It is curious that the word ‘fanatic’ was linked to the Roman word for ‘temple’. Even 2000 years ago, the idea of ‘blind faith’ was regarded with some distrust. Rather than ‘blind faith’, nowadays we can substitute ‘ideological certainty’. The ‘faith’ isn’t entirely ‘blind’ – there is likely to be some element of reality. We could take the example of Frank Davis’s ‘Doctor W’. Frank gave described how Dr W screamed, “Filthy! Fithy! Filthy!” at his son when he found out that the son had been smoking. At a guess, I would say that that incident occurred forty years or so ago. Dr W was a big noise in the British Medical Assn. But where did Dr W’s anguish come from? We can imagine his face as he screamed, “Filthy! Filthy! Filthy!” – all screwed up as though in pain: full of anger and frustration. How does a doctor of medicine become so unhinged? I think that we can describe Dr W, despite his education and medical experience, as a true ‘fanatic’.
There is something very interesting about fanatics. I think that, subconsciously, they have doubts, but they try to push the doubts out of their minds. It helps to mix as much as possible with other fanatics to keep the doubts at bay. There is no doubt (is there?) that fans of a particular football team love to flock together. Football grounds have special ‘home’ segments where home fans can congregate, sing their songs, chant their chants, moan their moans. We observe similar meetings in tobacco control.
The Olympic games take place every four years. The World Cup every two years. Why does the FCTC bureaucracy need a meeting every year? In fact, why does it need a meeting at all? It needs an annual meeting to keep the fanatics fanatical – to allay those doubts: to slap backs: to congratulate and to obsess about the wonderful successes. I have heard quite a lot of videos of meetings of TobCon’s and there seemed to be an oft repeated phrase: “WE CAN MADE A DIFFERENCE!!!” So the attendees go back to their appointed places full of enthusiasm and with their doubts allayed for a year or so, and their ‘idealogical certainty’ reinforced once more.
Should we describe Arnott as a fanatic? I doubt it, somehow. I doubt that she would be the slightest bit interested in tobacco control were it not that her job is CEO of ASH London. If she had not succeeded in getting that job, she would have got another one which involved propaganda and marketing. She is a professional propagandist, that’s all.
It is very difficult to decide who are true fanatics and who are the people who are using fanatics. Dr W was a true fanatic. Many commenters on newspaper articles are clearly fanatics. There are fanatics in parliament. The former Liberal MP Williams was clearly a fanatic. But what group of people is controlling and using the fanatics?
One of the problems with fanatics is that they know no boundaries. They cannot have boundaries. Boundaries would suggest their ‘ideological certainty’ has limits, which, of course, is impossible. Only the destruction of the tobacco industry and the eradication of the tobacco plant throughout the world would constitute finality. But the tobacco plant ‘nicotiana’ is ubiquitous throughout those zones of the Earth where it can self-seed and prosper.
However, boundaries are arising. The Australian Government must surely be concerned about the costs of the riot over the smoking ban in that prison. It is clear that those who proposed the smoking ban in that prison did not give a damn about the consequences. That is true fanaticism. But note how they get away with it. Why is no one blaming them for the costs of the riot? Why are Australian politicians not calling for the a change of plan? Why do they not see that the riot was entirely a consequence of fanaticism?
So we come round, slowly and carefully, to the realisation that those who profit from the fanatics, and who have been controlling the fanatics, are losing that control. Smoking bans in mental institutions, where people are effectively prisoners, and smoking bans in actual prisons, are the product of fanatics, and not of the controllers of the fanatics. It is a little like the situation in Wales over ecigs. The fanatical health minister, (Doctor) Drakewood (?), has taken things into his own hands and wants the harmless ecig banned. The probability is that he was never in the loop of controllers, and is thus a ‘loose cannon’. But he is big in the BMA, and may therefore be acting for the fanatics in the BMA.
I think that there should be a public enquiry into the Australian prison riot, but it will not happen because politicians have lost their basic ‘raison d’etre’, which is NOT to rule but to check up on the rulers. In theory, in the UK, the Monarch still rules. She has Government Departments, such as the Health Dept, the Revenue, Foreign Affairs, etc. She chooses a person elected by the People, the PM, to create a cabinet of Ministers to oversee the Government Departments. It is important to understand that, theoretically, Government Departments belong to the Queen. It is Government Departments which propose laws, even if politicians suggest what those laws might be and who can block those laws. “The Queen’s Government” is in charge, and “The Queen’s Government” is the Continuing Civil Service, and not the politicians ‘passing through’. To make things worse, the ‘Continuing Civil Service’ is now bound to the EU bureaucracy. It has become a true Aristocracy over which elected representatives have no control. Do you think that Cameron has any idea what to do about the EU? Of course not! He is just one human being with a limited brain capacity. To protect himself, he must act upon ‘advice’; and who are his advisors? The Continuing Civil Service!!
Isn’t it weird that, in recent history, whenever a single ‘strong man/woman’ takes control, the result is war and carnage. Pol Pot, Stalin, Hitler, Mao se tung, Ghengis Kann, etc, etc, etc. It is unending.
Is it ever going to be possible for humans to live in peace with their neighbours? I doubt it, because there will always be Fanatics urging, propagandising, advertising, exaggerating, experimenting, banning, hyping, profiting.
Finally for tonight.
I think that it is important for politicians, and those who elect those politicians, to understand the limits of the capacity of politicians to influence events. It is no accident that smoking bans were enacted – they are easy. It is no accident that Cameron enabled PP – it was easy. It is no accident that the prison smoking ban in Victoria, Australia, was imposed – it was easy. It was no accident that a smoking ban in mental institutions in the UK was imposed – it was easy. Bans on smoking in pubs in the UK were easy – publicans were threatened with enormous fines or imprisonment.
And the elected representatives permitted it! It is really weird that things have to get worse and worse and worse before someone cries: “STOP!” If that were not so, we would still have ‘witch finders’ in England.
‘Something must be done’ about the FANATICS. And the solution is quite simple. Evaluate charities, university departments, quangos, local authorities. etc, and de-fund them if they promote negatives (aka bans) of any sort. Fund only those ‘charities’ which are positively active, like hostels for the homeless.
Why is it that this obvious ideal is not clear to politicians? There is not and never has been any advantage gained from bans. For heavens sake! If ‘health and Safety Ruled OK’, would the mission to put a man on the Moon ever got off the ground? Of course not! The dangers were too great. After all, a ‘child or young person’ might have got the idea that he/she could stand on a jerry-can of petrol and blast into orbit around the Moon. Not nice, and especially for ‘over-weight or obese children or young persons with ADH or learning difficulties, or who have some position on the autistic spectrum’.
I fail to understand why it is that no one seems to understand the basis of the NHS. It does not exist to prevent death. That is the most important thing to understand. No one is immortal. But it is true that there has recently been much scandal about certain hospitals which have not prevented death. Or rather, which have not performed well, statistically, in the death-prevention league.
One must to bed.
To me, it seems absolutely clear that the whole Health Industry has taken on an immortality zeal. In fact, there seems to be a vague suggestion that dead bodies, such as King Richard 2, could, given the right treatment and infinite costs, be revitalised.
There was a story on TV a long time ago. It involved a scientist who had discovered an ‘elixir’ which stopped ageing. He had created it and taken it himself as ‘proof of concept’. The problem was that it had taken him 40 years to produce enough elixir to arrest his own ageing. He was funded to produce the elixir on a big scale. But, every ten years or so, when he was asked how he was getting on, he said that he was ‘making progress’. The story made it clear that he was in no hurry. Bureaucrats came and went, lived and died, and, five hundred years later, they were still funding him and he was still saying that ‘he was making progress’. I cannot remember how the story finished – Rotter! But it is true – I cannot remember.
There is no doubt, in my mind, that Aristocrats are using smoking to sell some sort of immortality. Perhaps they have to in order to justify the rip off of wealth and impoverishment of ordinary people. People who work physically, whether emptying bins or fixing roofs are far more valuable than lawyers and such. Physical workers should therefore be paid more. The greatest earners should be physical workers. If a bank clerk earns £500 per week, a binman should be paid £1000 per week. If bank clerks don’t like the difference, they can always become binmen.