Afflicted Powers

This is probably the best set of reflections on not only the meaning of 9/11 but also all the events that have followed and underpinned it. The authors are a collective from San Francisco called Retort that is part of a larger community of activists in that most radical of US cities. The book covers a huge amount of ground with both insight and journalistic panache – the blood-for-oil thesis, the rise of Islamic fundamentalism, the politics of terror and anti-terror, the meaning of Israel. While this is all fairly well-tilled soil, it is explored here with some startling new insights and theoretical creativity. Retort is influenced by the Situationists and their idiosyncratic sage, Guy Debord, whose classic pamphlet the Society of the Spectacle is forever associated with the revolutionary fervour of May 1968 in France. But Retort goes beyond Debord’s rather abstract critique of capital and spectacle to a more nuanced understanding that will discomfort everyone from the orthodox peace movement to the revolutionary vanguardists of the authoritarian Left. A must-read for all activists.

Richard Swift

New Internationalist issue 385 magazine cover This article is from the December 2005 issue of New Internationalist.
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