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Postmodern Political Theory. Jean Baudrillard “Disneyworld Company” Leslie Paul Thiele. “Modernity and Postmodernity”. Modernity (Thiele). Challenge to Tradition and Authority, by The Renaissance The Protestant Reformation The Scientific Revolution (against Dogma) (16th & 17th centuries)

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Postmodern Political Theory

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postmodern political theory

Postmodern Political Theory

Jean Baudrillard “Disneyworld Company”

Leslie Paul Thiele. “Modernity and Postmodernity”

modernity thiele
Modernity (Thiele)
  • Challenge to Tradition and Authority, by
    • The Renaissance
    • The Protestant Reformation
    • The Scientific Revolution (against Dogma) (16th & 17th centuries)
    • The Industrial Revolution/s
    • The Bourgeois Revolution/s

Assumption: “The order of the universe is… accessible to reason and observation” (Thiele)

 Method

  • Faith in:
    • Science (to master the Universe)
    • Humanity
    • Progress
    • Voluntarism
jean fran ois lyotard
Jean François Lyotard

The Postmodern Condition (1979)

Lyotard definedPostmodernity as

“incredulity toward metanarratives,”or those all-encompassing stories that account for the ultimate meaning of the world...

“What, then, is the postmodern? (…) It is undoubtedly a part of the modern. All that has been received, if only yesterday… must be suspected” (79)

rejection of science humanism and progress
Rejection of Science, Humanism, and Progress...
  • Because of the secret Will to Power and MASTERY over the Universe (and Human Beings) that Modernity embodies
  • Discussion of the COSTS that Science, Humanism, and Progress carry with them... (pollution, biological manipulation, destruction of species and danger of self-annihilation of the species…)
  • Individuality, reason, and autonomy are put in question
some roots of postmodernism
(Some) Roots of Postmodernism
  • Nietzsche - Heidegger
  • Einstein’s theory of Relativity
  • The Holocaust/Hiroshima/Stalinism
  • (French) Structuralism
    • Anthropology (Levi-Strauss)
    • Sociology
    • Linguistics
      • The Linguistic “turn”
    • Linguistic, Cultural, Economic, Historical, Political, Class, Spatial… structures determine our perception, identities, and choices
french postructuralism
(French) Postructuralism
  • Late ’60s
  • Reject “Grand Theories” & Science
  • Postructuralists engage with “specific analyses of how particular forms of power achieve particular effects within particular historical periods” (Thiele 81)
jacques derrida deconstruction
Jacques Derrida -Deconstruction
  • Assumption: Language CREATES reality
  • Utilization of the rhetorical features of a text to undermine its manifest content or argument
  • Exposition of the self-contradictory forces present in any attempt to conceptualize categories or structures
  • Is EVERYWHERE (Michel Foucault)
  • Is creative/productive
  • Multiplicity of territories of power.
  • We are all simultaneously subject to power while exercising power on others.
  • Power= Spider’s Web without a spider (Thiele)
  • Nietzschean themes: Power frames us a SOUL and chains us through the soul (Domination works by telling us WHAT and WHO we are…)
  • Domination becomes much more effective when it is internalized (for you think you are freely choosing, while in fact you are “choosing” whatever hegemonic structures determine you to do…)
postmodern political theory addresses other dimensions of politics
Postmodern political theory addresses other dimensions of politics
  • Thiele: “Politics is not only about how individual needs become satisfied… Politics also plays a role in determining how these needs are created in the first place, how they become articulated, and what sort of relationships form around them.” (74)
  • Needs/Interests/rights/liberties/identities not only influence politics but result from the political
modern postmodern political theory
Individuals are seen as independent, stable, free, and rational agents (agency)

Individuals have and manage power voluntarily

Individuals pursue the satisfaction of their needs and interests

Individuals transform the world

Power is an effect of structures

Individuals are effects of power that emerge from a changing, unstable, and complex environment


Concern with identitiesas defined by power relations (trans/post/hybrid)

Modern & Postmodern (political?) theory
modern postmodern political theory11
The meaning of the entire Universe centered on man

Laws & regularities


Conscious & rational political processes

Focus on relationships

Universal Truth (& universal method/s)

Theory mirrors reality

Hobbes, Locke

Humankind is an accident

Humankind goes nowhere/lack of meaning


Unconscious processes

Focus on the Self

Perspectivist (Nietzschean) denial of (epistemological or ethical) common foundations

Theory ≈ Literature (all theories are just narratives)


Lyotard, Baudrillard, Derrida (Foucault?)

Modern & Postmodern (political?) theory
jean baudrillard essays
Jean Baudrillard (essays)
  • 1929-
  • 1966 Ph.D. “The system of objects”
  • 1972 University of Paris, Nanterre.
  • Influence of Guy Debord’sThe Society of the Spectacle
  • (Capitalism turns into a spectacle)
    • Simulacra and simulation
    • Viruses
    • Reality? Virtual reality, hyperreality
    • Physics (black holes)
jean baudrillard disneyworld company 1996
Downtown New York

“…Transforming the pornographers and the prostitutes, like the factory workers in Smurfland, into extras [figurants]in their own world,metamorphosed into identical figures, museumified, disneyfied. By the way, do you know how General Schwarzkopf, the great Gulf War strategist, celebrated his victory? He had a huge party at Disney World. These festivities in the palace of the imaginary were a worthy conclusion to such a virtual war.”

“…the Disney enterprise goes beyond the imaginary.”

Jean Baudrillard: Disneyworld Company (1996)
capturing reality spectacle
Capturing reality  Spectacle
  • “Disney, the precursor, the grand initiator of the imaginary as virtual reality, is now in the process of capturing all the real world to integrate it into its synthetic universe, in the form of a vast "reality show" where reality itself becomes a spectacle [vient se donner en spectacle], where the real becomes a theme park. The transfusion of the real is like a blood transfusion, except that here it is a transfusion of real blood into the exsanguine universe of virtuality. After the prostitution of the imaginary, here is now the hallucination of the real in its ideal and simplified version.”
replicas simulacra
Replicas & Simulacra
  • “At Disney World in Orlando, they are even building an identical replica of the Los Angeles Disneyland, as a sort of historical attraction to the second degree, a simulacrum to the second power. It is the same thing that CNN did with the Gulf War: a prototypical event which did not take place, because it took place in real time, in CNN's instantaneous mode…”
no real world anymore
No real world anymore…
  • “Everything is possible, and everything is recyclablein the polymorphous universe of virtuality. Everything can be bought over. There is no reason why Disney would not take over the human genome, which, by the way, is already being resequenced, to turn it into a genetic show. In the end [au fond], they would cryogenize the entire planet, just like Walt Disney himself who decided to be cryogenized in a nitrogen solution, waiting for some kind of resurrection in the real world. But there is no real world anymore, not even for Walt Disney.”

“The New World Order is in a Disney mode.”

an epcot version of history
An Epcot version of History?
  • “Disney wins at yet another level. It is not only interested in erasing the real by turning it into a three-dimensional virtual image with no depth, but it also seeks to erase time by synchronizing all the periods, all the cultures, in a single traveling motion, by juxtaposing them in a single scenario. Thus, it marks the beginning of real, punctual and unidimensional time, which is also without depth. No present, no past, no future, but an immediate synchronism of all the places and all the periods in a single atemporal virtuality.”
vanishing or disappearance of history
Vanishing or disappearance of history
  • Meaning results from relations within a whole. Outside that whole, there is no meaning
  • We have been so “liberated” (=atoms) that we no longer have either place, meaning, or History (thrown in the emptiness of the Virtual)
  • The “referential orbit of things” is broken.
  • Both individuals and events move in the void

(People get killed in mass scale, we die, but nobody cares… There is no tragedies anymore. We all become “mere life”)

  • “A certain type of slowness or deliberation (i.e. a certain speed, but not too much), a certain distance, yet not too much, a certain liberation (the energy of rupture and change), but not too much - all these are necessary for this condensation, for the signifying crystallization of events to take place, one that we call history - this type of coherent unfolding of causes and effects we call the real.”
  • History requires duration, but our obsession with “real time” eliminates it…
the spectacle
The Spectacle
  • “…reality itself, the world itself, with its frenzy of cloning has already been transformed into an interactive performance, some kind of Lunapark for ideologies, technologies, works, knowledge, death, and even destruction.”
post historical utopias
Post-historical Utopias
  • “Disney realizes de facto such an atemporal utopia by producing all the events, past or future, on simultaneous screens, and by inexorably mixing all the sequences as they would or will appear to a different civilization than ours. But it is already ours. It is more and more difficult for us to imagine the real, History, the depth of time, or three-dimensional space, just as before it was difficult, from our real world perspective, to imagine a virtual universe or the fourth dimension.”
from the mid 70s on
From the mid 70s on…
  • Neo-Conservative policies (structural adjustment, militarization)


  • Postmodern thinking