I guess that Progressives believe in Progress, and Progress is something that makes the world a better place. They think the world can become a better place.
Smoking bans are seen as Progressive. Smoking bans make for a smoke-free world. And ridding the world of smoke (of any kind whatsoever) is seen as Progress. Clean air is good air, and unclean smoky air is bad air. Cleanliness is next to godliness.
The UK Clean Air Acts of the 1950s were mostly intended to reduce the burning of coal, and to increase electric and gas usage. But once one form of smoke could be outlawed, the way was open to outlaw every kind of smoke. And that could – and eventually did – include tobacco smoke. So smoking bans were regarded by Progressives as a further extension of the Clean Air Acts. Smoking bans made the world into a cleaner and better place.
But there’s at least one big difference between coal smoke and tobacco smoke: nobody actually liked coal smoke, but lots of people liked tobacco smoke. Nobody ever lit lumps of coal just to produce some smoke: they lit it to generate heat. But smokers never lit tobacco to produce heat: they lit it to generate smoke. Tobacco smoke was what smokers wanted.
And that meant that while Progressives approved of smoking bans, smokers disapproved. With smoking bans, smokers lost the smoke they liked. One bunch of people gained, and another bunch lost. But the smokers’ protests were ignored.
More or less anything can be seen as Progress if the people who don’t like it are ignored.
It might be said that smokers don’t want Progress. Or that smokers don’t believe in Progress. Or that smokers don’t think the world can ever be a better place. It might even be that smokers are people who just want to soothe and calm themselves as they live in a difficult, imperfect world. They’re not trying to make the world into a better place: they’re just trying to make it a bit better for themselves.
Faced with a trying and difficult world, Progressives set out to improve the whole world, while smokers just try to make it slightly better for themselves. It’s the same with drinking: people feel better after a beer and a cigarette. It doesn’t make the world a better place: it just makes them feel better for a few minutes.
Smokers are often regarded as selfish in their pursuit of their own private, personal good, and Progressive antismokers are seen as unselfish.in their selfless pursuit of the common good.
And it’s from this that the Progressive antismokers acquire their moral superiority: they’re not claiming to act selfishly for their own benefit, but selflessly for the benefit of everybody.
But can anyone act for the benefit of everybody? Is it possible to act for the benefit of everybody while simultaneously disregarding the opinions of everybody else? After all, the opinions of smokers are always disregarded by antismoking Progressives. Anyone who claims to act for the benefit of everybody is also claiming to themselves know what’s better for everybody. And anyone who is claiming to know what’s better for everybody is giving primacy to their own opinion, and this is itself a form of extreme selfishness: I know best. So the supposedly selfless Progressives are actually the most selfish.
Equally, smokers who act solely for their own benefit are not claiming to know what’s good for everyone else. They don’t claim primacy to their own opinion. They allow other people to have their own, differing opinions. In this manner supposedly selfish smokers prove to be selfless: they don’t impose their opinions on everyone else.
People are always acting selfishly all the time. I eat when I want to eat, not when everyone wants to eat. I put on a raincoat when I want to wear one, not when everyone wants to wear one. I go to sleep when I want to sleep. not when everyone wants to sleep. But I don’t expect everyone else to eat when I want to eat, or sleep when I want to sleep. Yet this is what the antismokers want: when they don’t want to smoke, they demand that nobody smoke. And they will make laws to enforce their demand.
Can anyone ever really act selflessly? Can anyone stop being themselves, and start being everyone? No, we can’t. We are all each always helplessly ourselves, and ourselves alone. The only thing we can know about anyone else is what they tell us about themselves. To the extent that we ignore other people’s opinions, to that extent we pay attention only to our own opinion. To the extent that antismokers ignore smokers, to that extent they listen only to themselves,