Saturday, August 16, 2014

Extra Credit: DeBord's "The Society of the Spectacle"

Guy Debord: "The Society of the Spectacle"
Chapter 2.38
"The loss of quality that is so evident at every level of spectacular language, from the objects it glorifies to the behavior it regulates, stems from the basic nature of a production system that shuns reality. The commodity form reduces everything to quantitative equivalence. The quantitative is what it develops, and it can develop only within the quantitative."

In this excerpt, DeBord refers to the result of the spectacle's fetishism of the commodity, which reduces everything to a quantitative level, thereby destroying any aspect of value that something may have and debases our entire lives on the system of currency or how much we have. As a result, since society is now focused on the amount of things, the quantitative, it no longer concerns itself with the qualitative, the unique value of the individuality which inherently opposes the idea of the quantitative. 

The "it" here refers to the spectacle. So in this chiasmus, DeBord enlightens us with his argument that in the spectacle, the moment when the commodity has achieved total incorporation into all aspects of life, there has developed a system in which it concerns itself only with the continuously repetitive reproduction of things, the quantitative, transforming the market world economy to a single world market, the result of the progression of capitalism. However, this spectacle can only be developed when the reproduction system is no longer needed to provide for the developing economy but needed to provide for the survival of of the developing economy. The latter situation demands a system that reproduces in a quantitative and not qualitative manner to provide for the economy's growth and only then will the spectacle come to exist.


Erick Berrios said...

What do you believe an economy rooted in the qualitative would look like? Since capitalism is dependent on the quantitative. Would the qualitative return us to a barter system? As that form of trade is based on qualitative features of the products being traded?

Lea Dandan said...


I think a qualitative economy can take into consideration innovation of a company or how that commodity is relieving the pain of others. One can still look at a capitalist economy in terms of how much jobs they have made, which is a positive impact on economy. On the other hand, you can define a constructive data in terms of happiness, but doesn't necessarily mean that they are producing at a faster rate. So in short, one must define what qualities they are measuring in blank economy.