Life Imitates Art dept.:

Watched TV last night. A thriller from 1998 called Enemy of the State, with Will Smith, Gene Hackman, Jon Voigt. Rogue NSA officials commandeer hi-tech intel technology to attack innocent bystander-witness. Gene Hackman is lone wolf ex-CIA guy who operated in Iran & Afghanistan. He & Smith (innocent bystander) turn the technology around & use it against their NSA enemies. Film's last words are spoken by a corrupt senator, who had previously supported vast invasive intelligence-gathering on behalf of national security. Now, after the incidents shown in the movie, he has reversed himself, supporting civil liberties & right to privacy. His last words go something like, "they are attacking us in our own homes".

At one point the ID card of Jon Voigt's character, the evil bad guy who manipulates the NSA intel technology, flashes on the screen : birth date, 9-11-40. I did a google search this morning, found a few mentions of this coincidence. But I wonder : perhaps Al-Qaeda actually chose the date 9-11 as a commentary on the film.

In Al Qaeda's eyes, the "state" in question is an infidel imperialist behemoth; the "rogue element" is not merely some bad guys who have manipulated the control system, but the state system in toto; and the plot, involving turning its spectacular intelligence technology against itself & displaying its impotence, is Al Qaeda's own mission.

(As Jonathan Schell brilliantly shows, however - quoting Hannah Arendt, Adam Michnik, Vaclav Havel, Gandhi & others - violence is not actually the foundation of power, but its opposite. Power is the outcome of group action based on mutual consent and cooperation for shared goals. Violence is more often a symptom of the lack of power than an expression of same. The fall of the Soviet empire is only the most spectacular recent example of the action of nonviolent power based in popular consent. As Schell quotes Michnik or (or Arendt?) somewhere: "the phrase nonviolent power is redundant". Al Qaeda may attack the symbols of Western dominance & oppression with violence, but they offer no alternative to western civil liberties, on which democratic politics are based.)

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