Monday, November 29, 2010

Jean Baudrillard: The Global and the Univeral by Krista Tietjen

In this reading Baudrillard begins by stating the key differences between globalization and universality. Globalization is the spread of technologies, markets, and goods across countires to reach a broader group of people. The universal refers to the shared values, human rights, freedoms, culture and democracy--essentially things that bring cultures together. He also states that while globalization seems to be an irreversible phenomenon, the universal seems to be disappearing. The universal is a sad fate for any culture according to Baudrillard. This is because any culture that universalizes itself loses its singularity and fades away. He then states that the globalization of trade puts an end to the universality of values, stating that unique thought trumps universal thought. He then equates globalization to pornography, which in the context of this reading is the free flow of all exchanges, products, signs and values.

Baudrillard then discusses how universal ideas also become globalized, and he gives the example of intangible ideas such as democracy and human rights being circulated like products.

He discusses a three-term arrangement, which includes the globalization of exchanges, the universality of values, and the singularity of forms. Once the universal disappears, all that is left is a global technostructure that stands against the singularities that used to be characteristic of the universal. He suggests that the universal has vanished, and in its place is globalization, which is the face of homogenization.

The goal of this reading is to say that the loss of the universal could be a good thing, however with its loss means the triumph of globalization. Baudrillard takes a critical view on globalization, stating that globalization will not necessarily triumph over all and that there are other "heterogeneous forces" that are different from globalization and that are equally if not more so "antagonistic and irreducible," (159).

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