The Spectacle of Disintegration: Situationist Passages out of the Twentieth Century

Acclaimed author follows the work of the Situationist International after May 1968.
Following his acclaimed history of the Situationist International up until the late sixties, The Beach Beneath the Street, McKenzie Wark returns with a companion volume which puts the late work of the Situationists in a broader and deeper context, charting their contemporary relevance and their deep critique of modernity. Wark builds on their work to map the historical stages of the society of the spectacle, from the diffuse to the integrated to what he calls the disintegrating spectacle. The Spectacle of Disintegration takes the reader through the critique of political aesthetics of former Situationist T.J. Clark, the Fourierist utopia of Raoul Vaneigem, René Vienet’s earthy situationist cinema, Gianfranco Sangunetti’s pranking of the Italian ruling class, Alice-Becker Ho’s account of the anonymous language of the Romany, Guy Debord’s late films and his surprising work as a game designer.

At once an extraordinary counter history of radical praxis and a call to arms in the age of financial crisis and the resurgence of the streets, The Spectacle of Disintegration recalls the hidden journeys taken in the attempt to leave the twentieth century, and plots an exit from the twenty first.

The dustjacket unfolds to reveal a fold-out poster of the collaborative graphic essay combining text selected by McKenzie Wark with composition and drawings by Kevin C. Pyle.


  • “Wark's readable explanation of the movement's ideas is the best I have read. ”
  • “A playful, smart and occasionally epigrammatic study of the Situationists ... this brilliant account is not only an essential work for our own times; it also comes with a cover that, with the minimum of manual dexterity, folds out intoa  collaborative graphic essay. ”
  • “Wark’s two books work sequentially, although they also loop around the same figures and concepts. They could be treated as histories of the Situationist milieu and its aftermaths, but to do so would miss entirely what makes them such compelling and, at times, hilarious reading. [...] What really drives The Beach Beneath the Street and The Spectacle of Disintegration is their impatience with contemporary cultural and intellectual institutions that, for all of their posturing, are largely complicit with the prevailing political order.”


  • Blog-Post for Cyborgs—McKenzie Wark on Donna Haraway's 'Manifesto for Cyborgs' 30 years later

    We are all cyborgs now. To the point where this reality no longer appears at all striking. As so perfectly pictured in Alex Rivera’s film Sleepdealer (2008), we are biological machines strapped to information machines which together function as war machines. It is remarkable how much of our cyborg existence Donna Haraway anticipated. In this essay, I want simply to extract some pertinent themes from four of her books and from an extended interview conducted by Thyrza Nichols Goodeve. I will stress her connection to Marxist thought, not to deny her significance as a feminist writer, but to supplement it.

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  • McKenzie Wark: Benjamedia

    McKenzie Wark assesses the uses of Walter Benjamin today. 

    "Benjamin practiced his own version of what I call low theory, in that the production of knowledge was not contemplative and was disinterested in the existing language games of the disciplines. Knowledge has to be communicated in an effective manner. 'The task of real, effective presentation is just this: to liberate knowledge from the bounds of compartmentalized discipline and make it practical.' 

    "Benjamin has a genius for using the energies of the obsolete. But one has to ask if the somewhat cult-like status Benjamin now enjoys is something of a betrayal of the critical leverage Benjamin thought the obsolete materials of the past could play in the present." 

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  • The beauty of the commons: Wark on Communal Luxury

    Anarchist thought has lately picked up a rather worrying infestation of reactionary themes, such as a hyper-macho celebration of eternal combat, in which all that matters is the authentic act of aggressive self-assertion. It isn’t the first time. In this case, it’s a matter of paying too much attention to a scholastic, high theory tradition in which known Nazis such as Schmitt and Heidegger are treated with a respect that betrays the utter corruption of continental philosophy in its waning years.

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Other books by McKenzie Wark