Democracy and the Spectacle: On Rousseau’s Homeopathic Strategy
Rousseau maintains that the spectacle isolates us at the very same moment when it brings us together. In this talk, delivered as 2013 Cassirer Lecture at the University of Gothenburg, I argue that this striking remark must be understood within the more general framework of a critique of the spectacular nature of modern society. If the spectacle is not simply an occasional form of entertainment, but a social relationship that pervades modern society as a whole, how can we escape from it? Rousseau’s homeopathic strategy, according to which we should fight an evil through small doses of that very same evil, offers a solution that is crucial for grasping the scope of Rousseau’s critique of the spectacle as well as for rethinking the possibility of democracy.