THE YEAR 2000 by Natalee Hall (reprinted from June 18, 1971 LIBERTARIAN CONNECTION)
There are some powerful trends which we can see today that will exert tremendous influence upon the world in the year 2000. The ones I choose to consider for this essay are those I believe are quite unavoidable in any context I can imagine.
1) The requirements for nuclear weapons are computer time and either rightly purified U235 or trigger. All of these already are or will become available to even the smallest country and to a great many organizations and even some individuals. There is no way of preventing the smuggling and planting of timer detonated nuclear weapons. Wars could become chaotic and protracted, with no safe havens outside of the wilderness, and with uncertain knowledge of who is doing what to whom and why.
2) The doubling time of knowledge will continue to decrease and accessibility of the knowledge will increase due to commercial plain language user interactive search services.
3) All sorts of medical goodies will come along. The FDA and the medieval medical guilds will slow things up, but sooner or later you can get anything you want at Alice’s restaurant.
4) A general decrease in respect for the State.
5) Tolerance (not approval) toward individuals with differing values will increase.
War is one critical human problem which has defied solution. It is a much worse problem today than previously due to the existence of weapons of fantastic destructive capabilities. Anyone who lives in a large city in the U.S. should be aware that there are large H bombs aimed at his city and that if he is there in the event of attack, his survival is not too likely. At first, only the United States possessed atomic weapons. Secrecy, when there are thousands of people involved, hasn’t worked out too well, and the technology of atomic weaponry has spread rapidly to other countries (USSR, China, France, perhaps others). As the expense of the processes involved (such as uranium isotope separation) become cheaper, there will be more and more countries with the ability to manufacture atomic weapons (a country with the capacity is unlikely not to use it). We can assume that by the year 2000, dozens of countries will have them. And it’s also likely that numerous private organizations and persons will have the resources necessary to build such weapons, plus the even cheaper (but still devastating) biological and chemical weapons. Any large concentrations of population (especially cities) will be highly vulnerable and essentially defense-less against such weapons. I see no reason to think that political mechanism will enable people to solve their conflicts any better in 33 years than today, and there will be many embittered and hostile subgroups in America in 2000, as there are today. But while today, the more violent dissatisfied splinter groups can do a great deal of damage with conventional bombs, Molotov cocktails, etc., there will be a potential for immense destruction in the year 2000. Police stations will be unable to defend themselves against attack, should the attackers have atomic bombs. And woe betide any innocent bystanders! What this all means to the people living in 2000 is basically this: the existence of widespread knowledge of possession of highly destructive weapons will limit the viable forms of living. Large concentrations of population, i.e., cities, will be obsolete. Those with the foresight will plan their lives so that they will be geographically separated from cities, away from fallout zones, but with the ability to communicate with and travel to cities for trade when desired. The back to the country movement has probably not considered this aspect of things very much; their main considerations seem to be environmental. Nevertheless, country living and survival skills will continue to increase in popularity and as the realization of the threat of planted atomic bombs becomes more known, there may be a general move out of cities for those who have the ability (and care) to do so. The State will never admit this danger because to do so would be to admit that it (the State) is incapable of defending its citizenry and this is one of the major rationales and excuses for the existence of the State. But notice that nobody talks about Civil Defense anymore (the supplies in the shelters setup years ago have not been replenished, the medicinials have aged beyond their expiration dates, etc.) because there is no way to protect civilians. Bombs can be planted in cities, either by foreign powers or domestic terrorists (you don’t even know who is attacking you), and no defense is possible. Although there is a solution to the war problem – namely, an abandonment of the political system which fosters and grows healthy on war – this is unlikely to have occurred on any large scale by the year 2000, so we must plan on its continuing dangers.
There is no single agency or group of agencies, including governments of the world which control the accumulation of knowledge. The instruments, journals, know-how, etc. are diffusively spread through many private organizations, as well as among many government bureaus. Computer search services are now available for a large variety of types of information, such as knowhow on atomic weaponry, can only slow down not stop the eventual spread of available information to private and public groups. The spread of available information to private and public groups. The application of new theories in control of aging, increase of intelligence, cure of various diseases, etc. cannot be stopped by attempts to set up committees to evaluate technological developments (to ostensibly prevent such problems as the thalidomide situation or DDT long-range effects). Such committees simply don’t possess the resources necessary to control the myriad channels of black market trade. LSD is an example of a drug for which a great amount of effort and resources have been spent in a futile attempt at control. When enough people want something, some black market entrepreneur will try to supply it at a profit. All the government attempts at control can accomplish is to drive up the price, as with heroin. In general, the fact that data is beyond the control of any group is a factor which leads to the only form of workable “democracy”; in the marketplace, anyone who wishes to purchase something may seek a seller. There are enough producers of information that anyone will be able to find data to purchase, if it is available. The attempt by the State to control technological development will lead to increased cost and more sophisticated methods of trying to get around laws. The State bureaucrats will not, of course, stop trying. But by the year 2000, I think that widespread lawbreaking will have reduced the State’s “technological control” to a level not much higher than just propaganda. There will be available on the black market methods of increasing intelligence and lifespan, cancer cures, mind-altering mood drugs, and others.
Authoritarianism versus libertarianism is the major human problem-solving issue being decided in this century. The two means of human interaction, force and voluntaryism, are mutually exclusive. The inability of politics – i.e., force sanctioned by most of the populace – to solve basic human problems (e.g., pollution, overpopulation, poverty, etc.) is not generally leading to a philosophical insight to the defects in politics. There is some conceptual understanding of the difficulties involved in attempting to solve problems using force among the younger generation which has been subjected to the slavery of the draft and to coercive sumptuary laws. But, for the most part, the failures of politics are leading people to experiment with other forms of interaction, or to drop out of participating in politics. Seeing that politics cannot solve the problem of pollution doesn’t necessarily lead one to decide where the where the solution lies outside of politics, but may lead one to stop wasting his time trying political solutions again and again. Tolerance for different ways of living may not come about because of any great intellectual realization concerning these other lifestyles, but may simply result from seeing that the usual “solution”, to use force to make people conform, is just not working anymore. Hippies are not being stopped by laws against drugs and rock concerts. Truancy is not being stopped by reform schools and compulsory school attendance laws. Draft evasion is not being stopped by prison sentences for evaders. Etc. The Middle American “Mr. Jones” (who knows that somethin’ is happening but doesn’t know what it is) is “getting used” to the existence of diverse lifestyles and, while he may not like it, can see that there’s nothing he can do about it. By 2000, this trend will be quite thorough in America. There are no forces left to hold America together – no great “national goals”, patriotism, etc. – and as the old fogies die out during the next three decades, the splitting up of America into small voluntary cultures will become greater. The cultures will resent the intrusion of other alien cultures into their spheres. The “mind your own business” attitude will become stronger. A large minority of people will escape 1984 for themselves by learning how the laws can be flouted with success. Those who choose to obey will, of course, end up with the “Big Brother” they always wanted.
For others, taxes can be avoided, drafts can be evaded, black markets can be set up, etc., all using the same modern technology of defense. For example, telephone scramblers will soon render wiretapping obsolete. Phony black market documents can enable a person to assume many identities. The use of such opportunities has been fairly low because the tyrannies to be avoided were not worth the cost of avoidance to most people. But with the tax rate well over 40%, not many people will wish to continue working under the ordinary circumstances (with their incomes accessible to the State). More groups which used to be blindly loyal to the government are becoming rebellious (for example, miners are being harassed by forest rangers and are beginning to counter. Some rangers are even being shot). There will be even less reason to be loyal to the State in 2000 than now; the State will be able to provide no protection from attack by foreign powers or domestic terrorists (and these attacks will be real rather than imagined). The welfare programs will be bankrupt and with the tax rates rising continually. By 2000, the State may have lost most of its power to control its citizens, basically because without the voluntary sanction of its victims the State hasn’t got the power to maintain itself. It’s possible that by this time, a tax revolt will have rendered the State as no more powerful than, say, the Pope today. Of course, the politicians will never admit that the State has little or no power left but one can watch for the signs of its decline with little difficulty. One important signpost will be the extent of participation in elections. By 2000, I think that only a very low percentage of the population will bother to vote anymore. Another signpost is the extent to which protection of lives and property is done privately rather than through State auspices. Since there is no carrying out their “protection” in the year 2000 than now, the present trend toward private protection is very likely to continue unabated.
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SUMMARY: People will live in scattered communities, not cities. There will be limited wars being waged nearly continually. The State will be in a position of low esteem among the populace, as goods and services it has claimed to provide can be obtained at lower prices and hassle privately. America will be composed of large numbers of different subcultures, most living at peace with their neighbors. Communications and transportation technology will allow a high degree of trade among the various groups, to the extent desired. Likewise, avoidance of State agencies, with their controls and expenses, will be practiced widely. State agents will avoid certain areas where they commonly “disappear.”
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