Essay date: May 28, 2021

Nietzsche and the Drug War

ietzsche brought the western world's attention to its unrecognized and unacknowledged reliance on Christian moral precepts. It's time now for someone to bring the western world's attention to the fact that the Drug War is premised on the exact same religious attitudes. More specifically, the Drug War is premised on the Christian Science precept that it is immoral to use "drugs." Why? According to Christian Science, it is wrong because Jesus is the answer.

Of course, the Drug Warriors cannot rely on that argument in a country that at least gives lip service to the freedom of religion. That's why the Drug War is all about the demonization of plant medicine, a demonization that is practiced by outright lies (like the highly mendacious "frying pan" ad, which claims that a substance fries the brain the moment it is criminalized by a politician) and the censorship of all history and biography that tends to illustrate the responsible use of substances that the Drug Warrior desires us to hate. Thus we suppress Poe's short stories which dare tell us of the perceptual and creative powers of morphine and opium. We hide the fact that Marcus Aurelius and Ben Franklin enjoyed opium. We never -- but never -- mention Freud's conviction that cocaine was a godsend for depression or the fact that HG Wells and Jules Verne both swore by the invigorating power of Coca Wine when writing their stories. And we're completely hush-hush when it comes to politically incorrect histories such as the psychedelic-fueled Eleusinian Mysteries, the Vedic religion's link to the worship of psychoactive plant(s) known as soma, and the widespread Mesoamerican use of mushrooms for religious enlightenment and ritual.

American philosophers have long since "grokked" the general principle that the west is founded and continues to act (subconsciously, as it were) according to Christian precepts... but they have yet to recognize that the Drug War is the prime example of that fact and that it therefore represents the establishment of a state religion, namely the state religion called Christian Science, albeit a hypocritical version that is applied exclusively to psychoactive medicines and makes exceptions for the Drug Warrior's own favorite drugs of alcohol and tobacco. That's why, when in a mischievous mood, I like to imagine a Drug War that cracks down exclusively on those two biggest killers in the drug world, depriving jobs to any American who has so much as sipped alcohol in the last month or who is found to have a crushed cigarette butt in their car. I envision THOSE "drug fiends" tossed into overcrowded jails and removed from the voting rolls, denied public housing, and forced to attend government re-education camps known as "12 step groups." Now that's a Drug War that I could support, if only to give America's Christian Science Drug Warriors a taste of their own violence-spawning and racist medicine.

Author's Follow-up: August 18, 2022

How powerful words can be. The whole Drug War depends on the use of the word "drugs," which is not a subjective or scientific term in the modern world, but rather a political one. To use the word "drugs" without realizing this fact (as almost every writer does today, including Michael Pollan) is like using the word "scabs" to describe workers who fail to take part in a strike. There's nothing objective about such writing. No matter what the conclusions of the author who uses the word "scab," they are making an argument against strike breaking merely by employing said term. In the exact same way, today's authors are advancing an argument in favor of Drug War ideology every time they uncritically use the word "drugs," even if they imagine they are doing otherwise.

Why? Because "drugs" as defined today means:

"Psychoactive medicine for which there is no positive or legitimate use whatsoever: not now, not ever, not here in the United States or in the remotest corners of the globe." Presumably this definition will be broadened to include other planets should life be found in outer space.

Of course, there is no such substance in the world. Even the deadly botox has valid uses. Moreover, valid uses will never be discovered if we determine, a priori, via fiat as it were, that they do not exist.

How do we account for such a palpably false and anti-nature premise? Easy. For Drug War ideology existed over half a century before Congress first criminalized plant medicine. But back then it was honestly acknowledged as the religion that it was, namely Christian Science.

And so the Drug War is a religion, given its faith-driven belief in a dangerous mother nature from which human beings must be protected -- a religion that runs riot over the rights of those of us who consider Mother Nature to be a loving provider rather than a drug kingpin.

It does not just deny me my religious freedom (the freedom to value and rely on Mother Nature), but it does everything it can to convert me to the hypocritically-defined sobriety of mainstream Christian churches. How? First, by arresting me for using plant medicine that has inspired entire religions; then by forcing me into treatment centers where I'm forced to acknowledge my own powerlessness along with my need for a thinly disguised Christian god known as a 'higher power.' The fact is, however, that to the extent that I really feel powerless, it is because the state has denied me access to godsend medicines that could help me feel otherwise.

How many 'good Christians' would feel powerless if we took away their alcohol, their coffee, their tobacco and their anti-depressants cocktails, which 1 in 8 of them take daily?

Buy the Drug War Comic Book by Brian Quass, featuring 150 hilarious op-ed pics about America's disgraceful war on Americans


For those who want to understand what's going on with the drug war from a philosophical point of view, I strongly recommend chapter six of "Eugenics and Other Evils" by GK Chesterton.
The American Philosophy Association should make itself useful and release a statement saying that the drug war is based on fallacious reasoning, namely, the idea that substances can be bad in themselves, without regard for why, when, where and/or how they are used.
Next essay: Saying Yes to Drugs
Previous essay: Listening to the Drug War

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The Drug War as a Litmus Test for Philosophical Wisdom
The Philosophical Idiocy of the Drug War
The Philosophy of Drug Use
The Philosophy of Getting High
Without Philosophy, Science becomes Scientism
Materialism and the Drug War
Calling All Philosophers
Critique of the Philosophy of Happiness
Heidegger on Drugs
In Praise of Thomas Szasz
Join Philosophers Against the Drug War
Libertarians as Closet Christian Scientists
Majoring in Drug War Philosophy
Rationality Uber Alles
Scientism and America's Drug War hypocrisy
Speaking Truth to Academia
What if Arthur Schopenhauer Had Used DMT?
How Scientific Materialism Keeps Godsend Medicines from the Depressed
Psychedelics and Depression
Drug Use as Self-Medication
John Locke on Drugs
Puritanical Assumptions about Drug Use in the Entertainment Field
Why Kevin Sabet is Wrong
I asked 100 American philosophers what they thought about the Drug War
The Great Philosophical Problem of Our Time
What We Mean When We Say 'Drugs'


(seemingly useful organizations)

Sana Collective
Group committed to making psychedelic therapy available to all regardless of income.

You have been reading essays by the Drug War Philosopher, Brian Quass, at 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. (For proof of that latter charge, check out how the US and UK have criminalized the substances that William James himself told us to study in order to understand reality.) It outlaws substances that have inspired entire religions (like the Vedic), Nazifies the English language (referring to folks who emulate drug-loving Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin as "scumbags") and militarizes police forces nationwide (resulting in gestapo SWAT teams breaking into houses of peaceable Americans and shouting "GO GO GO!").

(Speaking of Nazification, L.A. Police Chief Daryl Gates thought that drug users should be shot. What a softie! The real hardliners are the William Bennetts of the world who want drug users to be beheaded instead. That will teach them to use time-honored plant medicine of which politicians disapprove! Mary Baker Eddy must be ecstatic in her drug-free heaven, as she looks down and sees this modern inquisition on behalf of the drug-hating principles that she herself maintained. I bet she never dared hope that her religion would become the viciously enforced religion of America, let alone of the entire freakin' world!)

In short, the drug war 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.

Brian Quass
The Drug War Philosopher

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.

PPS Drugs like opium and psychedelics should come with the following warning: "Outlawing of this product may result in inner-city gunfire, civil wars overseas, and rigged elections in which drug warriors win office by throwing minorities in jail."

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)

Selected Bibliography

  • Bandow, Doug "From Fighting The Drug War To Protecting The Right To Use Drugs"2018
  • Barrett, Damon "Children of the Drug War: Perspectives on the Impact of Drug Polices on Young People"2011 IDEBATE Press
  • Bernays, Edward "Propaganda"1928 Public Domain
  • Bilton, Anton "DMT Entity Encounters: Dialogues on the Spirit Molecule"2021 Inner Traditions/Bear & Company
  • Boullosa , Carmen "A Narco History: How the United States and Mexico Jointly Created the 'Mexican Drug War'"2016 OR Books
  • Brereton, William "The Truth about Opium / Being a Refutation of the Fallacies of the Anti-Opium Society and a Defence of the Indo-China Opium Trade"2017 Anna Ruggieri
  • Burns, Eric "1920: The year that made the decade roar"2015 Pegasus Books
  • Carpenter, Ted Galen "The Fire Next Door: Mexico's Drug Violence and the Danger to America"2012 Cato Institute
  • Chesterton, GK "Saint Thomas Acquinas"2014 BookBaby
  • Filan, Kenaz "The Power of the Poppy: Harnessing Nature's Most Dangerous Plant Ally"2011 Inner Traditions/Bear & Company
  • Gianluca, Toro "Drugs of the Dreaming: Oneirogens"2007 Simon and Schuster
  • Griffiths, William "Psilocybin: A Trip into the World of Magic Mushrooms"2021 William Griffiths
  • Grof, Stanislav "The transpersonal vision: the healing potential of nonordinary states of consciousness"1998 Sounds True
  • Head, Simon "Mindless: Why Smarter Machines Are Making Dumber Humans"2012 Basic Books
  • Hofmann, Albert "The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants: Ethnopharmacology and Its Applications"2005 Inner Traditions/Bear & Company
  • Illich, Ivan "Medical nemesis : the expropriation of health"1975 Calder & Boyars
  • Irwin-Rogers, Keir "Illicit Drug Markets, Consumer Capitalism and the Rise of Social Media: A Toxic Trap for Young People"2019
  • James, William "The Varieties of Religious Experience"1902 Philosophical Library
  • Lindstrom, Martin "Brandwashed: tricks companies use to manipulate our minds and persuade us to buy"2011 Crown Business
  • Mariani, Angelo "Coca and its Therapeutic Application, Third Edition"1896
  • Miller, Richard Lawrence "Drug Warriors and Their Prey: From Police Power to Police State"1966 Bloomsbury Academic
  • Mortimer MD, W. Golden "Coca: Divine Plant of the Incas"2017 Ronin Publishing
  • Nagel, Thomas "Mind and Cosmos: why the materialist neo-Darwinian conception of nature is almost certainly false"2012 Oxford University press
  • Newcombe, Russell "Intoxiphobia: discrimination toward people who use drugs"2014
  • Partridge, Chiristopher "Alistair Crowley on Drugs"2021 uploaded by Misael Hernandez
  • Rosenblum, Bruce "Quantum Enigma: Physics Encounters Consciousness"2006 Oxford University Press
  • Rudgley, Richard "The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Substances"2014 Macmillan Publishers
  • Shulgin, Alexander "PIHKAL: A Chemical Love Story"1991 Transform Press
  • Shulgin, Alexander "The Nature of Drugs Vol. 1: History, Pharmacology, and Social Impact"2021 Transform Press
  • Smith, Wolfgang "Cosmos and Transcendence: Breaking Through the Barrier of Scientistic Belief"0
  • Smith, Wolfgang "Physics: A Science in Quest of an Ontology"2022
  • St John, Graham "Mystery School in Hyperspace: A Cultural History of DMT"2021
  • Szasz, Thomas "Interview With Thomas Szasz: by Randall C. Wyatt"0
  • Wedel, Janine "Unaccountable: How the Establishment Corrupted Our Finances, Freedom and Politics and Created an Outsider Class"2014 Pegasus Books
  • Weil, Andrew "From Chocolate to Morphine: Everything You Need to Know About Mind-Altering Drugs"2004 Open Road Integrated Media
  • Whitaker, Robert "Mad in America"2002 Perseus Publishing
  • Site and its contents copyright 2023, by Brian B. Quass, the drug war philosopher at For more information, contact Brian at