When it comes to a civically engaged life, politics is a spectator sport for much of the United States. After all, most estimates claim 40% or more of eligible voters opted out of the 2016 presidential election. Meanwhile, for many who do vote, that action is about as involved as they'll get with politics.
"The Society of the Spectacle" was penned by French Marxist theorist Guy Debord and published in 1967, it considers the premise that representational social life has replaced actual, genuine social engagement - a potent and still relevant theory, especially given the advent of the internet and social media. Political science professor, Richard Gilman-Opalsky, wrote about it in his book: "Spectacular Capitalism: Guy Debord and the Practice of Radical Philosophy." As Gilman-Opalsky, who works at University of Illinois Springfield, tells us in this interview, "Money governs American politics. We have (however) preferred the spectacular idea of American politics." He says the concept of democracy has become largely mythologized in our culture. Last month, Robert Zaretsky authored a piece for The New York Times titled, Trump and the ‘Society of the Spectacle.' Gilman-Opalsky joined us in studio to share his own take:
As you'll hear in the interview, Gilman-Opalsky has also researched and written about revolutions and revolts. His most recent work is titled, "Specters of Revolt: On the Intellect of Insurrection and Philosophy from Below."