April 30, 2020
America's Blind Spotby Ballard Quass
The Drug War as the New Slavery
In his class entitled Natural Law and Human Nature, Professor Joseph Koterski reminds his students that early thinkers were blind to the injustice of slavery because they lived in a culture that held a variety of unfounded assumptions on that subject.
I recently e-mailed the professor, suggesting that modern Americans have the same kind of blind spot when it comes to the drug war: we cannot see the injustice in IT because WE live in a culture that holds a variety of unfounded assumptions on THAT subject.
I have yet to hear back from Professor Koterski, but that's probably to be expected. After all, if my theory is right, then my ideas about the drug war will seem as crazy to most people living today (professors included) as the abolitionist viewpoint would have seemed to an ancient Greek or Roman philosopher.
I'll give the professor a few more weeks to respond before publishing my e-mail to him as an "open letter." Meanwhile, here are a few of the harebrained American cultural assumptions that let the drug warrior get away with murder, literally speaking, fomenting completely unnecessary violence overseas in the name of protecting the American people from plants.
FALSE ASSUMPTIONS HELD BY MODERN AMERICANS
False Assumption One: It is legitimate to criminalize plants in the first place. COMMENT: Wrong. They are the birth right of human beings under natural law. As John Locke writes: we have the right to the use of the earth "and all that lies therein."
False Assumption Two: It makes sense to punish pre-crime: namely, the possession of substances that have become linked in the popular imagination with violence. COMMENT: Americans assume that pre-crime is an injustice limited to the plots of Philip K. Dick novels, but the punishment of pre-crime began in 1914 with the Harrison Narcotics Act. For the first time in American history (or in English history, for that matter), a person could be punished for something other than the way that they actually behaved. Now one merely had to possess a substance that had been linked in the modern imagination with evil.
False Assumption Three: Psychoactive substances have no function except as a "crutch" or to make a person "high." COMMENT: Entire books could be written to annihilate these assumptions on philosophical grounds. Suffice it here to say that early Vedic religion was inspired by psychedelics, the discovery of DNA was inspired by psychedelics, great literature was inspired by a wide variety of psychedelics and other psychoactive plants. Meanwhile, science has finally been granted just enough freedom from our aptly named Drug Czars to establish that psychedelics can be powerful therapeutic medicines for overcoming depression and PTSD. The notion that "drugs" - i.e. psychoactive plants - can only be used for sordid goals is, at best, a Christian Science superstition or at worst, a drug warrior lie, persisting for the sake of its propaganda value.
False Assumption Four: a country has the right to go overseas and burn plants that induce psychological states of which American politicians disapprove. COMMENT: If we have the right to travel overseas in order to burn plants that we hold responsible for American addictions, then surely other countries have the right to come stateside to burn tobacco and grape vines. This is why assumption number one must be overthrown. Once we criminalize plants in violation of natural law, we open up a Pandora's box full of ways for politicians to corrupt our democracy and destroy American values. American politicians inevitably use our crazed drug-war mentality as an excuse to give monopolies to Big Liquor and Big Pharma when it comes to providing transcendence and psychological treatment. And if that means burning plants that have been used responsibly overseas for millennia, then so be it. And so colonialism thrives under the drug war, where it can now fly below the radar of our usual moral distaste for that practice. Meanwhile, torture and murder become the new American values, as we so demonize plant users as to call for their execution. Behold, the anti-nature drug war run amok.