Panic in the Year Zero
While many of us scoff at the idea of civilization collapsing as a result of the Y2K Bug, militia members and survivalists across the country are busy stockpiling food, medicine, fuel and weapons for the final countdown to 2000.Some survivalists are even building bomb shelters in a throwback to the apocalyptic fears of the '50s. And as many as 600,000 websites now offer cyberchatter dealing with the great "what if?" of Y2K disaster.Norman Olson, head of the Northern Michigan Regional Militia and one of the founders of the national militia movement, predicts that "Y2K may be the greatest single disaster to hit the world since the Biblical flood of Noah."Olson became a household name after the Oklahoma City Bombing in 1995, when more than 200 reporters from around the world interviewed him as the spokesman for America's militia movement. Olson is still active as chief of the Northern Michigan Regional Militia, and as the fiery pastor of the Freedom Church in Wolverine, a small town in northern Michigan.According to Y2K lore, all of the uncorrected computers on earth will crash at the stroke of midnight on the last day of 1999, plunging the world into the new Dark Ages.Paranoia or prophecy? Mass hysteria or simple prudence? In the following interview, Olson says he expects the federal government to declare martial law once widespread panic over Y2K sets in, and that he's ready for anything.Q: Why are militia members interested in Y2K?Olson: The militia was born out of fear -- fear of the government. The same "rebirth" is taking place because of fear -- fear of the digital disaster facing the world. In less than a year, a disaster of unparalleled proportions will strike the world. While some poo-poo the magnitude of the impact, experts themselves are growing concerned, some frightened, at the affect of the millennium bug.Forecasters who seem to know speak in apocalyptic terms, while politicians smile at the camera and reassure the constituents, saying "we [the government] are ready." One can only imagine why they omit a comment on the private sector. Private sector people are less optimistic, and most assuredly, they need to be.For many, just getting a mental grasp on what Y2K means is an impossibility. Many people have lived so long with their hat in their hand waiting for the government to provide their needs, that their mental function is impaired. They reason, "if there is a problem, trust the government to fix it. After all, they've fed, clothed, educated, housed, and entertained us our whole life, why should we worry?" This portion of the teeming mass of humanity is utterly lost and cannot be helped.The second obstacle to Americans grows out of a lack of "reference." They cannot grasp the serious nature of the calamity. Recently the British House of Commons told the people of England to prepare. The difference between telling Americans to prepare and telling Brits to prepare is different by virtue of what they suffered from 1940-1945. When Brits prepare, THEY PREPARE! Why? Because they have reference to a time when they once before prepared for disaster.The third obstacle is "sufficient fear." If one is aware that peril lurks ahead, one must make provisions to face it. Unfortunately, only a small portion of people have sufficient fear to start preparing.The militia will not bow to martial law. Neither will many materialistic Americans be bound by a national martial law, especially if it restricts their ability to gorge themselves with food, fuel, and other material luxuries. Austerity isn't something that Americans will cotton to, certainly not after the DOW has rocketed to 9000, while gas has plummeted to 85 cents a gallon. So whether for a sense of patriotism and constitutionalistic ideal or for a sense of gluttonous excess, Americans will be unable and unwilling to "tighten their belt" or give in to government agents dictating how, when, and how much one can buy.Q: What are militia members doing to prepare?Olson: First, nearly all are digging in. No longer are we performing in the "dog and pony shows" of earlier days. We no longer need to send the message across the country on the backs of media mules. Now we KNOW what is coming. The militia is buying food, fuel, generators, and lots of ammunition. We are packing it away by the ton and we will guard it fiercely and give it only to those who will join us and work with us.Second, we are trying to warn others. We had our first community meeting in December to task concerned citizens with the job of finding out what local government agencies have done and what they WILL do. It is predicted that our government support agencies have done absolutely nothing to prepare. Again, everyone is wait for the phantom "they" to fix it.Q: What are your fears?Olson: My fear is that we will lose our fear and trust in foolish fables. I have coined the phrase "hopeful savior" to indicate that many will believe anyone who sounds official who comes with a promise of fixing the problem. People will set aside their fear and place their faith in either science, technology, the economy, the government, or any number of other "saviors" to come on the scene with the solution. My fear is that we will not be sufficiently frightened by what is coming in time to prepare for it.Q: What do you advise people to do?Olson: I advise them to remember that the government that imposes martial law is the very same government that has remained quiet for the last eight years about the severity of the Y2K problem.It troubles me somewhat to think that only the government will be ready. Translated, that means that only the federal government will have the communication, transportation, control of manufacturing, distribution, etc.But people need to think also that the government they are trusting to bail them out of the Y2K crisis will itself fall. It cannot sustain itself when the economy crashes and banks close. There will be no market, no Wall Street, no investment. There will be no employment or income available to be robbed from the people by the IRS. The elusive "they" will cease to exist. Government soldiers will return to their families to help them survive, taking their guns with them.People need to prepare NOW. By April the restrictions may already be imposed. Forget the jet skis, the golf clubs, the speed boat... buy beans and rice and kerosene. Instead of another expensive vacation, buy canned goods and noodles.I advise people to buy, buy, buy. And if the clerk asks, "Why a hundred bottles of soy sauce?" just say, "getting ready for Y2K." Probably the clerk won't ask... for it's becoming common to see such things nowadays.I advise people NOT to advertise what they are doing and how much they have put away. Do you really want everyone in your neighborhood to know that you have three years of food packed away along with a good supply of silver coins and other goodies? Don't talk, even though informants will be paid to discover who has what anyway. By that time, the militia will probably be taking care of the moles.Q: Do you think that public fears could get out of hand in the way of mass hysteria?Olson: Yes. You can count on it. In fact, the federal government is hoping that public fear will rise to a level which will enable them to impose whatever martial law restrictions necessary. The people will welcome a strong move by the federal government to intervene. Fear is one of the best ways to control people. What the militia will do is to attempt to turn the fear into action so that the frightened people can grow angry at those who mean them harm. Angry people will survive much longer than frightened people.There is good reason for panic: Runs on the bank will begin as early as March or April. By summer, the banks will be wobbling and ready to fold. Since all debts public and private amount to 20 trillion dollars; and since there are only 800 billion printed dollars in circulation, there will be a severe money shortage.The computers controlling pharmaceutical companies will fail, marketing and distribution will fail. The millions of people on drug maintenance programs, i.e. high blood pressure, diabetes, aids, etc., will no longer get their meds. They will go to the hospitals where the dead and dying are beginning to pile up. The elderly who have grasped onto life because of medicines, heat, water, and adequate rest care facilities will begin to die. Doctors will quit to be with their families. Drug stores will be plundered for medicine and medical supplies.Power grids will fail. Communication will be restricted to government controlled stations. Transportation will be limited. Fuel will be restricted. People receiving rations at government distribution points will have to show their identification indicating who they are and where they live.Q: Regarding mass hysteria, a conspiracist might wonder whether the whole Y2K thing has been artificially engineered to coincide with the apocalyptic date of 2000 for sinister purposes. Any concerns that the Y2K "crisis" might be nothing more than a ruse?Olson: Is the Y2K a gigantic ruse? I've argued this question over and over and have come to the conclusion that it doesn't matter. Senator Bennett (on the president's advisory counsel for Y2K) said that panic itself may be as destructive as the Y2K meltdown. I agree. When the panic grows to a sufficient level, the run on the bank will take place.In an effort to stop the panic, the fed will close or restrict banking. That oughta do it! If that were to happen, a bigger panic would follow. So you can see that real or not, the perception is enough to create a crisis. The famous "War of the Worlds, Invasion from Mars" phenomenon is a case in point.Personally, I don't care whether it is real or not. Strategically, it will permit an opportunity for the American people to see what the federal government is capable of. Realistically, I don't believe that the computer problem will pass without serious incident simply because of what the experts are saying. Several very informed people are growing very concerned. I cannot believe that they are part of a vast conspiracy to bring about martial law. But I am certain that certain groups at federal level will exploit the crisis to further their own agenda.Someone recently asked me about the time table and the measure of fear. I answered them by saying, "It won't matter on which end of the Titanic you stand, for all will eventually drown. "***Sidebar: Welcome to the New Dark AgesMilitia members expect the worst from their government and the human race when the Y2K Bug bites. Militia chief Norman Olson offers some predictions:* "The federal government will impose Executive Order 12919 to protect the country from itself. It will issue restrictions on buying gasoline, food stuffs, and dozens of other needful things."* "War will break out. The haves will fight to keep what they have ferreted away. The government will fight against patriots who will not abide by martial law. The cities will turn into war zones with robbery and tribal warfare on virtually every block. Law and order will collapse as police will refuse to enter the cities. The law of the jungle will prevail.* "Frightened masses will move from the cities to the county only to be met by frightened people who will shoot to protect what they have. The government will collapse. The nations of the world will begin fighting and a global war will begin.* "People will be prevented from going into a nearby city or county to get more rations by the use of a tattoo on the back of the hand. The tattoo will simply be the individual's Social Security number plus his ZIP Code + Four ... 18 numbers that will identify WHO you are and WHERE you ought to be. The numbers can easily be arrayed in a convenient rectangle of three rows of six numbers -- six, six, six."