I experienced the smoking ban of 1 July 2007 as a profound loss of freedom. Britain no longer seemed like a free country after that.
But was it ever a free country?
What is a free country?
Maybe it was a free country back in 1914. If so, it waa about to stop being one, and never has been free since then.
In 1914, at the outbreak of WW1, hundreds of thousands of Britons volunteered to join the armed forces. The important point to note is that they volunteered. But it seems that, as the war dragged on, this initial enthusiasm to volunteer abated. It’s not hard to see why. More and more men were being killed in the trenches of Flanders, or were coming back maimed. And there seemed to be no end in sight for a war that was supposed to be “over by Christmas.”
Faced with a shortfall of volunteers, in January 1916 the British government introduced conscription. Anyone between the ages of 18 and 40 could be called up for military service. This law remained in force until 1920.
In WW2, some 20 years later, conscription was introduced from the outset. It wasn’t lifted until 1960.
My question is this: to what extent can anyone say that they are a free man if they can be conscripted at any moment into an army, regardless of their own wishes? A free man is someone who chooses what he will and will not do. Once he can no longer do that, he is no longer free: he’s a slave.
It’s true that there isn’t conscription in Britain right now, and there hasn’t been for the past 60 years. But that doesn’t matter, because if the British government decides it wants to re-introduce prescription, it can do it tomorrow. And it will do it tomorrow.
So the way I see it, us Britons are all slaves.
It’s no better in the USA, “the land of the free”: they’ve had multiple drafts.
And we probably have been slaves for a lot longer than since January 1916.
The only difference between me and most other Britons is that they always knew they were slaves, and I didn’t: I thought I was free. Stupid me. It was why I revolted against the smoking ban, and they didn’t.
I’ve voted all my life, because I thought my vote mattered. But now I think that my vote doesn’t matter a damn, The British government is always re-elected at every election, with one or two minor cosmetic changes. Nothing ever changes.
I’ve become disenchanted.
Does it matter? In my case, not really. But I suspect that when governments lose the trust of their own people, there are likely to be consequences.
Conscription is more important than any smoking ban, but they both boil down to the same thing: in both cases somebody else decides for you what you will do.
We no longer live in free societies. A mantle of control is slowly descending on all of us. First in large matters like conscription, and then in smaller matters like smoking. Soon we will be controlled in everything we do. It won’t just be smoking that’s banned in pubs, but alcohol will be banned too, and then most likely food as well, and then talk. And we’ll all have to wear masks all the time, to conceal the expressions on our faces (which is what masks are for).
I’m living in an age of dying freedoms. Freedom is slipping away. There was more freedom in Britain 200 years ago than there is now. And there’ll be even less in another 200 years.