The Fourth Eye

The Agony of Power & From Domination to Hegemony

Baudrillard, J., The Agony of Power, 2010, Semiotext(e), Los Angeles.

We are exiting a system of domination (slavery, obedience, alienation) and entering into expansive world of hegemony in which everyone becomes hostage and accomplice of the global power

  • Indeterminate specularity – consumerism engulfs everything – everything is consumed by the exchangeability of capital – everything within production and the economy becomes commutable, reversible and exchangeable, i.e. capital is no longer a process of production, production itself is dissolving into the code
  • Counter discourse is disintegrated and absorbed
  • Homogenizing principle based on repetition, compulsive reproduction of the code
  • Paris 68 demonstrated that traditional class struggle was no longer a viable political alternative
  • Immaterializing labor allowed the form of capital to penetrate the entire society, workers at home, in the social space and at work, are occupied. Labor and non labor time is harder to differentiate, nonstop work and general stupidity
  • Pulverized into every pore of our society, labor became a way of life
  • Voluntary servitude – servitude is not passive, but willed, people get something in return for oppression, they get identity, privilege, security, pleasure, however perverse
  • Power itself must be abolished – not solely because of a refusal to be dominated – but also just as violently in the refusal to dominate.
  • Hegemony is the ultimate stage of domination and its terminal phase
  • We emancipated workers internalize the global order and operational set up of which we are hostages more than slaves
  • Hegemony is the domination of networks, of calculation and integral exchange
  • Domination can only be overthrown from the outside. Hegemony can only be inverted or reversed from the inside.
  • The mechanisms of revolution, as history has demonstrated, can become the impetus or the vector for hegemony
  • Hegemony works through general masquerade, relies on the excessive use of every sign and obscenity, the way it mocks its own values and challenges the rest of the world by its cynicism (carnivalization)
  • Hegemony determines the forms of resistance appropriate for each and the various ways in which the situation could evolve
  • Vast Stockholm syndrome – we side with the system that holds us hostage, prisoners of the nexus, of the network, connected for better or worse
  • Denouncing capital is nothing new, but when the banker himself has said it, truth coming from the mouth of evil. It wasn’t a denunciation, a critical analysis. It came from the dominant power and enjoyed complete immunity. It could admit its crime in broad daylight.
  • We are fascinated by its insolence, its shameless flippancy, which steals our denunciation
  • The privilege of telling the truth eludes our grasp.
  • This is a bitter truth: radicalness is on the side of the intelligence of evil. Critical intelligence no longer measures up to the collapse of the reality and to the passage of total reality. The truth or the inhumanity of this situation can only be revealed from the inside, voluntarily or involuntarily, by the agents of the embezzlement of reality.
  • Only evil can speak evil now – evil is a ventriloquist
  • Critical intelligence is left to jump over its own shadow, even in radicalism, it remains pious and denunciatory
  • This is a hegemonic form of total reality, a closed circuit of global power that has even captured the negative
  • Critiques of alienation and spectacle has blossomed because it is the only discourse of consolation we have. But its tone has changed, it has become more melancholy, as subversion and transgression have lost popularity
  • Exchange is total, and completely freed from value and markets
  • Financial flows and international speculation far surpasses the laws of the market, is the concept of exchange at an end?
  • In view of hegemony, domination itself appears to be a lesser evil. Take the example of the web, the Internet, networks, blogs etc. It’s all free, “liberally” deployed without economic constraints, beyond markets in a frenzy of total communication. This is a virtual catastrophe, the catastrophe of total exchange that is not even protected by money or the market.
  • This is the virtual dimension of hegemony, different from the domination of capital and different from the dimensions of power in its strictly political definition.


The white terror of world order


  • When domination becomes hegemony, negativity becomes terrorism.
  • Thus hegemony is a meta-stable form because it has absorbed the negative – but by the same token, lacking the possibility of dialectical balance, it remains infinitely fragile. Its victory, therefore, is only apparent, and its total positivity, this reabsorption of the negative, anticipates its own dissolution. It is therefore both the twilight of critical thought and the agony of power.
  • Hegemony has absorbed the negative
  • It means the system as a whole is not longer driven by historical forces but is absorbed by its final conditions
  • Power cannibalizes itself – the work of the negative is replaced by an immense work of mourning
  • This frenetic communication and information that is the sign of hegemony.
  • The dimension of hegemony is different from that of capital and different from the dimension of power in its strictly political definition. It is no longer a question of political power tied to a history and a form of representation. Representation itself has lost its principle and the democratic illusion if complete. Not through the violation of rights but through the simulation of values and the derealization of all reality.
  • With the election of Arnold Schwarzenegger as governor of Cal, we are deep in the masquerade, where politics is only a game of idolatry and marketing. It is a giant step toward the end of the system of representation. This is the destiny of contemporary politicians – those who live by the show will die by the show. This is true both for “citizens” and politicians. It is the immanent justice of the media. You want the power of the image? Then you will die through its replay. The carnival of the image is also (self) cannibalization through the image.
  • Behind the masquerade there is a vast political strategy, (certainly not deliberate, it would require too much intelligence) that belies our eternal democratic illusions. By electing Schwarzenegger (or Bush’s rigged election in 2000) in this bewildering parody of all systems of representation, America took revenge for the distain of which it is the object.
  • In its hegemonic function, power is a virtual configuration that metabolizes any element to serve its own purpose. The response to hegemony is not as simple. Irredentism, dissidence, antagonism, violent aberration but also fascination and total ambivalence
  • Vertigo is exiting, this vertigo of denial and artifice
  • Opposition to global hegemony cannot be the same as opposition to traditional oppression. It can only be something unpredictable, irreducible to the preventive terror of programming, forced circulation, irreducible to the white terror of the world order
  • Something that leave a trace in the monitoring of global order of terror. Something that reintroduces a form of impossible exchange in this generalized exchange.


Where good grows

  • There has been a massive transfer of decision making to computerized devices
  • This is a voluntary servitude far more profound that servitude before tyrants
  • The failure of will implies the disappearance of every subject, the deresponsibilisation of humankind
  • Today power itself is an embarrassment and there is no one to assume it truly.
  • Programming has transformed progress, which was an idea, a great historical idea, into a technological operation of the world in real time
  • We must therefore recognize that the West has become a totalitarian space, the space of a self defensive hegemony defending itself against its own weakness
  • Everyone is an accomplice. And hegemony uses this complicity to lower individuals even more, playing on everyone’s desire to lower themselves in this way. Hegemony works by devaluing everyone.
  • The era of hegemony is the era of the cyber system. It governs, it regulates, but if does not dominate. There is no longer any exploited or dominated. There is something else, something much harder to take by surprise.