In a time when most smokers seem quite apathetic and despairing in the face of their ever-mounting persecution, I was wondering this morning why I wasn’t. Smokers, I was thinking, are almost punch-drunk with the amount of punishment they’ve been taking. They’re swaying on their feet, their hands hanging limply by their side, waiting for the next hammer blow below the belt. In a boxing match, the referee would have stepped in and stopped the fight. But in this match there’s no referee. So it just goes on and on and on. So why am I still on my feet, moving and dodging, and optimistic that we smokers will win in the end?

The answer, I thought, most likely lay in my own personal history. In a world of incessant antismoking propaganda, I’ve been a lot less propagandised than most. For I spent most of the first formative seventeen years of my life outside the UK, in countries like Brazil or Libya or Eritrea or Gambia. And if I wasn’t in one or other of these unlikely places, I was locked inside a Benedictine monastery school somewhere deep in the English countryside. Most other Englishmen and women probably got the full propaganda dose during that time, from schoolteachers and clerics and family and friends, and of course the BBC. And I got next to none. Or I was indoctrinated in very different ways.

And I was always aware that I was being indoctrinated by my Benedictine teachers. We had Doctrine classes, after all. In one of these (I suddenly remembered this morning) I was told that: “Dialectical Materialism is a Sin.” It was a statement which was memorable for being almost completely meaningless, given that I had no idea whatsoever what Dialectical Materialism might be, and not much better idea what a Sin was, beyond being Something You Shouldn’t Do (and if you did do, you should confess to doing, whereupon you would be promptly forgiven for doing it). It was not very difficult to begin to unpick my acquired Roman Catholic ideology once I left school and started reading books like Objections To Roman Catholicism.

I was also instantly aware, when I first encountered the antismoking Dr W, shortly after leaving school, that I was in the presence of an ideologue as ferociously irrational as any Jesuit or Communist or Nazi. For all ideologies are irrational in one degree or other. They are belief systems which require an act of faith. They are acquired mindsets rather than logical constructions. And they are usually almost entirely incompatible with any other ideology or mindset, with which they are invariably at war. And they usually have some guru – Jesus, Mohammed, Marx, Hitler, Darwin – who is the infallible and unquestionable and usually long-dead founder.

I was also instantly aware, as soon as I encountered them, that most of the cults that came spinning out of India, like the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and his Transcendental Meditation, were also irrational ideologies, usually with the difference that their gurus were still alive and driving around in Rolls Royces.

And I needed nobody to teach me that Maoism and Stalinism and Trotskyism were ideologies. Darwinism too.

More recently, Environmentalism, the Green movement, and Global Warming Alarmism were quite obviously irrational ideologies as well. All entail acts of faith. Their doctrines are as unquestionable as any other religious belief. They all have their Holy Books, and their Gurus, and their own unique brands of Mumbo Jumbo.

And having been held in the grip of one powerful ideology during my formative years, I had no wish to fall under the spell of any other ideology. Roman Catholicism was quite enough for one lifetime. And so I now respond to any new ideology I encounter with automatic scepticism. I don’t believe a word of any of them.

But very arguably I’ve fallen under the spell of the ideology of Science. Or the ideology of Mathematical Physics. But Science – good science – isn’t irrational. It’s deeply logical. It has its gurus – Newton, Einstein, etc – but they’re not regarded as unquestionable authorities. If Science has its problems, they mostly lie on the borders between Science – what is known and understood – and Nescience – what is unknown and not understood. The besetting sin of Science is for scientists to regularly pretend to know far more than they actually do know. A great deal of medicine – e.g. the causes of cancer – deals with matters that aren’t at all well understood. And it’s when scientists try to operate beyond the borders of established science that they’re in danger of becoming ideologues. This is what has happened with antismoking zealotry and also climate change alarmism. They may have started out as genuine scientific attempts to understand disease and climate, but they ended up as religious dogmas protected by a new priesthood, with heretics being expelled and silenced.

But it seems to me that it is the inevitable fate of any irrational ideology to sooner or later fall into decline, simply because there eventually cease to be enough True Believers. If Christianity is in decline, then so also is Darwinism, Maoism, Trotskyism, and all the rest. And the same will soon prove to be also true of the currently ascendant ideologies of antismoking and global warming. In fact, one might already say that the symptoms of disease are already evident in both, simply in their fevered stridency, much like the swollen buboes under the armpits of plague victims.

All smokers need to do is to remain stoically standing under the blows rained upon them, and keep on smoking, and the antismoking ideology will run its inevitable course to its extinction. And then future generations will wonder how such people ever managed to believe anything so manifestly nonsensical and irrational. And that’s why I’m an optimist.


About Frank Davis

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21 Responses to Ideology

  1. Rose says:

    I am an optimist too, that’s why I am content to wait while slowly pulling their “science” apart bit by bit.
    I believe in the plant and if I trusted it, knowing only the basic plant chemistry of edible nightshades when I started, studying it properly I am even more impressed.

  2. ladyraj says:

    I used to be an optimist. Over time I realized the pendulum swings from one extreme to the other and waiting was all that was required with fear of smoke. Then I realized that smokephobia/smokerphobia has permeated the population to the point the pendulum is stuck. Small children are indoctrinated in schools and taught not to question. Parents of those children are worried that familial DNA has been corrupted from exposure if Granny smoked during pregnancy. Who knows what a whiff of actual tobacco smoke will do to their babies! Add in the fear of nicotine addiction and social stigma associated with smoking and there is a major roadblock to keep that pendulum in place.

    Keep in mind the anti-tobacco brigade has a vested interest in keeping this nonsense going. They make good money and get published easily. What a way to earn money…by bullying others! There is shame in the game of tobacco, but it isn’t due to smokers, it’s rests easily with the anti-tobacco brigade. Get the future generation “on” message and decades of job security follows.

    Approximately 75-80 percent of the population are nonsmokers and simply dislike being around smoke from tobacco. I doubt the majority of the population would want any type of rollback from smoking bans. This is proven true by all of the cities that have enacted bans via the ballot box. Unless the populace adopts a “live and let live” attitude…I don’t see a rollback anytime soon.

    How does one undo the ideology that smoke equals harm and death? How does one undo the freedom that nonsmokers feel to query a smoker about their “bad” behavior?

    Funny but sad experience:

    I’m breaking in a young primary care manager from the new school of medicine. On the 1st visit, I answered the normal questions of when I might want to quit smoking. I was polite and listened to his sermon and expressed disinterest in nicotine gum/patches, pills, or going to group therapy. Not for me Doc! At the end of the second visit the Doc simply couldn’t resist his programming and said “what is keeping you from at least trying to quit smoking”. My response “a lack of will”. He had no response. I wonder what my 3rd visit will bring! I rather like that look of astonishment on his face. :-)

    • Rose says:

      Ask him, if he feels so strongly, has he considered giving up eating Solanaceae vegetables entirely, after all ignorance is no excuse.

      There could be unfortunate side effects though.

      How my obsession with clean eating landed me in hospital
      “It’s oddly disturbing that the ingredients that fed our country through two world wars (and Margaret Thatcher’s time in office) have become vilified, sneered upon and, in some, evoke real fear.

      I’m talking about white rice, potatoes, cow’s milk, pasta, eggs, butter, BREAD.

      Since when did we reject potatoes unless they had the word ‘sweet’ in front of them?

      Why are carb portions suddenly replaced with pulverised vegetables (cauliflower rice I’m looking at you)? And why, oh why must we liquidise EVERYTHING?

      Unfortunately for me, it was only after I kissed goodbye to 1/4 of my body weight and my ‘mentally healthy’ status that I even began to ask these questions.”

      The Nicotine Content of Common Vegetables

    • Vlad says:

      It’s like with communism…people didn’t think it could fall apart…until it did. It was an unsustainable system just like the current ‘healthist’, Sickness Industry led one is. You should answer: I smoke because it’s good for me…just as it has been for so many people throughout history, from Einstein to Churchill.

    • Frank Davis says:

      I wasn’t using a pendulum argument. And I don’t think anything ever stays the same for very long.

  3. beobrigitte says:

    But it seems to me that it is the inevitable fate of any irrational ideology to sooner or later fall into decline, simply because there eventually cease to be enough True Believers. If Christianity is in decline, then so also is Darwinism, Maoism, Trotskyism, and all the rest. And the same will soon prove to be also true of the currently ascendant ideologies of antismoking and global warming.
    Everything goes full cycle – again and again. Currently fears are the best vehicle for peddling irrational ideologies.

    All smokers need to do is to remain stoically standing under the blows rained upon them, and keep on smoking, and the antismoking ideology will run its inevitable course to its extinction.
    The anti-smoking industry is most certainly on the way of causing their own extinction without realizing it. They are trying so hard to exterminate smoking that it’s becoming a must!! Do they diabetic leg ulcers etc. printed on cigarette packets and tobacco pouches scare people? I don’t see these “scare” picture anymore.
    Does raising tobacco tax cause people to stop smoking? I do believe the black market is booming.

    And then future generations will wonder how such people ever managed to believe anything so manifestly nonsensical and irrational. And that’s why I’m an optimist.>/i>
    Once people are fed up with scaremongering it won’t be only the anti-smokers that are falling. Using fear as a means of behaviour control usually does not last long. People with their backs against the wall become fearless as have only one way out.
    Yes, I’m an optimist.

  4. junican says:

    When will the persecution end? Perhaps we should look at what happened to Prohibition in the USA. It was driven by women and frightened politicians. Manufacture of liquor was banned, but consumption was not. Gangsters realised that there were vast profits to made, so much so that rival gangs went to war against each other, with much death, both of the criminals and innocents. Illicit liquor was full of impurities and there were many deaths. Corruption was rampant. The Zealots hung on for as long as they could, but, in the end, there was no alternative but to legalise liquor; politicians, relieved of the burden of Morality, were eager to do so so that they could tax liquor.
    A couple of hours ago, I watched a video of a small shop being raided by three men wearing balacalavas and wielding axes. What were they interested in? The money in the till and the stock of tobacco. It was a small shop and there was not much of either, but what there was must have been sufficient for the raiders to take the risk. How long will it be before such raiders raid a wholesaler’s premises? Would such a raid be reported on in the MSM? Is it already happening on quite a large scale?
    As ‘reported’ smoking prevalence falls, so will the need for higher and higher taxes to maintain the flow of tax monies, which will further exacerbate the criminal gangs problem, and the inflow of smuggled stuff. The cost of policing will soar. Meanwhile, the NHS will be more and more crippled by the cost of treating all those ‘smoking related’ diseases which the 80% non-smokers are suffering from.
    Prohibition collapsed all at once, essentially, but I do not see that happening with tobacco control. I vaguely see the ‘children’ argument being turned on its head, and proposals being made that it would be better if children could not see smokers out on the streets, and it would be better if pubs etc had smoking rooms. I could see something like that happening in somewhere like Greece, where smoking bans are largely ignored.
    The ‘salami slice’ persecution of smokers will hold things back, but that only makes the criminal activity grow more slowly. That activity will get worse and worse. Policing will eventually consume all the tobacco tax income.
    The recently passed finance act which had a clause requiring that importers of leaf must have a permit, and the limitation placed upon people who grow plants as a hobby, shows that TobCon is getting worried. They weep that such activities are depriving the exchequer of tax monies, but those provisions will make no difference to the activities of criminal gangs. The more ‘crack downs’ there are, the better for the criminal gangs.

    Well, that’s how I see it.

  5. George B Kinghorn says:

    Not a smoker but I think that business will in the end bottle out,they always follow the money.Then it will be the privateers. As long as they keep of drink. Some hope.

  6. Clicky says:

  7. Dmitri says:

    I agree with the idea that it’s enough to stand tall and take the blows, etc. I agree that the pendulum goes back. The problem is, fighting the bastards is fun. I joined the fight with full knowledge that I fight the power on the decline, but it’s just that I grudge other people the fun they have, while I just stand and watch them. Maybe you, too, did not want to miss a good fight?

  8. TheBlockedDwarf says:

    You, Frank, seem to be believe that science, logic, rational thought and sheer bloody common sense will win out in the end. Unfortunately history says different, I think (but I’d love for you to be right).Humanity just doesn’t ‘do’ reason.

  9. Pingback: Why Smokers Should Not Despair About Smoking Bans | Bolton Smokers Club

  10. Smoking Lamp says:

    Tobacco control is certainly a virulent, hateful ideology. It is on the ascent these days (just read today’s Washington Post article “America’s new tobacco crisis: The rich stopped smoking, the poor didn’t” for an example of the propaganda machine in action.

    I believe this hateful hysteria will burn itself out, but smokers need to band together and expose the lies and fight the persecution if that is to happen anytime soon.

    • waltc says:

      I just very briefly counter-punched a bigot over at that WaPo link, (it’s late and I’ve got a headache) but maybe a few if you would like to introduce an incisive comment. Never hurts to go on record.

      • Smoking Lamp says:

        Another example of the hateful tobacco control ideology is seen in this article at the Warrington Guardian: “11 things that have changed since the smoking ban was brought in 10 years ago”

        The article recounts the standard tobacco control rants about the pubs smelling better and they don’t have to wash their clothes as often now because of smoking bans. And of course they claim smoking bans are popular these days.

        There is a poll that affords the opportunity to weigh in about the success (popularity) of smoking bans.

        • Rose says:

          We all know that’s a lie.

          Pubs find effects of ban not all heaven scent
          2006 Scotland

          “THE smoke has cleared but now we know what pubs really smell like. Bars across Scotland have installed air fresheners and improved ventilation since the smoking ban was introduced, Scotland on Sunday can reveal.
          Publicans have been besieged with complaints about unpleasant smells in their establishments since the ban on smoking in public places was introduced last month.
          They claim odours from sweating drinkers, strong perfume and stench from toilets were previously masked by the cigarette fumes.
          A straw poll of 82 bars in five Scottish cities, conducted by this newspaper, found nearly three-quarters had experienced problems with unpleasant odours since the ban was introduced at the end of March.

          In Edinburgh, bosses at the City Caf said they had been forced to burn incense and install fans to deal with the smell. And at the Abbey in the city’s Newington area, staff have had to open windows and doors to let in fresh air. The Standard Bar in Glasgow has invested in air fresheners, while the city’s Doublet bar has had to keep its ventilation system turned on full to dispel the stench. ”

          Make mine a pint of Chanel, landlord
          Aug 5 2007 England

          “Pubs are planning to pump in artificial scents to mask the smell of stale beer, sweat and drains that used to be disguised by cigarettes before the smoking ban.

          The aromas of ocean breezes and freshly cut grass are being tested by Mitchells & Butlers (M&B), which manages 2,000 pubs in Britain. The group is even considering a perfume that smells of tobacco smoke.

          Supporters of the smoking ban insisted that pubs and bars would become sweeter smelling without cigarettes. But the smoke had masked the locker room aroma in some crowded venues on warm Friday and Saturday nights.”

        • Bandit 1 says:

          Urgh. Why did I read the comments on those pieces? I really should know better. Anti-smokers are the vilest bigots; that examples of the type pollute discourse and society with the most base ignorance and hate, have done so for ten years, and continue to do so without end despite the object of their hate being driven to the fringes of society and persecuted beyond all reason, should make anyone with a brain and a heart feel disgust. I know I feel harmed whenever I’m foolish enough to expose myself to such misanthropy.

          Now I feel like I need a shower, to wash off the filth of their hateful ranting.

      • nisakiman says:

        Very interesting to see, Walt, that most of the comments on that WaPo article were pretty derogatory about the thrust of the article.

        That surprised me. I was fully expecting to see a long list of comments a la ‘The Wall of Hate’, pouring scorn, derision and death wishes on ‘those stupid smokers’. Even the anti-smoker comments were pretty mild compared to what I’ve come to expect.

  11. Lepercolonist says:

    The great character actor, Harry Dean Stanton (aged 90) appeared in the latest David Lynch series, Twin Peaks. Harry still smokes a pack every day :

    Harry… “Do you want a cigarette ?”

    25 year old man ,,, ” Yes. But I quit. Over a year ago.”

    Harry… “QUIT ? I’ve been smoking cigarettes for 75 years. Every day.”

    Gotta love Harry Dean.

  12. waltc says:

    Tho I agree with much of what Lady Raj says, stronger and more lethal ideologies, even those enforced by imprisonment, torture, exile, beheading and burning at the stake, have eventually passed, usually hoist by their own petards. Like the physical law of the pendulum (and btw, the reactive swing isn’t said to return to the exact same spot, just to a close-enough variation) there’s undoubtedly some law of physics that predicts how much pressure can be exerted in a closed environment without creating a reverse explosion. Prohibition lasted for 13 years and McCarthyism for about 10, but otoh, Stalinism lasted for 70, Maoism for, what?– 30? and the pendulum on Reefer Madness is only now slowly swinging back. So–in our lifetime? dunno. Eventually, yes,

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