SchNEWS Of The World


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Dis-arm DSEI - Docklands, London, September 11 2001


The day the towers came down most of the SchNEWS crew and our mates were in London at the DSEI demo in the Docklands. Early in the afternoon, before the news broke, most of us who were with the main group found ourselves in a bit of carpark hemmed in by police, a long way from the actual Excel Centre where the arms & torture fair was being held. We were just getting used to the fact that for us the demo was basically scuppered and we were stuck there for a few hours at least. Then people started talking out loud that the World Trade Centre in New York and Pentagon had been hit with hijacked planes. Initially it was like 'yeah right'. When it was clear that this wasn't just random nutters, the demo went into disarray and lot of people disappeared, and many of us went to a pub round the corner to watch TV, leaving the row of cops still holding the line along the road. It was a case of 'see you later, we're all off to the pub' as the cops stood arms folded.

As we sat stunned watching continual re-runs of the fresh footage it was a case of trying to get your head around the reality that this was one of those enormous historical moments which would be with us forever, endlessly gone over like the Kennedy shooting - and in many ways bigger than any of them. But for the Dis-arm DSEI crowd in that hushed pub, the question of what the US were going to do in response to this was possibly more frightening than the sight of the towers falling themselves.

The first thing to expect was even-greater-than Diana levels of rubbish coming out of peoples' mouths and newspapers, and all the tedious memorials and pretense that nations had been united by the grief etc.

The worry was what Bush was going to do. It was clear before this that he'd been dying to spend money on the military, pushing the missile defense system. You just knew that innocent people were about to be killed (colateral they call it) by a rampant, revengeful US.

In the weeks after, the way people were whipped up into a mushy frenzy of blind patriotism showed the way the US/western media/propaganda machine is as monsterous as its military. Many had the feeling that the US 'had it coming', but there was an apparent media ban on that line of thinking.

The other way of looking at it was - fuck the spectacle of the towers: sure, look at what's behind the attacks, and see the broader context, but don't join in on the mass distraction. Other events were big news at the same time - such as the impending economic collapse of Argentina for instance. In the following weeks other stories were made to look 'trivial' compared to 9-11 - then there was the small matter that most of the crises in other countries were caused by either the US, its IMF/WB/WTO /etc bogey men or western corporations - but you couldn't be caught slagging America off could you.

Some thought that this was the end of the 'anti-capitalist movement' - which was blatant rubbish as the problems hadn't gone away, neither had the protesters. What we had was a whole new set of factors to mix into the landscape of global capitalism - not the least being the possibility of the US 'bombing for peace' again. The only people who thought that the 'movement' was over were either conservatives willing it to finish, or intellectual trendies pre-empting that Seattle/Prague/Genoa etc was suddenly last year's shirt. There was never any doubt that it would be back - even if it was in the shadows for a few months.

For SchNEWS and others the weeks after September 11 were a time of saying the things that needed to be said, and concentrating on the right sources of information, but in an environment of swimming against tidal waves of propaganda; and writers and public voices disappointing us badly by coming out with unforgivable wet nonsense in the aftermath of the attacks.

In these pages we have included articles from a range of people - to try give a bit more of an even perspective - keeping the self indulgent emotive waffle to a minimum of course...