A Somber Anniversary

Twenty years ago, on September 11th, 2001, the world changed while I was asleep. It may have been 8:46 a.m. – 10:28 a.m in New York, but here in the Inland Northwest, it was three hours earlier, so it was all over before 8 a.m. local time.

We live in the country, with only one television channel available over the air, and we had no cable or satellite system. We never watched morning TV anyway, and didn't tend to listen to the radio. The internet was dial-up, and we didn't have the 24/7 access taken for granted today. It must have been mid-morning before we got a telephone call from our neighbors telling us the news.*

It was shocking, of course, but aside from sharing the same language (sorta-kinda...) and monetary system, NYC is effectively a foreign country. An incident 2500 of miles away didn't seem like the spark for two decades of foreign war or the creation of a domestic police state. Yet here we are, 20 years later. The temporary measures and emergency procedures imposed 20 years ago have not gone away. New bureaucracies have bloated. The surveillance state apparatus has gone further than most would have tolerated in the absence of such an extraordinary incident, but it is precisely extraordinary incidents where those who desire power must be restrained.

Fear drove extreme responses. Politicians invented new authority for themselves at the drop of a hat. A non-state terrorist attack resulted in porno-scanners and gate rape at airports, massive NSA data collection, and systemic infringements on liberty in the name of "safety," to little perceptible effect. In short, Al-Qaida got the US to impose far more tyranny than any outside invading force ever could on their own. Meanwhile, skeptics and dissidents were accused of treason.**

Abroad, the US invaded Afghanistan on dubious grounds, and in short order went from, "capture Bin Laden," to, "build a democracy." Then there was an invasion of Iraq, followed by military interventions in Libya and Syria. The US government is now actively supporting Saudi Arabia in their ongoing genocidal war against Yemen. These incidents only scratch the surface of global wars waged without even the slightest nod to the alleged restrictions imposed by the Constitution.

Biden has apparently actually ended the war in Afghanistan and withdrawn US forces. Good. It's a start, and I'm not surprised it was as badly botched as the operations over the last 20 years. Unfortunately, I doubt it's a sign of real peace as a foreign policy goal. If the government wanted to seriously address the rationale behind terrorist attacks against the USA, they would stop occupying foreign land, funding foreign dictators, selling weapons to militants, and instead generally mind their own business.

I still remain uncertain about the true nature of the events on 9/11/01 (US mm/dd/yy convention), and I went down the rabbit hole of 9/11 trutherism only to find as little substance as I saw in the official reports. I know just enough of engineering and architecture to doubt the collapse narratives, especially for WTC-7. I'm becoming comfortable with uncertainty.*** On one hand, jet fuel certainly does not melt steel beams. Some reports say there was molten metal. Maybe there was some kind of thermite, or maybe the reports of molten metal were in error. Heat dramatically alters the structural properties of steel, and being subjected to enough heat for enough time might cause catastrophic failure, especially under the added load of debris from towers 1 & 2. Then again, my own pet hypothetical theory is someone in a position of power paid off a lot of people to use cheaper steel in construction, and the debris disposal was a coverup for some union boss or contractor.

I simply don't know, and I'm OK with that. I don't need 9/11 to be a massive conspiracy in order to not trust government. Lysander Spooner made a much more comprehensive argument in 1886, and before that, there was the work of Frédéric Bastiat in France. I eventually also discovered Murray Rothbard's Anatomy of the State and dabbled in the works of Proudhon. I cannot recommend Michael Malice's The Anarchist Handbook highly enough. But it took me a long while to get here.

While I started out on a good foundation as a home-schooled kid long before home-schooling was "cool," and my brief foray into government school showed me how hollow the education system really is, I still wanted to be a proper patriot as a child. I wanted to salute the flag and say the loyalty oath. I believed in standing for the government theme song. I thought I needed to support the troops, honor the police, and respect the office even if I opposed the occupant.

It took a lot of time for me to shake that cognitive dissonance. I no longer believe there is any solution to be found in the democratic process. However, like with 9/11 trutherism, I try to remind myself I may be swinging to far to the contrary as a reaction to my skepticism toward any official story, including that of Democracy. Who knows? Maybe there is a way out of this mess through the Libertarian Party or good candidates in the major parties. Ron Paul exposed a lot of people to ideas of economic and political liberty in 2008 and 2012. We're seeing a massive change within the Libertarian Party as I write this post. Disputes over COVID-19 policy are bringing up topics ranging from state nullification to outright secession.

We are cursed with living in interesting times. I advise embracing uncertainty. Admit what you don't know to yourself, because that is the only way to then move toward real knowledge. Prepare for emergencies as a general principle, because whether we face economic collapse, renewed terrorist attacks, growing police state restrictions, COVID policy changes, or any number of local disasters, you'll be in a position to take better care of yourself, your family, and your community. Have backup plans in the event of serious currency collapse, including barter, precious metals, and crypto. Interesting times can make us stronger if we respond wisely.

*It was a land line where the phone hung on the wall and the receiver was connected by a spiral cord. We may have had a family cellular phone by then just to get around the cost of long-distance calls. Even that kind of communication now feels almost as remote as seeing someone in an old film speaking to a switchboard operator.

**Now, we are well into our second year of COVID-19 panic. I see some parallels. Vaccines are promised as a panacea, and mandates are being proposed. Skeptics and dissidents are accused of wanting people to die.

***Perhaps that is why I am also comfortable with doubt regarding all the COVID-19 narratives and alternative treatments people trumpet as well.

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