'11 September has changed the world'-but did it really? Before we start to explore the new world order, or declare the old one coming to an end, it might be helpful to look back at events that happened at the beginning of the last century, less than 100 years ago. It was only four years later, after the First World War, that it dawned on Europeans that the terrorist attack on the Austrian heir to the throne in Sarajevo had changed the political, cultural and social landscape of Europe and the world. Only then did they realize that the 'lights went out in Europe', and that the 'long nineteenth century'-as Hobsbawm 2 termed it-had come finally to an abrupt end. Obviously, we are quite incapable of assessing the 'world-altering' impact of events at the moment they happen. Nearly a year after 11 September, a war in Afghanistan, and in the midst of an escalating conflict in the Middle East, such an assessment seems no less difficult or more certain.
The sheer scale of the 11 September attack made it seem earth shattering to us at the time. The world witnessed the attack in real time, and the vividness of the images of the planes hitting, and the towers collapsing both in slow motion and with incredible rapidity, made it in fact an event that changed the world. The attack hit the world's hegemonic power on a hitherto unknown scale. The richest and greatest city was the victim of a handful of young men who had decided to sacrifice their own lives and those of thousands of innocent victims. The fact that 11 September outdid Hollywood symbolized in many ways how the event had an impact on the global society and culture. Not even the world's leading factory of fiction had come up with such imagination and images, which made the event in a way unthinkable. 3 This was 'the most violent event ever to be shown instantaneously on television, which invoked a world of speed, instantaneity, co-presence', 4 as well as a global threat. Though America, and its citizens, was the foremost target of the attack, the victims represented the global dimension of this terrorist attack: Britons, Germans, Japanese, Chileans,