Friday, May 02, 2003

The World Trade Center was a remarkably suitable target for the attack of September 11. It was one of the main symbols of New York City, and one of the main symbols of American economic might. Its size and location made it relatively easy to hit with planes. The thing that struck me from the beginning, however, was how unimportant it was. Sure it was worth a lot of money, and thousands of people worked there, many of them for major American corporations. If you look at the list of tenants, however, most of them are not major Establishment companies (tenant lists: North Tower here and here and here; South Tower here and here and here; Building 4; Building 5; Building 6; Building 7). For those that were, the offices in the towers were not their main offices, but tended to be the offices that did things like computing and bond trading and paper shuffling. There were no major figures from American finance killed in the attack, and the head offices of no real 'players' were affected. The single largest tenant was the very establishment (think House of Morgan) Morgan Stanley (whose slogan 'One client at a time' sounds more like a threat, and who was recently in the news for getting caught and being arrogant about it), who lost all of seven employees, and whose head offices are in midtown Manhattan. The other major tenants are some insurance firms (insurance was a big loser in the attacks) and the big loser, because it had almost all its employees on the floors that were directly hit, Cantor Fitzgerald (Salomon Smith Barney had a lot of offices in Building 7, but I assume it was not expected that the buildings around the WTC would be as damaged as they were). The World Trade Center was built by the Rockefellers as a method of developing the southern end of Manhattan and making a lot of money in a crony-capitalist deal with the Port Authority, and the major Wall Street banks, underwriters and accounting and law firms never moved there. There was always a physical gap between the complex around the towers and the traditional Wall Street Establishment. There are many relatively smaller and older and less famous buildings in and around Wall Street whose destruction would have had a much more important effect on the American economy than the WTC. In fact, the financiers tended to use the WTC for work that they would have far rather done in the cheaper New Jersey, but couldn't move for political reasons. Suddenly, they had a perfect opportunity and excuse to move, and the whole thing was paid for by insurance. Sweet. The World Trade Center was a combination of symbolism and unimportance. Its loss serves as the basis for the new American fascism, and any losses to the traditional American Establishment, mostly covered by insurance, will be returned as profits many times over in the new American Empire. In fact, largely hiding behind the uproar over the 'war on terrorism', the Bush Administration is attempting to return the United States to its state during the days of the Robber Barons over 100 years ago, when the fortunes of the Establishment were made. The extreme reductions in personal liberty based on the excuse of fighting terrorism serve to cover the equally important extreme class warfare being fought by the Bush Administration. The sacrifice of the World Trade Center was a small price to pay to enter the new Robber Baron era.