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Current Mood: Angry

I went to the Chinese takeaway earlier on to get me dinner, and came back incandescent with rage. Not because of the food, but because the nice lady who runs it asked me if I wanted a newspaper to read while waiting, and I said yes. So, she gave me the Sunday Times (Northampton is one of the more highbrow chavtowns) and down at the bottom of page 1 was a little story with a headline something like, “Pssst, Can I Have Some You-Know-What Please?” about the fact that our glorious government has decided enforce plain tobacco packaging. Here it is in the Daily Mail.

There are times when I take some leave from the blogosphere and pretty much stop looking at the news, because it just makes me angry and I need a break from the stress. Because, for me, pretty much everything that happens at the social and political level is something I don’t want to happen. The tide is eternally flowing in the opposite direction to that in which I wish it were flowing. I cannot think of a single new law, or new initiative, or economic policy, which I have approved of in more years than I care to remember. I feel as if I am living in a nation of aliens; or rather, that I am alone alien teleported into 21st century Britain and trying to understand and survive it. I increasingly feel like I’ve nothing in common with everyone around me. How can I be so out of step with public opinion? Is everyone else mad, or is it me?

My anger at this latest announcement is beyond my ability to describe. The English language does not have sufficiently extreme adjectives. “Incandescent” seems far too mild. I feel like, if I met one of the Righteous, perhaps on the way back from the Chinese, I would be unable to restrain myself from violence against them. I feel that way because I know they hate me, and thus to hate them in turn is a normal reaction. They hate me with the same intensity that Nazis hated the Jews, Communists hated the kulaks, the Ku Klux Klan hated blacks. They want to do me harm; they lie awake nights figuring out how to do me harm.

I feel scared.

I wonder how far this puritan phase will run for before it runs out of steam, or there is a backlash. We know who the next targets are already, and the run-up against them is already underway; drinkers of course, and fat people. And meat eaters. Oh, and off-message Christians, caught in the crossfire of progressivist groups emulating the religious struggle in the USA. Maybe ten years from now, Bibles will have to be sold in a plain cover, like pornography.

So anyway. Why does this matter so much? Who cares about packaging anyway? Well, it matters because it is another step forward for the Enemy, in general terms. But it is a remarkable step forward. According to the Times and the Mail, tobacco will be sold “without branding”. No brands.

Think about that for a moment. If it is being reported correctly, they are taking a step never taken before in western economic history, which is to ban the identification of particular products. The reports say there will be nothing on the packets except a picture of a dead baby with its guts torn out and “a smoker did this” as a caption (or, a health warning as it is politely called).

How do you order a product when it has no name? Will it be like the pop singer Prince, and we’ll have to ask for “25g of the product formerly known as Golden Virginia”? And if the packet is blank, how can you know what the shopkeeper has given you? It could be anything. It probably will be. It seems that there will be nothing sold but generic “tobacco”. If this goes ahead, presumably a few years down the road you will only be able to buy blank bottles of generic “beer” and “wine”. No Bombardier or 6X or Spitfire, no Merlot or Beaujolais. Just generics. Probably just stamped “alcohol- deadly poison”.

To remove branding is to remove the possibility of choice, that most glorious consequence of free market capitalism. Branding is the most wonderful thing, because it is a manifestation of the reality that products are not fungible. We don’t just buy “bread”. We buy Warburtons Soft White Farmhouse or Hovis Brown or what have you. A brand identifies the manufacturer; it allows you to make market judgements like “that was good last time, I’ll have that type again”. Without it, you cannot exert your will in the marketplace.

Which of course is what those evil people, the Progressives, want.

They can often be found eulogising the good old days before brands, and advertising. When you went to a local shop for local people instead of a nasty supermarket, and got “eggs” and “flour” and “cheese” and there was one type of each and that was that, and it might be different each time. You had no idea. Branding changed all that. Once shops were selling different manufacturers’ products, and consumers had choice, brands appeared. It became, Macdougall’s Flour and Farmer Brown’s Eggs. So removing branding is an essential part of the Proggies’ desperate, stupid urge to fling us all back to the pre-industrial era; to end “consumerism”.

I feel scared.

I can see the world I grew up in being dismantled, bit by bit. There are times I wish they’d just get it over with. In a sense, it is the gradualism that is unbearable. There are times I wish they’d just ban everything- baccy and beer, burgers and bangers, and all the rest- once and for all. Instead, they creep forward one apparently tiny step at a time. It’s like being executed with a bacon slicer.

Sometimes I think, this cannot go on. There will be a reaction. There will be a great rebellion and they will be cast out of the high places, these evil priests of puritanism. But days like today, I feel totally hopeless. This law will pass without complaint and a year from now I will be buying a pack of something-or-other from an apologetic newsagent, and we’ll grumble and put up with it. We are excluded from the public discourse. We can blog, but ministers don’t read blogs. They have meetings with ASH and Alcohol Concern and Mothers Against This That And The Other, and blogger after blogger writes impressive articles and is ignored, while the guardianista front called Mumsnet decide to do a “campaign” on the first thing that enters their tiny chattering class minds, and it gets in the papers. I want to do something. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know if there is anything I even possibly can do.

I am a libertarian. I am as is well known more than happy to spend hours in intense arguments about anarcho-capitalism or the Land Value Tax or the value of a PPE degree. But the bottom line is, I just want to be left alone. That is my grand political ideology. Nothing more. I’d like to just be left alone to go about my life, quietly and peacefully. It does not seem like too much to ask; but my nation (and it seems, all others) is full of these hateful people who just will not leave me alone; whose sole purpose in life is to not leave me alone. I want to grab them by the lapels and shout, “Why are you doing this to me?!”

But I know what they would say, and it fills me with sadness, and with anger. They would just say, with a smug, patronising smile, “Because we can. Because you can’t stop us. Because it makes us feel good. That’s why.”

59 Comments

  1. Regarding labels/sleeves: Dunno just where it was, but someone sent out an email a while back with a proposed sleeve for the packs where it said “Smoking deforms the lungs” or somesuch but the word for lungs looked, to an English speaker, very much like it might refer to “breasts” (Poumons?)

    In any event, the sleeve showed a very attractive buxomy blond smiling with a cigarette and with her blouse opened down to her bellybutton showing some very clearly NOT deformed breasts! LOL!

    Addtional thought: The whole “30 minutes exposure hurts your heart” nonsense was started by the Otsuka 2001 study where subjects were stuck in a smoke chamber for 30 minutes and then some minor arterial musclue chemical reading showed a change that could possibly be related to a theorized precursor to heart disease. A very similar effect was shown by another researcher to occur in people who got up in the morning and ate a bowl of corn flakes and milk.

    Soooo…. when are we going to get rid of all those colorful junk food cereals (which are marketed to kids right and left on Saturday morning cartoon ads) and replace them with plain brown packaging?

    Michael J. McFadden
    Author of “Dissecting Antismokers’ Brains”

  2. Lynne says:

    Just because LibLabCon are generic and indistinguishable from one another they think everything else should be too; including people.

    Genesis of the Daleks anyone?

  3. Bod says:

    That damn Stavros, and his unbeatable doner kebabs!

    Davros?

    Oh.

    Never Mind.

  4. Lynne says:

    Yeah, you can hear the cry of of our would be creators masters – Extortionate! Extortionate! Extortionate!

  5. Roue le Jour says:

    I don’t think we need to worry about how to stop it. Statism is a utopianism, and utopianisms are necessarily death cults. The perfected society is dead. The kingdom of God on Earth is a necropolis.

  6. Paul Marks says:

    Ian already knows that the thing will not last – that it will end in economic and social breakdown.

    THAT IS NOT THE POINT.

    What Ian wants is a way to save civil society (his peaceful life – eating meat if he wishes to do so, taking up pipe smoking if he chooses, and so on) – NOT the comfort of knowing “oh well the statism nightmare will only last till everything utterly falls apart”.

    The trouble is I can think of no way to give him what he (and me) want.

    We are like those writers during the Roman Empire (especially the Late Empire) describing how terrible everything is – and predicting that if things keep going on like this it will all end in tears.

    All totally true – but how do you stop it?

    Ian would not like Brother Glenn (even I mock Glenn Beck a bit – hence my nickname for him), but at least he is not satisfied with the description-of-comming-doom approach.

    He spends his time “stays awake at night” trying to work out how to prevent the process – how to break out from the cycle of – chaos and savagery, to civilization, civilization to statist tyranny, and statist tyranny back to chaos and savagery again. Old Glenn wants a society where people can eat junk fund, and smoke and, get to keep their own money – just like Ian (and me) do. Or where people can eat health food, not smoke, give all their money away…..

    As a matter of CHOICE.

    Trying to restore “old time religion” (trying to be a latter day George Whitfield) may strike Ian as an utterly silly way to try and break out of the cycle (to save civil society), but no one else has come up with anything.

    Perhaps such groups as the Ayn Rand Centre for Individual Rights (athiests but friends of Beck – which is interesting) will.

    But I do not see the evidence.

  7. Ian B says:

    Indeed Paul. I’m looking for a better result than standing in the ruins saying “I told you so”.

    As you know I don’t think religion is the answer, although preserving religious freedom is part of the answer. But what to do, I really don’t know. I just know that I don’t look forward to the collapse of everything, because unlike some on our side, I don’t think that libertarianism would rise from the ashes. It never has before.

  8. Sam Duncan says:

    “I just know that I don’t look forward to the collapse of everything, because unlike some on our side, I don’t think that libertarianism would rise from the ashes.”

    Completely with you on that, Ian. That thinking assumes that the right people and ideas will be blamed for the collapse, but how can they be when so many people think we have an “unfettered” free market right now? It’s that illusion whose name will be blackened by any collapse of present civilization, not the reality. We saw it in microcosm with the financial crisis. In the popular mind it was the fault of mythical deregulated markets, not the very real centrally-planned credit bubble.

    I suppose the best we can do is follow Churchill’s motto: Keep Buggering On…

  9. Paul Marks says:

    Ian and Sam – yes.

    And on relgion – Ian old point “this is not America” springs to mind.

    In America “relgion” may (with lots of work) remind people of the Black Robed Regiment with their George Buchanan style “rights come from God, not from governments – and when governments violate the freedom of individuals, those inviduals have the right, indeed the DUTY, to come together to defend each other freedom……”

    But in Britain it tends mean……

    Well nothing at all really.

    So what is the plan for Britain?

    Any advance on – wait for somewhere else to roll back the state (by reform – not by eat each other chaos) and then say “well it worked very well in…..”

    Remember the elite “everywhere else is better than here” line cuts both ways – or could be made to.

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