Theorizing September 11: Social Theory, History, and Globalization

Momentous historical events, like the September 11 terrorist attacks and the subsequent Terror War, test social theories and provide a challenge to give a convincing account of the event and its consequences. In the following analyses, I want first to suggest how certain dominant social theories were put in question during the momentous and world-shaking events of September 11, and offer an analysis of the historical background necessary to understand and contextualize the terror attacks. I take up the claim that “everything has changed” in the wake of September 11 and attempt to indicate both changes and continuities to avoid one-sided exaggerations and ideological simplicities. I argue that the terror attacks show contradictions in the nature of globalization and new technology that requires dialectical analysis of these phenomena. I conclude with some reflections on the implications of September 11 and the subsequent Afghanistan Terror War and 2003 war against Iraq for critical social theory and democratic politics, envisaging a new global movement against terrorism and militarism and for democracy, peace, environmentalism, and social justice.
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