Dan Hind for Al-Jazeera:
In the years after the World War II, the US and Western Europe saw unprecedented rates of sustained economic growth. Food and accommodation were cheap and working people could afford a vast range of novel commodities - electronic gadgets, cars, new styles in furniture and opportunities for leisure. Decades of war, depression and social unrest in Europe were over. Material life had never been better.
But Guy Debord and other writers and intellectuals associated with 'Situationism' claimed that this prosperity had been achieved at a cost that was both unacceptable and unnecessary. The technology of production had solved the problem of subsistence, but was now busy creating new, additional desires to clinch the sale of new commodities.
The choices offered by the market posed as the entire range of what could be chosen to fulfil those desires. But the sum of commodities crowded out something that couldn't be sold. The Situationists called this crowding out the 'Spectacle'. They wanted to find the world that the Spectacle overlaid, imitated and sold to us. There was, they said, a beach underneath the pavement.
So Situationism was an attempt to achieve revolutionary change in the midst of an economic boom. Debord and the rest didn't want to create a political party and then capture the state. Instead, they sought to create spaces for freedom and the lived experience of radical equality: 'since man is the product of the situations he goes through, it is essential to create human situations. Since the individual is defined by his situation, he wants the power to create situations worthy of his desires.'