Smoking is an idle time activity.
Idle Theory was an inkling I had one sunny spring morning in 1975. I’d recently started building heat flow models at university, and was wondering how to judge whether one heating system was better (or worse) than another. The heat flow models had temperatures and masses and volumes, but they didn’t include “better” or “worse”. The usual way to judge was to find which was cheaper. But it seemed to me that a good heating system kept people more comfortable than a bad heating system. And thermal discomfort was something that people noticed and had to do something about: shiver, add more clothes, turn up the heat. Discomfort meant busyness. Equally the price of fuel and shelter and clothes was always paid with work, and work was another kind of busyness. People were either busily uncomfortable, or idly comfortable. In Idle Theory people were either frantically busy, or perfectly idle, or someplace in between.
I began thinking about economics in general as being all about people finding ways to live idle lives. You weren’t rich if you had a lot of money or property or gold: you were rich to the extent that you were idle. Economic growth entailed increasing idleness. And this was best done with useful tools: tools that got jobs done quicker. An axe will cut down a tree quicker than a stone. A donkey will make for a quicker journey than on foot, a horse an even quicker one, and a Ferrari quickest of all. A computer performs calculations much faster than any man can. The Industrial Revolution speeded up every kind of work, and made for an idler, richer society. And in their idle time people could drink beer and smoke cigarettes, and do other things they enjoyed doing for their own sake.
And I began to think about ethics as being all about increasing idleness. What was Good was what increased idleness. And what was evil was what decreased idleness. A fair exchange between two people was one in which both gained equally in idleness. An unfair exchange was one in which one person gained in idleness, and the other lost (e.g. theft). Fair exchanges required consideration: you shouldn’t just count your own gains or losses, but should also count those those of everybody else. You shouldn’t cheat. You should pay your debts. And you should keep your promises.
I also started thinking about biology in terms of idleness. All living things operated at some degree of idleness. And if they ever fell to zero idleness, working all thee time, they were at the point of death and extinction. Living things had their own built-in useful tools, like legs and wings and teeth and claws. And they were always inventing and refining new tools.
I thought about religion in terms of idleness. Heaven was a state of perfect idleness, and Hell a state of unremitting busyness. The Fall of Man had meant the end of an easy life, and its replacement by a hard one. Redemption would mean the return of an easy life.
I gradually expanded Idle Theory in all directions. I published it as a collection of essays. It was a rational, numerical, systematic, internally consistent way of thinking about all sorts of things. I saw it as a way of giving science an ethical dimension it didn’t have.
I guess that, after 32 years, I only stopped thinking about it on 1 July 2007, when idle smokers like me came under existential attack. The antismokers don’t like idleness. They think people should be busy working all the time. It’s not tobacco or alcohol or sugar or meat that they really hate: it’s idleness. Their ideal world is a labour camp: that’s why they always build lots of them.
And now I’m in a war, fighting thieving, lying antismokers. I think that if smokers are going to win this war, they’re going to have to unite. They far outnumber the antismokers. So I’m more interested in trying to build bonds between smokers, everywhere in the world, in order to unite them.
Because the antismokers never stop:
Cuomo considers banning cigarette sales for six weeks amid Coronavirus outbreak.
This is pure, unalloyed, cruel, antismoking viciousness. Cuomo wants to take away smoker’s cigarettes just when they need them most, and when it’ll hurt them the most to lose them. And hurting them means keeping them busy, keeping them uncomfortable, keeping them working. There’s no justification for it, and it won’t help. But antismokers don’t need justifications, and they’re not trying to help: they’re trying to hurt. It’s all they ever do
In Idle Theory war is big busyness. In peacetime idleness increases; in wartime idleness decreases. The loser is the first to reach zero idleness death and extinction.
Tobacco Control must be destroyed. It must be utterly and completely destroyed.