Revisiting Guy Debord's seminal work, The Society of the Spectacle (1967), Eric-John Russell locates Debord's work within the legacy of the Frankfurt School of Critical Theory. Deepening the analysis between Debord and Marx by revealing the centrality of Hegel's speculative logic to both, Debord's intellectual debt to Hegel is painstakingly traced in a way that treads new ground for critical theory. By delving into these pivotal roles, played by Hegel's speculative philosophy, and Marx's successive critique of political economy, the key role of the speculative is brought to the fore with deep implications for critical theories of society.
Moving beyond the more obvious connections between Debord and Marx allows for new readings of Hegel's work as it relates to The Society of the Spectacle. Drawing extensively from The Phenomenology of Spirit (1807) and Science of Logic (1812), to illustrate the lasting impact of Debord's critical theory of twentieth century capitalism, and reveal new possibilities for the critique of capitalism. One such possibility requires us to fully grasp capitalism in terms of a logic of appearances, and with it to see Debord's text anew as an unacknowledged, yet potentially profound resource for contemporary critical theory. Doing away with any crude conflation of ideas between Debord and Marx, the concept of the spectacle is re-positioned as an original contribution to critical theories of society. This new approach to Debord's seminal text offers a way through his aphoristic style, re-injecting the original text with philosophical rigor and contemporary relevance.
Academic (March, 2021) 272 pages