Tillmann Allmer on 19 Sep 2001 11:02:52 -0000

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[rohrpost]Fwd: The World Trade Center and the Rise of the Security State

fand ich ganz interessant... Gruss - Tillmann Allmer

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>Subject: Event-scene 98 - The World Trade Center and the Rise of the
>  Security State
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>  _____________________________________________________________________
>  Event-scene 98   09/18/01       Editors: Arthur and Marilouise Kroker
>  _____________________________________________________________________
>  The World Trade Center and the Rise of the Security State
>  =========================================================
>  ~Dion Dennis~
>  Reflecting on the images of a black and gray ashen Manhattan, the
>  skeletal remains of imploded skyscrapers, the survival narratives of
>  witnesses, and the images of the dead and dying, the iconicity of the
>  attack is striking: the date, 911, a shorthand for telephoning
>  emergency services; the airlines, "United" and "American," synecdoche
>  for the state, and the nation, respectively; the American Airlines
>  plane ripping into one side of the Pentagon, lurching toward its
>  center, breaking what had been a domestically unbroken pentagram of
>  power. As representative instruments of spatial deterritorialization
>  and globalization, Boeing 757s and 767s slammed into two prominent
>  icons of information and commodification, the Twin Towers of the
>  World Trade Center. As the buildings tumbled into a mix of black
>  smoke and debris that rushed down the streets of West Manhattan, the
>  utopian belief in Market Society also crumbled. As John Lennon sang a
>  generation ago about another rupture, "the Dream is Over."
>  The abrupt and violent detumescence of the Twin Towers signals,
>  irreparably, the de facto end of an uncritical faith in Market
>  Society. While markets will always be with us, the universalist
>  prescription of "the market" as a form of social and cultural Viagra,
>  died on the streets of Manhattan, and in the images of destruction
>  dispersed to the rest of the planet.Embedded in the black smoke and
>  in the shredded and spongy mountains of glass, steel and cadavers was
>  the virus of endemic fear and perpetual anxiety, and the incipient
>  prescription and inscription of a nascent security state.
>  What a virus does, biological, technological or social, is to
>  rewrite a basic instructional set on a cellular, machine-language or
>  cultural level, and then to spread that instruction set, upward from
>  below. That's what makes it a form of micro-power, low-tech,
>  secretive, adaptive and extremely replicable. What has so quickly
>  spread in the last few days is this virus of terrorism, from the
>  outer spatial and cultural margins of late capitalism (Afghanistan)
>  rewriting not just the mood of the U.S., but also the fundamental
>  stance (national identity and values) of Americans, and the
>  institutional routines of the state. Taken as a whole, the net effect
>  is of the American Empire stumbling through a sharp discontinuity
>  into its third, post-WWII ideological period. Below is a brief
>  mapping of the relationship between the past, the incipient present,
>  and the probable near future.
>  The first ideological dream, an uncritical belief in government,
>  emerged after WWII. Fiscal policies informed by Keynesian economics
>  had turned the tide against the Depression, and the U.S. emerged as
>  an economically and technologically dominant world power by 1945.
>  Nearly three decades of rising standards of living (for almost all
>  demographic groups), and remarkable technological achievements, lent
>  temporary credence to an uncritical faith in the powers of
>  government.
>  Durable as that dream was, it was ruptured by multiple and
>  persistent shocks: Assassinations, a morally ambiguous and unviable
>  Vietnam War, urban riots, political corruption (Watergate), and
>  structural changes in national and global economies (changes that led
>  to the "stagflation," in the post-1973 period). Symbolized by the
>  U.S. government's impotence in securing the release of 52 hostages,
>  in the wake of the 1979 Iranian Revolution, the "dream of government"
>  as a universalist panacea for social ills lost its viability. With
>  the election of Ronald Reagan, the post-1945 American Empire entered
>  into its second ideological dream - an uncritical belief in the
>  curative properties of "market society."
>  Symbolized by Reagan, and his charmingly simple and nostalgic moral
>  tales about the wonders of "the individual" and a "Mr. Rogers"
>  version of "the invisible hand," the redistribution of wealth during
>  the 1980s (spurred by massive changes in tax laws in 1981), and the
>  years of economic growth between 1983-1990 led many to conclude that
>  the mix of governmental deregulation and the hyper-redistribution of
>  wealth was the medicine that the country needed. After all, didn't
>  the Fall of the Berlin Wall, and "The Velvet Revolution" of 1989
>  herald the triumph of capitalism, and the defeat of centralized
>  statisms?
>  In the early 90s, the U.S. faced a massive savings and loan crisis,
>  enormous general fiscal debt and an economic recession. The
>  uncritical dream of market society might have died in 1993, but for
>  Bill Clinton's election. In the eight years of the Clinton
>  presidency, Clinton commandeered just enough governmental resources
>  to buttress the practices and discourses of market society. Informed
>  by Gary C. Becker's formulation of "human capital," Clinton found his
>  complement in Al Gore, an avid total quality management advocate who
>  was in charge of "reinventing government." Concurrently, the religion
>  of Privatization was the buzz word of the Gingrich conservatives.
>  "Whatever you [government] can do, I [the private sector] can do
>  better," they chanted. And so some of the practices [and much of the
>  discourse] of the private sector came to dominate how the public
>  sector and its workers were viewed, and how work and monies were
>  redistributed.
>  By the 2000 election, the U.S. economy had lost its momentum, and
>  the shortcomings of an uncritical faith in market society became more
>  evident. Examples include welfare reform that moved people from
>  destitution to perpetual poverty; privatized prisons and schools that
>  were dens of corruption and misery; and institutional scandals, such
>  as an enormous (268 billion dollar) tobacco settlement from firms
>  that had previously shifted the health risks and costs from cigarette
>  manufacturers to the public sector. All of these areas (and many
>  more) demonstrated the narrow limits of the market as universalist
>  prescription and dream.
>  And then came 911. Nothing in Adam's Smith's invisible hand, or in
>  Yahoo's web directory, or in short-term cost/benefit analyses, or in
>  any dream of the market (equity, futures or derivatives) and its
>  neo-utilitarian and commodified world-view could account for, or
>  prevent Boeing 757s and 767s from crashing the twin towers of the
>  late World Trade Center. No faith in "human capital" or a
>  commodity-based social logic (to run government like a business,
>  taking the low bid for airport security services, for example)could
>  mediate such transgressive violence. of 911. Thousands die, billions
>  are lost, fear reigns, and market society, which requires a
>  socio-political backbone of stability and predictability, loses its
>  patina of magic. As the offices of Merrill Lynch, Smith-Barney and
>  the Solomon Brothers disintegrated into ash, smoke and cadavers, so
>  did the idea of "market society" as a panacea to our woes. No market
>  tool (such as focus groups or surveys) can, by itself, counter those
>  forces that seek the destruction of the very idea of a Western-style
>  commodity market. Mark the date: On 09/11/01, that particular
>  incarnation of Market Society died.
>  Market Society was the target, not the weapon. It failed to
>  guarantee order. Government did not foresee nor act - it failed to
>  guarantee order. Our third ideological dream may be organized around
>  a more intensive version of what Richard Ericson called a "policing
>  [of] the risk society." As terroristic violence becomes increasingly
>  dispersed, fluidic and possible almost anywhere, at any time, it does
>  so by evading pre-existent risk-management techniques (as was the
>  case on September 11th). The goal of state-centered responses will be
>  to hone deterrence and policing strategies via intensified modes of
>  militarization. Continuous surveillance, intensified
>  information-collection and analysis techniques, and the honing of
>  rapid deployment of counter-terrorism units may well be prominent,
>  very soon, in the daily routines of American life. The boundaries of
>  American life are in the process of a fundamental and rapid
>  reconfiguration.
>  Especially if there are some initial successes, the American Empire
>  may be embracing this information-intensive dream of security as a
>  paramount value, at the beginning of the new century. Fear is its
>  engine.
>  _____________________________________________________________________
>  Dion Dennis is Visiting Assistant Professor, Dept of
>  Psychology/Sociology, Texas A&M University - Kingsville, System
>  Center Palo Alto (San Antonio)
>  _____________________________________________________________________
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