In the Shadow of the Silent Majorities

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In the Shadow of the Silent Majorities, Or, the End of the Social
In the Shadow of the Silent Majorities.jpg
Cover of the first English edition (1983)
Author Jean Baudrillard
Original title À l’ombre des majorités silencieuses ou la fin du social
Translator Paul Foss, John Johnston, Paul Patton
Country France
Language French
Subject Postmodern philosophy
Publisher Les Cahiers d'Utopie (French) & Semiotext(e) (English)
Publication date
1978
Published in English
1983
Media type Print (Paperback)
Pages 123 pp
ISBN 0936756004
302.23
LC Class HM866 .B38132 1983
Preceded by L'Effet Beaubourg (1977)
Followed by L'Ange de stuc (1978)

In the Shadow of the Silent Majorities, Or, the End of the Social (French: À l’ombre des majorités silencieuses ou la fin du social) is a 1978 philosophical treatise by Jean Baudrillard, in which he analyzes the masses and their relation to meaning. The masses are presented as the ideal form of resistance to the social.[1]

Publication history[edit]

The first edition of the book was published in the final issue of the magazine Les Cahiers d'Utopie in 1978.[2][3] It was translated to English by Paul Foss, John Johnston and Paul Patton, and published by the Foreign Agents imprint of Semiotext(e) in 1983.[4] A second edition was published in 2007.[5]

Main ideas[edit]

In the 1970s, magazines such as Utopie, Noir et rouge, ICO, Socialisme ou Barbarie, Pouvoir ouvrier, and the Situationists were unconditionally opposed to the official culture. They saw the masses as hypnotized into submission by a "society of the spectacle." However, Baudrillard interpreted the passivity of the masses in a different way.[3]

The work starts with the idea that meaning has been devalued. "For a long time, capital had only to produce goods; consumption ran by itself... Today it is necessary to produce consumers, to produce demand, and this production is infinitely more costly than that of goods." The same applies to meaning. "Today, everything has changed; no longer is meaning in short supply, it is produced everywhere, in ever increasing quantities – it is demand which is weakening... Everywhere the masses are encouraged to speak... They are urged to live socially, electorally, organizationally, sexually, in participation, in festival, in free speech, etc."[6]

The central point of the book is that the masses actively refuse meaning. It is an explicit break with sociology.[7] While modernity laments the ignorance of the docile masses, Baudrillard argues that the indifference of the masses to political events, history, art, and culture, is actually "a collective retaliation" and "a refusal to participate in the recommended ideals, however enlightened."[8] All the masses can do - and all they will do - is enjoy the spectacle.[9]

Since "their representation is no longer possible,"[10] the masses are probed by means of surveys, polls, and tests. Politics is forced to rely on simulations of the people as a substitute.[8] Masses are "far too conforming to every solicitation and with a hyperreal conformity which is the extreme form of non-participation."[11] As Baudrillard stated in a later interview: "People do in fact defend themselves, they have their defensive and even offensive strategies; but this time, through indifference."[12]

References[edit]

  1. ^ worker (18 February 2010). "The University, Social Death and the Inside Joke". Anarchist News. Retrieved 12 December 2016. 
  2. ^ "À l'ombre des majorités silencieuses ou la fin du social" (in French). Sens & Tonka & Cie. 15 February 2005. Retrieved 12 December 2016. 
  3. ^ a b Jean-Louis Violeau. "Jean Baudrillard, 68 et la fonction utopique" (in French). After 1968. Retrieved 12 December 2016. 
  4. ^ "In the shadow of the silent majorities, Or, the end of the social, and other essays". Library of Congress Online Catalog. Retrieved 12 December 2016. 
  5. ^ "In the shadow of the silent majorities, Or, the end of the social, and other essays". Library of Congress Online Catalog. Retrieved 12 December 2016. 
  6. ^ Baudrillard, Jean (1983). In the Shadow of the Silent Majorities. Semiotext(e). p. 52. ISBN 0936756004. 
  7. ^ Benjamin Noys (21 March 2007). "Crimes of the Near Future: Baudrillard / Ballard". Ballardian. Retrieved 12 December 2016. 
  8. ^ a b Jason Royce Lindsey (July 2007). "Rethinking the Political: Taking Baudrillard's "Silent Majorities" Seriously". International Journal of Baudrillard Studies, Vol. 4, No. 2. Retrieved 12 December 2016. 
  9. ^ "In the Shadow of the Silent Majorities, New Edition". The MIT Press. Retrieved 12 December 2016. 
  10. ^ Baudrillard, Jean (1983). In the Shadow of the Silent Majorities. Semiotext(e). p. 20. ISBN 0936756004. 
  11. ^ Baudrillard, Jean (1983). In the Shadow of the Silent Majorities. Semiotext(e). p. 48. ISBN 0936756004. 
  12. ^ Williamson, Judith (1989). "An Interview with Jean Baudrillard". Block.