I build simple physical computer simulation models. In the last few days I’ve been modelling gases and liquids as clouds of ping-pong balls. In one model, a pool of balls gradually got hotter and more agitated, and finally boiled out of its container. Ping-pong balls everywhere.
I can’t help but think that human societies aren’t very much different from collections of ping-pong balls or atoms. For the most part they’re placid. But they sometimes get agitated. And occasionally they boil over.
And this morning I was thinking that, all over the world, human societies seem to be becoming more and more agitated. In my own case, I’m a persecuted and angry smoker. But I was noting a week or so back that anti-semitism was on the rise, which means a lot of persecuted and angry Jews. And an anti-Islamic mood is growing in the Western world, largely in response to radical Islamic movements like Al Qaeda and ISIL (which may well, for all I know, consist of a lot of persecuted and angry Muslims). And in places like Iraq and Ukraine, it all seems to have come to a boil – in civil war.
Why is this happening? Is it simply that one bunch of people start needling another bunch of people, and the whole thing gradually spreads and escalates in a vicious circle of mounting tit-for-tat reprisals? Are we just seeing unreconstructed human nature in action? Is it a bottom-up social process that governments and top experts are trying to contain?
I don’t think so. As a smoker, I’m not particularly angry with anyone I know personally, down here at the bottom. I’m angry at the government that introduced a punitive smoking ban. And I’m angry at all the top doctors and health “experts” that called for one, and have been scaring people with outright lies.
And if I’m a climate sceptic, it’s because global warming alarmists are scaring everyone with bogus claims just like antismoking zealots scare people with bogus claims about tobacco.
And if I’m anti-EU and anti-WHO, it’s because a lot of antismoking zealots and climate alarmists are to be found in these organisations, burdening people with rules and regulations over which they have little or no democratic control.
Very little of the aggravation has been coming from the bottom, from ordinary men and women. It’s all coming from the top. The zealots are in the universities, in the top echelons of the medical profession, in the civil service, and in government. It’s these people who are doing the needling and restricting and persecuting.
Is it deliberate? Probably not entirely. In every case, it’s a bunch of people (of an authoritarian disposition) who think that they know what’s best for everybody, and who are prepared to force people to conform to their views.
In the case of smoking, they’ve decided that society will be fitter and healthier if everyone stopped smoking, and they’re using the law to gradually force everyone to stop smoking. In the case of global warming, they’ve decided that we have to dispense with carbon fuels, and shift to solar and wind and tidal energy sources, and they get huge government grants to build wind and solarfarms. In the case of the EU, they’ve decided that Europe needs to be a unitary state with a common currency, and they’re pushing relentlessly for it, ignoring all protest and all opposition.
In each case, it’s One Size Fits All. There will be no smoking anywhere. And there will be no nuclear or coal-fired power stations anywhere either. And there will be a single European government across the whole of Europe. And all these programmes are advanced with top-down brutal clumsiness.
One might say that foreign policy is pursued in the same manner, largely by top-down bombing of non-compliant peoples.
But all it ever succeeds in doing is to make the people at the bottom – the people on the receiving end of the bombs and bans and diktats – more and more angry. But if the heavy-handed policy doesn’t seem to be working, they just use more bombs and bans and diktats.
There seems to be a complete disconnect between top and bottom. The top doesn’t seem to be in the least bit interested in what the bottom thinks. In fact, it seems to be completely oblivious.
If for example, (God Forbid!) I was a doctor working in Tobacco Control to improve people’s health, the people I’d be most interested in would be the recipients of my ministrations: the smokers of the world. I’d be very interested to know whether my smoking bans and display bans and packaging restrictions were helping them to stop smoking. After all, if you’re using a new treatment on a patient, you’ll want to drop in to see them now and then, to see whether they’re responding well to it, won’t you?
Not Tobacco Control, though. They have no interest whatsoever in the smokers they’re trying to ‘help’. One would have thought that there would have been regular surveys of smokers to find out how they were responding. One would have thought there would have been websites where smokers could provide feedback. I’ve never heard of either ever happening, ever.
This alone is one reason why people no longer believe that smoking bans have anything to do with health, and everything to do with top down control. These doctors are not interested in their patients, so they can’t be doctors.
No wonder everyone is slowly getting angrier and angrier. And no wonder it’s all set to boil over. We’re living in a pressure cooker with the top screwed down, and one day there’s going to be an explosion that will blow the lid right off.