baudrillard, french intellectual critic of 9/11 & war, dies

baudrillard, french intellectual critic of 9/11 & war, diesfrom times online: Jean Baudrillard, the French philosopher and intellectual, famous for his controversial theories about the artificial nature of reality and his fierce criticism of consumer culture, has died in Paris. He was 77.

Baudrillard, one of Europe’s leading postmodernist thinkers, was perhaps best known for espousing the concept of “hyperreality” and “simulation” – that things do not happen if they are not seen to happen, and that spectacle is crucial in creating our perception of the world…

Baudrillard first attracted worldwide attention in 1991 with his deliberately provocative book The Gulf War Did Not Take Place in which he argued that neither side could claim victory by the end of the war and that the conflict had changed nothing on the ground in Iraq.

Nothing was as it appeared in the war, he said, claiming that the public’s – and even the military’s – perception of the conflict came filtered through images from the media. As a result, the conflict was best seen as a simulation – Saddam Hussein was not defeated; the US-led coalition had scarcely battled the Iraqi military and did not really win, since the political state in Iraq altered little after the carnage.

Just over a decade later, in an essay entitled The Spirit of Terrorism: Requiem for the Twin Towers, he triggered fresh debate by describing the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Centre as an expression of “triumphant globalisation battling against itself”.

While terrorists had committed the atrocity, he wrote, “it is we who have wanted it – terrorism is immoral, and it responds to a globalisation that is itself immoral.” The attacks, he argued, were a fusion of history, symbolism and dark fantasy, “the mother of all events.”