Not one for answers

March 30, 2007

For John Armitage (Opinion, March 16), Jean Baudrillard provides "a much-needed critique of semiotic society". However, while postmodernism may pose some awkward questions, it can have no answers. In place of modern social theory, Baudrillard urged "fatal theory", where resistance takes the form of a deliberate passivity, a refusal to be absorbed into the imploded universe of signs and meanings, which will eventually lead to the system's collapse under its own dead symbolic discharge.

Marxism, on the other hand, is a living philosophy. And it is solutions that are needed. For those in need, American imperialism and capitalist exploitation are realities that impinge on their day-to-day lives, not something that does not exist. Armitage is right that political engagement with Western party politics is "near pointless", but political engagement per se is anything but pointless, as is witnessed in Venezuela.

Baudrillard sees modern society as representing endless and useless consumption. In Venezuela, grassroots democracy combines with necessary consumption (good food for the barrios, free education and medicine) and socially useful production (new railway lines and medical centres).

Mike Cole
Bishop Grosseteste University College Lincoln

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