Pure War


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“We tried to reveal a number of important tendencies: the question of speed; speed as the essence of war; technology as the producer of speed; war as logistics, not strategy; endocolonization; deterrence; ultimate weapons; Pure War.”

The publication of Pure War in 1983 introduced Virilio’s thought to the United States, and has since remained one of the most influential and far-reaching essays of our time. Pure War names the invisible war that technology is waging against humanity. For Virilio, the foremost philosopher of speed, the “technical surprise” of World War I was the discovery that the wartime economy could not be sustained unless it was continued during peacetime. As a consequence, the distinction between war and peace ceased to apply, inaugurating the military-industrial complex and the militarization of science itself.

In this dazzling dialogue with Sylvère Lotringer, Paul Virilio displays, for the first time, the entire range of his reflections on the effects of speed on our civilization. Every new invention casts a long shadow that we are loathe to acknowledge in the name of progress: the invention of automobiles inaugurated car-crashes; the invention of nuclear energy, Hiroshima and Chernobyl. But the technologies of instant communications have invented another kind of accident: the extermination of space and the de-realization of time. Instant feedback is shrinking the planet to nothing, and “globalization” is its ultimate accident.

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