Object Fetishism: ‘the society of the spectacle’

The fetishism of the commodity […] attains its ultimate fulfilment in the spectacle, where the real world is replaced by a selection of images which are projected above it, yet which at the same time succeed in making themselves regarded as the epitome of reality – Guy Debord

Social media; targeted marketing; consumer culture; ‘how to be happy in six steps’; continuous behavioural monitoring; and an obsession with optimization and productivity: all are part and parcel of a single logic that pervades modern day society, which Guy Debord coined under the term ‘the society of the spectacle’.

In his book La Société de Spectacle (1967), Debord launched a criticism on this society—and today his commentary seems to be more relevant than ever. If we remain in keeping with Debord’s words, things have only taken a turn for the worse ever since.

At the base of this criticism lies Marx’ idea of commodity fetishism. Although treated as relatively benign in the work of Marx, it resurfaces in the work of Debord and his contemporaries (such as Baudrillard) as an infection that runs through contemporary society and completely determines the shape of our everyday lives.

During this meeting, we will return to Marx’ notion of commodity fetishism, as well as Debord’s further development of this idea in his critique on society. This will bring us closer to understanding (one facet of) contemporary society, and enable us to ask questions relating to object-fetishism, various forms of estrangement, and the ways in which the present-day economy and modern technology affect our lives.

After an introduction by Simon Valkering (PhD candidate and employee of the philosophy department of the VU University), we will discuss the ways in which the analyses of Marx and Debord can be of value to us today, and perhaps even find a way to escape the throng of the spectacle…

Practical information:

Future Based Meetup #4

Future Based x Master Institute of Visual Cultures – AKV|St.Joost

Guest Speaker: Simon Valkering

Entrance ticket can be reserved or bought here, at Eventbrite or at the door ( Card payment possible).