HEIDEGGER AND TERRORISM

by
ANDREW J. MITCHELL
Stanford University
ABSTRACT
Terrorism is a metaphysical problem that concerns the presence of beings today.
Heidegger’s own thinking of being makes possible a confrontation with terrorism on
four fronts: 1) Heidegger’s conception of war in the age of technological replacement
goes beyond the Clausewitzian model of war and all its modernist-subjectivist presup-
positions, 2) Heidegger thinks “terror” (Erschrecken) as the fundamental mood of our
time, 3) Heideggerian thinking is attuned to the nature of the terrorist “threat” and
the “danger” that we face today, 4) Heidegger rethinks the notion of “security” in a
manner that alerts us to the oxymoronic character of “homeland security.” The epoch
of terrorism is likewise the era of political transformation that Heidegger identifies with
“Americanism.” In this essay an effort is made to think terrorism qua metaphysical
problem and to inquire into the perhaps privileged role of America for the thinking
of terrorism today.
Heideggerian thought is a thinking that is engaged with its times.
Whatever we might make of Heidegger’s political choices, the fact
remains that even these decisions can be seen as attempts to think
with and against the times. It is no stretch to say that our time today
is the time of terrorism—an uncommon time, no matter how com-
mon a claim this may be—especially in the United States. What then
might a Heideggerian engagement with our time of terrorism bring to
light? To answer this, it is important to note that Heideggerian think-
ing, as a thinking of being, must engage with its times precisely because
it is through these times that we first find our access to being (or rather
“beyng,” Seyn). For Heidegger, however, the contemporary scene is
dominated by technology and, as his later writings endeavor to show,
this is indicative of a “withdrawal” of beyng. Heidegger distinguishes
himself from the various foes of technology, however, by viewing this
withdrawal as nothing negative on its own. Instead, this withdrawal is
a further dispensation of being. Beyng withdraws and grants us these
withdrawn times.
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This does not mean that beyng exists unperturbed somewhere behind
or beyond these beings. The withdrawal of being is found in these
abandoned beings themselves and is determinative for the way they
exist. Heideggerian thinking, then, allows us to ask the question of our
times and to think terrorism. My contention in the following is that the
withdrawal of being shows itself today in terrorism, where beings exist
as terrorized. Terrorism, in other words, is not simply the sum total of
activities carried out by terrorist groups, but a challenge directed at
beings as a whole. Terrorism is consequently a metaphysical issue, and
it names the way in which beings show themselves today, i.e., as ter-
rorized. This “ontological” point demands that there be the “ontic”
threat of real terrorists. Further, this metaphysical aspect of terrorism
also indicates that a purely political response to terrorism is destined
to fail. Political reactions to terrorism, which depict terrorism from the
outset as a political problem, miss the fact that terrorism itself, qua
metaphysical issue, is coincident with a transformation in politics. That
is to say, political responses to terrorism fail to think terrorism. In what
follows I will elaborate some of the consequences of thinking terror-
ism as a question of being and sketch a few characteristics of the
politico-technological landscape against which terrorism takes place.
In order to do so, I will address the role of America in Heidegger’s
work, for it is in “America” that politics and technology are driven
the furthest toward interdependency. “Americanism” names the pro-
ject of technological domination and the will to world homogeniza-
tion. This is not a reason to dismiss Heidegger as “anti-American,”
however, regardless of how strong the grounds for such an assessment
might appear. If we hold Heidegger to his own insights, then even he
would have to admit that there remains a crucial role for America in
the face of “Americanism,” a role which itself might constitute an
American “privilege” for the thinking of our times (and thus, perhaps,
for the thinking of beyng today). The logic of this privilege in the
midst of extreme denigration is perhaps the most important point for
a proper understanding of Heidegger’s views on technology. In the
pages that follow, an attempt is made to pose the question of this priv-
ilege in regard to both technology and the land of America.
Insofar as Heideggerian thinking is a thinking of being, then it must
be able to think terrorism, for the simple reason that terrorism names the
current countenance of being for our times, and without such a correspon-
dence to being, Heideggerian thinking is nothing. The issue is not one
of applying a preestablished Heideggerian doctrine to an object or sit-
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uation that would remain outside of thought. Rather, the issue is one
of recognizing that the objects and situations of our world themselves
call for thought, and that in thinking the world, we enter into a cor-
respondence with being. But what sort of correspondence can be
achieved between the thinking of being and terrorism? Heidegger’s
articulation of the age of technology already contains in germ four
routes of access for the thinking of terrorism.
First, Heidegger himself witnessed a transformation in the making
of war, such that he was led to think beyond the Clausewitzian model
of modern warfare and to open the possibility for a “warfare” of a
different sort. This thought beyond war is itself an opening to terror-
ism. Second, Heidegger prioritizes terror (Erschrecken) as a fundamen-
tal mood appropriate to our age of technological enframing. Terror is
a positive mood, not a privative one, and it corresponds to the way
that being gives itself today. Third, Heidegger thinks threat and dan-
ger in an “ontological” manner that calls into question traditional
notions of presence and absence. Terrorism attends this transforma-
tion in presence. Finally, and following from all of this, Heidegger
rethinks the notion of security in a manner that alerts us to the oxy-
moronic character of “homeland security” and the impossibility of ever
achieving a condition of complete safety from terrorism. In each of
these ways, Heideggerian thinking responds to this most uncommon
of challenges.
I. The End of War
If terrorism is anything, then it is nothing like war. While Heidegger
does not directly speak of terrorism by name, he nonetheless affirms
an end to the era of modern warfare. With the passing of this era of
high representation, Heidegger sees a dramatic change in what con-
stitutes a theater of war. The World Wars point to an era beyond
modern warfare as Clausewitz had definitively formulated it, an era
where wars are fought without goal or end, where soldiers are con-
sidered the same as supplies, and technology keeps such supplies in
steady circulation for instant availability. This is a postmodern era that
Heidegger thinks with the name of “enframing” (Ge-stell ). Without nam-
ing terrorism, Heidegger does offer a thought of conflict beyond the
representational modernism of Clausewitzian warfare. Under the aegis
of enframing, this beyond is terrorism, an epoch in the history of being
coincident with that of modern technology and, as we shall see, the
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American project. In approaching these issues, the Clausewitzian con-
ception of warfare provides a frame for appreciating the solutions of
contemporary technology to the questions of conflict and peace. To
this end, three points in Clausewitz’s conception of warfare, each serv-
ing to demonstrate its modern nature, shall be posed.
1. W.n Is Orrosi+iox.r
In preparing a definition of war, Clausewitz claims that war is “noth-
ing but a duel on a larger scale.”
1
With such pride of place given to
the duel, we are here immediately introduced to a thinking that will
be guided by the idea of opposition and, in Clausewitz’s own terms,
“polarity.”
2
This oppositional thinking is determinative of the modern
era and its fidelity to rational-subjectivist thought. A duel, however, is
a particular form of opposition, where two parties are clearly identifiable
and stand opposed to one another mediated by a ruling law. There
is a ruling law between them that specifies the contract of the duel; there
are certain assumptions that make up the etiquette of the duel; and
there is the aberrant exigency of the duel itself. In short, the duel is
part of an agreement: “There can be no engagement unless both sides
are willing to fight.”
3
War is thought by Clausewitz in terms of oppo-
sition and agreement, both understood by the terms of policy. War is
logically understood, in other words, within an oppositional structure
that includes not only the opposition between friend and foe, but that
of political theory and military practice. Clausewitz’s greatness lies in
thinking the modern rationalist categories of warfare directly, with a
force at times capable of exposing their boundaries. But for all this,
Clausewitz remains a great modern rationalist. His oppositional ratio-
nalism, the “logical” character of his thought, is the first characteris-
tic to consider in Clausewitz’s modernism.
2. W.n Is Wirrrtr
A second characteristic of the duel is that it takes an object; the duel-
ing parties duel over something. The duel points to a will, which lies
at the heart of Clausewitz’s explicit definition of war: “War is thus an
act of force to compel our enemy to do our will.”
4
In other words, war is a
test of the willingness of the will, of its willingness to risk itself for its
goal or for the object of its directing policy. Throughout On War,
Clausewitz emphasizes the role of the will and the allied notions of
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morale, esprit de corps, and feeling, for “If war is an act of force, the
emotions cannot fail to be involved.”
5
The emotions are most certainly
involved for Clausewitz; they are another of the unpredictable vari-
ables that the general must try to take into account while planning
his/her strategy; but it is always the will that holds the decisive place
in his thinking, “the animosity and the reciprocal effects of hostile ele-
ments, cannot be considered to have ended so long as the enemy’s
will has not been broken.”
6
The will is the glove by which reason is
able to seize the world. Whatever does not seize the world and act
upon the world is irreal, ineffectual, and therefore permitted—hence
the rational pride in freedom of thought and speech, and hence, too,
the egoistic greatness of that pride. The will drives the troops to over-
come physical exhaustion, and this will is influenced by the prevailing
wills around it. This is what is known as the morale of the troops,
and morale is always heightened by the extreme displays of will that
are valorized by the name “courage.” Courage is another way that
the body is handled by reason; it is a virtue of reason, where virtue
can only mean excellence in the manipulation of a tool. Clausewitz’s
concern for morale and courage is, at root, a concern for the will as
the first instrument of reason. To break the opponent’s will is to ren-
der it ineffectual (to read it its rights, in other words). Clausewitz
remains modern in his focus upon the will as negotiating between two
distinct realms of activity (theory and practice, we might say), a mat-
ter that likewise informs the third mark of Clausewitz’s modernity.
3. W.n Ixnrni+s Cr.ssic.r Mo+irs
The third trait is more subtle; it is also the trait that gives Clausewitz’s
thought its classical character, the inheritance of the Platonic distinc-
tion between the ideal and the real. Clausewitz recognizes an ideal
state of war beyond the material wars fought during his day. Such a
war, an “absolute war,” would pit equally powerful forces against one
another in positions of exact polarity; there would be no terrain, no
recalcitrance or exhaustion of the troops or supplies, and the differences
between the sides would be irreconcilable. Such an ideal war would
never end, and it is this war that acts as a regulative ideal, as both a
guiding idea (Hauptvorstellung) as to how things should be and as a stan-
dard of direction, a point of reference (Richtpunkt), towards its own ever
fuller realization.
7
All real wars are imitations of this war, and it is the
general’s task to approximate absolute war as closely as possible. The
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role of strategy for the general is to negotiate between the desired ideal
and the demands of the real. The general’s purview, then, is the gap
between the ideal and the real, the space of what Clausewitz terms
“friction.” Friction is a general name for the innumerable details pre-
venting a perfect translation of the ideal upon the real; it includes the
morale of the troops, the thickening effects of danger, insufficient or
incorrect intelligence, etc.; in short, it includes everything that cannot
be counted upon, every uncertainty. Friction denotes the illogical, since
“[l ]ogic comes to a stop in this labyrinth.”
8
The best general is the
one most at home in this halfway house between the ideal and the
real. Clausewitz is in the ranks of the other modern philosophers in
taking up this Platonic distinction.
These three points of war equally determine an ideal of peace. War
functions for Clausewitz as a forceful expression of will to overcome
an opponent, guided by the view of an ideal (absolute). When that
opponent is completely overcome—and the text vacillates at times
between disarmament and utter destruction—which is to say, when
that opponent is beaten in their will, then there can be peace: “Once
the prize is in its hands, the political object has been achieved; there
is no need to do more, and it can let matters rest. If the other state
is ready to accept the situation, it should sue for peace.”
9
In such an
end, war reaches its goal: “we must always consider that with the con-
clusion of peace the purpose of the war has been achieved and its
business is at an end.”
10
For the enemy to press for peace demon-
strates a weakened and depressed will to engage the opponent. But
this is not to say that the will is beaten or that the fighting is over
and done with. The only peace that could ensure this would be the
peace resulting from an absolute war, where “hostilities could not end
until one or other side were finally defeated.”
11
Political intervention
usually stops a war before this point is reached, with a result that hos-
tilities can always be renewed. Hostilities may resume, Clausewitz
clarifies, “but this only shows that not every war necessarily leads to
a final decision and settlement.”
12
Only an absolute war can lead to
a final decision and settlement, which is to say, only an absolute war
can lead to peace. Obviously, war and peace may not always be clearly
distinguishable in reality, perhaps they are never so, but they are always
so ideally.
Clausewitz’s modern conception of warfare comes to an end with
the end of modernity. Contemporary warfare, for its part, operates
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according to the influx of new technologies that are themselves part
of a general technological “enframing” of the world. Enframing, Ge-
stell, is Heidegger’s name for an era of technological supremacy where
all of the world is brought ever closer together by a systematic elim-
ination of distance and difference across the globe. The conditions of
modern warfare listed above can find no hold here, and it is precisely
where these conditions fail that we are forced to think terrorism. The
technological era, as the era of terrorism, distinguishes itself from the
modern on each of the three counts above.
1. Ax Ansrxcr or Orrosi+iox
Opposition is no longer an operative concept for Heidegger, since tech-
nology has served to eradicate the distance that would separate the
supposedly opposed parties. The analysis of technology in Heidegger’s
work is guided by the ( phenomenological) insight that “All distances
in time and space are shrinking” (GA 79: 3; cf. GA 7: 157/PLT, 165).
13
Airplanes, microwaves, e-mail, these serve to abbreviate the world, to
be sure, but there is a metaphysical distance that has likewise been
reduced, that between subject and object. This modern dualism has
been surpassed by what Heidegger terms the standing-reserve (Bestand),
the eerie companion of technological dominance and “enframing.”
Insofar as an object (Gegenstand) would stand over against (Gegen) a sub-
ject, objects can no longer be found. “What stands by in the sense of
standing-reserve, no longer stands over against us as object” (GA 7:
20/QCT, 17). A present object could stand over against another; the
standing-reserve, however, precisely does not stand; instead, it circu-
lates, and in this circulation it eludes the modern determination of
thinghood. It is simply not present to be cast as a thing.
With enframing, which names the dominance of position, positing,
and posing (stellen) in all of its modes, things are no longer what they
were. Everything becomes an item for ordering (bestellen) and deliver-
ing (zustellen); everything is “ready in place” (auf der Stelle zur Stelle), con-
stantly available and replaceable (GA 79: 28). The standing-reserve
“exists” within this cycle of order and delivery, exchange and replace-
ment. This is not merely a development external to modern objects,
but a change in their being. The standing-reserve is found only in its
circulation along these supply channels, where one item is just as good
as any other, where, in fact, one item is identical to any other. Replace-
ability is the being of things today. “Today being is being-replaceable”
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(VS, 107/62), Heidegger claims in 1969. The transformation is such
that what is here now is not really here now, since there is an item
identical to it somewhere else ready for delivery. This cycle of order-
ing and delivery does not operate serially, since we are no longer deal-
ing with discrete, individual objects. Instead, there is only a steady
circulation of the standing-reserve, which is here now just as much as
it is there in storage. The standing-reserve spreads itself throughout
the entirety of its replacement cycle, without being fully present at any
point along the circuit.
But it is not merely a matter of mass produced products being
replaceable. To complete Heidegger’s view of the enframed standing-
reserve, we have to take into consideration the global role of value, a
complementary determination of being: “Being has become value” (GA
5: 258/192). The Nietzschean legacy for the era of technology (Nietzsche
as a thinker of values) is evident here. But the preponderance of value
is so far from preserving differences and establishing order of rank,
that it only serves to further level the ranks and establish the identity
of everything with its replacement. When everything has a value, an
exchangeability and replaceability operates laterally across continents,
languages, and difference, with great homogenizing and globalizing
effect. The standing-reserve collapses opposition.
2. Wirr vi+not+ Stn¡rc+i\i+v
The will that dominates the modern era is personal, even if, as is the
case with Leibniz, the ends of that will are not completely known by
the self at any particular time. Nonetheless, the will still expresses the
individuality of the person and one’s perspective. In the era of tech-
nology, the will that comes to the fore is no longer the will of an indi-
vidual, but a will without a restricted human agenda. In fact, the will
in question no longer wills an object outside of itself, but only wills
itself; it is a will to will. In this way, the will need never leave itself.
This self-affirming character of the will allows the will an indepen-
dence from the human. Manifest in the very workings of technology
is a will to power, which for Heidegger is always a will to will. Because
the will to will has no goal outside of it, its willing is goalless and end-
less. The human is just another piece of a standing-reserve that cir-
culates without purpose. Actually, things have not yet gone so far; the
human still retains a distinction, however illusive, as “the most impor-
tant raw material” (GA 7: 88/EP, 104). This importance has nothing
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to do with the personal willing of conditional goals, as Heidegger imme-
diately makes clear, “The human is the ‘most important raw material’
because he remains the subject of all consumption, so much so that
he lets his will go forth unconditionally in this process and simulta-
neously becomes the ‘object’ of the abandonment of being” (GA 7:
88/EP, 104). Unconditioned willing transcends the merely human will,
which satisfies itself with restricted goals and accomplishments.
Unconditioned willing makes of the subject an agent of the abandon-
ment of being, one whose task it is to objectify everything. The more the
world comes to stand at the will’s disposal, the more that being retreats
from it. The human will is allied with the technological will to will.
For this reason—and the following is something often overlooked in
considering Heidegger’s political position between the wars—Heidegger
is critical of the very notion of a Führer, or leader, who would direct
the circulation of the standing-reserve according to his own personal
will. The leaders of today are merely the necessary accompaniment of
a standing-reserve that, in its abstraction, is susceptible to planning.
The leaders’ seeming position of “subjectivity,” that they are the ones
who decide, is again another working of “objectification,” where nei-
ther of these terms quite fits, given that beings are no longer objec-
tive. The willfulness of the leaders is not due to a personal will:
One believes that the leaders had presumed everything of their own
accord in the blind rage of a selfish egotism and arranged everything in
accordance with their own will [Eigensinn]. In truth, however, leaders are
the necessary consequence of the fact that beings have gone over to a
way of errancy, in which an emptiness expands that requires a single
ordering and securing of beings. (GA 7: 89/EP, 105; tm)
The leaders do not stand above or control the proceedings, the pro-
ceedings in question affect beings as a whole, including the leaders.
Leaders are simply points of convergence or conduits for the channels
of circulation; they are needed for circulation, but are nowhere out-
side of it. No leader is the sole authority; instead, there are numer-
ous “sectors” to which each leader is assigned. The demands of these
sectors will be similar of course, organized around efficiency and pro-
ductivity in distribution and circulation. In short, leaders serve the
standing-reserve.
Any goal beyond the will itself, any political goal, for example, will
not be able to voice itself over the will’s own monologue. Insofar as
modern warfare was a use of force for political goals, modern warfare
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is surpassed. The will surrenders its relation to the object in order to
will itself all the more forcefully. It reaches a point where no politi-
cal, which is to say “external,” goal can reach it. There can be no
opposition when the will recognizes nothing but itself, and the more
the will succeeds in this, the more impersonal it becomes. Politics’
effectiveness withers away in this transformation, since the goals of pol-
itics remain always conditional. The unconditional will is apolitical,
and this transforms the relation between war and politics as expressed
in Clausewitz’s famed dictum.
War is not, as Clausewitz still thinks, the continuation of politics by other
means. If “war” means the “total war,” i.e. the war that arises from the
machination of beings here let loose, then it becomes a transformation of “pol-
itics” and a revelation of the fact that “politics” and every plan-directed
course of life were themselves only ever the uncontrolled execution of
metaphysical decisions that they do not master. (GA 69: 209)
The transformation of war into terrorism, since this is what we are
talking about when we talk about the machination of beings, is equally
a transformation of politics. The metaphysical decisions beyond our
control are those having to do with being as replaceable value. Political
decisions are not made by leaders who would be in control of the
matters decided. These decisions are nothing that we could willfully
decide. Politics becomes in this a means of directing life according to
a plan. We will return to this idea of planning when considering its
role for our general “security.” For now it is enough to note that with
this transformation in the nature of politics, it can no longer be said
to precede its “continuation” in war. The transformation of war in
total war (or terrorism) is equally a transformation of politics:
Such a war does not continue something already present, but rather com-
pels this into the execution of essential decisions, of with it itself is not
master. For this reason, such a war no longer admits of “conquerors and
conquered”; all become slaves of the history of being. (GA 69: 209; em)
Conquered and conqueror are both political designations and are each
outmoded today. The leaders are slaves.
3. Tnr Rr.riz.+iox or +nr Irr.r
We have already stated that technology closes the gap between sub-
ject and object, with the human becoming just another piece of the
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standing-reserve alongside all the rest. The abolition of distance is
equally an abolition of difference, including that between the real and
the ideal. For Clausewitz, this difference was a fact expressed in each
of the innumerable ways that the material world failed to live up to
the “smoothness” of the ideal. There is inadequate information, a
change of attitude within the atmosphere of danger, questions of morale
and willingness for both the troops and the general; there are coinci-
dences, surprises, the resistance of the terrain—all of which prevent a
general from simply and directly executing a war, but instead require
strategizing. Strategy serves as a technical term for Clausewitz, denot-
ing the skill of the general in best realizing the ideal situation of
absolute war within the real material conditions that the battle pre-
sents. Perhaps the roughest area of friction that a general must con-
sider is found in his/her greatest asset, the troops. Modern warfare
is a matter of troop mobilization, assault, reinforcement, and defense;
and for this reason, consumption of resources remained a concern for
Clausewitz. The troops were the most important resource for the real-
ization of “total” war; they were needed to negotiate the distance that
yet extended between the ideal and the real. A consequence of this is
that modern warfare could still concern itself with calculating and com-
paring casualties and losses. In an ideal situation, troops would offer
no resistance and never be lost. Such is the case with war under the
reign of technology.
With everything available as standing-reserve, troops included, the
exhaustion of resources is no longer possible. Resources are precisely
in themselves replaceable, to the extent that, in being given over to
replacement, even the idea of an “in itself ” is already drained of real-
ity ahead of time. There are no longer any “losses” that cannot be
replaced. In other words, there is no longer any friction. All uncer-
tainty is lost, since it is not recognized in the first place. Everything
is monitored and controlled. The whole “battle” is given over to a
planning that is able to incorporate everything it encounters, since it
only ever encounters what is already planable in essence, the standing-
reserve. Strategy’s demise is the ascendancy of planning. What this
means is that war can now go on interminably, subject to no other
logic or obligation than its own. Nothing can resist it. But without
resistance, war must end. Peace can now go on interminably as well,
subject to no other logic or obligation than its own. The logic in ques-
tion for both war and peace is the logic of replacement, the obliga-
tion for each is the obligation to consume. There is no law that would
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supervene or subtend consumption; there is no order outside of it that
could contain it. Clausewitz’s ideal is realized in a manner that col-
lapses the very distinctions that gave it birth. “War” is no longer a
duel; it recognizes no authority outside of itself. The name for this
new amalgam of war and peace is terrorism. Terrorism is Clausewitz’s
absolute war in the mirror of technology.
War and peace come to complete agreement and lose their opposi-
tional identity in the age of value and the ersatz. Without concern for
resources, consumption continues untroubled, since war is a kind of
“consumption of beings” no different from peace: “War no longer bat-
tles against a state of peace, rather it newly establishes the essence of
peace” (GA 69: 180). The essence of peace so established is a peace
that defines itself in regards to war, which binds itself inseparably to
war, and which functions equivalently to war. In either case, it is
simply a matter of resource consumption and replenishment. In
Clausewitzian terms, there is perhaps too much continuity or “con-
tinuation” between war and peace, “War has become a distortion of
the consumption of beings which is continued in peace” (GA 7: 89/EP,
104). The peace that technology brings is nothing restful; instead it is
the peace of unhindered circulation. We cannot even ask when there
will be peace or when the war will end. Such a question, Heidegger
specifies, cannot be answered, “not because the length of the war can-
not be foreseen, but because the question itself asks for something
which no longer is, since already there is no longer a war that would
be able to come to a peace” (GA 7: 89/EP, 104; tm). The basic oppo-
sitions of Clausewitzian warfare are undone at this point, an undoing
that includes the distinction between ideal and real.
It also includes the distinction between soldier and civilian. Since
such distinctions depend upon a difference between war and peace,
they too can no longer apply. Everyone is now a civilian-soldier, or
neither a civilian nor a soldier—a “worker,” one might say, or other-
wise put, a target. With everyone involved in the same processes of
consumption and delivery, everyone is already enlisted in advance.
There are no longer any “innocent” victims or bystanders in this, and
the same holds true of terrorism. Terrorism is not the use of warfare
against civilians ( pace Carr), for the simple reason that there no longer
are any civilians.
14
It is equally not war against soldiers, and for this
reason we go wrong to even consider it war. Terrorism is the only
conflict available and the only conflict that is in essence available and
applicable. It can have everything as its target. Terrorism follows from
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the transformation in beings indicative of the technological age. This
transformation remains important at each point of a Heideggerian
thinking of terrorism and is the ultimate consequence of the abolition
of war and peace; beings have become uncommon.
What was common to the beings of the modern era, their objec-
tivity, is lost. In place of the constant presencing of things, we are
surrounded by the steady circulation of resources. It is in the com-
plete availability of these resources that we might encounter the
uncommon:
The disappearance of the distinction between war and peace compels
beings as such into the uncommon; the reverberation [Erschütterung] of
this compulsion through everything common becomes all the more uncom-
mon, the more exclusively that the common persists and is further pur-
sued. (GA 69: 181)
What were once common, the beings to which we were accustomed,
are now made uncommon. But the common endures nonetheless.
Beings are made uncommon, and this is overlooked so that they may
continue to be regarded as the same beings to which we were accus-
tomed. What is uncommon is that this alteration in the nature of being
goes unremarked. There is a dissembling here (and we will return to
this as decisive for the mood of terror), but the dissemblance is not
to be thought as solely on the part of the human. A few pages later,
Heidegger comes to specify what it is that is truly uncommon in all
of this, “that beyng veils itself ” (GA 69: 187). The veiling of beyng
describes the same movement that compels beings into the uncom-
mon. This uncommon situation grows ever more uncommon the more
that it is ignored and unacknowledged, i.e., the more common that it
becomes. In effect, the veil is the veil of the common, beyng veils itself
in commonality. That beings have become uncommon is ignored. The
transformations that Heidegger sees operative in contemporary war-
fare ultimately signal a change in the nature of being.
Taking the above three points as transfiguratively inaugurating the
Clausewitzian ideal of absolute war, it is not difficult to guess where
this ideal is most perfectly realized. If we wished to name that “coun-
try” where the Clausewitzian ideal of absolute war is most demonstrably
visible—where terrorism is almost celebrated—then it could be no
other than America. In the 1969 Le Thor seminar, Heidegger seems
to imply an inability for America to think “the question of being” and
couches this inability in the current reality of the American situation:
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As to the interest of America for the “question of being,” the reality of
that country is veiled from the view of those interested: the collusion
between industry and the military (the economic development and the
armament that it requires). (VS, 97/56)
America is the place where the identification of peace and war is fully
realized in the collusion of industry and the military. Industry increas-
ingly determines the options available for the everyday life of the pop-
ulace. That same industry now has at its disposal the military power
of society. Where free trade is hindered, where natural resources are
not completely available to the market for “political” reasons, military
intervention is called for. Democracy is another name for free trade,
it is solely an economic term, and democracy must be spread across
the globe, not due to any respect for “human rights,” but in order to
allow industry to exceed its own expectations and expand its trade
routes. Resistance to free trade is met with “liberating” martial force.
Conversely, military spending is a driving force in the economy. Due
to sheer size alone, economic effects attend the military as employer
and as contributor to local economies. The military provides access to
higher education for many who would otherwise have to make do
without it. It likewise allows citizens to learn employable skills for work
in society. The presence of the military in a community is valued as
a sign of prosperity. We might also add that military vehicles (the
Hummer) and military clothing (“camouflage”) have penetrated main-
stream American fashion. Nowhere is the abolishment of the distinc-
tion between war and peace more evident than in today’s America.
But if we attend closer to Heidegger’s words, it may be possible to
hear in them a hope for America in the thinking of being. Those who
are interested in the question of being do not see the reality of their
country. Without this situated awareness of one’s “homeland,” the
question of being cannot be posed. The question remains an abstract
and academic matter, something for quotation marks, the “question
of being.” Would a proper understanding of American reality make
possible an asking of this question, or is the question simply impossi-
ble for America? Is America, as the epitome of all Americanism, still
a homeland or has technology completely ravished the country of all
specificity and uniqueness? These are the questions that the age of
technological machination raises for America. Heidegger names the
fundamental attunement of this age “terror” (Erschrecken).
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II. The Opening of Terror
Terror is essential to the Heideggerian thought of another beginning
(andere Anfang), a beginning apart from the one that inaugurated the
metaphysical tradition, the first beginning. The first beginning, as both
Plato and Aristotle attest, begins in wonder (yaumãzein) before the
beings of the world. To appreciate what Heidegger has to say about
terror as the basic mood of our technological era, we should compare
it to wonder as the basic mood of metaphysical philosophy. What
appears in wonder, the wondrous, is uncommon (das Ungewöhnliche).
Heidegger goes to great lengths in the 1937/38 lecture course Basic
Questions of Philosophy: Selected “Problems” of “Logic” to distinguish the fun-
damental attunement of wonder from other possible misconceptions.
Amazement, admiration, astonishment, etc., all begin with an individ-
ual thing that is considered uncommon and that is contrasted against
a previously determined horizon of commonality. This is not the case
with wonder. Here, what is most uncommon is precisely that which
is most common to a being: that it is what it is. In wonder, there is
a turn to what is common in order to experience it as uncommon.
In wonder, the uncommon is no longer viewed against the common;
rather, the thing is appreciated as unique. It is impossible for a thing
to be unique if it is fully known, comprehended ( planned), and placed
at one’s disposal in the manner of the standing-reserve, for in such a
condition the thing is immediately and already substituted and replaced
by more of the same. If the thing is not to be completely known in
this way, then something must be held back or withdrawn. Wonder
is an appreciation of the uncommon in the midst of the common; it
is precisely the countermovement to the covering or veiling of being
with the common that we saw above.
Wonder is found at the first beginning, seemingly far from the tech-
nologically dominated here and now. Its original opening to the being
of beings is not something that is simply given, but something that
must be tended. For the Greeks, according to the Basic Questions lec-
ture course, beings were thought in terms of fÊsiw, and what was won-
drous for the Greeks was the upsurgence of fÊsiw. But such an
upsurgence could not be withstood or preserved without a corresponding
comportment on the part of the human. “What is the basic attitude
in which the preservation of the wondrous, the beingness of beings,
unfolds and, at the same time, defines itself ? We have to seek it in
what the Greeks call t°xnh” (GA 45: 178/154). T°xnh names the tending
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and caring for wonderful being. It is a grasping of a being, but in a
way that is in “accordance” with the being. While the human stands
in the midst of beings, but also at a remove from beings, t°xnh nego-
tiates the relationship between the human and the wondrous. Through
t°xnh, beings are “released to their own essence, in order to hold sway
in themselves and thus to pervade man as well” (GA 45: 178/153; tm).
Otherwise put, t°xnh is originally allied with fÊsiw and lets beings be
what they are.
In a certain regard, then, it could be said that t°xnh is at odds with
fÊsiw, but we would immediately have to add that this tension is itself
part of the wonder that is experienced, that wonder is impossible with-
out t°xnh. There is wonder in the accordance between fÊsiw and t°xnh.
A separation is certainly evident between the two, but it is not yet
antagonistic, “T°xnh is a mode of proceeding against fÊsiw, though not
yet in order to overpower it or exploit it, and above all not in order
to turn use and calculation into principles, but on the contrary, to
hold the reign of fÊsiw in unconcealment” (GA 45: 179–80/155; tm).
Here it is clear that a t°xnh that, contra this one, was indeed antag-
onistically disposed toward the wondrous would proceed by utilizing
nature and making of it a matter of calculation. Everything uncom-
mon, not to mention wondrous, about the being would be lost. This
is certainly the path of modern technology, but t°xnh is not yet tech-
nology. “Nevertheless,” Heidegger claims “that this could lead to mod-
ern and contemporary technology, and had to lead to it, has its ground
in the beginning and has its foundation in an unavoidable incapacity
to hold fast to the beginning” (GA 45: 179/154; tm, em). What this
means is that fÊsiw calls for its own demise; it can never be main-
tained or preserved completely. It is never fully present and untrou-
bled, but always furrowed and endangered. The danger that Heidegger
will specify in the lecture course is an abolition of wonder and the
uncommon. Beings become representations; the clearing of élÆyeia
comes to be understood as correctness and adequacy (ÙryÒthw and
ımo¤vsiw). All of this is already latent in wonder, and it is the exac-
erbation of this danger that leads to terror.
To begin with, the interpretation of beings that arises out of won-
der mistakes being for “beinghood” (Seiendheit), a conceptual general-
ity arrived at by means of an abstraction from these beings, the
uncommon becoming a commonality. This metaphysical conception of
present beings and the captivation with them that attends it then cul-
minates for Heidegger in the technological interpretation of beings as
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standing-reserve (Bestand), where presence, i.e. complete unconcealment,
is the sole characteristic. The technological comportment no longer
stands in “accordance” with beings, letting them be what they are,
but instead falls upon them to bring them out of unconcealment and
to account for them. Further, this movement is one with what Heidegger
calls the “abandonment” or “withdrawal” of being. Here, Heidegger
calls attention to the precedence of beings over being, with being slip-
ping ever further into the background. The self-aggrandizement of
beings goes so far as to almost sever the relation with being. Beings
are let loose from being, disbanded from being. Yet the logic of this
withdrawal is such that the emergence of beings at all is only possi-
ble on the basis of this withdrawal (a withdrawal that itself is precisely
no basis at all, but an abyss). Beyng withdraws in the presentation of
beings, and the more available the being becomes, the more beyng
withdraws, until, reaching a point where the items of the standing-
reserve are available in essence, the withdrawal of beyng reaches its
apogee. Beyng’s withdrawal is the elimination of concealment. Once
the being is no longer concealed, once it does not “essence,” it is aban-
doned by beyng. Wonder leads to the abandonment of being as the
fulfillment of the promise of a fÊsiw that calls for its own supplanting.
This antagonistic role of t°xnh is so encompassing as to transform
the world. In fact, insofar as Heidegger understands “world” as an
event of spacing, distance, meaning, difference, and singularity, there
is no longer a world in the era of contemporary technology. Instead,
we are confronted by an un-world: “the ‘world’ has become an unworld
as a consequence of the abandonment of beings by the truth of being”
(GA 7: 88/EP, 104; tm). As the landscape becomes more and more a
storehouse for the supplies of the standing-reserve, as reality is ever
more shaped to accommodate the distribution and relaying of stock,
the world is destroyed. We have already seen that modern warfare
has come to an end; now we see that the world has as well.
Consequently, for Heidegger in 1938, the term “world war” requires
the care of quotation marks, “The ‘world wars’ and their character of
‘totality’ are already a consequence of the abandonment of being” (GA
7: 88/EP, 103). Terrorism is the truth of world war. A “war” on ter-
rorism, is therefore impossible, a “world war” against terrorism dou-
bly so. America’s battle with terrorism may well be the first “unworld
war” in history.
In the advance of the unworld, America “enjoys” a certain prior-
ity. It is the place where beyng has most withdrawn, if one may speak
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in such a manner, to the point of calling into question the identity of
America itself. As the globalizing movement of Americanism spreads,
the specificity of America is likewise lost. Heidegger’s many references
to “Americanism” as opposed to “America” may give us pause for
thought. Can America prevail in the face of Americanism? Is it possible
that America may be the greatest victim of Americanism? If we are
able to see a difference between America, the embattled homeland,
and Americanism, the movement of cultural hegemony, then Heidegger’s
words will have to be heard as a caution to America: “This estab-
lishment of the unessence [Unwesen] of machination is reserved for
Americanism” (GA 67: 150). America is not the villain, Americanism
is, as Heidegger may well be saying when he asks “[w]hether we
sufficiently understand that everything dreadful [alles Grauenhafte] lies in
Americanism and certainly not with what is Russian” (GA 67: 150).
15
To this we might add, “nor even with what is American.” Americanism
attacks America from within and the uncommon challenge that it poses
is first and foremost a challenge to America. This terrible privilege is
America’s alone. The fÊsiw that calls for its own demise necessarily
leads to the dreadful and ambiguous case of Americanism.
It is in the face of this technological wasteland of the Americanistic
unworld that terror can occur as a salvation. Terror is the attunement
proper to the unworld and the age of machination, and to feel terror
is to be given the opportunity to respond to it. Terror is experienced
“at the abandonment of being” (GA 65: 46/32; tm), which is to say
that it is felt “in the face of what is closest and most obtrusive, namely
that beings are” (GA 45: 2/4). Terror is experienced as a trembling,
a fact which finds some etymological support.
16
A movement of terror
is disclosed here as well, a flight from the terrible, a withdrawal. The
trembling withdrawal of terror is not something that is simply a sub-
jective experience (Erlebnis); rather, it is a trembling on the part of
beyng to which terror is attuned. In the Contributions to Philosophy ( from
Enowning), trembling (Erzitterung) names the way in which the event of
the clearing of being takes place. Trembling is “the spreading out of
the time-play-space, in which trembling itself, as the hesitation of its
clearing (the there), takes place [sich ereignet]” (GA 65: 244/173; tm).
The opening of the “there,” the clearing of being, cannot occur in
full presence. Opening and concealment are not so oppositionally
disposed. “Hesitation” is the surest index of this fact. Terror as a
fundamental mood is an attunement to this hesitating, wavering,
self-withholding of beyng. In a strange image from the Contributions,
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Heidegger states that the effects of this hesitation are “sprayed” forth,
from no single, self-present origin, and that this spraying is attunement
(Stimmung): “Attunement is the spraying forth of the trembling of beyng
as enowning in Da-sein” (GA 65: 21/16; tm). The intimacy (Innigkeit)
that Heidegger stresses here and elsewhere between trembling and
enowning should not be lost on us. Beyng trembles.
17
The withdrawal
of beyng sets up a resonance that lacks any substantial stability—a res-
onance between beings and the withdrawn beyng.
But terror would not be at all attuned to this if beyng and its aban-
doned beings were to retain a separate and distinct identity. The res-
onance that Heidegger describes is such that there are no resonating
poles to support it. This is another way in which modern or Clausewitzian
opposition is overcome for Heidegger. Because the presence of with-
drawal in beings can only be experienced as a trembling, terror is the
fundamental mood of the age. Terror is the feeling of a bond with
being, one that persists in the face of a withdrawn being and partic-
ipates in that same withdrawal. Terror, in a sense, would be a mem-
ory of being, not of something that ever took place, but of taking-place
as such. This remarking of being is terror, and for Heidegger it pro-
vides a retreat from the onrush of the standing-reserve: “Terror lets
the human retreat before this, that the being is, while at first the being
was just a being to him: that the being is and that this—beyng—has
abandoned and withdrawn from all ‘beings’ and what appears as such”
(GA 65: 15/11; tm). Seizing upon terror in this manner, one sees that
there is no being behind beings and that what befalls beings befalls
being as well, due to their strong intimacy. Terror puts being into
beings, in some sense, and this alerts it to the responsibility of guard-
ing and preserving this withdrawal of being. To preserve it is to insist
upon a moment of concealment in technological circulation, a blind
spot before its infinite eye. The terrified one accords with being and
this means that, for the American, the “reality of that country” may
be seen and the “question of being” finally posed as the question of
being. This bond of terror is at the same time the bond of the citi-
zenry, the bond of the citizens of the homeland America. What is ter-
rifying is that America withstands the onslaught of Americanism; terror
can teach us this. Terrorism is always “Erschreckenismus.”
In the 1941/42 lecture course devoted to Hölderlin’s hymn to mem-
ory and commemoration, “Andenken,” Heidegger returns to terror in a
context that stresses its non-operative or extra-economic character.
Here the concern is with the festival and the holiday as an interruption
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of the everyday, the latter understood as the reign of utility and use-
ful work. But Heidegger will not find the essence of the holiday to
depend upon the presence of the workday; holidays are not “days off”
for him. Rather, the festival begins through a measured reserve and
keeping to oneself (Heidegger’s terms are Innehalten and Ansichhalten).
This “coming-to-oneself ” is a freeing of one’s essence which brings
one before the appearance of the uncommon (cf. GA 52: 74–75). Just
as wonder distinguished itself from amazement, admiration, etc. by the
fact that it experienced beings as uncommon without recourse to a
previously understood horizon of conventional commonality, so too
does terror need no recourse to the common. Terror is a transfor-
mation of the everyday that nevertheless exceeds the everyday. It bears
witness to an ever more thickly veiled withdrawal. At the moment
where one collects oneself for the holiday, “Wonder begins, or else
even terror” (GA 52: 75). In either case there is a belonging to the
uncommon. And what is it that is uncommon? “The uncommon con-
centrates itself in this: that beings exist at all, and not, far rather, noth-
ing” (GA 52: 75). For wonder, the being of beings was uncommon,
for terror, the uncommon is the veiling of being. This veiling insti-
tutes a situation of terror and trembling, wherein uncommon being
wears the robes of commonality. The uncommon can only be found
in the common, and to find it there is to retreat from the all too com-
mon theatrics of presence. Terror is an interruption of the play of
presence.
The covering of the uncommon is a ruse that Heidegger identifies
with his own version of the “as if.” In the abandonment of Seyn, par-
ticular beings appear “as objects and as present-at-hand, as if beyng
did not essence [als ob Seyn nicht weste],” a locution Heidegger repeats
in the 1937/38 lecture course: “It is almost as if beings have been
abandoned by beyng, and we are heedless of it,” and “beings are now
taken for all that is, as if beyng and the truth of beyng were nothing”
(GA 65: 115/81; tm, em, GA 45: 185/159; tm, em, 196/169; tm, em).
Such present-at-hand objects have nothing wondrous about them, they
are simply there at our disposal to be distributed and employed as we
see fit. But beyng does essence and beings only appear as objects. The
essencing of beyng means that beings are not completely given over
to unconcealment, at least not yet. Not yet because complete uncon-
cealment is what endangers beings and being. Such a chiaroscuro of
presence and withdrawal is represented as pure presence, as though
beyng did not essence. Since terror attends to the withdrawal of beyng
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via an experience of the unconcealment of beings, terror is an inter-
ruption in the ordinary and everyday state of affairs wherein what
comes to presence is unquestionably taken for pure presence. The first
draft of a lecture from the Basic Questions course is quite clear on this:
“The wonder of being can no longer be encountered, that a being is.
Such a thing has become obvious” (GA 45: 197/169; tm). Terror breaks
the commonality of things, puts a halt to our everyday manner of tak-
ing beings for granted as present and at our disposal: “Terror is a
retreat from the routine [Geläufigkeit] of dealings with the familiar
[Vertrauten], back into the openness of the rush of self-concealment, in
which openness the hitherto routine [Geläufige] proves itself to be at
once estranging [das Befremdliche] and confining” (GA 65: 15/11; tm).
Terror retreats before the common in order to view it as uncommon
and self-concealing. Where wonder gazed upon being, terror retreats
before withdrawal.
With the abandonment of beyng, an abandonment that sets us firmly
within the fully machinational unworld of technology, beyng only seems
to have left without a trace. We are left with our terror, but this terror
is now the trace of beyng. At the end of the Basic Questions lecture
course, Heidegger wonders whether withdrawal does not belong to the
essence of beyng, and for a thinking of terrorism this question is key
(see GA 45: 189/163). What if terror belonged to being? Terror would
testify to the withdrawal of being and between the testimony of ter-
ror and the withdrawn being to which it testifies, there would be a
span of distance, the very distance marking withdrawal. If terror belongs
to being, then terror is not separated from being nor without relation
to it. If terror did not belong to being, then being would truly be
gone. We would be wrong even to speak here of an “abandonment”
of being, if terror did not belong to being, for “abandonment” implies
a separation from what was once bound, a disbanding. If the terror
of beings did not belong to being, there would be neither testament
to being nor even being. There would be only oblivion, the impossi-
ble. Instead, there is an aping of presence through technology. This
posturing of beings, the affectation, is what terror discovers, the lie of
full presence. Beings exist “as if ” beyng did not essence. Terror is an
indignation at the posturing of being. The posturing in question here
should likewise be heard as yet another modification of stellen. Terror
is sensitive to the difference between the real and the “as if,” or rather,
terror knows that the real is ever only as if real, and sensitivity to this
slender fissure in the bulk of presence is enough to transpose the world.
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Nothing stable, this juncture in being itself must be followed and traced.
It trembles. Terror takes a situation that looks hopelessly doomed and
finds the essential within it, but terror contains its own demise, too.
We flee from it. We respond to it with a hardening of our own ways;
we reaffirm the identity of being instead of opening ourselves to others.
The American response to terror has been one of Americanism, there
can be no doubt about that. Terror ends in this, and there is no com-
memoration, just a forgetting. The commemorative aspect of terror
allows us to remember the fallen and understand how they can still
be with us today in our American way of being.
III. The Threat of Being
Terrorism will take place in the withdrawal of beyng, in the unworld
of machination. The modern configuration of war is surpassed by the
technological plan of homogenized circulation, and the distinction
between war and peace falls away in their mutual commitment to fur-
thering the cycle of production and consumption. The abandonment
of being that forms this unworld by draining the world of its being
does not occur without a trace, however, and terror in its trembling
corresponds to that trace. Terrorism necessarily results from such a
devastation—or, “becoming-desert,” Verwüstung—of the world; terror-
ism is always born in the desert. Terrorism is metaphysical because
it touches everything, every particular being, all of which may be
attacked and annihilated. The circulation of the standing-reserve sets
an equivalence of value among things with a resulting worldlessness
where existence is another name for exchangeability. The exchanged
and replaceable things are already replaced and exchanged, not seri-
ally, but essentially. They are not fully present when here. Terrorism
names this absence, or rather is the effect of this absence, which is
to say it is that absence itself, since here we are not dealing with an
absence that could be the effect of any loss of presence. The absence
in question is not an absence of presence, but an absence in and
through presence. It would be ridiculous to think that such a change
in being would lack a corresponding change in beings. This change
in the nature of being shows itself in the fact that all beings today
are terrorized. They all stand under a very real threat of destruction
via terrorist acts. There would be no terrorist threat were it not for
these terrorists, yet there would be no possibility of a threat were it
not for being. Certainly terrorism is not the only “effect” of this absence
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in presence; Heidegger frequently refers to the atomic bomb in pre-
cisely this regard. Terrorism’s claim, however, is distinct from that of
atomic war.
Like the atomic bomb, terrorism operates at the level of threat.
Insofar as it calls into question all beings, terrorism is itself a meta-
physical determination of being. Terrorism makes everything a possible object
of terrorist attack, and this is the very terror of it. Everything is a pos-
sible target, and this now means that all beings exist as possible tar-
gets, as possibly destroyed. But this should not be taken to mean that
there are discrete beings, fully present, now threatened with destruc-
tion. The ineradicable threat of destruction transforms the nature of
the being itself. The being can no longer exist as indifferent to its
destruction; this destruction does not reside outside of the being. Instead,
destruction inhabits the being and does so, not as something super-
added to the being, but as the essence of the being itself. Beings are
henceforth as though destroyed. Terror brings about an alteration in
the very mode of being of reality, the real is now the terrorized. Reality
is already terrorized; the change has already taken place, and this
regardless of whether an attack comes or not. Beings exist as endan-
gered, as terrorized, and this means as no longer purely self-present.
It means that, in terms of pure presence, beings exist as already destroyed.
Destruction is not something that comes at a later date, nor is it some-
thing that may or may not already have taken place. Destruction exists
now as threat. The effectiveness of terror lies in the threat, not the
attack.
Like the threat of nuclear war, the threat of terrorism targets every-
thing, with no chance of distinguishing potential from nonpotential tar-
gets. This means that there is nothing we can do to avoid it. Since
there are no marks that would betray a place, person, or thing as pos-
sible location or victim of terrorist assault, there is no way that we
can be prepared for it. This means that terrorism is able to threaten
us where we are most unsuspecting. Terrorism attacks precisely where
we would not expect an attack because it targets the basis for our
sense of security, the commonness of the everyday. Terrorism is a
threat to the ordinary and the common. It comes from within our
safest regions, from no outside source. An outside terrorist power would
either annihilate beings or not annihilate beings. In the first case, the
beings would be nothing; in the second, they would remain extant.
This manner of thinking, in terms of presences and absences, of some-
thing and nothing, actually has nothing terrifying about it. The point
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is almost Epicurean; annihilation is nothing to us. The terror of ter-
rorism is not located in the fear of an external power, but in the ter-
ror that the enemy is already here with us, “inside” our walls, threatening
the homogeneity of the home. This terrorism is nothing that blows up
beings into nothingness, but rather one that places them in danger
and only threatens to destroy them. But this threat is stronger than
any terrorist attack ever could be.
Heidegger provides us with a further way of conceptualizing the
threat of terrorism, a way that is likewise attentive to the conjunction
of interiority and terror. His remarks are found in a posthumously
published dialogue between an older man and a younger man, dated
8 May 1945, the day of Germany’s capitulation in World War II, and
entitled “Evening Conversation in a Prisoner of War Camp in Russia
between a Younger and an Older Man.”
18
What threatens here is not
the world war, as Heidegger makes painfully clear in the dialogue’s
dated postlude: “On a day that the world celebrates its victory / and
does not yet realize that / for centuries already, it is the victim / of
its own upsurgence” (GA 77: 240). The world wars, as we have seen,
are only the result of more “global” changes, of transmogrifications of
ontology, if even that name still holds. The threat in the camp is that
the devastation of the earth will continue without end and that there
will be an annihilation of the human essence in the process. For the
older man, this is the epitome of evil, “the devastation of the earth
and the annihilation of the human essence that goes along with it are
somehow evil itself [das Böse selbst]” (GA 77: 207). The consideration
of evil that follows will slowly unfold the logic behind the terrorist
threat and reveal the error in the older man’s concern with annihilation.
The younger man cautions that evil here cannot be understood as
a moral bad but, somewhat paradoxically, as what he calls “the malev-
olent” (das Bösartige; GA 77: 207). The German term Bösartige desig-
nates what it names as a kind or a sort, Art, of evil, Böse; in a sense
it is a generic term. The older man objects to this designation as sense-
less—it would be like claiming that space is really the spatial—and the
younger man tells him that his objection results from his still thinking
of evil as the morally reprehensible, where such a moral thinking, we
are to understand, views everything in black and white terms. When
we think evil otherwise, the statement “evil is the malevolent” gains
in significance. Evil is to be thought from out of the malevolent (bösar-
tig). “The malevolent is the rebelliousness [Aufrührerische] which is based
in fury [Grimmigen], so much so that this fury in a certain manner con-
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ceals its inward wrath [Ingrimm], but thereby constantly threatens at
the same time” (GA 77: 207–8). Malevolence is a “stirring up” or an
“upheaval” of rebelliousness that arises from fury. Not that fury main-
tains a simple identity, to be sure. Fury would now seem to lie at the
root of evil, but fury itself bears an inner fury, an inner wrath, though
this inward wrath does not show itself directly. Malevolence is thus
the uprising of fury out of a concealed inner fury; it is a transposition
or movement across a boundary, a tale told by the prefixes under con-
sideration here: from the In of inward wrath to the Auf of the upheaval
of fury. This is malevolence, and it is the essence of evil, as the par-
ties soon come to agree, “The essence of evil is the inward wrath of
a rebellion which never entirely breaks out, and which, when it does
break out, still disguises itself and which, in its hidden threat, is often
as though it were nothing” (GA 77: 208). Two points are to be drawn
from this.
First, as we have seen above, the evil in question here is nothing
simply present, but is found on both sides of a line describing with-
holding. Evil is never itself fully or completely present and made pub-
lic; rather it is always also withheld. This withholding is why the
younger man objects to the original definition of evil. Evil does not
let itself be grasped and categorized in complete detail; its withhold-
ing prevents all that. The best that can be said for it is that evil is
malevolent. There are different sorts of evil and different kinds of evil
actions, but to evil as such we can have no access. It is simply not
present.
Second, the withholding character of evil (malevolence) makes clear
that the essence of evil lies in the threat of a wrathful outbreak, not in
that outbreak itself. Because the wrath never completely breaks out, there
is always the threat of more wrath to come. Evil lies in the fact that
there is always more wrath to unleash. Which is to say that evil is not
real or effective, in the usual sense of these terms, or rather, that real-
ity itself is not real. Reality is the disguise of evil, and it is this same
staging of presence that Heidegger had previously discussed in regards
to the beings of machination, which objectively present themselves “as
if beyng did not essence” (GA 65: 115/81; tm). It is this very inability
to completely unleash itself—for presence to ever be fully present—
that frustrates evil and angers it further. Evil wants out, and by being
held in, this want of evil is driven forth all the stronger. As we are
dealing here with an evil of technology and machination, it is no sur-
prise that the operative logic, as read by Heidegger, is Nietzschean, a
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logic of power and self-empowerment, i.e., a logic of the will. The
limit of the will is set in order that it might be transgressed and that
the domain of the will may be expanded in the process. A new bound-
ary is then set, only in order that it too might soon be crossed in this
expansionist metaphysics of the will. The older man recognizes this
willful component in evil: “If, however, evil rests in malevolence, which
is in itself furious [in sich ergrimmt ist] about its own wrath, and therefore
increasingly more wrathful, then I would almost say that the malevolent
would be something willful [Willensmäßiges]” (GA 77: 208; em).
19
This
evil, which knows no end and is only enraged by its frustration, infu-
riated to the point of crossing the bounds of its own fury, this willful
evil devastates the world.
Devastation (Verwüstung) is the process by which the world becomes
a desert (Wüste), a sandy expanse that seemingly extends without end,
without landmarks or direction, and is devoid of all life.
20
If we fol-
low the dialogue in thinking an ancient Greek notion of “life” as
another name for “being,” then the lifeless desert is the being-less
desert. The world that becomes a lifeless desert is consequently an
unworld from which being has withdrawn. The older prisoner makes
this connection explicit, “The being of an age of devastation would
then consist in the abandonment of being” (GA 77: 213). As we have
seen, this is a process that befalls the world, slowly dissolving it of
worldliness and rendering it an “unworld” (cf. GA 7: 88, 92f./EP, 104,
107f., etc.). Yet this unworld is not simply the opposite of world; it
remains a world, but a world made desert.
The desert is not the complete absence of world. Such an absence
would not be reached by devastation (Verwüstung), but rather by anni-
hilation (Vernichtung); and for Heidegger, annihilation is far less of a
concern than devastation: “Devastation is more uncanny than mere
annihilation [bloße Vernichtung]. Mere annihilation sweeps aside all things
including even nothingness, while devastation on the contrary orders
[bestellt] and spreads everything that blocks and prevents” (WHD,
11/29–30; tm). Annihilation as a thought of total absence is a thought
from metaphysics. It is one with a thinking of pure presence: pure
presence, pure absence, and purely no contact between them. During
another lecture course on Hölderlin, this time in 1942 on the hymn
“The Ister,” Heidegger claims that annihilation is precisely the agenda
of America in regards to the “homeland,” which is here equated with
Europe: “We know today that the Anglo-Saxon world of Americanism
has resolved to annihilate [zu vernichten] Europe, that is, the homeland,
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and that means: the inception of the Western world. The inceptual is
indestructible [unzerstörbar]” (GA 53: 68/54; tm). America is the agent
of technological devastation, and it operates under the assumptions of
presence and absence that it itself is so expert at dissembling. America
resolves to annihilate and condemns itself to failure in so doing, for
the origin is “indestructible.” We could take this a step further and
claim that only because the origin cannot be annihilated is it possible
to destroy it. This possibility of destruction is its indestructible char-
acter. It can always be further destroyed, but you will never annihi-
late it. Americanism names the endeavor or resolution to drive the
destruction of the world ever further into the unworld. America is the
agent of a malevolent being.
This same reasoning explains why the older man’s original con-
ception of evil had to be rethought. Evil is the “devastation of the
earth and the annihilation of the human essence that goes along with
it” (GA 77: 207), he said, but this annihilation is simply too easy, too
much of an “Americanism.” The human essence is not annihilated in
evil—who could care about that? Instead it is destroyed and devas-
tated by evil. Devastation does not annihilate, but brings about some-
thing worse, the unworld. Without limit, the desert of the unworld
spreads, ever worsening and incessantly urging itself to new expres-
sions of malevolence. Annihilation would bring respite and, in a per-
verse sense, relief. There would be nothing left to protect and guard,
nothing left to concern ourselves with—nothing left to terrorize.
Devastation is also irreparable; no salvation can arrive for it. The
younger man is able to voice the monstrous conclusion of this think-
ing of devastation: “Then malevolence, as which devastation occurs
[sich ereignet], would indeed remain a basic characteristic of being itself ” (GA
77: 213, 215; em). The older man agrees, “being would be in the
ground of its essence malevolent” (GA 77: 215). Being is not evil; it is
something much worse; being is malevolent.
Malevolent being is a being that threatens. It threatens itself with
annihilation, with both total absence and total presence, for they are
the same; it places itself in danger.
21
This is so much as to say that
all of the supposed enemies of being—technology, metaphysics, the
ontic, even being itself in regards to beyng—these are so many ways
of being’s self-showing, where being’s “self-showing” is not to be under-
stood as though beyng somehow remained behind all of these surro-
gates and was imaged in them. Being is found only in these situations,
a point Heidegger makes in the Contributions to Philosophy, “Here, in the
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unavoidable ordinariness of beings, beyng is the most non-ordinary;
and this estranging of beyng is not a manner of its appearing but rather
it itself ” (GA 65: 230/163; tm). Being is endangered and withdrawn
in essence. Just as we saw that there is no sense in talking about evil
in itself, so too is there no sense in talking about being by itself: there
is only malevolent beyng. If beings exist in the shadow of a threatened
annihilation, and if such an existence is an existence in terror, then,
as reprehensible as this might sound, being itself is what terrorizes.
Terror is the threat of being.
IV. Security for Sure
There can be no security. If being is what threatens then security as
the absence of terror would be the absence of being. But the absence
of being is precisely the threat. Obviously, security is just as little to
be found in the absence of danger as it is in the consummation of
the danger, total annihilation. Instead, security is to be found within
the danger and threat of being. But how? Heidegger likewise provides
us endangered ones with a way of thinking security and preservation.
This is his fourth contribution to a thinking of terrorism.
Security and assurance, both equally apt translations of the German
Sicherung, are indissociable from certainty (Gewißheit) for Heidegger. In
the course of the 1968 seminar in Le Thor, Heidegger provides a brief
history of this relation between security and certainty: “the quest for
certainty appears first in the domain of faith, as the search for the
certainty of salvation (Luther), then in the domain of physics as the
search for the mathematical certainty of nature (Galileo)” (VS, 30/13).
Heidegger unites these two concerns for certainty within a single con-
cept: assurance (Sicherung), “In the quest for mathematical certainty,
what is sought is the assurance of man in nature, in the sensible; in
the quest for the certainty of salvation, what is sought is the assurance
of man in the supra-sensible world” (VS, 30/14).
22
Certainty is in the
service of assurance or security and is only the epistemological aspect
of a greater ontological condition of security. Security is freedom from
uncertainty in all of its forms, sensible, super-sensible, and ontological.
Salvation and the mathematical certainty of nature are themselves to
be understood as instances of an ontological assurance against uncer-
tainty. Ontological uncertainty would be found in conceptions of sin-
gularity, where the uniqueness of a thing renders it irreplaceable and
thus opens us to the possibility of loss, or in conceptions of alterity,
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where the other is not anticipated and confined in advance to the
strictures of categorical thought. Uncertainty in this broader sense is
eliminated in security. One is securely insulated against these differences
of the world. For modern thought, the securing of representations for
representational thinking provided the backdrop for the arrival of cer-
tainty (see GA 7: 82; EP, 98). Modern metaphysics itself, according to
Heidegger, “means the securing of the human being by itself and for
itself ” (GA 67: 167). Such a policy must be abandoned as the human
becomes more and more a piece of the standing-reserve like every-
thing else. This postmodern security is accomplished through bestowal
and appraisal of value, “Securement, as the obtaining of security, is a
grounding in valuation” (GA 5: 262/195; tm).
What is valued can be replaced by something of equal value, and
this fact lies at the center of our conception of security today. Securement,
as a giving of value, assures us against loss by making the world replace-
able. In this respect, security is nothing other than total availability,
imagined as a world of utter transparency where all resources, human
and otherwise, are constantly surveilled and traced through their paths
of circulation. The transformation in being coincident with the end of
modern warfare likewise puts an end to modern politics and estab-
lishes in its place an impersonal commitment to the furthering of
planned replacement. Security is only possible when everything works
according to these plans, and this requires “leaders,” whose true func-
tion now becomes evident. For the plan, “the necessity of ‘leadership’,
that is, the planned calculation of the securing of the whole of beings,
is required” (GA 7: 89–90/EP, 105; tm). The demand for security is
always a call for such Führers.
Planning is a matter of ensuring the smooth and “frictionless” cir-
culation of resources along channels and pipelines of order and deliv-
ery. The plan’s success is assured from the outset, because beings are
now in essence planable. The mathematical tracking of stock and sup-
plies becomes a total tracking when things have become completely
available. Nothing is concealed from this taking of inventory, with the
effect that the mathematical model of the thing is no different from
the thing itself. The mathematical modeling of things, an operation
that Heidegger traces back to Ockham and the nominalist split between
word and thing (see VS, 30–31/13–14), is paradigmatic for the disap-
pearance of identifiably discrete beings under the rule of technology.
The model is no longer a representation of what is modeled but, in
a paradoxical manner, the thing itself. Nothing beyond the thing’s
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mathematical model is recognized. Everything essential to the thing is
contained in the model, without remainder. Such is the truth of the
standing-reserve; it is a collapse of the distances that made possible
representation. Without that spacing, there is only the suffocating rush
of the standing-reserve along the circuitry of the plan.
The plan makes manifest the self-willing nature of technology, in
that the plan has no purpose other than to assure its own expansion
and increase. For the plan to function, it is therefore necessary that
beings be consumed and their replacements follow right upon them.
The plan plans for consumption, outlining the paths and channels that
the standing-reserve will occupy in its compelled obedience to order. The
world wars have pointed towards this end, according to Heidegger,
for “They press toward a securing of resources [Bestandsicherung] for a
constant form of consumption” (GA 7: 88; EP, 103–4; tm). This con-
sumption is synonymous with replacement, since there is nothing lost
in consumption that is not immediately replaced. The plan is to pro-
tect itself from loss by completely insulating itself from uncertainty.
The plan seeks “the ‘all-inclusive’ [restlose] securing of the ordering of
order” (GA 7: 92; EP, 107; tm). Order is only secured when there is
nothing that resists it, nothing that remains in “disorder.” Any remain-
der would stand outside of the prevailing order, as would any difference,
in complete disorder. There is another Nietzschean intimation in this,
as Heidegger reads the will to power as a drive to secure and order
all chaos. Without remainder (restlose), without rest, the standing-reserve
threatens to encompass everything in a monotonous, swirling sameness.
The more secure the world becomes, the greater is the abandonment
of being as it is further enframed within the plan.
Homeland security is thus an oxymoron, since one of the most
prominent effects of planning is the elimination of national differences
and “homelands.” Security itself is precisely the planned elimination
of differences, and as for “homeland,” it is ever more difficult to con-
ceive of a homeland that would be nationally distinct from another.
This is not to be understood as a complaint against internationalism
either, for “Just as the distinction between war and peace has become
untenable, the distinction between ‘national’ and ‘international’ has
also collapsed” (GA 7: 92; EP, 107). We have already seen that Heidegger
attributes a will to the annihilation of homeland to Americanism; what
needs to be added to this view is that there is not one form of gov-
ernment any different; each is run by leaders:
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The uniformity of beings arising from the emptiness of the abandonment
of Being, in which it is only a matter of the calculable security of its
order, an order which it subjugates to the will to will, this uniformity
also conditions everywhere in advance of all national differences the uni-
formity of leadership [Führerschaft], for which all forms of government are
only one instrument of leadership among others. (GA 7: 93; EP, 108; tm)
Government and politics are simply further means of directing ways
of life according to plan; and no one, neither terrorist nor politician,
should be able to alter these carefully constructed ways of life. Ways
of life are themselves effects of the plan, and the predominant way of
life today is that of an all-consuming Americanism. National differences
fall to the wayside. The homeland, when not completely outmoded,
can only appear as commodified quaintness. All governments partici-
pate in the eradication of national differences. Insofar as Americanism
represents the attempt to annihilate the “homeland,” then under the
aegis of the abandonment of being, all governments and forms of lead-
ership become Americanism.
The loss of national differences is accordant with the advent of ter-
rorism, since terrorism knows no national bounds but, rather, threat-
ens difference and boundaries as such. Terrorism is everywhere, where
“everywhere” no longer refers to a collection of distinct places and
locations but instead to a “here” that is the same as there, as every
“there.” The threat of terrorism is not international, but antinational
or, to strain a Heideggerian formulation, unnational. Homeland secu-
rity, insofar as it destroys the very thing that it claims to protect, is
nothing opposed to terrorism, but rather the consummation of its threat.
Our leaders, in their attempt to secure the world against terrorism,
only serve to further drive the world towards its homogenized state.
The elimination of difference in the standing-reserve along with the
elimination of national differences serve to identify the threat of ter-
rorism with the quest for security. The absence of this threat would
be the absence of being, and its consummation would be the absence
of being as well. Security is only needed where there is a threat. If a
threat is not perceived, if one believes oneself invulnerable, then there
is no need for security. Security is for those who know they can be
injured, for those who can be damaged. Does America know that it
can be damaged? If security requires a recognition of one’s own vul-
nerability, then security can only be found in the acknowledgment of
one’s threatened condition, and this means that it can only be found
in a recognition of being as threat. To be secure, there must be the
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threat. For this reason, all of the planned securities that attempt to
abolish the threat can never achieve the security they seek. Security
requires that we preserve the threat, and this means that we must act
in the office of preservers.
As preservers, what we are charged to preserve is not so much the
present being as the concealment that inhabits it. Preserving a thing
means to not challenge it forth into technological availability, to let it
maintain an essential concealment. That we participate in this essenc-
ing of being does not make of it a subjective matter, for there is no
isolated subject in preservation, but an opening of being. Heidegger
will name this the clearing of the truth (Wahrheit) of being, and it is
this clearing that Dasein preserves (bewahrt). When a thing truthfully is,
when it is what it is in truth, then it is preserved. In preserving beings,
Dasein participates in the truth ( preservation) of being. The truth of
being is being as threat, and this threat only threatens when Dasein
preserves it in terror. Dasein is not innocent in the terrorization of
being. On the contrary, Dasein is complicit in it. Dasein refuses to
abolish terrorism.
For this reason, a Heideggerian thinking of terrorism must remain
skeptical of all the various measures taken to oppose terrorism, to root
it out or to circumvent it. These are so many attempts to do away
with what threatens, measures that are themselves in the highest degree
willful. This will can only impose itself upon being, can only draw out
more and more of its wrath, and this inward wrath of being main-
tains itself in a never-ending supply. The will can only devastate the
earth. Rather than approaching the world in terms of resources to be
secured, true security can only be found in the preservation of the
threat of being. It is precisely when we are busy with security mea-
sures and the frantic organization of resources that we directly assault
the things we would preserve. The threat of being goes unheeded when
things are restlessly shuttled back and forth, harried, monitored, and
surveilled. The threat of being is only preserved when things are allowed
to rest. In the notes to the “Evening Conversation,” security is thought
in just such terms:
Security (what one understands by this) arises not from securing and the
measures taken for this; security resides in rest [in der Ruhe] and is itself
made superfluous by this. (GA 77: 244)
23
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The rest in question is a rest from the economic cycling and circu-
lating of the standing reserve. The technological unworld, the situa-
tion of total war, is precisely the era of restlessness (“The term ‘totality’
says nothing more; it names only the spread of the hitherto known
into the ‘restless’” [GA 69: 181]). Security is superfluous here, which
is only to say that it is unnecessary or useless. It is not found in util-
ity, but in the preserved state of the useless. Utility and function are
precisely the dangers of a t°xnh that has turned antagonistic towards
nature. In rest, they no longer determine the being of the thing. In
resting, things are free of security measures, but not for all that ren-
dered insecure. Instead, they are preserved. There is no security; this
is what we have to preserve.
V. Conclusion
Heideggerian thinking is a thinking that thinks away from simple pres-
ence and absence. It thinks what Heidegger calls “the between” (das
Zwischen). This between is a world of nonpresence and nonabsence.
Annihilation is impossible for this world and so is security. The ter-
ror experienced today is a clue to the withdrawal of being. The world
is denatured, drained of reality. Everything is threatened and the dan-
ger only ever increases. Dasein flees to a metaphysics of presence to
escape the threatened world, hoping there to find security. But secu-
rity cannot do away with the threat, rather it must guard it. Dasein
guards the truth of being in the experience of terror.
What is perhaps repugnant to consider in all this is that being calls
for terrorism and for terrorists. With the enframing of being and the cir-
culation of standing-reserve, what is has already been destroyed.
Terrorism is merely the ugly confirmation of this point. As we have
seen, being does not linger behind the scenes but is found in the stag-
ing itself. If being is to terrorize—if, in other words, this is an age of
terrorism—then being must call for terrorists. They are simply more
“slaves of the history of beyng” (GA 69: 209) and, in Heidegger’s eyes,
no different from the politicians of the day in service to the cause of
Americanism. But someone might object, the terrorists are murderers
and the politicians are not. Granting this objection despite its obvious
naïveté, we can nonetheless see that both politicians and terrorists are
called for by the standing-reserve, the one to ensure its nonabsence,
that the plan will reach everyone everywhere, and the other to ensure
its nonpresence, that all beings will now be put into circulation by the
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threat of destruction. In this regard, “human resources” are no different
from “livestock,” and with this, an evil worse than death has already
taken place. Human resources do not die, they perish.
Insofar as it is Americanism that is identified with technological
domination and the spread of the unworld, then it is no wonder that
America is the place where the question of terrorism can and must
be posed. Instead of turning from terror, we are called to respond to
it. Not by sealing ourselves off from it in a single-minded deafness,
but by preserving the trace of being in its withdrawal. America is dis-
tinct in this because America most faces the challenge of Americanism.
America is today fighting the shadow of itself, it yearns to leap over
its shadow and into a state of pure visibility and security. America is
not faced with an outside aggressor, but with its own photographic
negative in Americanism/terrorism. America’s challenge is to not recog-
nize itself in Americanism and to preserve its difference from this ogre.
For America to believe that it is the driving force behind Americanism
is for America to believe that it is in control of being. Americanism
is a movement of being; it is nothing “American.” America’s other is
neither Greece nor Rome, but Americanism. America must distinguish
itself from Americanism in order to confront Americanism as its own-
most other. Terror can teach us this and lead us to preserve what is
our own.
Is this to say that we should remain forever terrorized? exist for-
ever in a state of terror? Is this supposed to provide a solution to the
problem of terrorism? Surely that would be an outrageous demand
(arge Zumutung) to place upon thinking. The older man says the same
thing about malevolence as a basic trait of being; it places an outra-
geous demand upon thinking. A first step away from the imposed con-
venience of Americanism might be heard in the words of the younger
man, “That this should be easy, namely to think the essential, is also
a demand which only arises from the spirit of devastation” (GA 77:
215). If we are to think the essential, to think what withdraws in con-
cealment before the total availability of the unworld around us, then
our thinking itself will have to change. Thinking the essential, this is
a thinking that we can never be done with, a thinking that is never
to be accomplished, a thinking that concerns what can never be thought
through.
Rather than think from out of the spirit of devastation, we are called
to let it into thought; not to think devastation, but to devastatedly think.
Thinking itself must be devastated and terrorized if we are to think
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today. Such a thinking would attend to the uncommon nature of our
present situation before the terrorist threat. If America is terrorized,
then it is terrorized by Americanism. But Americanism is nothing more
than an epoch of being; it is the withholding of being in its withdrawal
from us. In the face of this withdrawal we are called to think. Perhaps
this is possible nowhere other than America; perhaps this thinking itself
will mark another beginning for America, an American thinking that
would not be enslaved to a pragmatic and utilitarian metaphysics. To
think in this other American manner would be to entertain a new
relation to technology, what Heidegger calls in the Spiegel interview of
1966 an “explicit relationship” to technology and “to what is hap-
pening today and what has been underway for three centuries.”
24
Is
such a thinking possible? Could it ever arise in America? Heidegger
answers the question directly:
srirorr: This explicit relationship, do the Americans have it today?
nrirroorn: They do not have it either. They are still entangled in a
thinking, pragmatism, that fosters technological operating and manipu-
lating but simultaneously blocks the path toward a contemplation of what
is characteristic of modern technology. In the meantime, attempts to break
away from pragmatic-positivistic thinking are being made here and there in the USA.
25
There are no guarantees that these attempts will succeed; their suc-
cess does not require such guarantees. We must hope that in the name
of homeland security we do not too obstinately squelch them.
ABBREVIATIONS TO WORKS OF MARTIN HEIDEGGER
Volumes of Gesamtausgabe (GA)
GA 5 Holzwege. Edited by Friedrich-Wilhelm von Herrmann. 2nd ed. Frankfurt am
Main: Vittorio Klostermann, 2003. Translated by Julian Young and Kenneth
Haynes under the title Off the Beaten Track (Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press, 2002).
GA 7 Vorträge und Aufsätze. Edited by Friedrich-Wilhelm von Herrmann. Frankfurt
am Main: Vittorio Klostermann, 2000. [Note: Cited by pagination of the sin-
gle edition, supplied in margins of the GA.]
GA 45 Grundfragen der Philosophie: Ausgewälte “Probleme” der “Logik.” Edited by Friedrich-
Wilhelm von Herrmann. 2nd ed. Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann,
1992. Translated by Richard Rojcewicz and André Schuwer under the title
Basic Questions of Philosophy: Selected “Problems” of “Logic” (Bloomington: Indiana
University Press, 1994).
GA 52 Hölderlins Hymne “Andenken.” Edited by Curd Ochwadt. 2nd ed. Frankfurt am
Main: Vittorio Klostermann, 1992.
GA 53 Hölderlins Hymne “Der Ister.” Edited by Walter Biemel. 2nd ed. Frankfurt am
Main: Vittorio Klostermann, 1993. Translated by William McNeill and Julia
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Davis under the title Hölderlin’s Hymn “The Ister” (Bloomington: Indiana University
Press, 1996).
GA 65 Beiträge zur Philosophie (Vom Ereignis). Edited by Friedrich-Wilhelm von Herrmann.
2nd ed. Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann, 1994. Translated by Parvis
Emad and Kenneth Maly under the title Contributions to Philosophy ( from Enowning)
(Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1999).
GA 67 Metaphysik und Nihilismus. Edited by Hans-Joachim Friedrich. Frankfurt am
Main: Vittorio Klostermann, 1999.
GA 69 Die Geschichte des Seyns. Edited by Peter Trawny. Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio
Klostermann, 1998.
GA 77 Feldweg-Gespräche. Edited by Ingrid Schüßler. Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio
Klostermann, 1995.
GA 79 Bremer und Freiburger Vorträge. Edited by Petra Jaeger. Frankfurt am Main:
Vittorio Klostermann, 1994.
Single Editions
VS Vier Seminare. Pages 267–407 of GA 15: Seminare. Edited by Curd Ochwadt.
Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann, 1986. [Note: Cited by pagination
of the single edition, supplied in margins of the GA.] Translated by Andrew
Mitchell and François Raffoul under the title Four Seminars (Bloomington:
Indiana University Press, 2004).
WHD Was Heißt Denken? 4th ed. Tübingen: Max Niemeyer Verlag, 1984. Translated
by J. Glenn Gray under the title What Is Called Thinking? (New York: Harper
& Row, Publishers, 1968).
Other English Translations
EP The End of Philosophy. Edited and Translated by Joan Stambaugh. New York:
Harper & Row, Publishers, 1973.
PLT Poetry, Language, Thought. Edited and Translated by Albert Hofstadter. New York:
Harper & Row, Publishers, 1971.
QCT The Question Concerning Technology and Other Essays. Edited and translated by William
Lovitt. New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1977.
NOTES
1. Carl von Clausewitz, Vom Kriege: Hinterlassenes Werk,ed. Werner Hahlweg, 19th ed.
(Bonn: Ferd. Dümmlers Verlag, 1980), Book I, chapter 1, §2, p. 191. Edited and
translated by Michael Howard and Peter Paret under the title On War (Princeton:
Princeton University Press, 1984), 75. Subsequent references will be cited by book,
chapter, and where applicable, section number, with German/English pagination.
2. Clausewitz, I.1, § 15, p. 204/83.
3. Clausewitz, IV.8, p. 449/245.
4. Clausewitz, I.2, pp. 191–192/75.
5. Clausewitz, I.1, § 3, p. 193/76.
6. Clausewitz, I.2, p. 215/90.
7. Clausewitz, VIII.2, p. 955/581.
8. Clausewitz, VIII.2, p. 953/579.
9. Clausewitz, I.1, § 13, p. 203/82.
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10. Clausewitz, I.2, pp. 215/90–91.
11. Clausewitz, VIII.2, p. 952/579.
12. Clausewitz, I.2, p. 215/90.
13. For parenthetical references, see key to abbreviations. Modified translations are
indicated by “tm,” added emphasis by “em.”
14. Cf. Caleb Carr’s historically detailed and earnest book The Lessons of Terror: A History
of Warfare Against Civilians: Why it Has Always Failed and Why it Will Fail Again (New
York: Random House, 2002).
15. The strength of this statement is clear when we consider that Russia is largely
identical with communism, for Heidegger, and that communism is fundamentally
shaped by the power of technology, “The empowering of power in and by uncon-
ditioned machination is the essence of ‘communism’” (GA 69: 191). Communism
may well be just more Americanism.
16. Our word “terror” is derived from the Latin infinitive “terrere,” which can mean
to frighten, but also, when used transitively, to drive away by terror or fright (here
the affiliation with withdrawal). See “terror” in The Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd
edition. The Latin terrere, for its part, goes back to the Greek tr°v, which also
agrees with the motif of withdrawal, meaning to flee from fear. See the entry
“terreo,” in A Latin Dictionary, ed. Charlton T. Lewis and Charles Short (Oxford:
Clarendon Press, 1879) and tr°v, in A Greek-English Lexicon, ed. Henry George
Liddell and Robert Scott et al., 9th ed., with a revised supplement (Oxford:
Clarendon Press, 1996). Lewis and Short also trace the Latin and Greek forms
back to the Sanskrit root tras-, trasami, tremble. As for the German erschrecken, from
schrecken, Grimm supplies the Latin translation of “terrere” for both. Schrecken means
“to make jump” and to bring about “a violent movement of the disposition [gemüts-
bewegung].” See “Erschecken,” in Deutsches Wörterbuch von Jacob Grimm und Wilhelm Grimm,
ed. Dr. Moriz Heyne et al., vol. 3 (Leipzig: Verlag von S. Hirzel, 1899) and
“Schrecken,” in ibid., vol. 9 (Leipzig: Verlag von S. Hirzel, 1862).
17. It is for this reason that I translate Erschrecken by “terror” rather than follow Emad
and Maly’s choice of “startled dismay.” Terror names a trembling resonance. By
talking around it, by paraphrases, we avoid being claimed by it.
18. Martin Heidegger, “Abendgespräch in einem Kriegsgefangenenlager in Rußland
zwischen einem Jüngeren und einem Älteren,” in Feldweg-Gespräche, GA 77: 203–45.
19. The conversation partners go so far as to claim that the will itself would be evil
(GA 77: 208), an even stronger claim when we consider that for Heidegger, the
entire history of Western philosophy has been a history of the will, a view voiced
in another dialogue of the period, “ÉAg¤bas¤h,” where the wise man states that
“With the word ‘will’ I actually mean no faculty of the soul, but instead that which
grounds the essence of the soul, of spirit, of reason, of love, of life, according to
the unanimous, but scarcely pondered doctrine of Western thinkers” (GA 77: 78).
20. “‘Devastation’ [Verwüstung] means to us that everything, the world, the human, the
earth, is transformed into a desert [Wüste]” (GA 77: 211). The conversation part-
ners even suggest that the earthly conception of a desert would be merely an
“insufficiently thought out representation” of the devastating processes that have
here come to light (see GA 77: 212).
21. Four years later, in the Bremen lecture “The Danger,” Heidegger expresses the
thought of being as malevolent in terms of danger, “Beyng is plainly in itself, from
itself, for itself, the danger [Das Seyn ist in sich aus sich für sich die Gefahr schlechthin]”
(GA 79: 54).
22. Not limited to religion, assurance is to be found in morality as such. The younger
man in the labor camp has already made known his aversion for thinking evil
morally; at a later point in the dialogue we find out, perhaps, the reason behind
such views. Morality, insofar as it is a mode of assurance and security, is identi-
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cal to evil. According to the younger man, “it could be that morality, for its part,
and with it all the particular attempts through morality to place the people within
the prospect of a world order and to posit world-security within certainty, would
also be only a monstrous product [Ausgeburt] of evil” (GA 77: 209).
23. The citation continues (GA 77: 244):
But what is rest without that wherein the resting one rests?
Where is there to rest, without a belonging in the proper?
Where is such a belonging without enownment [Ereignung]?
Where is enownment without enowning?
24. See “The Spiegel Interview with Martin Heidegger,” in Antwort: Martin Heidegger im
Gespräch, ed. Günther Neske and Emil Kettering (Tübingen: Verlag Günther Neske,
1988), 81–114, p. 105. Translated by Lisa Harries with Joachim Neugroschel under
the title Martin Heidegger and National Socialism (New York: Paragon House, 1990),
41–66, p. 61.
25. “The Spiegel Interview with Martin Heidegger,” 105–6/61; em.
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182

 . 

This does not mean that beyng exists unperturbed somewhere behind or beyond these beings. The withdrawal of being is found in these abandoned beings themselves and is determinative for the way they exist. Heideggerian thinking, then, allows us to ask the question of our times and to think terrorism. My contention in the following is that the withdrawal of being shows itself today in terrorism, where beings exist as terrorized. Terrorism, in other words, is not simply the sum total of activities carried out by terrorist groups, but a challenge directed at beings as a whole. Terrorism is consequently a metaphysical issue, and it names the way in which beings show themselves today, i.e., as terrorized. This “ontological” point demands that there be the “ontic” threat of real terrorists. Further, this metaphysical aspect of terrorism also indicates that a purely political response to terrorism is destined to fail. Political reactions to terrorism, which depict terrorism from the outset as a political problem, miss the fact that terrorism itself, qua metaphysical issue, is coincident with a transformation in politics. That is to say, political responses to terrorism fail to think terrorism. In what follows I will elaborate some of the consequences of thinking terrorism as a question of being and sketch a few characteristics of the politico-technological landscape against which terrorism takes place. In order to do so, I will address the role of America in Heidegger’s work, for it is in “America” that politics and technology are driven the furthest toward interdependency. “Americanism” names the project of technological domination and the will to world homogenization. This is not a reason to dismiss Heidegger as “anti-American,” however, regardless of how strong the grounds for such an assessment might appear. If we hold Heidegger to his own insights, then even he would have to admit that there remains a crucial role for America in the face of “Americanism,” a role which itself might constitute an American “privilege” for the thinking of our times (and thus, perhaps, for the thinking of beyng today). The logic of this privilege in the midst of extreme denigration is perhaps the most important point for a proper understanding of Heidegger’s views on technology. In the pages that follow, an attempt is made to pose the question of this privilege in regard to both technology and the land of America. Insofar as Heideggerian thinking is a thinking of being, then it must be able to think terrorism, for the simple reason that terrorism names the current countenance of being for our times, and without such a correspondence to being, Heideggerian thinking is nothing. The issue is not one of applying a preestablished Heideggerian doctrine to an object or sit-

  

183

uation that would remain outside of thought. Rather, the issue is one of recognizing that the objects and situations of our world themselves call for thought, and that in thinking the world, we enter into a correspondence with being. But what sort of correspondence can be achieved between the thinking of being and terrorism? Heidegger’s articulation of the age of technology already contains in germ four routes of access for the thinking of terrorism. First, Heidegger himself witnessed a transformation in the making of war, such that he was led to think beyond the Clausewitzian model of modern warfare and to open the possibility for a “warfare” of a different sort. This thought beyond war is itself an opening to terrorism. Second, Heidegger prioritizes terror (Erschrecken) as a fundamental mood appropriate to our age of technological enframing. Terror is a positive mood, not a privative one, and it corresponds to the way that being gives itself today. Third, Heidegger thinks threat and danger in an “ontological” manner that calls into question traditional notions of presence and absence. Terrorism attends this transformation in presence. Finally, and following from all of this, Heidegger rethinks the notion of security in a manner that alerts us to the oxymoronic character of “homeland security” and the impossibility of ever achieving a condition of complete safety from terrorism. In each of these ways, Heideggerian thinking responds to this most uncommon of challenges. I. The End of War If terrorism is anything, then it is nothing like war. While Heidegger does not directly speak of terrorism by name, he nonetheless affirms an end to the era of modern warfare. With the passing of this era of high representation, Heidegger sees a dramatic change in what constitutes a theater of war. The World Wars point to an era beyond modern warfare as Clausewitz had definitively formulated it, an era where wars are fought without goal or end, where soldiers are considered the same as supplies, and technology keeps such supplies in steady circulation for instant availability. This is a postmodern era that Heidegger thinks with the name of “enframing” (Ge-stell ). Without naming terrorism, Heidegger does offer a thought of conflict beyond the representational modernism of Clausewitzian warfare. Under the aegis of enframing, this beyond is terrorism, an epoch in the history of being coincident with that of modern technology and, as we shall see, the

W I W A second characteristic of the duel is that it takes an object. War is logically understood. But for all this. In approaching these issues. and there is the aberrant exigency of the duel itself. the “logical” character of his thought. in Clausewitz’s own terms. is a particular form of opposition. “polarity. 2. To this end. each serving to demonstrate its modern nature. of its willingness to risk itself for its goal or for the object of its directing policy. A duel.  American project. the dueling parties duel over something. Throughout On War. There is a ruling law between them that specifies the contract of the duel. the Clausewitzian conception of warfare provides a frame for appreciating the solutions of contemporary technology to the questions of conflict and peace. 1.”4 In other words. within an oppositional structure that includes not only the opposition between friend and foe.184  . in other words. W I O In preparing a definition of war. war is a test of the willingness of the will. three points in Clausewitz’s conception of warfare. His oppositional rationalism. Clausewitz emphasizes the role of the will and the allied notions of . Clausewitz remains a great modern rationalist. however. but that of political theory and military practice.”2 This oppositional thinking is determinative of the modern era and its fidelity to rational-subjectivist thought. shall be posed. Clausewitz’s greatness lies in thinking the modern rationalist categories of warfare directly. there are certain assumptions that make up the etiquette of the duel.”3 War is thought by Clausewitz in terms of opposition and agreement. The duel points to a will.”1 With such pride of place given to the duel. where two parties are clearly identifiable and stand opposed to one another mediated by a ruling law. the duel is part of an agreement: “There can be no engagement unless both sides are willing to fight. both understood by the terms of policy. with a force at times capable of exposing their boundaries. In short. we are here immediately introduced to a thinking that will be guided by the idea of opposition and. which lies at the heart of Clausewitz’s explicit definition of war: “War is thus an act of force to compel our enemy to do our will. Clausewitz claims that war is “nothing but a duel on a larger scale. is the first characteristic to consider in Clausewitz’s modernism.

Clausewitz recognizes an ideal state of war beyond the material wars fought during his day.”5 The emotions are most certainly involved for Clausewitz.” would pit equally powerful forces against one another in positions of exact polarity. a matter that likewise informs the third mark of Clausewitz’s modernity. and the differences between the sides would be irreconcilable. we might say). as both a guiding idea (Hauptvorstellung) as to how things should be and as a standard of direction. a point of reference (Richtpunkt). for “If war is an act of force. an “absolute war. the egoistic greatness of that pride. Such a war. no recalcitrance or exhaustion of the troops or supplies. To break the opponent’s will is to render it ineffectual (to read it its rights. Clausewitz’s concern for morale and courage is. it is a virtue of reason. cannot be considered to have ended so long as the enemy’s will has not been broken. The . This is what is known as the morale of the troops.” Courage is another way that the body is handled by reason. The will drives the troops to overcome physical exhaustion. Clausewitz remains modern in his focus upon the will as negotiating between two distinct realms of activity (theory and practice.”6 The will is the glove by which reason is able to seize the world. the inheritance of the Platonic distinction between the ideal and the real. W I C M The third trait is more subtle. esprit de corps. Whatever does not seize the world and act upon the world is irreal. towards its own ever fuller realization. the emotions cannot fail to be involved. in other words). ineffectual. and feeling. and morale is always heightened by the extreme displays of will that are valorized by the name “courage. where virtue can only mean excellence in the manipulation of a tool. and therefore permitted—hence the rational pride in freedom of thought and speech.   185 morale. a concern for the will as the first instrument of reason. 3. at root. and it is this war that acts as a regulative ideal. there would be no terrain. “the animosity and the reciprocal effects of hostile elements. too.7 All real wars are imitations of this war. and this will is influenced by the prevailing wills around it. Such an ideal war would never end. it is also the trait that gives Clausewitz’s thought its classical character. and it is the general’s task to approximate absolute war as closely as possible. but it is always the will that holds the decisive place in his thinking. and hence. they are another of the unpredictable variables that the general must try to take into account while planning his/her strategy.

But this is not to say that the will is beaten or that the fighting is over and done with. war reaches its goal: “we must always consider that with the conclusion of peace the purpose of the war has been achieved and its business is at an end.” Friction is a general name for the innumerable details preventing a perfect translation of the ideal upon the real. then there can be peace: “Once the prize is in its hands.”9 In such an end. for its part. war and peace may not always be clearly distinguishable in reality. is the gap between the ideal and the real. If the other state is ready to accept the situation. it should sue for peace. but they are always so ideally. with a result that hostilities can always be renewed. the thickening effects of danger. every uncertainty. Clausewitz clarifies. “but this only shows that not every war necessarily leads to a final decision and settlement. operates . only an absolute war can lead to peace. insufficient or incorrect intelligence. Obviously. when that opponent is beaten in their will. where “hostilities could not end until one or other side were finally defeated. guided by the view of an ideal (absolute).”10 For the enemy to press for peace demonstrates a weakened and depressed will to engage the opponent. War functions for Clausewitz as a forceful expression of will to overcome an opponent. Hostilities may resume. in short. since “[l]ogic comes to a stop in this labyrinth. the space of what Clausewitz terms “friction. Contemporary warfare.. Clausewitz’s modern conception of warfare comes to an end with the end of modernity.”11 Political intervention usually stops a war before this point is reached. Clausewitz is in the ranks of the other modern philosophers in taking up this Platonic distinction.”12 Only an absolute war can lead to a final decision and settlement. and it can let matters rest.  role of strategy for the general is to negotiate between the desired ideal and the demands of the real. the political object has been achieved. When that opponent is completely overcome—and the text vacillates at times between disarmament and utter destruction—which is to say. These three points of war equally determine an ideal of peace. there is no need to do more. it includes everything that cannot be counted upon. which is to say.”8 The best general is the one most at home in this halfway house between the ideal and the real. then. etc. The general’s purview. The only peace that could ensure this would be the peace resulting from an absolute war. perhaps they are never so. it includes the morale of the troops.186  . Friction denotes the illogical.

where one item is just as good as any other. 1. The conditions of modern warfare listed above can find no hold here. constantly available and replaceable (GA 79: 28).13 Airplanes. but there is a metaphysical distance that has likewise been reduced. e-mail. A present object could stand over against another. Everything becomes an item for ordering (bestellen) and delivering (zustellen). With enframing. things are no longer what they were. but a change in their being. This is not merely a development external to modern objects. 165). distinguishes itself from the modern on each of the three counts above. which names the dominance of position. GA 7: 157/PLT. “What stands by in the sense of standing-reserve. as the era of terrorism. the eerie companion of technological dominance and “enframing. The technological era. The standing-reserve is found only in its circulation along these supply channels. to be sure. Replaceability is the being of things today. Gestell. it circulates. the standing-reserve. “Today being is being-replaceable” . everything is “ready in place” (auf der Stelle zur Stelle). cf. and in this circulation it eludes the modern determination of thinghood. positing. instead. in fact. and it is precisely where these conditions fail that we are forced to think terrorism. one item is identical to any other. It is simply not present to be cast as a thing. is Heidegger’s name for an era of technological supremacy where all of the world is brought ever closer together by a systematic elimination of distance and difference across the globe. where. The analysis of technology in Heidegger’s work is guided by the (phenomenological) insight that “All distances in time and space are shrinking” (GA 79: 3. no longer stands over against us as object” (GA 7: 20/QCT. microwaves. The standing-reserve “exists” within this cycle of order and delivery. A A  O Opposition is no longer an operative concept for Heidegger. exchange and replacement. however. precisely does not stand. 17). that between subject and object. Enframing. these serve to abbreviate the world. objects can no longer be found. This modern dualism has been surpassed by what Heidegger terms the standing-reserve (Bestand).   187 according to the influx of new technologies that are themselves part of a general technological “enframing” of the world. and posing (stellen) in all of its modes. since technology has served to eradicate the distance that would separate the supposedly opposed parties.” Insofar as an object (Gegenstand) would stand over against (Gegen) a subject.

Heidegger claims in 1969. This importance has nothing . however illusive. languages. This cycle of ordering and delivery does not operate serially. 2. the will still expresses the individuality of the person and one’s perspective. but only wills itself. Instead. the will in question no longer wills an object outside of itself. When everything has a value. as “the most important raw material” (GA 7: 88/EP. Nonetheless. But it is not merely a matter of mass produced products being replaceable. Manifest in the very workings of technology is a will to power. The standing-reserve collapses opposition. The Nietzschean legacy for the era of technology (Nietzsche as a thinker of values) is evident here. that it only serves to further level the ranks and establish the identity of everything with its replacement. and difference. with great homogenizing and globalizing effect. individual objects. its willing is goalless and endless. This self-affirming character of the will allows the will an independence from the human. The standing-reserve spreads itself throughout the entirety of its replacement cycle. without being fully present at any point along the circuit. which is here now just as much as it is there in storage. an exchangeability and replaceability operates laterally across continents. even if. Actually. we have to take into consideration the global role of value. since there is an item identical to it somewhere else ready for delivery. In fact. since we are no longer dealing with discrete. the will need never leave itself. things have not yet gone so far. The transformation is such that what is here now is not really here now.  (VS.188  . a complementary determination of being: “Being has become value” (GA 5: 258/192). which for Heidegger is always a will to will. 107/62). but a will without a restricted human agenda. The human is just another piece of a standing-reserve that circulates without purpose. the ends of that will are not completely known by the self at any particular time. But the preponderance of value is so far from preserving differences and establishing order of rank. there is only a steady circulation of the standing-reserve. To complete Heidegger’s view of the enframed standingreserve. Because the will to will has no goal outside of it. as is the case with Leibniz. 104). it is a will to will. In the era of technology. the human still retains a distinction. the will that comes to the fore is no longer the will of an individual. In this way. W  S The will that dominates the modern era is personal.

is susceptible to planning.” that they are the ones who decide. however. the more that being retreats from it. given that beings are no longer objective. the proceedings in question affect beings as a whole. in its abstraction. The more the world comes to stand at the will’s disposal. modern warfare .   189 to do with the personal willing of conditional goals. including the leaders. instead. so much so that he lets his will go forth unconditionally in this process and simultaneously becomes the ‘object’ of the abandonment of being” (GA 7: 88/EP. 104). tm) The leaders do not stand above or control the proceedings. who would direct the circulation of the standing-reserve according to his own personal will. as Heidegger immediately makes clear. they are needed for circulation. leaders serve the standing-reserve. one whose task it is to objectify everything. In short. In truth. but are nowhere outside of it. or leader. organized around efficiency and productivity in distribution and circulation. Leaders are simply points of convergence or conduits for the channels of circulation. in which an emptiness expands that requires a single ordering and securing of beings. For this reason—and the following is something often overlooked in considering Heidegger’s political position between the wars—Heidegger is critical of the very notion of a Führer. Unconditioned willing transcends the merely human will. The leaders of today are merely the necessary accompaniment of a standing-reserve that. is again another working of “objectification.” where neither of these terms quite fits. which satisfies itself with restricted goals and accomplishments. 105. leaders are the necessary consequence of the fact that beings have gone over to a way of errancy. there are numerous “sectors” to which each leader is assigned. “The human is the ‘most important raw material’ because he remains the subject of all consumption. will not be able to voice itself over the will’s own monologue. Any goal beyond the will itself. Unconditioned willing makes of the subject an agent of the abandonment of being. Insofar as modern warfare was a use of force for political goals. The willfulness of the leaders is not due to a personal will: One believes that the leaders had presumed everything of their own accord in the blind rage of a selfish egotism and arranged everything in accordance with their own will [Eigensinn]. (GA 7: 89/EP. The leaders’ seeming position of “subjectivity. No leader is the sole authority. for example. The human will is allied with the technological will to will. The demands of these sectors will be similar of course. any political goal.

The metaphysical decisions beyond our control are those having to do with being as replaceable value. all become slaves of the history of being. which is to say “external.” i.190  . since this is what we are talking about when we talk about the machination of beings. it can no longer be said to precede its “continuation” in war. of with it itself is not master. is equally a transformation of politics. Political decisions are not made by leaders who would be in control of the matters decided. (GA 69: 209) The transformation of war into terrorism. It reaches a point where no political. the war that arises from the machination of beings here let loose. such a war no longer admits of “conquerors and conquered”. and this transforms the relation between war and politics as expressed in Clausewitz’s famed dictum. T R   I We have already stated that technology closes the gap between subject and object. War is not. The transformation of war in total war (or terrorism) is equally a transformation of politics: Such a war does not continue something already present. We will return to this idea of planning when considering its role for our general “security. These decisions are nothing that we could willfully decide. as Clausewitz still thinks.” For now it is enough to note that with this transformation in the nature of politics. The unconditional will is apolitical. For this reason. If “war” means the “total war. The leaders are slaves. with the human becoming just another piece of the . Politics becomes in this a means of directing life according to a plan. The will surrenders its relation to the object in order to will itself all the more forcefully. then it becomes a transformation of “politics” and a revelation of the fact that “politics” and every plan-directed course of life were themselves only ever the uncontrolled execution of metaphysical decisions that they do not master. the more impersonal it becomes. Politics’ effectiveness withers away in this transformation.  is surpassed. the continuation of politics by other means. 3. (GA 69: 209. There can be no opposition when the will recognizes nothing but itself. but rather compels this into the execution of essential decisions. since the goals of politics remain always conditional.” goal can reach it. and the more the will succeeds in this. em) Conquered and conqueror are both political designations and are each outmoded today.e.

There are no longer any “losses” that cannot be replaced. the obligation for each is the obligation to consume. The abolition of distance is equally an abolition of difference. since it is not recognized in the first place. For Clausewitz. surprises. Strategy serves as a technical term for Clausewitz. there are coincidences. The troops were the most important resource for the realization of “total” war. Such is the case with war under the reign of technology. a change of attitude within the atmosphere of danger. and defense. they were needed to negotiate the distance that yet extended between the ideal and the real. reinforcement. assault. The whole “battle” is given over to a planning that is able to incorporate everything it encounters. Strategy’s demise is the ascendancy of planning. the standingreserve. Peace can now go on interminably as well.   191 standing-reserve alongside all the rest. the resistance of the terrain—all of which prevent a general from simply and directly executing a war. denoting the skill of the general in best realizing the ideal situation of absolute war within the real material conditions that the battle presents. troops would offer no resistance and never be lost. there is no longer any friction. The logic in question for both war and peace is the logic of replacement. There is inadequate information. questions of morale and willingness for both the troops and the general. consumption of resources remained a concern for Clausewitz. Modern warfare is a matter of troop mobilization. All uncertainty is lost. including that between the real and the ideal. in being given over to replacement. even the idea of an “in itself ” is already drained of reality ahead of time. What this means is that war can now go on interminably. Resources are precisely in themselves replaceable. this difference was a fact expressed in each of the innumerable ways that the material world failed to live up to the “smoothness” of the ideal. since it only ever encounters what is already planable in essence. Perhaps the roughest area of friction that a general must consider is found in his/her greatest asset. A consequence of this is that modern warfare could still concern itself with calculating and comparing casualties and losses. war must end. In other words. In an ideal situation. subject to no other logic or obligation than its own. Nothing can resist it. but instead require strategizing. and for this reason. troops included. the troops. With everything available as standing-reserve. Everything is monitored and controlled. There is no law that would . to the extent that. But without resistance. subject to no other logic or obligation than its own. the exhaustion of resources is no longer possible.

The basic oppositions of Clausewitzian warfare are undone at this point. everyone is already enlisted in advance. rather it newly establishes the essence of peace” (GA 69: 180). In either case. an undoing that includes the distinction between ideal and real. It can have everything as its target. Everyone is now a civilian-soldier. Terrorism is Clausewitz’s absolute war in the mirror of technology. Without concern for resources. for the simple reason that there no longer are any civilians. there is no order outside of it that could contain it. Terrorism is not the use of warfare against civilians (pace Carr). “War” is no longer a duel.  supervene or subtend consumption. it recognizes no authority outside of itself. a target. there is perhaps too much continuity or “continuation” between war and peace.14 It is equally not war against soldiers. Clausewitz’s ideal is realized in a manner that collapses the very distinctions that gave it birth. cannot be answered. “War has become a distortion of the consumption of beings which is continued in peace” (GA 7: 89/EP.” one might say. With everyone involved in the same processes of consumption and delivery.192  . or neither a civilian nor a soldier—a “worker. It also includes the distinction between soldier and civilian. Terrorism is the only conflict available and the only conflict that is in essence available and applicable. it is simply a matter of resource consumption and replenishment. The name for this new amalgam of war and peace is terrorism. Since such distinctions depend upon a difference between war and peace. War and peace come to complete agreement and lose their oppositional identity in the age of value and the ersatz. In Clausewitzian terms. 104). but because the question itself asks for something which no longer is. “not because the length of the war cannot be foreseen. they too can no longer apply. Heidegger specifies. and which functions equivalently to war. consumption continues untroubled. and for this reason we go wrong to even consider it war. 104. The essence of peace so established is a peace that defines itself in regards to war. Terrorism follows from . instead it is the peace of unhindered circulation. which binds itself inseparably to war. or otherwise put. We cannot even ask when there will be peace or when the war will end. tm). Such a question. There are no longer any “innocent” victims or bystanders in this. since war is a kind of “consumption of beings” no different from peace: “War no longer battles against a state of peace. since already there is no longer a war that would be able to come to a peace” (GA 7: 89/EP. The peace that technology brings is nothing restful. and the same holds true of terrorism.

is lost. But the common endures nonetheless. In the 1969 Le Thor seminar. What is uncommon is that this alteration in the nature of being goes unremarked. This transformation remains important at each point of a Heideggerian thinking of terrorism and is the ultimate consequence of the abolition of war and peace. are now made uncommon. but the dissemblance is not to be thought as solely on the part of the human. If we wished to name that “country” where the Clausewitzian ideal of absolute war is most demonstrably visible—where terrorism is almost celebrated—then it could be no other than America. (GA 69: 181) What were once common.. the more exclusively that the common persists and is further pursued. Heidegger comes to specify what it is that is truly uncommon in all of this. the beings to which we were accustomed. the more common that it becomes. their objectivity. we are surrounded by the steady circulation of resources. In effect. beings have become uncommon. Heidegger seems to imply an inability for America to think “the question of being” and couches this inability in the current reality of the American situation: . This uncommon situation grows ever more uncommon the more that it is ignored and unacknowledged. There is a dissembling here (and we will return to this as decisive for the mood of terror). What was common to the beings of the modern era. the veil is the veil of the common. i. the reverberation [Erschütterung] of this compulsion through everything common becomes all the more uncommon.e. and this is overlooked so that they may continue to be regarded as the same beings to which we were accustomed. it is not difficult to guess where this ideal is most perfectly realized. Taking the above three points as transfiguratively inaugurating the Clausewitzian ideal of absolute war. The veiling of beyng describes the same movement that compels beings into the uncommon. That beings have become uncommon is ignored. beyng veils itself in commonality. The transformations that Heidegger sees operative in contemporary warfare ultimately signal a change in the nature of being. It is in the complete availability of these resources that we might encounter the uncommon: The disappearance of the distinction between war and peace compels beings as such into the uncommon. A few pages later.   193 the transformation in beings indicative of the technological age. “that beyng veils itself ” (GA 69: 187). In place of the constant presencing of things. Beings are made uncommon.

it may be possible to hear in them a hope for America in the thinking of being. as the epitome of all Americanism. The presence of the military in a community is valued as a sign of prosperity. Where free trade is hindered. Those who are interested in the question of being do not see the reality of their country. Nowhere is the abolishment of the distinction between war and peace more evident than in today’s America. (VS. and democracy must be spread across the globe.” the question of being cannot be posed. Without this situated awareness of one’s “homeland. We might also add that military vehicles (the Hummer) and military clothing (“camouflage”) have penetrated mainstream American fashion. it is solely an economic term. Heidegger names the fundamental attunement of this age “terror” (Erschrecken). . Conversely. 97/56) America is the place where the identification of peace and war is fully realized in the collusion of industry and the military. Resistance to free trade is met with “liberating” martial force. The military provides access to higher education for many who would otherwise have to make do without it. Democracy is another name for free trade. or is the question simply impossible for America? Is America. something for quotation marks.” but in order to allow industry to exceed its own expectations and expand its trade routes. where natural resources are not completely available to the market for “political” reasons. economic effects attend the military as employer and as contributor to local economies. It likewise allows citizens to learn employable skills for work in society. Industry increasingly determines the options available for the everyday life of the populace.  As to the interest of America for the “question of being. But if we attend closer to Heidegger’s words. the “question of being. That same industry now has at its disposal the military power of society. The question remains an abstract and academic matter. not due to any respect for “human rights.194  . military intervention is called for. still a homeland or has technology completely ravished the country of all specificity and uniqueness? These are the questions that the age of technological machination raises for America. Due to sheer size alone.” Would a proper understanding of American reality make possible an asking of this question. military spending is a driving force in the economy.” the reality of that country is veiled from the view of those interested: the collusion between industry and the military (the economic development and the armament that it requires).

unfolds and. the uncommon is no longer viewed against the common. seemingly far from the technologically dominated here and now.. we should compare it to wonder as the basic mood of metaphysical philosophy. beings were thought in terms of fÊsiw. Its original opening to the being of beings is not something that is simply given. the thing is appreciated as unique. there is a turn to what is common in order to experience it as uncommon. admiration. It is impossible for a thing to be unique if it is fully known. etc. at the same time. In wonder. begins in wonder (yaumãzein) before the beings of the world. T°xnh names the tending . This is not the case with wonder. and what was wondrous for the Greeks was the upsurgence of fÊsiw. The Opening of Terror 195 Terror is essential to the Heideggerian thought of another beginning (andere Anfang). If the thing is not to be completely known in this way. In wonder. defines itself ? We have to seek it in what the Greeks call t°xnh” (GA 45: 178/154). for in such a condition the thing is immediately and already substituted and replaced by more of the same. and placed at one’s disposal in the manner of the standing-reserve. What appears in wonder. For the Greeks. Amazement. rather. the first beginning. then something must be held back or withdrawn. The first beginning. it is precisely the countermovement to the covering or veiling of being with the common that we saw above. Wonder is an appreciation of the uncommon in the midst of the common.   II. comprehended (planned). what is most uncommon is precisely that which is most common to a being: that it is what it is. “What is the basic attitude in which the preservation of the wondrous. the wondrous. To appreciate what Heidegger has to say about terror as the basic mood of our technological era. all begin with an individual thing that is considered uncommon and that is contrasted against a previously determined horizon of commonality. according to the Basic Questions lecture course. as both Plato and Aristotle attest. Heidegger goes to great lengths in the 1937/38 lecture course Basic Questions of Philosophy: Selected “Problems” of “Logic” to distinguish the fundamental attunement of wonder from other possible misconceptions. is uncommon (das Ungewöhnliche). but something that must be tended. the beingness of beings. Wonder is found at the first beginning. astonishment. But such an upsurgence could not be withstood or preserved without a corresponding comportment on the part of the human. Here. a beginning apart from the one that inaugurated the metaphysical tradition.

was indeed antagonistically disposed toward the wondrous would proceed by utilizing nature and making of it a matter of calculation. While the human stands in the midst of beings. but on the contrary.196  . tm). This is certainly the path of modern technology. Through t°xnh. What this means is that fÊsiw calls for its own demise. t°xnh is originally allied with fÊsiw and lets beings be what they are.” Heidegger claims “that this could lead to modern and contemporary technology. not to mention wondrous. and above all not in order to turn use and calculation into principles. t°xnh negotiates the relationship between the human and the wondrous. and it is the exacerbation of this danger that leads to terror. the uncommon becoming a commonality. in order to hold sway in themselves and thus to pervade man as well” (GA 45: 178/153. A separation is certainly evident between the two.  and caring for wonderful being. though not yet in order to overpower it or exploit it. has its ground in the beginning and has its foundation in an unavoidable incapacity to hold fast to the beginning” (GA 45: 179/154. to hold the reign of fÊsiw in unconcealment” (GA 45: 179–80/155. it could be said that t°xnh is at odds with fÊsiw. It is never fully present and untroubled. but t°xnh is not yet technology. This metaphysical conception of present beings and the captivation with them that attends it then culminates for Heidegger in the technological interpretation of beings as . then. the clearing of élÆyeia comes to be understood as correctness and adequacy (ÙryÒthw and ımo¤vsiw). but it is not yet antagonistic. Here it is clear that a t°xnh that. and had to lead to it. To begin with. tm. The danger that Heidegger will specify in the lecture course is an abolition of wonder and the uncommon. but we would immediately have to add that this tension is itself part of the wonder that is experienced. but always furrowed and endangered. but in a way that is in “accordance” with the being. but also at a remove from beings. it can never be maintained or preserved completely. Everything uncommon. a conceptual generality arrived at by means of an abstraction from these beings. In a certain regard. It is a grasping of a being. Beings become representations. Otherwise put. “Nevertheless. beings are “released to their own essence. that wonder is impossible without t°xnh. contra this one. tm). All of this is already latent in wonder. There is wonder in the accordance between fÊsiw and t°xnh. about the being would be lost. “T°xnh is a mode of proceeding against fÊsiw. the interpretation of beings that arises out of wonder mistakes being for “beinghood” (Seiendheit). em).

It is the place where beyng has most withdrawn. The technological comportment no longer stands in “accordance” with beings. Beings are let loose from being. we are confronted by an un-world: “the ‘world’ has become an unworld as a consequence of the abandonment of beings by the truth of being” (GA 7: 88/EP.e. Wonder leads to the abandonment of being as the fulfillment of the promise of a fÊsiw that calls for its own supplanting. there is no longer a world in the era of contemporary technology. is therefore impossible. the withdrawal of beyng reaches its apogee. the term “world war” requires the care of quotation marks. as reality is ever more shaped to accommodate the distribution and relaying of stock.” it is abandoned by beyng. where presence. America “enjoys” a certain priority. with being slipping ever further into the background. tm). insofar as Heidegger understands “world” as an event of spacing. 104. Heidegger calls attention to the precedence of beings over being. difference. reaching a point where the items of the standingreserve are available in essence. but an abyss). Beyng withdraws in the presentation of beings. complete unconcealment. “The ‘world wars’ and their character of ‘totality’ are already a consequence of the abandonment of being” (GA 7: 88/EP. and singularity. Beyng’s withdrawal is the elimination of concealment. this movement is one with what Heidegger calls the “abandonment” or “withdrawal” of being. is the sole characteristic. Instead. for Heidegger in 1938. once it does not “essence. meaning. now we see that the world has as well. Consequently. Here. 103). and the more available the being becomes. In fact. but instead falls upon them to bring them out of unconcealment and to account for them. Further. A “war” on terrorism. disbanded from being. In the advance of the unworld. distance. until. Once the being is no longer concealed. We have already seen that modern warfare has come to an end. Terrorism is the truth of world war. letting them be what they are. As the landscape becomes more and more a storehouse for the supplies of the standing-reserve. This antagonistic role of t°xnh is so encompassing as to transform the world. a “world war” against terrorism doubly so. if one may speak . i. Yet the logic of this withdrawal is such that the emergence of beings at all is only possible on the basis of this withdrawal (a withdrawal that itself is precisely no basis at all. the world is destroyed. America’s battle with terrorism may well be the first “unworld war” in history. the more beyng withdraws. The self-aggrandizement of beings goes so far as to almost sever the relation with being.   197 standing-reserve (Bestand).

Terror as a fundamental mood is an attunement to this hesitating. “nor even with what is American.15 To this we might add. wavering. in which trembling itself. Can America prevail in the face of Americanism? Is it possible that America may be the greatest victim of Americanism? If we are able to see a difference between America. as Heidegger may well be saying when he asks “[w]hether we sufficiently understand that everything dreadful [alles Grauenhafte] lies in Americanism and certainly not with what is Russian” (GA 67: 150). the specificity of America is likewise lost. Terror is experienced “at the abandonment of being” (GA 65: 46/32. self-withholding of beyng. it is a trembling on the part of beyng to which terror is attuned. the embattled homeland.” Americanism attacks America from within and the uncommon challenge that it poses is first and foremost a challenge to America. to the point of calling into question the identity of America itself. and to feel terror is to be given the opportunity to respond to it. Opening and concealment are not so oppositionally disposed. rather. a withdrawal. As the globalizing movement of Americanism spreads. Trembling is “the spreading out of the time-play-space. America is not the villain. It is in the face of this technological wasteland of the Americanistic unworld that terror can occur as a salvation. The fÊsiw that calls for its own demise necessarily leads to the dreadful and ambiguous case of Americanism. then Heidegger’s words will have to be heard as a caution to America: “This establishment of the unessence [Unwesen] of machination is reserved for Americanism” (GA 67: 150). cannot occur in full presence. a flight from the terrible. The opening of the “there. tm). tm). In the Contributions to Philosophy ( from Enowning). as the hesitation of its clearing (the there). Americanism is. This terrible privilege is America’s alone. . In a strange image from the Contributions. namely that beings are” (GA 45: 2/4). which is to say that it is felt “in the face of what is closest and most obtrusive.  in such a manner. a fact which finds some etymological support. and Americanism.198  . takes place [sich ereignet]” (GA 65: 244/173. Terror is the attunement proper to the unworld and the age of machination. trembling (Erzitterung) names the way in which the event of the clearing of being takes place. “Hesitation” is the surest index of this fact.” the clearing of being. The trembling withdrawal of terror is not something that is simply a subjective experience (Erlebnis). the movement of cultural hegemony.16 A movement of terror is disclosed here as well. Heidegger’s many references to “Americanism” as opposed to “America” may give us pause for thought. Terror is experienced as a trembling.

Here the concern is with the festival and the holiday as an interruption . and this alerts it to the responsibility of guarding and preserving this withdrawal of being. Terrorism is always “Erschreckenismus. while at first the being was just a being to him: that the being is and that this—beyng—has abandoned and withdrawn from all ‘beings’ and what appears as such” (GA 65: 15/11. Terror puts being into beings. To preserve it is to insist upon a moment of concealment in technological circulation. would be a memory of being. one sees that there is no being behind beings and that what befalls beings befalls being as well. Terror is the feeling of a bond with being.   199 Heidegger states that the effects of this hesitation are “sprayed” forth. Beyng trembles. in some sense. Seizing upon terror in this manner. and for Heidegger it provides a retreat from the onrush of the standing-reserve: “Terror lets the human retreat before this. for the American. Because the presence of withdrawal in beings can only be experienced as a trembling. terror can teach us this. What is terrifying is that America withstands the onslaught of Americanism. Terror. But terror would not be at all attuned to this if beyng and its abandoned beings were to retain a separate and distinct identity. the “reality of that country” may be seen and the “question of being” finally posed as the question of being. from no single. not of something that ever took place.17 The withdrawal of beyng sets up a resonance that lacks any substantial stability—a resonance between beings and the withdrawn beyng. This is another way in which modern or Clausewitzian opposition is overcome for Heidegger. one that persists in the face of a withdrawn being and participates in that same withdrawal.” In the 1941/42 lecture course devoted to Hölderlin’s hymn to memory and commemoration. self-present origin. The resonance that Heidegger describes is such that there are no resonating poles to support it. tm). The terrified one accords with being and this means that. terror is the fundamental mood of the age. that the being is.” Heidegger returns to terror in a context that stresses its non-operative or extra-economic character. but of taking-place as such. in a sense. the bond of the citizens of the homeland America. “Andenken. and that this spraying is attunement (Stimmung): “Attunement is the spraying forth of the trembling of beyng as enowning in Da-sein” (GA 65: 21/16. The intimacy (Innigkeit) that Heidegger stresses here and elsewhere between trembling and enowning should not be lost on us. This bond of terror is at the same time the bond of the citizenry. tm). due to their strong intimacy. a blind spot before its infinite eye. This remarking of being is terror.

em). The essencing of beyng means that beings are not completely given over to unconcealment. Since terror attends to the withdrawal of beyng . and to find it there is to retreat from the all too common theatrics of presence. etc. Terror is a transformation of the everyday that nevertheless exceeds the everyday. The covering of the uncommon is a ruse that Heidegger identifies with his own version of the “as if. Terror is an interruption of the play of presence. by the fact that it experienced beings as uncommon without recourse to a previously understood horizon of conventional commonality. and we are heedless of it.” In the abandonment of Seyn. In either case there is a belonging to the uncommon.200  . or else even terror” (GA 52: 75). the uncommon is the veiling of being. as though beyng did not essence. the festival begins through a measured reserve and keeping to oneself (Heidegger’s terms are Innehalten and Ansichhalten).” and “beings are now taken for all that is. Rather. as if beyng did not essence [als ob Seyn nicht weste]. tm. holidays are not “days off ” for him. 196/169. particular beings appear “as objects and as present-at-hand. Just as wonder distinguished itself from amazement. This “coming-to-oneself ” is a freeing of one’s essence which brings one before the appearance of the uncommon (cf.  of the everyday. so too does terror need no recourse to the common. they are simply there at our disposal to be distributed and employed as we see fit. GA 52: 74–75). But beyng does essence and beings only appear as objects. Such present-at-hand objects have nothing wondrous about them. em. “Wonder begins. the being of beings was uncommon. tm. wherein uncommon being wears the robes of commonality. far rather. Not yet because complete unconcealment is what endangers beings and being.” a locution Heidegger repeats in the 1937/38 lecture course: “It is almost as if beings have been abandoned by beyng. The uncommon can only be found in the common. as if beyng and the truth of beyng were nothing” (GA 65: 115/81. For wonder. at least not yet. At the moment where one collects oneself for the holiday. and not. And what is it that is uncommon? “The uncommon concentrates itself in this: that beings exist at all. nothing” (GA 52: 75). for terror. This veiling institutes a situation of terror and trembling. But Heidegger will not find the essence of the holiday to depend upon the presence of the workday. It bears witness to an ever more thickly veiled withdrawal. admiration. em. the latter understood as the reign of utility and useful work. tm. Such a chiaroscuro of presence and withdrawal is represented as pure presence. GA 45: 185/159.

” or rather. and sensitivity to this slender fissure in the bulk of presence is enough to transpose the world. Beings exist “as if ” beyng did not essence. the lie of full presence. At the end of the Basic Questions lecture course. back into the openness of the rush of self-concealment. and for a thinking of terrorism this question is key (see GA 45: 189/163). With the abandonment of beyng. Terror breaks the commonality of things. If terror belongs to being. puts a halt to our everyday manner of taking beings for granted as present and at our disposal: “Terror is a retreat from the routine [Geläufigkeit] of dealings with the familiar [Vertrauten]. but this terror is now the trace of beyng. terror knows that the real is ever only as if real. Heidegger wonders whether withdrawal does not belong to the essence of beyng. What if terror belonged to being? Terror would testify to the withdrawal of being and between the testimony of terror and the withdrawn being to which it testifies. . then being would truly be gone. Such a thing has become obvious” (GA 45: 197/169. This posturing of beings. the very distance marking withdrawal. then terror is not separated from being nor without relation to it. is what terror discovers. terror is an interruption in the ordinary and everyday state of affairs wherein what comes to presence is unquestionably taken for pure presence. in which openness the hitherto routine [Geläufige] proves itself to be at once estranging [das Befremdliche] and confining” (GA 65: 15/11. for “abandonment” implies a separation from what was once bound. Instead. an abandonment that sets us firmly within the fully machinational unworld of technology. Terror is an indignation at the posturing of being. If terror did not belong to being.   201 via an experience of the unconcealment of beings. terror retreats before withdrawal. Where wonder gazed upon being. We are left with our terror. The posturing in question here should likewise be heard as yet another modification of stellen. We would be wrong even to speak here of an “abandonment” of being. that a being is. a disbanding. If the terror of beings did not belong to being. if terror did not belong to being. Terror is sensitive to the difference between the real and the “as if. there is an aping of presence through technology. There would be only oblivion. The first draft of a lecture from the Basic Questions course is quite clear on this: “The wonder of being can no longer be encountered. Terror retreats before the common in order to view it as uncommon and self-concealing. there would be neither testament to being nor even being. the affectation. there would be a span of distance. tm). tm). the impossible. beyng only seems to have left without a trace.

The circulation of the standing-reserve sets an equivalence of value among things with a resulting worldlessness where existence is another name for exchangeability. and the distinction between war and peace falls away in their mutual commitment to furthering the cycle of production and consumption. The exchanged and replaceable things are already replaced and exchanged.” Verwüstung—of the world. Certainly terrorism is not the only “effect” of this absence . Terror ends in this. there can be no doubt about that. It trembles. not serially. The absence in question is not an absence of presence. The modern configuration of war is surpassed by the technological plan of homogenized circulation.202  . too. and terror in its trembling corresponds to that trace. yet there would be no possibility of a threat were it not for being. “becoming-desert. Terrorism names this absence. The abandonment of being that forms this unworld by draining the world of its being does not occur without a trace. They are not fully present when here.  Nothing stable. and there is no commemoration. We flee from it. this juncture in being itself must be followed and traced. We respond to it with a hardening of our own ways. Terrorism is metaphysical because it touches everything. The Threat of Being Terrorism will take place in the withdrawal of beyng. just a forgetting. terrorism is always born in the desert. every particular being. The commemorative aspect of terror allows us to remember the fallen and understand how they can still be with us today in our American way of being. since here we are not dealing with an absence that could be the effect of any loss of presence. which is to say it is that absence itself. in the unworld of machination. or rather is the effect of this absence. They all stand under a very real threat of destruction via terrorist acts. however. but essentially. Terrorism necessarily results from such a devastation—or. Terror takes a situation that looks hopelessly doomed and finds the essential within it. all of which may be attacked and annihilated. This change in the nature of being shows itself in the fact that all beings today are terrorized. but terror contains its own demise. but an absence in and through presence. we reaffirm the identity of being instead of opening ourselves to others. There would be no terrorist threat were it not for these terrorists. The American response to terror has been one of Americanism. III. It would be ridiculous to think that such a change in being would lack a corresponding change in beings.

from no outside source. Since there are no marks that would betray a place. is distinct from that of atomic war. they would remain extant. Everything is a possible target. terrorism is itself a metaphysical determination of being. the commonness of the everyday. the threat of terrorism targets everything. person. but as the essence of the being itself. destruction inhabits the being and does so. Beings exist as endangered. or thing as possible location or victim of terrorist assault. and this is the very terror of it. Beings are henceforth as though destroyed. not the attack. this destruction does not reside outside of the being. beings exist as already destroyed. Terror brings about an alteration in the very mode of being of reality. But this should not be taken to mean that there are discrete beings. not as something superadded to the being. The ineradicable threat of destruction transforms the nature of the being itself. of something and nothing. now threatened with destruction. and this regardless of whether an attack comes or not. Terrorism attacks precisely where we would not expect an attack because it targets the basis for our sense of security. terrorism operates at the level of threat. This means that there is nothing we can do to avoid it. in terms of pure presence. It comes from within our safest regions. as terrorized. The point . and this means as no longer purely self-present. Like the threat of nuclear war. with no chance of distinguishing potential from nonpotential targets. fully present. It means that. Destruction exists now as threat. the beings would be nothing. in terms of presences and absences. as possibly destroyed. actually has nothing terrifying about it. The being can no longer exist as indifferent to its destruction. Heidegger frequently refers to the atomic bomb in precisely this regard. the change has already taken place. Reality is already terrorized. Insofar as it calls into question all beings. nor is it something that may or may not already have taken place. Destruction is not something that comes at a later date. there is no way that we can be prepared for it.   203 in presence. the real is now the terrorized. Like the atomic bomb. This manner of thinking. and this now means that all beings exist as possible targets. Terrorism makes everything a possible object of terrorist attack. Terrorism is a threat to the ordinary and the common. in the second. however. In the first case. This means that terrorism is able to threaten us where we are most unsuspecting. An outside terrorist power would either annihilate beings or not annihilate beings. The effectiveness of terror lies in the threat. Terrorism’s claim. Instead.

The older man objects to this designation as senseless—it would be like claiming that space is really the spatial—and the younger man tells him that his objection results from his still thinking of evil as the morally reprehensible. Art. Böse. This terrorism is nothing that blows up beings into nothingness. Heidegger provides us with a further way of conceptualizing the threat of terrorism.204  . as Heidegger makes painfully clear in the dialogue’s dated postlude: “On a day that the world celebrates its victory / and does not yet realize that / for centuries already. GA 77: 207). The younger man cautions that evil here cannot be understood as a moral bad but. the day of Germany’s capitulation in World War II. the statement “evil is the malevolent” gains in significance. When we think evil otherwise. views everything in black and white terms. But this threat is stronger than any terrorist attack ever could be.”18 What threatens here is not the world war. so much so that this fury in a certain manner con- . The world wars. are only the result of more “global” changes. “inside” our walls. of evil. “The malevolent is the rebelliousness [Aufrührerische] which is based in fury [Grimmigen]. it is the victim / of its own upsurgence” (GA 77: 240). The consideration of evil that follows will slowly unfold the logic behind the terrorist threat and reveal the error in the older man’s concern with annihilation. a way that is likewise attentive to the conjunction of interiority and terror. as what he calls “the malevolent” (das Bösartige. The German term Bösartige designates what it names as a kind or a sort. we are to understand.  is almost Epicurean. Evil is to be thought from out of the malevolent (bösartig). as we have seen. dated 8 May 1945. but rather one that places them in danger and only threatens to destroy them. but in the terror that the enemy is already here with us. The threat in the camp is that the devastation of the earth will continue without end and that there will be an annihilation of the human essence in the process. annihilation is nothing to us. His remarks are found in a posthumously published dialogue between an older man and a younger man. of transmogrifications of ontology. The terror of terrorism is not located in the fear of an external power. this is the epitome of evil. in a sense it is a generic term. somewhat paradoxically. For the older man. if even that name still holds. “the devastation of the earth and the annihilation of the human essence that goes along with it are somehow evil itself [das Böse selbst]” (GA 77: 207). threatening the homogeneity of the home. where such a moral thinking. and entitled “Evening Conversation in a Prisoner of War Camp in Russia between a Younger and an Older Man.

but to evil as such we can have no access. Malevolence is thus the uprising of fury out of a concealed inner fury. this want of evil is driven forth all the stronger. Evil wants out. but fury itself bears an inner fury. to be sure. It is simply not present. though this inward wrath does not show itself directly. as read by Heidegger. The best that can be said for it is that evil is malevolent. tm). There are different sorts of evil and different kinds of evil actions. Which is to say that evil is not real or effective. Evil lies in the fact that there is always more wrath to unleash. the withholding character of evil (malevolence) makes clear that the essence of evil lies in the threat of a wrathful outbreak. there is always the threat of more wrath to come. or rather.   205 ceals its inward wrath [Ingrimm]. is often as though it were nothing” (GA 77: 208). and it is this same staging of presence that Heidegger had previously discussed in regards to the beings of machination. its withholding prevents all that. but thereby constantly threatens at the same time” (GA 77: 207–8). Because the wrath never completely breaks out. that reality itself is not real. but is found on both sides of a line describing withholding. a . This withholding is why the younger man objects to the original definition of evil. as we have seen above. and it is the essence of evil. Fury would now seem to lie at the root of evil. Evil is never itself fully or completely present and made public. rather it is always also withheld. it is a transposition or movement across a boundary. and by being held in. This is malevolence. Second. Reality is the disguise of evil. it is no surprise that the operative logic. still disguises itself and which. a tale told by the prefixes under consideration here: from the In of inward wrath to the Auf of the upheaval of fury. and which. the evil in question here is nothing simply present. As we are dealing here with an evil of technology and machination. First. in the usual sense of these terms. Evil does not let itself be grasped and categorized in complete detail. Malevolence is a “stirring up” or an “upheaval” of rebelliousness that arises from fury. in its hidden threat. “The essence of evil is the inward wrath of a rebellion which never entirely breaks out. Two points are to be drawn from this. which objectively present themselves “as if beyng did not essence” (GA 65: 115/81. an inner wrath. Not that fury maintains a simple identity. when it does break out. not in that outbreak itself. as the parties soon come to agree. It is this very inability to completely unleash itself—for presence to ever be fully present— that frustrates evil and angers it further. is Nietzschean.

” Heidegger claims that annihilation is precisely the agenda of America in regards to the “homeland. pure absence. Mere annihilation sweeps aside all things including even nothingness. annihilation is far less of a concern than devastation: “Devastation is more uncanny than mere annihilation [bloße Vernichtung]. Such an absence would not be reached by devastation (Verwüstung). the homeland. this willful evil devastates the world.206  ..  logic of power and self-empowerment.19 This evil. tm). Annihilation as a thought of total absence is a thought from metaphysics. infuriated to the point of crossing the bounds of its own fury. The desert is not the complete absence of world. this is a process that befalls the world.. “The being of an age of devastation would then consist in the abandonment of being” (GA 77: 213). slowly dissolving it of worldliness and rendering it an “unworld” (cf. During another lecture course on Hölderlin. however.).” then the lifeless desert is the being-less desert. which knows no end and is only enraged by its frustration. but rather by annihilation (Vernichtung). The older man recognizes this willful component in evil: “If. then I would almost say that the malevolent would be something willful [Willensmäßiges]” (GA 77: 208. and therefore increasingly more wrathful. 104. A new boundary is then set. a sandy expanse that seemingly extends without end. Devastation (Verwüstung) is the process by which the world becomes a desert (Wüste). this time in 1942 on the hymn “The Ister. . It is one with a thinking of pure presence: pure presence. etc. that is. i.e.20 If we follow the dialogue in thinking an ancient Greek notion of “life” as another name for “being. As we have seen. only in order that it too might soon be crossed in this expansionist metaphysics of the will. and purely no contact between them. it remains a world. GA 7: 88. which is in itself furious [in sich ergrimmt ist] about its own wrath. Yet this unworld is not simply the opposite of world./EP. and for Heidegger. em). 92f. without landmarks or direction. while devastation on the contrary orders [bestellt] and spreads everything that blocks and prevents” (WHD. The world that becomes a lifeless desert is consequently an unworld from which being has withdrawn. The limit of the will is set in order that it might be transgressed and that the domain of the will may be expanded in the process.” which is here equated with Europe: “We know today that the Anglo-Saxon world of Americanism has resolved to annihilate [zu vernichten] Europe. and is devoid of all life. a logic of the will. 107f. The older prisoner makes this connection explicit. 11/29–30. but a world made desert. evil rests in malevolence.

even being itself in regards to beyng—these are so many ways of being’s self-showing. This possibility of destruction is its indestructible character. Being is found only in these situations. It threatens itself with annihilation. in a perverse sense. This same reasoning explains why the older man’s original conception of evil had to be rethought. There would be nothing left to protect and guard. Without limit. being is malevolent. a point Heidegger makes in the Contributions to Philosophy. the ontic. tm). it places itself in danger. Annihilation would bring respite and. it is something much worse. Being is not evil. the unworld. but you will never annihilate it. Evil is the “devastation of the earth and the annihilation of the human essence that goes along with it” (GA 77: 207). America resolves to annihilate and condemns itself to failure in so doing. for the origin is “indestructible. in the . America is the agent of a malevolent being. The inceptual is indestructible [unzerstörbar]” (GA 53: 68/54. where being’s “self-showing” is not to be understood as though beyng somehow remained behind all of these surrogates and was imaged in them. he said. The older man agrees. nothing left to concern ourselves with—nothing left to terrorize. the desert of the unworld spreads. for they are the same. metaphysics. The younger man is able to voice the monstrous conclusion of this thinking of devastation: “Then malevolence. too much of an “Americanism. Devastation is also irreparable.   207 and that means: the inception of the Western world. but brings about something worse. but this annihilation is simply too easy. relief. no salvation can arrive for it.21 This is so much as to say that all of the supposed enemies of being—technology. “Here. as which devastation occurs [sich ereignet]. with both total absence and total presence. ever worsening and incessantly urging itself to new expressions of malevolence.” The human essence is not annihilated in evil—who could care about that? Instead it is destroyed and devastated by evil. Malevolent being is a being that threatens. em). Americanism names the endeavor or resolution to drive the destruction of the world ever further into the unworld. America is the agent of technological devastation. 215. It can always be further destroyed. Devastation does not annihilate.” We could take this a step further and claim that only because the origin cannot be annihilated is it possible to destroy it. “being would be in the ground of its essence malevolent” (GA 77: 215). and it operates under the assumptions of presence and absence that it itself is so expert at dissembling. would indeed remain a basic characteristic of being itself ” (GA 77: 213.

Security and assurance. security is to be found within the danger and threat of being. IV. so too is there no sense in talking about being by itself: there is only malevolent beyng. 30/13). Obviously. Salvation and the mathematical certainty of nature are themselves to be understood as instances of an ontological assurance against uncertainty. or in conceptions of alterity. If being is what threatens then security as the absence of terror would be the absence of being. Security for Sure There can be no security. in the quest for the certainty of salvation. tm). If beings exist in the shadow of a threatened annihilation. what is sought is the assurance of man in nature.208  . Instead. both equally apt translations of the German Sicherung. and ontological. Heidegger provides a brief history of this relation between security and certainty: “the quest for certainty appears first in the domain of faith. sensible. 30/14). beyng is the most non-ordinary. Heidegger unites these two concerns for certainty within a single concept: assurance (Sicherung). Being is endangered and withdrawn in essence. are indissociable from certainty (Gewißheit) for Heidegger. This is his fourth contribution to a thinking of terrorism. in the sensible. being itself is what terrorizes. then in the domain of physics as the search for the mathematical certainty of nature (Galileo)” (VS. and if such an existence is an existence in terror.  unavoidable ordinariness of beings.22 Certainty is in the service of assurance or security and is only the epistemological aspect of a greater ontological condition of security. super-sensible. Just as we saw that there is no sense in talking about evil in itself. In the course of the 1968 seminar in Le Thor. But how? Heidegger likewise provides us endangered ones with a way of thinking security and preservation. Terror is the threat of being. and this estranging of beyng is not a manner of its appearing but rather it itself ” (GA 65: 230/163. . then. as reprehensible as this might sound. But the absence of being is precisely the threat. Security is freedom from uncertainty in all of its forms. “In the quest for mathematical certainty. security is just as little to be found in the absence of danger as it is in the consummation of the danger. as the search for the certainty of salvation (Luther). total annihilation. what is sought is the assurance of man in the supra-sensible world” (VS. Ontological uncertainty would be found in conceptions of singularity. where the uniqueness of a thing renders it irreplaceable and thus opens us to the possibility of loss.

Such a policy must be abandoned as the human becomes more and more a piece of the standing-reserve like everything else. and this fact lies at the center of our conception of security today. in a paradoxical manner. is required” (GA 7: 89–90/EP. imagined as a world of utter transparency where all resources. the securing of representations for representational thinking provided the backdrop for the arrival of certainty (see GA 7: 82. “means the securing of the human being by itself and for itself ” (GA 67: 167). 105. 98). Uncertainty in this broader sense is eliminated in security. are constantly surveilled and traced through their paths of circulation. Security is only possible when everything works according to these plans. The mathematical modeling of things. is paradigmatic for the disappearance of identifiably discrete beings under the rule of technology. The plan’s success is assured from the outset. 30–31/13–14). because beings are now in essence planable. EP. Nothing is concealed from this taking of inventory. This postmodern security is accomplished through bestowal and appraisal of value.” whose true function now becomes evident. “Securement. For the plan. Modern metaphysics itself. human and otherwise. “the necessity of ‘leadership’. In this respect.   209 where the other is not anticipated and confined in advance to the strictures of categorical thought. as the obtaining of security. tm). assures us against loss by making the world replaceable. For modern thought. Nothing beyond the thing’s . One is securely insulated against these differences of the world. The demand for security is always a call for such Führers. What is valued can be replaced by something of equal value. with the effect that the mathematical model of the thing is no different from the thing itself. the planned calculation of the securing of the whole of beings. Securement. The model is no longer a representation of what is modeled but. and this requires “leaders. the thing itself. security is nothing other than total availability. Planning is a matter of ensuring the smooth and “frictionless” circulation of resources along channels and pipelines of order and delivery. an operation that Heidegger traces back to Ockham and the nominalist split between word and thing (see VS. is a grounding in valuation” (GA 5: 262/195. tm). according to Heidegger. The mathematical tracking of stock and supplies becomes a total tracking when things have become completely available. The transformation in being coincident with the end of modern warfare likewise puts an end to modern politics and establishes in its place an impersonal commitment to the furthering of planned replacement. that is. as a giving of value.

 mathematical model is recognized. swirling sameness.210  . without remainder. 103–4. since one of the most prominent effects of planning is the elimination of national differences and “homelands. EP. since there is nothing lost in consumption that is not immediately replaced. the standing-reserve threatens to encompass everything in a monotonous. outlining the paths and channels that the standing-reserve will occupy in its compelled obedience to order. and as for “homeland. Everything essential to the thing is contained in the model. there is only the suffocating rush of the standing-reserve along the circuitry of the plan. the distinction between ‘national’ and ‘international’ has also collapsed” (GA 7: 92. There is another Nietzschean intimation in this. tm). it is therefore necessary that beings be consumed and their replacements follow right upon them. Without that spacing. it is a collapse of the distances that made possible representation. The plan makes manifest the self-willing nature of technology. without rest. Such is the truth of the standing-reserve. 107). Order is only secured when there is nothing that resists it. EP. The plan plans for consumption. for “Just as the distinction between war and peace has become untenable. tm). for “They press toward a securing of resources [Bestandsicherung] for a constant form of consumption” (GA 7: 88. the greater is the abandonment of being as it is further enframed within the plan. Without remainder (restlose). in that the plan has no purpose other than to assure its own expansion and increase. according to Heidegger. This is not to be understood as a complaint against internationalism either. in complete disorder. what needs to be added to this view is that there is not one form of government any different. The plan is to protect itself from loss by completely insulating itself from uncertainty.” Any remainder would stand outside of the prevailing order.” it is ever more difficult to conceive of a homeland that would be nationally distinct from another. We have already seen that Heidegger attributes a will to the annihilation of homeland to Americanism. The more secure the world becomes. as would any difference. EP. as Heidegger reads the will to power as a drive to secure and order all chaos. nothing that remains in “disorder. The plan seeks “the ‘all-inclusive’ [restlose] securing of the ordering of order” (GA 7: 92. For the plan to function. This consumption is synonymous with replacement. Homeland security is thus an oxymoron. each is run by leaders: .” Security itself is precisely the planned elimination of differences. 107. The world wars have pointed towards this end.

Homeland security. Security is for those who know they can be injured. only serve to further drive the world towards its homogenized state. To be secure. this uniformity also conditions everywhere in advance of all national differences the uniformity of leadership [Führerschaft]. threatens difference and boundaries as such. when not completely outmoded. EP. for which all forms of government are only one instrument of leadership among others. an order which it subjugates to the will to will. for those who can be damaged. If a threat is not perceived. is nothing opposed to terrorism. The absence of this threat would be the absence of being. can only appear as commodified quaintness. but antinational or. rather. in their attempt to secure the world against terrorism. but rather the consummation of its threat. 108. and no one. insofar as it destroys the very thing that it claims to protect. to strain a Heideggerian formulation. Insofar as Americanism represents the attempt to annihilate the “homeland. and this means that it can only be found in a recognition of being as threat. there must be the . Terrorism is everywhere. where “everywhere” no longer refers to a collection of distinct places and locations but instead to a “here” that is the same as there. should be able to alter these carefully constructed ways of life. The homeland. Security is only needed where there is a threat. as every “there.” then under the aegis of the abandonment of being.” The threat of terrorism is not international. The loss of national differences is accordant with the advent of terrorism. unnational. and its consummation would be the absence of being as well. then security can only be found in the acknowledgment of one’s threatened condition. all governments and forms of leadership become Americanism. in which it is only a matter of the calculable security of its order. tm) Government and politics are simply further means of directing ways of life according to plan. National differences fall to the wayside. since terrorism knows no national bounds but. then there is no need for security. Our leaders. neither terrorist nor politician. All governments participate in the eradication of national differences. if one believes oneself invulnerable.   211 The uniformity of beings arising from the emptiness of the abandonment of Being. Ways of life are themselves effects of the plan. and the predominant way of life today is that of an all-consuming Americanism. (GA 7: 93. Does America know that it can be damaged? If security requires a recognition of one’s own vulnerability. The elimination of difference in the standing-reserve along with the elimination of national differences serve to identify the threat of terrorism with the quest for security.

and this threat only threatens when Dasein preserves it in terror. what we are charged to preserve is not so much the present being as the concealment that inhabits it. For this reason. security resides in rest [in der Ruhe] and is itself made superfluous by this. The truth of being is being as threat. to let it maintain an essential concealment. Preserving a thing means to not challenge it forth into technological availability. Dasein is not innocent in the terrorization of being.  threat. true security can only be found in the preservation of the threat of being. For this reason.212  . Dasein participates in the truth (preservation) of being. all of the planned securities that attempt to abolish the threat can never achieve the security they seek. The threat of being goes unheeded when things are restlessly shuttled back and forth. (GA 77: 244)23 . a Heideggerian thinking of terrorism must remain skeptical of all the various measures taken to oppose terrorism. and this inward wrath of being maintains itself in a never-ending supply. and surveilled. monitored. This will can only impose itself upon being. In preserving beings. The will can only devastate the earth. but an opening of being. Rather than approaching the world in terms of resources to be secured. When a thing truthfully is. Heidegger will name this the clearing of the truth (Wahrheit) of being. These are so many attempts to do away with what threatens. On the contrary. harried. Dasein is complicit in it. for there is no isolated subject in preservation. can only draw out more and more of its wrath. then it is preserved. Security requires that we preserve the threat. measures that are themselves in the highest degree willful. Dasein refuses to abolish terrorism. The threat of being is only preserved when things are allowed to rest. It is precisely when we are busy with security measures and the frantic organization of resources that we directly assault the things we would preserve. and this means that we must act in the office of preservers. to root it out or to circumvent it. and it is this clearing that Dasein preserves (bewahrt). That we participate in this essencing of being does not make of it a subjective matter.” security is thought in just such terms: Security (what one understands by this) arises not from securing and the measures taken for this. when it is what it is in truth. In the notes to the “Evening Conversation. As preservers.

what is has already been destroyed. The technological unworld. It is not found in utility. The terror experienced today is a clue to the withdrawal of being. things are free of security measures. which is only to say that it is unnecessary or useless. Instead. They are simply more “slaves of the history of beyng” (GA 69: 209) and. in Heidegger’s eyes. Dasein guards the truth of being in the experience of terror. that the plan will reach everyone everywhere. they no longer determine the being of the thing. Granting this objection despite its obvious naïveté. What is perhaps repugnant to consider in all this is that being calls for terrorism and for terrorists. This between is a world of nonpresence and nonabsence. It thinks what Heidegger calls “the between” (das Zwischen). in other words. the situation of total war. But security cannot do away with the threat. no different from the politicians of the day in service to the cause of Americanism. this is an age of terrorism—then being must call for terrorists. The world is denatured. this is what we have to preserve. the one to ensure its nonabsence. There is no security.   213 The rest in question is a rest from the economic cycling and circulating of the standing reserve. they are preserved. is precisely the era of restlessness (“The term ‘totality’ says nothing more. In resting. but in the preserved state of the useless. hoping there to find security. but not for all that rendered insecure. Security is superfluous here. With the enframing of being and the circulation of standing-reserve. Conclusion Heideggerian thinking is a thinking that thinks away from simple presence and absence. But someone might object. Everything is threatened and the danger only ever increases. Annihilation is impossible for this world and so is security. If being is to terrorize—if. we can nonetheless see that both politicians and terrorists are called for by the standing-reserve. rather it must guard it. the terrorists are murderers and the politicians are not. it names only the spread of the hitherto known into the ‘restless’” [GA 69: 181]). that all beings will now be put into circulation by the . Dasein flees to a metaphysics of presence to escape the threatened world. V. As we have seen. drained of reality. Utility and function are precisely the dangers of a t°xnh that has turned antagonistic towards nature. In rest. being does not linger behind the scenes but is found in the staging itself. and the other to ensure its nonpresence. Terrorism is merely the ugly confirmation of this point.

“human resources” are no different from “livestock. but by preserving the trace of being in its withdrawal.” and with this. Human resources do not die. it places an outrageous demand upon thinking. America is today fighting the shadow of itself. namely to think the essential. it yearns to leap over its shadow and into a state of pure visibility and security. Thinking the essential. then our thinking itself will have to change.  threat of destruction. A first step away from the imposed convenience of Americanism might be heard in the words of the younger man. but to devastatedly think. America’s challenge is to not recognize itself in Americanism and to preserve its difference from this ogre. Insofar as it is Americanism that is identified with technological domination and the spread of the unworld. we are called to let it into thought. they perish. it is nothing “American. this is a thinking that we can never be done with. If we are to think the essential. America is distinct in this because America most faces the challenge of Americanism. a thinking that is never to be accomplished. is also a demand which only arises from the spirit of devastation” (GA 77: 215). For America to believe that it is the driving force behind Americanism is for America to believe that it is in control of being. Terror can teach us this and lead us to preserve what is our own. America is not faced with an outside aggressor. In this regard. not to think devastation. Thinking itself must be devastated and terrorized if we are to think . then it is no wonder that America is the place where the question of terrorism can and must be posed. Rather than think from out of the spirit of devastation. “That this should be easy. a thinking that concerns what can never be thought through. Americanism is a movement of being. America must distinguish itself from Americanism in order to confront Americanism as its ownmost other. The older man says the same thing about malevolence as a basic trait of being. Not by sealing ourselves off from it in a single-minded deafness. Instead of turning from terror.214  . an evil worse than death has already taken place. to think what withdraws in concealment before the total availability of the unworld around us. but with its own photographic negative in Americanism/terrorism. but Americanism.” America’s other is neither Greece nor Rome. Is this to say that we should remain forever terrorized? exist forever in a state of terror? Is this supposed to provide a solution to the problem of terrorism? Surely that would be an outrageous demand (arge Zumutung) to place upon thinking. we are called to respond to it.

attempts to break away from pragmatic-positivistic thinking are being made here and there in the USA. 1992. Translated by Julian Young and Kenneth Haynes under the title Off the Beaten Track (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann. Vorträge und Aufsätze. If America is terrorized. 2nd ed. 1994).” Edited by FriedrichWilhelm von Herrmann. 2nd ed.   215 today.” Edited by Walter Biemel.] Grundfragen der Philosophie: Ausgewälte “Probleme” der “Logik. 2002). But Americanism is nothing more than an epoch of being. perhaps this thinking itself will mark another beginning for America. their success does not require such guarantees. We must hope that in the name of homeland security we do not too obstinately squelch them. To think in this other American manner would be to entertain a new relation to technology. They are still entangled in a thinking.”24 Is such a thinking possible? Could it ever arise in America? Heidegger answers the question directly: : This explicit relationship. it is the withholding of being in its withdrawal from us. Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann. In the face of this withdrawal we are called to think. ABBREVIATIONS TO WORKS OF MARTIN HEIDEGGER Volumes of Gesamtausgabe (GA) GA 5 Holzwege. In the meantime. that fosters technological operating and manipulating but simultaneously blocks the path toward a contemplation of what is characteristic of modern technology. 2nd ed. Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann. 1993. 2003. 2000. Edited by Friedrich-Wilhelm von Herrmann. Such a thinking would attend to the uncommon nature of our present situation before the terrorist threat. Perhaps this is possible nowhere other than America. 2nd ed. do the Americans have it today? : They do not have it either. Translated by William McNeill and Julia GA 7 GA 45 GA 52 GA 53 . pragmatism. [Note: Cited by pagination of the single edition. an American thinking that would not be enslaved to a pragmatic and utilitarian metaphysics. Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann. Translated by Richard Rojcewicz and André Schuwer under the title Basic Questions of Philosophy: Selected “Problems” of “Logic” (Bloomington: Indiana University Press. supplied in margins of the GA.” Edited by Curd Ochwadt.25 There are no guarantees that these attempts will succeed. 1992. Hölderlins Hymne “Der Ister. Hölderlins Hymne “Andenken. Edited by Friedrich-Wilhelm von Herrmann. Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann. what Heidegger calls in the Spiegel interview of 1966 an “explicit relationship” to technology and “to what is happening today and what has been underway for three centuries. then it is terrorized by Americanism.

216  . 8. Glenn Gray under the title What Is Called Thinking? (New York: Harper & Row. Metaphysik und Nihilismus. Edited by Friedrich-Wilhelm von Herrmann.2. 19th ed. 2004). 1973. [Note: Cited by pagination of the single edition. 1994. 215/90. 75. Publishers. 2.1. section number. Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann. Thought. I. 3. p. Translated by J. Single Editions GA 65 GA 67 GA 69 GA 77 GA 79 VS WHD Vier Seminare. Subsequent references will be cited by book. Clausewitz. 4. p. § 15. Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann. § 3. § 13. supplied in margins of the GA. I. (Bonn: Ferd. Publishers. Edited by Petra Jaeger. 1984. Dümmlers Verlag. p. Carl von Clausewitz. NOTES 1. 1968). 955/581. Other English Translations EP The End of Philosophy. 203/82. PLT Poetry.1. with German/English pagination. Clausewitz. Publishers. Clausewitz.1. IV. VIII. Language. Clausewitz. New York: Harper & Row. Clausewitz. 1971.2. 191–192/75. VIII. Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann. Edited by Ingrid Schüßler. 204/83. Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann. 1980). and where applicable. 1998. Translated by Parvis Emad and Kenneth Maly under the title Contributions to Philosophy ( from Enowning) (Bloomington: Indiana University Press. 6. Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann. Bremer und Freiburger Vorträge. 1994. New York: Harper & Row. 5. Werner Hahlweg.ed. 9. 1996). p. Pages 267–407 of GA 15: Seminare. Was Heißt Denken? 4th ed. New York: Harper & Row. pp. 1984). Edited by Hans-Joachim Friedrich. 449/245. 7.  Davis under the title Hölderlin’s Hymn “The Ister” (Bloomington: Indiana University Press. QCT The Question Concerning Technology and Other Essays. 193/76. Edited and Translated by Joan Stambaugh. Clausewitz. 1995. p. §2. chapter. Edited by Curd Ochwadt. 953/579. Edited by Peter Trawny. p. chapter 1. Edited and Translated by Albert Hofstadter. . 1986. 1999). p. Tübingen: Max Niemeyer Verlag. Book I. I. Vom Kriege: Hinterlassenes Werk. 191.8. 2nd ed. 1977. Publishers. p. Clausewitz. Die Geschichte des Seyns.] Translated by Andrew Mitchell and François Raffoul under the title Four Seminars (Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Feldweg-Gespräche. 1999. Edited and translated by William Lovitt. I. Clausewitz. Edited and translated by Michael Howard and Peter Paret under the title On War (Princeton: Princeton University Press. I.2. Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann.2. Beiträge zur Philosophie (Vom Ereignis).

2002). 14. pp. 3 (Leipzig: Verlag von S.. “Abendgespräch in einem Kriegsgefangenenlager in Rußland zwischen einem Jüngeren und einem Älteren..2. with a revised supplement (Oxford: Clarendon Press. Lewis and Short also trace the Latin and Greek forms back to the Sanskrit root tras-. vol. but also. the entire history of Western philosophy has been a history of the will. The conversation partners even suggest that the earthly conception of a desert would be merely an “insufficiently thought out representation” of the devastating processes that have here come to light (see GA 77: 212). I.” in ibid. and that communism is fundamentally shaped by the power of technology. 20. for Heidegger.” in A Latin Dictionary. of spirit.” See “Erschecken.2. Four years later. 1996). of reason.” Terror names a trembling resonance. at a later point in the dialogue we find out. from schrecken. Hirzel. from itself. Caleb Carr’s historically detailed and earnest book The Lessons of Terror: A History of Warfare Against Civilians: Why it Has Always Failed and Why it Will Fail Again (New York: Random House. tremble. 22. It is for this reason that I translate Erschrecken by “terror” rather than follow Emad and Maly’s choice of “startled dismay. Schrecken means “to make jump” and to bring about “a violent movement of the disposition [gemütsbewegung]. ed. VIII. perhaps. 18. See “terror” in The Oxford English Dictionary. See the entry “terreo. is identi- . 217 16.” which can mean to frighten. 9th ed. the human. Clausewitz. of love.. for its part. insofar as it is a mode of assurance and security. 215/90–91. The younger man in the labor camp has already made known his aversion for thinking evil morally. Hirzel. Communism may well be just more Americanism. Our word “terror” is derived from the Latin infinitive “terrere.   10. to drive away by terror or fright (here the affiliation with withdrawal). when used transitively. Martin Heidegger. p. is transformed into a desert [Wüste]” (GA 77: 211). 21. by paraphrases. 1899) and “Schrecken. “ÉAg¤bas¤h. the reason behind such views. the world. Dr.” Cf. 2nd edition.. 9 (Leipzig: Verlag von S. the danger [Das Seyn ist in sich aus sich für sich die Gefahr schlechthin]” (GA 79: 54). 11. but instead that which grounds the essence of the soul. Henry George Liddell and Robert Scott et al. The conversation partners go so far as to claim that the will itself would be evil (GA 77: 208). according to the unanimous. Moriz Heyne et al. The strength of this statement is clear when we consider that Russia is largely identical with communism. I. but scarcely pondered doctrine of Western thinkers” (GA 77: 78). the earth. Modified translations are indicated by “tm. “The empowering of power in and by unconditioned machination is the essence of ‘communism’” (GA 69: 191).2.” Heidegger expresses the thought of being as malevolent in terms of danger. 15. By talking around it. “‘Devastation’ [Verwüstung] means to us that everything. in the Bremen lecture “The Danger. we avoid being claimed by it. Charlton T. Clausewitz. ed. As for the German erschrecken.” where the wise man states that “With the word ‘will’ I actually mean no faculty of the soul. vol. which also agrees with the motif of withdrawal. see key to abbreviations. Grimm supplies the Latin translation of “terrere” for both. 952/579. Not limited to religion.” in Feldweg-Gespräche. for itself. For parenthetical references. ed. in A Greek-English Lexicon. Lewis and Charles Short (Oxford: Clarendon Press. a view voiced in another dialogue of the period. of life. p.” added emphasis by “em. 1879) and tr°v. “Beyng is plainly in itself. assurance is to be found in morality as such. Morality. 13. The Latin terrere.” in Deutsches Wörterbuch von Jacob Grimm und Wilhelm Grimm. trasami. 19. goes back to the Greek tr°v. an even stronger claim when we consider that for Heidegger. 1862). Clausewitz. meaning to flee from fear. 17. 215/90. 12. GA 77: 203–45.

p. and with it all the particular attempts through morality to place the people within the prospect of a world order and to posit world-security within certainty. The citation continues (GA 77: 244): But what Where is Where is Where is is rest without that wherein the resting one rests? there to rest. for its part. 81–114. “it could be that morality. ed. Translated by Lisa Harries with Joachim Neugroschel under the title Martin Heidegger and National Socialism (New York: Paragon House. See “The Spiegel Interview with Martin Heidegger.” 105–6/61. 1988). Günther Neske and Emil Kettering (Tübingen: Verlag Günther Neske.  cal to evil. 105. 23.218  .” in Antwort: Martin Heidegger im Gespräch. 1990). without a belonging in the proper? such a belonging without enownment [Ereignung]? enownment without enowning? 24. 41–66. . 61. em. would also be only a monstrous product [Ausgeburt] of evil” (GA 77: 209). 25. According to the younger man. p. “The Spiegel Interview with Martin Heidegger.

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