American conservatives loathe European conservatives because the latter tend to be very much Lefty socialists; European conservatives distrust American conservatives because their New World counterparts tend to talk too much about freedom, free markets, and personal liberty in lieu of discussing social order.
This conflict — the individual versus social order — comprises the essence of our struggle in the current era. With the Renaissance, we saw the human being and not natural order as the root of all that is good and important. This removed focus from what we ought to do to what we want to do.
That utilitarian shift changed the question of civilization from how each of us should take our place in a hierarchy and work together to create and further civilization to a question of how civilization can provide for us to follow whatever whims we have.
The more we chase whims, the less society works, and the more we find ourselves as individuals compensating by working more, putting up with more incompetence and dysfunction, and trying desperately to escape the consummate rot that invades our cities, institutions, and nations. The reign of individuals is a disaster.
When we look at this problem on a practical level, however, it seems baffling. We know that individuals need some liberty to act as they see fit, so long as it does not clash with social order; on the other hand, attempts to enforce social order too rigidly in the totalitarian method seem to cause people to lose initiative.
From Austria comes an interesting suggestion, which is to divide activities by a risk/reward ration in relation to the objectives of that civilization. Austria is bucking the anti-tobacco trend by allowing smoking in public:
Many Western countries have banned smoking in bars and restaurants, but Austria is bucking that trend.
The move was spearheaded by the leader of the Freedom Party, Austria’s Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache, himself a smoker, who told parliament last month that it was about freedom of choice.
He said restaurants should be free to decide if they want to have smoking sections, where “a citizen has the possibility to decide perhaps to enjoy a cigarette or a pipe or a cigar with their coffee”.
The West currently follows the Renaissance ideal of seeing civilization as a vehicle for the defense and nurturing of the individual, but by doing so, eliminates concerns for any order at a level broader than that of the individual, namely things such as culture, heritage, faith, traditions, and values.
Austria shows us a way out of that: instead of concerning ourselves with inconvenience to individuals, uphold limited freedoms as part of having a pleasurable social order. People being able to enjoy a smoke, drink, or other personal indulgences strengthens social order, where the “freedom” to do things that contradict social order weakens it, and by doing that, weakens individuals who are then the people who must absorb the externalized cost of that chaotic inner conflict to the civilization.
Anti-smoking legislation takes the form of the “think of the children!” style hysteria that got us a spate of laws from the 1960s onward which were designed to limit harmful behaviors in the name of protecting individuals against the behaviors of others. Seeing how problems remain, these laws obviously failed.
A better approach is to have a social order, to design for it to exclude any acts which violate that order, and allow for other acts as surrogates for more actually destructive activities. Perhaps smoking is not the best for health, but it is better than unchecked consumption, casual sex, greedy me-first behavior, and other modern ills.