The Plan Is The First Casualty

I don’t make plans. Or at least I try not to. And actually it’s very easy to not make plans, because it involves not doing something rather than doing something. And I can usually be relied upon to not do things.

Instead I prefer to remain open to chance, open to possibilities. I like to respond flexibly to unfolding events.

So I don’t tend to make lists of things To Do.  Or things To Buy.

I had no plans for today, as usual. But when the sun came out around noon, I took the opportunity to visit a pub, and sit outside in its garden. And before I got there, remembering I was out of cash,  I took the opportunity to get some from a nearby cash machine. And when I found I’d forgotten to bring any tobacco as well, I went and bought some more. Zero planning. Simply responding to events.

If my unplanned life is like a river, then I just go with the flow. And planned events in the future – like dental appointments or tax return deadlines – tend to look like rocks or rapids looming ahead.

I don’t plan this blog either. I don’t draw up lists of things to write about. I usually just get to the end of the day and find that there is something on my mind, and I write about that. And there’s usually something on my mind.

And today I was thinking about plans and planning, and how I not only don’t have plans for myself, but also I don’t have plans for anyone else either.

But other people have got plans for everyone. And some of their plans are hugely ambitious. Tobacco Control, for example, are planning to completely eradicate tobacco smoking everywhere in the world.

But if you have plans for how other people should live, of necessity you’re planning to override whatever way they themselves might want to live. You’re planning to coerce them in some way. And Tobacco Control has a variety of coercive measures available to it, ranging from incessant antismoking propaganda to any number of legal restrictions – like smoking bans. I’m sure that most antismokers think the world would be a better place without tobacco. But I think a coerced world is always far worse.

The EU “project” is another grand (and coercive) plan for everyone. They couldn’t just leave the various peoples of Europe to be the French and Germans and Italians that they already were. No. That was too untidy.They had to create a European Union into which all these separate states were to be merged under a single central command, didn’t they?

It’s said that “The Plan is the first casualty of any war.” Army staff officers spend months or years carefully planning for the next war. And almost invariably the plan goes wrong on Day One. And the best generals turn out to be the ones who don’t make elaborate plans, but instead respond rapidly and flexibly to unfolding events.

And it seems to me that the EU “project” isn’t going according to plan. The single European currency is too strong for the southern states, and too weak for the northern states. A flexible response to events would be to return to separate currencies. But the EU bureaucracy has instead stuck with The Plan for a single currency. And they’ve also stuck to The Plan for open borders across Europe, even though it’s opened the way for millions of migrants (and hundreds of jihadis) to flood into Europe. Or rather, its centralised bureaucracy has responded by calling for more planning powers for itself.  The response to the planning failure is to call for “more Europe” – i.e. more central planning.

Yet while the EU is losing control of its internal economy and its external borders, it’s still pressing ahead with its expansionary plans in Ukraine:

The European Commission is to press ahead with plans to grant visa-free travel to 45 million Ukrainians, despite over 60 per cent of Dutch voters rejecting the European Union (EU)-Ukraine trade deal last week.

An unnamed senior EU source told Reuters that the EU had promised Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko it would implement the measure and it was bound to keep its word.

The plan of European imperial expansion is being rigidly adhered to, even as Europe slowly implodes. Everything must proceed according to The Plan, even if the plan has gone disastrously wrong. It’s just like an army general staff demanding not only that its generals stick to the plan – Capture Kiev -, even if they have run out of supplies, and the enemy has outflanked them, but also that anyone who disobeys orders – or retreats one inch – must be shot (like Berlusconi and Tsipras).

What happens in such circumstances is that commanders in the field start to ignore the general staff and their unrealistic plans, and take matters into their own hands. Junior officers ignore senior generals, and throw The Plan out of the window, and do their best to save what they can.

And that’s what will happen with the EU. One by one, the constituent states of Europe will start ignoring the orders being radioed from Brussels. It will continue to issue edicts, but nobody will pay any attention to them. Power will flow from the centre to the periphery. And the EU empire will cease to exist, victim of its own rigid, inflexible planning.

And much the same will happen to Tobacco Control.

I didn’t plan to write this, of course. I just responded to events.


About Frank Davis

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25 Responses to The Plan Is The First Casualty

  1. Harleyrider1978 says:

    Same problem in America both republican or democrat both are the same and they’ve openly shown they control events not pissed off voters with what happened in Colorado last week. They simply will make sure one of their world order partners gets in power so the UN world take over can continue. They can’t accept the people saying fuck you we’ve had enuf of your draconian everything socialist crap. Much the same as Europeans feel about the EU.🖕🏿em

  2. John Watson says:

    A very accurate viewpoint Frank, no plan survives first contact with the enemy, but something else happens too, as the plan sails out of the window, truth and innocence goes along for the ride!

    I think it is very possible that those in Tobacco control are starting to scrabble around looking for anything that keeps them employed and not necessarily involving tobacco.

    On the smoker’s side I think that we started looking out for each other much as military units do at squad and platoon level quite early on, it was quiet, almost unnoticed, fluid and with no immediately recognisable leadership, and, when, Tobacco control goes South they’ll cut each others throats to survive against very much more unified groups of smokers, drinkers and gastronomes.

  3. I too, tend to approach life with as few plans as possible. In part because I like to look at the world as naïvely as possible. Somehow planning too much or expecting too many outcomes steals away from actually experiencing life. Great post!

    • Frank Davis says:

      Yes, I too like looking at the world as naïvely as possible. All the best ideas I’ve ever had have been very simple. They could of course have also been completely stupid.

      • Most of the best ideas I’ve ever had come from that same place. I always liken it to the old maxim that nature abhors a vacuum, and sometimes leaving a place mentally empty amidst new and unusual stimulus creates fertile ground for new thoughts to sprout up. As for stupid ideas, I don’t know if simple means stupid. Simple ideas are usually the most elegant ones of all and often the hardest to see. I’ve always regarded silly and stupid ideas as something to ponder until I realize why they struck me in the first place…

  4. Lepercolonist says:

    Planners such as Michael Bloomberg like to say it is a win-win program to ban smoking. “Look at all the lives we are saving.” That asshole is dead wrong. We do not like to be coerced.

  5. waltc says:

    That’s the way writing goes. An idle thought leads, unplanned, to a sharp point that you may not have idly known was there, but that soon seems inevitable. Just for example, I can never plan a novel. I can try to think five steps ahead of where I am, but by the time I get to the third, the kaleidoscope has shifted, and the trajectory veers. If think if you could really plot a novel in advance, so could your reader (or at least I’m forced to think so because I can’t plan).

    And then there’s Woody Allen’s spectacular line: “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans,”

    I always heard the quote as “in war, the first casualty is truth” (attributed to everyone from Aeschylus to a US Senator on the brink of WW1) but I like your General’s variation — although, as you conclude, only the flexible are capable of plan-ditching and intelligently ad libbing their way to victory. (think of Ike at D-Day.) Applied to the war on smokers, certainly the truth died at the first shot, but The Plan they so rigidly stick to is working–so well, they’re expanding it to Everything On Earth. And maybe it’s that that will be its downfall–Expansion Ad Absurdum.

    • Frank Davis says:

      An idle thought leads, unplanned, to a sharp point

      One thought prompts another. And that in turn prompts yet another. And so on, in a growing cascade of ideas. Until in the end, the pen simply writes too slowly to keep up with them all.

  6. Fredrik Eich says:

    Instead I prefer to remain open to chance, open to possibilities. I like to respond flexibly to unfolding events.

    So I don’t tend to make lists of things To Do. Or things To Buy.

    Me too.

  7. junican says:

    I am a lists man, I’m afraid. I have a holiday list, for example. It lists everything that I want to take with me. When preparing for a trip, I get the things on my list and pile them on the table. Only when I have collected everything on the table do I pack them. I also create ‘ad hoc’ to do’ lists, if there are a number of things which I need to do. The important word there is ‘need’.
    There is nothing wrong with ‘plans’, provided that they are flexible. What I would describe as a perfect example of the use of planning would be a game of chess. There are sets of ‘opening gambits’ both for white and black which can be permuted in various ways, but it isn’t long before the situation becomes chaotic in one respect or another. A good player is aware of ‘mini-plans’ which can be brought into use when required.
    If we look at the ‘War Against Tobacco’ in those terms, ‘White’ (being TC) had a really strong opening gambit while ‘Black’ (smokers) had no opening gambit at all. Black relied upon its ‘Queen’ (tobacco companies) to defend it, but White pretty quickly trapped Black’s Queen and neutralised it. White’s Queen was politicians and the law, and has rampaged around the board picking off Black’s pieces. But the pieces available to Black’s Queen are being reduced to individual pawns (smokers). Black’s King (the Enjoyment of Tobacco) is still very well protected by pawns, and there are lots of them.
    But here is where my analogy must break down – Black’s King has the ability to create new pawns to replace lost pawns. White’s does not. White’s King is Prohibition. There is no such thing as a ‘Prohibition Pawn’.
    Can Black win the game (war)? It would need to queen a couple of pawns. One new Black Queen would be the discovery of the reason that some smokers get lung cancer more than non-smokers. That could be a specific element of tobacco smoke which could be eliminated. Another could be a simple cure for cancer in general, if cancer has a genetic link.
    Meanwhile, the game (war) continues, with White finding it harder and harder, more time consuming and effort consuming, as time passes, to capture Black’s King.

  8. harleyrider1978 says:
    • harleyrider1978 says:

      Prohibitionists admitting it was all a failure everyone should note not a single documentary will tell about tobacco prohibition between 1894-1923 not even Ken Burns. When I mentioned that on his PBS BLOG I was banned

  9. smokingscot says:

    You’re perfectly correct that, like it or not, the goal is to move the EU’s borders ever East, until such time as there are no “buffers” between it and Russia.

    Naturally Mr. Putin is perfectly aware of this, together with the strategists in the Foreign Ministry and of course those in the Russian military.

    The concept is perfectly simple – and the former Yugoslavia is a wonderful example of approach by stealth. Those mini-states closest to the EU were the first to seek membership and now it’s all the way down to Montenegro.

    From the horses mouth(piece), this lot have been accepted as candidate countries.

    Albania, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey

    I noted recently that the EU had signed some sort of agreement with Belarus. It’s a weak, watery sort of thing but actually is the first step toward greater ties.

    This article is enlightening.

    So Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus as well as Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia are all in there and if you care to look at a map of the area, you’ll notice the effect is to pretty well encircle Russia.

    Then, I assume it’s a case of moving in on the Southern provinces of Russia.

    I believe the Dutch activists who called for their referendum are very aware of these “grand plans” and – essentially – voiced their opinion that pissing off Russia is altogether not a very clever idea.

    It’s also for this grand concept that Mr. Obama intends to add his voice to the “Remain” group. Should the UK actually exit the EU then there’s a probability that the bad guys will seek to gain favour with us lot.

    I see this as being no bad thing. In fact I’d welcome it.

    On the other hand, should you care to give this theory a little workout, it becomes fractionally easier to grasp why the EU allowed Greece to join the Euro area in the first place (despite the fact they knew darned well the wee whippersnappers had cooked their books) and why they’re pouring billions to propping up an economic basket case.

    They don’t want “The Ruskies” to gain leverage through them

    And they most definitely don’t want that to happen with the UK either.

    Blue Sky for a second. If they get the right guy into the Kremlin, and they get Russia to become an EU “State”, what’s next?

    China’s next – and boy do they know it! End of Communism.

    • Frank Davis says:

      “The Eastern Partnership program, launched in 2009, aims to integrate the Eastern European countries (Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus) and the South Caucasus countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia) into European economic and political systems.”

  10. Roobeedoo2 says:

    Smoking ban rejected in Baton Rouge:

    ‘Casino officials had previously argued that a ban on smoking would send casino customers who appreciate the chance to light up to casinos elsewhere. That’s what happened when New Orleans approved a smoking ban that caused an immediate dip in revenues at the large land-based Harrah’s casino at the edge of the French Quarter.

    Are there any updates on how New Orleans is faring under the smoking ban?

  11. Clicky says:

  12. Roobeedoo2 says:

    Why all central planning is doomed to fail – republished today at Zero Hedge, and fits in nicely here:

    The last line says it all.

    But this is the only kind of alternative future that planners are capable of delivering – one that pulverizes the delicate fabric of evolved civilized life.

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