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Subject: [Fwd: Event-scene 97 - Terrorism of Viral Power]


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Subject: Event-scene 97 - Terrorism of Viral Power
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  _____________________________________________________________________
  CTHEORY          THEORY, TECHNOLOGY AND CULTURE          VOL 24, NO 3

  Event-scene 97   09/18/01       Editors: Arthur and Marilouise Kroker
  _____________________________________________________________________


  Terrorism of Viral Power
  ========================


  ~Arthur and Marilouise Kroker~


  The 20th century took place under the sign of nuclear superpower: a
  cold war with bloc to bloc political confrontations; a military
  rhetoric of graduated escalating respnses; a strangely comforting
  illusion of "mutually assured destruction." Deterrence was
  everywhere. Dissuasion was the code. A bored culture living in the
  shadowland of apocalypse now.

  That ended September 11th. The field of power flipped. The triumphant
  era of the last superpower suddenly gave way to the contagious logic
  of viral power. In place of the certainty principle of nuclear
  stalemate, there emerges now the radical uncertainty of the terrorism
  of micro-power. The always suspended fantaticism of technological
  holocaust is challenged by the fanaticism of religious zealotry.
  The logic of deterrence no longer functions. Deterrrence only works
  in a deadly game in which adversaries have a primary interest in
  preserving their own lives. Sacrificing one's own life is the first
  gambit, and real psychological fuel of suicide commandos.

  Dissuasion is inoperative. Again, the code of dissuasion is
  intimately linked to a politics founded on preserving territory.
  However, viral power is terroristic precisely because it occupies
  only the imaginary territory of symbolic exchange. The religious
  ecstasy of a sudden, unexpected, devastating strike against the
  symbolic capital of the American empire: the trinity of the World
  Trade Center, Pentagon and the airlines of America.
  The terrorism of the new age of viral power has these symbolic
  qualities:

  It is a micro-power, not a superpower.

  It is low tech, not high tech--and thus invisible to the optical
  scanners of the ruling technological regime. Paradoxically, the
  (technological) weakness of viral power is its strength.

  It is subterranean, secretive--driven by a crusading spirit equal to
  the religious zeal of the Middle Ages. Breaking the rules of
  publicity culture, it claims no responsibility and thus speaks
  clearly to the cultural imagination of the suppressed and powerless
  everywhere.

  It is a matter of biological violence, not physics. Flowing invisibly
  through the rhetorical screen of the 'anti-ballistic missile system,'
  viral power adopts the strategy of the attacking parasite: invading
  the body of the host (the American homeland), bleeding its tactical
  intelligence (those flight schools in Florida), circulating in its
  commercial bloodstream (American airlines), and imploding in a
  violent fatal metastasis that has as its aim the infiltration of the
  mediascape through its apocalyptic effects. Viral power avoids
  conflict with the real military assests of the host nation because
  its actual intention is a strategic media strike. Viral power is
  understandable only in the language of the media: the twin spectacles
  of sadness and terror; the doubled language of fascination and dread.
  In the days ahead, the media spectacle will shift to the viral
  language of rage and revenge.

  Tragically, the real missiles were those American people taken
  hostage in the air. The real targets were not hardened missile silos,
  but the dominant symbols of American power. The real terrorism was
  the destabilization of the American government. The real war is the
  coming war on civil liberties as the price for combating terrorism.
  The real 'ground zero' was provoking America to acts of vengeance
  that will only fast-feed the future rage of viral power. The scenario
  of terrorism, then, as a mutating virus that copies itself to
  American rage on its way to revenge against the host-scapegoat.
  Viral power goes into the sea, the sky, the earth. It cannot be
  defeated by the normal methods of nuclear warfare. It can only be
  copied.

  The virus of terrorism is about to enter the American bloodstream,
  taking democracy hostage. Listen to House of Representatives Minority
  Leader Richard Gephardt:

      "We are in a new world. We have to rebalance freedom and
      security. We can't take away people's civil liberties. But we're
      not going to have all the openness and freedom we have had."

  The implosion of American democracy, then, as the ultimate objective
  of the suicide commandos. The 'war on terrorism' may have finally
  begun, but the first casualty may well be American freedom as it was
  envisioned before September 11, 2001.
  _____________________________________________________________________

  Arthur and Marilouise Kroker are the editors of CTHEORY.
  _____________________________________________________________________

  * CTHEORY is an international journal of theory, technology
  *   and culture. Articles, interviews, and key book reviews
  *   in contemporary discourse are published weekly as well as
  *   theorisations of major "event-scenes" in the mediascape.
  *
  * Editors: Arthur and Marilouise Kroker
  *
  * Editorial Board: Jean Baudrillard (Paris), Bruce Sterling (Austin),
  *   R.U. Sirius (San Francisco), Siegfried Zielinski (Koeln),
  *   Stelarc (Melbourne), Richard Kadrey (San Francisco),
  *   DJ Spooky [Paul D. Miller] (NYC), Timothy Murray (Ithaca/Cornell),
  *   Lynn Hershman Leeson (San Francisco), Stephen Pfohl (Boston),
  *   Andrew Ross (NYC), David Cook (Toronto),  Ralph Melcher (Santa Fe),
  *   William Leiss (Calgary), Shannon Bell (Toronto),
  *   Gad Horowitz (Toronto), Deena & Michael Weinstein (Chicago),
  *   Andrew Wernick (Peterborough).
  *
  * In Memory: Kathy Acker
  *
  * Editorial Correspondents: Ken Hollings (UK),
  *   Maurice Charland (Canada), Steve Gibson (=C7anada/Sweden).
  *
  * Editorial & Technical Assistant: Adam Wygodny
  * WWW Design & Technical Advisor: Spencer Saunders (CTHEORY.NET)
  * WWW Editor: Carl Steadman (CTHEORY.COM)

  ____________________________________________________________________
                 To view CTHEORY online please visit:
                       http://www.ctheory.net/

              To view CTHEORY MULTIMEDIA online please visit:
                   http://ctheorymultimedia.cornell.edu/

                   To view CTHEORY.COM please visit:
                        http://www.ctheory.com
  ____________________________________________________________________

  * CTHEORY includes:
  *
  * 1. Electronic reviews of key books in contemporary theory.
  *
  * 2. Electronic articles on theory, technology and culture.
  *
  * 3. Event-scenes in politics, culture and the mediascape.
  *
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  *
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  *
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  *
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  *
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  *   de Maisonneuve, O., Montreal, Canada, H3G 1M8.
  *
  * Full text and microform versions are available from UMI,
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  _____________________________________________________________________



   

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