A popular game with the old Buckley conservatives was to figure out how to blame the actions of the Left on socialism or a quest for power. Whenever the Left found some reason to attack some aspect of white culture, the National Review types would work their fingers raw trying to explain why it was either due to socialism or a quest for political power by those dastardly democrats. Sometimes, they would combine the two, so that the quest for power was to impose socialism on us.
Some elements of the dissident right have inherited this tendency to reduce all left-wing activity to simple, individual motivations. The Left does something similar, but they prefer supernatural and mystical explanations. In fact, that is probably a useful way of describing the political divide. One side relies on magic to explain the world, while the other side relies on some form of self-interest. In both cases, the preferred answer strips the humanity from the actors and reduces them to robots or pawns.
The truth is, human society has a lot of complexity, because we have a wide range of human types. For example, the scold is a feature of all white societies, regardless of political and economic makeup. These are people who take pleasure in lecturing the rest of us about our failings. Sometimes they often find a home on the Left these days, because the Left defines the civic religion of the West. In a prior age, they would have been defending order and tradition, as part of the religious community.
These people are not motivated by greed or a lust for power. Their scolding of the population may result in elevated status or a comfortable lifestyle, but that is not what motivates them to scold the rest of us. Al Gore made a lot of money off the climate change rackets, but that’s not why he does it. He was plenty rich before he got the green fever after the 2000 election. What gets him up in the morning is the need to be Gaia’s prophet, an Ezekiel warning the rest of us about the end times.
A recent example of this is the decision, by some scolds on the San Francisco board of supervisors, to ban e-cigarettes. According to the news accounts, they will ban the sale of these devises and ban the shipment of them into the city. Strangely, people will still be allowed to possess them and use them in public. Perhaps the scheme is to ban the public use of them next and then criminalize the possession of them. That’s the way they attacked the sale and use of tobacco forty years ago.
Now, the anti-smoking crusades were allegedly about public health. Smoking is not only unhealthful to the smoker, it has a societal cost. Lung cancer is a terrible way to die and an expensive one as well. Public health is often cast in emotional terms, trying to save lives, but as policy matter, it is about saving money. Either way, the cover story for the taxes on tobacco and limits on smoking was about public health. We wanted to end smoking and therefore improve the health of the people.
Of course, that was never true. It was convenient that smoking was bad for your health, but the real motivation was the need to boss people around. The scold has to have someone they can bully. The reason is just an excuse. That’s what you see with these crusades against electronic cigarettes. There is no data suggesting they are unhealthful like cigarettes. Nicotine is not the issue with tobacco use. It is the other chemicals and the particulate matter from burning tobacco. That’s not an issue with e-cigarettes.
The funny thing about this is these electronic cigarettes are probably the best tool for quitting conventional tobacco use. They allow the user to wean themselves from the psychological habit as they wean themselves from the chemical addiction. There is some evidence suggesting the addictive power of cigarettes is not the nicotine, but the drug cocktail used to prepare the tobacco, in combination with nicotine. Therefore, this delivery system is a better way to get off the drug than other methods.
None of that matters to the crusaders. It never mattered to them when they were howling about smoking at ballparks or out of doors. What motivates these people is the need to lecture the public about morality. The scold always assumes pleasure is an indication of sin. Those hipster goofballs vaping in the coffee shop, therefore, must be doing something wrong. That’s the bat signal for the local scolds to rally and demand the activist be stopped, else the community will be at risk.
That’s the other thing about scolds. They always justify their activity by claiming they are sacrificing for the good of the community. In this case, they are looking out for the children, as if toddlers are growing beards and taking up vaping. In reality, it is just the same old people, the eternal scold, getting a rush from making other people stop doing something they enjoy. It’s not about money and it is not about power. For these scolds and busybodies, the reward is in being the scold. It’s who they are.
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