I Would Rather Be ‘Left Behind’

Brendan O’Neil, writing in Spiked about the populist revolt:

Leftist observers, when they can bring themselves to confront the revolting moment, have tried to reduce the populist uprising to a cry for help by the ‘left behind’.

Implicit in that idea of ‘left behind’ there is one of ‘progress’, and perhaps inevitable progress, in some direction or other.

And smoking bans are seen as ‘progressive’ in this sense. The future, we are told, is going to be smoke-free. And also fat-free and salt-free and sugar-free.

If that’s the future, I want no part of it. I would rather be ‘left behind’. That’s not ‘a cry for help’ on my part: it’s a ‘fuck off the lot of you’.

In Barcelona some 10 or 15 years ago, I used to spend the days wandering from bar to cafe to restaurant, buying coffees and beers, sitting and smoking, inside and out, going nowhere in particular. I ended up surveying the area where I was staying, to discover every single one of them.

Back then there were only a handful of non-smoking cafes. They were all hyper-modern, bland, anodyne, and clean. I went into one by accident, and asked for an ashtray to accompany my coffee, and was met with a shocked look, and a finger pointed to a discreet No Smoking sign. I drank my coffee rapidly, and left.

The non-smoking bars were usually empty or near-empty. But there were plenty of other bars with ashtrays on the tables. And some of them were tiny. These ones had one little room with a counter and display cabinet, and very often only one or two tables inside, and one or two outside. And very often the single inside table was surrounded by people talking animatedly to each other. I used to wonder how a cafe could survive with just a couple of tables, and in retrospect I’ve thought that perhaps these tiny cafes were actually the front parlours of the owners’ homes, and they kept an open house into which anyone could enter, and the people talking animatedly around the tables were their own families and next door neighbours.

And some of the other bars were equally homely, with an assortment of old wooden tables and chairs, uneven stone floors strewn with rugs, paintings rather than posters on the walls, and even bookcases filled with old books.

The old bars were warm and homely and personal. The modern, ‘progressive’, non-smoking bars were all coldly impersonal. ‘Progress’ these days (and perhaps for the past century) seems to always be away from the personal and towards the impersonal, away from warmth and towards cold, away from the heartfelt and towards the heartless.

Smoking is something as personal as conversation. Antismokers don’t want to inhale other people’s smoke. They also don’t want to listen to their conversation. Or smell their perfume. All these things are intrusions. They would prefer it if there was nobody else at all in the cafes they frequent. They don’t like other people, and they don’t want to be with them.

The EU is another bland, impersonal political edifice managed by bland, interchangeable bureaucrats. National identity is regarded as another kind of personal intrusion, much like smoking or talking. ‘Progressive’ Europe is denationalised, depersonalised Europe, in which everyone is the same, and every place is the same, and where one size fits all.

It’s the same with the attempt to eradicate personal sexual identity. We are to be no longer allowed to be men and women, but must blend into a transgendered uniformity.

Smoking bans are heartless and cruel. But antismokers are heartless and cruel people, or else they are people who believe that smoking bans are a necessary part of ‘progress’ towards a general condition of bland, impersonal unobtrusiveness.

The growing modern revolt is a revolt of the personal against the impersonal, the colourful against the colourless, warmth against coldness. And maybe one day the current idea of ‘progress’ towards bland uniformity will be seen as no kind of genuine progress at all, and a ‘progress’ that was never worth having.

About Frank Davis

smoker
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10 Responses to I Would Rather Be ‘Left Behind’

  1. RdM says:

    Trying to make it real …
    Compared to what?

    Plenty of passionate revolt out there, where is ours now?

    I have this as a later live recording, Swiss movement, better sound quality, more like this:

    Wait for the intro to finish, hear the lyrics!

  2. garyk30 says:

    If being ‘left behind’ can be the same as being ‘left alone’, I’ll take it.

    • Rose says:

      Me too, in fact I left the society I had known behind a couple of months before the smoking ban hit, realising what was coming.
      I am extremely annoyed that having voluntarily given up my seat for all non smokers, I am still being pursued

  3. Smoking Lamp says:

    We were exiled. Now it’s time to reclaim our place and rights and cast the antismokers out and hold them to account for their lies and persecution!

  4. Patrick Schwab says:

    We need to get together now and light up in acts of resistance all over the country. Preferably while wearing yellow vests. If there were enough of us I don’t really see what they could do. The prisons are full and the police are seemingly fully occupied pursuing hate crimes. The smoking ban is now increasingly encompassing outdoor areas. If we fail to summon the courage to push back our smoking future promises to be as bleak as that of Bhutan. This is our country, supposedly a democracy, and yet this smoking ban was foist on us by a bunch of creeps on the basis of a pack of lies without consultation. All debate on the matter has has been silenced and other than to meekly accept it we therefore have no other option but to forcefully push back. Surely our own self respect as free men and women demands that we engage in active steps of defiance to overturn this outrageous offence to our personal dignity and assault on one of our most important traditional liberties.

    • Mark Jarratt, Canberra, Australia says:

      Well said Patrick. I visited Bhutan, where otherwise pious blameless baldie monks have been imprisoned for crossing the border with tobacco, but it was an unenforceable moralizing crusade. I kept on smoking there, furtively, but only down alleys or in the country with barely anyone else in sight. Our excellent guides weren’t smoking, except opium, ha, but swallowing barbiturates – own goal King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuk (great name). 👑

  5. waltc says:

    The New People don’t want to be physically alone, they want to be alone in a crowd, and judging by the decibel level in the New Places, they don’t want to have to talk to each other because conversation is impossible amid the din, debate is “incorrect,” they have nothing to say to each other anyway and don’t know how to communicate except by text.

    • Rose says:

      How true, I have noticed walking down the footpath near our house on a sunny day, the older people who pass look you straight in the eye and say good morning, but the younger ones avoid looking at you by staring at their phones or at their feet, I give them a cheery good morning anyway.

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