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The end of cultural history manifests itself on two opposite    |
| sides: the project of its supersession in total history, and    |
| the organization of its preservation as a dead object in        |
| spectacular contemplation. One of these movements has linked    |
| its fate to social critique, the other to the defense of        |
| class power.                                                    |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            185.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The two sides of the end of culture–in all the aspects of       |
| knowledge as well as in all the aspects of perceptible          |
| representations exist in a unified manner in what used to be    |
| art in the most general sense. In the case of knowledge, the    |
| accumulation of branches of fragmentary knowledge, which        |
| become unusable because the approval of existing conditions     |
| must finally renounce knowledge of itself, confronts the        |
| theory of praxis which alone holds the truth of them all        |
| since it alone holds the secret of their use. In the case of    |
| representations, the critical self-destruction of society’s     |
| former common language confronts its artificial recomposition   |
| in the commodity spectacle, the illusory representation of      |
| the non-lived.                                                  |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            186.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| When society loses the community of the society of myth, it     |
| must lose all the references of a really common language        |
| until the time when the rifts within the inactive community     |
| can be surmounted by the inauguration of the real historical    |
| community. When art, which was the common language of social    |
| inaction, becomes independent art in the modern sense,          |
| emerging from its original religious universe and becoming      |
| individual production of separate works, it too experiences     |
| the movement that dominates the history of the entirety of      |
| separate culture. The affirmation of its independence is the    |
| beginning of its disintegration.                                |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            187.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The loss of the language of communication is positively         |
| expressed by the modern movement of decomposition of all art,   |
| its formal annihilation. This movement expresses negatively     |
| the fact that a common language must be rediscovered no         |
| longer in the unilateral conclusion which, in the art of the    |
| historical society, always arrived too late, speaking to        |
| others about what was lived without real dialogue, and          |
| admitting this deficiency of life but it must be rediscovered   |
| in praxis, which unifies direct activity and its language.      |
| The problem is to actually possess the community of dialogue    |
| and the game with time which have been represented by           |
| poetico-artistic works.                                         |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            188.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| When art, become independent, depicts its world in dazzling     |
| colors, a moment of life has grown old and it cannot be         |
| rejuvenated with dazzling colors. It can only be evoked as a    |
| memory. The greatness of art begins to appear only at the       |
| dusk of life.                                                   |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            189.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The historical time which invades art expressed itself first    |
| of all in the sphere of art itself, starting with the           |
| baroque. Baroque is the art of a world which has lost its       |
| center: the last mythical order, in the cosmos and in           |
| terrestrial government, accepted by the Middle Ages–the unity   |
| of Christianity and the phantom of an Empire has fallen. The    |
| art of the change must carry within itself the ephemeral        |
| principle it discovers in the world. It chose, said Eugenio     |
| d’Ors, “life against eternity.” Theater and the festival, the   |
| theatrical festival, are the outstanding achievements of the    |
| baroque where every specific artistic expression becomes        |
| meaningful only with reference to the setting of a              |
| constructed place, a construction which is its own center of    |
| unification; this center is the passage, which is inscribed     |
| as a threatened equilibrium in the dynamic disorder of          |
| everything. The somewhat excessive importance given to the      |
| concept of the baroque in the contemporary discussion of        |
| esthetics is an expression of the awareness that artistic       |
| classicism is impossible: for three centuries the attempts to   |
| realize a normative classicism or neoclassicism were no more    |
| than brief artificial constructions speaking the external       |
| language of the State, the absolute monarchy, or the            |
| revolutionary bourgeoisie in Roman clothes. What followed the   |
| general path of the baroque, from romanticism to cubism, was    |
| ultimately an ever more individualized art of negation          |
| perpetually renewing itself to the point of the fragmentation   |
| and complete negation of the artistic sphere. The               |
| disappearance of historical art, which was linked to the        |
| internal communication of an elite and had its                  |
| semi-independent social basis in the partly playful             |
| conditions still lived by the last aristocracies, also          |
| expresses the fact that capitalism possesses the first class    |
| power which admits itself stripped of any ontological           |
| quality, a power which, rooted in the simple management of      |
| the economy, is equally the loss of all human mastery. The      |
| baroque, artistic creation’s long-lost unity, is in some way    |
| rediscovered in the current consumption of the totality of      |
| past art. When all past art is recognized and sought            |
| historically and retrospectively constituted into a world       |
| art, it is relativized into a global disorder which in turn     |
| constitutes a baroque edifice on a higher level, an edifice     |
| in which the very production of baroque art merges with all     |
| its revivals. The arts of all civilizations and all epochs      |
| can be known and accepted together for the first time. Once     |
| this “collection of souvenirs” of art history becomes           |
| possible, it is also the end of the world of art. In this age   |
| of museums, when artistic communication can no longer exist,    |
| all the former moments of art can be admitted equally,          |
| because they no longer suffer from the loss of their specific   |
| conditions of communication in the current general loss of      |
| the conditions of communication.                                |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            190.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| As a negative movement which seeks the supersession of art in   |
| a historical society where history is not yet lived, art in     |
| the epoch of its dissolution is simultaneously an art of        |
| change and the pure expression of impossible change. The more   |
| grandiose its reach, the more its true realization is beyond    |
| it. This art is perforce avant-garde, and it is not. Its        |
| avant-garde is its disappearance.                               |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            191.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| Dadaism and surrealism are the two currents which mark the      |
| end of modern art. They are contemporaries, though only in a    |
| relatively conscious manner, of the last great assault of the   |
| revolutionary proletarian movement; and the defeat of this      |
| movement, which left them imprisoned in the same artistic       |
| field whose decrepitude they had announced, is the basic        |
| reason for their immobilization. Dadaism and surrealism are     |
| at once historically related and opposed to each other. This    |
| opposition, which each of them considered to be its most        |
| important and radical contribution, reveals the internal        |
| inadequacy of their critique, which each developed              |
| one-sidedly. Dadaism wanted to suppress art without realizing   |
| it; surrealism wanted to realize art without suppressing it.    |
| The critical position later elaborated by the Situationists     |
| has shown that the suppression and the realization of art are   |
| inseparable aspects of a single supersession of art.            |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            192.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| Spectacular consumption which preserves congealed past          |
| culture, including the recuperated repetition of its negative   |
| manifestations, openly becomes in the cultural sector what it   |
| is implicitly in its totality: the communication of the         |
| incommunicable. The flagrant destruction of language is         |
| flatly acknowledged as an officially positive value because     |
| the point is to advertise reconciliation with the dominant      |
| state of affairs–and here all communication is joyously         |
| proclaimed absent. The critical truth of this destruction the   |
| real life of modern poetry and art is obviously hidden, since   |
| the spectacle, whose function is to make history forgotten      |
| within culture, applies, in the pseudo-novelty of its           |
| modernist means, the very strategy which constitutes its        |
| core. Thus a school of neo-literature, which simply admits      |
| that it contemplates the written word for its own sake, can     |
| present itself as something new. Furthermore, next to the       |
| simple proclamation of the sufficient beauty of the decay of    |
| the communicable, the most modern tendency of spectacular       |
| culture–and the one most closely linked to the repressive       |
| practice of the general organization of society–seeks to        |
| remake, by means of “team projects,” a complex neo-artistic     |
| environment made up of decomposed elements: notably in          |
| urbanism’s attempts to integrate artistic debris or             |
| esthetico- technical hybrids. This is an expression, on the     |
| level of spectacular pseudo-culture, of developed               |
| capitalism’s general project, which aims to recapture the       |
| fragmented worker as a “personality well integrated in the      |
| group,” a tendency described by American sociologists           |
| (Riesman, Whyte, etc.). It is the same project everywhere: a    |
| restructuring without community.                                |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            193.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| When culture becomes nothing more than a commodity, it must     |
| also become the star commodity of the spectacular society.      |
| Clark Kerr, one of the foremost ideologues of this tendency,    |
| has calculated that the complex process of production,          |
| distribution and consumption of knowledge already gets 29% of   |
| the yearly national product in the United States; and he        |
| predicts that in the second half of this century culture will   |
| be the driving force in the development of the economy, a       |
| role played by the automobile in the first half of this         |
| century, and by railroads in the second half of the previous    |
| century.                                                        |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            194.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| All the branches of knowledge, which continue to develop as     |
| the thought of the spectacle, have to justify a society         |
| without justification, and constitute a general science of      |
| false consciousness. This thought is completely conditioned     |
| by the fact that it cannot and will not investigate its own     |
| material basis in the spectacular system.                       |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            195.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The system’s thought, the thought of the social organization    |
| of appearance, is itself obscured by the generalized            |
| sub-communication which it defends. It does not know that       |
| conflict is at the origin of all things in its world.           |
| Specialists in the power of the spectacle, an absolute power    |
| within its system of language without response, are             |
| absolutely corrupted by their experience of contempt and of     |
| the success of contempt; and they find their contempt           |
| confirmed by their knowledge of the contemptible man, who the   |
| spectator really is.                                            |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            196.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| Within the specialized thought of the spectacular system, a     |
| new division of tasks takes place to the extent that the        |
| improvement of this system itself poses new problems: on one    |
| hand, modern sociology which studies separation by means of     |
| the conceptual and material instruments of separation itself,   |
| undertakes the spectacular critique of the spectacle; on the    |
| other hand, in the various disciplines where structuralism      |
| takes root, the apology for the spectacle institutes itself     |
| as the thought of non-thought, as the official amnesia of       |
| historical practice. Nevertheless, the false despair of         |
| non-dialectical critique and the false optimism of pure         |
| advertising of the system are identical in that they are both   |
| submissive thought.                                             |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            197.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The sociology which began, first in the United States, to       |
| focus discussion on the living conditions brought about by      |
| present development, compiled a great deal of empirical data,   |
| but could not fathom the truth of its subject because it        |
| lacked the critique immanent in this subject. As a result,      |
| the sincerely reformist tendency of this sociology resorts to   |
| morality, common sense, appeals devoid of all relevance to      |
| practical measures, etc. Because this type of critique is       |
| ignorant of the negative at the core of its world, it insists   |
| on describing only a sort of negative surplus which it finds    |
| deplorably annoying on the surface, like an irrational          |
| parasitic proliferation. This indignant good will, even if      |
| genuine, ends up blaming only the external consequences of      |
| the system, yet thinks itself critical, forgetting the          |
| essentially apologetic character of its assumptions and         |
| method.                                                         |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            198.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| Those who denounce the absurdity or the perils of incitement    |
| to waste in the society of economic abundance do not            |
| understand the purpose of waste. They condemn with              |
| ingratitude, in the name of economic rationality, the good      |
| irrational guardians without whom the power of this economic    |
| rationality would collapse. For example, Boorstin, in           |
| L’Image, describes the commercial consumption of the American   |
| spectacle but never reaches the concept of spectacle because    |
| he thinks he can exempt private life, or the notion of “the     |
| honest commodity,” from this disastrous exaggeration. He does   |
| not understand that the commodity itself made the laws whose    |
| “honest” application leads to the distinct reality of private   |
| life and to its subsequent reconquest by the social             |
| consumption of images.                                          |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            199.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| Boorstin describes the excesses of a world which has become     |
| foreign to us as if they were excesses foreign to our world.    |
| But the “normal” basis of social life, to which he implicitly   |
| refers when he characterizes the superficial reign of images    |
| with psychological and moral judgments as a product of “our     |
| extravagant pretentions,” has no reality whatever, either in    |
| his book or in his epoch. Boorstin cannot understand the full   |
| profundity of a society of images because the real human life   |
| he speaks of is for him in the past, including the past of      |
| religious resignation. The truth of this society is nothing     |
| other than the negation of this society.                        |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            200.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The sociology which thinks that an industrial rationality       |
| functioning separately can be isolated from the whole of        |
| social life can go so far as to isolate the techniques of       |
| reproduction and transmission from the general industrial       |
| movement. Thus Boorstin finds that the results he depicts are   |
| caused by the unfortunate, almost fortuitous encounter of an    |
| oversized technical apparatus for image diffusion with an       |
| excessive attraction to the pseudo-sensational on the part of   |
| the people of our epoch. Thus the spectacle would be caused     |
| by the fact that modern man is too much of a spectator.         |
| Boorstin fails to understand that the proliferation of the      |
| prefabricated “pseudo-events” which he denounces flows from     |
| the simple fact that, in the massive reality of present         |
| social life, men do not themselves live events. Because         |
| history itself haunts modern society like a spectre,            |
| pseudo-histories are constructed at every level of              |
| consumption of life in order to preserve the threatened         |
| equilibrium of present frozen time.                             |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            201.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The assertion of the definitive stability of a short period     |
| of frozen historical time is the undeniable basis, proclaimed   |
| consciously and unconsciously, of the present tendency toward   |
| a structuralist systematization. The vantage point from which   |
| anti-historical structuralist thought views the world is that   |
| of the eternal presence of a system which was never created     |
| and which will never end. The dream of the dictatorship of a    |
| preexisting unconscious structure over all social praxis        |
| could be erroneously drawn from models of structures            |
| elaborated by linguistics and anthropology (and even the        |
| analysis of the functioning of capitalism)–models already       |
| misunderstood in this context–only because the academic         |
| imagination of minor functionaries, easily overwhelmed and      |
| completely entrenched in the awestruck celebration of the       |
| existing system, flatly reduces all reality to the existence    |
| of the system.                                                  |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            202.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| In order to understand “structuralist” categories, one must     |
| keep in mind, as with every historical social science, that     |
| the categories express forms as well as conditions of           |
| existence. Just as one cannot appraise the value of a man in    |
| terms of the conception he has of himself, one cannot           |
| appraise–and admire–this particular society by taking as        |
| indisputably true the language it speaks to itself; “...we      |
| cannot judge such epochs of transformation by their own         |
| consciousness; on the contrary, this consciousness must         |
| rather be explained in the light of the contradictions of       |
| material life...” Structure is the daughter of present power.   |
| Structuralism is the thought guaranteed by the State which      |
| regards the present conditions of spectacular “communication”   |
| as an absolute. Its method of studying the code of messages     |
| is itself nothing but the product, and the acknowledgement,     |
| of a society where communication exists in the form of a        |
| cascade of hierarchic signals. Consequently it is not           |
| structuralism which serves to prove the transhistorical         |
| validity of the society of the spectacle; it is on the          |
| contrary the society of the spectacle imposing itself as        |
| massive reality which serves to prove the cold dream of         |
| structuralism.                                                  |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            203.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The critical concept of spectacle can undoubtedly also be       |
| vulgarized into a commonplace hollow formula of                 |
| sociologico-political rhetoric to explain and abstractly        |
| denounce everything, and thus serve as a defense of the         |
| spectacular system. It is obvious that no idea can lead         |
| beyond the existing spectacle, but only beyond the existing     |
| ideas about the spectacle. To effectively destroy the society   |
| of the spectacle, what is needed is men putting a practical     |
| force into action. The critical theory of the spectacle can     |
| be true only by uniting with the practical current of           |
| negation in society, and this negation, the resumption of       |
| revolutionary class struggle, will become conscious of itself   |
| by developing the critique of the spectacle which is the        |
| theory of its real conditions (the practical conditions of      |
| present oppression), and inversely by unveiling the secret of   |
| what this negation can be. This theory does not expect          |
| miracles from the working class. It envisages the new           |
| formulation and the realization of proletarian imperatives as   |
| a long-range task. To make an artificial distinction between    |
| theoretical and practical struggle since on the basis defined   |
| here, the very formulation and communication of such a theory   |
| cannot even be conceived without a rigorous practice it is      |
| certain that the obscure and difficult path of critical         |
| theory must also be the lot of the practical movement acting    |
| on the scale of society.                                        |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            204.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| Critical theory must be communicated in its own language. It    |
| is the language of contradiction, which must be dialectical     |
| in form as it is in content. It is critique of the totality     |
| and historical critique. It is not “the nadir of writing” but   |
| its inversion. It is not a negation of style, but the style     |
| of negation.                                                    |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            205.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| In its very style. the exposition of dialectical theory is a    |
| scandal and an abomination in terms of the rules and the        |
| corresponding tastes of the dominant language, because when     |
| it uses existing concrete concepts it is simultaneously aware   |
| of their rediscovered fluidity, their necessary destruction.    |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            206.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| This style which contains its own critique must express the     |
| domination of the present critique over its entire past. The    |
| very mode of exposition of dialectical theory displays the      |
| negative spirit within it. “Truth is not like a product in      |
| which one can no longer find any trace of the tool that made    |
| it” (Hegel). This theoretical consciousness of movement, in     |
| which the movement’s very trace must be evident, manifests      |
| itself by the inversion of the established relations between    |
| concepts and by the diversion of all the acquisitions of        |
| previous critique. The inversion of the genetive is this        |
| expression of historical revolutions, consigned to the form     |
| of thought, which was considered Hegel’s epigrammatic style.    |
| The young Marx, recommending the technique Feuerbach had        |
| systematically used of replacing the subject with the           |
| predicate, achieved the most consistent use of this             |
| insurrectional style, drawing the misery of philosophy out of   |
| the philosophy of misery. Diversion leads to the subversion     |
| of past critical conclusions which were frozen into             |
| respectable truths, namely transformed into lies. Kierkegaard   |
| already used it deliberately, adding his own denunciation to    |
| it: “But despite all the tours and detours, just as jam         |
| always returns to the pantry, you always end up by sliding in   |
| a little word which isn’t yours and which bothers you by the    |
| memory it awakens” (Philosophical Fragments). It is the         |
| obligation of distance toward what was falsified into           |
| official truth which determines the use of diversion, as was    |
| acknowledged by Kierkegaard in the same book: “Only one more    |
| comment on your numerous allusions aiming at all the grief I    |
| mix into my statements of borrowed sayings. I do not deny it    |
| here nor will I deny that it was voluntary and that in a new    |
| continuation to this pamphlet, if I ever write it, I intend     |
| to name the object by its real name and to clothe the problem   |
| in historical attire.”                                          |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            207.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| Ideas improve. The meaning of words participates in the         |
| improvement. Plagiarism is necessary. Progress implies it. It   |
| embraces an author’s phrase, makes use of his expressions,      |
| erases a false idea, and replaces it with the right idea.       |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            208.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| Diversion is the opposite of quotation, of the theoretical      |
| authority which is always falsified by the mere fate of         |
| having become a quotation a fragment torn from its context,     |
| from its movement, and ultimately from the global framework     |
| of its epoch and from the precise choice, whether exactly       |
| recognized or erroneous, which it was in this framework.        |
| Diversion is the fluid language of anti-ideology. It appears    |
| in communication which knows it cannot pretend to guarantee     |
| anything definitively and in itself. At its peak, it is         |
| language which cannot be confirmed by any former or             |
| supra-critical reference. On the contrary, its own coherence,   |
| in itself and with the applicable facts, can confirm the        |
| former core of truth which it brings out. Diversion has         |
| grounded its cause on nothing external to its own truth as      |
| present critique.                                               |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            209.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| What openly presents itself as diverted in theoretical form,    |
| denying the durable autonomy of the sphere of the               |
| theoretically expressed by introducing there, through this      |
| violence, the action which upsets and overthrows the entire     |
| existing order, reminds us that the existence of theory is      |
| nothing in itself, and that it can know itself only through     |
| historical action and the historical correction which is its    |
| real counterpart.                                               |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            210.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| Only the real negation of culture can preserve its meaning.     |
| It can no longer be cultural. Thus it is what in some way       |
| remains at the level of culture, but with a completely          |
| different meaning.                                              |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            211.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| In the language of contradiction, the critique of culture       |
| presents itself as a unified critique in that it dominates      |
| the whole of culture, its knowledge as well as its poetry,      |
| and in that it no longer separates itself from the critique     |
| of the social totality. This unified theoretical critique       |
| goes alone to meet unified social practice.                     |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+



+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| Chapter 9 “Ideology Materialized”                               |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+


+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| Self-consciousness exists in itself and for itself, in that,    |
| and by the fact that it exists for another                      |
| self-consciousness; that is to say, it is only by being         |
| acknowledged or “recognized.” - Hegel, The Phenomenology of     |
| Mind                                                            |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            212.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| Ideology is the basis of the thought of a class society in      |
| the conflict-laden course of history. Ideological facts were    |
| never a simple chimaera, but rather a deformed consciousness    |
| of realities, and in this form they have been real factors      |
| which set in motion real deforming acts; all the more so when   |
| the materialization, in the form of spectacle, of the           |
| ideology brought about by the concrete success of autonomized   |
| economic production in practice confounds social reality with   |
| an ideology which has tailored all reality in terms of its      |
| model.                                                          |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            213.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| When ideology, the abstract will and the illusion of the        |
| universal, is legitimized by the universal abstraction and      |
| the effective dictatorship of illusion in modern society, it    |
| is no longer a voluntaristic struggle of the partial, but its   |
| victory. At this point, ideological pretention acquires a       |
| sort of flat positivistic exactitude: it is no longer a         |
| historical choice but a fact. In this type of assertion, the    |
| particular names of ideologies have disappeared. Even the       |
| role of specifically ideological labor in the service of the    |
| system comes to be considered as nothing more than the          |
| recognition of an “epistemological base” that pretends to be    |
| beyond all ideological phenomena. Materialized ideology         |
| itself has no name, just as it has no expressible historical    |
| program. This is another way of saying that the history of      |
| ideologies is over.                                             |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            214.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| Ideology, whose whole internal logic led to “total ideology”    |
| in Mannheim’s sense the despotism of the fragment which         |
| imposes itself as pseudo-knowledge of a frozen totality, the    |
| totalitarian vision–is now completed in the immobilized         |
| spectacle of non-history. Its completion is also its            |
| disintegration throughout society. With the practical           |
| disintegration of this society, ideology–the final unreason     |
| that blocks access to historical life–must disappear.           |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            215.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The spectacle is ideology par excellence, because it exposes    |
| and manifests in its fullness the essence of all ideological    |
| systems: the impoverishment, servitude and negation of real     |
| life. The spectacle is materially “the expression of the        |
| separation and estrangement between man and man.” Through the   |
| “new power of fraud,” concentrated at the base of the           |
| spectacle in this production, “the new domain of alien beings   |
| to whom man is subservient... grows coextensively with the      |
| mass of objects.” It is the highest stage of an expansion       |
| which has turned need against life. “The need for money is      |
| thus the real need produced by political economy, and the       |
| only need it produces” (Economic and Philosophical              |
| Manuscripts). The spectacle extends to all social life the      |
| principle which Hegel (in the Realphilosophie of Jena)          |
| conceives as the principle of money: it is “the life of what    |
| is dead, moving within itself.”                                 |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            216.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| In opposition to the project summarized in the Theses on        |
| Feuerbach (the realization of philosophy in praxis which        |
| supersedes the opposition between idealism and materialism),    |
| the spectacle simultaneously preserves, and imposes within      |
| the pseudo-concrete of its universe, the ideological            |
| characteristics of materialism and idealism. The                |
| contemplative side of the old materialism which conceives the   |
| world as representation and not as activity–and which           |
| ultimately idealizes matter–is fulfilled in the spectacle,      |
| where concrete things are automatically the masters of social   |
| life. Reciprocally, the dreamed activity of idealism is         |
| equally fulfilled in the spectacle, through the technical       |
| mediation of signs and signals-which ultimately materialize     |
| an abstract ideal.                                              |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+

                            217.
+-----------------------------------------------------------------+
| The parallel between ideology and schizophrenia, established    |
| by Gabel (La Fausse Conscience) must be placed in this          |
| economic process of materialization of ideology. Society has    |
| become what ideology already was. The removal of praxis and     |
| the anti-dialectical false consciousness which accompanies it   |
| are imposed during every hour of daily life subjected to the    |
| spectacle; this must be understood as a systematic              |
| organization of the “failure of the faculty of encounter” and   |
| as its replacement by a hallucinatory social fact: the false    |
| consciousness of encounter, the “illusion of encounter.” In a   |
| society where no one can any longer be recognized by others,    |
| every individual becomes unable to recognize his own reality.   |
| Ideology is at home; separation has built its world.            |
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                            218.
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| “In clinical charts of schizophrenia,” says Gabel, “the decay   |
| of the dialectic of totality (with dissociation as its          |
| extreme form) and the decay of the dialectic of becoming        |
| (with catatonia as its extreme form) seem solidly united.”      |
| The spectator’s consciousness, imprisoned in a flattened        |
| universe, bound by the screen of the spectacle behind which     |
| his life has been deported, knows only the fictional speakers   |
| who unilaterally surround him with their commodities and the    |
| politics of their commodities. The spectacle, in its            |
| entirety, is his “mirror image.” Here the stage is set with     |
| the false exit of generalized autism.                           |
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                            219.
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| The spectacle obliterates the boundaries between self and       |
| world by crushing the self besieged by the presence-absence     |
| of the world and it obliterates the boundaries between true     |
| and false by driving all lived truth below the real presence    |
| of fraud ensured by the organization of appearance. One who     |
| passively accepts his alien daily fate is thus pushed toward    |
| a madness that reacts in an illusory way to this fate by        |
| resorting to magical techniques. The acceptance and             |
| consumption of commodities are at the heart of this             |
| pseudo-response to a communication without response. The need   |
| to imitate which is felt by the consumer is precisely the       |
| infantile need conditioned by all the aspects of his            |
| fundamental dispossession. In the terms applied by Gabel to a   |
| completely different pathological level, “the abnormal need     |
| for representation here compensates for a tortuous feeling of   |
| being on the margin of existence.”                              |
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                            220.
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| If the logic of false consciousness cannot know itself truly,   |
| the search for critical truth about the spectacle must          |
| simultaneously be a true critique. It must struggle in          |
| practice among the irreconcilable enemies of the spectacle      |
| and admit that it is absent where they are absent. The          |
| abstract desire for immediate effectiveness accepts the laws    |
| of the ruling thought, the exclusive point of view of the       |
| present, when it throws itself into reformist compromises or    |
| trashy pseudo-revolutionary common actions. Thus madness        |
| reappears in the very posture which pretends to fight it.       |
| Conversely, the critique which goes beyond the spectacle must   |
| know how to wait.                                               |
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                            221.
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| Emancipation from the material bases of inverted truth this     |
| is what the self-emancipation of our epoch consists of. This    |
| “historical mission of installing truth in the world” cannot    |
| be accomplished either by the isolated individual, or by the    |
| atomized crowd subjected to manipulation, but now as ever by    |
| the class which is able to effect the dissolution of all        |
| classes by bringing all power into the dealienating form of     |
| realized democracy, the Council, in which practical theory      |
| controls itself and sees its own action. This is possible       |
| only where individuals are “directly linked to universal        |
| history”; only where dialogue arms itself to make its own       |
| conditions victorious.                                          |
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| Guy Debord Archive                                              |
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