This essay argues that the recourse to terror as the defining term of the 9/11 experience is at odds with the rhetorical choices made by Edmund Burke in his writings on the French Revolution, as well as by various Cold War theorists in the 1950s. Burke regarded terror as an incapacitating experience among its victims and sought to deny the Jacobin claim to the power of terror, which he understood to be part of their claim to control of the state. Cold War theorists were concerned to persuade the civilian population to preserve self-control and social discipline, and understood terror as threatening to both. The media projection of terror after 9/11, in contrast, worked to encourage irrational and passive responses to management from above.
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Issue Section:Dossier: The Militarization of Knowledge