Thursday, 22 July 2010
Yo ho ho and a herd of cats.
Thanks to the anonymous commenter, who wishes to remain so, who has produced the first design for the Smoky-Drinky flag. A death's head, naturally, with stained teeth and crossed cigarette/Electrofag, and between a bottle and a glass. Every time I hear or use the words 'bottle' and 'glass' in the same sentence, in my head that Tommy Cooper routine always plays. It's going to happen until I die, I just know it. On my deathbed, someone will say 'Sit up, I have a bottle of medicine and a glass' and the last thought to go through my expiring mind will be 'Aha ha ha, bottle - glass, glass - bottle'. That last medication had better be a single malt one, too. Give me Bells and expect a poltergeist.
Another thing I'm sure of is that there will be smokers out there who will object to the appearance of Electrofag, Electrosmokers who won't want to be associated with tobacco smokers, drinkers who don't smoke who will object to being on the same flag, smokers who don't drink who would rather replace the bottle with a cup of tea and people with yellow teeth who neither smoke nor drink but are addicted to turmeric and black coffee. There might even be a comment from Death himself, regarding his access to dentistry.
Those pompous, humourless buffoons who smugly declare that the smoking ban is nothing like Nazi control are partly right, you know. The Nazis picked on separate groups. Jews, Gypsies, Jehovah's Witnesses, disabled, homosexual and so on. While there could well be disabled gypsies and homosexual Jews in the mix, by and large there was little overlap between the groups they picked on. So they could start with one group and each time they expanded, they could isolate and demonise the next group very easily. The problem with this approach was that people soon found the pattern and could work out who was likely to be next, and of course picking on a specific group causes that group to become more tightly knit and harder to control.
They have learned from this. If they had stopped with their attack on smokers, we smokers would by now have formed strongly resistive groups. They didn't stop there and they didn't stick to isolated groups. In fact, the greater the overlap between one target and the next, the better.
Now, we have thin smokers hating fat smokers, non-smoking drinkers hating smoking drinkers, non-smoking, thin, gay people hating smoking, fat, gay people, and so on. Within each group are nested several other groups and they have all been conditioned to hate each other. We can't form a coherent resistance because every target group is fragmented into a dozen target subgroups. Each target has its own hate-stirrers too. ASH drive smoker-hate, the Shenkerites drive drinker-hate, another lot drive fat-hate, Stonewall do their best to keep homophobia going, faceless council drones pronounce Christmas an abomination which keeps religious tension going, and any number of racial equality diversity outreach community action coordinators keep ramming racial issues in everyone's face so we can't just all forget about it and get along. The Nazis did it all centrally. This time, the Righteous have outsourced each individual bit of hatred so we don't see a common enemy.
It was so much easier a few years ago, when everyone hated the French. That's probably illegal now despite being one of the oldest British traditions of all.
So if you set up a smoker's resistance and membership grows, you are going to get to the point where one of the existing members objects to a new member because he's gay, or an immigrant, or is obese, or drinks, or doesn't drink. or is in the wrong religion, or has googly eyes or some stupid thing like that. Then the group will split into those who want a 'white smokers club' and those who want a 'black smokers club' and those who want a 'fat smokers club' and the gay smokers, the Muslim smokers, the Christian smokers, the atheist smokers, the fundamentalist smokers (black balaclavas with little burn-holes all over them, and cries of 'Take this plane to Cuba or I light the cigarette. I get the cigars, nobody gets passivated'.) will all want their own exclusive groups and it will all fall apart. You would end up with groups like 'fat black lesbian atheist single-parent ex-convict non-drinking cigar smokers action group' with five members pretending they can take on an organisation like ASH all on their own.
You'd even get Marlboro smokers scoffing at Silk Cut smokers and Consulate smokers nagging Capstan smokers about how it's bad for them.
Organising a coherent smoker's resistance group, or a drinker's resistance group, or a fat people's resistance group, would be worse than herding cats. It would be like herding cats by using dogs while spraying them with water. They aren't just going to not listen. They are going to explode.
It has to be grudgingly admitted that the division, this time, was very cleverly done. By ensuring huge overlaps between the demonised groups they have ensured that we are all members of multiple groups and that we will reject those who don't fit our own tiny region within the overall map. 'You can't join this smoker's group because you're too fat and that presents a negative image'. 'This is a Christian smoking group. Muslims can't join'. And on and on it goes, the divisions becoming ever deeper and ever finer until each and every one of us is in a group of our own, so narrowly defined that nobody else fits it. When everyone hates everyone else, the Righteous will finally have won.
What to do? First, we have to make people realise what is being done to them. Convincing people of that is not easy. It will take time and it will be difficult but we have to start now. It's no good saying 'It'll take too long and it's too hard to do' because the longer we put it off, the nearer we get to the day when it's no longer possible.
Second, it is becoming clear that no single issue group will ever get anywhere against the State-sponsored ones. FOREST can't win against ASH because ASH can mobilise obese non-smokers, drinking non-smokers, gay non-smokers, Muslim non-smokers and many others through their own single-issue groups.
Look at the turncoats of CAMRA. Their preferred real-ale pubs are under threat and yet they still regard smokers as subhuman. If they campaigned for smokers to be allowed in pubs, CAMRA's support would mushroom but no, they have that one single issue and nobody else can play. They won't win either. The drinker's groups are already subdivided into beer/whisky/wine and more. Ripe for picking off, one by one.
We can only win as a unified group. Not a smoker's group, not a drinker's group, not an obese group, not a religious or race group, not a gender group, not a sexuality group, nothing. One group to rule them all (whoops, careful now!) against the enemy which is breaking us into sixty million groups of one person each.
All those differences are ones which, not so long ago, didn't matter at all. Sure, some people didn't like smoking, some didn't like drinking, some objected to fat people and gay people and ginger people and those who had a different skin colour or religion. It has always been that way and always will be. The difference was that these divisions were not enforced by law, and what pressure groups existed had little influence. In the main, we all just got on with our lives without concerning ourselves with other people's personal beliefs or habits.
If you employed someone back then, their religion or sexuality was no concern of yours. Now it has to be. By law, you must have the right spectrum of skin tones in your workforce, you must have a few disabled people, a few gay people, a few of this religion and that religion, the right number of women, the boxes must be ticked and whether any of them can do the job is of no consequence whatsoever to the law.
If you employ someone now, you have to ask them which way the wind blows for them and other intrusive questions that are none of your business. You don't want to ask. Faced with the perfect applicant for the job, you don't care if they go home at night and impale toads on sharpened bamboo canes while dancing naked in the moonlight singing 'I've got a loverly bunch of coconuts' and then have sex with a sofa. As long as they turn up on time and earn that wage, what happens when the shift is over is no concern of yours.
It has to be, now. It's all division. The single white English straight male knows all about this. We used to have one country with one government. Then Scotland, Wales and Norn Iron all got their own governments. Well, not completely, but enough to make differences. The differences were what mattered, not the governments.
England didn't get one. They just get Wastemonster. Why? Well, the excuse was that Wastemonster is the English government but it's not. I'd like to say it's the UK government but there's not much left of the UK and if there's anyone in Wastemonster who knows how to govern, they're keeping very quiet about it. The Union Flag (a sore point in Wales anyway since Wales isn't on it) is all set to break into its Scottish, Irish and English bits. The English part has already been declared racist. Why are the English getting all this crap? To make them hate everyone else on the basis of one difference.
So, take one smoking, white, English, straight, male, single, obese, drinking, driving (not simultaneously) Christian.
Compare him to one smoking, white, Scottish, straight, male, single, obese, drinking, driving (not simultaneously) Christian.
What's the difference? On the basis of that one difference, they have been conditioned to hate each other. Try it by replacing any of the words in that list with its counterpart. Every time, you get two people who hate each other on the basis of one difference among nine points at which they are identical. That's all it takes. One difference. You don't even see the similarities, only the difference.
Scotland gets better healthcare because the Righteous want the English to hate the Scots. The Scots are easy, they already hate everyone anyway. The English see this and blame the Scots. They cannot demand the same of their own parliament because they don't have one. There's nobody for them to blame for this, other than the Scots.
So the Union is fragmented and all the way down, no matter how closely you look at it, the fractal image remains the same. The same method on smaller and smaller scales, effective every time it is applied. One group gets preferential treatment while their counterparts are demonised. The same thing, all the way down.
We won't win as smokers. We won't win as drinkers. We won't win as salt-eaters or drivers or fat people or Christians or gay people or gingers. We will continue to be subdivided and we will direct our hate at the other groups and insist they are dealt with as harshly as whatever group we are in is dealt with.
What we need is a united group that covers all the target groups with no prejudice, and no preference shown to one group over another. Not a smoker's group that also lets in drinkers. Not a Muslim group that also lets in Christians. An overall group for everyone who has been a target of the Righteous.
Some time ago, I suggested forming a group called 'The Denormalised'. Perhaps its time has come.
First though, we need a flag. All united people have to have a flag. Something to rally round.
Something with a skull on it. Skulls show that you're not just playing around. Does having a skull on the symbol make us the bad guys?
No. The Righteous have already declared us the bad guys. All of us, not just the smokers.
It's time we started acting like it.
Posted by Leg-iron at 23:18