I was thinking last night, not for the first time, that Tobacco Control’s global scale attempt at social engineering is bound to fail because “society” doesn’t exist as a monolithic entity that can be steered in one direction or other like a car or a truck.
What’s going to happen instead is that society is going to disintegrate. Some of it will go in the direction that TC wants, but much of it won’t. Some of it will head off in completely new directions.
In fact I think that society already has disintegrated. For that has been my personal experience. Ten years or so ago, I had a wide circle of friends some of whom I’d known for almost 40 years. That’s all gone now. The principal blow came with the 2007 smoking ban which “exiled me to the outdoors” and removed the pubs that I’d used to meet up with people (I was never a home entertainer).
But the division was exacerbated when increasing numbers of former friends introduced their own home smoking bans. And when they did that, it signalled the end. They may as well have become Muslims or transgender Hare Krishna chanters.
Case in point: A family I’d known since my student days back in the 60s. The paterfamilias had been one of my lecturers, and after he left the university I got to know him and his wife and daughters. I was a regular visitor at their house. He died sometime around 2000, but I carried on visiting the family, even after they’d moved. But then one day, sometime in 2010 or so, when I arrived to visit them, having driven 50 miles or more, I was greeted with the news that now, for the first time in the entire 40+ year history of knowing them, they had banned smoking in their house. I experienced this just like a punch in the stomach, jerking forward in the seat in which I’d just sat down. Apart from that I was greeted as kindly and affectionately as I had ever been, and I was plied with tea. Fortunately, it was a warm sunny day in summer, and we could sit outside, so I sat outside with them, intermittently smoking, and talking about this and that, like we always did. But I knew that this was going to be the last time I ever saw them. I knew that I would never be coming back. For I was really no longer welcome there. Later that evening, when I finally said goodbye to them, it was not au revoir, but adieu. Our ways had finally parted.
I used to have similar experiences back in the 1970s and 80s when people I knew would announce that they’d joined some modern cult like the Orange Order or Subud. Overnight, they would become strangers, and I’d drift away from them. I have next to no time for cults of any sort. And when I met up with a very old friend who I’d not seen for 10 years, and learned that he had joined some outfit called the Emissaries of the Divine Light, I experienced a familiar sinking feeling.
And in many ways the antismokers strike me as belonging to another cult exactly like any of these. But the antismoking cult seems to have absorbed far greater numbers of people than any of these lesser cults ever managed to do. The other cults usually entailed chanting or incense or something, but the antismoking cult doesn’t seem to have any rituals or induction ceremonies. People seem to just wake up one day, and they’ve become antismokers, and obsessed with health.
Much the same seems to happen with the Anthropogenic Global Warming cult, which also seems to entail a sudden conversion experience. One day they don’t believe it; next day they do. And there’s really no rhyme or reason to it. Last week I found out that my former Ph.D. tutor, as sound as solid a man who ever lived, and who had even once become a university professor, had drunk the AGW Kool-Aid.
It’s just like Invasion of the Body-Snatchers. Or the Masque of the Red Death.
I wonder if one day I’ll wake up and find that I’ve got the bug too, and the symptomatic spots and buboes have begun to appear all over me. It doesn’t seem to have happened yet.
These new cults all seem to have some sort of Science associated with them. It all looks quite plausible. There are tables and charts and graphs. Sometimes there are even equations. But all concerned are zealots in one way or other. They all start with a conclusion (e.g. smoking kills, or CO2 warms), and then hunt around for evidence supporting the conclusion. Anyone who demurs is a denier or a denialist.
And another feature of the new cults is that they often (usually?) have government backing and government funding, like the windmill cult or the solar panel cult. And this shouldn’t be a surprise, given that politicians are as gullible as anybody else.
Anyway, my experience is not that the Tobacco Control cult is succeeding in changing society, but only in dividing it. And what we are seeing is an increasingly fractured society in which the divisions are only deepening. For the more cultish the cults become, the more entrenched I become in rejecting them. I no longer watch TV or read newspapers. I no longer want to know. Nor do I ever want to talk to cult members.
Nor am I interested in trying to convert anyone. For it seems that once people have caught the bug of antismoking or global warming or whatever, they never seem to recover their senses. And they’re never going to win over me, however many antismoking messages they put on tobacco packs.
I’m afraid that it’s simply going to have to run its course, like any other plague. Just yesterday, Chris Snowdon was reporting that the Supreme Court has declared minimum pricing legal on the grounds that
free trade doesn’t matter if a policy is designed to protect ‘health and life’…
which really just means that the Supreme Court has fallen under the spell of the Health cult (of which the antismoking cult is a sub-cult).
This should be no surprise given that when the Ministry of Justice responded to my letter to my MP protesting against prison smoking bans, it made no mention whatsoever of any considerations of justice, but only considerations of health.
What happens when a society collectively loses its marbles? Well, we’re going to soon find out. It’s unlikely to be anything pleasant.
And I think there are going to be increasingly strong attempts to regain control as the collective madness acquires further momentum. There may even be a military coup. How else do you regain control of the Supreme Court and the Ministry of Justice and the BBC? Politics is going to become the Sane versus the Mad. It has more or less become that anyway. It’ll also likely become a struggle between radical town and conservative country. If Britain does (somehow) manage to achieve Brexit, I can well imagine some radical London mayor declaring London to be an independent state allied with the EU, with roadblocks set up around the M25 orbital motorway. Social and cultural disintegration will lead to geographical disintegration
And not just here in the UK, but everywhere else as well. It may be that in Catalonia we have just witnessed the first of many attempts by radical local governments to split off from a conservative central government.
The EU, I feel sure, is going to disintegrate. The centrifugal forces that are building up inside it, between radicals and conservatives, are only going to get stronger, and the rivalries more intense. There are going to be more Catalonias, and more Brexits. And if the UK doesn’t actually manage Brexit, there will anyway soon cease to be an EU that anyone remains a member of.
My only hope is that the mounting disorder won’t include forced collective gymnastic exercises and death camps filled with smokers. Or that I won’t live to see them.
And I also hope that I can begin to re-unite a few smokers with kindred spirits. For in a time of deepening division and disintegration it will become more and more important to hold together with those with whom one still can. This seems to matter more to me than anything else at all.