written in 1978, but still relevant

“Susan Sontag locates this god very clearly in history.  He is the god of monopoly capitalism.

A capitalist society requires a culture based on images.  It needs to furnish vast amounts of entertainment in order to stimulate buying and anaesthetise the injuries of class, race and sex.  And it needs to gather unlimited amounts of information, the better to expolit the natural resources, increase productivity, keep order, make war, give jobs to bureaucrats.  The camera’s twin capacities, to subjectivise reality and to objectify it, ideally serve these needs and strengthen them.  Cameras define reality in the two ways essential to the workings of an advanced industrial society:  as a spectacle (for masses) and as an object of surveillance (for rulers).  The production of images also furnishes a ruling ideology.  Social change is replaced by a change in images.

Her theory of the current use of photographs leads one to ask whether photography might serve a different function.  Is there an alternative photographic practice?”

-John Berger, from “Uses of Photography”