Action and Spectacle

Not only is the way that we discuss politics a symptom of the spectacular nature of capital; the state itself is a symptom of the spectacular nature of capital.  The sudden moment when jack-booted stormtroopers bust through your door, beat you with nightsticks and point a semi-automatic at your head is way more spectacular than the slow, constant, decades-long oppression of poverty, racial geographical neighborhood disparity, preventable protracted disease and ill-health and lack of access to healthcare, lifelong psychological indoctrination to patriarchal relations and unspoken ideology, and so on.  That's why people who are oppressed by spectacular capitalism will be viscerally, emotionally ready to battle against the former kind of spectacular oppression, and not the latter kinds.  They will stockpile weapons and canned food, readying themselves for an imagined apocalyptic tyranny that is always right around the corner, but it never occurs to them to rise up against the myriad oppressions that already exist around them on a daily basis.  Without organization, the only purpose of their stockpiles is to prop up their fantasies; thus their guns become toys, blankets, pacifiers.  And the state itself, which represents them, only represents their fantasies - shaped by centuries of their dreams and nightmares, it too has become a mere prop.  A competent politician is one who will play his part in the fantasies (including his own), who will make sure that everyone's blanket is tucked in, that the images keep flowing.

The old TV show "COPS" is representative of the entire fantasy, variations of which are played out in every action-drama and superhero movie.  The essence of action is "getting": sometimes, the good guys get the bad guys; other times the bad guys get the good guys.  It hardly matters, as long as some getting is happening.  The essence of spectacular consciousness: apprehension.

(On the other hand, paradoxically enough, in order to train ourselves to "see" the slow, constant oppression of daily life, what the French call "la quotidienne," I cannot think of anything better to watch than an actionless movie, like Andy Warhol's Empire.  I know, you already know.  You already see.  But you have to learn to know what you already know, to see what you already see.  Oppressed by such a movie, we are put to sleep.)

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