Blog Post 12 Browne Warren

Chto Delat’s “What is to be done?” raises important issues surrounding a consumer society.  According to Delat, in our society all one can see is things and their prices.  This speaks greatly of the way that consumerism has become a routine part of everyday life and how we have come to accept it.  Guy Debord’s “Society of the Spectacle” relates to this notion of a consumerist society.  Delat describes culture as the “ideal commodity”, one which can be used to help sell all of the others.  In this case, the culture that it is referencing is the consumerist culture in which we live.  This culture influences our actions, decisions, and, ultimately, our purchases.  The “thing most dangerous to the system is the stance of people who deny the consumerist concept of pleasure and avoid the cynical goods-product relationship that so saturates our society…the stance of people who are learning once again to think globally”.  This statement shows how absorbed in this culture people becoming, especially when referring to the “consumerist concept of pleasure”.  If, like the previous statement describes, one were to deny the pleasure received for consuming and becoming a part of this culture, this would disrupt the system.  A cartoon in this reading that shows a woman in a store participating in the system suggests otherwise, however, saying that our only choice, when becoming involved in the system, is the refusal to pay.  Of course, actually refusing this would be robbery, demonstrating even further just how difficult it is to act for oneself while being part of the system.  In another cartoon, it is mockingly stated “better that the whole world should be destroyed and perished utterly than that a free man should refrain from one act to which his nature move him”.  Under the system, it is difficult to act for oneself, as shown by the first cartoon.  This extreme statement shows the author’s views on this subject matter:  why should we, as free people capable of our own thoughts and actions, continue to have these important aspects of ourselves controlled by a larger force?

With the use of art as a political technique, some change can be achieved.  Because the problem being dealt with exists within a time of total capitalism, it is necessary to use a critical artistic strategy.  Otherwise, the art created is put at risk to being treated as and simply becoming a commodity.  The difference between this political art to be created and propaganda is that the political art is for the people, in that it is still in a process of becoming and being fully understood so that society can question its purpose and message.  However, propaganda already knows its purpose, and because of this holds authority.  In particular, Alexander Skidan’s art is saying that we have new messages and purposes through art.  He calls for the politicization of art so that change can take place.  In regards to St Petersberg, they can use art to remake the city by not viewing it in the way that the corrupt officials do, but rather by seeing the potential in bringing art, or change, to the city.

By viewing this again as part of the consumer society, it can be said that the alternate to this is the refusal to take part in the “games”, or in purchasing the commodities.  We find ourselves lost in this endless cycle of purchasing, and in the end, it is not necessary to change society, according to Delat, but leave it.  It seems ironic that after discussing motives for changing society the solution proposed is one of simply getting out while we still can, rather than try to improve it while we are still in this system.  Mass exodus is the way to make this change, showing how sometimes not everything can be fixed.

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