Thinking back on the globally televised images of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, in which two airplanes flew into the World Trade Center, one aircraft hit the Pentagon in Washington, and another one crashed in a field in Pennsylvania, the questions “whose suicide?” and “the collapse of what?” appear unmistakably straightforward. Nineteen Islamic suicide bombers turned their deaths into weapons, causing the collapse of the World Trade Center. However, taking a broader perspective, it is much less clear who committed suicide and what collapsed on September 11, 2001. This article addresses the question of whether the attacks were a sign of strength, or rather a symptom of ultimate despair. The article first engages with and develops a critique of Baudrillard’s contention that the dominant Western order, which is based on the extrapolation of Good and the fostering of life, cannot survive an attack by radicals who utilize death as a weapon and turn Western globalization against itself. Secondly, the idea that the September 11 attacks are, conversely, a desperate attempt to escape structural crisis, signaling the prelude of Islamic neofundamentalist violence, will be assessed. It will be argued that, rather than the self-inflicted death of the global liberal order by means of irrational destructive terrorism, or the imminent collapse of Islamic fundamentalism, the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the subsequent war on terror exhibit the tensions between a global order characterized by “destructive construction” and the “constructive destruction” that mark contemporary terrorist violence. Their mutual complex interrelations, their reciprocal fascination for one another and the intricate interconnections with processes of globalization – that prevent the death of either one – present a conflict that is of, against, within, and eluding the grasp of the dominant order in a continuous play of antagonism, destruction, mixture, tension, translation, and fissure.

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