Continuing with control freaks, a little Idle Theory:
In Idle Theory people are seen as part busy, part idle. And someone who lives a 33% idle life, has one third of their life as time in which they are free to do whatever they like, and two thirds as time in which they are constrained to be busy working.
The idleness of any society is primarily a function of its degree of technological development, which usually advances very slowly.
In a perfectly egalitarian society of such 33% idle people, everybody would enjoy the exact same degree of idleness. All would work the same two thirds of their days, and all would enjoy the same amount of leisure in the remaining one third.
But it’s also perfectly possible for such societies to be perfectly inegalitarian. A perfectly unequal 33% idle society would be one in which all the work is done by two thirds of the population, and all the idleness is enjoyed by one third of the population. This is a society of masters and slaves.
Since technological innovation always proceeds very slowly, anyone in any egalitarian society, whatever its mean idleness, can only increase their own idleness at the expense of someone else. And when they increase their idleness, they gradually become masters, and gradually increase their control over others, while the others gradually become slaves.
Even a 90% idle society can be a slave society. It would just be one in which 9 out of 10 people in the population would be masters, and one in ten slaves – rather than the other way round, as it was in antiquity.
What we’re witnessing with Tobacco Control is the gradual exertion of control by one section of society over another, and a gradual increase in the wealth and idleness of the controllers, and a consequent decrease in the idleness and freedom of the controlled. Tobacco Controllers like ASH’s Deborah Arnott get rich (What is she paid? £150,000 a year? £200,000?) at the expense of the smokers over whom she exerts control.
It’s not just Tobacco Control. There are countless numbers of other Controls. For example, Gun Control. Britain is probably one of the most Gun Controlled societies in the world: nobody (or hardly anybody) has any guns at all. And we’re also one of the most Traffic Controlled societies in the world, as our innumerable road signs and road markings testify. We also require Planning Permission even to slightly alter properties that we own (Building Control?). And we also have Town Planning (Town Control?). We are increasingly controlled and restricted in almost innumerable ways.
Then of course there’s the Government. And the bigger that governments become, the more controlling they become. We live in a time where governments everywhere are expanding, because taxes are always rising.
It should be no surprise to us if we are seeing controls being extended to more and more areas of life. How long are we going to be free to even choose what clothes or shoes we wear? How long before we all have to wear drab uniforms? How long before not only tobacco is banned, but also alcohol? And meat? And chocolate? And cheeseburgers?
The control is also extending to the language we use. There are forbidden words (e.g. nigger). And the number of banned words is always multiplying. There are more and more things that simply can’t be said. So we are gradually being silenced. There ceases to be any debate once The Debate Is Over.
When an army invades a country and subjugates it, its inhabitants lose all their former freedoms overnight. But in the case of the new Controllers, the subjugation proceeds slowly and piecemeal. There’s no sudden loss of all freedom. There is instead a gradual erosion of freedom, with one little freedom after another lost. But the net effect is the same: the substitution of slavery and inequity in the place of freedom and equality. What makes the process even more insidious is that, while invading armies usually identify themselves with flags and uniforms, our new Controllers look exactly like everyone else.
Whether we like it or not, we are engaged in a war with an army of controllers who will use any pretext they can to exert more and more control. It doesn’t matter to them whether the pretexts (Speed Kills. Smoking Causes Lung Cancer. Carbon Dioxide Causes Global Warming.) are entirely fabricated falsehoods: all that matters is that they provide an excuse to impose yet more rules and regulations. And the Controllers are doing it all purely to benefit themselves at the expense of everyone else.
But this process of gradually expanding control does not inevitably proceed in one direction. If the underlying idleness of a society decreases, and everyone has to work harder to survive, then the class of rich and idle controllers must necessarily contract. And this will result in conflict among them, as they fight to stay at the top of the pile. And in fact the more rules and regulations the controllers impose on a society, the harder they make life for everybody, and so drive social idleness down. In this respect the controllers are their own worst enemies: they sow the seeds of their own destruction. Sooner or later there comes a call to de-regulate rather than to regulate further.
One day, Deborah Arnott will find herself fired from her very well-paid job, because she has already robbed smokers of everything they had, and the gold mine is empty.