Can Socialism bring down Capitalism, or do the politics adhere to to the spectacle too much to change it?
This is a notion that picked up on Debord’s book The Society Of The Spectacle, yet most revolutionaries consider themselves politically informed and active. If politics cannot overthrow other politics, then it suggests the change we want (/ need) in this country is something that most of us would have difficulty grasping.
Politics are based on spectacle, but also on memory and tradition. Governments exist because it is ‘the way things are’, yet the combination of spectacles and memory creates the thing we call ‘politics’. To start a political group with different agendas may well be on the surface level a different political party. But when history and spectacles are considered, you realise politics are based upon rules and regulations. In order to successfully revolt, would political revolution work? Or, would it be doomed from the start, since you would effectively – win or lose – be preserving history and the society of the spectacle itself?
Another way of considering this would be to look at Roland Barthes’ work on Mythology. Mythologies were based around semiotics and studies of symbols, and in some ways politics adhere to these rules. Elections need to be conducted in order to for a leader to be ‘officially’ chosen (spectacle). Rallies need to take place in order to gather support through peaceful demonstration (power and spectacle). A political party will need a logo, like the fist of the SWP. Why do we need a logo? For unity, identity, but also for traditional purposes. A party would need a symbol in parliament. What about the things said by the leader on the podium of such rallies and events? Identifying the bad, overcoming them with the positive and the new? Power of discourse, and also a very traditional way of getting voters in a society that psychologically cannot truthfully work anyway.
So if a revolutionary party is formed based upon the rules of yesteryear, surely they are on a fool’s errand, seeking to change the society when they are in fact preserving it. Isn’t this just another way of the bourgeoise allowing us to cater to our egos and our destructive inner-self? Allow us to go on rallies. Allow us to form parties, have protest marches and demonstrations. Even if we win, we lose. Absolute power corrupts absolutely and ‘all that’. Indeed, as previously discussed, taking money out the equation seems to be a very good way of breaking social spectacle and indeed breaking down capitalism. The change is not in those with the money and power – it lies with those without.
Socialism (and indeed Marxism) is based on these traditional political values. Situationism is based on these values. It can be argued that both attempts to insight political revolution (through art and through strike action) during the 20th century have both failed at achieving the influencing of capitalism to any great degree. Yet why are such parties and theories held in such high regard?
Perhaps it is not the need for revolution in the serious sense. Situationism was – for all intensive purposes – an art movement. It gave artists a platform to work on that tapped into the feelings of the society. Marxism is a certain type of academia – and idea that provokes and is still debated to this day. It brings people unity and purpose, and connects people through an ideal they can understand. I think there’s a sense of fun in revolution that is very important – it is sometimes the fun that eclipses the overall purpose of the revolt to start with. A recent film I saw called ‘Just Do It‘ had interviews with protestors, who acknowledged that they were fighting an uphill struggle. Some even thought that revolting against such extreme power elite could only prove fruitless anyway. They were there just for the friendship and the fun, and it was a nice way of looking at things. In all this anger and betrayal-filled political war-zone, it seems one aspect of humanity has decided to appear – the notion of simply enjoying life. Out of all the pessimism of my blog posts of late, it is nice that finally an optimistic light has shone through!