The Long Retreat in the Culture War

Some of my commenters (e.g. Walt and Mikef) don’t think much of Pat Buchanan, but a recent piece by him seemed to get something right.

Politics follows culture. And the cultural revolution of the ’60s is triumphant. Traditional Christianity, driven out of schools and the public square, is being whipped back into the churches and told to stay there.

America has gone over to the revolution.

Looking back, the sweep of the capitulation becomes stark.

First came the plea of atheists not to have their children forced to participate in prayers at school. Fair enough. Americans do not believe in compelling people to do as they disbelieve.

Then followed the demand that no child be exposed to prayers or religious books, including the Bible, nor have any day or week set aside as a holiday if connected to Christianity.

Out went Christmas and Easter. In came winter break and spring break. Coaches of high school teams were ordered to dispense with prayers before games. The coaches complied.

First came the non-smokers who didn’t want to inhale secondhand smoke. Fair enough, they could have their own non-smoking areas. Then followed the demand that nobody (particularly chiiiildren) be exposed to secondhand smoke, and the non-smoking areas multiplied. And with public smoking bans pub landlords were required to eject anyone seen smoking.  The landlords complied.

…the process has been steadily proceeding for generations.

First comes a call for tolerance for those who believe and behave differently. Then comes a plea for acceptance.

Next comes a demand for codifying in law a right to engage in actions formerly regarded as debased or criminal. Finally comes a demand to punish any and all who persist in their public conduct or their private business in defying the new moral order.

And so it goes with revolutions. On the assumption of power, revolutionaries become more intolerant than those they dispossessed.

The French Revolution was many times more terrible than the Bourbon monarchy. The Russian Revolution made the Romanovs look benign. Fidel Castro’s criminality exceeded anything dreamt of by Fulgencio Batista.

Looking back, one appreciates why we hear so often, “This isn’t the country I grew up in.” For it isn’t.

He’s not writing about smoking bans, of course, but he may as well be. Because it’s the same process. It’s always the same process.

If there’s one thing I disagree with Buchanan about, it’s the idea that this is the triumph of “the cultural revolution of the ’60s”. I’m a child of the 60s, and smoking bans were no part of that time. The 60s were about permitting people to do things, not stopping them doing things. It’s why it was called “the permissive society”. What he’s talking about is stuff that came in the 70s and later: Women’s lib, gay rights, environmentalism, abortion on demand, smoking bans, and all the rest of it.

There was no women’s lib in the 1960s. And no gay rights. Precious little environmentalism. Only illegal abortions. And needless to say, no smoking bans. At least, not in the UK. The 60s, as far as I was concerned, was about lots of good electric music. Later on it also became long hair, marijuana, and radical student politics. Only a small minority of people got involved in the last, and I wasn’t one of them. If nothing else, they were no fun to be with. They were all bitter, angry people with lots of books on Marxism. (I remember in 1968, weeks before the university sit-in they were organising (protesting about access to a swimming pool, believe it or not), one of them rushing into a cafeteria I frequented with about 10 books under his arm. All of them about Marxism, as far as I could make out, craning my head round to read the titles).

In my experience, the 60s started out as bright and optimistic (e.g. early Beatles), and then went a bit crazy (e.g. late Beatles), and finally became a train wreck (Beatles 1970 break-up). If in 1965 I’d wanted in, by 1970 I wanted out. It had all gone mad. And the bright new electric music had been replaced with stuff that was very dark and gloomy.

I suppose there was a cultural revolution in the 60s, but it was one that was initially benign and well-meaning and liberal (in the true sense of the word). It was only in the 70s that it all got uglier, with minorities (women, gays, blacks) angrily demanding equal rights (and mostly getting them). And it’s only got uglier ever since. Because the bitter, angry, Marxist student politicians stayed in politics, and got themselves elected firstly as town councillors, and later as MPs. And they used the techniques they’d first employed in universities in the process.

Anyway, if this is a cultural revolution, this 60s’ child hates it. And would have hated it back then as well. And it also isn’t the country I grew up in.


About Frank Davis

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24 Responses to The Long Retreat in the Culture War

  1. Lepercolonist says:

    How long this century for a call of tolerance towards smokers ? I realize most non-smokers accept our behavior but the anti’s ? People accept transgenders but not smokers. Crazy times.

    • Smoking Lamp says:

      I suspect they won’t accept smoking again unless smokers start to demand acceptance. The attitude can change but the momentum must be reversed.

    • Barry Homan says:

      And I think they’ll eventually be defeated because they’re trying to get rid of smoking – but they’ll never get rid of smokers. Prohibition tried to eliminate drinking, but did it make all the drinkers disappear? No. This is our ace-in-the-hole, we just wait it out. Folks are already getting real weary of prohibitionists, all of them demanding money, all trying to keep their jobs intact.

      If nothing else, we simply wait. Public opinion will shift, and so will the politics.

      • Exactly Barry public opinion has already shifted that’s why ukip did so well in the last election and the gop here in the states. The nanny state is on life support and the more they do the more they are hated by everyone.

        But its come to a point where the sock puppets must be outlawed and likely all non profit groups in America the same way. Simple reason they all became political lobbying groups and abused the taxpayers to fund their dirty work because nobody will donate to somebody out to make criminals of themselves for what they do everyday……….

        The ACS remember was created out of the charred remains of the last prohibition movement and spent 50 years building a good guy image just like others in its same past history…….like the ala aha etc etc.

        These groups will end up being hated and despised just as the anti-cigarette leagues were and the temperance folks.

        Its just simply a matter of time and with their fall we will see a new system of finance be born and all kinds of old ideas that worked and have been outlawed to cover for the socialist liberals way of doing business which has bankrupted everyone in the world.

    • Seeing as most of the LGBT community smoke and they are the heaviest smoking group of all groups. The governments even came up with specialized anti-smoking groups to target the LGBT community as a whole on smoking. Even they are going to feel the sting of the nanny state they supported.

  2. waltc says:

    I agree that the 60s for the most part was quietly tolerant of everything –at least the young were. The older gen then was either going “what’s the world coming to ?” or consisted of guys trying– at 40 and 50 , – to let their hair grow long and switch their martinis for weed and, though looking ridiculous, wondering why their own youth had been so up-tightly misspent. The irony is that yesterday’s hipsters grew up to be today’s puritans and healthists, that the same kids who screamed to get their countercultural voices heard, speaking “truth to power, ” are , now that they’re in power–, trying to suppress the voice of their opposition, and attempting to enforce the kind of rigid conformity they escaped from in the 50s, tho of course to an opposite set if ideals.

    Buchanan is right that they won an astounding victory (taking the long view, a rout) -and not for tolerance but just for a different kind of intolerance. But when he writes this: Next comes a demand for codifying in law a right to engage in actions formerly regarded as debased or criminal…. he’s off on the far right fringes talking about gays (whose actions I never considered debased or criminal nor, otoh, holy either) but in any case there the analogy to smokers ends. In fact, in the good old bad old days smokers were considered unremarkably “normal” and NOW we’re considered debased and criminal– and being criminalized as gays were then. (Google the Stonewall Riots.) In the one case, an unjustly reviled minority was returned to the fold, and in the other a new minority is unjustly reviled. Gays now, by law, are given Rights they never had in the history of the world, while smokers, by law, are losing rights they always had. And, to get back to Buchanan’ s thought. No one, by law, has the right to discriminate against gays but everyone, by law, must discriminate against smokers. IOW, Buchanan just reveals that he’s a bigot of another stripe.

    • Pats talking about sodomy laws and sunset laws all across the country back then Walt.
      Yes the sodomy laws were against homosexual activity,but they were also enforced even against married hetero couples.

    • Gays weren’t given rights they were given special rights and that’s the whole problem here in todays world special rights over normal rights of the people in general. Gays wanted marriage but why! They had civil unions and that was the compromise. Just as smoking sections were the compromise and everyone thought thatd be the end of it. But no it was a plan to divide and conquer to move non smokers into a special class of people the same as moving gays to a special class of people and destroying the family tradition in the process………Gay marriage is a plan to an end not a plan to a right. Its to finish family as a unit and take control of it and what goes on in your own home.

  3. prog says:

    ‘And the bright new electric music had been replaced with stuff that was very dark and gloomy’

    A bit of a generalisation – the mid 60s to mid 70s produced some of the best and most diverse music in the history of popular music, a creative period that has never been equalled nor ever will be.

    • Frank Davis says:

      That was my general experience. I thought that stuff like Black Sabbath, early Fleetwood Mac, and 10 Years After, Doors, even Pink Floyd, were very dark and gloomy. Or cynical like the Mothers of Invention. And that’s what people I knew were listening to, and so what I was listening to as well.

      There was a lot of much brighter music in the 70s. David Bowie. Roxy Music. Little Feat. It was much lighter.

      But in retrospect, 50s music was pretty good too. Elvis, Buddy Holly, Shadows. These days I even like Sinatra, which I never did back then.

  4. Even in America the smoking bans are realtively new only starting in a high pitch effort after the democrats got control in 2006. That’s the year Pelosi ramped up federal grants for the effort and lobbying everywhere became the name of the game. With the ACS and its nationwide groups out lobbying and even financially backing local Nazis in council city races. Id even read they were financing certain students in colleges to be made into today new anti politician……..Just to make sure the had the right mentality in politics in the future.

    But as America goes nothing really changes,its that 80 year mark and the bans and prohibitional attitudes are back. The 2 political parties married each other and the next victims were the voters.

    They pat each other on the back to outlaw and regulate to death each ones own hatred of whatever.

    They care not what it is,in fact I think they sit around trying to think up a new thing to outlaw in group thinks. Then contact a media group to start the ball rolling then produce and junk epidemiology study to concur their original hatred………then finance the lobbying and bam another law abiding citizen is made a criminal out of nothing again……..

    Then finally some how common sense returns and it all just disappears. Repeals come and life returns to normal acceptance of life and what people do.

  5. Nika says:

    Greetings from the Disintegrating States of America. I just did an extensive online search of current anti-smoking laws here. Smoking is banned indoors almost everywhere, banned outdoors in lots of places, ok to smoke in workplaces here and other places not, ok to smoke in bars here but not restaurants there and vice versa, etc. All willy-nilly and changing from day to day, depending on the town, city, county and state you are in. Reminds me of a memorable phrase from Grimm’s Tales about “petty little kings” in Germany. They are running rampant here. Totalitarianism at its finest — once you travel outside your hometown, you never know whether you are breaking the law or not, and you are subject to the ever-changing whims of thousands of petty little kings.

    Some “United” States, ayh?

    This is not just limited to smoking laws. It is the same with civil and criminal laws, “moral” codes, ad nauseam. Drones and surveillance cameras are everywhere, too. Even the chimps don’t like it!

    • Nika the Nazis even got to wafflehouse of all the smoker havens. But they went smokefree and we don’t have any anti smoking laws here in ky state wise. Anyway they threw the smokers out and everyone went across the street and beside the WH and then we picked up 3 more places in a weeks time because of all the smoker traffic. One place was smokefree but went smoking again…….

      Its just amazing what happens when opportunity knocks. You take away your loyal customer base and they just find a new place to go……….

      • Coffee shops/breakfast joints are the first victims of smoking bans………..huddle house might as well mark them DOA, IHOP took a massive hit but survived and the list of others is even worse that took the smokefree route. Most were blackmailed to do it or else the full weight of the federal government would make their lives miserable…… IRS and health dept regs…………

  6. you want to read the most insane claim ever made yet in a junk science study………..

    ”The vapour from e-cigarettes contains so much nicotine that bystanders can ingest the same amount as with passive tobacco smoking. This may affect addiction to nicotine.”

    E-cigarettes are often marketed as a safer alternative to smoking – but a Norwegian study has found that the devices can poison bystanders, just as cigarette smoke does.

    The study by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH) is among the first to suggest that there might be risks similar to passive smoking with the gadgets.

    The study found that e-cigarettes ARE less harmful than cigarettes – but that the vapour contains so much nicotine that bystanders can absorb a significant amount just by being there.

    While the vapour is less likely to cause cancer, it could have other health effects, the researchers warn.

    Dr. Camilla Stoltenberg, Director-General at the NIPH, says, ‘The health risks of long-term e-cigarette use in the population are unknown.Since e-cigarettes supply nicotine in the same quantities as cigarette smoking, the same harmful effects from nicotine can be expected.

    ‘The vapour from e-cigarettes contains so much nicotine that bystanders can ingest the same amount as with passive tobacco smoking. This may affect addiction to nicotine.

  7. BUTTING OUT: How Bar Owners And Residents Get Screwed Because Of New Orleans Smoking Ban

    Also, smokers who have to go outside to smoke will be more susceptible to street crimes while lighting up outside. When in New Orleans, it is usually the case that individuals want to get inside a bar as quickly as possible in order to avoid outside crimes like theft or violent crimes. However, this smoking ban is set to force individuals outside if they want to smoke.

    All of this for the sake of “public health.” But, what is healthiest for the public, usually involves the city butting out

    Good post would be Franks smokers graveyard link.I cant post on the hayride. My dad did that show for 4 years back in the 1960s in boozier city……

  8. Doctors Earn $3.5 Billion in Kickbacks from Pharmaceutical Companies

    The federal government unveiled data detailing 4.4 million payments made to doctors and teaching hospitals by pharmaceutical and medical device companies….

  9. beobrigitte says:

    The 60s were about permitting people to do things, not stopping them doing things. It’s why it was called “the permissive society”. What he’s talking about is stuff that came in the 70s and later: Women’s lib, gay rights, environmentalism, abortion on demand, smoking bans, and all the rest of it.

    The 60s sure were “the permissive society” and with that the girls then did what girls in the 50s would never have dared to do. Breaking the mold was a good thing to do, but as with a lot of things, some people get carried away. With respect to women’s lib, the first rather aggressive female women’s lib campaigner I came across in the 1970s was a monster-look-a-like with the name of Alice Schwartzer. I do remember scratching my head and thinking: ‘what-the-**** are you on about?’
    Back in the early 70s I could have taken the same liberties as my male friends did; it was MY choice to omit a few things. I did address the inequality in pay by making my male colleagues do more work with the words: ” If you don’t like it, we can swap – I get your wage and you get mine!” Eventually our wages were the same. However, it took me quite some time to REALLY asppreciate that the ability of “multitasking” hasn’t been spread equally. Both genders.

    Back in the 70s I did meet a gay couple (who saved my skin!). They were pretty open about their sexual orientation and I went out with them quite a few times. I was all in favour of a gay couple being able to form a civil partnership (to me it’s the equivalent of a registrary marriage – something that straight couples, too, choose to do only) in order to be legally a couple and secure the future of the surviving partner. Again, some people get carried away…

    The first thing I heard about ‘environment’ in the 70s was the ‘hole-in-the-ozone-layer’ for which our, e.g. deodorant, sprays, cows in the fields farting etc.etc. were held responsible. First, the ice caps were melting, then came the ‘global cooling’…. So I did have a question: WHAT EXACTLY caused the Ice Age? And why aren’t we concentrating on adjusting to our wobbly planet rather than trying to interfere?

    Abortion on demand. This tyerminology is not apt. I really do not believe women take this step as a means of contraception. Especially nowadays.
    The media is full of ‘pre-natal’ and ‘post-natal’ depression reports – we might ask ourselves HOW ON EARTH did our mothers survive all that? And, indeed, our generation? Sure, being pregnant and having children can take the stuffing out of you – the hormonal changes are something to take + the (very often) long months of not getting 8 hours sleep during the night! People nowadays are being nudged towards being helpless – perhaps quite a few women have accepted this ‘being-helpless’ and base their choice on that? Then, followed by yet more hormonal and media driven ‘changes’ they finally scream for more ‘help’?

    Today I did watch the UKIP manifesto announced on the BBC. Apart from Farage, it was women UKIP members speaking. Quite frankly:
    1. Unlike the Labour and Conservative and LibDem blah-blah-blah, UKIP sounded refreshingly common sense.
    2. I would like to find out if the women UKIP members speaking were just a show piece or if they are genuinely desirable MPs. I guess I will have to wait until after the election.

  10. marieengling says:

    “If there’s one thing I disagree with Buchanan about, it’s the idea that this is the triumph of “the cultural revolution of the ’60s”. I’m a child of the 60s, and smoking bans were no part of that time. The 60s were about permitting people to do things, not stopping them doing things. It’s why it was called “the permissive society”.”
    Thats true, everybody was smoking in the 60s. I started in 1968!

    But not a bad word on woman’s rights or gays rights … That is freedom!
    Without woman’s rights I at least would not have stand life.

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