As Bernie Sanders wins huge in Alaska, Hawaii and Washington with more than 68% of the votes as previously in Idaho and Utah, Hillary Clinton’s campaign ever more exemplifies a copy without an original, or what philosophers have been defining for ages as simulacrum. However, according to the French philosopher, Jean Baudrillard, in postmodern era, simulacrum is no longer just about creating a copy of a copy, but rather transforming it into a hyperreal “that bears no relation to reality whatsoever”.
In this hyperreal universe, explains Baudrillard, it is the map that precedes the territory, not contrariwise. In a hyperreal, all reference points are simply erased , and we end up in a system of empty signs, referring back to themselves over and over.
Being a useful medium for creating animation and something as big and entertaining as Disneyland, in a world of politics, simulacrum turns into a medium of dark sorcery that benefits only the chosen few , a class of billionaires and oligarchs, corrupting with their big money the American politics and directly influencing presidential campaigns.
The hyperreal usurps democracy itself, demonizing everything and everyone who dares to unveil its simulated and deformed version.
That said, Bernie Sanders’ campaign basically is all about reviving what has been hijacked from the people: democracy. “In the year 2016, with a political campaign finance system that is corrupt and increasingly controlled by billionaires and special interests, I fear very much that, in fact, government of the people, by the people, and for the people is beginning to perish in the United States of America. We cannot allow that happen”, he pronounced.
Moreover, this elitist adaptation of democracy has been imposed and “sold” for decades as the best possible model , despite of all the shortcomings it provoked, like wealth and income inequality, unaffordable health care and higher education , climate change, problems with voting and women’s rights, and other important issues.
Conveniently, those who dare to defy simulacrum with the legion of simulacra it aggressively branches out, as a rule become disparaged. While President Obama sneeringly calls Bernie Sanders a “pot smoking socialist”, Hillary Clinton and the political mainstream repetitiously dub Bernie Sanders’s political discourse a “fantasy world”.
Meanwhile, democratic socialism Sanders promotes, is not just a form of political governance and the means of production , but represents the cultural and intellectual matrix of France, Sweden, Norway Finland and Europe in general. It’s no fantasy at all. But as we already know, in the hyperreal, reference points are either erased or stigmatized. All that is continuously hammering the free trade mantra while suitably downplaying the negative ripples it engendered: American manufacturing industries and jobs vanishing offshore, resulting in hurting American business, less employment opportunities and lower wages for workers.
What is exactly that makes Bernie Sanders so defiant in mainstream’s eyes? It’s not just the political revolution he summons to but the clarity and the mode of reasoning he counters his rivals with. “All of that may be fantasy to the ruling class and the big money interests in this country. I don’t think that’s fantasy to the working people in this country who have worked longer hours for lower wages, who are tired of establishment politics and establishment economics”, Sanders told to CNN. Who can possibly deny the obvious truth of such a clear argument.
And what is the main raison d’être that compels so many young people to support Bernie Sanders for President as the latest Sanders’ victories in the primaries demonstrate?
In a way, it may be happening because the young people interact with the reality on their own terms and with their own technological means, like tweeting, Instagram, Facebook, etc. , being immune to simulacra with all its biased and rigid rhetoric that the mainstream media exudes. They capture whatever they see and hear instantaneously. The youth lives in much more fluid universe than the establishment can even imagine. In their information field, Bernie Sanders’s message lands unpolluted, being effortlessly aligned with both their perceptions and concerns. On their terrain, democratic socialism is viewed from both intellectual and pragmatic perspective: universal higher education provides is a gateway to a better and also debt-free future. Even thinking about it feels good. Why should the American youth agree with those who deny their right to have it when it’s a real possibility and no fantasy at all, for at least millions of students across Europe. And why should anyone agree with the billionaires and Wall Street simulacra at all!
Compared to Bernie’s clear, inclusive, mind-opening and vibrant message, Clinton’s political narrative appears terribly stale, rigid and artificial.
Bernie Sanders’ revolution is about dispelling the hyperreal with all its empty signs and clichés its sorcerers keep referring to, jeering at any healthy and reasonable alternatives that may benefit the middle class.
In Bernie’s discourse, it’s the territory that precedes the map, not the other way around. Bernie Sanders tries to restore the American democracy with all its reference points and coordinates to explore and choose from . On this ground, we see, discern and make real choices.
As Sanders sweeps Saturday caucuses, gaining momentum, the entire political establishment and Hillary Clinton as its textbook representation more and more resemble a dinosaur, metaphorically speaking. Once upon a time it was a very bulky and powerful creature, or at least it thought it was, but one day it disappeared. Nothing personal. It’s simply evolution.