Faint Gleams of Light

A couple of things I noticed yesterday. Firstly this, about the HUD residential smoking ban announced a few days back.

The Nanny State Shames Poor Smokers in Their Homes

Prohibition 3.0 won’t be any more successful than its predecessors…

We are flabbergasted. The desire to promote healthier living choices is understandable. Infringing upon what adults do in the privacy of their own homes is not.

Nothing very remarkable there? Just another voice crying in the wilderness? But maybe not, given what Audrey Silk had to say about it:

Best of all? This paper is owned by Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner (married to Ivanka), who is currently serving on Trump’s transition team. So, as the prayerful saying goes… “from this paper to ‘God’s’ ear.”

I think that what she means is that observer.com is owned by Kushner. I don’t know whether it’s an actual newspaper, not a news site. But if Kushner’s paper is attacking the HUD smoking ban, it could mean that Kushner doesn’t like it, and it could also mean that he may well have told The Donald as much. Whether Trump will do anything about it is open to question. But it’s a faint gleam of light.

The second piece, again on the HUD residential smoking ban, is from the Daily Caller.

Ban The Smoking Ban

So, Obama, the first black Caesar of the empire has “ordered” a ban on smoking in all public housing. Another victory for Washington, the crass capital of the world. I’m sure all the bureaucrats will cheer as this is their prosperity, their gain, their product of their officious little minds…

Nothing very remarkable about that either, except that the Daily Caller is a US right wing news site that I only really started paying any attention to in recent months for its positive coverage of Trump’s campaign. So maybe that’s another voice from the Trump camp speaking up against this very nasty ban.

And one of the slightly dispiriting things about the right wing websites is that, although they are often highly sceptical about issues like global warming, there’s usually dead silence about smoking bans. Alex Jones’ Infowars never mentions smoking bans. Neither does Breitbart. Nor do talk show hosts like Michael Savage or Mark Levin or Rush Limbaugh (even though it seems Limbaugh smokes cigars).

And of course the mainstream media never mention smoking bans either. Or if they do ever discuss smoking, it’s almost always from an extreme one-sided antismoking perspective.

Which is one reason why I pay very little attention to the MSM any more. Their antismoking bias is as obvious as their global warming alarmism or, more recently, their anti-Trump hysteria.

It’s perhaps the loss of readers and viewers like me that seems now to have resulted in a general decline in the influence of the MSM. In the UK the MSM were mostly pro-Remain, anti-Brexit. And in the USA they were pro-Clinton, anti-Trump. But they failed to deliver. Perhaps because readers like me have gone to Breitbart and Drudge and Infowars and Daily Caller instead.

I sometimes wonder why the MSM have been losing credibility and readership, while the new websites have been gaining them. One reason may be that the MSM is made up of large organisations with editors and producers and all the rest of it – while the new websites seem to be those of individual people. When you visit Rush Limbaugh, you find out what he thinks. Same with Mark Levin. Or Michael Savage. Or Alex Jones. They’re all carried by recognisable individual personalities. And the corporate MSM is generally pretty low on individual personalities.

I think that people maybe like to hear what other people think. Other people with their own foibles and personal concerns. Not just spouting the party line on smoking, global warming, or whatever, as agreed in some editorial board meeting in the New York Times.

I think genuine individual people are always interesting, even if you don’t agree with them. And perhaps they’re even interesting because you don’t agree with them.

And after all, isn’t Donald Trump as (in)famous for his tweets as anything else that’s written about him. That way, people get to hear what he himself thinks. Trump is very much one of the new individuals, saying what he thinks, unmediated by editors or reporters, that have emerged in the new media.

Anyway, that’s one possible explanation for the decline of the corporate MSM, and the rise of the individualistic new media. And it’s slightly encouraging that protests against smoking bans seem to be beginning to emerge from this new media.

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Bitter Clingers

I got interested last month by the supermoon on the 14th of November, when the Moon came nearer to the Earth than it had for nearly 70 years, and a large earthquake in New Zealand coincided with it. Did the close approach of the Moon cause the earthquake? Were the increased tidal forces at the surface of the Earth enough to make something break inside it, and trigger the earthquake?

So for the last 3 weeks I’ve been slowly constructing a tidal simulation model on the surface of the Earth in my orbital simulation model, finding the gravitational force of the Sun and the Earth (and all the planets) at any point on its surface, as well as the rotational velocity of the Earth around its axis, and the rotational velocity of the Earth-Moon system, and adding them all up. It’s new territory for me. I don’t know anything about tides or earthquakes. But I’m always willing to try to find out for myself, rather than wait for someone else to tell me.

singapore8dec2016

Singapore tides

And over the last few days, after ironing out teething troubles in the new model, I’ve started to see tidal movements on the surface of my model of the Earth. And I was delighted to find that on the equator near Singapore I was seeing two tides a day – because that’s what actually happens (as shown at right in the Singapore tides for the week after 8 Dec 2016 provided by the UK Hydrographic Office). So it looks like I’m maybe doing something right.

These tidal forces are so small that I don’t actually notice them myself. But they nevertheless act to raise and lower huge masses of water in the oceans, and huge masses of rock in the continents as well, as if the whole Earth was breathing twice a day.

But there are other larger forces that have much greater effects on people. I was arguing a couple of months back that the physical character of Wales – hill country – shaped and defined the Welsh people separately from the English in the gently rolling lowlands to the east of Wales (in fact, it has just occurred to me that “Wales” may simply be a variant pronunciation of “hills”). It’s much harder to move around in Wales than in England. Wherever you want to go, you almost certainly have to climb over or walk around a high hill. And that must inhibit the Welsh from moving around very much, and tend to keep them in tight, self-sufficient communities. The same would apply in the Scottish highlands. It may be that the land itself shapes the peoples who inhabit it.

For example France is set in a basin bounded on one side by the Alps and the Rhine, and on another side by the Pyrenees and the Mediterranean, and on a third side by the Atlantic ocean. Is it very surprising that the people in this basin have the same language and culture? The same applies to Spain, bounded on almost every side by sea, and with a mountain range blocking the remainder. These seas and rivers and mountains provide obstacles to motion. These obstacles may be for the most part as unnoticeable as tides, but they’re still there all the same, exerting the same slight physical influence.

And may not things like smoking bans be seen as tidal forces acting on large masses of people? Isn’t being “exiled to the outdoors” rather like being borne away from a port on an ebbing tide? Is the force of law really very much different from the force of gravity? It is, after all, backed up by the threat of physical force. Aren’t all the numerous restrictions on smokers akin to physical forces that push them this way and that? And isn’t my resistance to them any different from that of a stone to the water in a flowing stream? Smokers are being pushed around just like stones in a stream.

I’ve been re-reading The Sleepwalkers by Christopher Clark. It’s about how Europe went to war in 1914. One chapter opens with the words:

Two military disasters defined the trajectory of the Habsburg Empire in that last half-century of its existence. At Solferino in 1859, French and Piedmontese forces prevailed over an army of 100,000 Austrain troops, opening the way for the creation of a new Italian nation state. At Königgrätz in 1866, the Prussians destroyed an army of 240,000, ejecting the empire from the emergent German nation state. The cumulative impact of these shocks transformed the inner life of the Austrian lands.

What’s striking about this passage is the use firstly of “trajectory” and then “impact” and “shock”. For this author, Austria was itself a sort of stone, being pushed one way and then another, and also eroded, by armies which might be seen as tidal movements of masses of men. Was he mistaken about this? Isn’t Austria a mere abstraction, a word written on a map, not a physical object?

My new global tidal model predicts the tidal forces at any place on the surface of a uniform Earth covered by a single Ocean. It ignores the continents and the coastlines around them. Yet these coastlines have considerable effects on local tides. In the bay of St Malo in France, they can generate a tidal range of 12 metres between low and high tides, whereas in the open ocean the tidal range is less than 1 metre.

Political globalists, who think globally in terms of the “free movement of peoples” across borders, have a global political model a bit like my global tidal model. Their broad, sweeping view ignores petty local differences, like coastlines. It dismisses the objections of “nativists” and “bitter clingers“. We’re all supposed to be citizens of the world now, rather than citizens of England, Scotland, Wales, France or Spain. And we can all flow everywhere over the surface of the Earth, unimpeded by any obstruction, like tourists or (same thing) world leaders jetting over oceans and rivers and mountain ranges.

But I think that this globalist point of view is deeply mistaken. It’s a view of the world from 10 km above its surface, in which the mountains and hills and rivers and oceans have all been reduced to insignificance, when in fact for the 99.999% of people bitterly clinging to the surface of the Earth, these local obstructions almost entirely shape their lives.

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Dire Predictions for the EU

Dire predictions for the EU, number 1:

Why the EU might not last beyond next year: DOMINIC SANDBROOK on the political and financial earthquake ripping through Europe

Coming so soon after the Brexit referendum result and the victory of Donald Trump, the aftermath of the Italian referendum had an oddly familiar feel.

When I awoke to Radio 4 yesterday morning, there were the same voices of doom, the same tones of shock and grief, the same reports of tremors rippling through Europe’s financial markets.

Once again Europe’s governing elites are struggling to come to terms with a political and financial earthquake….

The great mystery of all this to me is that the EU elite have had warning after warning.

They have known for years the euro was a calamitous mistake, that austerity was destroying the prospects of an entire generation from Athens to Alicante, that mass immigration was enormously unpopular.

And they have known voters were outraged by their bungling of the Middle Eastern refugee crisis.

Even now, it is not too late to change tack — but on they go, charging towards disaster.

And when, at last, they find themselves contemplating the blackened ruins of their European project, they should not blame the voters.

The only people they should blame are themselves.

Number 2:

‘We’ve had the earthquake – now for the TSUNAMI’ Experts predict worst yet to come for EU

THE European Union is about to be swept away by a populist tsunami with countries from Britain to the Baltics increasingly turning to nationalist parties, leading EU experts warned tonight.

Analysts said the political earthquake unleashed by the financial crisis has morphed into an unstoppable anti-EU wave as wealth inequality and dissatisfaction with Brussels fuel an anti-establishment revolution.

The independent website VoteWatch, which analyses the state of the bloc, said unless radical action is taken Europe will “continue its fragmentation in a downward spiral leading to its break-up”.

Its dire warning comes amid a surge in support for populist parties across the continent which is threatening to engulf the euro establishment and rip the EU project apart.

No mention of Europe’s 150 million smokers, “exiled to the outdoors” by the EU’s own war on smokers. One of whom is supermodel Naomi Campbell, seen here smoking outside with somebody’s borrowed jacket around her shoulders. Perhaps she should have borrowed his trousers too (click for enlargement).

naomi-campbell-smokes

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Is There Conflict Between Standard and Preventive Medicine?

I sometimes wonder whether the recently announced smoking ban in HUD dwellings in the USA, as well as the smoking bans proliferating in the grounds of NHS hospitals in the UK, set up stresses within the organisations involved.

After all, it seems reasonable to suppose that the people who work in HUD – Housing and Urban Development – are very likely to have the best interests of their residents in mind, whether or not they do a very good job about it in terms of keeping their housing stock in good repair, well lit, crime free, with working lifts, and so on. How are such people likely to feel when they are instructed to police smoking in their properties, forcing smokers out onto the streets, and in addition fining them and perhaps even evicting them? Doesn’t that contradict the whole ethos of public housing, which is to provide shelter for even the poorest members of society?

The same question may be asked about the doctors and nurses working inside the NHS hospitals in which draconian smoking bans are now multiplying. Doesn’t it contradict the whole ethos of medicine to force patients, often with drips and catheters, to walk hundreds of yards outside these hospitals to enjoy a smoke? How do surgeons who have just operated on patients, sewn up their incisions, and wrapped them in bandages, feel when they see the same poor fellows limping slowly out of the hospital grounds? None too pleased, I imagine.

In the UK, as best I understand it, these smoking bans don’t originate inside the hospitals themselves, but in central government – perhaps the Department of Health, or maybe even the WHO. And the doctors who work in these government organisations appear to mostly be non-practising doctors who, despite their medical qualifications, prefer to work in preventive medicine, trying to stop people getting sick in the first place, before they ever arrive in hospital, by enacting smoking bans, alcohol bans, dietary restrictions upon the general population.

It is in the nature of preventive medicine to try to prevent well people becoming sick, just as it is in the nature of standard hospital medical practice to try to make sick people well. And usually, once patients have have been discharged from hospitals, little or no further interest is taken in them. Or at least that has been my experience. But the preventive medical practitioners, who want to prevent the well from becoming sick, are essentially only interested in well people rather than sick people. Which is why they are always demanding smoking bans, alcohol bans, and any number of other public health measures to be enacted on people who are for the most part perfectly well.

And because of their opposite points of view, standard best medical practice (trying to make the sick well) would seem to be in conflict with standard best preventive medical practice (trying to prevent the well getting sick).

If nothing else, preventive medicine medicalises the whole world and everybody in it, whereas standard medicine restricts itself entirely to people who are sick, ignoring those who are well. So a standard medical practitioner in a war zone will restrict himself to simply treating people who have been injured by bombs or bullets. But a preventive medical practitioner in the same war zone would wish to prevent people getting injured by bombs and bullets in the first place, and would try to stop the war – perhaps by enacting gun controls, and denormalising military culture, and so on. The preventive medical practitioner must become, in effect, a politician (if he isn’t one already).

And if preventive medicine is concerned with preventing well people becoming sick, what interest should it have in the sick people inside hospitals? If preventive medicine and standard medicine operate in separate domains – the well and the sick – when someone becomes sick and enters hospital, shouldn’t they fall wholly within the remit of standard medicine – the care of the sick – for the duration of their stay, and only be returned to the jurisdiction of preventive medicine – the care of the well – when they have become well again? That is to say, what business does preventive medicine have inside any hospital? Surely it should restrict itself to the community of the well outside the hospital gates? Once someone enters a hospital, are they not testament to the failure of preventive medicine to stop them from smoking, drinking, eating, fighting wars, or whatever else made them sick?

These, and other similar considerations, suggest to me that standard medical practice and standard preventive medical practice must in many cases be in conflict with each other. And this should result in protests – and perhaps even resignations – by doctors and nurses inside hospitals against the incursion of preventive medicine inside them.

But that’s just my guess, as a distant outsider looking in. I don’t know any doctors. I’ve hardly ever known any during my entire life. My closest approach was perhaps with the antismoking Dr W, in whose house I once lived, and who has since become for me the personification of the bureaucratic busybodying preventive medical ethos, even though he is long dead now. Has anyone ever spoken to any doctor who is practising medicine inside a hospital, and asked them what they think of hospital smoking bans?

In this respect it’s interesting that Donald Trump seems set to appoint Dr Ben Carson to run HUD. I wonder what side of the fence this neurosurgeon belongs to. Is he one of those standard medical practitioners who merely want to make sick people well, or is he one of the preventive medical practitioners who want to prevent well people becoming sick? It may completely determine his attitude to smoking bans in HUD dwellings. Or perhaps there is no conflict at all between these radically different approaches to medicine, and I’m only imagining one?

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Close Down the BBC

I don’t watch or listen to the BBC these days (because I would have to pay the £155 licence fee if I did), and so it was only because Simon Clark had transcribed a recent BBC interview of him on his blog that I was able to read what was said. It was a useful reminder of why I no longer listen to the BBC. Here’s the BBC interviewer:

Andrew Edwards: But aren’t we dancing around the issue that we all understand which is that smoking is very bad for you, it kills an awful lot of people, and we’ve known that forever, and shouldn’t we just be saying rather, ‘Here’s something that is less harmful,’ we should just be saying, ‘Look, let’s get rid of it altogether.’ And I take your point that you are pro-choice and you think it’s a legal product, nobody is denying that. Shouldn’t we though just be saying, for the sake of the health of the generations to come, our children, our children’s children, ‘Look, let’s just get rid of it.’ Like that texter Jonathan said to me, you know, people will look back on it like some of the madnesses, as they now see it, of taking what turned out to be poisonous things to try and cure our ailments.

This is the BBC floating the idea of complete tobacco prohibition. Deborah Arnott won’t do that herself, of course. So instead you get a piece of work like Andrew Edwards to inject the idea into an interview, not just once, but several times.

‘Aren’t we dancing around here? Isn’t the point that we should just ban smoking tobacco altogether?’

And in this manner you familiarise your viewers and listeners to the idea of tobacco prohibition, so it doesn’t come as quite such a shock to them when tobacco prohibition is introduced, “by public demand”.

It may work. But, rather like the US mainstream media that recently failed to either persuade the US people not to vote for Donald Trump or predict his victory, I suspect that the BBC doesn’t have quite the influence that it used to have.

The BBC is in fact the prime example in Britain of an institution with an internal culture that has gradually parted company from the wider culture of the country. It was always left wing and “progressive”, and now seems to have become even more so. Perhaps now is the time to float the idea of simply closing down the BBC. It is, after all, really just a state propaganda organisation that dates from a time when a few megaphone media outlets entirely dominated the airwaves, and is thus a lumbering dinosaur now being overtaken by leaner, fitter, and nimbler shoestring internet outfits. It really only survives by demanding with menaces a  £155 “licence fee” from every Briton it can gouge. Let’s not dance around the issue: Auntie should have her life support switched off. People will look back on it and wonder how it ever managed to survive for so long, like an ancient rusting ironclad battleship in an era of drone warfare. What madness was that?

In fact, I wonder if there is any real point in people like Simon Clark appearing on these sorts of interviews, except to act as a handy foil for the likes of Andrew Edwards as he delivers his predetermined talking points. Why not just let him prattle away on his own to his few remaining listeners, like Hillary Clinton before an empty hall?

Very occasionally I get invited onto these shows, usually at very short notice. But I’ve never actually managed it. And in fact I have no wish to appear on them. Because I don’t want to talk to these bastards. There’s nothing to say. The debate is over. It never started. The only thing that I want to do is to destroy them. Certainly I don’t see the point in preserving the semblance of a debate that never actually happened.

Nor is it even that I find Simon Clark a particularly persuasive “voice of the smoker”. After all, he doesn’t smoke. So how can he speak for smokers? He certainly doesn’t speak for me. I’m not one of the Smoke On The Water crowd. For example:

The overwhelming majority of smokers don’t smoke in a car with children because they know that it’s inconsiderate at best.

Nor do the overwhelming majority light up in children’s play areas or by the school gates.

Health isn’t the issue – they’re outside, for heaven’s sake. The principal reason is that, without legislation, most smokers have decided that it’s probably inappropriate and and have changed their behaviour voluntarily.

What comes to mind reading this is the strong image of my father smoking at the steering wheel of his Bellila, and tapping his cigarette on the dashboard ashtray as he drove the family past malodorous mangrove swamps to the beach at Fajara on the river Gambia 60 years ago. Or my grandfather at the steering wheel of his tiny Ford, lighting a pipe after having just exerted himself for several minutes to start it with a hand crank, before pottering slowly up narrow Sussex lanes to be late for church with tone-deaf Father Mac. Was my father ‘inconsiderate’? Was my grandfather acting ‘inappropriately’? Of course not. And what wasn’t inappropriate or inconsiderate then isn’t inappropriate or inconsiderate today. And what’s really needed in children’s playgrounds these days are some decent sheds behind which they can learn to smoke, as did my generation, and many previous generations before us.

It’s not for the government or the medical profession or the BBC or anyone else to decide what is and isn’t inappropriate or inconsiderate. It’s not their job. The job of the government is to represent the people. The job of the medical profession is to care for the sick. And the job of the BBC is to report the news. Anything else is over and above their remit, and they shouldn’t be doing it. Values and norms are constantly being negotiated and renegotiated between countless ordinary people in the course of their everyday lives, not handed down from above by self-styled authorities of one kind or other, who are anyway all going to be swept away some day soon. And the sooner the better.

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Government Of Vandals

I was exploring yesterday the idea that there was a government culture, a mainstream media culture, a medical culture, and in fact a culture or subculture inside every institution or company. And these subcultures were always changing. As new individual people with their own values and beliefs joined them, or people left them, the cultural balance was always subtly changing. I mentioned my own tiny influence, exerted for less than a year, on the internal subculture of Westminster City Council, as I quite consciously and deliberately subverted its dress codes.

I was also noting what seemed to have been a change in government culture from being reactive to being proactive. More and more, governments are not merely reacting to events, but driving events themselves. If in democracies the people command the government, recently we’ve moved much more towards a condition where the government commands the people. We have governments actively pursuing a whole range of different agendas – antismoking, anti-alcohol, anti-obesity, environmental, climate change, EU, and so on.

It’s almost as if – if you’re someone with some political agenda – you no longer bother to create a political party or movement which will attract votes, but you instead become a government employee, and use your small influence within government to change its internal culture – much in the way I did within Westminster City Council. Only you’re not trying to change dress codes, but attitudes to tobacco, alcohol, obesity, climate change, religion, and even the entire ethos of government. And once you’re inside government, you can then hire new employees who share your own values and beliefs, and thereby continue to change the culture of government, perhaps over a period of many decades.

And I increasingly believe that something like this is what has actually happened, in some cases deliberately, and in other cases quite naturally. And the net effect is that the government – and the mainstream media, and medical profession, and any other profession you care to mention – have all gradually changed into being entities quite different from what they were 20 or 30 or 40 years ago, and have become in some cases the polar opposite of what they once were. And if I were, perchance, to somehow become an employee of Westminster City Council in 2017, I would find it had a completely different culture from its culture in 1970, even though it probably still occupies the same building.

And the new culture of government seems to be: The people don’t tell us what to do – we tell them. And so the various federal or state bodies governing HUD residences in NYC have decided that smoking should be banned within  them. What the people living in them might want is irrelevant –  government knows best.

Nothing exemplified this attitude better than Angela Merkel’s decision to invite a million Syrian migrant/refugees to Germany. There was no consultation of the German people. She made the decision herself. Or she made the decision from within the norms of the reigning culture inside the government of which she was head. She knew best what was good for Germany, and a million refugees was just the ticket. Although from my point of view, it looked like one of the most destructive – even vandalistic – things she could have possibly done to Germany.

It’s as if we all now endure the government of vandals, who are intent upon destroying every cultural institution they can. Everything is under attack. The sovereign nation state is under attack. Christianity is under attack. Industry is under attack. White people are under attack. Males are under attack. Marriage is under attack. Language is under attack. Tobacco and alcohol are under attack. There is a full scale assault under way against every cultural norm or value. And in almost every case it is being conducted with the support and encouragement and financing of one supra-governmental or governmental or state-funded body or other.

We now have governments versus the people, rather than governments representing the people.

And when the people get the chance, as they occasionally do, to exert democratic force upon government, it is increasingly to counter or negate the actions of government. And so the Brexit vote in the UK. And the election of Donald Trump in the USA in the face of a media hurricane of abuse. And quite likely the failure of the Italian referendum, and the election of a far-right Austrian government later today. Everywhere people are turning against governments that no longer even pretend to represent the people, but who wish to destroy or replace or otherwise nullify the people. We have, throughout the Western world, almost a state of civil war between government and people.

In the USA, president-elect Donald Trump now has the opportunity to start to change the culture of government. He’s already rumoured to have sweeping change in mind for the environmentally-activist EPA and NASA. He could suppress the cultures that have grown up inside these government-funded institutions. Whether he actually will or not remains to be seen.

But everywhere people are waking up to the discovery that government is not their friend, but instead their enemy, and now consists of an army of vandals devoted to the complete destruction of everything they hold dear, whether it be the country of their birth, the plate of pizza on their table, or the cigarette between their lips.

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Who Are They?

I was thinking this morning about the NYC HUD smoking ban I mentioned yesterday.

Smoking will be prohibited in public housing residences nationwide under a federal rule announced on Wednesday.

I don’t think anyone who lives in public housing has been consulted about this. I don’t think that the ban is something that they voted for. I think that someone in the federal government just signed it into law with a stroke of a pen one day, who knows when.

It’s smoking that’s being prohibited. But it could have been cats. Or 100 watt light bulbs. Or chess. Or using the words “he” and “she”.

The people who sign these regulations into law always seem to be completely nameless and faceless. I still have no idea who signed up to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control on behalf of the UK. Who was he? Or she? Was he a government minister, or a civil servant? Or maybe just a parking warden?

Who are they? Who are these people who propose and frame and enact these prohibitions? Do they have families? Do they have children? Do they have pets? Do they go on holidays? Do they play golf? Do they read books? Are they like normal people? Or do they belong to some secret society or sect in which they’ve gone through initiation rites involving candles and chanting and blood?

I like to think of them as fanatical zealots pursuing some singular mad cause. But I doubt they are.

They are all people who work in government. They are people who’ve spent their lives slowly climbing the hierarchy inside the federal government or the local town hall, slowly being promoted from sub-under-secretary to sub-secretary to secretary of this or secretary of that. It’s a little subculture all of its own.

The nearest I got to it was when I worked as an architectural assistant in Westminster City for about a year back in 1971 or thereabouts, and spent my time subverting its informal dress codes. They all wore suits and ties, but I soon dispensed with firstly the tie, and then the accompanying shirt (T shirt instead), and then the shiny brown shoes (sneakers), finally replacing the grey trousers with something I might have bought on Carnaby Street, but which I’d actually run up on a sewing machine using loud blue and white striped denim, and which looked a lot like pyjama bottoms. It was a process that I undertook gradually, week by week, month by month. Nobody commented. Nobody seemed to notice. But after a while one of the girls working in my department, who always wore sober grey twin sets, arrived at work one day in a rather daring purple trouser suit. And within a few weeks of that happening, all the girls in the entire office block were wearing trouser suits or miniskirts or whatever the heck they wanted.

No, those people weren’t zealots. They didn’t conduct blood rites with candles and chanting. But they were part of a culture, and a culture that could be subverted. Cultures are always changing. Dress codes are a part of a culture. But there’s also a deep culture, of what everyone (or almost everyone) believes they are doing, or trying to do. And we were building the UK council house equivalent of of HUD dwellings. My boss was an award-winning architect. In time, I think the lifts stopped working in the housing blocks we were designing, and their ill-lit corridors were to become haunted by drug dealers and muggers. And then the architectural culture shifted towards trying to recreate the small  terraces that had been demolished to make way for our award-winning blocks.

The deep culture back then was (supposed to be) one of service to the community. And I suspect that that deep culture has gone now, and the people in government no longer see themselves as servants, but as masters. It was a change in culture first suggested by Tony Blair, when he began arguing for government to become “pro-active”, to take a lead. And all you need is a few people in government with a different set of values for those values to gradually permeate the entire culture – just like purple trouser suits oust grey twin sets. If you’re in government now, you probably believe that your job isn’t merely one of “serving the people”, but instead shaping and defining and leading the people. And what better way to do that than with smoking bans and numerous other environmental rules and regulations.

Governments make rules. And anyone who works in government must be someone who wants to make rules, or change rules. And if you’re going to be “pro-active” in government, that’s going to mean making or changing lots of rules. If you’re going to take a “hands-on” attitude to government rather than a “hands-off” attitude, you’re going to make lots and lots of new rules and regulations. It’s your job, just like it’s the job of clothes designers in Carnaby Street to make lots and lots of new clothes, rather than stick to tried and tested grey suits. And Tony Blair did exactly that. There’s been a tidal wave of new laws and regulations in recent years.

But because there is always a culture of government, and it’s always changing, as new ideas and new beliefs come sweeping in, there’s always the likelihood that the culture of government becomes detached from the wider culture, and people in government come to have beliefs and values that nobody else does.

Not just government. Here’s Nigel Farage lecturing the mainstream media:

“What I’m going to say is this is an industry in very deep crisis,” Farage said. “It’s so detached from the way ordinary people are increasingly thinking that it has left a huge gaping hole in the market which the Internet is filling—Breitbart being a phenomenal example of that…”

He’s quite right, of course. The MSM has its own internal culture and its own hierarchies. And in recent years, in tandem with government, the MSM has taken it upon itself to be be as “pro-active” as government in changing the way its readers and viewers think. The MSM see themselves as cultural leaders and opinion-shapers, not mere reporters and critics. And so of course they’ve become detached from the way ordinary people think.

And when they have become sufficiently detached – be they government or media or medics or Popes – from the way ordinary people think, then ordinary people start asking: Who are they? Who are these people? Where did they come from? How did they start to believe the crazy crap they’re spouting?

Which is right where we are now.

 

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