Goodbye Nightmare Scenario

Following on from the last post on UKIP, H/T Smokingscot for this story (confirmed by Brigitte) about UKIP’s Paul Nuttall:

NEW figures showing pub closures have accelerated to 31 per week have led to calls to reduce taxes and ease the smoking ban on the local boozer.

The figures are released as part of real ale group Camra’s “Pubs Matter”campaign and show 3% of pubs in the suburbs have shut in the past six months.

Paul Nuttall, UKIP’s deputy leader and Northwest MEP, said “It is completely unfair that pubs are paying nearly ten times more tax on a price of a pint in comparison to supermarkets.

“The smoking ban also severely hit pubs right across the country – if landlords want a well-ventilated room set aside for smokers they should be able to make that choice.

“This move along with reducing VAT for the hospitality industry would support local pubs and decelerate the rate they’re closing each and every week”.

So in UKIP it’s not just Nigel Farage who wants to relax the smoking ban.

I can’t say I ever really thought it was.

And if Nigel Farage stopped drinking for a month in Jan/Feb, he seems to be well back on again now:

Nigel Farage seems to believe his party’s faltering campaign has turned a corner – if his enthusiastic sing-song celebration in a restaurant in Ramsgate on Thursday night is anything to go by.

A little before midnight, the well-wined Ukip leader stood on a chair in a small Italian eatery in the Kent town to bellow out a rendition of New York, New York to the delight of his dining companions.

That performance came after several renditions of Hi, Ho Silver Lining, with Farage hollering down the phone to whoever happened to be calling.

A little unsteady on his feet, the Ukip leader then rounded off the night with The Wild Rover outside on the pavement, as aides persuaded him that moving on to a nightclub or revisiting his teenage days of skinny-dipping were not sensible for a party leader two weeks before the most important election of his life.

The immediate cause of Farage’s celebration was a Survation telephone poll commissioned by party donor Alan Bown that suggests the Ukip leader is nine points ahead in his target seat of South Thanet in Kent.

Halfway through the evening, after many glasses of red and some fresh seafood, he leaned across the table to his agent and declared with glee: “We’re bloody winning, aren’t we?”

And the smoking? From the same Guardian report:

An aide at his side held his cigarette during doorstep visits and carried “souvenir” Ukip placards that Farage autographed for residents to display in their windows.

I think that puts yesterday’s nightmare scenario to bed.


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Nightmare Scenario

This Daily Mail story seems to have worried a few people:

Farage reveals he is suffering chronic back pain… and it’s so bad he even thought about quitting smoking to see if it would help

Nigel Farage is considering quitting smoking because of ‘terrible’ back pain

UKIP leader wasn’t ‘firing on all cylinders’ at the start of election campaign

Suffering from flare-up of spinal injury and been prescribed sleeping pills

Well, we’ll just have to wait and see. But it goes to show how the hopes of many UK smokers rest upon a single man, to the point that the thought that he might stop smoking induces something like panic.

Simon Clark throws in another spin ball with his own assessment of UKIP:

Ukip is the exception when it comes to tobacco but that’s largely due to the influence of Nigel Farage. If Farage fails to win a seat in parliament and steps down as party leader it’s entirely feasible his successor will quietly drop Ukip’s opposition to the smoking ban and other tobacco control policies. It’s happened before and it could happen again.

So even if Nigel Farage hasn’t stopped smoking (yet), he may not be elected in Thanet South, and will be forced to step down as UKIP leader, and his successor will promptly reverse UKIP’s policy on smoking.

I’m not sure whether this is actually anywhere near the truth. The trouble with Farage is that he outshines everyone else in his party, and most people have no idea how other key figures think. But I suspect that they’re broadly of the same opinion as him on most matters, and that probably includes the smoking ban.

Nevertheless, one might imagine a variety of nightmare scenarios. Like: Nigel Farage is not elected in Thanet South in 10 days time, and steps down as UKIP party leader. The new leader, David Kiljoy, announces that UKIP’s policy on smoking is being brought in line with the other parties. “Let’s face it,” he says, “Nobody wants to see smoking in pubs ever again. Our policy probably cost us millions of votes.” Nigel Farage agrees, announcing he is quitting both smoking and drinking. “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em,” he declares, adding that he will shortly be joining the board of ASH to help stamp out the last vestiges of smoking in the UK….

We can all let our imaginations run wild. But I intend to vote UKIP regardless of these various pieces of speculation. And we only have to wait another 10 days anyway.

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Black Hole

Describing the general election as a “black hole”, Brendan O’Neill has it about right:

There’s nothing normal about this election. It’s time someone pointed out the strangeness of it, the spirit-crushing smallness of it. In essence, the sort of stuff that used to be the concern of local elections — red-tape issues, careers guidance for teens, providing certain services to rural communities — has somehow become the meat of the general election, that once-every-five-years affair at which we once got to choose between traditionalism or semi-socialism; between those who thought power should rest with the upper or capitalist classes and those who thought it should be somewhere nearer the people; between people and institutions that had different visions for how the economy — the very engine of the nation — should be organised; who had different ideas, different values.

And now? David Cameron excitably promises to provide superfast broadband to rural communities. Okay. Get on with it. That’s not a political issue, far less a General Election one — it’s a practical task. Ed Miliband actually made headlines with his promise that Labour will provide ‘face-to-face careers guidance for all 16-year-olds’. What? Various politicos are trying to cajole us into voting by reminding us that Nelson Mandela spent 20 miserable years on Robben Island for the right to vote. Yes, but he did so to secure the right of black people to determine their destinies, to take control of their lives, not so that they could say Yay or Nay to giving spotty youths a 20-minute chat about whether they should go into nursing or retail.

The suffocating smallness of the election is summed up in the parties’ attitudes to economic matters. Labour’s slogan is ‘Balancing the books’. Seriously. It promises there will be ‘no extra borrowing’ under a Labour government. So there will still be borrowing, just not extra borrowing! And that’s it. This from a party whose 1918 manifesto called for the ‘immediate nationalisation’ of the railways, mines and electrical power, the ‘democratic control of industry’, and ‘employment for all’. From calling for ‘the common ownership of the means of production’ to promising to ‘balance the books’ in less than a century. For its part, the Tories, once the party of business and the free market, promise to create a surplus by 2018 so that Britain can ‘start to pay down its debts’.

What we have here, on that most immediate of political issues: the economy, is not a choice between clashing visions of power, of control, of growth and development, but rather between two slightly different bank managers….

I think the idea is to keep the campaign low key, with nothing happening, so voters will switch off. But Nigel Farage and UKIP seem to be gaining traction:

Latest polling data has shown that UKIP leader Nigel Farage is nine points ahead in the constituency of Thanet South with less than two weeks to go until polling day.
The numbers put Farage on 39 per cent, nine points clear of his nearest rival, Conservative Craig Mackinlay and way ahead of Labour’s Will Scobie who is on 26 per cent.

Speaking to Breitbart London Farage said he was “excited and confident, but certainly not complacent” and will keep working hard in the constituency.

And even thought the South East was where the Liberal Democrats retained their only MEP last May, their candidate in this constituency is looking at losing his deposit.

The voting intention of constituents was collected by Survation on Wednesday 22nd April and is the latest available.

“In the last 72 hours we’ve become very excited about how we are doing in some of our target seats. We’re nicking a bit of vote from everybody. We’ve clearly hurt Labour more than we’ve hurt anybody else,” he told the Telegraph.

“And this whole narrative here – Ukip’s fading away, it’s not doing any good, it ain’t going to take any seats; actually we take the very opposite view.

“The thing that really strikes me about these figures is the number of non-voters, the people who did not engage in 2010, who have said they are going to vote Ukip. I think that is really exciting.”

And that despite the hatchet job by Evan Davis (Ssee James Delingpole: 10 reasons why Evan Davis’s BBC interview with Nigel Farage was the worst thing ever):

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NOLA Businesses Revolt

Unlike UK pubs, it looks like NOLA businesses are going to fight:

New Orleans private business owners are not going to take city regulations that could hurt business lying down.

The latest wide-sweeping regulation in the overly regulated Big Easy is a smoking ban which mandates that businesses prohibit smoking in all sections of their business venue and document to the city with complaints if indoor, illegal smoking occurs.

Over 50 business owners in the French Quarter and other parts of the city have signed on to a Civil District Court lawsuit which questions the legality of the business regulation, saying that the smoking ban is too vague and broad.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu and the New Orleans City Council are both called out in the lawsuit as defendants in the case. City Councilwoman Latoya Cantrell pushed the ordinance for months, claiming that the smoking ban was necessary for public health concerns.

The business owners who have decided to fight back include the owners of Harrah’s Casino, Pat O’Brien’s, Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop, the Tropical Isle and restaurant owners from Broussard’s, Kingfish and Cafe Maspero. The French Quarter Business League has also signed onto the suit against the city.

At the time of a state fiscal crisis, it seems almost absurd that the city of New Orleans, known for its leisure-like drinking and smoking laws, would prop up and enforce such an ordinance.

The lawsuit says that City Council members were never given a fiscal note, which clearly stated how much the city could lose in revenue because of the smoking ban, prior to voting on the issue.

If that is the case, it would begin to make sense as to why the City Council voted unanimously to place more regulations on businesses and bars in a city which is apparently struggling with a fiscal crisis itself.

The business owners involved in this suit make a great case for private business rights. Far too often, major cities run by Democrats force private business to comply with overreaching regulation which takes control out of the hands of business and into the palm of the well-connected.

New Orleans’ smoking ban is no different.

These business owners have a right as private owners to an enterprise which brings in revenue for the city to decide what they allow and what they do not allow in their venues.

The smoking ban was never necessary in the first place, as there were already over 100 venues in the city which banned smoking, including all restaurants, per state law, and many bars and lounges.

Cantrell’s ordinance was never about smoking or “public health” to begin with. From the beginning, it was a power-grab, in order to push a narrative that business does not know what is right for business, but rather the city knows what is right for business.

The city or state never knows what is right for business and individuals. Anytime a major city or a state gets involved in a matter that it could have simply stayed out of, the issue not only gets worse, but the taxpayers ultimately pay the price.

Which is what is happening with this smoking ban.

The ban in general will surely not generate more money for the city, but decrease revenue instead. On top of that, an entire bureaucratic five-step enforcement system has been set up by the city’s health department to “enforce” the smoking ban.

Instead of a quick, simplified and easy way to enforce the ordinance, instead, it is as if the city purposefully sought out a complicated process that will make enforcement of the ordinance a joke.

An entire smoking complaint form process, coupled with mailing it in and then having a health department official come out to the venue to “investigate” complaints of smoking.

Investigate smoking? Are these public health officials going to take fingerprints off cigarette butts on the ground? This all sounds too ridiculous to be discussing, but these are the kinds of questions that have to be asked when a city takes such inane actions.

These business owners’ fight against the city will be long and strenuous, but it is necessary for the sake of business rights and for the sake of calling out a system designed to fail.

Fight on.

Also on NOLA:

Much like “Sin City” Las Vegas, vice is part of the appeal of New Orleans. But whereas Vegas presents a marketed and manufactured experience, New Orleans is authentically libertine. Its laissez-faire attitude toward personal behavior is woven into the fabric of the city, which has thus far resisted the government-mandated lifestyle regulations that have swept into so many other places.

In April, however, New Orleans will become a bit more domesticated. In January, the city council voted to enact a comprehensive ban on smoking and vaping indoors. The proposal ignited debate, but its passage arrived with an air of inevitability. Smoking bans have successfully transitioned from California quirk to the new normal. The American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation, which tracks smoking laws, reports that 36 states and nearly 900 cities have laws requiring bars and restaurants to be smoke free.

Adding one more mid-sized city to the list may not seem like a big deal, but banning smoking in New Orleans is a symbolic success for the anti-smoking movement. Public health advocates will soon be able to take a victory lap around newly smoke-free bars in the French Quarter. Others will wistfully lament that the city has given up part of its unique charm, becoming a little more like the rest of the country. “New Orleans is a city where people have been largely free to make their own mistakes, and to many the smoking ban is, so far, the biggest step in a continuing effort to roll back that freedom,” says T. Cole Newton, owner of the New Orleans bar Twelve Mile Limit, although he’s quick to point out that plenty of permissiveness remains….

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Institutionalised Lying

Chris Snowdon:

Not a day goes by without some outrageous lie being told about e-cigarettes in the USA.

What’s been remarkable about the e-cig saga, as it has unfolded over the past few years, is that it has been possible to witness in real time blatant lies being hurriedly assembled to counter this unforeseen technological innovation.

It’s all been happening in public. Tobacco Control was left in disarray by the arrival of the new e-cigarettes. Their discomfiture was painfully obvious. Some of them approved the new smokeless device, and some disapproved. But the emerging consensus seems now to be that e-cigarettes are the exact same thing as cigarettes, and just as dangerous.

There isn’t a shred of evidence for this. But truth doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is the continuation the antismoking denormalisation programme, which cannot be allowed to be derailed. So ‘research’ was instantly commissioned to find the danger of vaping, and ‘research’ results were instantly produced with the approved conclusions.

That’s how ‘research’ is done these days. The conclusions – that e-cigarettes are as dangerous as cigarettes – were foregone. The task of the ‘researcher’ was simply to find plausible (or even implausible) reasons for supposing that e-cigarettes were dangerous. We’ve seen this sort of thing  before, when “intelligence and facts are fitted around the policy,”

What’s breath-taking about the lies being told about e-cigarettes is that they are so patently obviously lies.

But I’d like to suggest that lying is actually the normal modus operandi of Tobacco Control, and indeed of all social engineering programmes. After all, if you are engaged in a social engineering programme intended to change people’s behaviour in respect of smoking, drinking, eating, or anything else, does it really matter whether or not lies are employed to achieve these aims? What if it’s lies that work best in changing behaviour? And if you primarily want to change people’s behaviour, you want to override their personal autonomy in any way you can. Personal autonomy is something you want to destroy in people. You don’t want any truths or facts or debates to hinder the process of gaining control over them, and making them do as you desire.

The e-cig  saga now sees Tobacco Control blatantly lying. But it’s not the first time that they’ve told lies. The earlier secondhand smoke scare was another lie. But, unlike the current rush job on e-cigarettes, it was one that was carefully concocted over a decade or more, in order to establish a body of ‘research’ that showed the danger of passive smoking.

And 20 years before that there there was the firsthand smoke scare, backed by the research of Doll and Hill, Wynder and Graham, and others, all published in reputable journals, with statistical analyses attached.

And 20 years before that, there was all the antismoking research (now largely forgotten) carried out in Nazi Germany by the likes of Fritz Lickint and Franz Müller and others, some of it personally financed  by Hitler.

And the entire process has always been fixed around the policy, which is an eugenic programme to eradicate smoking. The facts and research have always been fixed around this policy. It was always the primary task of the ‘researchers’ to find dirt on tobacco and smoking. And of course they always did find it. It was what they were paid to do, after all.

The Tobacco Control programme has always been about constructing elaborate (but plausible) lies about tobacco. The eugenic programme has always required lying. And so it has always used lies. If anything has changed, it’s that the early lies were the most elaborate, carefully constructed, and plausible lies. The quality of the lies has gradually deteriorated since. If the case made against firsthand smoking was mathematically statistically significant, the case against secondhand smoking never was, and there are no statistical studies whatsoever in the case of e-cigarettes.

This shouldn’t be at all surprising. Once any great lie is told, it will always need subsidiary lies to be appended, often at very short notice. And in the case of e-cigarettes, we can see the latest lies being cooked up before our eyes.

But the success to date of the tobacco Big Lie has encouraged the use of the same method in other social engineering projects. For example, the global warming/climate changc lie is another piece of scaremongering aimed at changing people’s behaviour. Much like with tobacco, it started life with impressive ‘research’ in the form of computer simulation models showing the dangers of  increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. That the Earth has failed to warm as these computer models predicted has resulted in subsidiary lies being appended to the first big lie, such as that the missing heat is to be found deep in the oceans. The failure of the predicted global warming to manifest itself has even resulted in the ‘global warming’ scare being renamed as the ‘climate change’ scare (itself another rather remarkable kind of lie, a bit like first name a ship the Unsinkable, and then renaming it the All-Too-Sinkable after it fails to live up to its name).

It might even be suggested that the Lie has now become the principal instrument for advancing any sort of policy whatsoever, including political programmes like the EU project.  Such projects cannot be allowed to fail, and so any lie whatsoever can be used (nay, must be used) to prop them up. And if most politicians are now widely perceived as serial liars, it’ very probably because it’s exactly what they are. Lying has become second nature.

Lying can often be successful in the short term. But in the long run, lies are unsustainable. The process of lying always requires subsidiary lies to be appended, in exponentially multiplying numbers, at shorter and shorter notice. Inevitably, some of the new lies contradict each other, and the entire edifice of lies becomes increasingly unstable and implausible, and the entire bubble bursts.

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Hostile Architecture

It’s not just smokers who are unwelcome.

I came across this today. It’s a paint that repels liquids, including urine.



I couldn’t help think of the numerous occasions when I’ve found myself in need of taking a leak, with not a toilet for miles.

The high-tech nano-paint – called Ultra-Ever Dry – was originally piloted by the car industry to keep dirt off vehicles.

But in Hamburg’s clubbing district, where local residents say the streets regularly end up like a ‘sewer’, activists found a novel new use for it.

They have now put up signs on walls across the area reading ‘do NOT pee here – we pee back’.

Manchester has suffered similar problems to Hamburg, particularly in the popular Northern Quarter, where drunk revellers frequently use doorways as urinals.

All it will succeed in doing is move the problem to a different doorway. And if all walls and doorways have the same coating, it’ll move it out into the middle of the road. The thing to do is to provide more public toilets.

It reminded me of the anti-homeless spikes in the news last year.

Boris Johnson has called for anti-homeless spikes outside a luxury block of London flats to be removed immediately, describing them as “ugly, self-defeating and stupid”.

The mayor of London urged the owner of the private block of deluxe apartments to remove the inch-high metal studs, which triggered outrage when a picture of them was posted online at the weekend.

He tweeted on Monday: “Spikes outside Southwark housing development to deter rough sleeping are ugly, self defeating & stupid. Developer should remove them ASAP.

“We’ve spent £34m on the likes of ‘no 2nd night out’ [which aims to ensure no one spends more than one night on the streets], reaching 3/4s of rough sleepers, but must do more. Spikes are simply not the answer.”

And the Camden bench:

It is called the Camden bench, after the local authority that originally commissioned the sculpted grey concrete seats found on London streets. The bench’s graffiti-resistant sloping surface is designed to deter both sleeping and skateboarding.

While not as obvious as the stainless steel “anti-homeless” spikes that appeared outside a London apartment block recently, the benches are part of a recent generation of urban architecture designed to influence public behaviour, known as “hostile architecture”….

In addition to anti-skateboard devices, with names such as “pig’s ears” and “skate stoppers”, ground-level window ledges are increasingly studded to prevent sitting, slanting seats at bus stops deter loitering and public benches are divided up with armrests to prevent lying down.

To that list, add jagged, uncomfortable paving areas, CCTV cameras with speakers and “anti-teenager” sound deterrents, such as the playing of classical music at stations and so-called Mosquito devices, which emit irritatingly high-pitched sounds that only teenagers can hear.

“A lot of defensible architecture is added on to the street environment at a later stage, but equally with a lot of new developments it’s apparent that questions of ‘who do we want in this space, who do we not want’ are being considered very early in the design stage,” says the photographer Marc Vallée, who has documented anti-skateboarding architecture.

“Who do we want in this space, who do we not want.”

Who do we want in our world, and who don’t we want?

There seems to be an ever-lengthening list of people to be Excluded From Our World. Smokers. Drinkers. Unsightly fat people. Homeless people. Teenagers. Skateboarders. Needless to say, there will also be drug addicts, drug dealers, hookers, buskers, jugglers, beggars, football (and in fact any ball game at all) players.

All are to be rudely pushed out of sight, and out of mind.


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Two Conceptions of Society

I usually think of myself as a night owl. For example, I usually write this blog after midnight. Right now it’s just after midnight.

But in recent times I’ve been finding myself waking up in the morning with an idea about something, very often something to do with smoking bans. And a couple of days back I woke up with an idea which I’d like to reconstruct before I forget it:

I’m very much an individualist. I see the world as made up of individual people. And I see ‘society’ as being all the connections between those people, like a big web, almost like an internet. Society, in my view, is made up of people. They’re the bricks, and they’re bound together by the mortar of friendship, family, creed, nationality, and so on.

But the tobacco controllers (and all the other controllers) seem to see things a bit differently. They seem to see ‘society’ as a kind of separate entity, like a house or something. And they see people as primarily members of society, like people who live in houses. So ‘society’ is like a huge building that everyone lives inside.

For them this ‘society’ is the primary entity, and it is from this society that individuals learn everything they ever know, like their names and the language they speak and pretty much everything else they know about anything. The individual is the creation of society. And so the individual is secondary.

And just like engineers engage in large scale engineering projects, like building houses and cities and roads and railways and dams, the controllers see themselves as engineers engaged in another kind of large scale engineering project: they’re trying to re-engineer ‘society’. They’re engaged in a social engineering project just like other engineers are engaged in civil engineering projects. And specifically, they’re trying to make society ‘smoke-free’, and also ‘carbon-neutral’, and in Europe they’re trying to construct a European Union that is a new superstate. There are a whole bunch of social engineering projects under way at the moment. And the goal is to make the huge building called ‘society’ smoke-free and carbon-neutral and have a little circlet of stars as the flag on top of it.

I can sort of see what they’re trying to do. There’s this thing called ‘society’ and they’re trying to re-organise and re-engineer it just like civil engineers drive tunnels and canals through hills as they reshape geography. And just like civil engineers with mountains, they see society as something that can be chopped up and moved around and reshaped. So they bring in smoking bans and all sorts of other rules and regulations to bulldoze people into conformity with their plans, just like civil engineers blast and bulldoze the surface of the earth.

Underlying it all is the idea that ‘society’ exists unconditionally as a monolithic entity, however much it gets chopped up and bulldozed, just like the material world that the civil engineers are chopping up and bulldozing exists as part of a monolithic entity called the Earth, which is a 6000 km radius sphere of solid matter. More or less whatever you do to the Earth,  it will remain. And society is the same. However much you chop it up and bulldoze it, there always be a society, just like there’ll always be an Earth.

Anyway, that’s how they seem to think. They see themselves as social engineers no different from civil engineers or mechanical or electrical engineers. And they see themselves as just as well-meaning and progressive and as scientific as any of those sorts of engineers. It’s just that they’re re-wiring and rebuilding ‘society’ rather than a city or a house or a ship.

But I don’t think the way they think. For while I think that there is such a thing as society, I don’t think it’s an indestructible monolithic entity-in-itself. That’s because I see society as made of bonds of one sort or other tying people together. And, the way I see it, when the ties binding people together are broken, society disintegrates. Because society is nothing but the ties binding people together.

If they’re right about the monolithic nature of society, it will endure more or less whatever is done to it. It can be chopped up and bulldozed and relocated and buried as much as the social engineers like, and there will still be the thing called ‘society’ at the end of it. People may not like the re-engineering work while it’s being done, just like they don’t like a new road or railway or canal being built a few hundred yards away. But they’ll get used to it in the end,  And they’ll come to love the new smoke-free and carbon-neutral society with the EU  flag fluttering over it, just like they soon get to like the new roads and railways even if they protested against them at first.

But if I’m right, all these utopian social engineering schemes are not ‘improving’ society at all: they are instead destroying society. It is, after all, my own experience of the social engineering project that is the smoking ban: it shattered the communities of which I was a member. In fact, I regard myself as having been expelled from society. And the same process is at work in all the other social engineering projects. The EU social engineering project is shattering the ties that bind nations and peoples together. And the dystopian future that beckons would seem to be one in which ‘society’, as a network of ties between individuals, has ceased to exist.

The contrast between the two ideas of society, mine and theirs, crystallised into the idea of a sculptor. The social engineers see themselves as being like sculptors who set  out to give shape and form and meaning to a block of marble (i.e. unreconstructed ‘society’), and create something new and beautiful. But I think that, as they rain down their blows on society, chiselling holes in it, they’re just going shatter the whole block, and end up with a pile of rubble. Because societies are not like marble. If anything, they’re more like sand or water. Or flesh and blood. And so all their social engineering projects will end in disaster, because they are based upon radical misconceptions about the nature and durability of the thing called ‘society’.

Such was the thought I woke up with a day or so back,

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