Adults and children should be instructed by the Government to halve the amount of sugar they consume and eat almost twice as much pasta, potato and other fibrous foods, an official report is expected to say this week.
Back in the 1960s in the UK, tower blocks and town planning was all the rage. The idea was that if towns were rationally planned, they’d be a lot better places to live than if they grew unplanned, higgledy-piggledy fashion.
I haven’t heard much about town planning recently. But most of the carefully-planned new town always struck me as utterly soulless, and most people seem to prefer to live in the unplanned, higgledy-piggledy places that pre-date the planning era. So now we have carefully-planned low-rise developments that try hard to look like they’re unplanned, higgledy-piggledy places.
And now we have lifestyle planning. And it’s essentially the same town planning mentality addressing itself to a new problem, having failed to solve the older problem.
And whether you’re doing town planning or lifestyle planning, when you’ve drawn up your plans, you’ll need to be able to put them into practice, of course. In the case of town planning in the UK, that meant the compulsory purchase of land for the new towns. And the word ‘compulsory’ indicates that compulsion had to be used to override any resistance. And of course the same will apply to lifestyle planning: people must be forced to comply with the plans that the planners have made for them. There are the planners, and there are the planned for. And the former must exercise top down control over the latter. For otherwise what’s the point of planning?
It occurred to me today that once you have a bunch of planners making plans for everyone else, then you have a bunch of people who are perfectly prepared to compel others to comply with their plans, and who will be equally prepared to compel each other to conform with their plans. And so there must always eventually emerge a Chief Planner to whom all other planners become subordinate.
It doesn’t really matter whether it’s town planning or lifestyle planning or European Union planning, once all concerned are agreed that coercion is necessary to put their plans into effect, then they are also all agreed that coercion will also be necessary to produce unanimity among the planners in support of one plan, and one planner.
When, for example, Soviet revolutionaries took over in Russia in 1917, they naturally started producing Five Year Plans. At first they seem to have been more or less all equals, but eventually they threw up a Chief Planner firstly in the person of Lenin, and then Stalin. And all who disagreed with the Chief Planner were purged until there was complete conformity with the wishes of the Chief Planner.
We’re seeing the same processes at work today in the EU, where coercion is being used to extract the required conformity from Greece. But behind the scenes, in the corridors of the EU parliament, one may be in no doubt that coercion is also being used among the supposedly-equal ‘colleagues’ just like in the Kremlin circa 1920. And if the EU doesn’t disintegrate, one must expect a Chief Planner to emerge in due course. This will be a new dictator or tsar or emperor. The EU empire must have an emperor. And he (or she) will most likely be the most ruthlessly coercive planner of all. And of course lots of people will be ruthlessly purged in the process.
In fact, we can see the same process at work everywhere, with increasingly coercive proposals to enforce top-down lifestyle plans and environmental plans and any number of other plans.
Anyone who engages in this sort of planning is essentially someone who believes in coercion – in imposing their will on everybody else. Town planning, lifestyle planning, and European Union planning are all inherently coercive in nature, because they all entail forcing other people to comply with a plan.
The plans never work, of course. The planners are never able to see very far into the future, or to foresee all the consequences of their plans. And the planners are almost invariably blinkered and dogmatic. And so disaster is more or less inevitable.
But none of this ever seems to deter anyone from making ambitious plans for everybody else. For it seems blindingly obvious to all concerned that if you want to create a ‘better world’ or a ‘just society’ or a ‘sustainable economic model’, you must first have a Plan.
Yet once you have started Planning For A Better World, you are on the road to totalitarianism and dictatorship.