Letter from New York.
Did September 11 reinforce the centrality of New York in the global imaginary, or did it, rather, mark the symbolic end of New York as the centre of the world? In a perverse way, it seems to have done both: the assault on the World Trade Towers was clearly an assault on the symbols of global capital, but it also showed that even hegemonic powers are vulnerable. Americans speak of their loss of innocence, echoing the rhetoric of previous shocks — the Cuban missile crisis, the war in Vietnam — but the world they inhabit is rather different from that of the Cold War. It is unlikely that any country has ever enjoyed such unrivalled economic and military power while remaining so untouched by the world they dominate. The paradox is that the country most responsible for promoting globalisation is at the same time the country least touched by the flow of ideas that globalisation represents.