The Election and The Spectacle

  1. Spectacular political mobilization divorces participation from political action. Consumption of the product, in the form of a candidate, replaces the activity demanded of party members in previous eras.
  2. The spectacular nature of presidential politics in the United States requires fear of the other to operate. The demonization of opponents, especially so-called third parties, is a feature of the system and not a bug. The content of the election cycle is reduced from policy into reified images of the candidate(s) and their opponent(s).
  3. The reified image of the candidate, sculpted by P.R. firms, mirrors the nature of the “good” party member/voter, whose job it is to parrot and consume media and the story projected as the image of the candidate. Little is said of party work or to do more than repeat tropes fed to the voters. The passive consumer becomes active only at the moment of voting. Even within situations of debate with opponents it is the illusion of party differences (reified images) that war, not policy or social forces.
  4. The spectacle no longer needs masses of voters to act together as in previous eras of the mass party. Proper political consumers are individuals. Mass movements threaten passive consumption and the spectacle by creating active participants – which the ruling class views with grave suspicion.
  5. Mass frenzy/hysteria prior to an election is a prelude to the removal of the hysteria. Afterwards their role is to become either apathetic, cheerleaders of or angry consumers of oppositional media. Bereft of use as voters, they are barely political at all.
  6. This complete political alienation is built alongside a capitalist economy in the core that no longer has much use for productive labor. Alienation becomes complete in all aspects of modern life.
  7. It seems clear that a political party in this era cannot combat the spectacle without existing in multiple realms: electoral, social movement, economic, and cultural.



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