Author Naomi Klein (No Logo) talking recently (35:00 minutes in) about stopping smoking:
“I used to smoke a pack of cigarettes a day, and I didn’t stop smoking because I suddenly realised it was bad for me. I knew it was bad for me. I stopped when my government passed enough laws that I was turned into a social pariah. I live in a cold climate, and I had been banished from restaurants and bars and I was shivering outside… because we had regulatory answers to the epidemic of cancer, and I decided, well, this really isn’t worth it any more and I’m freezing alone outside smoking and I don’t want to do that anymore. So yeah we can make those changes, but we need regulations that make it easier for people to do that.”
I’ve had the exact same experience, of course. I also was turned into a social pariah. I too was shivering outside. But that’s as far as our two experiences overlap.
For while she decided to do what was being demanded of her, and stop smoking, cease to be a pariah and stay warm, I refused to give in to the bullying bastards, carried on smoking out in the cold, and have remained a social pariah for the past 12 years.
I think Naomi Klein just gave in to the bullies. And I don’t think there’s anything admirable about that. I think it’s just plain weak. I admire people who will stand up to bullies, not give in to them.
But the way she describes it, it was an enlightened government that enacted regulations that “made it easier for people” to do what government asked. She regards the government as benignly helping her to make the right choice. I regard the same government as tyrannical.
And now, with the “climate crisis” she wants government to be equally benign, and “make it easier for people” to make the right choices about carbon dioxide emissions.
That’s the difference between the authoritarian Left and the libertarian Right. The Left regards government as essentially benign (and so we need more of it). And the Right regards government as essentially tyrannical (and we need as little as possible of it)
It reminds me of a friend of mine who, shortly before the UK smoking ban came into force on 1 July 2007, told me that he was looking forward to the ban, because he hoped it would make him stop smoking. I was appalled that he wanted the government to help give him the strength to do something he couldn’t do himself. He too wanted the government to “make it easier for people” like him to stop smoking. It marked the point at which our friendship began to cool. (I might add that he never did stop smoking, despite the assistance of the benign British government in making him a social pariah, and exiling him to the outdoors.)
I’m never going to do what he and Naomi Klein did. I’m never going to come knocking at the door, saying that I’ve stopped smoking, and asking to be let back in. I’m going to carry on being a pariah. And I’m going to be proud to be a social pariah. For now I don’t want to belong to their bullying bastard world anyway.