In this review essay I explore three of Baudrillard's late works, Why Hasn't everything Already disappeared?, The Agony of Power, and Carnival and Cannibal, and explain how they represent his final word on the notion of integral reality and the intelligence of evil. Expanding upon the theory developed in The Intelligence of Evil or the Lucidity Pact, I begin with Why Hasn't Everything Already Disappeared? and show how Baudrillard explains the emergence of globalized integral reality in the disappearance of the world in a blizzard of signification and simulation. But Baudrillard's thesis is that this process of disappearance is never complete and that power can never completely abolish reality. This is the core thesis of The Agony of Power, which explains that global power is fatally compromised by the essential duality or reversibility of the real, and that the hell of integral reality is ironically represented by the very moment of its apparent completion. It is this paradox, the paradox at the heart of power, which ensures that integral reality, a world of satisfaction and self-identity, is never a utopia where we want for nothing, but rather a dystopia of despair, obsolescence, and nothingness. In the final text under consideration in this review, Carnival and Cannibal, Baudrillard extends this analysis of the dual form of globalization through a discussion of the process of cannibalization and the carnivalesque that informs the fatal struggle between integral reality and the evil of the event. Given the fatality of the bind between the carnival and cannibal, which means that integral reality is always likely to remain in power, I conclude by reflecting upon Baudrillard's apocalypticism that promises an end to the fake empire of simulation and the return of the real.
Against the Fake Empire: Utopia, Dystopia, Apocalypticism in Baudrillard's Late Works
MARK FEATHERSTONE IS SENIOR LECTURER IN SOCIOLOGY AT KEELE UNIVERSITY AND REVIEWS EDITOR FOR CULTURAL POLITICS AND THE SOCIOLOGICAL REVIEW. HE IS CURRENTLY WRITING A MONOGRAPH ON UTOPIAS, DYSTOPIAS, AND GLOBALIZATION ENTITLED PLANET UTOPIA, HAVING PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED TOCQUEVILLE'S VIRUS: UTOPIA AND DYSTOPIA IN WESTERN SOCIAL AND POLITICAL THOUGHT (ROUTLEDGE) AND NUMEROUS ARTICLES AND CHAPTERS ON THE CONCEPT OF UTOPIA.
Mark Featherstone; Against the Fake Empire: Utopia, Dystopia, Apocalypticism in Baudrillard's Late Works. Cultural Politics 1 November 2011; 7 (3): 465–476. doi: https://doi.org/10.2752/175174311X13069348235457
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