The world today, sunk in deepening economic depression, looks very like the world back in the 1930s. Back then it was re-armament that got the wheels of industry turning again, and rapidly brought down unemployment. Is history about to repeat itself?
Perhaps it is. The sanctions that have been imposed on Russia since its annexation of Crimea, combined with a steep fall in the price of oil, have resulted in a collapse in the Russian rouble. Very arguably, an economic war has been launched against Russia. Vladimir Putin certainly seems to think so:
It was vintage Putin, a three-hour tirade, with a strong hint that the oil price crash is due to a plot by the US and Saudi Arabia to cripple Russia.
The rest of the world is hardly much more stable. In fact the entire world seems to be becoming more and more unstable. Are we running up to another world war?
I don’t know the answer to that question, but this morning I found myself thinking about smoking bans and lifestyle management and global warming from a military point of view.
And from a military point of view, tobacco and alcohol and sugar and all the rest of them are unnecessary luxuries to be dispensed with in war time. They’re the icing on the cake that will have to go.
Obesity is even worse. You can’t have fat lumbering soldiers, puffing cigarettes, waddling out of their trenches towards the enemy lines. You need strong, lean, fit men (and maybe women too).
So if you foresee large-scale war looming, it makes military sense to start to prepare populations for it, by cutting down tobacco, alcohol, sugar, chocolate, meat, and preparing a rationed diet, and encouraging slimming, exercise, body-building, etc. After all, this is what Britons had to endure in WW2 (and for some years after it as well), as Hitler’s U-boats were sinking hundreds of thousands of tons of shipping bringing badly-needed supplies from America.
Similar considerations apply to burning fossil fuels. From a military point of view, it is probably advantageous to minimise reliance on oil and gas, when oil tankers are easy targets for submarines, and gas pipelines easy targets for bombs. Much better as far as possible to have dispersed energy sources like, well, windmills and solar power plants. For the military are most likely going to grab the lion’s share of the available oil anyway.
And maybe that’s the real logic driving lifestyle management and carbon footprint reduction: military logic. Only it couldn’t be justified in those terms. So other justifications for doing it had to be found: That secondhand smoke, and sugar, and obesity, were killing people in thousands. And that CO2 emissions were dangerously warming the planet. None of them were true, of course. They were all complete fabrications. But they served to conceal, for a little while at least, the true military purpose of the measures.
For if a major war breaks out, and luxuries vanish, and petrol becomes unobtainable, and meat and eggs and sugar are rationed, the killjoy puritans will start to look strangely prescient. And so also will the anti-CO2 greens and all their ‘sustainable’ power sources. Everyone will want a windmill and a few solar panels.
What had seemed (and actually was) senseless will start to seem eminently sensible and far-sighted.
But curiously, if the real (military) reasons for austerity are one day revealed, then it’s very likely that the false justifications for them will be dispensed with. The global warming scare will evaporate overnight. And so will all the antismoking lies. People will be free to climb into their cars and go and sit in pubs and drink beer and smoke cigarettes again.
It’s just that there won’t be any cars, and there’ll be no pubs or beer or cigarettes either.