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11 February 2013
If Guy Debord was to raise his head

David G. Torres

In the fifties Guy Debord and the Letterist International talked about the “détournement”, a concept that basically consisted in taking objects and expressions from capitalism and the mass media, changing their meaning, giving them a twist and turning them around, against themselves, to produce a critique of the system. The détournement took up the strategy of the ready-made (changing the meaning of objects) and the satire, critique and parody of Dadá. The détournement was the strategy that the Situationists set in motion and that Jamie Reid applied to Punk graphics.

For a while now, it seems as if the political right wing have taken up the practice of the détournement, but inversely. It happened first with the demonstrations that the acolytes of the PP became addicted to a few years ago. It was about annulling the subversive potential of the demonstration by appropriating the street, in a poor imitation of Fraga’s Francoist proclamation, “The street is mine”. A case to illustrate this is the minister from the time of Aznar, who, seeing the demonstrators in front of the Ministry, went and joined them because she agreed with their claims, thereby annulling the reason for their protest, or at the very least leaving the organisers in shock.

The last twist in this dérive features María Dolores de Cospedal in her appearance before the press last week, after the publication of the hidden accounts of Bárcenas. Cospedal insistently and vehemently declared that she was indignant. The PP is indignant. They are indignados. They steal, distort and pervert the meaning of a word associated with the movement of 15M. If the media have taken it upon themselves to smooth the way for the dismantlement of the indignados by talking about them, now Cospedal and the PP, in a cynical détournement, endeavour to devoid the word of any meaning.

But the key is to be found in this cynical condition. While Guy Debord and company aimed to reveal the strategies of the capitalist system, if their intention was a critical one, here this renewed détournement of the right wing, aims to annul meanings, to dismantle any possible significance and corrupt the language, letting loose a cynical reason that roams at will..

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