Total Screen: How Baudrillard Anticipated Trump

BY Pepe Escobar and cross-posted from Counterpunch.org

It was, indeed, a Trumpquake. And the sequel was a given; the whole world, transfixed, in real time, 24/7, hanging on every word, tirade, feeding frenzy oozing from the swamp and its various flesh-eating monsters and manmade pathogens, deep state-related or otherwise.

The Trump presidency is the ultimate larger-than-life – for many the only – show on earth. It’s open to debate whether the vicious civil war currently in effect between Team Trump and powerful deep state factions enmeshed with the neocon/neoliberalcon galaxy is just shadowplay; or whether this is the real deal underlining the eventual crash and burn of the American Empire.

That’s all too predictable, when a reality TV star becomes president. When “post-truth” pseudo and/or non-events on screen 24/7 make a mockery of “reality.” When the screen determines the perception of truth; if an “event” is not on show, it never happened.

The “post-truth” battle happens – where else – on a vortex of digital screens. And that’s why US corporate media is freaking out. Because now there are no limits to how much it can suppress/repress/digress; what ideas are “appropriate” to be discussed; and what taboos cannot be broken, as debating the pernicious effects of neoliberalism, globalism or the industrial-military-intelligence-security complex.

And what a pity that the neo-Gibbon who could track this Decline and Fall to perfection – in fact did it, decades in advance, died 10 years ago, on March 6, 2007.

What to do after the orgy?

Since 1970, when he published The Consumer Society, the West’s Deconstructor-in-Chief Jean Baudrillard had been nothing but consistent. After he identified marketing as the supreme ideology and shopping as the new moral standard/modern concept of happiness, we have come to understand ourselves primarily as reified prisoners in The System of Objects (another one of his classics), duly alienated by a non-stop demented deluge of merchandise.

In 1990, in The Transparency of Evil, Baudrillard went one up, stressing how after the 1970s, everything had been liberated: “It was a total orgy of the real, the rational, the sexual, the critical.” So, he asked with a pure dadaist/surrealist sense of humor, what is to be done “after the orgy”?

He was like a drunken Nietzsche figuring out the death of God – all over again. Our only way forward was to “simulate” non-stop, to repeat every instance of “liberation” over and over again, a pallid, vacuous redundancy empty of meaning. T. S. Eliot’s Hollow Men marching to a Kraftwerk beat.

Then, when vacuous neo-Hegelians announced the “end of history” after the wrap-up of the USSR, heralding the Forever Rule of Western liberal democracy, he smashed the dream as a mere “illusion of the end”

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