the link between the drug war and the western world's scientistic contempt for human emotions
or years, I've been obsessed with answering the following question:
Why are Americans convinced that it's wrong to expand and improve one's conscious mind with the help of plant substances?
After all, we're more than eager to use plant substances for easing the pain of stomach or tooth ache. Why do we stint at using natural plants to improve our feelings?
This morning I awoke with a new answer: The problem is western philosophy.
Beginning with the pre-Socratics, western society became convinced that thought was the best way to understand and cope with the world around us: thought, not feeling. Our feelings could not be trusted, after all, whereas 2+2 was always 4.
This view is so basic now to the western world outlook that we're unlikely to question it, the view that thought should always trump feeling as our guide to the world. But no matter how compelling this proposition must seem to a society in which its truth is taken for granted, there are reasons to believe that it is wrong, or at least that it provides a drastically inadequate means of approaching life and its problems from a human point of view.
For evidence of this one-sided focus on rationality, we have only to consider the absurd presupposition of Freudian psychotherapy: namely, that one will be cured of psychological problems merely by understanding them. Somehow merely explaining the origins of one's bad feelings will make them go away. Such a proposition would not even make philosophical sense to us (it would read like the non-sequitur that it is) unless we presupposed the philosophical superiority of thought over feelings. In a world without that presupposition, an outspoken psychiatric patient would naturally be tempted to chide their Freudian psychotherapist as follows:
"I'm hurting emotionally inside and you're going to cure that problem with WORDS? How about giving me a hug, instead - or a plant-based entheogen - or both?"
Even the highly educated standard bearers of this rationality-based modality tacitly acknowledge its ultimate uselessness, as Freud ensured his own self-fulfillment not with psychotherapy but with the frequent use of cocaine.
Having rendered psychotherapy expensive and ineffective for well over half a century (before it was replaced by the even more expensive and ineffective pill-based therapy), this purblind reliance on reason alone (at the expense of feeling) is now boding a bleak future for society in general, as materialists like Elon Musk and Eric Schmidt strategically seek to make their users behave more like robots, and thus become more predictable for the purposes of surveillance capitalism. Such robotization, after all, is the end game of thought-based society, at least when it embraces the dreary tenets of materialism: namely, that human beings are nothing special, that consciousness is a mere epiphenomenon, and that there is no inherent meaning in life. If that's all there is, as Peggy Lee might sing, then we may as well be robots.
But this preference for thought over feeling is not the only way to approach life. There is an alternative approach, based on feelings and experience, an approach that is aptly evoked by Quanah Parker of the Native American Church when he observes that:
"The White Man goes into church and talks about Jesus. The Indian goes into his tipi and talks with Jesus."
In other words, in religious matters, as in psychotherapy, western society finds it unseemly to actually experience strong emotions. We would rather talk about them. And so when it comes to religion, we are ready to talk the talk, but we would never feel comfortable actually walking the walk. To do so would make us feel like a classical waltzing pro who has been suddenly transported to a hip-hop dance floor. The whole experience would feel wrong and embarrassing to overthinking westerners like ourselves!
Likewise, psychiatrists are comfortable talking to their patients about emotional problems, but they would never think of pharmacologically inducing the actual positive mental states that a cure would represent - that would be too messy, with results too hard to capture on an Excel spread sheet. Better a cure that involves rational understanding than one that "merely" makes one feel better. (Luckily for the squeamish thought-obsessed psychiatrist, the Drug War has thrown them a face-saving lifeline. By outlawing mother nature's vast array of mood-altering psychoactive substances, they have given psychiatrists an excuse for depriving humanity of no-brainer medication to improve their mood, medication in whose ritual use the patient can even come to appreciate his or her place in the universe -- a side effect that no one has yet to notice in the Big Pharma antidepressants to which more than one in 10 Americans are addicted even as I type this and 1 in 4 women.)
So we have an answer, then.
Why are Americans convinced that it's wrong to expand and improve one's conscious mind with the help of plant substances?
Because we westerners are overthinking prudes. Or, to put it in the telling vernacular of certain African-Americans, we are, if you'll pardon my French, a bunch of "tight-ass bougies," preaching relaxation as a theoretical virtue while staunchly refusing to "shake it like we really mean it" out there on the dance floor. That would be scandalous after all and most unseemly for us. But leave us alone with a word processor and we can crank out a short book in one afternoon on the relaxation value inherent in modern dance. For all our bashfulness, we westerners are always good at producing what Hamlet derided as "words, words, words." Hence the proliferation of books by self-help authors, none of whom dare to mention the forbidden fact that mother nature's pharmacy is full of psychoactive plants that appear custom-made to help human beings screw their heads on straight, at least when such substances are employed seriously with that very goal in mind.
And so we make a virtue of our psychological necessity by pretending that the emotive world is not so important anyway, in fact it's downright misleading, we say. And so reality for us is to be discussed and parsed, not to be enjoyed. But note that this is a conclusion based more on sour grapes than on logic.
But there is another way of being in the world, the world of feeling, wherein we strive to be a part of the world, rather than merely attempting to understand it from a supposed god's-eye view - a viewpoint that is no longer even theoretically obtainable to us in any case given the observer-centric nature of the quantum universe.
It is amusing, and perhaps even informative, to realize that in a society in which feelings truly count, the Pied Pipers of the digital revolution would be considered madmen. They would be the inveterate curmudgeons of society who mope around the tribal fireside, mumbling
"must be rational"
in monotone, dogmatically eschewing the food of the gods, whilst the rest of the community dances ecstatically under a star-filled sky.
April 20, 2022: Indeed, the madman par excellence of Western Philosophy was Rene Descartes, who got so hung up in words that he even doubted his own existence, a doubt that can only be imagined coming from an ivory tower, from someone who has too much time on his hands, since in a hands-on universe of feeling and engagement with emotions and the physical world around one, the very thought of doubting one's own existence would be absurd, because for such a person existence literally IS the rich tapestry of feeling and experiences in which a real person is constantly engaged every day of their life. They have neither the need, the time, nor the desire to abstract themselves from the experiential world and assume the fantastical role of a doubting external deity looking down on it all with icy detachment and asking, "Yes, but is it really real???"
Answer: Yes, it is -- until, that is, you've abstracted yourself from that reality by asking questions from the point of view of some supposititious external deity. In that case, YOU have rendered things unreal by treating what's self-evident as problematic. How? By insisting that existence must be provable in eternally fraught words, rather than in extant and undeniable experience.
Words can't meaningfully prove one exists any more than words can meaningfully prove that one should not be depressed: because the truly convincing argument in both cases is real experience of the world around one, not verbose descriptions of that world nor logic detailing how things simply "must be" according to a would-be rational thinker.
Author's Follow-up: October 4, 2022
This materialist desire to find what is "really real" finds its absurd apotheosis in modern drug research, wherein doctors like Robert Glatter can ask with a straight face, while completely ignoring every scrap of common sense and personal experience: "Can laughing gas REALLY help the depressed?" (in the same way that Descartes himself used to ask "can animals REALLY feel pain?") This is why folks like myself have to use addictive Big Pharma meds for conditions like depression, because despite their inadequacy and expense, they are supposedly created on scientific materialist grounds and so can be said to "really" work, as opposed to drugs like the coca leaf and opium and MDMA, which MERELY make one happy and give one something to look forward to. Merely improving one's life in that way is not the goal of psychoactive drug researchers: they want to REALLY fix something. Anything else is a "crutch," according to the materialist newspeak. It is this kind of thinking that resulted in the psychiatric pill mill, upon which 1 in 4 American women are dependent for life, because in attempting to fix a reductively-located chemical imbalance, the drug developers caused one instead.
The use of laughing gas changed William James' ideas about the very nature of reality. To outlaw such substances is to outlaw human advancement.
Buy the Drug War Comic Book by Brian Quass, featuring 150 hilarious op-ed pics about America's disgraceful war on Americans
PHILOSOPHY AND THE DRUG WAR
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.
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 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. (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.
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)
Andrew, Christopher "The Secret World: A History of Intelligence" 2019 Yale University Press
Aurelius, Marcus "Meditations" 2021 East India Publishing Company
Bache, Christopher "LSD and the Mind of the Universe: Diamonds from Heaven" 2019 Park Street Press