Debord, Time and History

In: Historical Materialism


This essay reads Guy Debord’s theoretical work through its primary philosophical and theoretical influences, and in doing so draws attention to his concerns with time and history. These concerns are used as a means of clarifying Debord’s theory of ‘spectacle’ and of highlighting its virtues and failings. The essay uses Debord’s remarks on subjectivity and temporality to pursue the theoretical dimensions of his interest in strategy, and thereby addresses his Hegelian Marxism via his comments on the relation between strategy, history and dialectics. His concerns with temporality are, however, also shown to pertain to the theory of spectacle’s shortcomings as an account of capitalist society. The essay thus attempts to draw out some of the more-neglected foundational material upon which the theory of spectacle rests, contending that the former may be of greater contemporary interest than the latter.

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