friend of mine told me yesterday that he believed we should have the right to assisted suicide in cases in which pain has grown unbearable.
I told him I agreed with him, sort of, but...
Assisted suicide is just like shock therapy and antidepressant use: it cannot be discussed meaningfully without first acknowledging the role that substance prohibition plays in shaping our views on the topic.
Shock therapy for depression, for instance, makes no sense whatsoever in a society that outlaws hundreds of godsend medicines (natural and synthetic) that could make the depressed happy without damaging one's brain. Indeed, it shows a kind of Nazified Christian Science materialism to fry the brain of the depressed (while they bite down on a stick) in preference to letting the "patient" use the plant medicines that grow at their very feet, or in preference to letting them use laughing gas, or in preference to letting them chew the coca leaf, or in preference to letting them use any of the hundreds of godsend mind-opening synthetics formulated by Alexander Shulgin.
Surely American society is clinically ill for legislating such a cruel state of affairs.
Likewise, the use of dependency-forming anti-depressants makes no sense in a world in which we have outlawed hundreds of godsend pick-me-ups that cause far less (or even no) dependence and which inspire rather than tranquilize.
Yet psychiatric pundits continue to this day to laud shock therapy and anti-depressant use, as if the Drug War does not exist and such therapies were the only conceivable way to treat depression: that is, either by damaging the brain of the depressed or else by tranquilizing them until they no longer complained of their situation in life, meanwhile turning them into a lifetime ward of the healthcare state.
For the same reason, it makes no sense to discuss assisted suicide in the abstract, without first acknowledging the role that prohibition plays in shaping our views on the topic.
For the fact is that most people would not need assistance to commit suicide if prohibition were ended. A large dose of morphine could dispatch the user peacefully. Seen in this light, one wants to ask, why should we ask for the assistance of bureaucrats or medical staff to exercise such a supposed right?
The question is: when should a reasonable person believe that it is no longer worthwhile to live? After how much pain, for instance? After what dreary prospects?*
Yes, this must be a personal decision, but it should also be a fully informed decision, based on the fullest possible leveraging of the power of uncensored psychoactive medicine to help one endure, psychologically speaking, if not to thrive. The suicidal should know what's possible, not simply in the physical realm, but in the mental - and they can only know that once we start learning about psychoactive medicines rather than demonizing them.
The fact is, we do not know how much a human being can bear because we have never actively researched the psychoactive medicines that could help them to buck up, become more insightful, to see life (and pain) in a new way, etc. We know that morphine can give the intellectually inclined user a deep appreciation of mother nature. We know that Ecstasy can give the callous a feeling of love for their fellow human being.
We know that opium can provide metaphorical dreams in which tooth pain, for instance, can be objectified as the pounding of the sea and thus separated from the sufferer's own experience, essentially turning them into one of those legendary mountain-dwelling yogis with astonishing mental powers.
So, yes, we should have the right to "assisted suicide" - but only in a world in which we have leveraged the mind-improving power of psychoactive medicine to the hilt - and we cannot do this until we renounce our nature-hating materialist outlook and start seeking out the endless wise and safe uses of psychoactive substances - though not with the help of those reductionist scientists who brought us the psychiatric pill mill. Instead, we need what I call pharmacologically savvy empaths to whom any human on earth can resort (humans, mind, not "patients"), not just to treat supposed pathologies like depression but simply in order to make sure that one is living the life that they desire, and not the life that Mary Baker Eddy would have them lead according to her drug-hating religion known as Christian Science.
My friend countered that some folks may not want to use morphine - and that's fine. Indeed, some pain is beyond the power of morphine to overcome. But my point is that the suicidal should have all sorts of pharmacological options available to them from the world of psychoactive medicine: hundreds of medicines, for surely a drug-using American is better than a dead American (and sometimes MUCH better) - and yet right now the suicidal have almost zero pharmacological options thanks to the materialistic and puritanical mindset of modern prohibitionists - those who, not content to kill Latinos in Latin America, are just as happy to make sure that suicidal Statesiders have as little to look forward to as possible.
*The endurance level of human beings is fantastically variable, even without the help of psychoactive medicine. There's the case of a former editor of Elle magazine who suffered locked-in syndrome and full-body paralysis and yet, instead of choosing suicide, wrote an entire book about his situation by blinking his eye in such a way as to dictate the text.
Author's Follow-up: April 21, 2023
Prohibitionists will say that I'm "glorifying drugs," but unlike them, I'd rather see a suicide risk addiction and arrest than to kill themselves. Moreover these risks, both of addiction and arrest, are products of the Drug War, not of drugs. And a person can stage a comeback from addiction -- at least if mother nature is free again and we leverage her mind-healing powers to the hilt -- whereas no one has yet staged a comeback from suicide.
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