What students watched on September 11, 2001 was a social and political disaster. Watching the events unfold was a lot less existential and a lot more practical because it is a disaster that will have a far greater impact on their world-and they, in turn, can affect that impact.
In the next months and years, we as a society will rethink everything from privacy to business organizations to architecture. Businesses will look at Morgan Stanley's experience-occupying much of the World Trade Center-and think again about the virtues of further decentralization of operations. Just as architecture in the 1970s seemed to respond to the turmoil of the 1960s (consider the fortress-like administration building at the University of Michigan or the FBI building in Washington), we may see architecture change in the future. A...
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...nder siege" just because there was armed military in the city. For those of who have lived in places through sustained periods of terrorism-like Paris during a bit of the 1980s or long stretches of time in Jerusalem-this seems an overstatement.
A democratic, civil society like ours-with rich procedural protections and robust civil rights-can survive a lot. There is only one thing a civil society cannot survive. In the words of the political philosopher John Rawls "If we are to remain free and equal citizens, we cannot afford a general retreat into private life." Not on September 11, not tomorrow, not ever.
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