I was thinking yesterday that antismoking zealots have profound contempt for smokers. It takes a most profound contempt for smokers to expel them all from their clubs and bars and cafes. And then, having expelled them from those places, to go on to expel them from even more places yet. Smoking bans are expressions of contempt for smokers.
The antismokers really do regard smokers as vermin. They absolutely hate them.
Some smokers internalise this contempt, and hate themselves. But I don’t internalise the contempt: I hate the antismokers back with an equal and opposite contempt.
But I was also thinking yesterday that the war on smokers was a class war. The UK smoking ban was first called for in 2004 by Sir Charles George, who was the then director of both the BMA and the BHF. This man was part of the British aristocracy. That’s what having “Sir” in front of your name means. And he was calling for a war to be launched upon the British working class, in which most of Britain’s smokers are found. So in the UK the war on smokers is a class war by the British upper classes on the British lower classes.
This also reminded me that Britain has historically been rather famous for its class system – although in my experience as an Englishman, I’ve seen very little of it. And I probably never saw very much of it because I grew up during the last years of the British Empire, during which time a great many of Britain’s upper classes lost their colonial fortunes, and could no longer maintain their large country houses, and had to sell them off. The British aristocracy was decimated. And these days you hardly ever see Lord and Lady This, or Lord and Lady That, making headlines in the newspapers. Post-imperial Britain has been a far more egalitarian society than imperial Britain ever was.
And I thought that Britain’s class system was mostly likely the expression of contempt: the British upper classes had contempt for the British lower classes, and vice versa. And the upper classes had contempt for the lower classes because they regarded themselves as better than them in every possible way. They saw themselves as superior beings. And furthermore, being more or less Masters of the Universe as overseers of the sprawling British empire, they saw themselves as being superior to absolutely everyone in the world. So their contempt for everybody was accordingly even greater than it would otherwise have been. And this was probably why Britain’s class system was so famous worldwide: the contempt for those at the bottom by those at the top was never so great anywhere else. The contempt – and the accompanying class system – only began to vanish when the British upper classes ceased to be Masters of the Universe, and could no longer look down on everyone else, because they were now re-joining them as equals.
It was probably the same in ancient Rome, at the height of the Roman empire, when Julius Caesar was a politician of the Populares (people’s) party, and was fighting with politicians in the Optimates party. What does “optimate” mean? It means “best”. For the Optimates were the Roman upper classes, and they probably regarded themselves as much the very best people as the British upper classes ever did at the height of the British empire. And they probably treated everyone else with complete and perfect contempt.
Class systems emerge, it would seem, whenever great power and wealth become concentrated anywhere. And today most of the power and wealth in the world is concentrated in the USA, and to a lesser extent in Europe. And so it’s in the USA and Europe that a new class system has emerged. In Europe the new aristocracy has its headquarters in Brussels, and it regards its empire as consisting of the whole of Europe. And, as ever, the aristocrats in the EU have the most complete and perfect contempt for their European subject peoples.
It’s no different in the USA. Hillary Clinton is a member of the US aristocracy. She’s very rich, and very powerful. And she was the aristocrats’ presidential candidate last year. And she fully expected to win the presidency. She thought it was going to be a shoo-in. It was even widely touted as an upcoming “coronation.”
And just like aristocrats everywhere, Hillary Clinton has profound contempt for the US lower orders. She even has her own special name for them: the “deplorables.” And she even declared that there was an entire “basket” of these deplorables, by which she meant that there were all sorts of different kinds of deplorable people. And one of the kinds of people she deplored, of course, were smokers (currently, it’s more or less de rigueur for aristocrats everywhere to deplore smoking and smokers). And Donald Trump, the rough-spoken presidential candidate who actually did win, was another kind of deplorable, even if he was very rich. It was completely unthinkable to the US aristocracy to even imagine that a deplorable like Donald Trump could ever become President. And, now that he has, they can’t stop showering him with the contempt they have for him. They think that the presidency rightfully belongs to them – to the “best” people.
There are lots of examples of the way that these new aristocrats treat people with contempt. In Europe, the decision of the EU aristocracy to import millions of people from Africa and the Middle East displays the most perfect contempt with which they regard their own people’s cultures and traditions. In the USA, the neocon quest for global military supremacy displays the most perfect contempt for anyone (Russians in particular) who would dare thwart their ambitions. And this boundless contempt is also expressed to everyone by habitual lying. For to lie to people is to express contempt for them. And so they lie about smoking. And they lie about global warming. They lie about everything, all the time. And they lie because they think that the contemptible deplorables don’t need to be told the truth, even about matters that intimately concern them. And another feature of this contempt is that the aristocracy will not listen to anyone whom they hold in contempt: they will listen to nobody’s advice but their own. And this guarantees that they will do more and more foolish things.
But if these new aristocrats hold everyone else in perfect contempt, it also follows that they are increasingly being regarded with equal and opposite contempt by more and more of the people whom they claim to represent (but whom they actually order around as if they were their servants).
It can’t last. When the American colonists revolted against British rule in 1776, it was a revolt which was almost certainly exacerbated by the perfect contempt with which the British crown and aristocracy had been treating them. And when the French revolution broke out a few decades later, it was probably exacerbated by the perfect contempt with which the French king and his attendant aristocracy were treating the French people. For contempt breeds counter-contempt, as night follows day.