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Two events that happened on September the 11th – one in 2001, and one in 1973 – shape the world we live in today.

The terrorist attack on the US on September the 11th 2001 lead to the War on Terror, which more than anything else shapes our world today. All policy has been changed and refracted through this prism, but perhaps the most important legacy is growing authoritarianism from the state. The events of 9/11 have been used by governments to justify increased surveillance, and restrictions on the democratic right to protest. The NSA and GCHQ spying revelations are a direct consequence of this, as is the increasingly heavy-handed policing of protest around the world.

The other important legacy is a break down in trust between politicians and citizens. Millions marched against the Iraq war, and yet we went to war anyway: our governments ignored the will of their citizens. To make matters worse, they lied to us. This has contributed to a democratic deficit, growing cynicism and a disengagement from formal politics.

On September the 11th 1973, the left-leaning, democratically elected government of Salvador Allende in Chile was overthrown in a military coup by Augusto Pinochet – a great friend of the Conservative Party in the UK – with the support of the CIA. Allende’s moderate, Keynesian social democracy had begun to improve the lives of the majority in Chile – which was something the West, in the midst of the Cold War – was not prepared to accept.

The CIA supported coup is also the fist time the economic policy of neoliberalism was tried on a country – with disastrous results. Since then, the formula of state violence plus neoliberal economics has been applied over and over again, massively increasing inequality and undoing social progress. The austerity programmes currently playing out in Europe are just the latest iteration of this.


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