Reject the Future

Something that I read weeks ago, maybe months ago, has stuck in my mind: that Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek, believed that in the future, men wouldn’t have any hair on their chests, and demanded that Captain Kirk (William Shatner) shave his chest before playing any bare-chested scenes.

And maybe this prediction is coming true. There was never any smoking in Star Trek, and maybe that’s coming true as well. And the girls in Star Trek wore miniskirts, and girls still wear them now.

I was thinking this morning that, although I tend to load most of the blame for the War on Smoking on the zealots in Tobacco Control, it was ordinary MPs in parliament – Labour, Lib Dem, and Conservative – that voted through the UK’s draconian smoking ban. Assuming that not all those MPs were antismoking zealots, why did they do that?

And I suspect that the real reason was that, just like Gene Roddenberry believed the future would be chest hair-free, they believed the future was going to be smoke-free. And they were just voting for something that was going to inevitably happen anyway, and they shouldn’t place any obstacles in its way. To do that would be to try to stop the future from happening. Which couldn’t be done without causing some sort of awful pile-up.

I think a lot of modern politics works like this. We carry around an image of what the future is going to be like, and it serves as a sort of ideal or template or signpost.  It gives us a way of measuring the present progress we’ve made in our passage from the past to the future.

I think that for many Europeans the EU “project” is a similar internalised ideal. It’s what many people see as the future, and towards which all progressives should strive. Anything else is unthinkable, and frightening. And can’t happen.

The Green movement has another vision of the future, which is of a humanity that has returned to a green Eden, from which all industry has been banished, and which is entirely powered by solar panels and windmills.

There are other powerful visions of the future. For example that the future will see the exploration of outer space, and the colonisation of Mars and a few other places. That it will be multi-cultural (another feature of Star Trek).  That there’ll equality of the sexes, equality of everything.

All these various visions of the future have currently merged together into a single orthodox (or politically correct) vision of the future. And the job of the progressive politician is to vote in whatever way is necessary to enable the actualisation of the future, checking all the smoke-free, low-carbon, gender-neutral, Green, EU boxes as they are presented to him/her.

The box-checking entails no heart-searching. Any barbarity is permissible in furthering and actualising the future. It doesn’t matter if smokers are ejected from society, because smokers and smoking belong to the past. Neither does it matter if the windmills are eyesores that keep people awake and decimate bird life. Nor does it matter if the EU common currency is a restrictive straitjacket. These things are all the future, and everyone must get used to them. Because there’s no escape from the future.

All concerned march in step towards the future that they see before them, trampling over anything and anyone in their way.

They are spellbound, captives of a vision. And they will remain spellbound until, despite having religiously checked all the boxes, they find that the bright future they have pursued turns out to be a nightmare.

Or it may also be that the spell is broken when people act decisively to reject the future before they reach that pass.

And this is something that might well happen in the UK with the EU Referendum in June, when the British people may well choose to reject their future in the EU, and in doing so make a lot of other people realise that the EU may not be the future, and that other futures are possible – that rather than being closed, the future is wide open.

And maybe when one component vision of the future can be rejected, all the other futures can be rejected too.  Maybe the future won’t be Green? Or low-carbon? Or multi-cultural? Or smoke-free? Or gender-neutral? Maybe humans will remain forever earthbound? Maybe an entire guiding vision of the future will dissolve and vanish, and we will have no idea what the future will bring.

And maybe men will still have hairy chests?

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About Frank Davis

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11 Responses to Reject the Future

  1. Tony says:

    I think you have it exactly right. This vision of the future is a central part of the anti-smoking ‘con’ fidence trick.

    Even some smoker’s rights campaigners get caught out once in a while by saying that people should only give up smoking when they want to. Using the word ‘when’, instead of ‘if’.

    I suspect that if our vacuous political class were persuaded that the whole world was going to hell in a handcart they would proudly introduce legislation to ensure Britain went there first. A world leader amongst nations.

  2. Harleyrider1978 says:

    Well Frank the last round of tobacco and alcohol prohibitionists thought the future held no smoking no alcohol and a total eugenics make over! Didn’t happen because tv is make believe it’s not humanity! Why is all the above still here after 12,000 years of alcohol use and 600 years of tobacco use?

    Because to be human is to want what we want not what somebody tells us will be!

  3. waltc says:

    Men have always seen their personal utopias as inevitable, and then try, usually thru ungodly force, to torture reality into compliance in their frustrated efforts (since reality staunchly refuses to play) to hasten their utopian inevitabilities. Marx had an actual diagram of zig-zagging historical moves showing for certain that capitalism would end. . Mussolini saw the future as rationally-ordered. Hitler foresaw the thousand year Reich. Radical Islam sees the future caliphate. All these futures are the wishful projections of maddened ideologues. How far they get along the road to fulfillment seems to depend more on the caliber of their munitions than the charm of their ideas.

  4. prog says:

    It won’t end with hairless men (or little green aliens). According to a BBC documentary about the evolution of intelligent life in the universe, machines eventually take over, destroy their creators and run rampant across the cosmos (e.g. turning everything into paper clips). It’s just that the real Arnies haven’t found us – yet.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0788q6m/aliens-the-big-think

  5. Frank Davis says:

    Somehow or other, I managed to write the above essay without once mentioning Fate:

    1. something that unavoidably befalls a person; fortune; lot:
    It is always his fate to be left behind.

    2. the universal principle or ultimate agency by which the order of things is presumably prescribed; the decreed cause of events; time:
    Fate decreed that they would never meet again.

    3. that which is inevitably predetermined; destiny:
    Death is our ineluctable fate.

    4. a prophetic declaration of what must be:
    The oracle pronounced their fate.

    5. death, destruction, or ruin.

    6. the Fates, Classical Mythology. the three goddesses of destiny, known to the Greeks as the Moerae and to the Romans as the Parcae.

  6. Rose says:

    OT

    The Royal College of Surgeons is calling on ministers to make it clear to trusts that they are breaching health watchdog guidelines in discriminating on grounds of weight or smoking status.
    22 April 2016

    “Blanket bans that deny or delay patients’ access to surgery are wrong,” said Clare Marx, President of the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS).
    “NHS surgical treatment should be based on clinical guidance and patients should be dealt with on a case by case basis. In some instances a patient might need surgery in order to help them to do exercise and lose weight.

    “While it is difficult to categorically prove such policies are aimed at saving money, it is unlikely to be a coincidence that many financially challenged CCGs are restricting access to surgery.”
    “North East Essex and Luton CCGs require patients who smoke to stop and provide evidence of this through attending smoking cessation programmes before any planned surgical procedure can take place.

    Tim Wilton, President of the British Orthopedic Association, said: “There is no clinical, or value for money, justification for refusing to fund hip or knee replacements based on BMI or smoker status.

    “Good outcomes can be achieved for patients regardless of whether they smoke or are obese, even at BMIs of over 50, and these surgeries are highly cost effective: typically delivering sustained pain relief for a cost that equates to just £7.50 a week.”
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2016/04/21/one-in-three-nhs-trusts-restrict-surgery-for-smokers-and-overwei/

    An NHS England spokesperson said: “Quitting smoking or at least reducing tobacco usage makes sense for every patient, and patients should be supported to do so.
    http: //www.theguardian.com/society/2016/apr/22/smokers-obese-people-soft-targets-nhs-savings-surgeons

    But decades of junk science hellbent on eradicating the ancient and widespread knowledge and use of tobacco leaves to encourage wound healing brought back by the Spanish from the New World, had already taken their toll.

    Previously

    Doctors back denial of treatment for smokers and the obese
    april 2012

    “A majority of doctors support measures to deny treatment to smokers and the obese, according to a survey that has sparked a row over the NHS’s growing use of “lifestyle rationing”.

    Some 54% of doctors who took part said the NHS should have the right to withhold non-emergency treatment from patients who do not lose weight or stop smoking. Some medics believe unhealthy behaviour can make procedures less likely to work, and that the service is not obliged to devote scarce resources to them.

    However, senior doctors and patient groups have voiced alarm at what they call “blackmailing” of the sick, and denial of their human rights.”

    “But Dr Clare Gerada, chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners, said the survey findings and trend towards “lifestyle rationing” was “very disturbing”.

    She said: “It’s the deserving and undeserving sick idea. The NHS should deliver care according to need. There was no medical justification for such restrictions on smokers, as giving up nicotine would not necessarily enhance an operation’s chances of success. Clearly, giving up smoking is a good thing. But blackmailing people by telling them that they have to give up isn’t what doctors should be doing.”
    http://www.theguardian.com/society/2012/apr/28/doctors-treatment-denial-smokers-obese

  7. Joe L. says:

    OT — Here’s a great new article on the regression of science:

    Scientific Regress

    • Tony says:

      I admit I was a little dubious at first about reading a critique of modern science on a religious website. Particularly one that was, in their words, set up “to confront the ideology of secularism”.

      But the article is superb and very insightful, particularly towards the end. A scientific critique rather than a religious one. I rather liked this observation/quote:

      Borges’s Library of Babel contained every true book that could ever be written, but it was useless because it also contained every false book, and both true and false were lost within an ocean of nonsense.

      (Maybe like pubmed for example.)

      • Joe L. says:

        I agree the website is a bit off-putting. I posted that link in a hurry, otherwise I probably would have added a disclaimer. The article itself could (and should) be republished in secular outlets. Glad you went into it with an open mind!

  8. Jeff says:

    As the Borg said: ‘Resistance is futile, you will be assimilated’. In fact the whole Star Trek saga took place in a universe full of dystopian cultures – Klingons included – where the earthlings appeared barely less cruel and totalitarian than the others, but with a sense of self-importance and righteousness that should come through as comical.
    Now you have 24 cycles to get rid of those chest hairs, enseign!

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