One Hundred Years On

I grew up in post-war Britain. London was full of bomb sites: gaps in terraces of houses, or whole areas of rubble, which were only slowly being rebuilt. I grew up alongside the post-war generation. The war had no direct effect on us, but it cast a very long shadow over us. And it still casts a long shadow today. The entire consciousness of the post-war generation was shaped by something that happened before most of them were born.

One effect was that we all felt that if there had been a WW1 and then a WW2 20 years later, then most likely WW3 would start 20 years further on. Unlike those alive in July 1914, we fully expected war. They couldn’t see what lay ahead of them, but we could. And that was why we were so filled with despair. And that was why our music was sad and gloomy blues music. We’d all got the blues. We didn’t have dreams: we had nightmares.

The war shaped the post-war generation in multiple ways. If there was a sharp decline in church attendance, it was because the war had rendered Christianity rather meaningless. There was no Christian forgiveness in that war: the slaughter went on for year after year. Was it any wonder that we started looking towards Buddhism and Taoism, and invited Indian gurus to speak to us instead.

Is it any surprise that there was a strong anti-war movement that grew up in the post-war era, one that was far stronger than any of its predecessors.

The post-war environmental movement usually directs its efforts against industry, but it is perhaps more profoundly driven by the memory of war. For the trench warfare of WW1 left whole tracts of land devastated and uninhabitable around the Somme and Verdun, the ground filled with shell holes and live munitions and bodies that lay (and still lie) unburied. The war had left a poisoned, shredded world. And we humans, both the victors and the vanquished, had done this. It was our shared bequest to the future: a smoking heap of rubble.

The new Europe that emerged in the post-war years was also shaped by what had come before it. The European Economic Community was set up to tie nations together, and thus prevent them fighting each other. The one thing nobody in Europe wanted was another devastating war.

And if there was one thing that all the soldiers in that war had shared, it was tobacco. The cigarette was a pre-war invention that came into its own during wartime. Cigarettes were as simple and practical as clips of bullets, and were manufactured in similar numbers. In nearly all the photos and films from that era, the soldiers are puffing on cigarettes. And so tobacco and cigarettes were as much symbolic of the war as howitzers or machine guns. If you were a rich aristocrat, you would smoke cigars. And if you were a thinker or a teacher, you would smoke a pipe. And if you were a soldier, you smoked cigarettes – and you left your discarded butts like shell cases all around you.

The antismokers rejection of tobacco is part and parcel of an entire generation’s rejection of war and industry and science and Christianity and Western civilisation. Banning smoking is no different than Banning The Bomb. It’s another manifestation of a general rejection of an intolerable past.

But therein lie are the seeds of the crimes of the post-war generation. Theirs has been a rejection of something. They have set out to destroy something. And so they have created nothing. They are no better than their forebears who left the fields of Flanders devastated. But instead of destroying lives and buildings and forests, they destroy industry, and they destroy science, and they destroy religion, and they destroy culture, and they destroy nations.

For the EU which emerged out of the EEC is not something which binds nations together, but is an acid bath in which nations are to be dissolved, their identities erased.

And the smoking bans which were supposed to save lives instead shattered communities and bankrupted bars and cafes, and turned everyone against everyone else.

In every case the various post-war movements have gradually metamorphosed from something benign (e.g. pro-woman, pro-black) into something malignant (e.g. anti-man, anti-white).

And this was inevitable, because the post-war generation was driven by fear and dread rather than by love and hope, and so is always fighting evil rather than doing good. They were always anti-something rather than pro-anything. And while they have been fighting evil they have gradually have become evil themselves. They have become as bad as what they started out fighting against. Forever fighting Nazism, they have themselves become nazis. Which is why Antifa is full of fascists.

In time, the atrocities of the war-time generation will fade from memory, and they will be replaced with the memory of the atrocities of the post-war generation, of which obscene and vindictive smoking bans will be recognised as just one.

About Frank Davis

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10 Responses to One Hundred Years On

  1. Elizabeth says:

    Wow Frank, some really great insightful recent posts. Thank you. I was thinking this morning about rememberance day, and all the whoo ha involved, what the world would have been like had WW One not happenned. There would have been no WW Two. No WW Two would have meant no complicated situation in the Middle East that we have now. I was wondering about Switzerland. They have never had a war? They have a different political and financial system. And I heard they are pretty relaxed about smoking? Maybe I’m wrong….

  2. Fredrik Eich says:

    It’s seems CRUK have revised their estimate of how many lung cancers out if ten are “caused” by smoking down to 7 out of 10. Which is about a three fold risk and not the 10 to 20 fold risk that we were all lead to believe it was. This three fold risk can be entirely explained by detection bias and it can explain the illusion of a dose response too.

    • Rose says:

      Well, they do need non-smokers to donate too.

    • beobrigitte says:

      Radon. My eldest offspring’s house has a meter. 85% of non-smoker lung cancer is caused by radon. And 85% of smokers get lung cancer.

      • smokingscot says:

        Your offspring is perfectly correct. A cousin succumbed to a virulent form of lung cancer, however she lived her entire life in houses made in part of granite in Aberdeen.

        Hospitals there may spout the same anti smoking bumph as the rest of Scotland, yet in fact the front line staff in oncology are very used to smokers and non smokers with lung cancer, caused by radon.

        So they never once insisted my cousin quit smoking, they knew from their analysis it was the type associated with radon gas. As it just so happens her bed was about 3 feet from the front of her house, made exclusively of granite.

        There’s even speculation that granite worktops may have a similar effect, but that’s far from proven. Myself, I’d avoid the stuff. Wood’s my preferred material for inside a house.

        Anyhow came across an old article on the topic.

  3. waltc says:

    Carryover from yesterday:
    I’m not as sure as you are (Frank) that the net combats the barrage of mainstream propaganda because I see its politics parroted on facebook over and over, as I do, relating to smoking and secondhand smoke, whenever McFadden lures me over to Quora. If they read it in the Times, see it on CNN, hear their Times-reading CNN-viewing friends repeating it, it lodges in their brains and they confidently spill it out. …Thanks for the link to the free text of the meerloo book, but I don’t think I could read 320 typed pages online and might, at some point, spring for the book or–at the least,– the 99-cent Kindle.

    • RdM says:

      If you go back up a level, or look at alternate versions (I forget) you can get to this:

      I’ve downloaded the pdf version but not opened it yet.

      (And on Windows I have installed SumatraPdF – search on that, very fast & capable.)

    • Frank Davis says:

      If they read it in the Times, see it on CNN, hear their Times-reading CNN-viewing friends repeating it, it lodges in their brains and they confidently spill it out.

      I don’t read the Times. And I don’t watch CNN. And I have no Times-reading CNN-viewing friends. And I wouldn’t want any.

      In the past, everyone read the Times and watched CNN, because they were the only sources of news and opinion. But in the new internet era, there are multiple sources of news and opinion.

      Why don’t I read the Times or watch CNN? Because they don’t speak for me. They don’t speak up for me. They disapprove of people like me. I’m one of the deplorables. They’ve taken sides. They’ve ceased to include all points of view.

      Last night, I switched on my digital radio for the first time in about 5 years, and was surprised it was still working. There was pop music playing on almost every channel. Or sport. And about half the channels seemed to be BBC. The only talk programme I found was running something on Women in WW1, and I wasn’t in the least bit surprised. If they ran a piece on smoking in WW1, it would probably have been about how most of the deaths in the trenches weren’t caused by bullets or bombs, but by tobacco.

      If people carry on reading the Times and watching CNN, it’s because they like what they hear. But the world in which we’re now living is one in which people are walking away, and finding new voices to listen to. And these days there are more and more of those.

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