9/11: The Psychology of Denial
e x c e r p t
title: Left Denial on 9/11
author: August West
The reasons for the intense denial about the 9/11/01 attack inside the Left establishment appear to go much deeper than the fact that many of its institutions are funded by endowments like those of the Ford Foundation. The official myth appeals to political philosophies that condemn U.S. imperialism by providing the supreme example of "blowback" -- the proverbial chickens coming home to roost. Researcher August West speaks to this and other psychological underpinnings of the denial.
Denial lies at the heart of this unusual Left reaction. Many activists have looked at the questions, thought about the answers for a bit, and retreated in horror in the face of implications. If the government had foreknowledge and let the attacks happen, or worse, actually took part in facilitating them, then the American state is far more vicious than they could have imagined. And if so, what would happen to them should they vocalize this? Needless to say, this would greatly raise the stakes of political action well beyond the relatively superficial level that even many leftists operate at. It would be impossible to go on living as before, being essentially a spectator whose life is work/shopping/entertainment, with the occasional political rally, lecture or movie to spice things up and make one feel involved. People like that, or even ones more involved with some regular effort at political reform, could no longer feel that the political situation could be changed for the better through small, incremental steps, a 100 year or even 500 year plan. This prospect is thoroughly unsettling, and is easier to deal with if simply dismissed outright. ...
Beneath unconscious motivations also lie some conscious agendas. Those on the Left who have embraced "critical support" for a "limited response" war will no doubt not wish to have their political bankruptcy exposed. But even most of those who oppose the War have nevertheless accepted the notion that the U.S. was attacked by a vicious enemy. For some, this represents an opportunity to promote their moralistic approach: let us respond in an appropriate, moral and non-military manner. Others, such as Chomsky, Michael Albert, Howard Zinn and Alex Cockburn, simply trot out the "blowback" explanation: this horrible attack happened because America has done bad things, has not listened to "us" (wag, wag the finger), and better start changing its policies (as if an empire can be run in a nice way!). Yet others who disagree with war boosters like Katrina van den Heuvel of The Nation nevertheless buy their thesis that the war promotes increasing state powers (e.g., making airport baggage inspectors federal employees), and this amounts to a move towards "socialism". If the events of 9/11 were not what they seemed to be, this takes away the chance to promote these political programs, perhaps to even advance certain careers.