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.