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The sociologist and philosopher Jean Baudrillard died this Tuesday in Paris, at 77 years of age. Born on July 20th 1929 in Rheims, a translator of Bertold Brecht, politically near to the Situationists and Guy Debord in the '60s, Baudrillard taught sociology at the University of Nanterre from 1966. More English-language details can be found at the NY Times and the NY Sun; French-language responses include Robert Maggiori's Jean Baudrillard au-delà du réel and Laurent Wolf's Le pourfendeur d'images (via the literary saloon).


I've always enjoyed reading Baudrillard's work. My favourite? Probably a book from 1978 called In the Shadow of the Silent Majorities. What I got most clearly from this was the critique of the entirely erroneous idea that the Left could speak for -- or on behalf of -- "the people" in any way:


Written in 1978 and first published in English in 1983, In the Shadow of the Silent Majorities was 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.

Readers Comments

  1. exw dei zeugaria na sfznaatoi epikaloumenoi psuxanalutikous logous.ostoso ego paratirousa parakmiakes taseis sta oikonomika tous.so: oikonomia > psuxanalishden anefera ton stoikismo tuxaia prin.einai h didaskalia gia to 8eoritiko kai h8iko 3eperasma twn provlimatwn.h antilipsh oti ta provlimata einai endogenh sto atomo.logo eleipshs paidias,logo autoktatastrofikhs tashs,logo komformistikou xaraktira,logo rophs katastrofhs,logo ...Oloklirotismou einai aplws anagenish tou Stoikismou ton 20o aiwna sthn psuxanalutikh tou morfh.h psuxanalush kai argotera oi neofroydistes epexeirisan na ermineusoun ton fasismo me tetoious orous(Erich Fromm,Vilhelm Reich ktlp),oi opoioi parallina aperiptan ton Sosialismo.Etsi to mono pragma pou apemene sto atomo na kanei,mesa stous austirous ka8orismous ths kinishs ths kapitalistikhs koinwnias,auto pou idi to exoun apokopsei apo thn koinwnia einai metania,proseuxh kai ena divani pou uparxei ws emboreuma.otan ta pragmata proxorousan peran ths neurwshs eixame kai xeirourgikes kai farmakeutikes epemvaseis.sthn elvetia pleon exoume kai xorigish kartikhs prezas gia thn katapolemish ths eglimatikothtas.h ali8ia einai oti to palaistiniako,den einai ena provlima ektos oikonomikwn sumferontwn,kai oute apomononetai se 2 laous.oute se ena froydiko trigono.simera h NET eixe san polemiko antapokrith apo thn Ramala thn Aleka Papariga.Meta3y alwn simiwse oti epixeiritai h dimiourgia 2 3exoristwn Palaistiniakwn kratwn,autou ths ditikhs ox8hs kai autou ths Loridas ths Gazas,kai oti menetai to poios 8a exei thn kidemonia tous.Ekei isos na vrisketai h erminia ths Idieterhs stashs ths Galias.Kai ola auta sta plaisia mias oikonomikhs krishs h opoia anazita daimonismena ws suni8ws die3odo ston polemo.Sigmund Froud cant Analyse this!Lenin Can.Goodbye Froud.[kapou sto istologio sou diavaza kati peri aristerhs ideolipsias tou KKE.h Ideolipsia einai psuxikh katastash adunamias tou atomou na elen3ei ton irmo ths kepshs tou.pernane idees apo to atomo gia pra3eis pou 8eorei h8ika lan8asmenes kai den prokeite pote na kanei.Apo thn allh se ideologiko epipedo to suni8estero den einai h ideolipsia alla h xrish ideologimatwn pou einai h suneidith sugxush ths skepshs apo lan8asmenes 8eoriseis.h tautish ideologimatos kai ideolipsias einai mia suni8ismenh xudaiothta,apotelei h idia ideologima, pou paratiritai akoma kai ston andrianopoulo.einai h kai kala nomimopoihsh tou tropou skepshs tou me ena idietero tropo sofistikhs:thn epiklish sthn afirimenh klinikh au8entia ths psixiatrikhs]to palaistiniako den lunetai sto divani,oute ths psuxanalushs oute ths thleorashs.Lynetai sto dromo.

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