How the Drug War is Threatening Intellectual Freedom in England
an open letter to British Philosophers
I sent the following letter today to Professor Tom Stoneham at York University -- as well as ALL the members of the Oxford University Department of Philosophy (one by one, mind, not by bulk mail), with the exception of Senior Fellow Ian Rumfitt. (It seems Senior Fellows are not required to post their email addresses on the Oxford website. Well, that's frustrating. But then I suppose he's earned it... [sigh] Still, one would hope he'd be open to new ideas. But then who am I to dictate terms? It's just that... No, no, I am silent. I'm sure the honorable gentleman knows what he's about. It's just that... But mum's the word.)
Dear Professor Stoneham:
I am writing to you on a matter of great concern to the field of philosophy, namely, the fact that England is preparing to outlaw the use of laughing gas. As you know, this is the substance whose use inspired the philosophy of William James. In regard to such experiences, James wrote: "No account of the universe in its totality can be final which leaves these other forms of consciousness quite disregarded."
And yet disregard them we must thanks to Drug War prohibition.
I believe that all philosophers, tenured or otherwise, should speak up against this outlawing of intellectual progress. As distasteful as it is, we must speak up against the Drug War. We must encourage government to start educating its citizens about safe use rather than continuing to pursue a policy of prohibition which outlaws human progress and criminalizes the very investigations that James would ask us to pursue. This change of course is all the more urgent when we consider the body count of the current policy, which even as we speak is killing thousands a day thanks to the corrupted and uncertain drug supply that prohibition guarantees.
Moreover, those who advocate the prohibition of substances like laughing gas never take into account all the stakeholders in such a decision. They are blind to the hundreds of millions of the depressed, for instance, who must go without a godsend substance thanks to our statistically lopsided focus on abuse and misuse. Besides, the hundreds of millions (in the US, billions) that we spend on arresting people could easily be spent on educating those people about safe use.
For these and endless other reasons, I believe, in fact, that the Drug War is the philosophical problem par excellence of our time and that philosophy as a field can no longer ignore it without becoming complicit in the way that it censors philosophy and the human sciences in general.
If these ideas strike the least chord with you, I urge you to speak up on behalf of intellectual freedom and ask your government to begin educating potential substance users rather than arresting them. We should be able to follow up on the philosophical leads of philosophers like William James without our governments ordering us to cease and desist.
June 3, 2023 Brian was bothered by the inability to reach Senior Fellow Professor Rumfitt, at least in part, by the fact that most of the other members of the Oxford Philosophy Department looked like they were about ten years old. Not that this should disqualify them, of course. I fancy I was a bit of a clever clogs at that age myself. I'm just sayin'... Or rather Brian is just sayin'...
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