generally avoid watching network television (or any so-called "free" television, for that matter) because I've grown allergic in my old age to the condescending and manipulative power of product advertisements. However, I occasionally watch (or at least hear) one of these sales pitches in spite of myself as I attempt to remain updated on a breaking catastrophic news story such as the Coronavirus.
Last night, for instance, I was messing about in the kitchen when I overheard a commercial for some new medicine that combatted some gnarly-sounding side effects of anti-depressants and bipolar "medicines." The commercial was hugely "telling" when it comes to the way that the media and Big Pharma literally dictate through words how society will think of any given psychoactive substance. Will we think of them as horrid "drugs" or will we think of them as blessed "medicines"? Answer: We'll think of them the way that Big Pharma and its advertising agencies want us to think about them, especially after said pharmaceutical companies have staffed the morning news shows with affable guns-for-hire from the medical industry who will reinforce in general terms the product-specific message of the multi-million-dollar advertisements in question.
I don't recall which notorious anti-depressant side effect last night's advertised medicine was intended to combat (sexual dysfunction, the risk of suicide, severe addiction, emotional flat-lining, weight gain), but what floored me was the fact that the dulcet-toned female narrator referred to the admittedly harmful anti-depressant as an "important medicine." In other words, the fact that anti-depressants caused devastating side effects was not the point of the commercial: the point was that some company was helping you stay on "your important medicine" despite these acknowledged side effects.
Conclusion: anti-depressants are "the drugs that can do no wrong."
If we were talking about any other psychoactive substance - especially one that was produced only by Mother Nature, such as psychedelics - its creation of the gnarly side effects mentioned above would turn it into a "drug" in the worst sense of that word, and it would quickly become a punching bag for outraged medical pundits across the country to trash in professional journals and public media. There would be front-page stories in the New York Times warning us how psychedelic X was the drug from hell. But when it comes to the horrible side effects of anti-depressants, the exact same kind of enormous shortcomings are seen merely as a whole new business opportunity for the marketing of anti-depressant "adjuncts." And so Big Pharma takes advantage of the psychological fact that folks don't like to be wrong in their choices: they have become persuaded of the long-debunked lie that anti-depressants are miracle drugs that fix chemical imbalances, and so the public will readily welcome any new medicines that help them hang onto that "faith," even in the face of increasingly obvious evidence to the contrary.
This is why a war on plants, once started, is so difficult to end in a capitalist society. Naturally occurring psychoactive substances are handicapped from the beginning. They merely have to be responsible for (or indeed associated with) one eye-catching horror story viz. side effects and we suddenly consider the "drug" in question to come from hell. Meanwhile, a synthesized drug from Big Pharma can blatantly addict 1 in 8 American males and 1 in 4 American females, and we will still consider it to be a miracle cure, in fact a "medicine" that it is our duty as health-conscious Americans to take daily, every day of our life!
What further proof do we need that the drug war is about politics, not health, politics designed to keep Mother Nature's godsend plants from competing with Big Pharma? The scam works something like this, by the way: first the DEA outlaws scientific research on natural products that might prove to be competitors to Big Pharma. Then Big Pharma runs prime-time ads that turn their own addictive synthesized substances into apple pie in the minds of the American public. Mother Nature is thus silenced from the beginning while Big Pharma runs advertisements on prime-time television: which one do YOU think is going to win the hearts and minds of the American people?
Of course, in hindsight, it was a telling moment when Congress began allowing pharmaceutical companies to start advertising on television: that was a tacit admission that the world of personal health in America had nothing to do with science and fact, but rather with salesmanship and hucksterism - a fact which any long-term psychiatric patient like myself can readily believe, having frequently shared their doctor's waiting room with an antsy suitcase-carrying sales rep from Big Pharma.
We don't need people to get "clean." We need people to start living a fulfilling life. The two things are different.
"I can take this drug that inspires me and makes me compassionate and teaches me to love nature in its byzantine complexity, or I can take Prozac which makes me unable to cry at my parents' funeral. Hmm. Which shall it be?" Only a mad person in a mad world would choose SSRIs.
5% of proceeds from the sale of the above product will go toward getting Brian a decent haircut for once. Honestly. 9% will go toward shoes. 50% will go toward miscellaneous. 9% of the remainder will go toward relaxation, which could encompass anything from a spin around town to an outdoor barbecue at Brian's brother's house in Stanardsville (both gas and the ice-cream cake that Brian usually supplies).
You have been reading essays by the Drug War Philosopher, Brian Quass, at abolishthedea.com. Brian is the founder of The Drug War Gift Shop, where artists can feature and sell their protest artwork online. He has also written for Sociodelic and is the author of The Drug War Comic Book, which contains 150 political cartoons illustrating some of the seemingly endless problems with the war on drugs -- many of which only Brian seems to have noticed, by the way, judging by the recycled pieties that pass for analysis these days when it comes to "drugs." That's not surprising, considering the fact that the category of "drugs" is a political category, not a medical or scientific one.
A "drug," as the world defines the term today, is "a substance that has no good uses for anyone, ever, at any time, under any circumstances" -- and, of course, there are no substances of that kind: even cyanide and the deadly botox toxin have positive uses: a war on drugs is therefore unscientific at heart, to the point that it truly qualifies as a superstition, one in which we turn inanimate substances into boogie-men and scapegoats for all our social problems.
The Drug War is, in fact, the philosophical problem par excellence of our time, premised as it is on a raft of faulty assumptions (notwithstanding the fact that most philosophers today pretend as if the drug war does not exist). It is a war against the poor, against minorities, against religion, against science, against the elderly, against the depressed, against those in pain, against children in hospice care, and against philosophy itself. It outlaws substances that have inspired entire religions, Nazifies the English language and militarizes police forces nationwide.
It bans the substances that inspired William James' ideas about human consciousness and the nature of ultimate reality. In short, it causes all of the problems that it purports to solve, and then some, meanwhile violating the Natural Law upon which Thomas Jefferson founded America. (Surely, Jefferson was rolling over in his grave when Ronald Reagan's DEA stomped onto Monticello in 1987 and confiscated the founding father's poppy plants.)
If you believe in freedom and democracy, in America and around the world, please stay tuned for more philosophically oriented broadsides against the outrageous war on godsend medicines, AKA the war on drugs.
PS The drug war has not failed: to the contrary, it has succeeded, insofar as its ultimate goal was to militarize police forces around the world and help authorities to ruthlessly eliminate those who stand in the way of global capitalism. For more, see Drug War Capitalism by Dawn Paley. Oh, and did I mention that most Drug Warriors these days would never get elected were it not for the Drug War itself, which threw hundreds of thousands of their political opposition in jail? Trump was right for the wrong reasons: elections are being stolen in America, but the number-one example of that fact is his own narrow victory in 2016, which could never have happened without the existence of laws that were specifically written to keep Blacks and minorities from voting. The Drug War, in short, is a cancer on the body politic.
Rather than apologetically decriminalizing selected plants, we should be demanding the immediate restoration of Natural Law, according to which "The earth, and all that is therein, is given to men for the support and comfort of their being." (John Locke)
Andrew, Christopher "The Secret World: A History of Intelligence" 2019 Yale University Press
Aurelius, Marcus "Meditations" 2021 East India Publishing Company