In the shadow of the silent majorities--or the end of the social, and other essays
The whole chaotic constellation of the social revolves around that spongy reference, that opaque but equally translucent reality, that nothingness: the masses. A statistical crystal ball, the masses are 'swirling with currents and flows,' in the image of matter and the natural elements. So, at least, they are represented to us. Written in 1978 and first published in English in 1983, In the Shadow of the Silent Majoritieswas the first postmodern response to the delusional strategies of terrorism. At a time when European terrorists were taking politics into their own hands, Baudrillard was the first to announce that the "critical mass" had stopped being critical of anything. Rather, the "masses" had become a place of absorption and implosion; hence the ending of the possibility of politics as will and representation. The book marked the end of an era when silent majorities still factored into the democratic political process and were expected to respond positively to revolutionary messages. With the masses no longer "alienated" as Marx had described, but rather indifferent, this phenomenon made revolutionary explosion impossible, says Baudrillard. The mass absorbs all the social energy, but no longer refracts it. It absorbs every sign and every meaning, but no longer reflects them... it never participates. It is a good conductor of information, but of any information. It is without truth and without reason. It is without conscience and without unconscious. Everybody questions it, but never as silence, always to make it speak. This silence is unbearable. It is the simulation chamber of the social. As a mere shadow cast by power, the silent majority and its hyper-real conformity have no meaning and nothing to say to us. To that, terrorism responds by an equally hyper-real act equally caught up from the onset in concentric waves of media and of fascination. It aims at the mass silence, the masses in their silence. It aims at the white magic of simulation, deterrence, of anonymous and random control, and by the black magic of a still greater, more anonymous, arbitrary and more hazardous abstraction; that of the terrorist act. Remarkably prescient, Baudrillard's meditation on terrorism throws light on post-September 11th delusional fears and political simulations.
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In the Shadow of the Silent Majorities
Or The End of the Social
The Implosion of Meaning in the Media
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absorbed analysis Baader Baader's death Baudrillard become brutal capital catastrophe challenge collapse communica communication consumption contrary culture death drive defiance definition desire deterrence dialectic dissuasion dividual entropic equivalent everything everywhere exists explosion fact fascination fascism finitesimal function hostages hyperconformity hyperreality hypothesis ideal imaginary implosive process inertia inverse involution Jean Baudrillard leitmotif liberation logic longer manipulation mass media medium Mogadishu neutralising never non-representative objective objective law paradox passive pataphysics Paul Virilio perhaps perspective space poles precession precisely producing meaning production of demand proletariat puts an end radical rational reality recycling reduplication refuse remainders representation representative residue resistance responsibility reverse revolution revolutionary rorism sciences sense signified silent majority simulacra simulacrum simulation social energy social relation socialisation societies sorb sorption spectacular sphere stake Stammheim statistics strategy subversive symbolic term terrorism terrorist terrorist act tion tional truth violence wealth whole