Past And Future

I used to dream of the future, and tried to escape from the past. The 1960s, in which I came of age, was one in which we overthrew the past. We wore different clothes, listened to different (electric) music, smoked different stuff (pot), spoke a different language (hip). We were new people, dreaming new dreams. Our parents didn’t understand us, but they weren’t supposed to.

But there were some dark undercurrents. We were not optimistic about the future. We could all be returned to the stone age at any moment in nuclear war. And if that didn’t happen, we’d soon run out of oil, water, land, all of which were in limited supply. We lived on the eve of destruction, partying into the night as if this was going to be the very last party the world would ever see. There was always an undercurrent of despair.

Back then I was something of a left wing progressive. But I gradually became disenchanted with the progressive culture in which I belonged. It was an irrational culture. It was a culture where people followed gurus of one sort or other. For all its noise and glamour, it was empty, even desperately seeking. I began to think that the rational past was better than the increasingly irrational future.

I began to get more interested in science and reason than in fashion and style. And I began to appreciate the past much more. The previous generation to mine was made up of much more practical, rational people than my impractical, irrational generation.

And the cigarette was one of the symbols of that prior generation. They’d all smoked cigarettes. Thousands of years from now, when archaeologists dig down and find images of people with little white sticks in their mouths, they’ll know that they’ve reached the early 20th century.

There are all sorts of other symbols of that era. Biplanes. Steam locomotives. Motor cars. Telephones with revolving dials. Valve radios. Bowler hats and umbrellas.

And if you are a progressive, oriented towards the future, you are always trying to sweep away the past. You are always trying to roll out the old, and roll in the new. Because the old is also tired, faded, and disappointing, and the new is always bright and fresh and young and filled with promise.

And so the war on smoking is a cultural war on a past era. The war on cars is part of the same cultural war. So is the war on fast food. None of it has anything at all to do with ‘health’. That’s just the excuse for the war. The real purpose is to bury the old world, and inaugurate a new one.

And someone like Donald Trump is a throwback to that former era. The “again” in “Making America Great Again” consciously harks back to a past era, when everything was better than it is today. And that’s heresy to any progressive with his eyes fixed firmly on the future. Because for the progressive the future is always an improvement on the past, because whatever is new is always better than whatever is old. For in that way of thinking, everything gradually becomes “outdated” or “past its sell-by date”, and the value of anything is inversely proportional to its age.

Donald Trump is the advocate of a past American era. And that’s why progressives see him as a sort of knuckle-dragging neanderthal. And if they’re always calling him and his supporters racists and sexists and homophobes and fascists and nazis, it’s because that past era actually was racist and sexist and homophobic. After all, back then there was segregation. And the world was run by men, with the women downtrodden housewives, barely allowed to even vote. And back then homosexuality was utterly intolerable. And it also actually was the era in which both fascism and nazism emerged. So when Trump and his supporters show any signs of admiration for the past, progressives dread that he will bring a return of male domination, segregation, and homophobia. Trump threatens to take away the future, and replace it with the past. Hence their sense of dislocation.

It may not be what Trump actually is, but it is what he represents. And he represents a world in which the clocks run backwards, and the past becomes the future.

It’s probably the case that every generation tries to overthrow and suppress the previous one, and usher in a brand spanking new era in which everything would be perfect. It happened in the 1960s with the Cultural Revolution in China, in which it seems that almost the entire cultural heritage of a former civilisation was systematically smashed to bits. It also happened with the Russian Revolution some 50 years earlier, in which almost all the symbols of the former Tsarist and Orthodox Christian culture were swept away. And it happened in France in about 1790 and America in 1776. It maybe also happened in  England in about 1530, with the dissolution of the monasteries and the adoption of a new English state religion.

The progressives of the modern era are as progressive and revolutionary as any Mao or Lenin or Robespierre or Washington or Henry VIII. They’re bringing in the New. And in the process the old world, whatever it happened to be, has to be comprehensively dismantled. And these days that includes beer and cigarettes and cheeseburgers and soda, and statues of Robert E Lee and Christopher Columbus, and the national anthem and the Stars and Stripes. Antifa is a new incarnation of Mao’s Red Guard, smashing all the icons of a former era. It should really be called Antipa – anti-Past. For that’s what it’s really fighting against.

And the progressives (or futurists) always have global aspirations. Of global government. Of a New World Order. And they’re always rather fascist or nazi in pursuing the ideal world they see just over the horizon in the future. Does it matter if a few eggs get broken on the way to that ideal, perfect world? One of Bill Clinton’s (adopted) early campaign songs went:

“Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow.
Don’t stop, it’ll soon be here.
It’ll be here better than before.
Yesterday’s gone, yesterday’s gone.”

That’s almost the progressive outlook in a nutshell. The future will be here soon, and it will be better than yesterday.

But the future never arrives. The Five Year Plans don’t work. And disenchantment soon sets in. And in due course the future becomes the past. And another new bright future beckons.

Bill and Hillary Clinton were the future in 1993. They have now become the past.

About Frank Davis

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10 Responses to Past And Future

  1. nisakiman says:

    Or to put it in a nutshell, quoting a sign that used to be a common sight in pubs:


  2. dirk says:

    Congratulations Frank. I have seldom read such a brilliant analysis. You should write a book. Ask Leg-Iron, he’s a publisher. Once again, you pinpoint what’s wrong now with society, and your analysis of the sixties is wonderful. Richard Feynman wrote: “if we suppress all discussion, all criticism, proclaiming : this is the answer, mankind is saved, we will doom humanity for a long time to the chains of authority”

  3. Rose says:

    Just out of interest.

    Prisoners allowed to VAPE in their cells despite smoking ban riot at Walton jail
    23 OCT 2017

    “The softer approach comes only a few weeks after riots broke out at Walton prison – reportedly caused by efforts to enforce a smoking ban.
    Inmates reportedly started fires and two were injured last month during two days of chaos at the Hornby Road jail.

    The Prison Service has stepped up its efforts this year to make all prisons enforce the smoking ban, which was first introduced more widely a decade ago.
    But officials are so concerned about the potential for unrest among inmates that they have not even set a target date for all prisons to be smoke-free.

    E-cigarettes and rechargeable vaping devices have been made available in prison shops across the country.”

    • nisakiman says:

      E-cigs may alleviate the problems to a degree, but my gut feeling is that they won’t be seen as a viable alternative to tobacco in prisons. They are clunky and awkward to use, and a lot more difficult to conceal about the body. I think tobacco will still be king in a prison environment.

    • beobrigitte says:

      Jails across Merseyside are encouraging prisoners to take part in Stoptober this month, giving out advice to help them quit.
      Good luckh with tha, mate! Can’t see tha wercking in de nick.

      The softer approach comes only a few weeks after riots broke out at Walton prison – reportedly caused by efforts to enforce a smoking ban.
      Hahahahahahahahaha…. giggle…
      What makes me laugh the most is the comments. The anti-smokers (?all 4 of them in Liverpool) are working incredibly hard to cause uproar against smoking prisoners. Unfortunately for them they are using the anti-smoker online language.

      But officials are so concerned about the potential for unrest among inmates that they have not even set a target date for all prisons to be smoke-free.
      I’m not surprised! May I suggest that the ASH members deal with the unrests? After all, they belong to the crowd that lobbied the ban.

      E-cigarettes and rechargeable vaping devices have been made available in prison shops across the country.
      I can see this for a short time taking the worst of the riots away although I’m not sure for how long. Prisoners are not necessarily stupid people, they have just done one or more things wrong and got caught, that’s all. Adding to this the in the media well described aggression, the prisoners will be well aware that the e-cigarettes provided in the prison shops will not be permanently there.

      Interesting is, that the very same article ends with:
      The governor was removed from his post earlier this month after an inspection, and a report revealed cockroaches, filthy toilets and other grim conditions inside.

      An NHS trust is also set to abandon its contract to provide healthcare services in the prison, citing unspecified “significant challenges”.
      This is the hint given for people to put the riots down to the ?squalid conditions; nice try.

    • Joe L. says:

      IMHO, it’s absurd to allow e-cigarettes in prisons altogether especially after all the reports of them exploding in people’s purses and pockets. It wouldn’t take much for a prisoner to short out a battery and cause injury to a prison guard, and it doesn’t take a genius in the Prison Service to realize this possibility.

      They won’t allow vaping in these prisons for long. It’s a (very stupid) emergency stop-gap measure to tone down the rioting and keep it out of the news for now.

      • smokingscot says:

        The Isle of Man tried total ban, however this year they capitulated and are now allowing vaping devices.

        These are disposables, so there’s no possibility of shorting out anything.

        In fact trying a total ban resulted in 800 shortings (and goodness knows what else) in Manx.

        • Joe L. says:

          These are disposables, so there’s no possibility of shorting out anything.

          The article Rose links states otherwise (emphasis mine):

          E-cigarettes and rechargeable vaping devices have been made available in prison shops across the country.

          Nevertheless, disposable e-cigs still have batteries that could be shorted, they just most likely wouldn’t be as dangerous as a rechargeable unit with a more powerful battery.

  4. Vlad says:

    Speaking of ecigs…
    Supporters of the measure, including the American Cancer Society and the American Lung Association, had been lobbying lawmakers and Cuomo to approve the measure, arguing that smoke from e-cigarettes posed health risks akin to those of regular cigarettes.

    Those one billion lives saving vapers get a taste of their own medicine now.

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