A year ago tomorrow the July 7 tube and bus bombings took place. Terrible. Blowback. Sublime. Whatever your evaluation, opinion, fear, craziness – its the case that the whole thing has become a political football and some folks this week are playing for penalties with flippers and snorkel in a way that can only remind me of Grosso and Henri. Blair trying to play the blame card, moderate Muslim ‘leaders’ trying to suck up, everyone managing to avoid discussion of the reasons and the ongoing open wounds that are Afghanistan, Iraq…
Even some highly respected theorists seem incapable of a open eyed examination of the issues, the grievances, the consequences of global imperial war (on terror): both Buck-Morrs and Zizek have noted that those who attacked the New York Trade towers on September 11, 2001, left no ‘message’ and ‘no list of demands’ – suggesting this absence of explicit message offers a new fold in the practice of dissent. Is it that they want to suggest/agree with the popular understanding that these ‘terrorists’ are only crazed fanatics raged against us, and nothing more? This is poor analysis if so – the ‘reading’ of intent and the characterisation of ‘terrorists’ as fanatics strikes me as something that needs a more careful examination. Not conspiracy theory, but discussion of the ways we talk ourselves into compliance with Blair, accepting the profiles, conceding to the demonisation of Muslims etc etc (shooting on the train, armed police with kill orders – operation Kratos) and other militarisations of everyday life.
Was there really no message? – the portrayal of the fourth bomber on July 7, 2005 as the younger of the lads who had, somehow, chickened out and failed to set off his bomb on the tube, then gets on a bus and ‘accidentally’ the bomb goes off … this should also be reconsidered. Check the bus, check the choice of bus – not that it was on the way to Hackney Wick, but check the image on the side of the bus. Apologies to those who would like to think this was not an organised act of resistance, but there does seem to be a message here. War of terror indeed. Not a matter of profiling, but of examining the ways the event of July 7 (and Sept 11) is managed as an alibi for continuing global violence, bombings, occupations and absolute failure to think through the outcomes achieved on the back of 500 years of global capitalist wealth extraction.
Of course the press must misrepresent, but then so does all critique that does not always worry at this question of the co-constitution of outlook and action, prejudice and project.
I think its fairly boring for intellectuals to comment (Zizek, Buck-Morrs) that today protests (and the Sept 11 bombers) have ‘no list of demands’. Its not quite so clear cut, but when Zizek, for example, points out that there were no demands, and no ideological program, beyond some claim – as far as he knows – for recognition, and a wish to make an impact, we should take a moment to look. We live in a universe which celebrates the absence of ideology, the dangerous (un)reflexive society (of Giddens) gives rise to the gesture of fascism but not fascism that restores order and dignity (to those of the homeland) but rather now a fascism which would attribute meaning as only a gesture, and achieves this as a totalitarian control. So do we comply with fascism when we accept those commentators who would have us avoid thinking, so as to spin the images on our screens? We do know its not like that, but we can actually see the signs on the bus.