Angry Robot

violence, the great democracy

I stumbled across the transcript of G. W. Bush’s June address to West Point grads, and noted this passage:

Enemies in the past needed great armies and great industrial capabilities to endanger the American people and our nation. The attacks of September the 11th required a few hundred thousand dollars in the hands of a few dozen evil and deluded men. All of the chaos and suffering they caused came at much less than the cost of a single tank.

Is war, like publishing, music, film and television, being ‘democratized’? This is the term we use when the tools of an industry become suddenly accessible. Steve Jobs: “Final Cut Pro has democratized professional video editing by bringing the capabilities of a $50,000 editing bay to everyone for under $1,000.” (Apple to win daytime emmy) Sept. 11, however, was not predicated on technological change but rather a mental change amongst the ass-bastard rat-fuck terrorists who decided to target the US at home rather than abroad. That, and their techniques were unprecedented. Although terrorism itself has always been cheap (and therefore ‘democratized’), and people can generally stab, shoot, burn, or bomb whomever they want if they don’t concern themselves with the consequences , this particular effort was above and beyond your average terrorist attack, I think we can agree. Not that it was war, but still.

The point, then: can industries be democratized through profound mental shift, and nothing more?

4 comments on "violence, the great democracy"

  1. king says:

    Yeah, I think you’re right D. Also, I think the “enemies of the past” and the U.S. themselves spend so much money on tanks and shit because they want to kill, but they don’t really want to die. I think that maybe if you’re willing to take yourself out in the process of “war/terror”, you have more options economically.

  2. Anonymous says:

    It is tempting to say that terror has always been democratic, in that nearly everyone has, on some level, the access necessary to commit acts of terror.

    But I think it is a step too far to say industries can be democratized solely by profound mental shifts of this sort. Al-Qaeda didn’t need to spend millions on a tank, but they did need somebody else to spend millions on the airplanes they used. They don’t represent a technological advance, just a novel way of reappropriating the tools.

    They forced a change in the way of thinking–no one will ever assume hijackers only want to reroute a plane ever again–and that is actually quite a feat. This may or may not lead to changing the “rules of engagement” of the “war industry” but I don’t think it will lead to democratization. It is a matter of scale.

  3. D says:

    I agree. After marinatin’ on this for a while I think a) terror has always been ‘democratized’, aka cheap and accesssible. b) Sept.11 represents not an act of war but a more advanced form of terrrorism. Therefore, no ‘democratization’ occured.

    they did need somebody else to spend millions on the airplanes they used.

    True – making them the (software) pirates of the violence industry, huh? Maybe the RIAA was right all along – in reverse. Or something.

  4. JS says:

    Oops, I meant to sign. The “It is tempting…” is me.

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