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Clodhoppers on Drugs

a philosophical review of 'The Left Behind' by Robert Wuthnow

by Ballard Quass, the Drug War Philosopher

October 17, 2023

This is my letter to Professor Robert Wuthnow, Gerard R. Andlinger '52 Professor of Sociology Emeritus and former director of the Princeton University Center for the Study of Religion. I am writing him in response to his book entitled "The Left Behind: Decline and Rage in Rural America," which attempts to explain the nonurban mindset that helped elect Donald Trump.

I am enjoying your book on The Left Behind, as I try to wrap my head around the fact that many of my neighbors here in the mountains of western Virginia are supporters of Donald Trump.

I just wanted to share a couple of thoughts on two topics that you've raised: namely, drugs and evolution.
If you have time and interest, I invite you to read them below.

Thanks again for the interesting book!

1) You speak of problems being caused "by drugs," but we should remember, I think, that the DEA's job is to keep drugs a problem.  To see how this works, I recommend "Synthetic Panics" by Philip Jenkins.  He describes how the DEA seeks to parlay local drug issues into national crises with the help of prime-time documentaries like "48 Hours."
I believe it would be more accuurate to refer to today's drug problems as "prohibition problems."  Before 1914, folks could smoke opium peaceably in their home without fanfare, with the product being uncontaminated. By constantly screaming about "drugs," the prohibitionists encouraged drug use among the young --  then they refused on principle to teach safe use.  Meanwhile, they advocated a prohibition that made dosage and purity of drugs uncertain, leading to overdoses and death. Drugs like fentanyl and heroin merely supply the opiate experience in new forms that were necessitated by prohibition.

"Opioid Use Disorder" might be more accurately called "Prohibition Spectrum Disorder."

Meanwhile, the Drug War has fueled violence in inner cities, thousands killed yearly. As Heather Ann Thompson wrote in The Atlantic in 2014, "Without the War on Drugs, the level of gun violence that plagues so many poor inner-city neighborhoods today simply would not exist."

It's even worse overseas. There's the US-backed Mexican Drug War, which, according to Dawn Paley, killed 100,000 Mexicans between 2006 and 2014, with 27,000 going missing.

2) Regarding evolution, it is the materialist scientific establishment that wants to define this debate as "country bumpkins" vs. "brainy scientists." However, the intelligent design movement contains atheists and has received support from American philosopher Thomas Nagel, author of Mind and Cosmos, who deplores the establishment's ongoing libel campaign against ID researchers, specifically Stephen Meyer and Michael Behe.  Foes of evolutionary assumptions also include Noam Chomsky, CS Lewis and GK Chesterton. 

The bumpkins are right about the dearth of evidence for Darwinian evolution. Even materialist scientists acknowledge this lack of evidence. Why else would they be promoting theories like cryptogenesis, which is all about explaining WHY there is so little obvious evidence of evolution. That's also why Jay Gould promoted his theory of punctuated equilibrium, to explain why species seem so unchanged throughout the ages.  That's why Francis Crick promoted panspermia, because he realized that the odds of complex life developing by random accident here on earth were staggeringly improbable.

Everyone agrees that adaptation takes place, and there is plenty of evidence for that, but the evidence for meta evolution remains largely conjectural, as the scientific community itself demonstrates by their many ongoing efforts to explain away the lack of transitional forms in the fossil record.

To win the argument, materialists think all they need to do is to point to the movie "Inherit the Wind" to silence all discussion. This has worked for decades, but this strategy is wearing thin as we learn more about the amazing coding capacity of DNA and the extreme complexity of the biochemistry of life, a level of complexity of which Darwin himself had never even dreamed.

Author's Follow-up: October 17, 2023

It's fascinating to me that those people "left behind" claim that they are so bothered by government intrusion. Have they not actively supported a Drug War that gives billions of dollars to police forces so that they can arrest people for the mere possession of mother nature's plant medicines? If the clodhoppers unquestioningly concede the government's right to outlaw Mother Nature itself, what right have they to resent any other intrusion from Washington?

Also, the "moral outrage" of these rustics should be tempered (one might have thought) by the reflection that, whatever the government is "doing" to THEM by way of pesky laws and standards is but a trifle compared to what Americans have done to the native Americans whose land the rustics now so proudly and categorically claim as their own.

The "answer" to these problems -- of local grievances and national disunity -- is so far off the radar of the modern westerner that I almost neglected to mention it here. But if we were a country that valued psychoactive medicine rather than disparaging it, a country that sought to learn from tribal societies rather than disparaging them and taking their land for the use of extractive industry, then we would take the following course: we would encourage the use of entheogens in all confabs that were designed to settle disputes.

In "The Man of the Crowd," Edgar Allan Poe quotes La Bruyère as saying: Ce grand malheur, de ne pouvoir être seul, to wit that the greatest evil is humankind's inability to be alone. We are never happy just to live peaceably and enjoy life. And so we're easily caught up in the latest outraged debates that we see on the Internet or on TV or hear via talk radio. The fact is that there are godsend meds out there that can make us happy with the moment, that can help us live with ourselves and enjoy the moment. Such meds could be used to remind us that reproachful debating is not what life is all about and that peace and understanding should come first in life. Moreover, the attitude of calm acceptance produced by such substances should temper and inform our dealings with our ideological opponents, such that anger is replaced with conversations in which each respects the other and empathizes even in cases where they are unable to agree.

This way of solving problems is, of course, completely contrary to modern prejudices. That's why I call myself "the Drug War philosopher," because for America to return to the right path, we need more than harm reduction or piecemeal changes to Draconian drug laws: we need a new way of looking at the world, one in which we allow ourselves to see and profit from the benefits of drugs. Ironically, this drugs-friendly approach would cut down on addiction insofar as all substances would thenceforth be available for use on an informed basis, so that problem use could be nipped in the bud, not by the anemic modern-day tactic of forcing the problem user to become a Christian Scientist, but rather by using OTHER drugs strategically to end the psychological appeal of the substance which, for any given individual, has proven problematic viz. that user's particular goals in life.

Next essay: What Jim Hogshire Got Wrong about Drugs
Previous essay: Addiction

More Essays Here

Some Tweets against the hateful war on drugs

If the depressed patient laughs, that means nothing. Materialists have to see results under a microscopic or they will never sign off on a therapy.
Peyote advocates should be drug legalization advocates. Otherwise, they're involved in special pleading which is bound to result in absurd laws, such as "Plant A can be used in a religion but not plant B," or "Person A can belong to such a religion but person B cannot."
What bothers me about AI is that everyone's so excited to see what computers can do, while no one's excited to see what the human mind can do, since we refuse to improve it with mind-enhancing drugs.
There are a potentially vast number of non-addictive drugs that could be used strategically in therapy. They elate and "free the tongue" to help talk therapy really work. Even "addictive" drugs can be used non-addictively, prohibitionist propaganda notwithstanding.
Rather than protesting prohibition as a crackdown on academic freedom, today's scientists are collaborating with the drug war by promoting shock therapy and SSRIs, thereby profiting from the monopoly that the drug war gives them in selling mind and mood medicine.
One merely has to look at any issue of Psychology Today to see articles in which the author reckons without the Drug War, in which they pretend that banned substances do not exist and so fail to incorporate any topic-related insights that might otherwise come from user reports.
Addiction thrives BECAUSE of prohibition, which outlaws drug alternatives and discourages education about psychoactive substances and how to use them wisely.
Richard Evans Schultes seems to have originated the harebrained idea (since used by the US Supreme Court to suppress new religions) that you have no right to use drugs in a religious ritual if you did not grow up in a society that had such practices. What tyrannical idiocy!
William James knew that there were substances that could elate. However, it never occurred to him that we should use such substances to prevent suicide. It seems James was blinded to this possibility by his puritanical assumptions.
Now drug warriors have nitrous oxide in their sights, the substance that inspired the philosophy of William James. They're using the same tired MO: focusing exclusively on potential downsides and never mentioning the benefits of use, and/or denying that any exist.
More Tweets

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You have been reading an article entitled, Clodhoppers on Drugs: a philosophical review of 'The Left Behind' by Robert Wuthnow, published on October 17, 2023 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)