[Jean Baudrillard] In the Shadow of the Silent Majorities

  • Title: In the Shadow of the Silent Majorities or, the End of the Social
  • Author: Jean Baudrillard
  • Published: 1982
  • Publisher: Semiotext(e), Columbia University (1993)
  • ISBN-10: 0-936756-00-4

In this book, Baudrillard talks about the “mass”. Is the “mass” really stupid like Nietzsche’s herd, or do they have a potential power that resists against oppression?

(1) The “mass” cannot be defined or represented directly. It can only be surveyed and tested. It is located in the model, and the only simulation is available.

(2) The “mass” cannot be manipulated. Even though it is said that they are stupid and dull, it is not possible to manipulate them directly. Baudrillard thinks the “mass” is like a gaseous nebula or spongy-like element. The “mass” absorbs every message and digests them. The result cannot be guaranteed.

(3) Politics were revived in the Renaissance. Machiavelli was the key figure to represent the change. With the emergence of the bourgeoisie class, politics were replaced by the “social”. It is the time of expansion. The “mass” destroyed both the “politic” and the “social.” It is implosive rather than explosive. There are no more representative classes or power; only simulacra exist.

We have been tried to define the “mass”. But Baudrillard points out that it is impossible to define the “mass”. It requires the change of “point of view”. You can think of the “mass” only as a model, or simulation.

Michel de Certeau looks at the positive energy of the mass. Baudrillard is looking at them from a different angle. Is he afraid of the unpredictability of the “mass”? Or does he just want to point out the wrong gaze towards the “mass”?

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