In his 1988 follow-up text, Comments on the Society of the Spectacle, Debord introduces a third form: the integrated. As its name suggests, the integrated spectacle is a combination of diffuse and concentrated elements. Debord bleakly concludes that the integrated spectacle now permeates all reality. “There remains nothing, in culture or nature, which has not been transformed, and polluted according to the means and interests of modern industry,” he writes. Today, the integrated spectacle continues to provide abundant commodities while defending itself with the use of misinformation and misdirection. According to Debord, it does this primarily through the specter of terrorism:
Such a perfect democracy constructs its own inconceivable foe, terrorism. Its wish is to be judged by its enemies rather than by its results. The story of terrorism is written by the state and it is therefore highly instructive. The spectating populations must certainly never know everything about terrorism, but they must always know enough to convince them that, compared with terrorism, everything else seems rather acceptable, in any case more rational and democratic.
Debord defines two primary forms of the spectacle — the concentrated and the diffuse. The concentrated spectacle, which Debord attributes to totalitarian and “Stalinist” regimes, is implemented through the cult of personality and the use of force. The diffuse spectacle, which relies on a rich abundance of commodities, is typified by wealthy democracies. The latter is far more effective at placating the masses, since it appears to empower individuals through consumer choice. The diffuse spectacle of modern capitalism propagates itself by exploiting the spectator’s lingering dissatisfaction. Since the pleasure of acquiring a new commodity is fleeting, it is only a matter of time before we pursue a new desire — a new “fragment” of happiness. The consumer is thus mentally enslaved by the spectacle’s inexorable logic: work harder, buy more.
An ultimately hollow experience. Considering fsociety were meant to have wreaked havoc on the world, life seems to be trundling on quite nicely for all except the increasingly bewildered cast. Maybe that’s the point. Nothing in the world has changed. The historic hack is no more real that Mr Robot. In which case, what on earth is the point?
The referendum result, David Runciman suggests, was won by those who feel excluded from modern, highly networked forms of economy and society. The tragedy, he argues, is that the elites on the losing side will be able – and likely – to respond not by re-engaging with national politics but by distancing themselves even further from it.