Living under the Rule of Mediatocracy

Baudrillard differs from Debord in several significant ways which distance him from a more traditional Marxist position. First, technology is as central to Baudrillard’s writing as it is to McLuhan’s, and it replaces Debord’s economics as the structuring principle of the discourse on power. Second, there is Baudrillard’s rejection of the Marxist doctrine of “use-value” and its consequent privileging of human labor as a fixed point of reference, in favor of a position which guarantees no rigid site of meaning, no transcendental signified. Finally, Baudrillard argues that power has been subsumed by technological forces to such a degree that it is no longer the province of the state, much less the citizen.1

Living as we do in a Mediatocracy is a no-brainer, but that technological determinism by way of infrastructural elements rather than political agents, labor, or the elite enforce the power rules of a game that is non-human rather than human has yet to be fully documented. Baudrillard, a precursor of algorithmic culture saw it coming, documented its tributary hyperboles, the manifestation of its hidden agendas, but was in the end rejected by the intellectual establishment because of his cynical nihilism. Yet, his diagnosis stands, and we would be hard pressed to turn away from the dilemmas that he’d already begun to map out in book after book, parading before us the illusive dance of strange attractors that infiltrate us day by day with its own inhuman designs. For it is we who are at last vanishing into the infrastructural worlds of technology as ghosts not in the machine, but rather as images of a bygone era of reality now imploded and dispersed within the delirium of its invasive memes.
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1. Bukatman, Scott (2012-08-01). Terminal Identity: The Virtual Subject in Postmodern Science Fiction (p. 72). Duke University Press. Kindle Edition.

2 thoughts on “Living under the Rule of Mediatocracy

  1. Here it is interesting to remember a little-known Lithuanian philosopher Arvydas Šliogeris. Influenced by Baudrillard, he suggests rather that the human and the technological are the same thing and that technological expansion is caused by a loss of ground for what is essentially human – desire. For him, the only way out is a renewed relation with the unhuman, a sort of nostalgic un-mediated, un-discoursively sensual contemplation of Things as immediate transcendentals. I wonder if technological infrastructure can ever hit anything like that.

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    • Yep, that’s pretty much where Baudrillard ended as well… the need to accept the inhuman or technological core of our own being, accept for Baudrillard there was nothing human that would remain (i.e., the image of the human or humanist vision would disappear).

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