Archive: 16 January 2006

Jean Baudrillard on War


Shortly before the Gulf War, Baudrillard predicted that the war would not actually happen. After the war, he claimed that he had been correct, that no war had taken place. The reality of the war, where people fight for a cause and are killed, had been replaced by a ‘copy’ war that is delivered to televisions across the world where no fighting is taking place. America was engaged in an illusion that it was fighting, much as the mind engages with a video game, where the experience tricks the consciousness into believing it is an active participant in something that is not happening. While the combat may have been real, only a few people experienced it, and they were on the other side of the world. The ‘war’ that was broadcast on television, and therefore the war as it was understood by the majority of people, was not actually real. After the war Baudrillard stated that, “It was as if the outcome had been devoured in advance by a parasitic virus, the retro-virus of history. This is why one could offer the hypothesis that this would not have taken place. And now that it is over, one can finally take account of its non-occurence”…

…actual deaths were involved, deaths which were as much de-realised by the rhetoric of the clinical, technological war as Baudrillard’s analysis of the war as a simulacrum. The ongoing indecision and subterfuge involving Gulf War Syndrome recalls again the precession of the real event, that of suffering caused by war, by debate over what constitutes the real, and the assertion of an authorised history which masks, and replaces in public consciousness, the effects of the real

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