The system itself is nihilistic

By Alex Mazey

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Firstly, I no longer see myself as a politically engaged person. This reluctance to engage politically stems from the energy I ultimately end up providing to a system that I don’t care about. The paradoxical demand from politics today is one in which we are ordered to care about a system that does not care about anyone.

Moreover, politics seems to be sustained by the dichotomy of oppositions. ‘Politics still works, even captivates us,’ but no more so than say television. In short, a position of oppositions ultimately becomes the feedback loop for the system you are opposing.

In the latest issue of the International Academic Journal, ‘Baudrillard Now’, there’s an interview between Baudrillard and Florian Rötzer called ‘Things surpass themselves’, where Baudrillard says, “We know that every critique, every opposing force, only feeds the system…”

The prevailing idea right now is one in which politics has entered the realm of the spectacle. As such, so much of the conversation, in political terms, especially, is devoted to the idea of removing the spectacle from politics, to indicate a return to something that might have existed prior.

There is a failure here, in considering the reality that politics today is the spectacle, and to a certain extent, always has been.

That being said, do you genuinely believe we can ever return to a separation of politics and the spectacle of politics and do you think that separation ever really existed?

For many people, especially for the die-hard fans of the current paradigm, I suspect the answer here is one of pragmatism. The spectacle of politics, even as a spectacle, still takes on a certain role within the system, in terms of the left’s protection of the collective, for example, versus the right’s protection of the individual.

Here, we have, once again, entered into a stale dichotomy that attempts to segregate and separate to generate a dialogue from which we create the simulation that change may occur from a system that is ultimately controlled by an operating system that we no longer understand.

In its current form, I claim the democratic process works as a strategy adopted to make us believe in structural change. It seems the belief in structural change – that a structural change can ever occur – has become the deterrence of change itself. As long as there’s an ongoing faith in change – that change might occur within the system, maybe soon, maybe in some far-off, distant future – the system functions.

In this way, the sustained faith in structural changes can be framed as a fatal strategy.

“I hope that my standpoint isn’t wistful or passive.” Baudrillard responds to Florian Rötzer, “There’s always the objection that I’m so pessimistic, nihilistic or apocalyptic. I don’t feel it’s optimistic or pessimistic. Rather it’s a question of driving logic into an over logic, and then seeing what comes of it. People who always seek to conjure up opposing values or older values are pessimistic; they are the really passive nihilists, as Nietzsche says. The system itself is nihilistic.”

Alex Mazey is the author of ‘Living in Disneyland’, available from Broken Sleep Books.

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Cover photo: Jean Baudrillard by Continent