A question from Smoking Lamp this morning:
why is this global elite so committed to antismoking measures?
I spent a while today thinking up a variety of different (and perhaps even contradictory) reasons why this might be so.
- The elites live comfortable, low-stress lives: they don’t need to smoke, and they don’t think anyone else needs to either.
- It’s the working classes that mostly smoke these days, and so smoking is seen as a working class proclivity. Elites don’t wish to identify with working class people.
- It’s the current fashion in elite circles not to smoke (just as once it was very fashionable), and the elites are as much slaves to fashion as anybody else.
- Elites tend to believe whatever “acknowledged experts” tell them about anything. So they believe what doctors tell them about smoking, and what climate scientists tell them about global warming, and the same with everything else. Members of elites tend to be successful in some particular narrow field, and to know a great deal about that field (and are themselves “experts” of a sort), but correspondingly less about everything else. For example, Bill Gates and Michael Bloomberg have both been CEOs of successful companies, and so they probably have become highly skilled managers and shrewd businessmen. But the very process of acquiring these particular skills has been at the expense of other skills. The more they know about one thing, the less they know about everything else. It seems to be thought that if these people are successful businessmen, they will be equally skilful and successful in everything else. But most likely, when they’ve strayed out of their skill area, they’re likely to prove less skilful and less successful than other people, or to have highly conventional, ill-thought-out views.
- Elites of one sort or other (political, business, media, academic) tend interact with each other socially, and create their own elite culture with its own set of beliefs and values. One reason, for example, that MPs in the UK parliament all seem to be interchangeable with each other is perhaps the inevitable consequence of rubbing against each other for most of their lives. So while they may start out with opposing values, they end up with much the same ones. They could have ended up pro-smoking, but they actually ended up antismoking.
- Business owners want to see their employees working profitably, not sitting round smoking and drinking and talking. And as the power of workers’ unions declines, the power of company bosses correspondingly increases. And since elites tend to be in command of politics, business, and elsewhere, they tend always towards top down control. e.g. Population control, tobacco control.
- In a time in which there seem to be a small number of very wealthy people, the wealthy elites tend to be more influential than at other times, and it is what these elites believe (however their beliefs have been arrived at) that is promoted as the orthodoxy or consensus.
If nothing else, it’s simply that different cultural groups are always evolving and changing – much like with Impressionist and Expressionist and Surrealist movements in art -. And there’s no particular reason why cultural groups should become entrained with each other, and share the same beliefs and values at the same time. In fact we seem to be living in a time when different social groups are strongly diverging in what they believe and value. If 50 years ago there was something like a single culture with a shared set of common beliefs and values, we’ve now broken up into several different cultures. It may take a shared experience (like WW2) to create a single common culture, which then proceeds to slowly unravel over subsequent decades.
One thing that I’m not saying is that there is any sort of conspiracy among elites. I think that there is instead a natural process whereby beliefs and values are formed or eroded, and what we’re seeing is an unfolding process.