ISSN: 1705-6411

Volume 5, Number 1 (January, 2008).

Engaging Baudrillard – Papers from Swansea

Terrorism, Jean Baudrillard and a Death in Northeast India1

Dr. Kailash Baral
(Professor and Director, Central Institute of English and Foreign Languages Shillong, India)

The closer we supposedly approach the real or the truth, the further we draw away from them both, since neither one nor the other exists. The closer we approach the real time of the event, the more we fall into the illusion of the virtual.2

Understood: terrorism is still a lesser evil than a police state capable of ending it.  It is possible that we secretly acquiesce in this fantastic proposition.  There’s no need of “political consciousness” for this; it’s a secret balance of terror that makes us guess that a spasmodic eruption of violence is preferable to its rational exercise within the framework of the State, or to total prevention at the price of a total programmatic domination.3

I. Introduction
            Thirty-two-year-old Thangjam Manorama Devi was found shot dead a few hours after her arrest by the personnel of the Indian Army (Assam Rifles) on July 11, 2004. She was suspected to belong to secessionist People’s Liberation Army (one of the most powerful insurgent groups in the state which have been battling the Federal Government for more than thirty years). Describing Manorama as an expert in handling explosives, the Assam Rifles claimed that she was shot while trying to escape custody. Eyewitness accounts of extensive injuries on her body cast doubts on this story and have led to allegations that she was tortured and raped before being killed. A spiraling response resulted in bandhs, dharnas and demonstrations that brought the state of Manipur to a standstill. The political authorities were faced with an overwhelming crisis. The events led to the abandonment of the Kangla Fort by the Assam Rifles (the fort occupies a central position in the capital city of Imphal). Some of the rifles were suspended as the demand to end the Armed Forces Special Powers Act4 in Manipur was raised. The Government of India however argued that Manipur was an unstable state due to widespread insurgency and refused to repeal the act. There was confusion over the postmortem report of Manorama’s body, which was done more than once. Enquiry Committees were set up both by the Government of Manipur and the Army. The reports of these Committees as in most cases were not made public and cynicism has greeted the fact that no one was found guilty and was punished. The Government of India, in a gesture of appeasement, granted a Central University to Manipur and financial grants to the state. These funds were to be used, ironically, to raise more police forces.
            In many ways terrorism threatens and disrupts daily life around the world. By its power and subversive energy it has also become a compelling academic and intellectual preoccupation drawing the attention of Jean Baudrillard among others for over three decades. As a discourse terrorism challenges critical theory and Western epistemologies. Some events (9/11 in New York or 7/7 in London) have a worldwide impact. 9/11 is now an important part of global history, a part of the collective psyche. It also led America to launch its “war on terror” that has taken its forces into Afghanistan and Iraq where they have suffered from declining international support. The photographs of prisoner abuse by Americans emerging out of Abu Ghraib prison have shown the world another face of terror: “It is worse”, says Baudrillard:

…it is the humiliation, symbolic and completely fatal, which the world power inflicts on itself – the Americans in this particular case – the shock treatment of shame and bad conscience. This is what binds together the two events [9/11 and the war in Iraq].5

            The London bombing of 7/7 can be understood as a complex aspect of the same conflict between those who are with Bush and Blair and those who are against them. I argue that another date (7/11, 2004) should be added to our list of key dates and events in the recent history of terrorism – the day of Devi’s death.
7/11 may  be understood as a terrorist event which captures the far reaching implications of terroristic state power in the lives of citizens around the world. It follows a trail of death from terror tactics known to inhabitants of the twin towers, the London underground, and prisoners at Abu Ghraib.
            Devi’s death on 7/11 took place in Manipur, one of the states of the largest democracy on earth. Events such as Abu Ghraib and Devi’s death, which arise from similar abuse of power by armed forces, are both part of an “obscene banality” of violence where the line between state terrorism and non-state terrorism is blurred. As Baudrillard explains it is a time when we are all suspected terrorists and potential victims of terrorism. We all share our place in the spectacle6 of human degradation and Devi’s death stands as representative of the many “local” deaths before the violent exercise of state power. In this paper I contextualize Devi’s death in relation to Baudrillard’s understanding of terrorism and reality.
 
II. The Context of 7/11
            The Indian Government has been fighting terrorism and various insurgent groups for over five decades. While events in Jammu and Kashmir can be understood as linked to international terrorism, terror tactics in Northeast India are typically used as an instrument of secessionist objectives. The oldest of the so-called solidarity/autonomy/secessionist movements in Northeast is the Naga movement (which began in 1952) and continues to be an inspiration for other groups. At present there are at least 15-20 major and minor secessionist groups operating in the seven states of this region. Most ethnic secessionist movements in Northeast India are derivative in ideology, strategies and rhetoric. Unlike the Jihadist brand of terrorism (based in particular Islamic religious doctrines at work in Jammu and Kashmir with transnational ramifications), the Northeast militant movements can be attributed to differences of – ethnicity, language and culture – which underpin the theoretical problematic of the classical binarism of us versus them.
            The geographical region of Northeast India is home to diverse ethnic groups. The problem is often compounded, when the conflict goes beyond a fight between the state and insurgent groups, resulting in inter-ethnic clashes and fratricidal killings. For the Indian government the situation has resulted in the impossibility of having specific policies to contain these militias. In a further complication of the situation the struggle for autonomy involves conflicting irresolvable claims to land, territory and identity between dominant and marginalized groups. These conflicts become worse when ethnic loyalties spill beyond a particular state boundary bringing democratic governance and civil society under enormous stress. Manipur alone has four or five major insurgent groups and between five and eight minor groups at work at any given time. None of these activities of course justify the arrest, torture, and murder of civilians by either side. Terror is the most effective instrument for creating a sense of insecurity and fear in the minds of the people. An ordinary citizen is caught in the crossfire, helpless, and denied rights not only by the insurgents but also by the same political structure (the Indian Government) that is constitutionally mandated to protect them. War on terror by terror disempowers an ordinary citizen as s/he is reduced to a mere spectator of events. One of the bizarre outcomes of such a situation is the alleged rape and killing of Thangjam Manorama Devi in the hands of the Indian armed forces in 2004.
            Devi’s case is not the only one of its kind in a strife-torn state like Manipur. There are deaths, rapes, kidnappings and killings perpetrated both by militant groups and government forces. Responses by national and regional media, and intellectuals and academics across the country (as one newspaper reported), were lukewarm. As for the people of Manipur they went to the streets bringing the area to a standstill. This is now an old story wrote Debananda Ningthoujam in the Northeast Vigil7 that “there were responses ranging from understanding concerns from sections of the Indian media to cold, laconic, indifferent remarks from the ruling ‘raj’ in Delhi”. Subir Ghosh of the Northeast Vigil8 summed up the scenario by saying that “the signal that New Delhi managed to transmit to Imphal is frightening – it is not that the Centre cannot hold, the Centre does not care”. It was Tehleka’s9 cameraman who brought the Manipur imbroglio to the nation’s attention by circulating the shocking photograph of naked women standing behind a banner that reads: “Indian Army Rape Us”.

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This image spoke volumes concerning the helplessness felt by citizens while depicting their vulnerability and lack of redress against the Indian Army.

III. Terrorism as Discourse
            Baudrillard understands terrorism as both a product of, and a challenge to, modernism. As a challenge, terrorism problematizes the modern state’s conception of order versus chaos as it substitutes one reality for another. As Mike Grimshaw has explained: “In effect, the dualistic battle in modernity between what is seen as order and what is seen as chaotic is the battle over what is Real and where the Real is located”.10 Baudrillard considers the Islamic Jihadist form of  terrorism as an expression of an alternative modernity that challenges and attempts to replace its concept of order (world order led by the West). Responding to 9/11 Baudrillard wrote that this is a new kind of (modern) terrorism:

...a new terrorism has come into being, a new form of action which plays the game, and lays hold of the rules of the game, solely with the aim of disrupting it.  ... they have taken over all the weapons of the dominant power. Money and stock-market speculation, computer technology and aeronautics, spectacle and the media networks – they have assimilated everything of modernity and globalism, without changing their goal, which is to destroy that power. ...Suicidal terrorism was a terrorism of the poor. This is a terrorism of the rich. This is what particularly frightens us: the fact that they have become rich (they have all the necessary resources) without ceasing to wish to destroy us.11

Timothy Luke elaborates upon this view:

Terrorism is a self-expression of modernity and the rejection of that which is unnecessarily ornamented. The modernity of terrorism is expressed in its obsession with purity, destruction and speed, and involves the symbolic destruction of that, which it believes, is threatening. Terrorism is the articulation of alternative “modernities”…12

Baudrillard understands “violence, taboo, transgression and sacrifice” as acts which serve both as statements of the real – and the rejection of what is perceived to be real. As the “uncertainty principle” underwrites the domain of the Real, “The passion for the Real and the attempt to represent it are actually transgressive to modern world where we attempt to keep the Real controllable by not confronting it”.13 Contemporary terrorism, according to Grimshaw,14 is the Real of modernity that evacuates reality by transgressing what we hold as Real. This is very much what is happening today in the lives of the people of Northeast India.
            Terrorism produces, according to Baudrillard, an excess of reality that challenges and subverts the modernist goal of rationalizing social forms of life integrated to a progressive understanding of economy, law and political administration. Terrorism attempts to recreate a social order reinstating the past as it considers the present to have been contaminated. It attempts to secure the past in the logic of purity of faith and social practice thereby creating a symbolic and semantic dualism. Western modernity, as we know, offers an historical understanding of itself as “the secular culture of reason, science, individualism, progress, democracy, and capitalism – that have spread worldwide in different forms and to varying degrees”.15 In addition, its political as well as moral goal is implicated in a Christian vision of the future. The obvious question is what about other visions of reality and theories of human progress? The glaring caveat in the Western modernist episteme is that it overlooks, if not fully rejects, other forms of modernity. Many postcolonial modernities that articulate non-European worldviews paradoxically adopt and adjust to the logic of Western modernity in their political and economic regulations.
            At another level, Baudrillard understands terrorism functioning according to the rule of symbolic exchange, which he articulates in The Spirit of Terrorism,16 written after the attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001. The concept of symbolic exchange emerges in Baudrillard’s early works For a Critique of the Political Economy of the Sign17 and Symbolic Exchange and Death.18 Mike Gane notes that there are two “irreconcilable orders” in Baudrillard’s theorization of the symbolic in that “symbolic cultures constitute the “other” of simulation cultures, and vice versa”.19 The process of “reversibility” therefore constitutes the very form of symbolic “exchange”. Reversibility is a key concept in Baudrillard’s thought:

My position is based on reversibility, which seems to me to be the true symbolic form. It is more an indetermination or a total instability of principles, and it is evil because it contradicts all possibility of rebuilding the world.20

            Slovoj Zizek adds an understanding of the Real in terms of a split between symbolic and semantic space. Like Derrida’s différance, Zizek’s understanding of the Real is a split that is perpetually doubled in its signification. One thinks of Baudrillard when Zizek writes: “what we understand by ‘reality’ was always already virtual”.21  Both feel that we all are implicated in the discourse of terrorism, for Baudrillard in the entrapment of “impossible exchange”22 and, for Zizek23 in the absence of a third choice. Again, these theoretical perspectives find a grounding in events in Northeast India in recent years.

IV. The Indian State, Modernity, and Insurgency in Northeast India
            Terrorism that targets the states and state - sponsored counter-terrorism that aims at containing have become a seamless part of modernism’s triumph and failure. International terrorism is a complex subsumed in religious, cultural, and other symbolic orders – where hegemony and resistance to it take different forms. Both International and domestic terrorism are typically linked to economic and socio-political marginalization. Fred Halliday reminds us that terrorism is one of the signs of modernity:

The key implication is that ‘terrorism’, as ideology and instrument of struggle, is a modern phenomenon, a product of the conflict between contemporary states and their restive societies. It has developed, in rich and poor countries alike, as part of a transnational model of political engagement. Its roots are in modern secular politics; it has no specific regional or cultural attachment; it is an instrument, one among several, for those aspiring to challenge states and, one day, to take power
themselves.24

            What is critical about Baudrillard’s thought is that it helps us to connect terrorism to the discourse of modernity. Baudrillard’s understanding that both terrorism and modernity are struggles that rationalize and subsume in their transparent logic the imaginary, the dream, the utopia and the ideal, is of use in understanding contemporary India. In modernity’s negative destiny,25 Baudrillard explores the Real and its disappearance while meditating upon the paradoxes of reality and illusion, truth and its masks forcing us to scrutinize vital aspects of the social, political and cultural lives of democratic societies in the late twentieth century under the oppressive transparency of Western Enlightenment. This is the kind of insight we gain from Baudrillard’s radical thought but never from mainstream commentators.
            The discursive nature of reality puts a premium on the impossibility of its availability in an era of simulation. Ontological questions apart, in the unreal world of today where simulation generates only illusions of truth we are seduced in believing that there was/is a Real. Another way of putting the scenario is that the logic of a conventional understanding is lost – hence we need a different kind of apparatus to signify theories into meaning. Baudrillard maintains: “We are now in the transpolitical sphere… the zero-point of politics, a stage which also implies the reproduction of politics, its endless simulation. …politics will never finish disappearing – nor will it allow anything else to emerge in its place. A kind of hysteresis of the political reigns”.26 If we examine the “hysteresis” of the Indian polity it is clear that there is an unremitting reproduction and reiteration of the this hysteresis. Devi’s death can only be understood as having taken place not in the political as we thought we understood it – the one in which she thought she lived – but in the transpolitical.
            Instead of addressing the sense of isolation and alienation of the people of Northeast India, the Indian government perpetuates the colonial legacy of exclusion.  Baudrillard has led us to be very skeptical of the political and distrustful of politicians as he understood the political as a domain of incertitude. We may say that the state in using terror as an instrument to counter terrorism creates an illusion of political stability that is actually absent.  In such a scenario both “terrorism” and “war on terror” legitimize each other seeking to impose alternative forms of “order.” For Baudrillard :

…terrorist violence satisfies only the state’s need for a violence of its own upon which its legitimacy (and increasing illegitimacy) is based. It is here that theory comes to a pause… to contemplate the emptiness of both terrorism and the state, understanding perhaps, that neither terrorism nor the state as we know them, makes sense.27

V. Violence and The Postcolonial Real
            The postcolonial state of India is, in many ways unreal, and it struggles to establish its own sense of the Real. Challenging the postcolonial-national Real, the insurgents in Northeast India produce alternative Reals refusing to surrender to or be subsumed under the logic and dynamics of the Indian nation state. From an anthropological perspective Veena Das and Deborah Pooleargue that there is a link between “violence and the ordering functions of the state”.28 Drawing upon the thought of Kant, Hegel, and Weber, they argue that the modern state as a political organization monopolizes and legitimizes the use of physical force in the name of establishing the rule of law. The state in modernity is in perpetual struggle with its own contradictions between the realm of “universalistic reason proper to the state and primordial relations proper to the family.”29 The figure of law legitimizes state violence while declaring other forms of violence that challenge the state as illegitimate.
            The communities of Northeast India have been absent from the discourse of nation building in India. Instead of being integrated psychologically into the mainstream national culture these communities are in a state of inertia. Identity claims are redefined in a counter-modernist manner and separation is advocated form the national power that intervenes/disrupts their ways of life.
            The postcolonial space is often fraught with violence. If the state is prone to violence in the name of social justice, secessionist demands and other inequalities, the state also produces violence in the name of protecting its sovereignty. Violence was the defining metaphor for colonial modernity, as it was employed to subjugate and suppress the native. The logic of the “civilizing mission” in fact was another unreality, for it was inscribed in the method of coercion not dialogue. The process of colonial modernity did not lead the native from ignorance to enlightenment but typically reconstructed him as a colonial subject and in doing so understood itself as rescuing him from the chaos and darkness of his own existence. This process created boundaries between people as “civilized” and “primitive” declaring geographical areas as excluded zones.30 The inhabitants of the excluded zones/regions are considered as the other, kept at bay, under a different kind of administrative set up, outside the boundaries of the so-called civilized world. Postcolonial India has continued with the colonial policy of exclusion thereby creating the other among its own citizens. It has continued with the same set of institutions and policies that the British Colonial Government created for consolidating imperialism. The Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) is one such instrument that is created to sanitise a geographical area of subversive elements. This act is beyond the purview of normal judiciary and invests the army with unlimited power. In the present context, this Act can be seen as an instrument outside law, a license to produce both “oppressive” and “symbolic” violence, products of “the rational, capitalist system”.31 Symbolic violence sets the reversibility of power that installs unilaterality of power both by the state and those who are opposed to it. In the symbolic exchange of violence, following Agamben32 we may say that there is a relationship between insurgency (tumultus or civil war) and the state of exception (iustitium). In this relationship each needs the other. The space occupied by the state of exception or the iustitium, and according to Agamben, is devoid of law that contradicts our notion of reality.
            In poststructural thought the subject is considered to be performative and negotiates constantly its relationship with the other. Therefore its ontology as fixed is negated but the epistemological perspective that it generates becomes more significant to the poststructuralists. Baudrillard follows a radical theoretical trajectory in declaring that the “era of the representational subject is past”, for the subject no more offers us a vantage point to comprehend “reality” having no control over time, space and causality. The logic of the subject is replaced with the logic of the object and this is Baudrillard’s “fatal strategy.” The world from within the object, he argues, looks like the world where “the real has disappeared because of the hegemony of the sign”.33  The media, according to Baudrillard, do not provide us with meaning, but “the site of the disappearance of meaning”; hence become instrumental in the disappearance of the real by turning the “subject” into a simulated “object”.34
            Agamben’s35 theorization of desubjectification provides us with a further way of examining the subject’s disappearance. In a state of exception the subject undergoes desubjectification where impossibility and necessity as negations of possibility and contingency engage in destruction and destitution of the subject. The subject is denied of any privileged moment under the operators of desubjectification.
            Devi’s death took place precisely in such a state as that of a lost subject – a desubjectified “object” who can be tortured and murdered. The transpolitical of contemporary Northeast India is no closer to the ideals of Western enlightenment and subject rights than was colonial India. Devi and her fellow citizens are all suspected terrorists and are all hostages of terrorism:

We are all hostages, we are all terrorists. This circuit has replaced that other one of masters and slaves, the dominating and the dominated, the exploiters and the exploited. ...Gone is the constellation of the slave and the proletarian: from now on it is the hostage and the terrorist. Gone is the constellation of alienation; from now on it is that of terror. It is worse than the one it replaces, but at least it liberates us from liberal nostalgia and the ruses of history.  It is the era of the transpolitical that is beginning.36

VI. Conclusion
            The people of Northeast India may be a long way from the “violence of consensus”37 but for them this offers little consolation in their chaotic transpolitical circumstance. A Baudrillardian inspired analysis of contemporary Northeast India is not at all consoling but it does offer us a radical way to view a radical circumstance that cannot be understood by reference to traditional approaches. Alongside of Baudrillard, thinkers such as Agamben and Zizek also provide important theoretical tools for evaluating the current situation. Events in Northeastern India, as in many places around the globe demonstrate with immense sadness the accuracy of Baudrillard’s claim that “the revolution of our time is the uncertainty revolution”.38 We do not like it but it is the terroristic context in which the memory of Thangjam Manorama Devi takes place.



Endnotes

1 An earlier version of this paper was presented at the International Conference “Engaging Baudrillard” at Swansea University, Wales, UK, September 4-6, 2006.

2 Jean Baudrillard. The Gulf War Did Not Take Place. Bloomington, Indiana: University of Indiana Press, 1995:49.

3 Jean Baudrillard. Fatal Strategies. New York: Semiotext(e), 1983:47.

4 The Armed Forces Special Powers Act is one of the draconian laws that was enacted by the Parliament of India in 1958 (Act 28 of 1958,11th September,1958). This Act is in force in the so-called disturbed states of Northeast India: Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura. This Act confers special powers on the Armed Forces operating in these states. Under the Act “any commissioned officer, warrant officer, non commissioned officer or any other person of equivalent rank in the armed forces may, in a disturbed area: (a) if he is of opinion that it is necessary so to do for the maintenance of Public order, after giving such due warning as he may consider necessary, fire upon or otherwise use force, even to the causing of death, against any person who is acting in contravention of any law or order for the time being in force in the disturbed area prohibiting the assembly of five or more persons or the carrying of weapons or of things capable of being used as weapons or of fire-arms, ammunition or explosive substances;(b) if he is of opinion that it is necessary so to do, destroy any arms dump, prepared or fortified position or shelter from which armed attacks are made or are likely to be made or are attempted to be made, or any structure used as a training camp for armed volunteers or utilized as a hide-out by armed gangs or absconders wanted for any offence; (c) arrest, without warrant, any person who has committed a cognizable offence or against whom a reasonable suspicion exists that he has committed or is about to commit a cognizable offence and may use such force as may be necessary to effect the arrest; (d) enter and search without warrant any premises to make any such arrest as aforesaid or to recover any person believed to be wrongfully restrained or confined or any property reasonably suspected to be stolen property or any arms, ammunition or explosive substances believed to be unlawfully kept in such premises and may for that Purpose use such force as may be necessary.” This Act is outside the purview of the judiciary and it does not insist on accountability on the part of the Armed Forces for their acts of omission and commission.

5 Jean Baudrillard. “War Porn”. Translated by Paul A. Taylor. International Journal of Baudrillard Studies, volume 2, Number 1(January 2005): http://www.ubishops.ca/baudrillardstudies/vol2_1/taylor.htm

6 Originally used by Gay Debord. Baudrillard deploys the concept of “spectacle” as a trope at the intersection of the real and the non-real, simulation and simulcrum. For Baudrillard the virtual undoes the “society of the spectacle.” A reversal of the spectacle takes place to suggest the unpredictability of events and their consequences, such as the  war on Iraq, the shocking events of prisioner abuse, capture, trial and hanging of Saddam Hussain. Douglas Kellner argues that Baudrillard’s concept of  “immanent reversal” provides a parallel to Horkheimer and Adorno’s “dialectic of Englightenement” (1972[1974]), where key features of Western Enlightenment become their opposite. See Kellner’s essay “Baudrillard, Globalization and Terrorism” at http://www.gseis.ucla.edu/faculty/kellner. For a closer understanding of the concept see also: Jean Baudrillard. Screened Out. London: Verso, 2002.

7 Debananda S Ningthoujam. “Manipur's Manorama: Manipur's agony, centre's hegemony.”  Northeast Vigil, August 13, 2004

8 Subir Ghosh. “state-sponsored terrorism(noun): terrorism practiced by a government against its own people or in support of international terrorism. (We will concern ourselves with the former definition)”Northeast Vigil,August 13, 2004.

9 Tehelka is a news portal that has become famous for its sting operations and exposed the BJB President Bangaru Lakshman receiving bribes and also brought the irregularities on the defence deal during the NDA Government. Its reporters are known for their investigative journalism.

10 Mike Grimshaw. “Religion, Terror and the End of the Postmodern: Rethinking the Responses.” International Journal of Baudrillard Studies, Volume 3, Number 1 (January 2006): http://www.ubishops.ca/baudrillardstudies/vol 3_1/grimshaw.htm

11 Jean Baudrillard. The Spirit of Terrorism. New York: Verso, 2002:19, 23.

12 Timothy Luke. “On 9.11.01”. TELOS: Symposium on Terrorism. Number 120, Summer 2001:134 cited in Mike Grimshaw (see endnote 10).

13 Mike Grimshaw. “Religion, Terror and the End of the Postmodern: Rethinking the Responses.” International Journal of Baudrillard Studies, Volume 3, Number 1 (January 2006): http://www.ubishops.ca/baudrillardstudies/vol 3_1/grimshaw.htm

14 In his essay  “Religion, Terror and the End of the Postmodern: Rethinking the Responses”, Mike Grimshaw cites Bataille’s concept of communicative anguish (Georges Bataille. Georges Bataille: Essential Writings. Michael Richardson (Editor). London: Sage, 1998:63) and Alain Badiou’s views on transgressive passion for the Real in the manifestation of terror, sacrifice and violence, as key features of 20th century. Also see Slavoj Zizek. Welcome To The Desert Of The Real! Five Essays on September 11 and related dates. London: Verso, 2002.

15 David Kelley. “Terrorism in historical perspective” in Open Democracy, April 4, 2004: http://www.opendemocracy.net/debates/article-2-103-1865.jsp

16 Jean Baudrillard. The Spirit of Terrorism. Trans. Chris Turner. London: Verso, 2003.

17 Jean Baudrillard. For a Critique of the Political Economy of the Sign. St. Louis: Telos, 1981.

18 Jean Baudrillard. Symbolic Exchange and Death. London: Sage, 1993.

19 In his work Baudrillard: Critical and Fatal Theory (New York: Routledge, 1991)Mike Gane points out “two irreconcilable orders” in Baudrillard’s theorization of the symbolic: cultures in which the symbolic mode is still intact, and cultures in which the more “archaic” symbolic mode has been displaced by a proliferation of signs (14). Therefore, symbolic cultures constitute the “other” of simulation cultures, and vice versa.

20 Gerry Coulter. “Reversibility: Baudrillard’s “One Great Thought.”  Internacional Journal of Baudrillard Studies, Volume 1, Number 2, (July 2004): http://www.ubishops.ca/baudrillardstudies/vol1_2/coulter.htm

21 Slavoj Zizek writes in The Plagues of Fantasies (London:Verso,1997) that “a certain real is excluded” (163) hence there is need for another “ethics”, an ethics beyond the good might be thought for our understanding of the Real. See Rex Butler. Slavoj Zizek: Live Theory. London, New York: Continuum, 2005:10.

22 Commenting on Baudrillard’s “impossible exchange”, Paul Hegarty writes: “In the 1990s and early 2000s, we will see the return of the threat to symbolic exchange in the form of  ‘Evil’, and also in the form of  ‘impossible exchange” (69). He further contends, “the theory of impossible exchange is the closing off of exchange with death, illusion, Evil, and so on. Impossible exchange is a radical situation brought about by simulation… once the world becomes fully real there is nothing to exchange against” (85). See Paul Hegarty. Jean Baudrillard: Live Theory. London, New York:2004.

23 Slavoj Zizek writes in Welcome to the Desert of the Real! (London: Verso,2002) that there is hardly any choice between terrorism and the war on terror for alternatives get exhausted in a situation of non-availability of choice that would break with the current symbolic order. See Rex Butler. Slavoj Zizek :Live Theory. London, New York: Continuum, 2005, 121.

24 Fred Halliday. “Terrorism in Historical Perspective.”    http://www.opendemocracy.net/debates/article.jsp?id=6&debateId=103&articleId=1865

25 In The Consumer Society (London: Sage,1998), Baudrillard writes: “The  whole movement of modernity, its negative destiny, lies in the fact of transcribing all that was of the order of the imaginary, the dream, the ideal and utopia into technical and operational reality”(50).

26 Jean Baudrillard. Symbolic Exchange and Death. London: Sage 1993:36; See also his Simulacra and Simulation. Ann Arbor, Michigan: University of Michigan Press,1994.

27 Gerry Coulter. “Intersections and Divergences in Contemporary Theory: Baudrillard and Agamben on Politics and the Daunting Questions of Our Time.” Internacional Journal of Baudrillard Studies, Volume 2, Number 2, (July 2005): http://www.ubishops.ca/baudrillardstudies/vol2_2/agamben.htm

28 Veena Das and Deborah Poole (Editors). Anthropology in the Margin of the State. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2004:6

29 Ibid.:7.

30 An Inner Line Permit, which is necessary to enter some of the tribal states of Northeast India is a colonial instrument of exclusion. It is variously exploited by the political groups: (a) interpreted as a system to safeguard the unique cultures of these people from outside influence that contradicts free mobility of an Indian citizen to any part of the country; (b) interpreted by insurgent groups that they never were part of the  Indian nation state for they were always excluded.

31 See Baudrillard’s Symbolic Exchange and Death (c 1976). London: SAGE, 1993:36, 62. 

32 Giorgio Agamben. “The State of Exception“ in Andrew Norris (Editor) Politics, Metaphysics, and Death: Essays on Giorgio Agamben’s Home Sacer. Durham: Duke University Press, 2005:184-197.

33 Jean Baudrillard. Selected Writing. Edited and introduced by Mark Poster. Cambridge: Polity Press,1998:6-7.

34 Ibid.

35 In Remnants of Auschwitz: The Witness and Archive ( Trans. Daniel Heller-Roazen. New York: Zone Books, 2002) Agamben contrasts the operators of subjectification: possibility and contingency and desubjectification: impossibility and necessity. He maintains: “Impossibility, as negation of possibility (not [to be able]), and necessity, as negation of contingency (not [to be able not to be]) are the operators of desubjectification, of the destruction and destitution of the subject – that is , processes that, in subjectivity, divide potentiality and impotentiality, the possible and the impossible” (147).

36 Jean Baudrillard. Fatal Strategies. New York: Semiotext(e), 1983:39.

37 Jean Baudrillard. The Gulf War Did Not Take Place. Bloomington: University of Indiana Press, 1995:84-85.

38 Jean Baudrillard. The Transparency of Evil. New York: Verso, 1993:43.

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