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GK Chesterton on Prohibition

by Ballard Quass, the Drug War Philosopher

June 14, 2024

here was at least one "Drug War philosopher" before me, and that was GK Chesterton, whose arguments against liquor prohibition apply with equal (if not more) force to drug prohibition today. The prolific Catholic clearly saw that liquor prohibition was based on premises that would spell the end of personal liberty. How? By putting free citizens under the thumbs of politically minded worrywarts. What follows are a few of his particularly insightful comments on this topic. For more, see his 1922 book "Eugenics and Other Evils," chapter VI, "The Eclipse of Liberty."

"But the whole ground of argument is now changed. For people do not consider what the drunkard does to others by throwing the pot, but what he does to himself by drinking the beer. The argument is based on health; and it is said that the Government must safeguard the health of the community. And the moment that is said, there ceases to be the shadow of a difference between beer and tea. People can certainly spoil their health with tea or with tobacco or with twenty other things. And there is no escape for the hygienic logician except to restrain and regulate them all. If he is to control the health of the community, he must necessarily control all the habits of all the citizens...."1
GK Chesterton

Author's Follow-up: June 14, 2024

picture of clock metaphorically suggesting a follow-up

And his prophecy has proven all too true. Today in Alabama, you can be thrown in prison for eating certain mushrooms -- by the same politicians who think that grade-school shootings are no grounds for passing gun control laws. As Chesterton warned, any law can be "justified" once we deny the inalienability of our rights to personal liberty.


1 Chesterton, GK, Eugenics and Other Evils: An Argument against the Scientifically Organized State, 1822 (up)

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Some Tweets against the hateful war on drugs

Drug use is judged by different standards than any other risky activity in the western world. One death can lead to outrage, even though that death might be statistically insignificant.
That's my real problem with SSRIs: If daily drug use and dependency are okay, then there's no logical or truly scientific reason why I can't smoke a nightly opium pipe.
I think many scientists are so used to ignoring "drugs" that they don't even realize they're doing it. Yet almost all books about consciousness and depression (etc.) are nonsense these days because they ignore what drugs could tell us about those topics.
We need a few brave folk to "act up" by shouting "It's the drug war!" whenever folks are discussing Mexican violence or inner city shootings. The media treat both topics as if the violence is inexplicable! We can't learn from mistakes if we're in denial.
The Partnership for a Death Free America is launching a campaign to celebrate the 50th year of Richard Nixon's War on Drugs. We need to give credit where credit's due for the mass arrest of minorities, the inner city gun violence and the civil wars that it's generated overseas.
I wonder if Nixon knew what a favor he was doing medical capitalism when he outlawed psychedelics. Those drugs can actually cure things, and there's no money in that.
Classic prohibitionist gaslighting, telling me that "drugs" is a neutral term. What planet are they living on?
ECT is like euthanasia. Neither make sense in the age of prohibition.
Getting off antidepressants can make things worse for only one reason: because we have outlawed all the drugs that could help with the transition. Right now, getting off any drug basically means become a drug-free Christian Scientist. No wonder withdrawal is hard.
The Drug War is based on two HUGE lies: 1) that prohibition has no downsides, & 2) that drug use has no upsides.
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You have been reading an article entitled, GK Chesterton on Prohibition published on June 14, 2024 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)