The Inevitable Failure of Utopian Social Engineering Projects

Somehow or other, yesterday’s post spawned several interesting sub-threads.

Bucko, writing about young people:

They’ve never known pubs that allowed smoking and now, we’re getting pubs opening in town, post smoking ban, that have never had smokers in ever. That’s why it will be so hard to get a repeal; there is a generation growing up who have no idea what all the fuss is about.

And that’s the plan, of course. Society is being re-engineered to be “smoke-free”. Once people have got used to the new rules, maybe even the No Smoking signs can be removed, because people will have been fully trained not to smoke anywhere any more. And indeed the No Smoking signs have been coming down in many places. Job done. They’re about to be replaced with the No Sugar or No Custard signs, or whatever they intend to ban next.

But they seem to have a concrete or plaster of Paris model of society (right): keep it in place the way you want it for long enough, and it will set hard and stay in place. After that you can remove the formwork or mould into which you poured the liquid concrete or plaster.

But I think that human societies are much, much more complex than that. I think theirs is a very naive and simplistic (and also conceited and arrogant) idea of how societies work. I think that what they’re doing, as they push people around, is simply generated deep anger in millions and millions of people. Those people may at present be powerless to do anything about it, but when they get the chance, they’ll act very quickly.

But then that’s my own naïve and simplistic idea of how society works. I see human societies as being physical processes, much like solar systems, or pendulums, or (my current interest) hot rocks beneath ice sheets. In these systems, nothing ever stays the same for long. Any attempt to build a static, utopian “New Society” is bound to fail, because societies are always on the move all the time, in multiple different ways. As I see it, human societies are dynamic systems in which values and beliefs and customs are always changing. If nothing else, it’s visible in the way people dress, which is something that is always changing, from month to month, and from year to year, and from century to century. And also we’re always finding out new things – like how to build rockets to fire into outer space, or computers that can communicate with each other all over the world -, and our new knowledge changes our attitudes and outlooks.

So I think that once you’ve built your new, carefully-planned, “smoke-free” utopia, you’ll find that it immediately starts to go a bit pear-shaped, because that’s always what slowly happens once you remove the constraints that keep people behaving in the way you want them to behave.  You have to keep the constraining formwork in place, because the concrete never sets. And that means that you have to keep working to keep everything in place, and add new constraints when the concrete starts seeping out in unexpected places. And that’s why Tobacco Control are always looking for new bans – new constraints – to keep people in place. Because once they’d banned smoking in pubs, the smokers simply went outside. So they then started to want to ban smoking outside, of course. And when smokers started vaping instead of smoking, they had to ban that as well. Tobacco Control has to always be demanding new bans, new restrictions, because the original restrictions were never strong enough. They have to become more and more tyrannical. And the more tyrannical they become, the more people they anger. In the end they simply make too many enemies for themselves. In the end, to continue the analogy, they end up with liquid concrete which is bursting out of its constraining formwork in all sorts of different places, and everyone can see that it simply isn’t working, and never could work.

The fate of Tobacco Control will most likely be the same fate as that of East Germany at around about the time the Berlin Wall (another piece of social engineering) came down. It came down because East Germans simply started pouring out of East Germany through other routes (neighbouring countries). They couldn’t be kept in place forever. Eventually they found a way round the imprisoning Iron Curtain (another piece of social engineering).

It’s the same fate that all utopian social projects eventually and inevitably face. They’re all bound to fail. The EU is another piece of utopian social engineering which was always bound to fail. With all its rules and regulations it was simply too constraining on too many people. It became a kind of prison. And it made itself more enemies than it had friends. And the newest inmates of this prison – the peoples of the former Eastern Bloc – had no wish to simply exchange one prison for another, and so they are the ones who are leading the growing revolt.

The same is true of the utopian, globalist New World Order. It’ll never work. It never could ever possibly work. And so that’s falling to bits too. It’s like the utopian social project of Alexander (world conquest, natch). When he died at the very young age of 32, his empire immediately disintegrated. The same happened with the utopian social engineering project of the Roman Empire, which expanded much like the current EU (which is a reflection or reconstruction of it, founded in the Treaty of Rome), and then contracted and disintegrated.

And in many ways the current political near-civil-war in the USA is a collision between utopian social engineers (Obama, Clinton, the Democrats) and pragmatic realists like Donald Trump, who is not trying to build some Brave New World or a New World Order, but instead restore a former one (i.e. Make America Great Again).

I was going to write today not just about the thread that Bucko started, but about several others as well. That’ll have to wait.

But the main point is that all utopian social engineering projects are always bound to fail. And smoking bans are another utopian social engineering project, and one that is bound to fail as well. When they get under way, they look unstoppable at first (the Alexandrian conquests, the expansion of the Roman Empire, the short-lived empires of Napoleon and Hitler). But they have to work harder and harder to keep the constraints in place, as people find new ways round the walls and ramparts. They become impossible to manage. And they end up making themselves more enemies than friends. And at that point disintegration and collapse sets in. The EU is now at that point. And the equally utopian, global smoking bans are also at that point.

Bucko, in another comment, added:

Young people never seem to mention the ban, but if we walk into a smoking area with people our age or older in it, someone inevitably starts a conversation with us by saying, “Bollocks this, innt?”.

Then we spend ten minutes complaining about the ban before going back in.

And that’s over 10 years after the UK smoking ban was imposed. The concrete still hasn’t set, after all that time. And it never will set hard like the utopian social engineers in Tobacco Control expected it to. And so they’re always calling for more bans. And always making themselves more and more enemies. It’s not working. It never could work. And so Tobacco Control is going to be destroyed. The only real question is: how much else is going to collapse with it when it eventually falls? My guess is that it’ll take with it the UN and the WHO and the BMA and the RCP. And maybe even the BBC and the Labour party. Because those places are chock full of utopian social engineers as well. And they’re all going to have to go. The whole lot of them.

 

About Frank Davis

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15 Responses to The Inevitable Failure of Utopian Social Engineering Projects

  1. waltc says:

    They’re creating a society so constricting that –between the things you can’t say and the things you can’t do–only contortionists can function in it. That thought hit me earlier yesterday when I read that the CEO of Intel, who looks from his photo like a guy in his fifties, was forced to resign because somebody ratted that he’d had an entirely consensual affair with a woman in tne company. This sparked “an investigation”! Forced a resignation!

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/intel-ceo-brian-krzanich-resigns-after-violating-company-policy-1529586884
    Meanwhile there are mob calls for an NFL player to be fired because he was seen at a Trump rally. Almost as bad as if someone had seen him smoke. So, yes, sooner or later human nature will forcibly bust out of the straight jacket (and exchange it for Melania’s “I don’t care. Do u?”

    • Frank Davis says:

      Did Melania say that? (Not exactly. It was written on the back of a jacket she was wearing. And Trump re-tweeted it.)

      Anyway, I think the point of collapse comes when it all gets too constricting, and almost everybody’s sick to death of it, even company CEOs like your Intel guy. And the collapse usually comes very suddenly. There really is a last straw that breaks the camel’s back. One day the communist regime in E Germany was going along, seemingly indestructible, and next day it was gone. Same with Ceausescu. One day he was the head honcho in Romania: next day he was being put up against a wall and shot. Romanians had had quite enough of him.

      The USA has midterm elections coming up later this year. And the Dems seem to think they’re going to win big. But my guess is that they’re going to be wiped out. Trump was no blip. Just like in Europe, Americans are sick of their own Ceausescus. It’s the same everywhere. It’s a global revulsion at global utopian social engineering.

      But hey, what do I know?

      • waltc says:

        Actually what I said (or meant) was exchange a straight jacket for Melania’s jacket (and the sentiment thereon) . . I can’t predict the midterms but the left is currently substituting “Nazi Nazi Nazi!” for “Russia Russia Russia” and FB is full of unhinged analogies that I think or maybe just hope will backfire from the sheer overkill. After all, if Auschwitz was no worse than 20 days away from your mother with clean clothes, plenty to eat and first aid when needed, then the holocaust wasn’t so bad after all. Sane people who are genuinely troubled by plight of The Children are nonetheless more likely to conclude from this shrieking that liberals are insane than that conservatives are evil.

        • roobeedoo2 says:

          I think it’s squarely aimed at the MSM and ranty slebs like deniro and the least famous Fonda. Platform perchers and their #metoo hanger-ons. She knocks their shouty messaging efforts into a cocked hat, imho. They fervently desire to see the back of her… */shrugs…* I say, be careful what you wish for ;)

  2. buckothemoose says:

    “The concrete never sets”
    I bloody hope not. That would be a good name for the club – ‘The Wet Concrete Crew’

    • Rose says:

      It seems to have to have taken about 10 years to repeal the Puritan’s ban on celebrating Christmas in England and 22 years to do it in America.

      Buit that was through fear of people being sent to Hell for having fun, rather than threatening them with cancer.

      “In 1650, a year after the execution of Charles I, a Puritan minister confidently asserted that, during the twelve days of Christmas, “more souls are sent head-long to hell than in all the rest of the year beside”.
      And, six years later, another preacher, regretting that people simply wouldn’t give it up, insisted that “most of the national church do serve the devil on that day and the twelve days following”.
      He added that he saw his job as being to “beat the people off from this observation whereunto they feel themselves driven by a cursed thing within them”.
      https://www.newstatesman.com/node/152629

      It’s hard to spot much difference in approach.

  3. Smoking Lamp says:

    Frank. I believe you are right. Revolutionary excess is self-limiting. Thermidor always comes. Hopefully tobacco control’s denouement is near. We should all do whatever we can to hasten that day.

  4. Bucko: there is a generation growing up who have no idea what all the fuss is about.

    Now we’re faced with the reverse of the sixties’ slogan “never trust anyone under thirty”, which means that ‘oldies’ (the over 50, like most contributors to this site, based on the look of things) should be the principal movers & shakers of things (of things to come, that is).

    Frank I think your stance, even though restricted to the smoking (non-)debate, is a *revolutionary* one. Nothing short of a real revolution, (more genuine than the French revolution turned out to be), will end this insane anti-smoking charade.

    Find the ‘anti-smoking charade’ expression too extreme? Just check the lung cancer data trends (as evinced by the WHO’s own database), and try to reconcile that with tobacco comsumption in any given country (good luck with that one!).
    http://www-dep.iarc.fr/WHOdb/WHOdb.htm

    Those people may at present be powerless to do anything about it, but when they get the chance, they’ll act very quickly.

    Given the chance? Well, what with the advent of the Internet and google searches some 20 years ago, shouldn’t they have woken up to reality decades ago?

    The only real question is: how much else is going to collapse with it when it eventually falls?

    Everything that’s false and deceptive in public and/or official discourse is bound to come down with it when push (at last) comes to shove.

    • Rose says:

      “Well, what with the advent of the Internet and google searches some 20 years ago, shouldn’t they have woken up to reality decades ago?”

      Only if you know where to start looking in the first place.

    • Frank Davis says:

      Now we’re faced with the reverse of the sixties’ slogan “never trust anyone under thirty”,

      Wasn’t it “never trust anyone over thirty”? It wasn’t a slogan that I paid any attention to anyway, And it always seems likely to me that people’s opinions mature with age, rather than deteriorate with age. The opposite is only true with athletics or sports. And it’s generally the old who teach the young.

      • Wasn’t it “never trust anyone over thirty”?

        Of course, my bad! I simply typed the ‘reversed slogan’ I was pointing at. I also fully agree with the rest of your response.

  5. M. Cooper says:

    If they legalise cannabis the pubs may well be full of smoke again. It just won’t be tobacco smoke.
    The more things change the more they stay the same.

  6. Rose says:

    Btw Frank, how do you like your bamboo socks? I was just putting mine on and wondered.
    We could go motorway shopping again in August if you like, if the weathers nice.

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