Debord in Spectacle in writes:

  1. The parallel between ideology and schizophrenia drawn by Joseph Gabel false consciousness should be seen in this context of the economic process of the materialisation of ideology..


  1. ...[and] according to Gabel 'a degradation in the dialectic of totality (of which disassociation is the extreme case) and a degradation in the dialectic of becoming (of which Catalonia is the extreme case) seem to be intimately interwoven.

he ties this with

imprisoned in a flat universe bounded on all sides by the spectators screen, the consciousness of the spectator has only figmentary interlocutors to subject it to a one-way discourse on their commodities and the politics of commodities. The sole mirror of this consciousness is the spectacle in all its breadth, where what is staged in a generalised autism.

ie no inter-subjectivity, or inter-objectivity - thus a loss of reality: reality deprived of realness becomes autistic; and the spectator solipsistic.

How seriously is Gabels critique taken now? And is this one input in Deleuzes Capitalism and Schizophrenia?

1 Answer 1


Work on the psychopathological character of capitalist false consciousness, as carried out by Joseph Gabel and earlier by Wilhelm Reich, had to be integrated if a total revolutionary critique was to develop. But it wasn't, and one didn't.

You ask "How seriously is Gabel[']s critique taken now?", an impersonal phrasing which does not differentiate between recuperative interest and revolutionary critique. As we know, Debord is talked about much more than he was 30 years ago, but little revolutionary critique has developed. Gabel, though, is less talked about, at least in books. To judge by these statistics, interest in his work has fallen by half since 1980.

For comparison, here are the statistics for Debord, interest in whose work has, by the same measure, increased 15-fold - and has been mainly recuperative.

It seems reasonable to hypothesise that those who write about Debord's work today, or who at least refer to it, who are much more numerous than they used to be, refer on average much much less to Gabel than such writers used to. A case of an increase in quantity and a decrease in quality?

You ask specifically about Deleuze. In his Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, Deleuze refers only a single time to Gabel, mentioning a case he cites and saying that he was wrong to describe it as rare and having unreconstructible origins.

  • The interesting difference in today's Social Spectacle, is that the discourse is not just one way; which interestingly changes things; Orwells TV that 'talks back' comes to mind as an early example of micro-fascism in a virtual space; HG Wells the machine stops, is an early example of alienating technology; instead of catatonic states now - perhaps autistic ones now. Commented Mar 7, 2016 at 17:47
  • Interesting stats - on both Gabel and Debord. Commented Mar 7, 2016 at 17:49
  • @MoziburUllah - Yes indeed; there has certainly been a massive qualitative step in internalisation, pseudo-dialogue, participation, involvement, which is crying out for a development and transcendence of some of the lines of critique embarked upon by Debord, informed by Gabel's work on social psychopathology. But it would be a mistake to think Debord saw spectacular discourse only as one way, except insofar as, essentially, it still is :) (I can't not refer here to how Facebook was set up by the CIA through its venture capital arm InQTel.) (...continued...)
    – user19558
    Commented Mar 8, 2016 at 10:51
  • (part 2) @MoziburUllah - One can cite "monologue" and "this 'communication' is essentially unilateral" (thesis 24), but in thesis 8 we have "One cannot abstractly contrast the spectacle to actual social activity", a point which is essential to understanding Debord's critique of spectacle. You could go a long way with the autism idea. Debord dipped his toe in the water, writing "the stage is set with the false exit of generalized autism" (thesis 218). Have you read Ian Tillium's 1994 essay Technological Despotism?
    – user19558
    Commented Mar 8, 2016 at 10:53
  • I haven't come across his work before; he writes 'the NSA ... may have the capability of tapping into all UK phones' - they did eventually as it proved 'first, of some people; then by computer, of everyone'; I think Plato argues that communication isn't communication without it being a to & fro - a dialogue; which interestingly is exactly the form he wrote his works in; I think he already posited the technology of writing as destructive of dialogue; if there is no authentic dialogue, when image inserts itself between two, surely what one is left with is an autistic chatter. Commented Mar 8, 2016 at 19:52

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