This is yet another Wikipedia-level Philosophical musing on today’s trendy politicized cultural events. Part two of the seven part “How to Build a Faster Occuponymous” series which just aims to make rules for everyone.
Excerpt from Jean Baudrillard’s Wikipedia page:
Simulation, Baudrillard claims, is the current stage of the simulacrum: All is composed of references with no referents, a hyperreality. Progressing historically from the Renaissance, in which the dominant simulacrum was in the form of the counterfeit—mostly people or objects appearing to stand for a real referent (for instance, royalty, nobility, holiness, etc.) that does not exist, in other words, in the spirit of pretense, in dissimulating others that a person or a thing does not really “have it” — to the industrial revolution, in which the dominant simulacrum is the product, the series, which can be propagated on an endless production line; and finally to current times, in which the dominant simulacrum is the model, which by its nature already stands for endless reproducibility, and is itself already reproduced.
It is no use to tell the believers in the Tea Party that their message was cooked up by a focus group, the initial protesters were not protesters but paid actors, or that the single driving intent behind the whole movement was to strengthen Republican power. It did not matter that there was a solid body of evidence supporting these facts because the simulated discontent was so emotionally satisfying to participate in. This was a forged moment of catharsis preying on the emotional tilt from the Republican loss in the 2008 election, spinning a wildly effective Sorelian myth designed to catalyze the Right. Tea Parties sprang up all over America like McDonald’s franchises for people who didn’t need hamburgers but instead an outlet for Conservative rage. Participating in the Tea Party, a person knew exactly what to expect because he or she had been familiarized with it through television. Tea Party was a franchise defined not by a counterfeit moment, but by one which was a model designed specifically for reproduction, specifically to incite the Republican vote.
It is less easy to speak of what crystallized Occupy, and it is not fair to simply call it a reaction to the Tea Party. Like the Tea Party, Occupy has become a kind of reproducible franchise with local versions sprouting up globally all from the same mold. Several different groups appear to have contributed to what is “Occupy,” including Operation Empire State Rebellion, US Day of Rage, and AdBusters. Similarly, there is no single demand or set of demands, but take look at the thing itself rather than the stated intentions, and there’s clearly a unifying theme. Occupy is an unconscious response to the proliferation of simulacra in general. The oppositional dynamic at play is interesting, as that which Occupy opposes most has become its primary weapon. The Occupiers may not be aware of it, but they have refused to be anything more than theater. That is surely not to say that theater cannot be culturally meaningful but only to highlight the absolute disbelief Occupy has in representative power. The core of the Occupy myth is that democratic representation is itself a simulation. In vainglorious attempts to best the kabuki theater of American politics, Occupy has created their own mock political bodies in which participants go through all the motions of directly representing themselves in policy making. These “general assemblies,” of course, hold no such power, but it would never do to tell that to believers. The most “militant” actions of Black Bloc “activists” associated with Occupy are not truly militant, but simply increasingly dramatic. These attacks on random property hold no tactical or strategic value, nor do they conform to a single set of corporate or government targets. This property damage is fetishized as revolutionary to adherents even when no rational hope of a violent revolution exists. The commitment to fantasy of Black Bloc and the General Assembly participants is truly beyond that of the “Birthers” who simply believe a lie and do not act on it.
Baudrillard’s death spiral is in full effect. The rational response to this is not to plummet to deeper depths of disingenuous “ironic” fantasy, or to pray for a paradigm shift that will never come, but rather it is Hari Seldon. Let’s escape to Mars and leave all the idiots behind. Who’s with me?