Further to my recent post on libertinism versus puritanism, another example of the increasing puritanism of modern western society has been the rise of the health nazis, and more recently the food nazis.
When you have a widespread belief that the government should have the power to exercise a high degree of coercion in regards to what people do with their own bodies that doesn’t sound to me like a libertine society. It sounds like a puritan society. A society that considers unhealthy lifestyle choices to be evidence of wickedness that sounds like a puritan society.
It’s difficult to see the modern Nanny State as anything other than puritanism. Puritanism mixed with totalitarianism, but then puritans have always had a totalitarian outlook.
Australia has been in some ways Ground Zero for this. Australia is now the Nanny State on steroids. Innocuous medications which used to be available over the counter are now available only on prescription, and if you have a chronic pain problem it is immensely difficult to get the medications needed to control that pain. Now the Australian Government wants to stop people from vaping. Vaping is a whole lot better than smoking so you’d think that a sane government would want to encourage the practice. But the puritan impulse is too strong.
The food nazis are the latest manifestation of puritanism. They want to shame us for eating meat, or liking sugar.
What it comes down to is that people with a puritan mindset are horrified that there are people out there doing things that they enjoy. There are people who like eating steaks and they are still eating steaks. They must be stopped.
Any kind of freedom is now regarded as problematic. Whether it’s freedom of speech, freedom of thought or even the freedom to eat what you want to eat. Doing anything solely for pleasure is now regarded as problematic. People used to enjoy food. That’s so wrong.
The main impulse behind our increasing drift towards totalitarianism and complete social control has nothing to do with leftist politics as such. Right-wing governments (such as the Morrison Government in Australia) are just as committed to social control as parties of the left. The Tories in Britain are as committed to totalitarianism as Labour. We’re drifting towards totalitarianism because of an increasingly puritan outlook. It’s an outlook that demands that people should be forced to be virtuous. We must be forced to be virtuous in our speech, in our thoughts and in our private lives and personal habits.