Who is Baudrillard? Why does he matter?

A "Confused" Lou Paulsen wrote: - Who is Baudrillard? Why does he matter? Does he really say that the Gulf War did not take place in the sense of being a media hoax, like the Mars landing in the movie "Capricorn One" which was filmed in a military base, or is he saying that it wasn't in the Gulf, or was not really a "war", or what?

and I just read a superb translation of Baudrillard's paper "In the Shadow of the Millenium".  Jean Baudrillard says there that: "...I had announced that 'the Gulf War did not take place.' Contrary to traditional prophets who always predict that something will happen, I had announced that something would not happen. I am the opposite type of prophet. In any case, prophecies are always wrong. What the prophets announce never takes place. So, when I say that something will not take place, it will then take place. The Gulf War did take place..."

No doubt it's a confusing way of writing. Anyhow, one can appreciate the beauty in his article, even if you don't grasp its whole meaning. It leaves an impression of confusion and uncertainty, which might very well characterize the way of thinking and the world-view (if any) of many of the dwellers of this planet these days.

Daniel from Cuba

Is this not the attitude of the majority of the public in USA and Uk about the war in the Balkans - just something on TV we don't want to look at? - So TURN IT OFF - and (no doubt) it will go away - or just change channels to look at the latest football match....

[But then the Irish government has banned (by denying visas to the visiting team) the match Ireland v Yugoslavia!!! - so perhaps there is something real going on after all.]

I feel that very few below the age of 60 have any conception of what bombing means (and that includes our "so-clever-clever" leading politicians) - as to considerations of International Law, rights of nations, etc. etc. that IS completely beyond the understanding of Western populations.....

Is THIS what Baudrillard is referring to?

E.C. " Paddy" Apling

Baudrillard, advancing the logic of the spectacle, is arguing that mediated events are hyperrealities which are neither realities nor nonrealities but exist in a new place created by technology. He notes in a classic piece that Disneyland is deliberate fantasy to convince us that what lies beyond Disneyland is real. The point of the exercise is to emphasize the constructed nature of everything. Baudrillard certainly does not deny reality; this is clear in his piece on the Holocaust and the erasure of history. It is not that things like the Gulf War do not happen, but rather the way such events happen and the way they are represented to the spectator is in something of a new zone. Baudrillard with his simulacra posits the opposite of simulation -- dissimulation, where what really happens is pretended not to have happened. For example, all of the Patriot missile hits on Iraqi SCUDS, while simulating success of the missile attacks, dissimulated failure of the US military-industrial complex to manufacture an effective missile-defense grid. By this one example we see that parts of the Gulf War did not really happen, although they existed and continue to exist for the majority of people who watched the spectacle on CNN.

Andy Austin

Now can anyone help me again? I need a reference for Baudrillard's remark denying the reality or the existence of the Gulf War and or the stock market crash of 87.

Gary McLennan

B's articles were originally published in *Liberation* newspaper between January & March 1991...they were translated into English and published as _The Gulf War Did Not Take Place_ by University of Indiana Press in 1995... Michael Hoover

Thanks, Michael,

What an idiot! I bet he did not hang round Bagdad though.


Gary McLennan

I inadvertently deleted Gary McLennan's comment about Baudrillard not hanging out in Baghdad so some of below comments are in reply to him as well...

Jean Baudrillard, French post-modern (I guess) thinker...doesn't matter much these days (some would say he never did), even he has indicated that he hasn't had anything to say (some would say he never did) for two decades...but his saying that is part of this fatalistic gambit that has been alluring and seductive for some postmodern academics and post-New Lefties...

his late 60s/early 70s writings attempted to 'go beyond' what he claimed to be Marxism's conservatism - its roots in assumptions of political economy offer no basis for radical social transformation...and some of his earlier stuff on consumerism & electronic media is insightful and useful even if it is not that original...B proceeded to claim 'going beyond' production, needs, truth, ideology, revolution, _____ (fill in blank)...his trajectory is a political dead-end offering no possibility of escape so we can either revel in commodities or posture as rebels (why not both simultaneously) and so it is Baudrillard who shows himself to be conservative... anyway, when you read the Gulf War stuff you find that B did not actually claim that the war never happened, rather he posited that it didn't occur the way it appeared on CNN...for Baudrillard, 'reality' no longer exists outside tv (what he calls hyperreality) which has come to define the world...so, according to B, tv's depiction of events is more real for tv watchers than actual events (what he calls simulation/simulacrum)... in this case, CNN turned death into entertainment...

Baudrillard's hyperbole (and cyberbole) aside, the dangers of this stuff are obvious...matter matters, the electronic gadgets that 'produce' hyperreality are themselves produced by exploited (and hyper-exploited) labor and 10,000 tons of bombs per day is a war... Michael Hoover