"Any question of philosophy which is so obscure and uncertain that human reason can reach no fixed determination with regard to it; if it should be treated at all, seems to lead us naturally into the style of dialogue and conversation." - Dialogues Concerning Natural Religions. David Hume.
Okay. Take a load off.
Oh, thank you, old boy. I just got back from the "just say no" rally, don't you know. It was a jolly good show, what?
Oh, really? And you have no problem just saying no to medicines that have inspired entire religions?
What do you mean, sir?
The Vedic-Hindu religion was inspired by soma. Coca inspired the Inca religion. Psychedelics gave Plato his view of the afterlife.
Oh, that. I thought you were talking about board certified religions, old boy, like Christianity.
No, he's got a point there. In light of the facts thus enumerated, one might say that the Drug War outlaws the very impulse of religion.
Well, that's rather ripe coming from you, Michael, my dear boy.
How do you mean?
Didn't you just write a book in which you claimed that it was too dangerous to legalize the use of mushrooms and other psychedelics, what what?
He's got you there, Michael.
It seems that some things are more important to you than religious liberty, old man.
So I want to protect junior from misusing drugs. So sue me.
And you want to do that at the expense of denying me my religion?
Nay, worse: you've denied me the religious impulse that such substances create, thereby preventing me from even conceptualizing new religions, let alone joining them.
That's just like you, Brian: you're always interested in abstract principles, while I'm worried about real lives.
Yes. Real WHITE lives in the American suburbs.
He's got you again, Michael, old man.
How about the 'real lives' of the thousands of Mexican kids who have lost their parents to the war on drugs that America exported to the world beginning in the early 20th century?
How about the thousands of black Americans who are killed every year by the heavily armed gang violence that prohibition has caused in inner cities?
Besides, if you're worried about the negative effects of drugs, why aren't you fretting about the psychoactive drug called sugar, which has resulted in hundreds of thousands of diabetes deaths in Mexico over the last decade, thanks to that country's massive imports of Coca-Cola and American processed foods?
Looks like he's clammed up on you, old boy.
Well, that always happens to me: whenever I spout an incontrovertible truth, my critics always clam up on me, and henceforth cut me entirely, I might add.
Not to worry, Brian, old boy, for I'm here, and I can grill Michael on your behalf, even if he stiffs you, dialectically speaking, that is.
But I thought you were in favor of the Drug War.
I am, old boy. But I have good religious reasons for just saying no.
Yes, really. What's more, I want to save junior from more than just psychedelics. I want to save him from the scourge of excessive marijuana use as well.
Oh, here we go.
Yes, here we go old man: See what your legalization talk has led to? Toke City, baby! (er, I mean, 'old man').
Yes, and do you know why it's Toke City, today, baby?
No. Enlighten me, dear boy.
Because you Drug Warriors have outlawed almost every other psychoactive substance on the frickin' planet!
Now Brian's got YOU, old boy.
And you've thereby outlawed my religion, which holds that the unexamined life is not worth living.
Oh, I see old man. So you have to be 'stoned,' I suppose, in order to examine life?
Steady, old boy.
"Stoned" is your prejudiced and derisive terminology. I have to be inspired by medicines to reach states that help me see outside my own limited understanding of the world in which I dwell, both psychologically and physically speaking.
Far better to just say no, old boy.
Well, because... because... um...
Why is a state of sobriety the ultimate goal in your life? Gunmen shoot up schools when they're sober; they commit suicide when they're sober; they launch nuclear weapons when they're sober.
Well, I never!
You should try it some time, 'old boy.'
Do you know what?
I wish there were some undiscovered country that I could set sail for in emulation of my Mayflower ancestors, so that I could found a country based on the idea that psychoactive medicine should be used for the benefit of humanity without being stigmatized either by politicians or the sensation-seeking tabloid press.
What's more, I would be setting sail for the same reason my ancestors did: to found a country wherein they could exercise religious freedom and freedom of conscience.
I'm with you... kind of.
I'm sorry Michael, but "kind of" doesn't cut it. In fact, with friends like you, we opponents of the Drug War don't need enemies.
Hey, in case you hadn't noticed, I represent the consensus view on these topics!
That's true, unfortunately, and the consensus view is very confused indeed.
The average American senses that the Drug War is full of crap, but they can never really grasp the full evil at work here because they have been programmed from birth to hate and fear psychoactive medicines rather than to understand them.
The propaganda of omission has kept them from learning about the positive uses of mind medicine because TV, films and academia only ever talk about misuse and abuse, never about positive use, whether theoretical or historical.
This keeps us from grasping an obvious truth: that the Drug War is wrong through and through. Why? Because it tells us there are substances that have no positive uses for anyone, ever, at any time, in any place, for any reason, at any dose.
Well, yes, but--
And guess what?
There are no substances of that kind. Moreover, to insist otherwise, is anti-scientific because it keeps us from finding the very uses that could disprove the theory.
In other words, the Drug War is just a superstition.
A superstition that keeps me from practicing my religion and following the Platonic imperative of knowing myself and the world around me.
Well, all I can say is that I'll pray for you, old man, in the name of the drug free Father, and the drug Free Son, and the drug free Holy Spirit. Amen.
And I'll write some more books, explaining why we have to continue going slow on approving the use of dangerous botanicals like mushrooms. I think I'll call my new book, "How to Change Your Mind with Shock Therapy: why it's better to fry your brain with electricity than to partake of evil plants and fungus."
Gee, that's swell, fellas. NOT! As for me, I'll keep writing articles on the Internet in an attempt to waken America to the obvious: that the Drug War is wrong root and branch...
Yes, and that it is a violation of my religious liberty.
Oh, this passes!
And you, with your quaint 19th-century British tropes: don't you realize that the Drug War is the enforcement of the drug-hating religion of Christian Science with respect to psychoactive medicine?
May God forgive you for saying so, old boy.
Oh, Brian, can I get the spelling of your complete name, please?
Oh, yes, Michael, I'd be flattered.
Don't be. I just want to search the text of my latest manuscript to make sure that I did not inadvertently mention your name therein!
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