Contrary to currently fashionable notions, the triumph of capitalism,
whether private or State, is not that it was able to trap
the desire to be different in the commodity,
but rather that it went far beyond that,
making people accept
identity in mass production
as a collective refuge
from powerlessness and isolation.
Capitalism has become “a terrorism tempered by well-being,
the well-being of each in his place”.
For with records, as with all mass production,
security takes precedence over freedom;
one knows nothing will happen
the entire future is already laid out in advance.
Identity then creates a mimicry
of desires and thus rivalry;
and once again repetition encounters death.
Today’s return to violence
is therefore not caused by an excessive will to difference,
on the contrary
by the mass production of mimetic rivalries
and the ABSENCE of ANYTHING SERVING to FOCUS this violence
toward a SUBLIMATING activity.
The emplacement of general replication
transforms the conditions of political control.
It is no longer a question of making people believe,
as it was in representation.
Rather, it is a question of SILENCING
-through direct, channeled control,
through imposed silence instead of persuasion.
This strategy is not new:
I showed earlier that royal power allowed the written press to develop
when it came to see the press as a way of channeling rumors
and of replacing libels and tracts.
Today, repetitive distribution plays the same role for NOISE
that the press played for discourse.
It has become a means of isolating,
of preventing direct,
and of organizing the monologue of the great organizations.
One must then no
longer look for the political role of music in what it conveys,
in its melodies or discourses,
but in its very existence.
Power, in its invading, deafening presence, can be calm:
people no longer talk to one another.
They speak neither of themselves nor of power.
They hear the noises of the commodities into which their
imaginary is collectively channeled,
where their dreams of sociality and need for
The musical ideal then almost becomes an ideal of health:
the elimination of noises;
deodorizing the body,
emptying it of its needs,
and reducing it to silence.
Make no mistake:
if all of society agrees to address itself so loudly through this music,
it is because it has nothing more to say,
because it no longer has a meaningful discourse to hold,
because even the spectacle is now only one form of repetition
and perhaps an obsolete one.
In this sense, music is meaningless,
the prelude to a cold social silence
in which man will reach his culmination in repetition.
Unless it is the herald of the birth of a relation never yet seen with the world.
(Jacques Attali, “Noise, The Political Economy of Music”)