Rationality self-destructs in the face of authoritarian abuse of power
ou've heard of Rome burning while Nero played the fiddle? Well, how about human rights floundering while philosophers examined their metaphysical navels?
Do we still need morality?
Yes, this was a recent topic of discussion among a learned body of panelists at the IAI (the Institute of Art and Ideas, artandideas.org), leading me to conclude that modern philosophy is, indeed, dead (though not for the reasons that Stephen Hawking speculated, since philosophy is really just playing dead out of cowardice) -- and that philosophy is useless when it comes to fighting back against the authoritarian tendencies of our time.
This is one case where my response to the IAI topic had to be about the topic itself, rather than the no-doubt brainy way with which it was discussed, parsed and philologically categorized by the esteemed panel convened for that purpose.
The very fact that modern philosophy is asking this question shows that rationality, pursued in the abstract, leads to self-destructive madness. The United States was created on the notion of natural law, that there is indeed something more important than the arbitrary decisions of despots. Instead of fretting whether this natural law (and hence basic human rights) even exists, philosophers should be engaged in an all-out struggle to castigate tyrants for replacing the natural law with common law, as has been done in the case of the Drug War. The Drug War is the triumph of contingent common law over natural law, imposing arbitrary limits on a human being's right to mother nature's plants, and thereby massively incarcerating minorities and keeping a myriad of godsend psychoactive plants not merely from "druggies" but also from depressed patients and soldiers with PTSD, even blocking research on such godsends. So if we want to see the results of considering morality to be illusory, we have to look no further than America's overcrowded prisons or the record-breaking instances of depression in America, or the Drug War-created violence in impoverished cities. Please, philosophy, stop counting angels on a pin and start dealing with the real world: take natural law (and hence human rights) as a given so that you have a leg to stand on when confronting tyrants such as Donald Trump, who now plan to start executing the minorities that the common law has allowed America to throw in jail for the last 50 years.
Meanwhile, if you're starved for good philosophical topics, how about the following: Resolved: that the Drug War is the enforcement of Christian Science Sharia?
The natural law is premised on the idea that an ultimate morality exists. Once we start questioning that assumption, then any tyrant can justify any action based on force and expediency. Slavery, under such a view, is never fundamentally wrong, but only wrong insofar as it does not prove expedient and/or is incapable of being maintained by force of arms.
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