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Calling All Philosophers

Stop counting angels on a pin and speak up against the drug war

by Ballard Quass, the Drug War Philosopher

February 19, 2020

The Drug War represents an ideology, not just a set of problematic laws. It implies an idea of "the good life" and writes laws accordingly. It is not enough to complain about implementations of the Drug War ideology. Rather, that ideology must be attacked at its root by unveiling and refuting the assumptions upon which it is based. That is not a job for mere facts and figures but for philosophy.

Stephen Hawking said that philosophy is dead. I beg to differ. It may appear to be dead, but that is only because it has been hiding its head in the sand, ostrich-like, ever since the Harrison Narcotics Act of 1914. That was when Congress first set the illogical and unconstitutional precedent of criminalizing plants, which had hitherto been considered our birth right as mere Earthlings under natural law. Since then, the Drug War and its anti-scientific laws have thrived in the hands of tyrants based on a propaganda campaign of sloppy logic, superstitious metaphysics and linguistic equivocation, all designed to make us look upon Mother Nature as a drug kingpin rather than as our medical benefactor and the source of countless therapeutic godsends. In other words, {^the "Drug War" is the philosophical problem par excellence of our time for it thrives on a series of misunderstandings and presumptions that only a true philosopher can hope to parse with nicety and expose in such a way as to make the need for reform obvious to the man or woman on the street - and thus to the man or woman in Congress.}{

That's one of the reasons that I've created this website, as an attempt to get the friends of liberty to start attacking the Drug War on philosophical grounds, rather than on the feeble grounds that the Drug War just does not work as advertised. Such latter arguments yield enormous ground to the Drug Warrior, implying that militarized tyranny, domestic surveillance, SWAT raids on unarmed citizens, foreign intervention and the suspension of natural law would be fine if only it cut down on the use of naturally occurring substances.

SWAT raids and domestic surveillance, in a supposedly democratic society, to cut down on the use of substances? And why exactly do we assume that it is good to cut back on the use of naturally occurring substances? That is a mere Christian Science prejudice, not a logical conclusion from any set of agreed-upon propositions. A Drug War critic who argues in this way may as well find another button-pushing injustice about which to opine, since the Drug War cannot be ousted by those who hastily grant all the false unspoken premises upon which it is founded.

If philosophers should read this, there's plenty of work to do, so let's not stand upon ceremony. "Grab a musket and get in rank," as my Jeffersonian ancestors used to say. Here are a few promising projects to fire your respective imaginations.

1) Elucidate the theological, political, and ideological links between the following events: The Drug War of modern times, Emperor Theodosius's 392 AD banning of the psychedelic Eleusinian Mysteries, and the Conquistadors' scorn for the plant-based psychedelic rites of MesoAmerican cultures.

2) Explain how modern employee "drug testing" is the extrajudicial enforcement of Christian Science with respect to psychological healing.

3) Trace the modern antipathy to "substance use" to the distrust of witches and their use of psychoactive plant medicines.

Author's Follow-up: October 15, 2022

The mere title of this site, "The Drug War Philosopher," is meant to suggest a fact that very few pundits understand: namely, that the Drug War is based on such a hodgepodge of unrecognized assumptions and presumptions that it truly takes a philosopher to identify and rebut them all in real-time so as to not be snookered by Drug War lies, misdirection and propaganda. Moreover, it is only a philosophical approach to the Drug War that can reveal the true extent of the damage caused by this policy of substance demonization. Most authors on this topic approach it piecemeal, skewering the Drug War for this or that outcome while missing a host of other more subtle but more egregious results of the reigning drug policy. I seem to be the only author who points out, for instance, that

  1. the Drug War censors scientists by keeping them from investigating most psychoactive substances, partly by law and partly by discouraging funding and ostracizing researchers

  2. scientists have become complicit in this censorship and now self-censor themselves as, for instance, when they tell author W. Goldman Mortimer that he should not write about the coca leaf since it would "send the wrong message," or when researchers write papers supposedly giving us the last word on treating depression, or Alzheimer's, or autism, meanwhile failing to mention even in a footnote that they have ruled out a priori the study of demonized psychoactive medicines in performing their research.

  3. the Drug War is the enforcement of drug-hating Christian Science.

  4. less psychoactive drug use should NOT be our goal any more than less non-psychoactive drug use should be our goal. If we find a drug that cures cancer, we should not hold back in using it based on an ideology that tells us "less use is better" somehow in the abstract. Likewise if we find drugs that can help end school shootings (like the empathogens MDMA and psilocybin). The goal should be to leverage all the benefits we can get out of medicine, not to assume a priori that we should limit the gains we thence derive based on our own Christian Science prejudices.

  5. the drug has created the psychiatric pill mill, thanks to which 1 in 4 American women are dependent on Big Pharma meds for life. This latter record-breaking dystopia is completely off the radar of the Michael Pollans and the Gabriel Mates of the world. Like the self-censored scientists mentioned above -- indeed like almost every non-fiction author and pundit today -- they reckon without the Drug War.

  6. the Drug War FORCES US TO FRY BRAINS WITH SHOCK THERAPY -- because we have ruled out entirely the idea of making patients feel good with medicines like opium and coca showing that we would actually prefer to knowingly damage the human brain than to let a person be made to feel good with plant medicine!!!

  7. the Drug War ideology forces kids in hospice to go without morphine for pain relief showing that we'd rather have children suffer pain than to give them a drug that we have superstitiously decided is evil incarnate, showing in turn that the Drug War is fanatical beyond belief.

So many organizations talk about fighting the Drug War with facts and figures. That sounds great. But the problem is that the Drug War represents an ideology, not just a set of problematic laws. It implies an idea of "the good life" and writes laws accordingly. It is not enough to complain about implementations of the Drug War ideology. Rather, that ideology must be attacked at its root by unveiling and refuting the assumptions upon which it is based. That is not a job for mere facts and figures but for philosophy.

Related tweet: October 15, 2022

It was -- and continues to be -- a bloodbath, but not for nothing. The Drug War gives the health industry a monopoly on mind medicine and gives psychiatrists jobs for life, prescribing dependence-causing pills on which 1 in 4 American women are dependent.

Related tweet: November 2, 2022

Increasing drug use is GOOD if it means less use of alcohol, tobacco, and the Big Pharma meds upon which 1 in 4 American women are chemically dependent for life. The Drug Warrior doesn't want less use, they want more use of drugs that buoy the stock market.

Folks who call for less drug use are unfamiliar with how Ecstasy brought peace and love to the British dance floor, how shrooms stopped Paul Stamets from stuttering, how Plato got his view of the afterlife from psychedelics, etc.

Next essay: The American Stasi
Previous essay: What We Mean When We Say 'Drugs'

More Essays Here

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The Drug War as a Litmus Test for Philosophical Wisdom
The Philosophical Idiocy of the Drug War
The Philosophy of Drug Use
The Philosophy of Getting High
Without Philosophy, Science becomes Scientism
Materialism and the Drug War
Critique of the Philosophy of Happiness
Heidegger on Drugs
In Praise of Thomas Szasz
Join Philosophers Against the Drug War
Libertarians as Closet Christian Scientists
Majoring in Drug War Philosophy
Rationality Uber Alles
Scientism and America's Drug War hypocrisy
Speaking Truth to Academia
Nietzsche and the Drug War
What if Arthur Schopenhauer Had Used DMT?
How Scientific Materialism Keeps Godsend Medicines from the Depressed
Psychedelics and Depression
Drug Use as Self-Medication
John Locke on Drugs
Puritanical Assumptions about Drug Use in the Entertainment Field
Why Kevin Sabet is Wrong
I asked 100 American philosophers what they thought about the Drug War
The Great Philosophical Problem of Our Time
What We Mean When We Say 'Drugs'
Whitehead and Psychedelics

front cover of Drug War Comic Book

Buy the Drug War Comic Book by the Drug War Philosopher Brian Quass, featuring 150 hilarious op-ed pics about America's disgraceful war on Americans

You have been reading an article entitled, Calling All Philosophers: Stop counting angels on a pin and speak up against the drug war, published on February 19, 2020 on For more information about America's disgraceful drug war, which is anti-patient, anti-minority, anti-scientific, anti-mother nature, imperialistic, the establishment of the Christian Science religion, a violation of the natural law upon which America was founded, and a childish and counterproductive way of looking at the world, one which causes all of the problems that it purports to solve, and then some, visit the drug war philosopher, at (philosopher's bio; go to top of this page)