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DATA PANICS AND DATA VOIDS

A journalist recovering from an anthrax infection asked her doctor if once she was well she'd be able to touch type. The doctor assured her she'd have no problems with this. The journalist thought this was incredible, because until then she'd always typed with her index fingers, and looked at the keyboard as she did so.

by Jacques de Molay

COPYRIGHT © 2001, 3 A.M. MAGAZINE. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


A hypochondriac complained he'd been exposed to anthrax spores on his way to hospital. The doctor doing the examination told him there was no discomfort for several days after anthrax infection. The hypochondriac insisted that these were his symptoms.

I might well be terrified if bombs were raining down around me, or I'd been woken up by the noise of the World Trade Centre being hit by two jet planes, and seen human limbs falling past my windows. Quite understandably, a lot of those who were close to the Twin Towers on 11 September, or who are currently being subjected to aerial bombardment in Afghanistan, are traumatised. But such people aren't representative of the average victim of what has been, elsewhere, a largely virtual war.

In this conflict, the symbolic has overthrown the real, and the battlefield is no longer the "collective unconscious" (sic). We long ago entered the realm of the post-modern, where everything is both pure surface and simultaneously drawn from the fourth dimension of science-fiction. The screen has usurped the stage, there is no theatre of war, only its double. More real that the real, this virtual war unfolds with the iron logic of a dream. The "Mother of Parliaments" all too readily reveals itself as "the mother of all lies".

Clare Short, engaged in a tough fight with Prime Minister Blair to come across as absolutely the most vile member of Britain's New Labour government, claims that bombing Afghanistan is the only way to save the people being butchered at her bequest from famine. The unspoken "logic" behind linking "humanitarian aid" to "military action" seems to be that the dead can't starve. Those outside certain "carefully" selected locations need not fear losing limbs as they retrieve food from minefields, or losing their children (as the leader of the Taliban Mullah Omar is reported to have done), what "Development Secretary" Short wants "us" to do is lose "our" min ds. MK Ultra and Project Artichoke were mere playground pranks compared to the current exercise in "psychic driving" aka "the tenth crusade against terrorism". Given this, it comes as no surprise that packages containing wind-up radios pre-tuned to a Holy Alliance propaganda station are being dropped alongside bombs.

"Thank God you've arrived! Now we can let off some rebellious steam listening to Geri Halliwell," the British tabloids may yet announce as the words with which starving refugees greet "special forces" operatives. Of course, these soar-away papers will omit to mention that after an initial gust of "enthusiasm" at their "liberation", any locals who try to fraternise with "Western" ground forces will be shot, since they were instructed by Holy Alliance propaganda to stay away from roads and bridges and remain under curfew in their homes (where, without food, they will starve).

The Egyptian political commentator Mohamed Heikal was quoted in The Guardian (G2, p. 6, 10/10/01) as saying: "I have seen Afghanistan, and there is not one target deserving the $1m that a cruise missile costs, not even the royal palace. If I took it at face value, I would think this is madness, so I assume they have a plan and this is only the first stage." Meanwhile, Air Force General Richard Myers breathlessly revealed that: "We're not running out of targets, Afghanistan is." And still the bombs rain down. Meanwhile, the British press worries about the boost to newspaper sales that has come in the wake of the Holy Alliance's tenth crusade. A recession in the media industry has led to a slump in advertising revenues, which means that the cover price of many newspapers is less than their cost price, so as sales soar so do losses.

This holy war is bad news for press barons, it has stimulated a long dormant hunger for infotainment among the chattering classes. The chic "elite" has taken on the role Baudrillard allotted to the masses, they neutralise critique by silently accepting everything. They are mesmerised by information. "Are you going to the anti-bombing demo, darling?" "No I'd rather watch it on the TV news, that way I won't miss the cable screening of The Towering Inferno followed by Star Wars." Personally, I've had more than enough of such seventies revivalism.

You can forget both Baudrillard and Abba, what I want to know is does anyone remember The Petro-Dollar Take-Over by Peter Tanous & Paul Rubinstein? The back cover blurb of my battered paperback copy reads: "The time - tomorrow, or the day after. The war between Saudi Arabia and Iran is going badly for the Saudis; they need more and better tanks and they need them quickly. John Haddad, a young Wall Street banker, is chosen by the Saudis to undertake a deal so amazing, at first, he can scarcely believe it himself. For Haddad's commission is to buy out General Motors. And all the Saudis need to make that possible is the income from 18 weeks' oil production ...18 weeks' Petrodollars! THEIR PLAN COULD SHAKE THE WORLD... AND TO MAKE IT WORK THEY'D USE SKILL, SEX, SUBTERFUGE - BUT MOSTLY MONEY! Tanous and Rubinstein, both Wall Street men, have used their experience and inside knowledge brilliantly to create tomorrow's story today." Likewise, bin Laden, Blair and Junior, have been revisiting all our yesterdays - and given the almost unlimited funds being poured into their "epic" disaster movie, what they'd no doubt most like us to fear, is fear itself.

A journalist recovering from an anthrax infection asked her doctor if once she was well she'd be able to touch type. The doctor assured her she'd have no problems with this. The journalist thought this was incredible, because until then she'd always typed with her index fingers, and looked at the keyboard as she did so.

While there is no evidence that the handful of genuine anthrax attacks, and thousands of hoaxes, are in any way linked to the destruction of the Twin Towers, this hasn't prevented stock markets from collapsing (twice, since between the first and second wave of apparently unrelated "attacks" they fully recovered their losses despite a widespread belief among "experts" that they were over-valued by twenty percent). The panic spreading through large parts of the world as a result of biological terrorism scares may be "virtual", but it has "real" effects. This state of terror is best characterised as a form of schizophrenia.

The schizophrenic lives in extreme confusion, "she" is open to everything. "She" has not lost touch with reality, "her" problem is "her" proximity to the world. The schizophrenic imagines everything "she" is told is a plot, a lie, a half-truth. The schizophrenic is a hermaphrodite irradiated by transsexual anti-matter. The "hysteric" by way of contrast, has lost "his" innate ability to reason. Take the coverage in The Guardian, which prides itself on presenting a diversity of views while editorially offering "qualified support" for "military action" (or what might be better described as "mass slaughter").

It is here that one finds seventies "make-overs" like Julie Burchill and Polly Toynbee "doing their bit for Britain". Leaving aside, for the moment, Burchill's recent gung-ho column, ten days earlier Toynbee (Guardian, 10/10/01, p. 22) was ranting about "limp liberals" who'd failed to support either the Christian holy war or her fundamentalist (Toynbee prefers the term "universal") values. Toynbee even blithely wrote about "cultural and racial diversity", as though race was "real" rather than socially constructed, then went on to lament the fact that there is no support for what she is unable to recognise as an anti-Islamic crusade amongst British Muslims. Toynbee also characterises British Muslims in a singularly unflattering fashion, writing of "...how alienated most still feel from the mainstream, how threatened, how culturally uncertain. Unfortunately, it unites the peaceful with the violent." Such ignorant clap-trap is nothing new, we saw Islam treated as a monolith by Salman Rushdie's secular "Western" supporters for much of the nineties (despite Sunni, Sufi and Shiite being as religiously diverse as Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant). One would have hoped that in the wake of current events Toynbee's "hard liberals" would have revised their untenable positions. I would not, of course, expect Toynbee to do so.

She is a hysteric, a relic, unwilling and unable to engage with the modern - let alone the post-modern - weave of the world. Fundamentalism and traditionalism, including both Christian fundamentalism and the Islamic traditionalism of "Western" Muslim converts such as Rene Guenon, are products of modernism. No matter how trenchantly such tendencies "oppose" modernism with their rhetoric and catechisms, they are still its progeny.

Burchill in one of her columns (Weekend Guardian, 20/10/01 p. 7) writes of "Islamofascists", without ever mentioning Guenon or his enormous influence - via Julius Evola - on the modernist-traditionalism of the neo-fascist European "New Right". While happily throwing about emotive terms like Islamofascist, Burchill singularly fails to mention that a good many of those who should be abused in this way are, at least nominally, "Christians". At the end of the day, the main difference between al-Qaida and the Holy Alliance is that the latter is better armed. Even "rock hard liberals" (aka "macho bores") might find better ways of defending their "beloved" civil liberties than advocating the carpet bombing of Afghanistan with concomitant increases in heavy handed surveillance and policing at "home".

Salman Rushdie has got in on this act too, suggesting that "among the most unpleasant consequences" of 11 September was "the savaging of America by sections of the left" (Guardian Saturday Review, 6/10/01, p. 1). Contra Rushdie, I found the murder of six thousand people considerably more unpleasant than any rhetorical "savaging" that went on after the event. Likewise, Rushdie's dualistic two camps approach to these matter is less than adequate as a response to them, but then gross stupidity is what I've come to expect from this mediocre novelist and premier league literary gang-banger.

The Guardian, of course, is more in tune with its schizophrenic readership than these hysterical columnists might indicate, and their blind-spots have been counter-balanced with opinion pieces from Madeleine Bunting (Intolerant Liberalism, 8/10/01, p. 17) and Gary Younge (We Are All Victims Now, 15/10/01, p. 17) amongst others. That said, reading the likes of Rushdie, Burchill and Toynbee, one could imagine that there had not been ongoing debates about fascist modernism. If these hysterics have actually heard of the Heidegger and De Man affairs, they obviously don't have the first idea of what they were about. Unfortunately, their heads are more likely to be filled with worries about small pox attacks. Next week it will be botulism. Moving on to something slightly less distasteful, the stock market might surprise us all yet, by making another full recovery, since short-selling makes this more than just possible - but only in the short-term.

After a patient had been exposed to bubonic plague, a doctor told him he had ten days to live, but not consecutively.

"Hall of mirrors as crackpots twist the rumour mill" shrieked a headline accompanying a John Arlidge article (Observer, 14/10/01 p. 23) that suggested chat rooms and e-mail were a crackpots' paradise. Arlidge wrote: "No one dares tell black jokes about 11 September, but hundreds of thousands of people across the world have heard a story about someone getting a terror tip-off from an Arab-looking person..." Arlidge dismisses it as a "good story - but fiction", without apparently realising that this "(t)urban myth" rehashes Orientalist stereotypes.

Here is an example of the tale that I was e-mailed on 19/10/01, the sender has added a couple of sentences to the end, apparently to defuse the prejudiced attitudes that animated earlier, shorter, versions: "Subject: FW: This really does sound true - take care out there..... > > > Subject: Please read this message > > Yesterday I was on the Underground travelling on the Northern line. A man of Arabic-appearance got off the train and I noticed that he had left his bag behind. I grabbed the bag and ran after him, caught up with him at the top of the escalator and handed him back his bag. He was extremely grateful to me and reached into his bag which appeared to contain large bundles of bank notes. He offered me a reward, but I refused. So he looked round, made sure nobody was looking and whispered to me: 'I can never repay your kindness, sir, but I will try to with a word of advice for you. Stay away from Aberdeen Steak Houses.' I was terrified. 'Is there going to be an attack?' 'No, sir. I went there yesterday evening - the food was poor-quality and the dessert selection extremely limited.' " Arlidge understands nothing of the issues raised by this twist added to the tail of a very tall story, and even includes among his examples of crank e-mail a jpeg of bin Laden partying with British clubbers that is headed "He's in Ibiza", which is not a particularly representative example of the type of black humour he wrongly claims hasn't emerged around 11 September.

Jocular post-11 September e-mails I've received, albeit with a more obviously anti-racist intent than "He's in Ibiza", include a jpeg of industrial musician Nigel Ayers and his wife Leslie dressed in Muslim robes and headed "...the real islamicist terror network!!!" Given the increase in the already high level of racial attacks in the "West" since 11 September, solidarity is clearly needed, and not just through a humorous undermining of bigoted attitudes (although there is clearly a place for this). That said, the crackpots twisting the rumour mill are just as likely to be found on "Fleet Street" as the Internet.

For example, the front page of the same issue of The Observer that carried the John Arlidge piece was headlined "Iraq 'behind US anthrax outbreaks' " This came several days after The Observer's sister paper The Guardian (11/10/01, p. 11) carried a story headlined "Anthrax strain matched to US laboratory". It isn't yet clear who is or was responsible for mailing out anthrax, but the initial reporting of incidents in the media was clearly a factor in inducing panic. Idle speculation about an Iraqi connection much reported by the press appears to have originated as propaganda designed to pave the way for a widening of the "theatre of military operations" in the Middle East. While The Guardian is currently playing down the threat from biological attacks, since anthrax is a treatable illness and to date only one person has died as a result of contracting it from a terrorist mailing, it still should be stressed that there is as yet no evidence in the public domain that bin Laden and al-Qaida were behind the 11 September massacres, let alone these "germ warefare" incidents. However, this may all change next week with the emerging "threat" of small pox attacks, a single incidence of which has yet to occur.

Clearly, the Taliban and al-Qaida are repugnant, but then so is the Holy Alliance - and both "sides" now "united" in this "anti-struggle" are responsible for the mass deaths currently being visited upon Afghanistan. In the "West", the attack on the Twin Towers softened people up for the psych-ops that were to follow, but the virtual terror whipped up amongst civilian populations outside the immediate "theatre of operations" may yet rebound on the Holy Alliance. However, I do want to stress that I am not trying to suggest there was any kind of monolithic conspiracy. It appears that different individuals and groups stirred things up because it suited their interests, their acts were not necessarily co-ordinated, but the ultimate effect was an unstable data cloud resulting in panic and fear.

Moving on, bin Laden has yet to retract the 1998 statement in which he claimed "Western" citizens were legitimate targets because they voted for their governments. Such casuistry is worthy of a Presbyterian minister and demonstrates readily enough that far from opposing the "West", bin Laden suffers from all the usual democratic illusions. Most "citizens" did not vote for any of the governments in power, indeed many did not vote at all because there is virtually no difference between the successful political parties in places like "Great" Britain and the United States (all of whom are rabid "post"-imperialists). A large and vocal anti-bombing movement in the "West" is the best way of undermining al-Qaida, since by highlighting bin Laden's faulty logic, it will help undermine his base of support. Bin Laden's words and actions conjure up the very things he claims to oppose (and the same, of course, is true of the Holy Alliance). There is no clash of civilisations, neither the "West" nor "Islam" are monoliths, and "Europe" would not even exist as an "idea" were it not for the learning of certain remarkable wo/men from the highly cultured "Arabic" "world" who lived hundreds of years ago. Likewise, and as you probably already know, eleven is the number of Justice in the major arcana of the Tarot.

A C-list celebrity who contracted anthrax asked his doctor if he was going to live. Yes, the doctor replied, but I don't advise it.

For the Holy Alliance, Bin Laden remains a black hole, a pure post-modern anti-phenomenon who absorbs and neutralises light. This is no longer a question of expression or representation, but only the simulation of an ever inexpressible and unexpressed inhumanity. However, if bin Laden is incapable of representing evil, then so are Blair and Junior, since all three have quite unconsciously transvalued value, and as a result short-circuited the social. All is surface, all is two-dimensional, all is science-fiction. Expelled from a simulated post-modernity, and with "leaders" who have inadvertently taken on the "role" of the passive masses, Downing Street and the Whitehouse asked Western television stations to censor "Spin Laden" because - they alleged - his video taped statements might contain encrypted messages for his followers. Various attempts to decode these tapes can be found on the Internet.

For example, in "Addressing 'the nation', targeting America" carried by the Cairo based Al-Ahram Weekly Online (11 - 17 October 2001, Issue No.555), Diaa Rashwan provides the following analysis of the video-taped statements released by the al-Qaida "leader" Osama bin Laden, al-Qaida "spokesman" Suleiman Abu Gheith and Egyptian Gamaat Al-Jihad "leader" Ayman El-Zawahri, first broadcast on 7 October: "The various terms used to address Muslims operated as a rhetorical device seeking, by turns, generalisation and individualisation. But the message remained the same: 'The one-billion man nation' is called upon to join in the jihad against the US... As for bin Laden and al-Qaida's responsibility for the attacks, it is nowhere acknowledged by the three, despite their expansive explanations of why the attacks took place. In this context bin Laden's assertion that those who undertook the attacks are 'a star among the stars of Islam, a vanguard among the vanguards of Islam' can be explained as either one of two manoeuvres, given his repeated denials of being involved.

Either he is exploiting the absence of any evidence to confirm America's insistence that he was responsible to fan Americans' fears of a repeat performance, or else he has found out beyond doubt that no Arab or Islamic groups were involved in these precisely co-ordinated attacks - a viewpoint for which there seems to be a great deal of evidence - and has thus decided to capitalise on America's fear of him anyway..." Since al-Jazeera, the independent television station based in Qatar that initially broadcast bin Laden's home videos is available throughout the UK and Europe as a Sky Digital service, Downing Street's appeal for British stations not to carry this material appears to be yet another pointless anti-gestural manoeuvre in its relentless war against meaning. To add insult to this hyperreal injury, Prime Minister Blair also berated what he called the 24-hour news industry for constantly seeking new angles and action points in his craftily unhinged "anti-conflict". Blair almost claimed the media manufactured the coverage it required, transforming its own activities into news when there were no spin doctors or "intelligence" operatives around to feed it with what those suffering from self-conscious nostalgia might label "disinformation". Fast decaying images of Yvonne Ridley, the Daily Express journalist captured and subsequently released by Taliban authorities, flickered in the background as the British press singularly failed to square up against the Holy Alliance. War for us in the "West" is both spectacular consumption and a magical practice. We are disembodied, we are swirling in information.

The principle of reversibility, which accounts for both the hopes and the fears whipped up by wars, is also the primary mechanism of magic and seduction. Everything visible is unreal and must disappear, everything that has been produced must be destroyed. Such is the anti-logic shared by lovers and soldiers, politicians and the magi. We have been hypnotised by information, it is the medium in which we breath, it is our virtual body. To date, no one has credibly claimed responsibility for the destruction of the Twin Towers, and yet the Holy Alliance persists in attributing this unsigned "gift" of terror to the body of works clustered around bin Laden and al-Qaida. Thomas Hobbes - not quite a liberal knight in shinning armour - has already awoken from his slumbers to dodge any battles with the cellular body of this anti-Leviathan. "They are here!" scream tabloid headlines. Grab your data body, Hobbes is King Arthur in drag, Camelot is Mecca, this is metastasis. Richard Brem e-mailed me the following observation from Vienna on 16/10/01: "the high-rise/skyscraper is the modern-day equivalent of the Hobbesian "homo magnus" (as a vertical structure consisting of people standing next to and on top of each other). The idea was first developed by David Cronenberg in his 1975 horror movie "Shivers", and obviously has gained a great deal of currency since September 11." Almost simultaneously, a commentator on Radio 4 mentioned Henry Stubb as an influence on Hobbes. Radical democracy indeed. It is time to examine the life of the Prophet once again, this time from the perspective of materialism.

An English hypochondriac rang his doctor to say he'd been infected by anthrax spores sent to him by neo-Nazi terrorists. The doctor told him not to worry since there had been no genuine anthrax attacks in the British Isles, only hoaxes. The hypochondriac rang the doctor a few days later to say he was dead.

Among other things, today is "Jam Echelon Day" and this is the anti-point around which I am not turning. Echelon is the world-wide signals intelligence network run by the US National Security Agency and the UK Government Communications Headquarters in association with Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Echelon is allegedly capable of intercepting most e-mails and phone conversations amongst other things, and searching them for key words. If these key words turn up in a communication, it is then supposedly subject to further examination. To coincide with "Jam Echelon Day", Mute magazine is running a competition in which readers are invited to write a piece of fiction using a list of probable Echelon key words drawn up by the judges. I went through this list with the intention of constructing a piece for submission, but soon realised the inventory had been compiled prior to 11 September and was unsatisfactory in the light of current events.

However, I still went ahead and wrote The Twin Towers - Void & Actuality Of The Data Storm despite assuming it would be unsuitable for the competition. When the piece was completed on 13 October, I e-mailed it to various friends and acquaintances, some of whom had been told to expect the arrival of my analysis of what was happening on the anniversary of the suppression of the Knights Templar. Knowing that bulk e-mails are often delayed, and wanting my essay to go out at the same time as massive anti-bombing demonstrations were taking place in London and Glasgow, I sent the e-mails individually. I was rather surprised when I picked up my e-mail the next day and had messages from people who'd been expecting my analysis asking me when I was going to mail it. I phoned a dozen friends who'd been sent the essay, and none of them had received it. I began running tests, sending myself and other people e-mails. When e-mail devoid of "political" content was sent from my account, it arrived at its destination immediately. When I sent commentary about the Twin Towers (and not just my own, I also tried mailing material written by other people), it failed to arrive at its destination. Late in the evening, when I'd been running these tests for around ten hours, some (but not all) of my e-mails containing "political" content were delivered. My article can now be found at http://www.stewarthomesociety.org/towers.htm - and also, possibly, at some other sites. Although initially I'd only intended to e-mail the piece around, given the difficulties I was experiencing getting it to people, I decided it was necessary to place it on the web. I also sent an e-mail about these problems to my server Freeserve roughly every 24 hours from that Sunday to the following Friday, until I eventually got this reply from them: "In order to enjoy full Internet access, including sending e-mail, you must not withhold your telephone number (CLID) when connecting to our service." This explained nothing, since I hadn't been withholding my telephone number - and while it may all be a huge coincidence, the actual "problem" seemed to be with the content of my e-mails. I certainly wouldn't read much into Freeserve's tardy response, since after I was sent a bulk e-mail from company chairman John Pluthero, I replied with the following words on 9/10/01, and he has yet to get back to me about this: "Thank you for your interesting message. While I appreciate what you've done to improve the Freeserve network, I do prefer to be addressed as 'Jacques' when e-mailed at this account. It just seems less impersonal than user.

Also, although I bought the single "I'm In Love With Today" by The Users when I was fifteen years old, now I'm proud to be middle-aged I much prefer the classic jazz funk grooves of late Atlantic Eddie Harris - and don't really like being contacted as if I am a member of a screamingly obscure seventies punk rock band. I know it takes a bit more time and effort to address bulk mail personally, but marketing research shows it pays dividends in terms of sales. Just thought you'd like to know. Ciao, "Jacques de Molay". PS I'm also a huge fan of Glenn Gould, but while my wife will let me listen to his Bach albums when she's around, she loathes Beethoven which meant my purchase of Alfredo Perl's ten CD set of "The Complete Piano Sonatas and Diabelli Variations" a few years ago was a bit of a disaster. My wife had previously stopped me playing Gould's Beethoven disks, and I'd hopped Perl might have enabled me to sneak around this ban on Ludwig Van. However, I have managed to trade off my not playing Beethoven for an embargo on her spinning Beatles and Chemical Brothers records in my presence. Unfortunately, she doesn't like my Herbie Hancock or Meters platters either, whereas I'm rather fond of her reggae favourites Lee Perry and King Tubby. My wife often calls me "a knob" for liking classical music, and says such tastes prevent me from fitting in with our neighbours (most of whom like Abba and Andy Stewart). Do you know if any captains of industry have similar domestic problems?"

A hypochondriac who thought he had anthrax was sent to a psychiatrist for shock therapy. The hypochondriac was surprised when he was asked to lie on a couch and talk about his sex life. The shock came at the end of the session, when he was presented with the bill.

Where, then, does all this leave us? With, it would seem, "virtually" nothing to do except continue with our opposition to this very one-sided "conflict". Most of us, who are outside the immediate theatre of operations, have little to fear but fear itself. While community self-defence is necessary, "counter-intelligence" is not required, especially as activities of the latter type don't merely attract - they also create - paranoid nut cases. "Secret Services Struggle To Get Up To Speed" announced a Guardian headline of 16/10/01 (and this could "ONLY" have appeared on page eleven). The spooks, it would seem, are all at sea, and desperately require Arabic, Pashtu and Farsi speakers.

The "Americans", we are told, are unable to assess the vast body of intelligence data they've collected in Afghanistan. Given that the Taliban PR "offensive" consists mainly of restricting the number of journalists allowed to enter its territory, the uneven and mainly low-grade reporting of the tenth crusade against terrorism is hardly surprising. When the spooks no longer know which line to take, their journalistic clients are left running around like headless chickens. Regardless, as soon as a few of these individuals are gathered together, let's dignify them as "gentlemen of the press", they constitute a crowd. The faculty of observation and critical spirit possessed by each of them disappears as they merge into this virtual body, and what's more, they are stationed many miles from the events they are "reporting". These hacks think they're covering a war, when what's going on is mass slaughter (despite the fact that many of these deaths will be more immediately attributable to starvation).

The starting point of such illusions is more or less vague individual reminiscences, contagion follows as a result of the "confirmation" of initial misperceptions. "I am a war reporter, I have come here to report on a war, therefore what I am seeing IS a war." If the first observer is impressionable, then others will follow "his" lead. Ian Mayes, the readers' editor at The Guardian (Saturday Review, 20/10/01 p. 7), has even admitted the paper made a mistake in not reporting massive anti-bombing demonstrations in Britain. One does not need to "imagine" how such decisions are made. "The enemy is invisible, the enemy is everywhere and nowhere, and those who oppose the war belong to the enemy camp, therefore they are invisible too."

Imagine the dismay, then, of The Guardian editorial board when it discovered that a large percentage of its readers are this invisible enemy. All the referentials intermingle, their discourse is circular. In this passage to a space whose curvature is no longer that of the real, the age of simulation is indistinguishable from a "war" that has no visible end, and very soon will have no visible beginning either, because it is not a "war" at all. It is no longer a question of imitation, nor of replication, nor even of irony. This is mass butchery. The fascination with both the theory and the exercise of power is intense precisely because dead power is characterised by a simultaneous "resurrection effect", it is an obscene parody of every form of power already seen. The vampires leading the Holy Alliance imagine they can't be killed, since not only do they operate out of fortified bunkers, but those who fantasise they stand shoulder to shoulder with God must necessarily believe they are dead.

Tony Blair might delude himself into thinking he's the second coming of Christ, but the rest of us know that he has far more in common with the Puritan dictator Oliver Cromwell. Indeed, with Junior's assistance, Blair is busily transforming Afghanistan into "his" Ireland. Sun Tzu wrote that "to subdue the enemy's troops without fighting is the supreme excellence." The Holy Alliance and al-Qaida lack the tactical and strategic skills to carry out such manoeuvres, but this is something we must master. What we seek is not so much a coup-d'etat as a coup-du-monde, a transition of necessity more complex, more diffuse than the other, and so more gradual, less spectacular.

Rating: 1 star out of 5.


For more information on Jacques de Molay, watch this space and try the website at http://www.stewarthomesociety.org/towers.htm.





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