The Aziz

Read pages 177-180 of the Aziz (2016) article and answer the following questions: 1. In the section labeled Debord and Defining the Spectacle (pg 177-178), the Marxist concept of false consciousness (defined as [especially in Marxist theory] a way of thinking that prevents a person from perceiving the true nature of their social or economic situation) leads to the Spectacle that was happening in McCarthy’s era. Remember that Marxism is the central tenet to Communism.  Debord’s states the following: The spectacle appears at once as society itself, as a part of society and as a means of unification. As a part of society, it is that sector where all attention, all consciousness, converges. Being isolated – and precisely for that reason – this sector is the locus of illusion and false consciousness ; the unity it imposes is merely the official language of generalized separation. The key sentence is the first, indicating that what people consume and do in society is a matter of reproduction of that society and its economy. Following Marx, Debord argues that the production and consumption of commodities in a neoliberal economy brings about the alienation of labor, by which labor becomes abstract. He explains that the spectacle in this scenario is not merely a collection of images, but social relations between people mediated by images: It is the very heart of society’s real unreality. In all its aspects, manifestations – news or propaganda, advertising or the actual consumption of entertainment – the spectacle epitomizes the prevailing model of social life. According to Debord, being, under capitalism, is a matter of people becoming socially functional when they know how to appear, that is, be spectacular, in Debord’s sense of ‘spectacle’. By knowing how to APPEAR, the public is properly in line with capitalism’s view of how they should behave–how the public lives their lives in the SPECTACLE. Think of ways that you have fallen in line in how to appear in public that does not serve you best but rather serves the corporate interests. For example, who is served best by wearing the newest popular line of footwear–you or the company that makes them? Come up with two OTHER separate situations (not like the example) where you have APPEARED in public (spectacle) in a way that does not bring you the most benefit. 2. In the section labeled The Red Scare as Spectacle, the author uses the idea that the spectacle is related to the McCarthy hearings, where American society became hostage to the Red Scare, fabricated through public trials, enforced confessions, and televised displays of people’s alleged betrayal of, and disloyalty, to the official national creeds (democracy, capitalism, national security against the Soviet Union). Such a spectacle was constructed not only to frighten an entire society, but also to divide it in order to make it whole under a less-liberal, more-conservative model. McCarthy built the spectacle around the issue of American national security and American purity and purgation (the action of clearing oneself of accusation or suspicion by an oath or ordeal). How did Arthur Miller use the idea of the Spectacle in The Crucible? Describe in detail how specific scenes in the play relate to Debord’s definition of the Spectacle.

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