Essay date: February 2, 2019

In Praise of Thomas Szasz

America's number one philosopher as demonstrated by his sadly unique ability to see through the logical obfuscation of the American drug warrior

o one has lopped more heads off of the hydra-headed beast of drug-related misunderstanding than Hungarian-American psychiatrist Thomas Szasz, and one of his greatest insights had to do with doctors. Ever since they were empowered with the privilege of writing (or withholding) prescriptions, Szasz tells us, the sick or troubled amongst us have been encouraged to think of themselves as babies when it comes to medications. We know nothing about medicine and our medical instincts, experiences, and pharmacological desires count for little. The big question is: "What does a board-certified doctor think that we need?" Even if we are visiting the eminent physician for a simple cold (something that our great grandparents might have laughed off with a little tincture of opium), we still must appeal to the brow-wrinkling doctor if we hope to access anything more powerful than acetaminophen and cough drops.

I am not reminding the reader of this lost Eden in order to promote the dangerous solitary use of psychedelics and other substances, but rather to remind us that our caution on these topics is caused in part by our knee-jerk obedience to a healthcare paradigm that infantilizes us as patients and urges us to discount our medical instincts and experiences. We have been trained to distrust ourselves when it comes to drugs, to the point that the term "self-medicating" has become the taboo par excellence in the modern age. But let's remember that the disdain that modern doctors hold for "self-medicating" can be explained by more than just their concerns about patient health: after all, a doctor's bottom line is impacted precisely to the extent that their potential patients choose to "self-medicate." Little wonder then that doctors seek to characterize such patient initiative as medical heresy.

The inconvenient truth is that the non-medical world, with its many psychoactive substances, has far more effective cures for my depression than does the medical world with its beard-stroking doctors and outrageously limited pharmacopeia (especially if I have at least one botanically minded spiritual guide to aid me in my quest for self-improvement). I therefore would consider self-medication to be the rational choice for treating what ails me, were it not for the fact that the DEA is waiting to arrest me should I have the gall to improve my life outside the healthcare system with the mere help of Mother Nature. But let's remember that, in arresting me, the DEA is just following the medical profession's taboo to its logical conclusion: they are essentially arresting me for self-medicating. In this way the DEA is really just the enforcement arm of the American medical establishment. The two are in cahoots. They are both working to disempower the American people when it comes to healthcare.

{^One in four American women are hooked on Big Pharma anti-depressants, many of which are more addictive than heroin. That's a nice tidy annuity for pharmaceutical executives, especially when you add in the one in eight males who are likewise addicted. No wonder there are so many lobbyists in DC asking Congress to "double down" on the Drug War. The Drug War is the goose that lays the golden egg, not just for Big Pharma but for psychiatrists, law enforcement and the corrections industry as well.}{

July 10, 2022

This was written three years ago, when Brian was still basically a kid (couldn't have been more than 62 years old). He's since realized that Szasz fell short in a few ways, which, however, does not in any way diminish his accomplishments when it comes to pushing back against the willfully ignorant Drug War.

What Szasz failed to notice

1) Szasz seems to have erred on the side of Libertarians in assuming that "drug use" was, indeed, by and large unnecessary, but that prohibition was still a flawed response to such use. He seems to pay short shrift to the fact that psychoactive drugs inspired the Vedic religion, the mushroom cults, and the Eleusinian Mysteries, from which Plato got his ideas about the afterlife. When it comes to drugs, the Libertarian wants to let people "go to the devil in their own way." But this attitude yields far too much ground to the Drug Warrior, by agreeing with their false proposition that hypocritically defined "drug use" is stupid at some level, but must be tolerated. Wrong. Drug use is the fountainhead of the religious impulse and the source of most historic prophesying. To consider "drug use" as merely a dubious pastime of hippies is to make the Drug Warrior mistake of considering such use only in the context of 1960's America. Of course, the Drug War as Nixon defined it was a war against such youths and their pacifist and potentially communistic ideology, but in the larger picture, "drugs" have been used by Marco Polo, Marcus Aurelius, Benjamin Franklin, Richard Feynman, HG Wells, Jules Verne, Henrik Ibsen, etc. etc. etc. Drug use in general has nothing to do with American hippies, except "accidentally," as a philosopher would use that term.

2) In connection with the above remark, Szasz gives short shrift to the potential positive uses for drugs which the Drug War requires us to ignore entirely: teaching music appreciation, teaching compassion, providing concentration on tasks requiring "attention to detail," learning new approaches to life, seeing the world outside of the prison of one's default mode network, thanks to which one is blind to useful alternatives to non-constructive behavioral patterns instilled by nature and/or nurture.

3) He also fails to fully point out the link between materialism, reductionism and the Drug War -- though this is partly due to the fact that he lived during the "growth spurt" of the psychiatric pill mill, which had yet to render 1 in 4 American women dependent on Big Pharma meds for life, thereby creating a world that is eerily like "The Stepford Wives," complete with a bell sounding at regular intervals (helpfully provided by Siri) to remind the female to "take her meds." Speaking of which, I keep waiting in vain for Margaret Atwood to denounce this real-life dystopia, but such drug use appears to be a new religion. For the field of psychiatry is taking full advantage of Drug War prohibition to hook Americans on Big Pharma drugs under the pretense of "scientifically curing sadness." So I guess Margaret knows that to push back against the trend would make her stand out as a reactionary against American "progress," even though the status quo is the incarnation of the anti-female dystopias that she (and novelist Ira Levin) would otherwise revile as a matter of course.

Next essay: Why American Drug Policy is Insane
Previous essay: The real reason for depression in America

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This is your Brain on Godsend Plant Medicine: Stop the Drug War from demonizing godsend plant medicines. Psychoactive plant medicines are godsends, not devil spawn.

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Monticello Betrayed Thomas Jefferson: By demonizing plant medicine, the Drug War overthrew the Natural Law upon which Jefferson founded America -- and brazenly confiscated the Founding Father's poppy plants in 1987, in a symbolic coup against Jeffersonian freedoms.

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The Dea Poisoned Americans Bumper Sticker: In the 1980s, DEA Chief John C. Lawn laced marijuana plants with Paraquat, a weed killer that has since been shown to cause Parkinson's Disease.

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You have been reading essays by the Drug War Philosopher, Brian Quass, at Brian has 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, Nazi fies the English language and militarizes police forces nationwide. 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.

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.

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