The real meaning of the World Trade Center attacks.
By Ann Marlowe
A few days after September 11, my mother referred to the victims of the World Trade Center attack as people who were killed just for going to work. This casual observation illuminates the motivations of the terrorists and explains why hand-wringing over what the United States “did wrong” is a waste of time. The September 11 terrorists killed civilians of no particular power or importance, minding their own business, because these ordinary actions of ordinary people are the mainstay of economic rationality. The hijackers were targeting economic man, and he is to be found at work.
Attacks on civilians in peacetime are a relatively recent phenomenon, and suicide attacks still more so. Political and military leaders have always been targets for assassination. Politically motivated killings of prominent people, by gunmen who assumed that they would give their lives in their mission, emerged as a widespread phenomenon in the late 19th century; the assassination that precipitated World War One being the most famous. The murder of Abraham Lincoln is a case closer to home.
Attacks on ordinary people outside of warfare did not occur until ordinary people achieved some importance to themselves and others. They must be political actors, in however minor a sense. For a very long time, anyone who hated the established order knew exactly whom to kill, and it wasn’t common folk. (more…)