File spoon-archives/lyotard.archive/lyotard_2001/lyotard.0109, message 38

Date: Fri, 14 Sep 2001 20:49:36 +0100
Subject: Re: 9/11/01


Condolences on all these losses. Like you and so many others  I also knew
people in the building who died, such is the nature of these terrible
events... Because it is in the USA, in a building that is almost the essence
of globalisation, it is almost inevitable that I would have a connection
into the building. A  handshake or two away...

I appreciate the understanding of the American condition except that it does
not deal with the interventionist approach of American culture - at the
level of the state(i.e. Iraq, Iran and the Balkans), at the individual level
and community level (subscribing to the support of Irish terroists, support
of Israel). These 'events' contradict the isolationist elements of the
culture which presume immunity...

It seems clear that the media event has now been defined across the G8
countries and out into the immediate peripheral states as a war act. Beyond
that boundrary, at equal levels or similar, condemnation has also taken
place. I think that this is useful - on a theoretical level the action is
one of rejection of globalisation, an attack on the leading economic core of
the postmodern economy. But it is necessary to seperate reactionary
anti-globalisation acts from non-reactionary acts. There is the world of
difference between the anti-globalisation protesters of Seattle, London and
Genoa and terrorist acts of the 11th September, plainly the difference
between the two is great and the desires and the required end results are
enormously different. Arguably the event may be caused by globalisation and
the resolution ultimately can be only be a fairer and just society, which is
of course the goal of the anti-globalisation movement, but not the goal of
the terrorists. The fascistic goals of the 11th of September terroists are
remarkably similar to the fascist state of the Nazi's. Which is why it is
feasible to imagine a discourse between a new Faurisson and a new Pierre
Vidal-Naquet about the event in two three decades time....

I am concerned to recognise the multiple differends that exist here... Today
the philosophical and theoretical task is to mark these differends and to
make sure that no such conflation of positions is allowed to take place.
However I don't think this is likely at this stage... Because this appalling
act was in the tradition of the nihalistic anti-state terroism, it becomes
by default not an attack on USA/America and the G8 countries but an attack
on the nation states which is why the international coalition  may be being
created so quickly..

Yours in solidarity...


Mary Murphy&Salstrand wrote:

> In the Inferno, when Dante meets Virgil he describes the Roman poet as
> one whose voice is hoarse from a long silence.  That is a little how I
> feel right now.  Words have become difficult lately.  This is also why I
> have been so silent.
> In June, my wife Mary and I found out that Lily, a close friend of ours,
> had been diagnosed with diabetes and there was a chance she had cancer.
> Further tests confirmed this suspicion.  She was diagnosed with ovarian
> cancer.  Later, the possibility of pancreatic cancer also began to
> emerge.
> The doctors prescribed kemo treatment for her in the fall.  Lily tried
> to be brave and positive in the face of all this.  Mary and I also hoped
> for the best under the circumstances. We would wait with her and see
> what developed.
> In late August Lily went to see the doctor.  He told her that kemo was
> no longer necessary. The cancer was too far advanced.  He recommended
> hospice care instead.  She was only given a few more weeks to live.
> Mary and I were shocked by this news.  We had known all along that this
> was very serious.  We never expected events to move as quickly as this,
> however.
> Lily remained at home with family and close friends.  There was a deep
> sense of love and mourning.  On September 1, she died.  She was only 43.
> Then, on Tuesday, September 11, the catastrophe struck New York and
> Washington D.C.  Without going into details, let me just say I knew of
> number of the people who were trapped inside those towers.  I have
> talked directly to family members of some of those who are missing and I
> have wept.
> In tragic circumstances such as this, terrible ironies emerge.  There is
> the man who was working in the building and went down for a smoke when
> the first plane hit.  Another went to work late that day because she was
> busy frosting her sister's birthday cake. Both survived. Another woman
> lived in the Midwest and was only there in New York that day to attend a
> business meeting.  She is now among the missing.
> My own feelings are extremely conflicted by all of this.  President Bush
> has called this an act of war.  I see it instead as an act of
> globalism.  What died on September 11th was the myth that America is
> alone and separate, apart from the world.
> America has always tended to see itself as isolationist.  In part, this
> luxury was due to its unique particular geographical circumstance.  The
> Atlantic separated it from Europe, the Pacific from Asia. The neighbors
> to the North and South were weaker and relations with them were fairly
> easy to maintain.
> Now with the compression of space and time that characterizes globalism,
> this immunity has been forever lost. America can no longer act as though
> it were a gated community in the face of the world.
> I see Americans struggling right now with this new awareness, their
> gradual awakening to the reality of how hopeless and narcissistic, its
> dreams of SDI and unilateralism have become.
> I have heard voices asking: "How could such a senseless act occur
> here?"  It is difficult for Americans to see themselves as the rest of
> the world does, especially with the weak news coverage provided by the
> American media.  More is known here about Gary Condit than about
> Afghanistan or Palestine.
> Americans want to see themselves as noble, idealistic and courageous.
> The reality of sanctions against Iraq, the elimination of the homeland
> in Palestine, the sweatshop conditions in the oil fields, the bombing of
> civilians during the Gulf War, the unacknowledged racism against the
> Middle East, none of this registers deep within the America psyche.  In
> our proclamations of innocence, we fail to see the blood on our own
> hands.  We rail against terrorism, but forget to mention the School of
> the Americas or the history of the CIA.
> Which is not to condone what happened here this week.  Nothing can. No
> possible good can emerge out of this tragedy.  It remains senseless and
> horrible and numbs the mind.
> The real question, however, that Americans must ask themselves is this.
> Will we continue to believe the duplicitous and bipolar logic of a Bush
> administration that wants to proclaim in the fundamentalist theology of
> a Christian jihad that we are good and they are evil? (Whoever they
> are.) Or will we sober up to the true reality of what we have become and
> begin to shoulder a greater responsibility for our global presence
> within the world?
> That is the terrible choice that confronts us now.  Will we remain as
> children living in a fairy tale view that America is a kind of theme
> park of freedom and democracy or will we mature into a deeper and more
> tragic vision?  Will we engage our role as global citizens and begin to
> realize ourselves as the multitude and not merely as God's own chosen
> few?
> with love and grief,
> eric
> 9/13/01


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