Yesterday, Edgar wrote:
“I’d rephrase that, “Smokers will have to stand outside like naughty children until they learn to obey.”” A lot of people see things this way – the ‘nanny’ state, supported by finger-wagging, busybody, fake charities. Perhaps, it is that way, and, perhaps, it is something more sinister. What is missing from this explanation is the rationale for this behaviour. Many people have claimed ‘It’s not about health, … never was.’ Then, what is it about? A problem might be more easily solved if it is properly understood. To me, there seems to be a clear division between two types of human being: one type has a psychological need to know of a faction that can be persecuted without interference from the law (even better, with the approval of the law); the other type does not have that need. The concept could be called ‘legitimised prejudice’. It provides a licence to hate an identified group (it probably doesn’t matter which group as long as there is someone you’re allowed to hate). Well, that’s my shot at an underlying explanation to this apparent nannyism.
This “two types of human being” notion has kept coming back to mind, if only because there do actually seem to be two types of human beings.
Only I had two rather different types than Edgar in mind: Controllers and Non-controllers. The world seems to be made up of people who want to bring everything under control, and those who are happy to let things just happen.
Outfits like “Tobacco Control” are quite open about their controlling ambitions. And one complaint that antismokers have about smokers is that they have “no self-control”. For such people, more or less everything is “out of control”, and badly needs to be brought “under control”. And it seems patently obvious to them that this needs to be done, and that “under control” is always better than “out of control”.
And they have a point, I think. Human life has progressed by bringing more and more stuff under human control. Like lakes, waterways, plants, animals, etc. It also extends to economics, trade, industry, science. Humans are very, very controlling. Even wars are all about taking control of other people. There’s nothing new about it.
That said, I’m not one of the Controllers. Throughout my life, I’ve never been someone who wanted to change or control anyone. I generally liked people the way they were. And liked places the way they were. I didn’t want to change everything. And on this blog, I’m not trying to change the way my readers think. I’m pretty laissez-faire (although there are limits).
These days I spend a lot of time on my computer simulation model of the solar system. I’ve been a bit puzzled at my interest in this, but recently I realised that what I liked about the solar system is that it’s completely out of control. I find it rather delightful that we’re all sitting on a damp, mossy rock spinning around a star in the little whirlpool of planets we call the Solar System, and there’s nothing we can do about it. And there never will be anything that we can do about it. We just have to live with it.
But I suspect that this is precisely the sort of vision that fills the Controllers with panic, and causes them to re-double their efforts to bring everything under control. And I think part of that panic may come from one of the most compelling images of modern times: the never-before-seen view of the planet Earth from outer space (this one from Apollo 17):
And this is the image of a little, fragile, blue droplet of water suspended alone in space. It’s probably the most iconic image of our time. It’s Gaia, the Great Mother goddess of Greek mythology. Isn’t she adorable? And isn’t she in such mortal peril in a universe filled with exploding stars, black holes, and (my favourite) huge wandering asteroids with thousands of companion rocks in tow? Isn’t this image enough to get you to join Friends of the Earth (as opposed to the Enemies of the Earth)? And can’t you see the dire necessity of preserving that thin film of air that veils the planet, and the need for Climate Control? And don’t you think that this fragile little planet should have a UN World Government to carefully manage it? Yes, I thought you did.
The loneliness and fragility of this image is the loneliness and fragility of all terrestrial life, and it induces not only wonder, but also terror at circumstances that are beyond our control, and which need to be brought under control as soon as possible. And if our present times are characterised by the demand for top-down control of more or less everything, it is probably in no small part due the panic invoked by iconic images like this. So now, in our modern pandemonium, we see threats everywhere, and we have armies of controllers trying to control everything.
They’ll never succeed, of course. But that won’t stop them trying. The need to Take Control is a constant in human life, and never more so than now.
And the enemies of the Controllers are Non-controllers like me, who like to let things happen and see where they go, and don’t have grand plans for everything and everyone.
Which brings me back to Edgar’s nannyism. Little Gaia obviously needs a nanny to look after her, to shepherd her and make sure she is kept safe. And anyone who disagrees is an Enemy of the Earth, and most likely a rapist of Gaia. Such people need to be silenced, excluded, reduced to second class citizenship. They need to brought under control, along with everything else. And this is the origin of the “legitimized prejudice”.
I don’t see it as growing from any need to hate people, any need to hate an identified social group. I think it grows out of the need to Take Control, in a world that’s out of control.
All my current principal matters of concern are about attempts to Take Control in one way or other: smoking bans, global warming alarmism, and the EU are all attempts at top-down control by elitist planners.
The future will see all these attempts fail. The attempt to take control of what is beyond control will only produce even greater chaos and disorder.