Planners Are Authoritarians

I started reading Chris Snowdon’s free download book, Killjoys, yesterday, and on page 29 came across the notion of “a runaway train of authoritarianism”. And it prompted a question that I often find myself asking: Why are so many people such authoritarians? Why do they want to order people around? Why can’t they just mind their own business?

My thought this morning was that the authoritarians are planners. They make plans all the time. They make plans for themselves, and they make plans for everybody else as well. Planning is something that comes as naturally to them as swimming comes to fish, or flying to birds. They do it all the time.

And for such people the idea of a planned society is something that seems perfectly natural. Doesn’t a well-ordered, smooth-running society have to be a planned society? If there’s no plan, isn’t there just going to be chaos? Doesn’t a symphony in which dozens of different instruments are going to be played in concert have to have a carefully contrived score on which all the individual notes are set out in black and white for the musicians to follow?  A musical score is a plan. And people like Beethoven and Mozart and Handel were musical planners. They were just like town planners, but working with music.

But as soon as there is a plan of any sort, whether it is for a town or a symphony, there must also be people who will follow the plan, play the notes in the correct order. Once the planners make their appearance, there must also be all those who have have been planned for. When Beethoven was writing his symphonies, he had in mind an orchestra of disciplined musicians. In fact he had in mind dozens of such orchestras all over the world. He had in mind an entire army of disciplined musicians doing what his plan told them to do, at precisely the time they were supposed to do it.

And if they didn’t do it, the conductor of the symphony would scold them loudly for hitting the wrong notes, or hitting the notes at the wrong time. And he might even fine them for doing so, maybe $1 for every bum note they played during the performance of a symphony. And in fact, he might even beat them with a stick. We should perhaps think of a conductor’s baton as not so much a instrument to wave around over the heads of the orchestra to keep time, but as a cane with which to beat them. We ought to imagine an irate conductor (perhaps Beethoven himself) stepping down from his podium, and giving the First Violin several well-aimed blows after he’d missed his cue. For the conductor of a symphony must force his musicians to play the notes in the score set out for them. He must force them to obey the orders set out in the score.

And what applies to musical plans applies to every other plan: people must be forced to obey the orders set out in the plan. Because if they aren’t, nothing will get done. They can’t be allowed to be free to do what they might want to do. They should be as obedient as soldiers unhesitatingly and unquestioningly carrying out the orders of their generals and captains and sergeants.

In this manner, planning must always entail the negation of freedom. People cannot be allowed to do what they want. They must obey orders, all the time.

And planning of any kind always entails coercion, as people are made to do what they are told.

Tobacco Control are a bunch of planners making plans for everyone. And their plan is to stop people smoking. They’d also like to stop them drinking as well. And eating meat and fat and sugar or salt. Their aim is to create a society as disciplined and obedient as any orchestra or any army. Smoking and drinking and eating are things that people want to do of their own volition, and doing things of their own volition is precisely what people cannot be allowed to do: they must do as they’re told, and they must do it unhesitatingly and unquestioningly. How else can the plan be carried out if they do not?

So the very first thing that must be done, in any planned society, is for all freedoms to be removed. People must be trained, slowly and painfully, to do as they are told. They must be banned from smoking (doing what they want) in a growing number of places. They must be punished (fined and taxed) for doing what they want. And if lies need to be told to induce them to stop doing as they want – like telling them that smoking causes lung cancer – then these lies should be told with a straight face to them again and again and again. For lying is just as much a form of coercion as using a big stick.

Yesterday I was quoting from the Lancet about the plan to reduce alcohol consumption:

“..the longer the delay in effective control, the more severe future interventions for alcohol will need to be.”

What the nameless author of this editorial is telling us here is that the planned future interventions are going to become more and more severe. And this was always bound to happen as the planners set out to impose their plans upon the planned. The coercion must always increase. The control must always tighten. The freedom of scope of the coerced must always be reduced.

But the only point I wish to make is that any sort of planned society must always be a coerced society. Anyone who ever sets out any plan of any sort is someone who is, at the same time, willing to possess the power to implement that plan, and impose it upon other people. Planners are authoritarians, and they must be authoritarians because without authority they can never impose their plans on anyone else.

But the first casualty in any military campaign is the plan. And so planners are always going to find their plans coming undone, becoming obsolete in a rapidly changing situation. And that also is a reason why planners are always trying to keep to the plan, and push it through ever more forcibly. But it’s also one of the reasons why all plans must always ultimately fail.

In this respect I draw attention to a plan to ban smoking from French movies

The debate was ignited after the Socialist senator Nadine Grelet-Certenais accused France’s film-makers of continuing to advertise for the tobacco industry.

“Seventy per cent of new French films have at least one scene of someone smoking. This more or less helps to make its use banal, even promote it, to children and adolescents,” Grelet-Certenais told the Sénat, the upper house of parliament.

Her remarks, made during a debate on the government’s plan to raise the price of cigarettes and tobacco, sparked the interest of the health minister, Agnès Buzyn, who said she would talk to her cabinet colleague, the culture minister, Françoise Nyssen.

“I don’t understand why the cigarette is so important in French cinema,” Buzyn said promising firm action to fight smoking.

Agnès Buzyn doesn’t understand freedom. She doesn’t understand that smoking is something that people like to do, and that freedom means being able to do what you want to do, not what somebody else wants you to do. For tobacco always has been closely associated with freedom, and always will be.

Agnès Buzyn is probably a Socialist just like Grelet-Certenais. And what do Socialists want? They always want a planned society – which is a society of control and coercion, devoid of freedom.

About Frank Davis

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16 Responses to Planners Are Authoritarians

  1. garyk30 says:

    I have noticed that these ‘planners’ are always in favor of other people changing what they do, they are never in favor of their making changes to what they do.

    • garyk30 says:

      When they say that ‘we’ should to do this or that, they mean that ‘you’ MUST.

    • Barry Homan says:

      The famous quote from Mr. Twain: “Nothing so needs reforming as other people’s habits. Fanatics will never learn this, though it be written in letters of gold across the sky.”

  2. smokingscot says:

    Note the UK press has been a little bit silent on the cloud of radioactive material that’s been wafting around reasonably large areas of Europe for the past couple of weeks.

    Very possibly because it is – in their view – of little consequence!!!

    • Joe L. says:

      A giant cloud of radioactive Ruthenium-106 that covers all of Europe: Harmless; nothing to worry about.

      Small wisps of smoke from burning organic plant matter: Toxic and lethal; avoid at all costs.

      Remember, these people are “experts,” and we’re not.

      • Smoking Lamp says:

        No worries, they’ll blame the excess cancers on smoking and second hand smoke; after all they covered up the effects of nuclear testing and fallout that way.

        • Joe L. says:

          That thought crossed my mind, as well. I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a reported uptick in “smoking-related” cancers in Europe in the coming years, even if smoking rates continue to decline.

          You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that–it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.

          – Rahm Emanuel

  3. Philip Neal says:

    “The debate was ignited” – i.e. the done deal was announced. Coming next: “An independent enquiry has been set up in response to concerns…” “An independent enquiry has unanimously recommended…” “A public consultation is to be held…” “A public consultation has revealed widespread support…” etc. etc.

  4. petesquiz says:

    It strikes me that the authoritarian planners are suffering from an, as yet undefined, mental illness. It is akin to OCD on a grand scale.These people suffer from the delusion that if everybody behaved exactly the same way (as them) the world would be a much better place for everyone. They don’t sem to be aware of the saying, “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry”.

    Now, we all need a bit of planning in our lives, but as soon as it goes off course, most of us sensible people will adapt to the change in circumstances and carry on with a modified plan…or just improvise. The authoritarian planners seem to be incapable of this independent thought – they are nothing more than elevated jobsworths who, unfortunately for many of us, have risen to positions of power. Their ‘structures’ will surely fall because they are so inflexibly built, but in the meantime we have to suffer the consequences.

  5. Mick Walker says:

    The Planners like to plan for others. Any plan will do. It’s a compulsion.
    The Sheep like to be given a plan to follow blindly. it’s easier than thinking.
    We are stuck with both types.

    Then there’s the awkward squad,-
    Our function is to disrupt. And occasionally innovate.

    The only mystery is, why are we even tolerated?

    Perhaps those hominids which didn’t have such a structure are the ones who went extinct?

  6. Antwerpenaar says:

    Banning smoking from French movies: these French politicians believe in the second hand smoking myth, that is why they think they are helping people by banning movies that in their view would somehow entice people to smoke. They honestly believe this false second hand smoke myth. When will someone tell them that science has proved them wrong?

    Unfortunately the southern part of Belgium (the local government for the Walloons – the French talking Belgians) has now banned smoking in cars when children are in the car. Today the Flemish government (the government for the Flemish Dutch talking Belgians) has confirmed it will follow the legislation of their Walloon brothers.

    Why does nobody ever tell them about the second hand smoke myth?

  7. Joe L. says:

    Why does this sound so familiar?

    New evidence shows the sugar industry suppressed studies linking sugar to heart disease and cancer

    Excerpt (typos theirs):

    For decades, sugar lobbyists have been taking aim at studies linking sugar and cancer.

    When a study last year found that mice on sugar-heavy diets were more likely to develop breast cancer, the Sugar Association, one of the biggest sugar lobbying groups in the US, called it “sensationalised.” The group insists that “no credible link between ingested sugars and cancer has been established.”

    But doctors and researchers claim the sugar industry may have been intentionally keeping research about that link from getting published. A new study inthe journalPLOS Biologyreveals how the Sugar Association worked to suppress scientific findings on the harmful effects of table sugar on rodents nearly 50 years ago.

    • Rose says:

      It looks familiar because it’s Stanton Glantz following his usual M O, the money is in obesity these days.

      From your link –

      “Our study contributes to a wider body of literature documenting industry manipulation of science,” the researchers, who hail from the University of California San Francisco, wrote in their report.

      Sugar review: Rewriting history to expose a non-existent conspiracy
      20 September 2016

      “Last week, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published an historical analysis of internal sugar industry documents.”

      November 2016
      Sugar Industry and Coronary Heart Disease ResearchA Historical Analysis of Internal Industry Documents
      Stanton A. Glantz, PhD

      “Early warning signals of the coronary heart disease (CHD) risk of sugar (sucrose) emerged in the 1950s. We examined Sugar Research Foundation (SRF) internal documents, historical reports, and statements relevant to early debates about the dietary causes of CHD and assembled findings chronologically into a narrative case study. The SRF sponsored its first CHD research project in 1965, a literature review published in the New England Journal of Medicine, which singled out fat and cholesterol as the dietary causes of CHD and downplayed evidence that sucrose consumption was also a risk factor.”

    • Rose says:

      But he’s even got to twist the truth about the Anti-fat crusade, publicly debunked two years before his sugar “study”

      Wall Street Journal
      The Questionable Link Between Saturated Fat and Heart Disease
      May 6, 2014

      “Our distrust of saturated fat can be traced back to the 1950s, to a man named Ancel Benjamin Keys, a scientist at the University of Minnesota. Dr. Keys was formidably persuasive and, through sheer force of will, rose to the top of the nutrition world—even gracing the cover of Time magazine—for relentlessly championing the idea that saturated fats raise cholesterol and, as a result, cause heart attacks.

      This idea fell on receptive ears because, at the time, Americans faced a fast-growing epidemic. Heart disease, a rarity only three decades earlier, had quickly become the nation’s No. 1 killer. Even President Dwight D. Eisenhower suffered a heart attack in 1955. Researchers were desperate for answers.

      As the director of the largest nutrition study to date, Dr. Keys was in an excellent position to promote his idea. The “Seven Countries” study that he conducted on nearly 13,000 men in the U.S., Japan and Europe ostensibly demonstrated that heart disease wasn’t the inevitable result of aging but could be linked to poor nutrition.

      Critics have pointed out that Dr. Keys violated several basic scientific norms in his study. For one, he didn’t choose countries randomly but instead selected only those likely to prove his beliefs, including Yugoslavia, Finland and Italy. Excluded were France, land of the famously healthy omelet eater, as well as other countries where people consumed a lot of fat yet didn’t suffer from high rates of heart disease, such as Switzerland, Sweden and West Germany. The study’s star subjects—upon whom much of our current understanding of the Mediterranean diet is based—were peasants from Crete, islanders who tilled their fields well into old age and who appeared to eat very little meat or cheese.

      As it turns out, Dr. Keys visited Crete during an unrepresentative period of extreme hardship after World War II. Furthermore, he made the mistake of measuring the islanders’ diet partly during Lent, when they were forgoing meat and cheese. Dr. Keys therefore undercounted their consumption of saturated fat. Also, due to problems with the surveys, he ended up relying on data from just a few dozen men—far from the representative sample of 655 that he had initially selected. These flaws weren’t revealed until much later, in a 2002 paper by scientists investigating the work on Crete—but by then, the misimpression left by his erroneous data had become international dogma.

      In 1961, Dr. Keys sealed saturated fat’s fate by landing a position on the nutrition committee of the American Heart Association, whose dietary guidelines are considered the gold standard. Although the committee had originally been skeptical of his hypothesis, it issued, in that year, the country’s first-ever guidelines targeting saturated fats. The U.S. Department of Agriculture followed in 1980.”

      Now behind a paywall but Harley printed the whole thing out.

      Ancel Keys got the idea from a Russian who had been force feeding (vegetarian) rabbits with fat.

      11 February 2015
      “The roots of the anti-fat credo lie at the start of the 20th century. In 1913, Russian researcher Nikolaj Nikolajewitsch Anitschkow, fed large amounts of animal fat to rabbits and showed that their cholesterol levels rose to dangerous levels.
      It was the first salvo in the scientists’ war on animal fat. But it ignored the fact that rabbits do not naturally eat meat, so their digestive systems can’t cope with it, or cholesterol.

      Similar experiments with carnivorous animals failed to induce clogging build-ups of fatty cholesterol in their arteries, but this was not widely reported.
      http: //

      Nikolai N. Anichkov and His Theory of Atherosclerosis

      “Nikolai N. Anichkov (1885–1964) first demonstrated the role of cholesterol in the development of atherosclerosis. His classic experiments in 1913 paved the way to our current understanding of the role of cholesterol in cardiovascular disease. Anichkov’s research is often cited among the greatest discoveries of the 20th century;”

      “However, worldwide recognition of Anichkov’s early experiments probably came in 1950 after publication of a paper by Dr. John Gofman and his associates in Science.26 Gofman began by emphasizing that it was Anichkov who first discovered that feeding cholesterol to rabbits promptly led to atherosclerosis. Using Anichkov’s technique, Gofman’s group had confirmed that Anichkov was correct.”

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