The Contented and the Discontented

I used to be content with life. But these days I am no longer content. The discontent began on 1 July 2007, and has remained ever since, just like those overcast English summers we seem to have had every year since.

Back in the days when I was content, I wasn’t much interested in politics. It’s the discontented who go into politics, in order to put something right. The contented have no need to do this. So they don’t. Why fix what ain’t broken?

Discontent can arrive very suddenly. Back in the early 1960s at school I had a lot of friends, and some of them were Irish, and one day a few of the Irish kids started pointing fingers at the English kids and calling them names and getting really angry. And I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why. But once the Irish kids all got angry with the English kids, they stayed angry, and began to prefer their own company to ours. Years later, I realised that it must have been the start of the Irish Troubles, and it had spilled across the Irish sea all the way to my Irish school-friends.

And looking back on it, I can understand their anger much better now, because now I’m angry in the same sort of way. Because now I’ve got the anger they had, that doesn’t go away. And now it’s my friends who don’t understand me, just like I once didn’t understand my Irish friends. And so we have drifted apart, just like with my Irish friends. It’s a new rift that has opened up.

And nobody’s listening. Nobody can see the widening rift. Just like back in the 1960s.

Funny that it’s happening just when Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams have become the government, more or less, in Northern Ireland.

But if nobody’s been listening, it may be in part because I haven’t been listening. Because while I was content, I was only keeping half an eye open, and only half listening. And if you’re content with the way things are, more or less, then you’re more than happy to let the government carry on governing.  You leave it all to them.

But the result, when people switch off like that, is that there ceases to be a dialogue between the governors and the governed, and the government is pretty much left talking to itself, because nobody much is interested in what they do. And because the government is left having its own internal dialogue with itself, government and governed get out of tune with each other. What should be one conversation becomes two, and develops along different lines to different conclusions.

But if the contented weren’t interested, the discontented were. And it wasn’t just the Irish who were discontented, but also all the Marxists (who are never content), and the environmentalists, and the antismokers. They were all discontented for one reason or other, and they all campaigned and lobbied, and fund-raised.

So of course it was them who ended up as the government.

Well, it wasn’t going to be me, or anybody that I knew, was it?

And so in Britain these days, and all over Europe, and probably in the USA too, you find people who were being arrested (and maybe even imprisoned)  back in the 1960s who now re-appear driving around in government limousines. Like Manuel Barroso, for example. And Baroness Ashton.

And so of course the government is going to be made up of assorted Marxists and environmentalists and antismokers and all the rest of them, because they were the people who were lobbying and campaigning and fund-raising, and who learnt the ropes, and built up the contacts.

And now they’re changing things towards what they wanted. Lots of windmills for the environmentalists, and lots of Central Committees for the commies, and smoking bans for the antismokers, and so on. The deals were probably all cut years ago, in Granita: “Okay, you can have your smoking ban, if we can have our windmills. Deal?” If you have the sense that these people aren’t listening to anybody, it’s because they’re not. They’ve had a long list of things they’ve wanted to do to you, and now they’re going to do it to you.

And now they have become the contented, and we have become the discontented.

The wheel has turned full circle. The former outcasts – the McGuinesses and the Barrosos – have become the new aristocrats. And most of what they have to say is for the other aristocrats to hear. Not for ordinary people, who mostly aren’t interested anyway, because they’re quite content and aren’t listening. Brussels and Westminster and the newspapers and the mass media are all talking to each other rather than to anyone else.

I wonder what it’s like for Manuel Barroso, being driven in his limo through the streets of Brussels? Does he still feel like a Maoist? Or does he now think of himself as an aristocrat? I wonder if, in his dreams, sometimes he finds himself no longer storming the Winter Palace, but sitting inside it waiting to be stormed.

And if all these Marxists and environmentalists and antismokers and control freaks and assorted other nut jobs are making a complete pig’s ear of the job of governing, is it in the least bit surprising? These are people who spent their whole lives crawling painfully up the greasy pole to positions of power, much like airplane hijackers who’ve fought their way into a cockpit. Do they know what to do once they’ve got there? Not really. There are only one or two imperatives for them: banning smoking being one. But do they know how to fly a plane or run a modern industrial economy? Of course not. There wasn’t a chapter about that in the IRA bomb-making manual.

It’s like when Lenin took command of the new Soviet Union, and discovered – horror of horrors – that Marx had left no advice how to manage the new workers’ paradise. He’d been far too busy plotting and planning and making speeches, working hard to get to the top, to notice little details like that. So it all had to be made up from scratch.

Which is what the new aristocracy is doing too. And it shows.

I don’t know what can be done about the contented and the discontented. The discontented have powerful motivations to become politically engaged, and the contented have very little at all. So it seems to me that the discontented must regularly end up in power (as indeed they have) and the contented must be dis-empowered (as they have been and are being).

And at any one time one of them can be found inside the Winter Palace and the other one at its gates. Whether it’s Manuel Barroso outside, or Manuel Barroso inside, is all down to the spin of the wheel of fortune.

But exactly right now it’s Manuel Barroso and Catherine Ashton and all the rest of them who are inside the Winter Palace rather than outside. And if the tumbrils come rolling for anyone any time soon, it’ll be for the likes of them. Because they’re the new aristocracy, and it’s their necks that are on the block.

I think I can grasp the measure of the nightmare which keeps wakening Manuel Barroso. It begins with him as a young man leading the charge across the courtyard of the Winter Palace, and seating himself triumphantly on the tsar’s throne. But it ends with him being led back out and hanged in the very same courtyard.

About Frank Davis

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20 Responses to The Contented and the Discontented

  1. harleyrider1978 says:

    Frank I do believe the global depression thats fixing to hit will be our savior and see TC and the bans go quite into history again. Weve been very effecient at destroying second hand smoke these past few years as is apparent from the comments section in the latest cbslocal san francisco story where it would seem 2/3rds of the comments were damning the junk science behind the bans! The future is brightest for us and a setting sun for TC and their prohibitionist movement.

  2. harleyrider1978 says:

    Fed looks at third round of pumping; Open-ended…

    Earnings Show Recession May Be ‘Fast Approaching’…

  3. harleyrider1978 says:

    Looks like New Zealand will never outlaw smoking!

    Total smoking ban too difficult – prime minister john Key

    Prime Minister John Key says a National Government is unlikely to ban smoking, despite it being a key policy of its support partner the Maori Party.

    The Maori Party wants to make New Zealand smokefree by 2025.

    The policy has been pushed by co-leader Tariana Turia who is also the Associate Health Minister.

    Under new law coming into effect today, tobacco products can no longer be displayed in public view in retail outlets, including dairies, supermarkets and petrol stations

  4. reinholdfrombavaria says:

    Manuel who?
    What South American country, what junta? Can’t remember them all.

  5. Walt says:

    On political Ins and Outs (and the Outs who become Ins and vice versa): When the first total restaurant smoking ban was proposed in NYC (there was already a partial one in place),the head of the City Council’s Health Committee was an out-of-the-closet lesbian who was initially rumored to oppose it. She was instantly and publicly attacked by Joe Cherner (at the time, our resident Stanton Glantz) who lobbied for her ouster and insinuated–the worst slime he could think of– that she was a “secret smoker.” In the end, she supported the ban and a friend of mine, a columnist for a major local paper with an ear to inside info, said that she’d switched her vote in a swap for gay rights legislation.

    She has since (as a post script) become council Speaker– a position of relatively great power– and has ambitions to succeed Bloomberg as mayor. She has also, in the interim, become almost as fanatic an Anti as he, pushing the park ban and “not ruling out” a future sidewalk ban. This, as the city becomes increasingly anti-smoker but increasingly pro-gay. (She just married her girlfriend.) We haven’t, IOW, become any nicer or more tolerant a city, we’ve simply switched intolerances. Perfect 180.

    Again, that conundrum. Until shortly after 1969 and the Stonewall Riots, here in NYC gays were irrationally forbidden to congregate in restaurants and bars (and when they did, the joints were raided and the customers arrested). We can start with the natural question of, “where’s the empathy?” but I wonder if we end with the Abused Child Syndrome, or call it, if you will, the joy of passing the kick. The underdog in search of an under-er dog (and if there isn’t one, let’s create him) to enjoy the thrill of power.

    That also seems to be the history of revolutions, except (maybe) the American. The Good Rebels oust the Evil Tyrants and become…Evil Tyrants, till the next generation of Good Rebels comes along, and the cycle repeats. I wonder sometimes if people only think think fighting for freedom when what they’re actually fighting for is who gets to make the rules and make the other guys eat the shit.

  6. jaxthefirst says:

    “And nobody’s listening. Nobody can see the widening rift.”

    Oh, I don’t know. I think that at least some, if not all, can see the rift only too clearly. I just think that many of them won’t accept it because it doesn’t conform to their rosily-idealised world vision; some actively welcome it, because a divided population is more easily controlled than a united one; and the rest “quite frankly, my dear, don’t give a damn” because it doesn’t affect them personally.

  7. beobrigitte says:

    Back in the days when I was content, I wasn’t much interested in politics. It’s the discontented who go into politics, in order to put something right. The contented have no need to do this. So they don’t. Why fix what ain’t broken?

    You are so right, Frank; the contented have no need to involve themselves in politics or even the lives of others.
    Nowadays there are more discontent people than ever. The anti-smokers just cannot “achieve” a smoke free world soon enough; to them EVERY means is justified.
    To them it might be perfectly reasonable to disrupt a functional society, even (quite rightly) in fear anticipating that this society answers back. So the scared send out some of their minions out to disrupt “smokers gatherings”. (The last one invited to a “pro-smoking march” along a cemetery. Quite funny, really, considering it is their fear that will bring them into an early grave.)

    I used to be worried about recession but by now I would welcome it. There is no justification for funding smoking bans when a country is financially in dire straits. To it this “living longer” argument of e.g. ASH; it adds problems unless, of course, one has invested in “granny farming” and the state foots the bill. The sad thing is that there are many, many smokers sat in one of these “god’s waiting rooms” waiting for their number to come up – and no-one notices that they are still alive.

    The discontent grows.

  8. Margo says:

    On this theme (sort of), I thought you might like the following letter spotted in today’s Western Daily Press, from Jeremy Bell of Martock in South Somerset:

    An Awful Lot of Morons Revealed
    Scientists have discovered the heaviest element yet known to science.
    The new element is Governmentium (Gv). It has one neutron, 25 assistant neutrons, 88 deputy neutrons and 198 asistant deputy neutrons, giving it an atomic mass of 312.
    These 312 particles are held together by forces called morons, which are surrounded by vast quantitites of lefton-like particles called peons.
    Since Governmentium has no electrons or protons, it is inert. However, it can be detected, because it impedes every reaction with which it comes into contact. A tiny amount of Governmentium can cause a reaction normally taking less than a second to take from four days to four years to complete.
    Governmentium has a normal half-life of two to six years. It does not decay but instead undergoes a reorganisation in which a portion of the assistant neutrons and deputy neutrons exchange places.
    In fact, Governmentium’s mass will actually increase over time, since each reorganisation will cause more morons to become neutrons, forming isodopes.
    This characteristic of moron-promotion leads some scientists to believe that Governmentium is formed whenever morons reach a critical concentration. This hypothetical quality is referred to as critical morass.
    When catalysed with money, Governmentium becomes Administratium, an element that radiates just as much energy as Governmentium since it has half as many peons but twice as many morons. All of the money is consumed in the exchange, and no other by products are produced.

  9. harleyrider1978 says:

    Public Smoking Bans are Bogus: San Francisco Proposes New Anti-Smoking Law

    California is somewhat of a trendsetter when it comes to stupid public policy. We build expensive trains nobody wants to ride, enact inane global warming legislation, and spend money at an offensive pace. So it probably doesn’t come as a surprise to learn that our local governments are terrific health mullahs. They’ll tell you how to be healthy, and they’ll force you to change your behavior if you won’t do it yourself.

    The city of San Francisco perfectly illustrated this point last week with the introduction of yet another public smoking ban. The proposal is currently being considered by the city’s Board of Supervisors and would prohibit smoking at “… street fairs, festivals and other outdoor events held on city property,” according to CBS News.

    Proponents of the ban argue that secondhand smoke kills many thousands of people each year and the proposal will help address this “critical public health danger.” It’s the same rationale that underlies any restriction on personal behavior, and in the case of secondhand smoke, it’s been shot full of holes by the relevant science over and over again.

    read the rest here and boy does he take em apart:

    • harleyrider1978 says:

      In the birthplace of the smoking bans,the citizens have had enough San Francisco. Ive a feeling the prop 29 loss is the magic historical moment that we can point to as the turning point in the smoking ban wars………

      • smokervoter says:

        I would tend to agree with that Harley. The victory was actually sweeter than it appears on the surface. Just fourteen coastal/semi-coastal counties, extending from Humboldt in the north to Monterey in the south supplied 35% of the Yes votes, yet constitute only 23% of the state population.

        Save for their undue political influence and power, Prop 29 would have lost by 400,000 votes. That San Francisco doctor with the name containing two a’s, count em’ two (as in double asshole), would still have an extra $30K in his bank account. The brainsick obsession with smokers that is reaching epidemic levels in the Bay area is going to destroy them.

        We need to follow up on this by creating a separate state for them in which to wallow in their pathetic hatred, at a safe distance from civilized California (Pasadena, Calabasas and Santa Monica excepted).

        They will have all of 12 electoral college votes. The real California will have 43, and the Democratic party, with its intense animosity towards smokers, will cease to own the Left Coast.

        This is contingent upon the Republican’s (less panty-waist RINO’s) capturing the Senate. The feds have to OK any newly created state.

    • chris says:

      Actually, the much smaller and much, much less interesting city of Greenville, South Carolina is way ahead of ‘Frisco. They’ve been holding “smokefree” outdoor events for a couple of years now.

  10. Junican says:

    The Tobacco Control Industry knows perfectly well that the SHS science is junk and always has done, cousin. That is why we can call them all liars with full justification. It is a very curious phenomenon that the Head of Science AND ETHICS at the BMA is Dr Vivienne Nathanson. A more accomplished liar and propagandist it is hard to imagine and she is Head of ETHICS! We need to make it our business to push these people off the moral high ground, and the best way to do so is to reveal their lies for what they are. These Holy Zealots are liars and have no right to the moral high ground. Push them over a precipice!

  11. Pingback: Perfect Storm | Frank Davis

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