The House of Inspection

LONG AGO A PRISON WAS DESIGNED, the Panopticon. Prisoners would be isolated in separate cells that were organized like a stack of rings around a central tower. By special devices, the inspector in the tower would be able to see each prisoner but the prisoners would not be able to see the inspector. The prisoners could never be certain whether they were being watched or nor. This combination of isolation and the sense of being observed was to lead to moral reflection and rehabilitation. Versions of the Panopticon were constructed from time to time; the most uncompromising was the experimental women’s prison at A–.

The Jihad Question

Most Americans have some image from September 11 that has stayed with them during the year since the attacks. Mine was not a television image. It was a single line of print: “One of the hijackers left a Qur’an in his rental car at Logan Airport.”

Why the United States Needs a Strong, Peaceful Islam

The United States holds a position of military and political dominance unique in world history. The Roman Empire surrounded the Mediterranean Sea but held no sway in the rest of the world. The British Empire was global in reach, but confronted countervailing powers in Europe and in the continents where it had outposts. Neither constraint applies to the United States at the beginning of the twenty-first century.

Is Religion the Problem?

The year 2002 should find Americans looking ahead, despite our natural instinct to revisit the scenes of the year past. Yet past and future are wedded, and facing some unfinished business of 2001 can help us face, though of course not finish, some of the business of the years ahead.

Modern Fashion or Global Fascism?

Post-September 11, much remains the same. The recession that officially began in March of 2001 got a bit deeper. Globalization remains the defining trend. As before, the key operating principle that underlies the Washington/Wall Street consensus comes to this: “maximize financial returns and–trust us–everything will work out fine.” We’ve now got $17 trillion in the hands of U.S. money managers, invested with faith in that neoliberal premise.