Cultural Vandalism

We live in a time of rapid change. One piece of technology is replaced with another, with almost dizzying rapidity. Perhaps it’s happening too fast.

I had an experience of it early in life, when I was living in the town of Bathurst (now Banjul) in Gambia. My family had moved there and we were living in an old house that had been built a century or two earlier. It was a brick house with wooden floors. We lived on the upper floor, and my father worked in the telegraph office on the ground floor, which was full of whirring, clattering machines that spewed out paper tape. Outside in the garden were two radio masts, with wires stretched between them. There was also most likely a cable that stretched underground from the house out to the sea, which was barely a hundred yards away.

Shortly after we arrived work started on building a new house near the old house. The new house was built with concrete breeze blocks and concrete floors. Unlike the old house, it had a well-appointed kitchen and bathroom. I watched it being built, which was something that happened with surprising rapidity. And as soon as it had been completed our family moved into the flat on its upper floor, and the telegraph equipment was moved into its lower floor, with some new modern equipment added.

And then the old house was torn down. A big engine with a steel hawser was used to pull it down, bit by bit. The hawser was looped through the windows and around the walls, and the engine would pull out the walls. It only took half a day for that engine to demolish the entire house. In the end there was just a pile of bricks and wood, which the town’s residents soon carried away by hand to re-use.

And then a second new house was built on the site of the old house. It was built in the same way as the first new house, but it was intended to be a family home. And when it was complete we moved into it.

So in the space of less than a year we had moved three times, and seen one house demolished, and two new ones built.

And I suppose that that is the way change always happens. The old is dismantled, and replaced with the new. And in this case the new was a lot better than the old.

Back then I could handle rapid change like this. And my entire childhood was filled with constant change. The family was always on the move. Gambia was just one brief stop. I seemed to spend most of my life on planes or ships that were crossing the Atlantic ocean. It was rootless existence. No sooner had I put down roots in one place than they would be torn up. I learned to put down roots very quickly. I can make a hotel room my home inside ten minutes.

I don’t think people used to live this way. I think that historically most people have lived in one place, generation after generation. They hardly ever visited the next town, never mind the next continent. They put down deep and long-lasting roots. They become tied to a single place, and a single language, and a single culture.

It’s one reason why later in life I simply wanted to come to a stop somewhere, and never go anywhere else again. And that’s exactly what I do these days. I keep still.

And maybe that’s why I’ve become a bit of a conservative, and want to preserve things as they are, rather than keep knocking things down and replacing them with new things. When I was young,  and travelling constantly from one place to another, I was quite “progressive”. For progress always means change. And I think now that “progressives” who love change are really just rootless people who don’t belong anywhere. They don’t care if the old world is torn down and replaced with a new one. They’re used to constant change, and constant motion. In fact, they even expect it.

But perhaps constant change is unsettling. Constant change means constant uncertainty. You never know where you’ll be tomorrow, or the day after. The rootless life is one in which few long term friendships can be forged. Nothing lasts. Perhaps much of our modern anomie comes from such rootlessness.

The smoking ban was another change. It was a profound change. An entire culture was swept away. They may as well have torn down the pubs using engines and steel hawsers. But, unlike in the Gambia where the old house was replaced with a new and improved house, the old culture was replaced with… nothing at all,

In Gambia, we weren’t ever “exiled to the outdoors”. Instead we moved from one old and rather dilapidated house, firstly into a modern flat, and then into an entire modern house.

But smokers were just exiled to the outdoors. And this meant that the smoking ban was an act of vandalism. For it’s vandalism when something is demolished or defaced without being replaced by something else. And people like Deborah Arnott are vandals. And quite conscious vandals. It was she, after all, who said, “Smokers will be exiled to the outdoors.” She knew exactly what she was doing.

And these people don’t care if they destroy things, because they’ve never been wedded to anything anyway in the first place. They’re rootless people who never felt any attachment to any place or any culture. They have no love for anything. In fact they even take pride in their lack of attachment to any firm beliefs or values. They will restock their values with new ones at a moment’s notice.

And perhaps in a world in which everything is being torn down and replaced all the time, the demolition of the old always appears to be the necessary preliminary step that must be made. Before the old curtains or the old furniture is replaced, the old curtains and the old furniture and the old carpets must be thrown out. But if they’re thrown out before their replacements have been made, one is left with nothing to sit on but a bare floor.

The smoking ban was also a deliberate act of cultural vandalism. It was a form of iconoclasm:

Iconoclasm is the social belief in the importance of the destruction of icons and other images or monuments, most frequently for religious or political reasons.

And it’s much easier to break things than to make them. It may take a potter days to make a single vase or pot. But it only takes a few seconds for someone to smash it with a hammer. And perhaps that’s the attraction of it for cultural vandals like Deborah Arnott: it’s easy. Perhaps that’s the attraction of all vandalism to every vandal: it’s a quick and easy way of leaving their mark upon the world, even if their mark is a broken nose or a missing ear. And if the vandals in parliament who voted for the smoking ban were so delighted with their handiwork, it was probably the same elation that accompanies breaking windows with thrown stones. Tee hee! What fun!

And perhaps vandals are also people who have never actually made anything in their lives, and only know how to break things. And so if they ever feel the need to do something, the only thing they know how to do is break things. For would a potter who had spent his life making carefully constructed vases and cups just as happily spend his time smashing them? Probably not, because as a potter he knows exactly how long it takes to make these things – while vandals have no idea at all.

These days vandals like Deborah Arnott are busy at work vandalising the entirety of western civilisation. But they’ll never create anything in its place. Because they have no idea how to make anything.

And when they’re gone, the old civilisation will piece itself slowly back together like a bomb-damaged city or a mugger’s victim.

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20 Responses to Cultural Vandalism

  1. nisakiman says:

    These days vandals like Deborah Arnott are busy at work vandalising the entirety of western civilisation. But they’ll never create anything in its place. Because they have no idea how to make anything.

    Came across this article a little earlier which is along the same lines:

    Feminist Sally Howard said use of walk-on girls at sporting events is ‘demeaning’
    Speaking on This Morning, said there was broad support for a ban on practice

    This despite two of the girls concerned saying that they loved the job.

    They always say there’s ‘broad support’ for a ban, don’t they? I wonder what that ‘broad support’ actually amounts to? Judging by the general reaction in the article, that support certainly isn’t grassroots. It probably means that the broadcaster, under pressure from the PC lobby, agree with her that walk-on girls are no longer ‘relevant’.

    But this is the clincher. This is where the ‘feminist’ shows her true colours:

    When asked how she felt about walk-on girls now losing their jobs as a result of the rule change, Sally said it was ‘necessary’.

    ‘Every social change has people who suffer from it,’ she said.

    ‘People suffered when Miss World came off air, people lost money from it, but it doesn’t meant that the social change isn’t necessary.

    Obviously a Deborah Arnott clone.

    Fuck what everybody else wants, it’s the agenda that matters. Tough shit about the collateral damage.

    • garyk30 says:

      Unless, of course, they are part of that damage.
      Then there is holy hell to pay.

    • Frank Davis says:

      but it doesn’t meant that the social change isn’t necessary.

      At least that shows that some people see themselves as being engaged in a social engineering project.

      I wonder how many. Probably quite a lot.

  2. garyk30 says:

    Don’t mind tech change, too much.
    But, the leftists that are using the govt to create what they think is a perfect world are too much.

    As a Conservative, I think that social change is ok as long as it is bottom up change and not change for the sake of change to fit someone’s perceived notion of a perfect world.

  3. Vlad says:

    Vaping causes cancer, new study warns: Human cells mutated faster than expected after exposure to e-cigarettes

    Read more:

    • Barry Homan says:

      “The new study lead by Moon-shong Tang…” oh brother, where do they find these people?

    • Smoking Lamp says:

      This is outright propaganda. After more than 609 years of research the antis haven’t been able to prove smoking causes cancer. Now in a single study after a few years they claim vaping causes cancer?

      This is a straightforward example of ‘mathwashing’ or using complex data to obscure methods and discourage scrutiny.

      According to Fred Benenson (a data scientist credited with coining the term). A few of Benenson’s quotes are instructive:

      “Math washing can be thought of using math terms (algorithm, model, etc.) to paper over a more subjective reality.”

      “Don’t overlook the inherent subjectivity of building things with data just because you’re using math”

      “Anything we build using data is going to reflect the biases and decisions we make when collecting that data,”

      “Algorithm and data driven products will always reflect the design choices of the humans who built them, and it’s irresponsible to assume otherwise.”

      More on math washing can be found here:

  4. Smoking Lamp says:

    I agree with Frank’s assessment; tobacco controllers are vandals and raiders. They destroy existing cultural to gain power. They are currently on the ascendency in most places (especially in the EU, UK, US, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. But they are staring to face resistance too.

    Consider the case of Iran where tobacco control as part of a state system of totalitarian control is foundering: “Iran Is Losing Its Jihad on Tobacco.”

  5. Clicky says:

    • RdM says:

      Consider yourself lucky…

      Smoking tobacco, homogenised or reconstituted tobacco
      $1,177.87 per kilo tobacco content
      Manufactured cigarettes
      exceeding in weight 0.8 kg actual tobacco content per 1,000 cigarettes
      $1,177.87 per kilo tobacco content
      not exceeding in weight 0.8 kg actual tobacco content per 1,000 cigarettes
      $826.58 per 1,000 cigarettes

      These are just the excise taxes!
      The retail price is of course more.

      The cheapest RYO, a mouthbite “Craftsman” or a little less so “Rothmans”, no discernable relation to the original Rothmans in taste, is now $50NZD for 30g;- the 30g Manitou Organic I usually get when in stock is $51.50 – Drum 30g is $58.40, or for 50g $93.90 – approx GBP48.89 or 55.48EUR or 68.87USD.

      As for tailor made, manufactured cigarettes, a packet of 20 etc.
      Cheapest is ‘Freedom’ $24, but B&H and Dunhill are $28.90, Rothmans $29.90.

      These zealots would like to make New Zealand a non-smoking ‘Smokefree’ island prison, for those unable to emigrate (or more relevantly, meet the requirements to be able to immigrate into another country, not likely if you’re older and not rich or well skilled etc.) and have no regard for the social collateral of increased suicides, depression, violent shop robberies, business closures as the al fresco dining ‘smokefree’ bylaws proposed come to bite, in their fantasy of a ‘smokefree’ utopia being established by propaganda, law, force…

      Norway I think may be or was as expensive, but it’s not in the EU?
      And Australia may be fast catching up.

      But I think (I don’t know where to find the data) that with income earning power etc. adjusted, NZ must be coming close to the most expensive – and it’s a straight excise tax!

      Not an ad valorem tax, which maybe many in the EU are.

      So even in the home of the WHO, or the EU, it may be vastly cheaper…

      It’s got to be protested and resisted… and argued against!

  6. Joe L. says:

    OT: Update on the FDA’s approval of Philip Morris International’s “iQOS” device. The FDA rejected two of the three “modified risk” claims submitted by PMI, namely, “switching completely from cigarettes to the iQOS system can reduce the risks of tobacco-related diseases” and “switching completely to iQOS presents less risk of harm than continuing to smoke cigarettes.” However, they approved PMI’s claim that “switching completely from cigarettes to the iQOS system significantly reduces your body’s exposure to harmful or potentially harmful chemicals.”

    FDA committee rejects two IQOS MRTP claims, approves one

    Well, at least there’s consistency here, in that the FDA still looks down upon all tobacco and tobacco-related products (with the exception of the pharmaceutical industry’s NRT products) fairly equally. If the FDA had a drastic change of heart regarding iQOS, I would be extremely suspicious of their (and PMI’s) motives. However, I’m still confused as to how they can make informed decisions as to the validity of any of these claims without performing the types of long-term studies (a la the British Doctors Study) with which the contemporary Antismoking movement is predicated on.

    Additionally, I find the wording of the claim which was accepted by the FDA interesting. Here it is again (emphasis mine):

    Switching completely from cigarettes to the iQOS system significantly reduces your body’s exposure to harmful or potentially harmful chemicals

    This implies that regular cigarettes may contain either harmful chemicals or potentially harmful chemicals, which infers there is no conclusive evidence that the chemicals found in cigarette smoke are actually harmful, only that they are potentially harmful. Why would PMI even bother add those three words (and why would the FDA approve that claim) unless there is still no conclusive evidence that cigarettes are harmful?

    • Joe L. says:

      Speaking of “potentially harmful chemicals,” here’s a story about how someone recently died from inhaling too much pure oxygen. Antismokers, Anthropogenic Climate Change fearmongers and other “clean air” obsessives should take note that yes, even oxygen can be lethal:

      Man dies after being sucked into MRI machine, police say

      I don’t know about you, but I think an oxygen ban is long overdue.

    • waltc says:

      I think they’re just covering their asses against the day “studies prove” that cigarette paper is itself a carcinogen. In the meantime it’s just “potentially” one.

      • Joe L. says:

        Then why did they opt to use the disjunctive “or”? Why not use the inclusive “and”? I’m sure these claims are reviewed by multiple writers and lawyers before PMI actually submits them to the FDA. That’s why I find the phrasing curious.

      • RdM says:

        As I’ve demonstrated many times to people, both here and overseas, RYO paper (in general) is clean burning, almost no smoke or smell or ash, and manufactured cigarettes, if you break off the filter, slit the paper rod down its length (drop the tobacco on a clean surface so that you can also inspect it, see how ersatz it is, with its cellulose fillers, puffed stems, reconstituted tobacco sheet & etc. – and compare it re-rolled in a RYO paper after) – and take that paper, ragged ends and all, and light a corner, you will see a slowly burning edge, with quite a lot of smoke, that is quite nasty – invokes instant recoil, waved under the nose of even the most hardened smoker, by comparison – and yet that is what the majority of people thoughtlessly smoke (apart from you enlightened Nat Sherman smokers – are there others? Do American Spirit cigs have clean paper to match their supposed organic RYO quality?) – and, I suggest, what many non-smokers quite rightly find objectionable about close ETS – it’s the paper burning, not the tobacco!

  7. waltc says:

    On the main thesis: as always, beautifully observed, but I wonder if young people tend to like or feel comfortable with change because 1) they see it as “our change”– our music, our fashion, our interests, our values, or 2) they haven’t lived long enough in whatever the pre-change status quo to have grown accustomed to, or to rely on, it, or 3) they didn’t like the pre-changed world, if only because it was “old” and “old” is bad/ unenlightened ( it also used to be “uptight” but interestingly it’s the “new” that’s uptight now, but that’s another story). They also suffer the delusion that “new” is synonymous with “progress,” and that “later” is always “better.” (At which point, I remind them that Hitler came after Weimar and the Ayatollah came after the Shah.) , I think individuals at a certain age find somewhere in the whole range of their experience, a culture they’re (maybe at last) content to swim in and therefore want to stay in it. “Stay, moment, thou art fair.” We, too, want change, it’s just that the change we want is retro.

    • RdM says:

      Very well and poetically put.

    • Frank Davis says:

      I wonder if young people tend to like or feel comfortable with change because 1) they see it as “our change”

      And old people tend to feel uncomfortable with change because it’s ‘their change’ – i.e. someone else’s change?

      the delusion that “new” is synonymous with “progress,”

      An ubiquitous delusion, as far as I can see. Behind it is the idea that everything’s always getting better, and we can get there quicker if we run faster. Tomorrow it will be better, and they day after it will be even better, and so on into the indefinite future. So whatever is new is almost by definition better. And retro is by the same definition worse.

      I hate it when people say things like: “We can’t go back to the bad old days when….” For such people the march of history is inevitably onwards and upwards, and there’s no going back.

      Maybe the spell of the delusion only breaks when people find that things have actually got worse.

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