The Abstraction That Is The World

The spectacle was born from the world’s loss of unity, and the immense expansion of the modern spectacle reveals the enormity of this loss. The abstractifying of all individual labor and the general abstractness of what is produced are perfectly reflected in the spectacle, whose manner of being concrete is precisely abstraction. In the spectacle, a part of the world presents itself to the world and is superior to it. The spectacle is simply the common language of this separation. Spectators are linked solely by their one-way relationship to the very center that keeps them isolated from each other. The spectacle thus reunites the separated, but it reunites them only in their separateness.1

What Debord implies is the “part for whole” synecdoche or figure of speech in which a term for a part of something refers to the whole of something or vice versa. A reduction to an abstraction or Idea, which allows the realism of that Idea or Abstraction to step in and replace the living reality. In our time as in his the television is still the primary construction kit for political fictions and abstractions. But we’ve bought into the later Internet of things wherein the spectacle is soon to invade every aspect of our lives seamlessly from end-to-end. Ubiquitous and simulated we will no longer live in a world where the separation between the old divides of artificial and natural take precedence. Everything will exist as abstraction, even our own lives as dividuals (digital constructs) or trace data in a world-wide system of tracking, selection, filtering, analyzation; all part of a systematic system of surveilled dataclaves. The body itself has become irrelevant in such a world of semiotic transactions wherein all that matters is one’s immaterial patterns captured in the code/spaces of capital. The body will only be the end-point of a modulated control system that has incorporated it into a self-monitored biotech informatics dataverse. From birth to death you will live in an artificial cocoon of data unknowing that your world is wrapped in knowledge’s that seek only to use you for extraction and mining purposes. One’s servitude to the system will be a bargain you can’t refuse for the simple reason that it will offer you everything you desire, not knowing that those desires have already been programmed into your DNA.

Obviously this is not a totalized reality, yet. But only the surmised dream of capitalist systems already initialized by algorithms that support such a vision. There is still time to deactivate it, to hack the system and infiltrate its algorithmic culture with alternative visions. But that time is limited. We must begin to act now, or like the deaf calls against Climate Change we will suffer the consequences of our own inaction, and our children and their children will inherit a much smaller earth of control. Guy Debord was only one voice among us that called out in the night of capital speaking truth as he saw it. We too, must continue that battle.


  1. Debord, Guy (2011-03-15). Society of the Spectacle (Kindle Locations 596-602). Soul Bay Press. Kindle Edition.

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