February 4, 2011

The Debt of 9/11/01

First before I start I would like to give a shout out to Hank--UT PLAN II! Mazel Tov!

Now onto a recent thought. Why did the United States invade Afghanistan in 2001? 9/11. We all know that, but why are we still there? What is our justification for mass warfare?

The American people feel indebted to the victims, the thousands of people who died on 9/11. Our military action against Al-Qaeda, the Patriot Act and new TSA policies were all justified by the invocation of 9/11. We feel a debt to those who died, but is this debt legitimate? How does this debt affect our daily lives? This debt is what Nietzsche calls "Bad Conscience" as he describes it in the second essay of Genealogy of Morals "I consider bad conscience the profound illness which human beings have come down with, under the pressure of the most fundamental of all changes which they experienced-that change when they found themselves locked within the confines of society and peace. Just like the things water animals must have gone through when they were forced either to become land animals or to die off, so events must have played themselves out with this half-beast so happily adapted to the wilderness, war, wandering around, adventure-suddenly all its instincts were devalued and "disengaged."

This bad conscience that Nietzsche outline precludes us from living our daily lives. We feel a sense of obligation in this post 9/11 era to support the doings of the state and be patriotic--it is because of the debt we feel to those that lost their lives on 9/11 that we put up with FBI wiretaps, TSA pat downs, and increased video surveillance. Would a society founded on individual rights so easily agree to things such as the Patriot Act? No. Nietzsche explains once again in the second essay from Genealogy of Morals that our adaptation as a population "was initiated by an act of violence and was carried to its conclusion by nothing but sheer acts of violence.." I believe Nietzsche's thesis holds true for the U.S. We are locked in credtor-debtor relationship that Nietzsche describes. We as the American people take on both roles. We are the debtors to those who perished on 9/11, we owe them our freedom and therefore with that freedom we take up the position of the credtor towards Afghanistan, Al-Qaeda harmed us, they took thousands of lives and we must make them pay. The U.S. invasion of Afghanistan is the credtors act of inscribing his superiority over the debtor, it is our attempt to make Osama bin Laden pay for what he did.

It is because of this "Bad Conscience" we have as a nation that I propose we forget 9/11/01. Not forget those who died, but do not make them the idols to which we are indebted. We must treat 9/11 like any other day in history. Only if we forget 9/11 are we able to focus on the present, we need to attempt to live our lives instead of trying to repay our infinite debt to those who came before us.


  1. its not about forgetting 9/11 its about not remembering it

  2. I think Scott Koslow would have something to say about this :3

    I feel both of you are right. The way I read the Zehfuss article from which I think you're drawing from, actively forgetting 9/11 could also mean refusing invocations of it - or as Max said "not remembering it". For those people who don't know what article I'm referring to, here's a link: http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/routledg/ctwq/2003/00000024/00000003/art00008

  3. For Nietzsche consciousness is reactive, thanks to forgetting we can react to new stimuli. "In ressentiment, this process is blocked because the memory replaces new excitements; reaction takes the place of action"(Diken)The memory of 9/11 has justified foreign interventions, not as a genuine action in and of themselves, but a reaction to the memory of our victimization by the Evil other. "What defines the man of ressentiment is this weakness, ‘his technique for remembering things’ (Nietzsche 1996: 42). His consciousness is overrun by memory, and he reacts only to his memory, and what is remembered is of course ‘only that which hurts’" - Diken. It is only by forgetting, or not remembering, 9/11 (the symbol of our victimization)that we can clear our conciousness, free ourselves from reactive stimuli, and be able to act genuinely in the present.