Jean Baudrillard in Simulacra and Simulation (1985) questions the ‘real’ and versions of the ‘real’ citing the media as exaggerating the real and so coins the term hyperreality to reflect this distortion. Furthermore, Baudrillard states that these simulations become more important and replace the ‘real.’ Reality, Baudrillard notes, is re-presented and is a simulation of something that never really existed.
Applying Baudrillard’s theory, I would question whether Ireland’s ‘Boom’/Celtic Tiger ever existed.
For instance, developers request funds for a new estate and the bank obliges. I suggest what happens is the bank gives the developer a promissory intention of funds. The developer reaches into the bank’s pocket without banks exacting due diligence checks thus developing these simulacra.
The bank gives the ‘funds’ the developer does not have the developer then builds the project expecting a full sale of the development. A few sell, so the developer asks for more money for a new development and the bank again obliges. The bank and the developer create a fantasy. As developments increase, 100% mortgages have been granted to the public and so the public the public have become part of this new reality. These new representations replace the old and the new become more important than the ‘real.’ Reality has been replaced by simulacra. The money/funds are in effect a version of hyperreality. The division between the ‘real’ and simulation has collapsed. A verisimilitude co-exists between Baudrillard’s Disneyworld and the developments in Ireland.
The cycle goes on. Super-saturation occurs. The glass is not full but leaking more ‘money’ than it can take. The bubble bursts resulting in ghost estates, bankrupting developers, banks, homeowners and eventually the country itself. They were playing with money – a simulation – that never existed. The notion of the hyperreal questions if the money existed in the first place.
As a last note, I’ll finish with two quotes I amended slightly from one of my favourite movies The Usual Suspects (1995).
‘The greatest trick the devils ever pulled was pretending that the funds existed.’
‘Like that… it’s gone.’