"AS USUAL, NOTHING WILL EVER BE THE SAME AGAIN" (The Press) (1)
For three days, the Guardian reader knew everything about the inner structure of the Twin Towers. Two weeks later, you couldn't catch him out about the exact location of Herat and Kandahar. One morning he learnt of the existence of a new mass killer called bin Laden, the next he was informed this evil figure was a creation of Western politics. Today's absolute becomes relative tomorrow. Every tearjerker is nullified by the next one, and every lie soon followed by its semi-refutation. "Facts" only exist in a perpetual therefore meaningless present. No society has ever lived in such a succession of partial self-criticisms.
Those who simply denounce outrage and excess will always be one step behind radio and TV.Only a very naive citizen believes official versions (39 years after a US president got shot in Dallas, do we know the truth ? As most States had a hand in the rise of Islamism, we can't take seriously what we're told about its "networks", since 99% of the information comes from police sources.) Still, it would be even more naive to take the exact opposite view of the official version.
It takes a lot for a civilization to realize it can die. It takes a lot more for it to admit it can cause death.
The underpaid washer-up and the overpaid white collar who both died in the World Trade Center died as footsoldiers of a system that exploited their death (treating them as heroes of free trade and the free world) as it had exploited their life. They had little time to appreciate the much vaunted security they'd bought in exchange for their submission.
After September 11, a New Yorker said he now realized the danger of living at the heart of the world economy. He equated life with keeping out of trouble and doing one's job without caring about its causes and results, about what the world economy and its heart mean, or about the risks run by those billions living on its periphery.
People were appalled by the suicidal aspect of the attack, by such a destructive nihilism. Yet isn't mass destruction a current feature of this civilization, and indeed one that capitalism does not seem to soften ? The last two hundred years are more a vindication of "marxist catastrophism" than of optimistic liberalism or reformism.
Commentators also forget that most religions prefer another (supposedly better) world to ours. But our time prides itself on being tolerant, and no longer refuses religion. To create scandal, you just have to express an open dislike of Jesus, Buddha or Mohammed. Atheism is only accepted as a belief among others. The XXIst century regresses to pre-bourgeois revolution times.
Man's total power is supposed to be proved by its expanding vertically (thanks to skyscrapers) and horizontally (the megapolis). We tap all the energy and the resources of the Earth and make the most of them in concentrated accelerated forms.
Sometimes, however, a big power cut, a nuclear or a food scare, the wreck of an oil tanker, an exploding chemical plant, a hurricane, or a large scale attack, reveal the precarious foundation of a world based on circulation but forced to realize and accumulate value by solidifying it ever more: it puts on weight in order to be lighter, piles up materials to become immaterial, uses steel and glass to turn into 0 and 1, and always builds up stock to increase its flow. What looks virtual in fact multiplies machines, warehouses and means of transportation. Every big firm has its big buildings. Every passageway can be blocked: the more fluid a system is, the more vulnerable it is to a computer virus, and to water, air or food poisoning.
The WTC crash forced people to rediscover mass violent death brought about by the very mediations supposed to protect and enhance life: the jet plane (2) and the skyscraper. Did we need September 11 to regard any technical object as a possible murder tool ? Railways took people to death camps. Caterpillar tracks support an army tank as well as a tractor. The plane takes a couple on a honeymoon, or flies over Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. To wait so long before realizing it is indecent: worse still, it's very stupid.