Guy Debord

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Here is a powerpoint presentation I did on the Marxist Guy Debord.

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Guy Debord

  1. 1. Guy Debord<br />Marxist Theorist , Filmmaker, Revolutionary<br />1931-1994<br />
  2. 2. Life<br />1931- Born, Orphaned soon after birth and raised by grandparents.<br />1951- He takes up with the lettrists, a French avantgarde movement.<br />1957- He forms the Situationist International (SI), a leftwing Artistic and political group.<br />1967- Publishes influential book The Society of the Spectacle<br />1968- Inspired in large part by the SI, the largest ever general strike of an capitalist economy brings France to a halt. <br />1972- Publishes The Real Split in the International. SI dissolves.<br />1973- Releases the film version of The Society of the Spectacle<br />1987- Publishes A Game of War<br />1988- Publishes Comments on the Society of the Spectacle which updates many of the ideas put forth in the original book.<br />1994- Commits suicide in response to the pain caused by a terminal illness.<br />2009- Debord declared one of the most important thinkers of the 20th century by the French Ministry of Culture.<br />
  3. 3. Excuse me, we must interrupt this presentation give you a quick background on Marxist Theory <br />
  4. 4. Marx’s Theory of Alienation<br />Alienation means to put antagonism between things that are naturally in harmony.<br />Marx believed that what made humans unique was that we are not constrained by our life activity, we can freely and conciously choose to do what we want with our lives (unlike say, a beaver or an ant). <br />The way that we manifest this human nature (called the Species-being) is by creating things for human kind (universal production) instead of just for ourselves.<br />
  5. 5. The problem with capitalism is that it replaces universal production with alienated wage labor. <br />We are alienated from ourselves because we cannot do the work we want to do but we must work for the capitalist who pays our wage<br />We are alienated from what we make because we didn’t choose to make it.<br />
  6. 6. Labor, that which was our essential life activity, is now a means to an end.<br />We are now slaves to our wage. <br />Commodities which were historically distributed socially are now distributed through money.<br />Capitalism has usurped social relations.<br />
  7. 7. Universal Human Production<br />Alienated Wage Labor<br />
  8. 8. Got It? <br />Good. Lets get back to Debord.<br />
  9. 9. Society of the Spectacle<br />Debord’s major contribution was his book The Society of the Spectacle in which he provided one of the first critiques of Advanced Capitalism<br />He argues that to overcome our alienation caused by capitalism we have let our lives become colonized by an immersive experience he calls The Spectacle (television, images,ect…) <br />This Spectacle has replaced social interaction and human needs<br />while this is superficially satisfying it makes us isolated and lonely individuals.<br />
  10. 10. Confused? Don’t worry.<br />Most likely you already know about the Spectacle. <br />Infact, you probably watched a movie that was written based heavily on Debord’s ideas in the Society of the Spectacle.<br />
  11. 11. The Matrix is The Spectacle<br />See? <br />We are all isolated <br />Individuals in the matrix,<br />alienated from each other.<br />Morpheus, like Debord<br />calls it “the desert of the real”.<br />(to be fair, the Wachowskibrothers main influence was another French <br />Marxist Theorist named Jean Baudrillard who shared many ideas with <br />Debord)<br />
  12. 12. Culture Jamming<br />What is that?<br />You don’t want to be part of the Spectacle?<br />Debord had a solution. <br />He didn’t think we could escape the Spectacle, but we could subvert it, if only temporarily. <br />He called this Detournement a strategy that proved its effectiveness in the May 1968 when millions of people went on strike, agitated by members of Debord’s group the Situationist International. <br />Activists today call it Culture Jamming. It is used by groups as diverse as the Yes Men and the YouTube sensation Improv Everywhere (whose motto, “we create scenes” is taken from the SI’s motto “we create situations”)<br />Let me show you a few example.<br />
  13. 13. Graffiti by Banksy<br />A detournement of an iPod Ad<br />
  14. 14. Some more culture Jamming <br />
  15. 15. What Was Debord’s Legacy and Impact?<br />Today, Debord’s ideas are carried on in three separate spheres:<br />The Academic sphere. Many modern academics use Debord’s ideas when critiquing Late Capitalism. His ideas have also been influential in Left Communist circles. <br />The Activist Sphere. Today, the majority of activist groups (including the Tea Party) are familiar with the idea of culture jamming. In 2007, an anonymous group published a book called The Coming Insurrection based on many of Debord’s ideas which advocates revolution for French youth. <br />The Film-Maker Sphere. Many modern film makers studied Debord’s films in film school, while this aspect of Debord was not discussed in this presentation, it surely exists. <br />
  16. 16. All Power to the Commune!The End.<br />
  17. 17. Sources<br />Ohrt, Roberto and Ronald Helstad. "The Master of the Revolutionary Subject: Some Passages from the Life of Guy Debord." SubStance Vol. 28 no.3.90 (2007): 13-25.<br />Trier, J. "Guy Debord's The Society of the Spectacle." Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy 51.1 (2007): 68-73.<br />C., Tucker, Robert, and Engels, Friedrich. The Marx-Engels Reader, Second Edition. New York: W. W. Norton, 1978.<br />All images are free under Creative Commons No Attribution License. <br />

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