This article is a foretaste of outrage to come.
There is no serious y2k problem. There is only the problem of survivalists, mostly Americans. So says an American writer in the far-left British newspaper, THE GUARDIAN.
We are not threatened by objectively bad code. There are only subjective responses. This outlook is typical of modern thought. It makes everything subjective if it possibly can (except one's opponents, who are objectively evil).
First, you begin with a falsehood -- a big, preposterous falsehood. This disarms your trusting readers. Here is the falsehood: y2k is about survivalism. Survivalism constitutes the vast majority of everything written about y2k: not fixing it, but surviving it. (Would that this were so!) The author writes: "But the vast majority of the information and speculation I found has little to do with fixing the problem. No, most people appear more concerned with surviving an inevitable crisis of biblical proportions, by any means necessary."
I spend 20 to 30 hours a week working on this site. I have since January, 1997. Mine is the most comprehensive site on y2k. There are more categorized y2k-related documents here than anywhere else. You can read them. Almost none of them have to do with survivalism.
Next falsehood: "Although fans of apocalypse have always looked for any excuse to expect the worst, the millennium bug has provoked an unprecedented amount of doomsday scenario planning from otherwise rational people."
Unprecedented? Nonsense. Why can I buy all the solar cells I can afford? All the deep cycle batteries? All the .357 magnum rounds?
The author intends to demonize his enemies. Those few of us who are concerned with personal survival will be subject to abuse by those who refuse to admit that this society is trapped by the Millennium Bug. These critics are apologists for the status quo in the broadest sense, and they hate the suggestion that decades of building up their wealth and power are about to be shut down all over the world by a technical glitch. They are about to go bankrupt. Everything they worked for is going to come a cropper, and they are furious that survivalists have reminded them of this fact.
Tough luck, guys, but the system is going to go down on your watch. We're going to keep reminding you and the general public of this fact for decades to come. You did it. You allowed it. You ignored it for 40 years. You got the benefits of it. And you're going to pay the political price. That price will be total.
The welfare/warfare State is going down. Goodbye, social democracy. Sayonara, New Deal. So long, New World Order. Hasta la vista, establishment.
Just keep whistling in the dark, fellows. Keep writing nonsense like this: "In truth, the Y2K crisis — if there is one — will probably be fuelled more by this sort of panic than lapses in technology. Even if the banking system were to shut down for a week, almost everyone could survive on what they have." Right. All banks will close for one week, all over the world. No problem. Everyone will still trust them the next week. No panic at all! No bank runs. No collapse. Business as usual. Paychecks as usual.
This man writes of an international banking catastrophe as if it were a temporary shortage of pipe tobacco in the faculty lounge.
"The real opportunity here is to resist the temptation to withdraw — not just from banks but from society itself." Notice the urban sophisticate's assumption: leaving the city = leaving society. You know the kinds of people who live in the country. They go to church. They have manure on their shoes. They work with their hands. They haven't been to graduate school. They want government regulators to stay off their land. They're private property bigots.
What this writer wants is social engineering. His opponents -- those few souls who are leaving the cities --"don’t understand enough about people to engineer a co-operative." More to the point, we don't want to know. We are tired of the power-hungry social engineers who have used State power and stolen our tax money to engineer far more than co-operatives since 1930.
Politics involves the crucial art of taking credit and handing out blame. In times of great crisis, incumbents lose. In times of social breakdown, whole establishments lose for generations. The author is trying to establish blame in advance. He will fail. Nobody in 2000 is going to believe that a handful of American militia members caused the y2k collapse. On the contrary, they will believe that scriblers like him, who refused to tell the truth and sound a warning, caused the problem.
Blame will indeed be handed out in 2000 and after. Power will shift to rural society in 2000 for a long, long time. The author -- who will then be unemployed -- will have to face a new reality: the people with manure on their shoes have the food, and he and his urban peers will not. That will make all the difference.
The author is an Eastern mystic of some variety, though pro-technology. It is interesting that he was
interviewed a year ago by Rebecca Eisenberg, one of the few journalists in the world who has gone into print saying that
y2k will be a non-event.
* * * * * * * *
“They’ll come at night — especially if you’ve got an electric lamp glowing somewhere, a dead giveaway,” warned one member of an online survivalist conference.
“I’ve got an order in on a 500 gallon water tank,” explained another, “I’ll give you the URL.”
“Won’t a tank that large be visible from the road?” asked the first.
“No. I’ll be keeping it underground.”
I had intended to spend the week doing extensive research for a column about the millennium bug — the software and hardware glitch that will prevent computers from successfully recognising the year 2000. But the vast majority of the information and speculation I found has little to do with fixing the problem. No, most people appear more concerned with surviving an inevitable crisis of biblical proportions, by any means necessary.
Although fans of apocalypse have always looked for any excuse to expect the worst, the millennium bug has provoked an unprecedented amount of doomsday scenario planning from otherwise rational people. . . .
recent interview with the Reuters news agency, the Central Intelligence Agency accepted the fact that there will be numerous failures of such systems around the world. But instead of focusing on the technological side of the crisis, the CIA is already collecting data on what their “Y2K” chief calls the “social, political and economic tumult” that could result. That is, the agency is evaluating individual societies to determine how disruptions in electric power, banking, and other essential services might affect them. . . .
But it is mostly Americans, who have always had something of a penchant for bomb shelters and militia compounds, who are busy preparing for the temporary paralysis of the technological infrastructure.
In his new book, Strategic Relocation: North American Guide to Safe Places, security consultant Joel Skousen outlines instructions for storing food, creating alternative power, as well as building secret hiding places and storage facilities to thwart hostile intruders and hungry neighbours.
Unlike Skousen, who believes neighbourhood support groups and food cooperatives would crumble under the pressures of a real crisis, a number of more community-minded survivalists are already developing “safe haven” real estate. In South Dakota, Colorado, and Virginia, several firms are offering leases on plots of land within larger year-2000 collectives, all with access to private generators, fresh water, and farmland. We can only imagine the measures that will be taken to defend such installations when the clock strikes.
In truth, the Y2K crisis — if there is one — will probably be fuelled more by this sort of panic than lapses in technology. Even if the banking system were to shut down for a week, almost everyone could survive on what they have. An extra trip to the cash machine is all it would take. But the fear of such a disruption could easily lead to a rush on the banks and a collapse of the savings and loan system. Likewise, the hoarding of water, gasoline, and other fixed resources would lead to far worse calamity than a day or two of power outages.
The real opportunity here is to resist the temptation to withdraw — not just from banks but from society itself. Although technology has fostered a networked culture and a vast set of interdependencies, a disruption to the system need not send us running to the hills. We could much more easily educate the public about the potential risks to business-as-usual, and help one another prepare for a few days of inconvenience.
Ironically, those preparing for — and, I’d argue, fostering — an apocalypse scenario, are the very people who understand enough about technology to foresee the coming crisis and help us prepare for it. Unfortunately, they don’t understand enough about people to engineer a co-operative, instead of a mercenary style of social management. Maybe the current climate of hi-tech Darwinian entrepreneurialism that replaced the fledgling Internet community has something to do with this.
In a sense, the CIA has the right idea. This isn’t about computer programming at all, but about the real values infusing what we like to think of as our civil society. With any luck, we’ll come to understand that there’s more to survival than meets the “I”.