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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.