Can’t You See?

I’m still musing over Tom Paine’s description of himself:

“The World is my country, all mankind my brethren, and to do good is my religion.”

Theresa May said recently something to the effect that “if you’re a citizen of the world, you’re a citizen of nowhere.” That struck me as being the plain and simple truth of the matter. She might also have added, as an afterthought, “and if you’re everybody’s brother, you’re nobody’s brother.”

But what I’ve been really chewing over was his “religion of doing good.” I commented on it in yesterday’s post: Tom Paine was a Do-Gooder. Tobacco Control is full of Do-Gooders too. Deborah Arnott is a Do-Gooder. But I firmly believe that it’s Do-Gooders who actually do most of the harm in the world, as they blunder around trying to do good, but actually doing far more harm than good.

My question is: how do they know what’s good, and what isn’t? I sometimes think that the Do-Gooders really think that Doing Something is better than Doing Nothing. That action is always better than inaction. The do-gooders like to keep busy. And the busier they are, the more good they think they’re doing. And so they’re all busybodies. For them, the good lies in the doing.

But I think that doing nothing is quite often better than doing something. In fact, I’d almost say that doing nothing is usually better than doing something. For I believe that some things are better than other things. That some things are helpful, and some things harmful. And, however busy you are, you’re doing no good if what you’re busy doing is something harmful.

And I think that the Do-Gooders in Tobacco Control are doing something harmful. I think they’re doing something very, very, very harmful. I think that they destroy communities, bankrupt businesses, and shatter trust and confidence. I’ve even drawn a picture of what I think they’re doing to society (right) that I used in the ISIS survey.

But of course they don’t see it that way. They don’t think about communities or businesses or the political fabric of society. They see themselves as saving lives. And what can be more important than saving lives? What could be more noble and good than that? If, with all their bullying and bludgeoning of smokers, they can get just one of them to stop smoking and live another 10 minutes longer than they otherwise would, it will have all been worth it. These people have become fixated upon one single thing – tobacco – to the exclusion of all else. Tobacco has become, for them, the singular embodiment of everything evil. Theirs is a one-eyed view of the world. And their one eye is unwaveringly fixed upon one single object in that world. And they simply can’t see that the wrecking ball that they have taken to that object is destroying everything around it. They’re like people who chase a bluebottle fly around a room with a hammer, and smash everything that it alights upon, without ever managing to kill it. All they can see is the fly they’re pursuing. They can’t see the plates on the table, the lampshade on the light, the glass in the windowpanes, that they’re breaking with every  blow of their hammer.

I was reading somewhere yesterday about how people don’t trust experts any more, and don’t believe the once-trusted mainstream media, and how worrying this was. But that’s what I meant about shattering trust and confidence. I’ve stopped trusting the doctors who’ve been screaming at me to stop smoking (and who’ve now started screaming at me to stop drinking and eating as well). I’ve lost confidence in them. I don’t think they know what they’re doing. And I’ve lost confidence in the mainstream media which just unquestioningly repeats everything they say. And above all I’ve lost confidence in the politicians who, on their insistence, never hesitate to stack more bans and more taxes on everyone. And once you lose trust in one expert, it’s easy to lose trust in all the experts. The distrust spreads like a widening ripple.

It was an utterly appalling thing to do, to exile smokers to the outdoors with their smoking bans. It was utterly appalling to take their hammer to the communities they belonged to, the pubs and cafes they frequented, and make pariahs of hundreds of millions of smokers all over the world. But Tobacco Control can’t see that. And neither can the mainstream media. And neither can the politicians. They’re all completely blind. They have no idea what they’re doing, any of them. They think they’re Saving Lives. And now they’re wondering why trust and confidence in them has ebbed away.

Of course, it’s not just tobacco and smoking bans. It’s any number of other things as well. These people aren’t just blind to the effect of smoking bans, but to the effect of everything else they do. They’re oblivious to everything.

Can’t they see? Can’t they see what they’ve done, and what they’re still doing? No, they can’t. They can’t see a damn thing. And they never will. And that’s why Americans voted for Donald Trump: they knew perfectly well that the established elite political class was never going to do anything for them. And it’s why they’ve stopped listening to the mainstream media that parrots the views of that political class. Trust and confidence in them has gone. Donald Trump may not prove to be any better, but he is at least something different.

About Frank Davis

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28 Responses to Can’t You See?

  1. “if you’re a citizen of the world, you’re a citizen of nowhere.” That struck me as being the plain and simple truth
    No the simple truth is (at least for me): I am neither a citizen of the World, nor of this poxy-Island-that-seems-stuck-in-1945-forever-this-Realm-this-England nor Germany nor Europe. I am a smoker, that’s my creed, my religion, my nationality and all smokers are my brothers. Every day of BREXIT makes that clearer to me. Every headline in The Bestes Frau’s Daily Xenophobe strengthens my resolve. Dulce et decorum est. Pro fumiga mori

    • Frank Davis says:

      Well, I’m a smoker too. But I also remain English. They haven’t taken that way from me yet.


      If it was still stuck in 1945, the pubs would still be full of smokers and smoke. And we’d still trust experts (we’d call them ‘boffins’), and doctors. We’d still have complete trust in the BBC. And in politicians with names like Winston Churchill. And the girls would all be called Fiona, and wear dresses with flowers printed on them, and sensible shoes. And at breakfast you’d have a plate of porridge oats and Lyons Golden Syrup, while listening to the ‘pips’ before the news on the huge walnut valve radio. Sounds like heaven.

      • When you put it like that it does sound rather divine, if i might skip the porridge for breakfast please? My parents couldn’t afford cornflakes so one of my chores was cooking the bloody super-market value oats every morning, it has left me with PTSD (Porridge Traumatic Stress ). Living next to the Quaker Meeting House is HELL! No joke, watching the Ready Break ‘if you want your kids to glow in the dark -buy a house in Windscale’ adverts was unbearable – i was soooo jealous. I would have swapped my entire collection of Battle Action & Monster Fun for a packet!
        And as to being English, Blair took my country away from me in 2007. Gone was the land of my youth and my forebears. Gorn was an Englishman’s home being his castle. Gone was everything, the tolerance, the ‘common law, common sense approach’, the genetic ability to find a working compromise etc that made this country worth living in despite the God Awful weather.

      • Timothy Goodacre says:

        And the girls would wear fully fashioned nylons and i could buy Sullivan Powell Turkish Ovals No 1. Heaven !

        • Thanks for that, TG.Tobacco Geek that I am, i was compelled to google:

          Sometimes i regret being born so late (1968) and not getting interested in cigarettes & tobacco until 2007. Before then my only interest was in smoking as much as possible without actually dying of nicotine poisoning. One day when I have the money i shall start bidding on unopened packs and tins on ebay, rehydrating vintage cigarettes & tobacco is perfectly do-able (there are a couple of blogs of course). Maybe then I will finally get to taste the “Passing Clouds” that My Ol’Dad’s better half goes on about-not that she has smoked in 40 years or more. Or maybe even Pre-WW2 French and German caporals. Fancy turkish stuff will not go too short either.
          When I win the lottery.
          Better to invest in old cigarettes…where else will you get 25…no not ‘% return’ but mg of nicotine?

        • nisakiman says:

          I remember buying Passing Clouds in my youth, BD. I loved the novelty of the exotic tobaccos.They came in a pink pack as well, if I remember. They were for high days and holidays, though. Players Weights and Park Drive, and later Players No 6 and No 10 were the daily smoke. By the time I hit 16, I’d learned how to roll my own, and Golden Virginia became the smoke of choice.

          With regard vintage fags, I have here an unopened pack of Marlboro Lights with no warnings at all, just ’20mg tar, 1.5 mg nicotine’ from the seventies. Made in USA and bought in Malaysia. Not really vintage, but it’s rare to see fags without any warnings nowadays. I have a packet (also unopened) of ‘JONNEE RED’ I bought in Laos a few years ago, the pack designed to look like the ‘Johnny Walker Red’ whisky label, made by the ‘Lao-China Good Luck Tobacco Co Ltd’, and they have only a tiny warning on one edge of the pack, written in Lao.

  2. Harleyrider1978 says:

    Back in the 70s they made a film about an American who was A man without a country!

    He had been convicted of treason and his punishment was never seeing land again!

    He was put on naval warships for 40 years and always on ones out at sea!

  3. Roobeedoo2 says:

    ‘But I think that doing nothing is quite often better than doing nothing.’

    Should that be ‘something’ at the end of that sentence, Frank?

  4. Do-gooder Sourbry I would like to add to your list Frank. She ran off to the EU to sign more TC stuff and then had to defend herself in front of a committee, I hope she felt as wonderful doing her so called good deed, as I did when BREXIT happened, she was so angry, good, good, good.

  5. melinoerealm says:

    ” In regard to universalist utopias and the withering of traditional identities, the French New Right affirms the primacy of differences, which are neither transitory features leading to some higher form of unity, nor incidental aspects of private life. Rather, these differences are the very substance of social life. They can be native (ethnic, linguistic), but also political. Citizenship implies belonging, allegiance and participation in public life at different levels. Thus, one can be, at one and the same time, a citizen of one’s neighbourhood, city, region, nation, and of Europe, according to the nature of power devolved to each of these levels of sovereignty. By contrast, one cannot be a citizen of the world, for the ‘world’ is not a political category. Wanting to be a citizen of the world is to link citizenship to an abstraction drawn from the vocabulary of the Liberal New Order.”
    ~ Manifesto for a European Renaissance, Alain de Benoist & Charles Champetier.

  6. Harleyrider1978 says:

    Trump looking at us getting out of the UN

  7. C.F. Apollyon says:

    Time…turns into…potential???
    Time…turns into…possibility???
    Time rights probability?
    Interpretive relativity…specific relativity…special relativity?
    Reference and referencing?
    Generally…anyway. ;-)

    To what do I refer?


    ^No Mana feat. Zashanell – Restart^


  8. garyk30 says:

    “My question is: how do they know what’s good, and what isn’t?”

    if they think it is good, it is; because, they have total confidence in their being right about everything.

  9. waltc says:

    The analogy of smashing the world to catch flies is brilliantly apt. But I think there’s a difference between simply doing good and being a Do-Gooder, the latter having always smacked of smug bossy interference. Then too while there are certainly times to do nothing (shrug; live and let live; accept futility and cultivate your garden) there are times to do something. Bexit, for instance, was Something. Nor do I think smokers should do nothing, anymore than I think that when their turn came as punching bags, blacks, homosexuals and Jews should have done nothing.

    As far as TC’s hideous goals, more frightening to me than a few zealots out to rule the world through inflammatory pitches is the fact that the world has been so easily manipulated to go along with the gag. That’s the deeply depressing and apparently eternal flaw in human nature–the same one that’s led to witch-burning, lynching, gassing, and beheading. Against which one urgently needs to Do Something.

    • Frank Davis says:

      “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” might better describe the difference between doing nothing and unnecessarily doing something. Not long ago I described how I once owned a Lambretta motor scooter, which I decided (quite unnecessarily) needed to have its engine de-coked. In the process, I ended up smashing the engine casing, and rendering it permanently inoperable. It would have been better if I’d done nothing.

      Yes, Brexit was something. So also was electing Donald Trump. But voting isn’t a particularly difficult thing to do. The UK parliament is now going to have a debate and vote on Brexit. What if they vote against it? And I can’t see what’s to stop them. What do we Do then?

      the deeply depressing and apparently eternal flaw in human nature

      Surely that ‘flaw’ is the readiness with which we trust each other, and believe what we are told. That’s something that enables us to easily work together. But it also means that we’re also easily duped by con artists. But when that happens, we lose trust. And that’s what’s happening now. We’re losing trust in people we once trusted. But gaining trust in others.

  10. waltc says:

    Fyi:googled Marie’s Crisis. Yes, named for Paine’s tract. Other info: opened in the 1850’s as “a prostitute’s den,” became a gay bar in the 1890’s. It’s Implied that Marie took it over and named it during Prohibition when it became a speakeasy. In my era, it was what it partly is now–a piano bar and hangout for off-Bway performers except back then there were also booked acts. Seems now it’s just a nostalgic piano bar, specializing in show tunes, and while some sites peg it as again a gay bar, others don’t and it’s reviewed (positively and negatively) by women and straight couples. Anyway, you can’t smoke there so fuckit.

  11. Lepercolonist says:

    As resident of a depressing rust belt town I am perplexed by these local Do-Gooders that want to save the world. They will sacrifice their time and money for third world countries that have contempt for Americans. Our county seat has a poverty rate over 40% that could benefit from their
    altruism but the Do-Gooders would rather be seen as cool/hip global citizens.

  12. Jay says:

    I haven’t read the comments yet so if anyone else has posted this I apologise but it seems very apt in view of your comment, Frank, “Can’t they see? Can’t they see what they’ve done, and what they’re still doing? No, they can’t. They can’t see a damn thing. And they never will. And that’s why Americans voted for Donald Trump…”:

    • Frank Davis says:

      From the linked piece:

      It happened because you banned super-size sodas. And smoking in parks. And offensive ideas on campus. Because you branded people who oppose gay marriage ‘homophobic’, and people unsure about immigration ‘racist’.

      I read that piece a day or two back. But I thought that it wasn’t because they banned smoking in parks. It was because they banned smoking in bars and so many other places long before that.

      • Roobeedoo2 says:

        Surely banning smoking outside (in parks) is the point where a majority of people have begun to think ‘authority’ is going too far. Indoor smoking bans (in pubs and bars) were passed, and passed and passed, without too much resistance because the majority trusted the ‘experts’ about secondhand smoke in enclosed areas. Outdoor smoking bans are at odds with that and perhaps have given people pause for thought. I dunno, I live in hope.

      • Jay says:

        I thought that O’Neill’s piece was incredibly powerful because all the examples, taken as a whole, express the underlying motivation of politicians in the ‘recent’* past: to micro-manage our lives – which they have no business to be doing – and I don’t think that any one example was to be taken literally, I think he, for example, used smoking in “parks” because that is the ultimate in smoking behaviour control that has no basis in reason by anyone’s standards and I think (because of the style of the piece) that his view is that it’s the totality of a number of measures, rather than any one measure in itself, that’s tipped people over the edge.

        *although it seems like a lifetime (since 1.7.07 I’ve felt that I’ve existed rather than lived).

  13. Pingback: We Live In An Era Of Distrust | Frank Davis

  14. Pingback: ¿Usted no puede ver? / Can’t You See? | Ramrock's Blog

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