As other comrades have written the crux of our opposition to McKenzie Wark resolves along two lines. First he falsifies and distorts the history of the Situationist International (see this review of his 2011 book: No useless commentaries! or, McKenzie Wark’s worthless work). Secondly he has chosen to announce his sequel to his 2011 book with plans for a 3D copier doll of Guy Debord and a competition organised to win a completed doll.
Apart from the obvious point that all of this is merely a marketing tool concocted by Wark and Verso books to promote his work, the more egregious claims made by Wark and co is that this marketing ploy is somehow an extension of the practice of the Situationist International (SI). Wark would have us believe that the doll is an example of détournement. However if it is it is an extremely poor one and thus not in fact détournement as the SI practiced it.
Why is this case? I’m glad you asked. For the SI détournement – insofar as it was practiced by Situationists or other revolutionary critics of the commodity-spectacle – was not the mere re-use of pre-existing elements of mass culture, but rather the diversion of such elements to the end of the explicit critique of the dominant commodity-spectacle. The main problem we face with Wark’s doll is that any such critique is lost or more correctly not even posed from the outset. At best one would need to look for such a critique in Wark’s “accompanying” book – but I suspect that one will search in vain if the 2011 book is anything to go on. Thus we return to my earlier point. The doll and the competition simply are marketing tools despite Wark’s grand claims. As the SI argued time and again, you cannot fight alienation with alienated means.
So far neither Wark nor his supporters have posed any coherent argument against our claims. Rather their opinions circulate around a host of well-worn insults, or attempts at bon mots deployed to showcase the apparent good taste or bored indifference of their authors rather than move the argument forward. How very post-everything. Meanwhile revolutionary critique develops elsewhere.
Two excellent further criticisms of Wark are to be found here: