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Rules, regulations and the death of rugged individualism

Last year Chris Snowdon wrote an interesting article for The Free Society.

Australia – the world’s number one nanny state described how a country "once renowned for rugged individualism capitulated to puritanism with barely a whimper".

Today BBC News magazine has a feature that, unintentionally perhaps, supports Snowdon's thesis. According to Nick Bryant:

Sports grounds ... offer a vantage point from which to view the country's surprisingly officious and authoritarian streak. At cricket matches, beach balls that transgress onto the playing area are confiscated and punctured. Fans who start Mexican waves face eviction. Those queuing up for beer have to remove their sunglasses to prove they are not half-cut ...

Its claim to be a laid back country, meanwhile, is belied by the bewildering array of rules and regulations, from strict border protections to the bylaws which stipulate that cars should be parked in the same direction as the flow of traffic.

This isn't the whole story, of course, as Australia: What the rest of the world gets wrong clearly demonstrates. Bryant does however make this damning observation:

In the face of this authoritarianism, the supposedly anti-authoritarian Australians are unexpectedly meek and acquiescent.

This struck a chord because less than a week ago I exchanged emails with a journalist in Ireland who told me, without prompting:

We Irish talk a great talk about being rebels, but this country is incredibly conformist. It's actually shocking how disconnected our self-image is from reality.

I'm sure a thesis could be written about this. Any volunteers?

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Reader Comments (6)

Global rules and regulations, good grief, I wouldn't believe 10 years ago. A diet of fear and punishment.
Good citizen == no smoking, no more than, two, small units of alcohol, no excess fat on body, no excuses for non-complience.
Bad citizen == does not follow rules made by those superior to them.
Re-education required, fines inflicted to deviant plus any that enable offence (bar owners etc. take note, you are being watched) followed by alienation from society.
Who would have thought we would fly so quickly and quietly into the straightjackets.
The scientists got something right, we are acting like herd animals, start the herd in the direction required, badger, bully, and keep them moving, eventualy we will get to like our masters. We will obey for the reward of being just one of the herd.
All done for our own good. Prime human stock.

Saturday, January 19, 2013 at 19:54 | Unregistered CommenterMargaret/smoker

I think that Margaret/smoker describes the situation perfectly.
To continue the thought, one might ask: "Who are the herders?"

"Who are the herders?" is the most critical thing of all. Precisely who are the Directors of the Tobacco Control Industry? Are they regulated? What do they produce? Are they perfectly above corruption? I think not.

Sunday, January 20, 2013 at 3:44 | Unregistered CommenterJunican

Junican -

You ask: "Who are the herders?"

A good question - but one not so easy to answer.

However, we DO know one thing: they are NOT the people most still-gormless members of Humanity think they are: Cameron, Blair, Bush, Obama, and all the other well-groomed (and well-rewarded) lackeys and front-men of the Global Elite.

Or their Media Whores, Gate-Keepers, and high-rolling Apparatchiks.

And so long as the Dumb Masses (especially the 'educated' ones among their number) continue to prop up The System, not just by going-along-to-get-along, but by granting it its spurious legitimacy by periodically 'voting' for the A Team or the B Team (both run by the same management team of course), then so long will the slow, remorseless slide into Global Totalitarianism continue.

Free Humanity, too, has a Common Purpose.

And it's about time it woke up to it !

Sunday, January 20, 2013 at 12:30 | Unregistered CommenterMartin V

Having visited Australia once every few years since 1983, I've seen the Nanny State gradually take over, but although I'm appalled, I'm not quite as surprised as some. 'Rugged individualism' is one side of the Australians, but another (more prevalent recently, especially among the urban 'intelligentsia') is a desire to be defined as a 'clean' 'healthy' and 'progressive' country, and to look for ways to be 'ahead' of smelly old Britain and Europe. This all ties in quite neatly with the ideology promoted by the Antismoking movement. A lot of Australians do think they are over-regulated, but at the same time a lot are, for instance, quite proud of having a smoking ban before the UK did. Personally they remind me a bit of some young people in the UK who say they don't want to smoke because that was what their parents did (parents being, you know, kind of disgusting). Anyway, the only good thing about extreme antismoking (e.g. in the State of Queensland, where you can't even smoke outside) is that it becomes more and more obvious that it's not about health, but about fashion, prejudice, scapegoating, and authoritarian puritanism.

Sunday, January 20, 2013 at 19:05 | Unregistered CommenterJoe Jackson

As a smoker, we don't care about what packaging cigarettes come in, we are not smoking the packet only what is inside it. I live in Queensland and yes it has some very draconian laws. We are definitely a Nanny State. You can be fined for smoking in your car if you are also carrying a person under the age of 16, so that is understandable. It was once said to me by a lawyer from another state that Queensland is akin to a Nazi state and that is so close to the truth. The cost of living here is incredible and yet everyone passes the buck to the next person for this, it is never the governments fault. Be careful what you wish for because we may have free health care , and be a lot better off than many countries, we however are not the lucky country. Australia and in particular Queensland is most certainly a Nanny State.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013 at 22:24 | Unregistered CommenterNun

"You can be fined for smoking in your car if you are also carrying a person under the age of 16, so that is understandable."

Is it ?

I think the essential point that most seem to have missed here with all this Kinder-crap is that the term 'Nanny State' is no longer quite sufficient in this context.

Where The Little Ones are involved, the State has ousted not only Nanny, but Mum and Dad, too.

It is (or bids soon to become) The Parent itself.

And not for the first time.......................

Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 22:41 | Unregistered CommenterMartin V

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