Tobacco Control always presents itself as being on the side of the angels. They see themselves as knights in shining armour, riding out from their hilltop castle to fight and kill the smoke-belching dragon of tobacco.
But the way I see them, they’re actually just plain evil. They do far more harm than good. In fact, I’m not even sure they do any good at all. They don’t really have an idea of “good”, except a highly restricted concept of “health”, which boils down to “longevity”. For them, the good life is the long life. Nothing more, nothing less. Anything else – happiness, freedom, wealth, community, truth, honour, or whatever else you might care to mention that might have something faintly “good” about it – simply doesn’t count.
But if they have a diminutive, abbreviated idea of “good”, they have a vast and elaborate concept of “evil”, in the form of the tobacco plant, and its attendant Tobacco Company distributors, and its countless millions of devotees (or “addicts”, as TC prefers to describe them).
And they are far more concerned with stamping out evil than they are in doing any positive good. For they only ever measure their success in terms of numbers of “addicts” who they have managed to get to stop smoking.
I think one of the most important tasks in fighting Tobacco Control is to drive them off the moral high ground.
Of relevance to this was something I came across yesterday
“Perpetual repetition.” “Unqualified environmental groups.” “Sensational headlines.” This is what mass movements are all about. From his book, The True Believer, here is Eric Hoffer on mass movements:
“Hatred is the most assessable and comprehensive of all the unifying agents.… Mass movements can rise and spread without the belief in God but never without the belief in evil.”
…There are two things necessary for a mass movement to succeed: true believers and a well-defined enemy. The enemy of the climate change mass movement is fossil fuels and the Industrial Age, with the “deniers” being the enablers of planetary destruction.
…Here is Hoffer’s warning on the role of the true believer: “where mass movements can either persuade or coerce, it usually chooses the latter.”
It’s about climate change, but as is very often the case with climate change, the logic transposes easily to Tobacco Control. And in fact I think this is because climate change activism is the bastard offspring of antismoking activism, right the way down to the trace amounts of dangerous gases. It’s the Tobacco Control playbook with “tobacco smoke” crossed out and replaced with “carbon dioxide”, and “premature death” replaced with “catastrophic global warming”, and “Big Tobacco” replaced with “Big Oil”.
But the main thing I noticed about Hoffer’s mass movements was that he had seen that they all have a greater belief in something evil than they ever do in something good – much as I had imagined in The Sistine Chapel of Tobacco Control, whose walls were covered with a Hieronymus Bosch vision of hell, with a dwindled, distant heaven relegated to a corner.
Not irrelevant to all this is my upcoming half hour TV interview tonight. I’m going to be live on air in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It’ll be my first time on live TV anywhere.
I usually turn down invitations to appear on TV or radio whenever I get them, which is hardly ever. But this time the invite was from some fellow smokers who have a weekly slot on a local TV station. So it’s going to be one smoker interviewing another smoker. And I will be actually smoking.
I’m expecting the interview to be more like a half hour friendly chat. But some questions have been lined up in case the conversation dries up. Including this one:
“What can smokers do to fight back?”
And that’s a tough question. It’s one I ask myself every day: what can I do to fight back? And I fight back, in my way, by writing this blog. And by thinking about how to fight back, every day.
I think that the first thing that people can do to fight back is to recognise that they’re in a war. I think most smokers don’t really see themselves as being caught up in a war. I don’t think many of them even identify Tobacco Control as their enemy.
But, going back to my blog, I don’t see my task in writing it as being one of attacking the enemy, but instead much more one of reaching out to smoking friends. I’m much more interested in talking to smokers than antismokers. Because I think that if one is to fight Tobacco Control one must first raise an army. And that must be an army of like-minded friends or companions. They might not agree about absolutely everything, but they will be agreed about a number of core concerns.
And also, I’m interested in reaching out to smokers all over the world. Because the war on smoking is a global war. That’s why I’m always very pleased to make contact with people in Europe and America and Canada and Australia and New Zealand and Russia. Because there needs to be a global army, made up of English and French and German and Russian and American and Canadian and Australian smokers (or smoking sympathisers). And also Indian and African and Chinese and Brazilian smokers.
And I think that such an army won’t need to be “organised” in some formal sense. I think it’s self-organising. I think that such armies only appear when enough people believe that they’re going to have to fight – i.e. when they recognise that they’re in a war, whether they like it or not. And the harder that Tobacco Control presses down on smokers, the more of them are going to realise they’re in a war.
For example, at the outset of WW1, the British army was a small professional army. But when there was a call for volunteers, they stepped forwards in droves. Why? Because a lot of them had realised they were in a war, and were going to have to fight. If that hadn’t been the case, the call for volunteers would have fallen on deaf ears, and the recruiting offices would have been empty. The army, in a sense, already existed before it was called upon. And it was made up of people who’d been talking to their friends and companions, in pubs, or restaurants, or family gatherings. It self-organised as a dispersed population of like-minded people, each of whom had separately come to their own separate conclusions. Their subsequent “organisation” in the British Army was really all about training them and dispatching them to France. And this is probably how it is in every war, wherever it’s being fought.
Anyway… you should eventually be able to see the programme. It’s going to be posted up on YouTube