What does Baudrillard mean by "The end of the Social"?


In Simulacra and Simulation (as well, I am told, as in many other works), Baudrillard speaks with the typical obscurity of a French-English translation of the end of society and the "End of the Social" in words that almost appear nonsensical. For example, the following is from the chapter "The Beuborg Effect"

Already with the traditional museum this cutting up, this regrouping, this interference of all cultures, this unconditional aestheticization that constitutes the hyperreality of culture begins, but the museum is still a memory. Never, as it did here, has culture lost its memory in the service of stockpiling and functional redistribution. And this translates a more general fact: that throughout the "civilized" world the construction of stockpiles of objects has brought with it the complementary process of stockpiles of people - the line, waiting, traffic jams, concentration, the camp. That is "mass production," not in the sense of a massive production or for use by the masses, but the production of the masses. The masses as the final product of all sociality, and, at the same time, as putting an end to sociality, because these masses that one wants us to believe are the social, are on the contrary the site of the implosion of the social. The masses are the increasingly dense sphere in which the whole social comes to be imploded, and to be devoured in an uninterrupted process of simulation.

Another example, from the first chapter:

The only weapon of power, its only strategy against this defection, is to reinject the real and the referential everywhere, to persuade us of the reality of the social, of the gravity of the economy and the finalities of production. To this end it prefers the discourse of crisis, but also, why not? that of desire. "Take your desires for reality!" can be understood as the ultimate slogan of power since in a nonreferential world, even the confusion of the reality principle and the principle of desire is less dangerous than contagious hyperreality. One remains among principles, and among those power is always in the right.

What is referenced here by "The Social"? When did the reality principle stop applying to "The Social"? What marks it's end?


Posted 2016-08-25T02:04:14.783

Reputation: 155

Different philosophers can sometimes use the same word in different ways; what Baudrillard means by the breakup of the Social is roughly what Arendt means by the rise of the Social; the same word used in opposite senses; its also what Simone Weil called rootlessness - perhaps a more evocative phrase. – Mozibur Ullah – 2016-08-25T06:57:59.230

Its a common enough theme - compare with the line from Yeats poem - 'the centre does not hold'. – Mozibur Ullah – 2016-08-25T07:25:24.343

"Baudrillard replaces Marx's hard economic and social determinism... with a form of semiological idealism and technological determinism where signs and objects come to dominate the subject. Baudrillard thus concludes that the “catastrophe has happened,” that the destruction of modernity and modern theory which he noted in the mid-1970s, has been completed by the development of capitalist society itself... and a new social situation has taken its place" http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/baudrillard/#2 Take this in the context of Marx's alienation and fetishism with a semiotic spin.

– Conifold – 2016-08-25T20:20:43.297

No answers