Thursday, November 18, 2004


Just reading a conversation between Paul Virillio and Derrick de Kerckhove, 'Conflilcts: the threat of the first global civil war'. It is striking how much of it relates to the current situation in the Netherlands. DdK remarks how Bush jr did after 9/11 exactly the opposite of what Clinton did after the first attack on one of the Twin Towers in 1993: Cllinton let the thing go, because he knew that, as McLuhan had said, 'if you don't want a catastrophe, pull the plug', i.e., don't let the media dwell on the event too much.

That's exactly what prime-minister Balkenende did in the first instance: he stayed in Bruxelles where he presided over a meeting of some European Union council and only showed himself one week after the murder of Theo van Gogh. Unfortunately, it has become impossible nowadays to pull the plug: the media cannot be stopped anymore, and since the prime minister had left leadership and initiative to other members of his cabinet, the government almost fell apart, and the media were gradually building up an image of a country on the verge of a civil war. In this, they were certainly helped by the Justice Department that sent what looked like an army into a neighborhood in The Hague to arrest a couple of presumed terrorists. These images helped to underscore the ongoing confusion between 'war on terrorism' and 'civil war', and one may fear that media and politicians are together exactly creating the catastrophe they pretend to prevent. Here we have moved beyond Baudrillardian simulacra: the hyperreal strikes back with a vengeance.

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