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The Western World, Bin Laden, and the Ten-Year War Against Terrorism

The Western World, Bin Laden, and the Ten-Year War Against Terrorism

By The Initiative of Thessaloniki's Anarchists, Greece


On the eleventh of September in Manhattan and
Washington, the American giant has, on it's own
territory, suffered the most spectacular and
disastrous wound. It was deadly, with 6500 (officially
admitted) victims and humiliating, since the twin
towers were totally destroyed and one of the Pentagon
wings collapsed. The "Everest" of the modern urban
planning, was more than 400 metres high, and, until
recently, symbolised the concentration of the rulers'
global economy. The Pentagon, on the other hand,
obviously symbolised the headquarters of the
operational political and military control of the
whole planet.

The targets were obvious. Their
symbolism was like a magnet to the bomb-planes that
crashed in to them... Despite the shouts and the
bloodshed, the power that symbols have on society was
known for a long time. Whether they were to be
protected or destroyed, these symbols concentrated the
collective conscience of society. It doesn't matter
whether this conscience was true or false. And, not
rarely, symbols swept human life under their loaded
meaning, whether that happened commonly or personally.

So there is no contradiction in the fact that all
religions and all ideologies never hesitated to
violate human life in the name of symbols, despite
their wishes referring to life's value. The reason
that this is happening is that, behind the power of
symbols there always is, obvious or not, the man who
himself is an institution, who gives a special meaning
both to his existence in the world and to the world
itself, thus defining the meaning of life and death.

This is what was made very clear by the hijackers. On
the one hand, they hit the twin towers because of what
they symbolised not only to themselves but also to
their enemies. On the other hand, they sent the
message that for this exact reason they didn't care at
all for their lives, or for the lives of those who
were inside the towers.

This collective responsibility
on life and death, happens, or happened to appear in
all societies and all civilisations, in different
analogies of course. But this doesn't mean that the
conversation ends here. The movement of political
autonomy that appeared in the 12th century in the
western world gave a new meaning to symbolisms once
again, by giving a new content to life and death and
by separating the personal responsibility from the
collective one.

As an example, this separation burdens
a judge who judges according to a state's laws, as
well as the organisation of "November 17" at the very
moment that assassinates the American stationmaster
Welch, even if in this correlation, "November 17" is
relatively consistent. (During the time of the
assassination, Welch was in his car with his wife and
his driver. The organisation was very careful to kill
only him and nobody else in that car.)

And that's
true, no matter what opinion one might have about each
one of our examples. After all, under the condemning
criticism by the western European leaders, a kind of
"sympathy" for the guerrilla fights of the cities
during the 70's and the 80's was not too difficult to
be distinguished, exactly because of this consistency.

Of course, we have witnessed that wherever the
movement of political autonomy stepped back in the
western world, these kinds of distinctions disappeared
(national wars, nazism, stalinism, imperialism,
colonialism etc).


The autonomy of the message that came out through the
smoking wrecks didn't last long. Bin Laden's
"blessing" made this clear. Pan-Islamism, the
successor ideology after the failure of Pan-Arabism,
leaves no possibility for unity, apart from the one of
the spectacle. The general hilarity about the setback
of the Americans is impossible to evolve to any kind
of political oration or conclusion that would satisfy
such feelings. But we can point out something
interesting: nobody, not even Bush or CNN referred to
the Pentagon's dead, characterising them "innocent" or
"unsuspecting" victims. At the time that this
happened, it was about the passengers of the crashed
aeroplane. This reveals the official acceptance of the
strike's symmetry. In fact, it is not very difficult
to imagine just how broad would the coiling be
socially, even if the whole Pentagon blew up...

However, things change radically in the case of the
twin towers. There is the entire polarisation, the
propaganda and the highlight focused; there is the
place where all the discussing issues about the attack
in the centre of USA are aroused. We will now agree
with emperor Bush -- who looks more like Pyrrhus than
Caesar -- that the attack on the towers was an
asymmetrical act of war. As a matter of fact, it was
exactly as asymmetrical as an act of war can be. Let's
not forget that even with moderate calculations, from
the first world war and on, the ratio of civilian
to soldier victims is almost 100/1. Only the
propaganda of oblivion and oblivion through propaganda
are shameless enough to rediscover the asymmetry of
wars. Not even one conflict exists that is not
asymmetrical. During the war against Yugoslavia for
instance, USA and their allies reached an absolute
zero of casualties. The rationale of asymmetry was
preserved, even if it was reversed on the towers.


There is no space for easy or cunning condemnations
here. First of all, condemning, at best is nothing but
pretending to be above all this and at worst helps the
military machine of NATO, as a kind of social
convictions' certificate to be shown to the rulers of
the planet. The cry for civilisation, about "us all
being Americans today", about the threat on our way of
life and our freedoms, the three minutes of silence on TV,
were nothing more than another version of the
theatrical act "tonight we improvise". This extended
social and structural fluidity doesn't mean we are in
a critical period where one circle in the world of
exploitation is about to end, ready to evolve into
something else. This is not a critical turning point
where social powers are rallying, or even, we expect
them to rally, ready to create new directions, each
trying to convince everybody else to follow their own

If there is something evolving in front of us,
it is not crisis but the continuous sinking and
collapsing of social structures and imaginary meanings
of what used to be the western political tradition
(enlightenment, renaissance, workers' movement, social
movement etc). Capitalism inherited this tradition
that was a Western singularity. It tolerated it in the
beginning, and under bloody compulsion, it
compromised. Today, however, capitalism makes a serious
effort to get rid of this unnatural compromise.

Indefinition is what is created from the spreading of
this collapse: the world finds it impossible to define
itself as something and it simply becomes post-:
post-modern, post-industrial, post-human. It doesn't
redefine itself and it's presentations, but it is
thrown out of gear and it empties itself from whatever
meaning was left inside. Truly, how is it possible for
the post-morality of cloning to be crying for 6500
people when they can be reproduced -- as scientists say --
in a few years? 5, 10, 50, it doesn't matter. Oh yes
we know, it's nothing like that...

The issue of
"thinking again about our world" that the armageddon
like strike in N.Y. has set was immediately
transformed into the system's refunctioning. The
reopening of Wall Street in global transmission was,
despite of all the dead bodies, sending the message
that the ball is swinging once again in the roulette
of "everything is a casino" and the insolent urging
"Bin Laden is wanted dead or alive" was sending the
message that "everything is Texas"... From Giuliani's
"zero tolerance" to Bush's "Far West".


As much as the advocates of the market and the
multinationals can know what's what, is how much they
can tell what's going on in the rest of the world.
They contradistinguish the "kingdom of light" with the
"kingdom of darkness", putting Bin Laden as a high
priest and the members of Al Queda as demons. They "exorcise" Islamic fundamentalism out the door to bring
it back through the window. Naked as never before,
they can't see that the religious fundamentalism in
the Third World is a solid, utter investment of its
collective repressions, of which the West was a
perpetrator and an accomplice. And we don't say
participant, like the anti-American stupidity, who
wants Bin Laden and the Taliban to be creations of the
CIA and NATO. Islamic fundamentalism is not a
creation of Western civilisation or capitalism. We
have seen this in Iran, Algeria, Sudan, Somalia,
Egypt, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. As a matter of fact,
Islamic fundamentalism is the compensation of
Western civilisation and capitalism. The fact that the
cold war created peculiar alliances is another story.

Going back a bit, this solid, utter investment
produced and is still producing the type of humans
that can be charged with the role of the martyr, the
jihad soldier. The fact that most, if not all members
of Al Queda are not the ignorant peasants of Islamism
makes most Western analysts look each other directly
in the eyes. The fact that Bin Laden is a millionaire
is not against him, as the left and right wing
"espionage-eulogists" are accusing him, but for him.
Just imagine Ted Turner or Bill Gates living in caves
for a cause; any cause would do...

But let's not get
fooled. The consistent and true anti-Americanism of
Islamic fundamentalism, consistent and true as no
other, is also totalitarian, intolerant, one-sided,
theocratic and oppressive in its incommunication. Its
anti-Western beliefs are about both faces of the West.
Not just about the West of wars, colonisation,
consuming and exploitation, but also about the West of
revolution, social liberation, division of nature and
religious institutions. And there's no doubt about
that. This type of human being that is being produced
inside the fundamentalism of the Islamic world (and
not necessarily by the Islamic world itself) is, for
now, absent in the Western world as a reverse typical
analogy. Typical, for the passion and the certainty of
such a person's goals and reverse, as far as the
dominant meaning, the very substance of the goal is
concerned. We are talking about the exact type of
person that would today get between the fundamentalism
of the market and the growing Islamic fundamentalism,
tomorrow between who knows what. And this type of
human being can't be produced through Che Guevara
posters carried around. In fact, doing so is as
important and meaningful as the feelings of college
students when singing revolutionary songs at a

As far as what the type of person produced in
the West might be, the passive consumer's behaviour is
the power of guns right before the massive panic. This
kind of absence can't be changed by creating a placebo
reality through the attitude "we do not speak about
ourselves now, we speak about the others". And the
more this absence goes on, the more ruthless will the
conflict be.

As far as those who count on the
ethicology of blood and "humanitarianism" are
concerned, well, they will be able to enjoy through
their TVs the post-ethics of conflict that bares its
own post-heroes, till the end. Even then, there will
still be some that will look for responsibilities and
shout convictions. Only that, they will not be above
all this but down on the deepest bottom.


Never before has humanity seen such a show off of
personal drama, than the one of the relatives and
friends of the dead. For weeks and in a 24-hour basis
the bombardment of images was ruthless. Everything
seemed like the persecutor was trying to expiate his
crimes through the victim's role. The temporary effect
was impressive. Eighty-five percent rounded up around Bush, the
President of the electric chair, and 100% was rounded
up around Mayor Giuliani, the man of zero tolerance,
who multiplied arrests and prisons, especially between
the black community and the other minorities. A
similar percentage seemed to be ready to sacrifice
their personal rights in order to gain new laws for
order and safety. Mayor Giuliani, the cops and the
firemen shared the applause with the rescue teams and
then, hugged together with the stock market's
president; they altogether rang the opening bell for
Wall Street's first meeting after the attack.

symbolism left no room for other interpretations: the
state saves the market. Once again. In this symbolism,
the role put-on seems to be truer than reality, in
order to make what cannot be made. What do the free
international market's wise guys have to say now? How
did they get to grab the American flag and sing "God
Bless America"?

Under the wrecks of the towers, the
market proved to be unable to distribute roles. In
fact, it remained hidden, waiting for things to get
better before it appears again, just like the snail
waits for the rain to stop. Of course, some parts of
the market didn't forget to play the noble game of
speculation right after the attack.


Right after the attack, all the suppressive mechanism
of the Western world was mobilised and in the name of
the "new war" the whole plan of suppression and
control was revealed very quickly. The prosecuting
possibilities appeared out of nowhere on the
discussion table of the universal capital leaders.

Their determination was mostly about precautions on
order and security. It is the only section on which
the Western leaders seem to be vivid and in agreement.
The European fortress expands its walls and points
some guns on the inside. The Schengen treaty is now on
for everyone. The European anti-terror law is about to
happen. This means that people accused for political
reasons will be treated the same way everywhere on the
European borders. Inside or out doesn't matter
anymore. "Those who are not with us are against us".
"This attack is an act of war". "We are challenged to
defend our civilisation, our system and our way of
life". First of all we should make clear that war (and
not eradication, any more) against terrorism expands
on the inside of the Western world what the excuse of
human rights used to be for interfering on the outside
of it. The 10-year "war against terrorism" targets
anything the rulers decide that is terrorism. Anything
that can be thought to be anti-capitalist is a target
under the general war order of "whoever is not with us
is against us".

The attack against Bin Laden, who is
considered to be a suspect, is the sign of the
expansion of the attacks to any enemy of the system.
The European suggestion for a united judicial and
police area, the growing of the suppressive mechanisms
with the participation of military forces are not
exactly inventions of the moment. England and Spain
have been an example for years. Let's not forget, after
all, that after the assassination of Saunders by
November 17, the English report appeared to speak
about the necessity of using special military forces
for the "elimination of terrorism". Let's also not
forget that Bush's "whoever is not with us is against
us" was regularly repeated from the Greek state any
time its suppressive mechanisms were hunting down
social fighters. In such moments the phrase "for
state or for terrorism" was often repeated. The fact
that this message is now universal makes resistance to
state terrorism even more important.

universality has nothing to do with specifics on time
and space strategy, even if it might be starting this
way. (Ten years of war against terrorism, destruction
of the fundamentalists in Afghanistan, Sudan, etc).
The message that the state's suppression seems to be
sending is much deeper, and it refers to the heart of
the system. This mechanism wants to create conditions
where any resistance could look like war, according to
the occasion. This means that the suppressive forces
will act more and more like an army, and the courts
will resemble more and more the military courts (Bush
has recently admitted that he intends to judge some
prisoners that he preserves the right to choose who
they will be, in military courts...).

This "peculiar"
oppressive regime already shows in the new Greek
antiterror law (let's not speak about the American
one...) that seems not to be terminally defined yet.

So, let's not get fooled. The "10-year war against
terrorism" has its roots on the very old fight of
authority to suppress society. Behind the causes, true
or imaginary ones, there has always been a strategy.
The strategy of its perpetuation. And, in all
circumstances of authority it is well known that the
strategy referring to one cause is always more
important than the cause itself.

After the Taliban is
the turn of those who might become Taliban, or those
who might look like them. This is the way that the
fight against any kind of regime will be targeted
ideologically as well as practically.


The cries for war have already brought up the first
different opinions. But here we should point out some
important things. The movement of antiglobalisation
that started in Seattle and continued in Genoa came up
against a fact that if it wasn't totally overcoming,
it definitely shaped different goals and actions. The
movement started as anti-capitalist, but was transformed
to an antiwar movement numb from the size and the
quality of the fact. This transformation fails to
confront the traditional antiwar reflexes that
appear along with mass bombings, and huge
bi-consequences will not be enough. Neither the war in
the Gulf nor the one in Yugoslavia seems to be a
guiding line for the hostilities in Afghanistan.

course, there are always things that come as a
surprise and this refers to those who attack and also
to those who are being attacked. It even refers to
those who support those who are being attacked (for
instance, Pakistan and the Islamic coalition).

Furthermore, unexpected things can appear through the
opposition of the societies in which those who attack
belong. The "self-restriction" of the eagle is a
consequence of all these unexpected causes and
situations where the anti-globalisation movement has a
certain share. On the other hand, through the change
of targets by the anti-globalisation movement,
opposition to the "10-year war against terrorism"
becomes even more vague than it was before.

Let's keep
in mind the obscurity of the operation in Afghanistan.
On the contrary, the new suppression measurements are
very clear. Once again, let's not get fooled. With or
without Bin Laden and the Taliban, the first step is
already taken. The resistance movement must reveal
what's hidden behind the "war against terrorism"
before it reveals itself on the movement, making the
targets specific and clear.

And most of all, let's not
forget that it takes clear conscience and strong
certainty to confront both the fundamentalism of the
market and the one of the hijackers.

October 2001