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The Spirit of Terrorism

Until September 11 we had had no symbolic event on a world scale that marked a setback for globalization itself.

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.”

Reviews

  • “What he calls the 'spirit of terrorism' is the waking nightmare of fantasy become reality, which means that in the West, we are all, whether of the right or left, now engaged in a murderous game, the rules of which are constantly being changed, not according to the globalized strategies of the western powers, but according to the inscrutable, ultimately unknowable, demands of 'the enemy'. ... Baudrillard ... offers a sober and hard-headed commentary on the events of September 11 and their aftermath. Significantly, there is no trace of the specious and pretensious nihilism that is so often claimed as the hallmark of his thinking. Rather, he offers a clear analysis of the terrible miscalculations in the West that have brought us to this point, and which seem to offer us no way back from the spectral 'war on terrorism'.””
  • “… philosophical perfection. Each book [in the Verso series of 9-11] offers powerful and highly readable commentary that whirlwinds around the specter of the towers, and together the texts raise an indelibly valuable dialogue where many are still afraid to step. Unbreakable, these volumes are filled with extraordinary ideas and ideals that slowly piece together from one poetic line to the next.”
  • “First prize for cerebral coldbloodedness goes to French philosopher Jean Baudrillard. ... It takes a rare, demonic genius to brush off the slaughter of thousands on the grounds that they were suffering from severe ennui brought about by boring modern architecture. ”

Blog

  • Perpetual War and Permanent Unrest: The Battle of Algiers After 9/11

    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.

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  • A Short History of the State of Emergency—By Paul Alliès

    "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?

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  • I am the author of The Coming Insurrection


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