Sparing no room for nuance, the magazine covers are all reminding us that the United States—and hence the planet—is set to commemorate the ten-year anniversary of 9/11, a day that not only changed the world and signaled the end of innocence and spawned a new greatest generation, but also launched a thousand new slogans with which to label that day, and inspired thousands of speeches intent on inspiring thousands more.
However, despite the horror, anger, uncertainty—and yes, for some, glee—from the damage inflicted on that momentous day, there remained, in the aftermath and up to now, a limited vocabulary within the mainstream with which to describe the events of that time and the trail of destruction that followed.
And since we aren’t anticipating a commemorative circuitous flight over the country on Air Force One with the President of the United States, we would like to offer an alternate journey—that is, a survey of Verso’s responses to 9/11:
"If the aim was to show us that state terror was more powerful than individual terrorists, we already knew that," says Tariq Ali of the US special forces action that reportedly killed Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan. As Americans celebrated outside of the White House and gathered at Ground Zero to remember those lost, Tariq reminds us that bin Laden's death will not make the US safer.
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In 2005, Verso published Messages to the World: The Statements of Osama Bin Laden, a collection of the various statements issued under bin Laden's name since 1994. In his Introduction, the book's editor, Bruce Lawrence notes the absence of any social dimension to bin Laden's thought:
Bin Laden was barred from the kind of analysis that would have allowed him to distinguish the different structural features of the various Muslim societies in which jihad was to be awakened, and made him hesitate in inflecting the notion of "One, Two, Three, Many Afghanistans." Morally, he does denounce a host of evils. Some of them—unemployment, inflation, and corruption—are social. But no alternative conception of the ideal society is ever offered. There is an almost complete lack of any social program.
This alone makes it clear how distinctive al-Qaeda is as a phenomenon. The lack of any set of social proposals separates it not just from the Red Army Faction or the Red Brigades, with which it has sometimes mistakenly been compared, but—more significantly—from the earlier wave of radical Islamism, whose leading thinker was the great iconoclast Sayyid Qutb