So, here’s an interesting article that essentially outlines a position that I recognise and identify with. Unfortunately I’m a bit late to the party as I’m not a Guardian reader.
There are a couple of things to observe here. The first is a key, missing aspect of Debord’s work from the Society of the Spectacle and that is the activity identified as ‘Recuperation‘. I say this partly because Harris has left it out and it is a central part of the theory. But more importantly in the comments section there is clear indication of how little some people have understood.
Is Debord an example of metaphysical meandering? No. I think it’s reasonably straight forward and has obvious application, more so now than ever.
Is it a difficult read? Yes and no. I think one of the goals is to read and to consider applicability in the everyday. One sees it all around us. However the Matrix analogy used by Harris is one that has occurred to me on numerous occasions.
Is it right to identify an aspect as practised by society, e.g. social media, as the locus for this discontent? No. It is everywhere. Whether it is gambling responsibly (is there such a thing?), or lottery winners to political parties aligning with ‘hard working families’ whilst profiting from compound interest and inheritance. Wherever there is the possibility of resistance and difference, then it is the purpose of the ‘Recuperation’ to ‘nullify’. It is like a single celled blob/virus that has the capacity to incorporate (consume), regardless, and allow a variety of practices to be absorbed before they can threaten the ‘construct’. How else can you account for corporate punk rock? If ever the words pivot were applicable, rather than in a business sense, then it is in this instance. The Spectacle has the capacity to pivot and absorb quite schismatic ideas and concepts into its framework. Almost everything operates or achieves a meme like status that allows it to pass unrecognised into daily use and to hide in plain sight.
The question of what would be an adequate resistance is complex. I do believe that one part of a resistance is to not use someone else’s name, such as Richard Dawkins or Malcolm Gladwell etc, to stand in place of individual thought, opinion and discussion. It is here where the ‘recuperation’ can claim a victory, where the use of a ‘star’ to stand in place of considered argument, dissension or resistance.
Perhaps to break off into smaller particles of thought, spread amongst all of humanity and not managed by government or corporations or the media, is probably part of the solution to the problem of the ‘recuperation’.