The Fragmented Era is a Dead End for Humanity

The Fragmented Era is a Dead End for Humanity

Dr. Oleg Maltsev

Baudrillard’s “Fragments” vividly portrays the contemporary world as fragmented, encapsulating a distinctive era. This subject marks a conclusive juncture in the fundamentals of philosophy, sociology, and radical anthropology of Baudrillard. In my book with Lucien Oulahbib “Maestro: Last Prophet of Europe,” I explore the core tenets of Baudrillard’s philosophy, illustrating them with practical examples. I contend that the philosophy is particularly relevant for individuals striving to take responsibility for their lives in both the present and the future. Baudrillard’s philosophy, akin to a distinctive “programming environment,” serves as a unique language for electronic programming, allowing for versatile applications in programming various aspects of life.

What is unique in Baudrillard’s philosophy compared to other exceptional ones in the world? Baudrillard is sober in his statements about what is happening now and what will happen. He is a prophet, unlike others. All other philosophers could be called “reasoners” because they only reason, but Baudrillard prognoses. His vision is exceptionally sharp and critical, which can be challenging for many to grasp. The reason for this is that people do not know what they want.

When posed with questions about their future, a majority of individuals may appear bewildered, as they often lack a clear understanding of what aspects they wish to explore or whether they even desire any knowledge about their future at all. Baudrillard does not focus on a particular personality’s future, but he focuses on the common lot of “humanity as kin.” Baudrillard deduced that virtualization is an experiment of humankind on humankind, which will end with its disintegration:

“… In these ‘theory-fictions’, the process of ‘simulation’ has mutated into an even more extreme process of virtualization (and indeterminacy), for which Baudrillard advances – at first playfully, but then with increasing force – the hypothesis that, because we are unable to bear the world of symbolic exchange (which is now transmuted into the more philosophical terminology of ‘illusion’) , our collective project of creating a virtual reality (in all its various forms, including such technical ventures as cloning) is to be understood as a suicidal project of termination of the human species.”[1]

Baudrillard acknowledged this reality, but at the same time, he hinted in every way so that people should stop conducting these experiments. Life should not be virtualized; otherwise, it leads to an extreme environment for people’s existence. After all, when a person becomes, conditionally, “blind,” “deaf,” and “dumb,” he does not understand what is happening to him and what might happen at any given moment. In such a case, is it progress!? Virtualization is an experiment but is not progress by any means.

There is a ‘softer’ version of this thought, in which the whole of human life is presented as having become experimental, ‘a limitless experimentation on human beings themselves.”

And when humanity experiments on itself, whether it will survive or not—it is an unfortunate experiment. That’s why Baudrillard raises the question, and it is a Baudrillardian “transparency of evil.” Basically, the scene itself (what is done on stage) does not correspond to what is done behind the scenes. When some “know what they are doing” but do not want others to “know” what they are doing…

“This is the state of simulation, a state in which we are obliged to replay all scenarios precisely because they have all taken place already, whether actually or potentially. The state of utopia realized, of all utopias realized, wherein paradoxically we must continue to live as though they had not been. But since they have, and since we can no longer, therefore, nourish the hope of realizing them, we can only `hyper-realize’ them through interminable simulation. We live amid the interminable reproduction of ideals, phantasies, images and dreams which are now behind us, yet which we must continue to reproduce in a sort of inescapable indifference.”[2]

Hence, and from, the “transparency of evil” follows such a phenomenon as a “committed crime” which has no punishment. The existence of punishment is contingent upon the provisions outlined in specific sections of the criminal code or other applicable codes (e.g. administrative ones). And if this “act” does not fall under any article of the criminal code? If someone were to splash water from a glass onto somebody’s face within the confines of their own home, it wouldn’t be classified as hooliganism. However, if the same act were to occur in a public place, it would be considered petty hooliganism. The first could be perceived as an insult against the individual when examined through the lens of ethics and morality. This conditional example serves to illustrate that an individual might refrain from such an act in a public place, where the risk of punishment is higher. It highlights a scenario where a potential crime is committed in a manner that minimizes accountability, offering a basic illustration of a “committed crime.” The essence is important: a person does everything so that it is impossible to punish him, but the action itself is criminal. No matter how perfect a criminal code is, people will find a way to commit a perfect crime.

“Are there extenuating circumstances to this crime? Certainly not, since these always have to be sought among the motives or the perpetrators. But the crime has no motivation and no perpetrator, and therefore remains perfectly inexplicable. This is its true perfection. Though admittedly, from the point of view of the concept, this is more of an aggravating circumstance. Though the consequences of the crime are never-ending, there is neither murderer nor victim. If there were either, the secret of the crime would be unmasked someday, and the inquiry concluded. The secret, in the end, is that the two are merged: ‘In the last analysis, the victim and the persecutor are one. We can only grasp the unity of the human race if we can grasp, in all its horror, the truth of this ultimate equivalence’ (Eric Cans).”[3]

It is indeed possible to find a way for dealing with “criminals who are attempting to commit perfect crimes.” We should remember Baudrillard’s approach, though: a head-on collision with them does no good, but making them react in a way that causes them to “destroy” themselves will work (more details in Chapter 13 of Maestro. The Last Prophet of Europe). This necessitates a tactical approach guided by a distinct logic, given that it is uncommon for ordinary individuals to handle such types of criminals.

The continued existence of numerous criminal structures suggests that they have successfully executed “perfect crimes” without facing consequences. Killing a person is not a “perfect crime” because murder falls under the criminal code’s disposition. But a “perfect crime” does not. The whole point is that the person ends up sitting in a restaurant, drinking coffee and smirking, because nothing can be done legally against him. Baudrillard excludes the necessity to wait for evidence because no matter how much evidence is presented, there is still nothing you can do because the crime is “perfect”…

His book The Perfect Crime (2008) begins with the introduction of the “Murder of Reality”:

`So, my friend, after the example of the Phoenicians, you charted your course by the stars?’

`No,’ said Menippus, `it was among the stars themselves I journeyed.’ Given the mass of evidence, there is no plausible hypothesis but reality. Given the mass of evidence to the contrary, there is no solution but illusion.

“This is the story of a crime – of the murder of reality. And the extermination of an illusion – the vital illusion, the radical illusion of the world. The real does not disappear into illusion; it is illusion that disappears into integral reality.

If the crime were perfect, this book would have to be perfect too, since it claims to be the reconstruction of the crime. Alas, the crime is never perfect. Moreover, in this grim record of the disappearance of the real, it has not been possible to pin down either the motives of the perpetrators, and the corpse of the real itself has never been found. And the idea that underlies this book has never been pinned down either. That idea was the murder weapon.

Though the crime is never perfect, perfection, true to its name, is always criminal. In the perfect crime it is the perfection itself winch is the crime, just as, in the transparence of evil, it is the transparence itself that is the evil. But perfection is always punished: the punishment for perfection is reproduction.”[4]

Because a person kills the reality of people, he bears no responsibility. Those who fool people’s heads, exterminate their reality—and they are not accountable neither before the law nor before people, deduces Baudrillard. The media serves as one of the levers and tools for killing reality. During the COVID-19 period in Germany, there was a point when it was argued that there was no longer an epidemic in the country. But the prior stringent measures imposed on everyone, including major entities like Lufthansa, resulted in losses exceeding 1.2 billion euros, pushing the airline and numerous other large German enterprises to the brink of bankruptcy. The private sector contended that the government should compensate them for their losses, asserting that the measures taken during the pandemic went against the constitution and violated human freedoms. Numerous instances exist in our world where different states employ various measures, often justified by citing a “threat to security”. Viewed through Baudrillard’s perspective, the focal points revolve around the concept of a “fascinating catastrophe” and the inherent “reversibility” within any system.


What is the source of the “beautiful” life observed in the modern world today? Fragmentary nature or geometric form of time, or fractal (“fractal era” according to Baudrillard) comes from hyperreality, that is, from extreme environments and situations. Thus, an extreme environment is the environment of fragments.

To comprehend the concept of a “fragment,” it is helpful to view it as a phenomenon. In more understandable terms, a fragment can be prototypologized as a situation. A life consisting only of situations is called fragmentation. However, the ensuing question is: What is problematic about it?

The first characteristic of the fragment is its unexpectedness and extremity. The situation arises abruptly for an individual. Consider being unexpectedly placed in the pilot’s seat of an airplane at an altitude of 10,000 meters, having never received education on aircraft operation. This serves as a vivid illustration of a complete surprise, impacting not only the person involved but also everyone aboard.

The second characteristic is the fatality of the fragment. There is no way we can refuse the situation (fragment). Unfortunately, Baudrillard Baudrillard examines this matter exclusively from the standpoint of the fragment itself. He does not situate an individual within it and simply explains what awaits the person in this fragment during such a fragmented era.

The third characteristic of the fragment is its spontaneity (the unwarrantedness of its occurrence). The fragment is not only unexpected but also spontaneous, embodying chaos and contingency This spontaneity adds to the complexity, as the cause lacks rationale, making it impossible to pinpoint the origin of these situations. Consequently, determining the appropriate course of action becomes unclear. In theory, addressing the cause to prevent recurrence would be ideal, but establishing the root of the problem is exceedingly challenging.

The fourth characteristic of the fragment is its finitude. Each fragment has a distinct beginning and end. Fragments lack continuity, leading to numerous psychological traumas. The expressions such “you can’t go back/you can’t reverse time” encapsulate this idea. These “events” accumulate in life in substantial quantities, marked by irreversibility. The inability to repeat or change these moments creates a sense of loss, as they are gone beyond retrieval. In the context of modern life, dominated by these fragments in a fragmented era, individuals find themselves in a perpetual state of disquiet, marked by a sense of inevitable inferiority and fatalism. Baudrillard terms this fragment as a facet of fate.

Baudrillard’s final observation regarding the fragment is its variability. Numerous versions of fragments exist, and even situations within the same category of events differ from one another. Each situation is non-replicable. Baudrillard underscores that experience, as an anthropological category, loses its relevance and ceases to exist. Essentially, individuals can no longer depend on past experiences. Baudrillard’s depiction of fragments implies the end of the anthropological category of human experience.

The state of confusion generated is very interesting to observe: as the whirlwind approaches, the century is going into convulsions. We have, in a way, gone beyond the end. People want to hold on to their goals [leur finalité], but they’re already beyond them. They’re living wholly at odds with themselves. They’re living in a mode that’s no longer the traditional, representative, social, electoral mode. The sham nature of elections has reached an extraordinary pitch – and not just in the United States! And I don’t know what could take the place of the representative system. Maybe nothing! It’s the consecration of emptiness, the emptiness show!

In the past, human prototypes were “rotating”, but today, the rotation is happening at the level of system prototypes. Humans have essentially vanished, reduced to mere outcomes of prototypological system rotations. In essence, nothing is contingent on an individual. Humanity has come to an era where a human does not play a role that he normally would have played. This establishes specific conditions, not for a regular person, but for a superhuman. Survival in this world demands a level beyond what an ordinary individual can master; it is no longer a habitat where an average person can thrive.

This is why in Baudrillard’s view, the modern world of virtualization is an experiment on oneself that will lead to the disappearance of the human race. Those “screws” that were important earlier do not work any longer, because nothing is repeated. There are no repetitions, but spontaneity and fatality only. In fact, unbearable living conditions, not in the sense of households, but in self-sufficiency.

Experience allows a person to live and provide for himself. But in a fragmented era, there is no orientation system; it creates a deadlock even when a person thinks about trivial things like getting clothing and some food. In essence, individual finds himself alone; there is no one he can turn to. Therefore, Baudrillard writes that for these people, there is no God any more, he had disappeared a long time ago:

“The transition from signs that dissimulate something to signs that dissimulate that there is nothing marks a decisive turning point. The first reflects a theology of truth and secrecy (to which the notion of ideology still belongs). The second inaugurates the era of simulacra and of simulation, in which there is no longer a God to recognize his own, no longer a Last Judgment to separate the false from the true, the real from its artificial resurrection, as everything is already dead and resurrected in advance.”[5]

Humanity will face dire consequences if it persists in its current behavior and lifestyle. When discussing a super personality, a superhuman, there is a notable absence of answers regarding how to attain such a state. There is recognized prerequisite and demand for this, but no one gives a methodology. There is no methodology for forming (training) such a person and that’s the whole point. A person cannot survive in these conditions without becoming a superhuman. At the same time, Baudrillard himself does not write anywhere that there is no methodology. He simply displays in his writings that there is a tendentious demand for this. Baudrillard indeed left a vast field of research for us. He started this way, showed the direction for conducting further studies and left.
The choice is now ours – whether to pursue further exploration in this direction or to accept Jean Baudrillard’s prognosis and await complete absorption by the fragmentary era.

In the present day, the social realm, particularly in the field of sociology, defies accurate description, echoing the sentiments articulated by Baudrillard.“…in which case everything that has been contrived and staged in this “comedy of errors” of the social has never had any deep significance. Ultimately, things have never functioned socially, but symbolically, magically, irrationally, etc.”[6]

These categories could have been used to describe the social, but as Baudrillard noted in his words, there is no social anymore. Correspondingly, there is no subject of sociological research, it has disappeared, and that’s the problem. Therefore, this world can be described only by other categories. In his view, what sociologists are studying today has disappeared too. They are working with virtual reality. Today, it is impossible to describe the social environment with mathematical functions, and science and sociological tools are incompatible.

Radical anthropology contradicts modern anthropology. Baudrillard highlights that the evolution of humanity has not kept pace; it neither adheres to nor will conform to anthropological laws. This is attributed to the significant transformations in the environment of human habitation, which have occurred both before and after the writings of anthropologists.

“So, unable to locate an end, we strive desperately to pin down a beginning. Our current compulsion to seek out origins is testament to this: in the to this: in the anthropological and palaeontological fields we see limits being pushed back in time, into a past that is also interminable. My hypothesis is that we have already passed the point of irreversibility; that we are already in an exponential, unlimited form in which everything develops The End in the void, to infinity, without any possibility of reapprehending it in a human dimension; in which we are losing the memory of the past, the projection of the future and the possibility of integrating that future into a present action. We might be said already to be in an abstract, disembodied state where things continue by mere inertia and become simulacra of themselves, without our being able to put an end to them.”[7]

At the time they authored their works, they were concerned about the environment they lived in. But eras have changed several times, there was an economic one, informational era, and we are approaching a fragmented era. We are already witnessing humanity’s struggle to effectively address global threats.

Jean Baudrillard is a distinguished philosopher, a sophisticated sociologist, and arguably the world’s foremost anthropologist. His unique perspective integrates multiple scientific aspects and theories, leading to the singular, necessary, and precise conclusions about our current situation. His approach teaches a person to think in terms of other categories. Baudrillard creates that superhuman but on the intellectual level. In his view, if we do not stop this experiment, humanity is doomed. How do we do that? Baudrillard does not answer. He does not deny the experience, but he wrote that when the fractal era comes, it will be too late to change something. Baudrillard’s fatalistic perspective centers on the belief that people will be unwilling to embrace change. There’s no way out. As said by my mentor Viktor Pavlovich Svetlov, and implied by Jean Baudrillard, it is possible to organize a society with a worthy social environment only for a limited number of people.

“There is a positive fascination today with the virtual and all its technologies. If it genuinely is a mode of disappearance, this would be an – obscure but deliberate – choice on the part of the species itself: decision to clone itself, lock, stock and barrel, in another universe; to disappear as the human race, properly speaking, in order to perpetuate itself in an artificial species that would have much more efficient, much more operational attributes.”[8]

Baudrillard discusses the advent of a new society and a new world. The essence of this notion, I believe, lies in the uncertainty surrounding the future appearance of this new society in the coming decades. This transformative process is anticipated to unfold over the next decade, possibly leading to the formation of a world in a somewhat altered state, fundamentally distinct from the present.

It could be that the judicial system, law enforcement agencies, and state security apparatus might cease to exist. From a legal standpoint, everyone could be deemed a criminal. Conversely, under a new set of laws drafted for the territory, these same individuals might be labeled as “noble and honest.” Given the current conditions, akin to the uncertainties brought about by the pandemic and wars, a significant portion of the population may find themselves without a clear future. The ongoing and evolving nature of challenges suggests a perpetual and varied continuation of such disruptions.

Each individual bears responsibility for their own life. Baudrillard saw it as his duty to articulate the reality of the current situation, providing insights into what will unfold and how. At the same time, he asserted that a genuine society is distinguished by the understanding that choices are a private matter for each person.

“All the grand narratives of our individual consciousness – of freedom, will, identity and responsibility – merely add a useless, even contradictory, over-determination to our actions as they ‘occur’ To the effect that we are the cause of them, that they are the doing of our will, that our decisions are the product of our free will, etc. But our actions do not need this: we can decide and act without there being any need to involve the will and the idea of the will. There is no need to involve the idea of free will to make choices in one’s life.”[9]

Therefore, I think Baudrillard did not state in his writings what we should choose. He didn’t tell people what they should do because he thought that a normal society stands on three pillars. And choice is one of them. Having read Baudrillard’s writings very closely, I wrote down five rules of the “silent majority,” and one of them can be expressed as follows: “If you want to change something, it should only benefit us; otherwise, refrain from making any changes.” The silent majority operates within these parameters, thinking in a manner that is not rational but rather wholly irrational. Sociologists often attribute irrationality as the main characteristic of the silent majority, where decisions may seem nonsensical, yet they inexplicably satisfy this silent majority.

The fragmented era is a dead end for humanity. And either humanity will develop for the better with the characteristics of genuinely capable personalities or it will be retransformed leading to a state of complete primitivism.


[1] Baudrillard, J. (2013). The Intelligence of Evil: or, The Lucidity Pact (Bloomsbury Revelations) (Reprint ed.). Bloomsbury Academic.

[2] Baudrillard, J., & Benedict, J. (2009). The Transparency of Evil: Essays on Extreme Phenomena (Radical Thinkers). Verso.

[3] Baudrillard, J., & Turner, C. (2008). The Perfect Crime (Radical Thinkers). Verso.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Baudrillard, J., & Glaser, S. F. (1994). Simulacra and Simulation (The Body, In Theory: Histories of Cultural Materialism) (33601st ed.). University of Michigan Press.

[6] Baudrillard, J. (1983). In the Shadow of the Silent Majorities (Semiotext(e) Foreign Agents Series). Semiotext(e).

[7] Baudrillard, J., & Agar, E. (2007b). Fragments: Cool Memories III, 1990–1995 (Radical Thinkers). Verso.

[8] Baudrillard, J. (2011). Passwords (Radical Thinkers) (Second Edition). Verso.

[9] Baudrillard, J. (2013). The Intelligence of Evil: or, The Lucidity Pact (Bloomsbury Revelations) (Reprint ed.). Bloomsbury Academic.

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