Baudrillard sees the power of the terrorists as lying in the symbolism of slaughter – not merely the reality of death, but in a sacrifice that challenges the whole system. Where previously the old revolutionary sought to conduct a struggle between real forces in the context of ideology and politics, the new terrorist mounts a powerful symbolic challenge which, when combined with high-tech resources, constitutes an unprecedented assault on an over-sophisticated and vulnerable West. This new edition is updated with the essays “Hypotheses on Terrorism” and “Violence of the Global.”
This essay is excerpted from Sohail Daulatzai's Fifty Years of The Battle of Algiers: Past as Prologue, published by the University of Minnesota Press. A new 4K restoration of The Battle of Algiers is currently touring theaters across the United States.
Though it is both troubling and telling, the screening of the film by the Pentagon in the aftermath of 9/11 and the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan is only the latest chapter in the afterlife of The Battle of Algiers. In many ways, the film is a battleground and a microcosm of the enduring struggles between the West and the Rest, whiteness and its others. But in a post- 9/11 moment, it’s hard to ignore the ways in which the centrality and omnipresence of the figure of the Muslim and the “War on Terror” have not only coded and shaped every aspect of social life but have also sought to undermine the power and politics of The Battle of Algiers.
"The State of Emergency has become a synonym for the government doing as it pleases."
One the first and most important statements of the French government after the Friday attacks concerned a measure that has received scant or inadequate attention—the declaration of a State of Emergency. What is a State of Emergency? What impact does it have? Is it the right response?