A moving image of capitalism screaming and exploding September 24, 2008 9:00 PMSubscribe
In the early days of the occupation of Iraq, a "gathering of antagonists to capital and empire" known as the Retort Collective published Afflicted Powers, a contentious analysis of September 11th and its aftermath grounded in the Situationist concepts developed by Guy Debord in The Society of the Spectacle. Two lengthy excerpts can be read online: an introduction to the war as a "struggle for mastery in the realm of the image", and a critique of the "Blood for Oil" argument. Afflicted Powers inspired two significant responses in the New Left Review: Gopal Balakrishnan's "States of War" is particularly interesting for its discussions of Israel and of Retort's proposed link between Salafist terrorism and Leninism (a link which has also been made by George Bush); Julian Stallabrass specifically addressed Retort's concept of the Spectacle in "Spectacle and Terror". AP got a kind review from Michael Hardt (co-author of Empire and Multitude) and a brutally sectarian one from a rival Situationist group, thus proving the vitality of the Situationist International's tradition of splits, expulsions, and fratricidal polemic. The Society of the Spectacle is available in full online -- both the original book and the NSFW movie version.