In 2001 I was a student, working at my PC, probably on something technical for a client (I am and always have been a freelancer / contractor type) rather than on coursework. I got a call from a friend, telling me in hurried and urgent tones to turn on the TV. He was quickly gone but I understood he would have meant a “news channel” (cable TV was new in Pontypridd but we all had it) though very soon turning on any channel would take me to New York.
People talk about the butterfly effect, and speculate about whether we are really in control of anything. To say that Libertarian Home is a result of 9/11 sounds like some random happenstance, but it was not. 9/11 woke me up, and got me thinking. That thinking lead here, not happenstance. It eventually melded with new interests, like following Groklaw and the SCO vs IBM case (a dispute over some intellectual property called Linux). Because I actually knew something about Linux, the SCO case showed me clearly how the media was a business and more concerned with constantly saying something entertaining than with vigilantly seeking out the truth. Iraq happened and I saw the media struggle to present a balanced argument between “there are WMD” and “there are not WMD” as if balance mattered more than facts. In this case the media actually helped me to make the right call, it did it’s job, but I saw the various biases at work and the odd way that no conclusion was ever drawn or acted upon. The war went ahead. Channel 4, whose news programs suited my schedule best at the time (no Student Loans, no cable TV!) sought out the right facts but presented them in a way that uncritically assumed the evil character of the United States. The uncritical assumption was the most interesting thing. Apathetic and disinterested for most of my life 9/11 caused me to look closer and eventually I saw through the bullshit on TV for the first time.
Throughout this time, blogging was beginning to happen in a big way. IT politics, and “new media” frequently crossed over and I started clicking from blog to blog, exploring Technorati and reading a lot. A started to see similarities between the blogs, there were “left-wing” ones and ones that were further to “the right”. I had started with no clear idea with what those words meant and I liked that blogs all had their own biases but were open about them. I had read in Popper (thanks Samizdata!) how it was impossible not to have any bias and learned to accept it, and got a better understanding of blog content because of their openly ideological character. I started to map the mainstream media biases onto basic political terminology. Then, and I have a very clear memory of this, I started to peer into the words themselves. I wrote down three words on a notebook “liberty”, “liberal” and “libertarian”, then I actually read the Political Spectrum article on Wikipedia and bang! The 2D world turned 3D and I suddenly knew where I was, and where everyone else was.
The death of 3000 innocent people 12 years ago persuaded me that something was very fundamentally wrong, and that it mattered. When I started looking for answers I found a whole lot more problems that are, I think, worse than any single terrorist incident. I cared that 3000 people died but what I found afterwards was a system of ideas – socialism, etc – that is so incredibly destructive to property, as well as lives, that 3000 casualties in one day seems like almost nothing at all compared to what is destroyed year on year by bad ideas.