Even the most absurd theories have their adherents

Charlotte, North Carolina
September 27, 1999
Saarbrücker Zeitung

Fear of the turn of the Millennium has scurrilous results - exhibitions for survival equipment attract the masses

by Francis Temman

The magic number of 2000 is drawing nearer, and along with it the unrest of many people in the USA is growing. Convinced that chaos and anarchy will break out upon the arrival of the year 2000, thousands of US citizens are hoarding groceries, survival gear and weapons. Exhibitions such as the "Preparedness Expo" in Charlotte, North Carolina, have turned into public magnets in this climate. Here paranoia blooms manifoldly. An important buzzword is self-sufficiency. This is how the self-named survival artists wish to counter the consequences of the expected collapse of computers.

The curious, the rightwing radicals, members of civil defense and adherents of messianic sects thronged in the aisles of the "Preparedness Expo." They are all united in their deep mistrust of the state in its taking care of its citizens. Everyday items lie next to the scurrilous on the sales tables. For example, there are power generators, portable one-person security cells, water filters, dehydrated food, seed, coal stoves, animal traps, solar lamps, camouflage uniforms, gas masks, night vision devices and daggers.

Neither was there a lack of reading material. The range of advice went from titles like "The 2000 Problem - It is not yet too late," "101 things which you should do before the Revolution," "Bake your own Bread" and "Herbal Therapy" to "Guidelines to Wilderness Survival." Not even the "Book of Anarchist Recipes" was missing.

On stage, self-proclaimed Millennium specialist John Henderson announced his findings, "Of 69,000 chemical factories in the USA, only 600 have addressed the computer problem. Only about half of all hospitals are prepared, 90 percent of the doctors have taken no measures at all. If I were you, I'd call my doctor." The listeners had long faces. At the Montana civil defense booth, sellers hawked a video-cassette with the title, "Surviving Martial Law." It presents the theory that the U.S. government thought up the year 2000 problem for the purpose of imposing martial law.

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