Essay date: November 7, 2022

Richard Rudgley condemns 'drugs' with faint praise

a philosophical review of The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Substances

Even the most sensible opponents of the Drug War are still influenced by Drug War lies without even recognizing that fact.

Rudgley, Richard. The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Substances. New York: Macmillan Publishers, 2014

"I do not condone the use of many of these substances and... I believe that some are socially and individually destructive..."--Richard Rudgley

Kudos to Rudgley for using the word "substances" in the title rather than "drugs," a label which is to psychoactive medicines as the label "scab" is to labor disputes: it's anything BUT objective. Still, Drug War propaganda has gotten to Rudgley, I'm afraid. In his introduction, he adopts the Drug Warrior habit of judging medicines in the abstract, telling us that some are "destructive." Really? In what circumstances are they so? In what doses? For what people? At what times? Or does he believe, like the Drug Warrior, that there are substances in the world that have no positive uses, ever, anywhere, at any time, for anybody? That's the anti-scientific lie that has kept academia off the trail of godsend cures for depression and Alzheimer's for the last 40-plus years, as researchers shy away from studying what they consider to be "destructive" substances.

There are no "destructive" substances, Richard, only good uses and bad uses, informed use and uninformed use. Even deadly toxins like Botox and cyanide have legitimate medical uses, however "destructive" they may seem in the abstract. When we condemn drugs as "destructive," we turn those substances into scapegoats for the bad social policies that rendered them dangerous in the first place.

If Rudgley thinks there are no positive uses for some drugs (a typical Drug Warrior belief), he should remember that almost no one in academia has ever dared to LOOK for those positives. Take morphine, for instance: we're told implicitly by the Drug War that it has almost no positive uses whatsoever, but in reality, morphine can give one a profound appreciation of mother nature (see Poe's "Tale of the Ragged Mountains"). But today almost everyone would call that use destructive. Why? Because they believe the Drug Warrior lie that addictive drugs have to be USED addictively, that education will never work and that human beings will always be gullible infants when it comes to mother nature's medicines. And so when we "look at the science" about such substances, we will find that almost every scientist self-censors themselves on the topic. Just look at the papers on and you will see thousands of papers about the misuse and abuse of "drugs," but almost none about their potential positive uses, as, for instance, how shrooms could help one appreciate music or MDMA can help one love their fellow human being.

That's how thoroughly westerners have been duped by Drug War propaganda. Even the most sensible opponents of the Drug War, like Richard Rudgley, are influenced by Drug War lies without even recognizing that fact. In Richard's case, he has learned to believe the anti-scientific notion that substances can be bad in and of themselves. Wrong. Substances are amoral. They become "socially and individually destructive" only thanks to ignorance and social policies, chiefly the policy of substance prohibition itself. When we ignore that once-obvious fact, we make a scapegoat for all our social problems out of the politically created straw man called "drugs."

Author's Follow-up: January 5, 2023

It is, in fact, Richard's superstitious view of "drugs" which is "socially and individually disastrous." To see this, consider the use of shock therapy. The therapists tell us that it is only used as a last resort. But that is a lie. The fact is that there are hundreds of psychoactive substances that could help the depressed tolerate -- and even enjoy -- this life without frying their brain in order to accomplish that goal. This would be all too obvious in a world that wanted to profit from psychoactive medicine, but in a time in which Drug War ideology reigns, I have to "spell it out" for folks:

The severely depressed could be given what today we disparage as "feel good" medicines on a weekly basis, in such a routine as to avoid addiction when desirable (remembering that even addiction is surely preferable to frying one's brain). The depressed could be taken on guided psychoactive trips to examine their lives and hopefully identify and surmount the conceptual hurdles that depress them. We could pharmacologically let them experience happiness so that they know that such a thing exists. The only thing holding us back is the puritan ethos of the Drug War, which fanatically tells us that it's better to fry this person's brain than to let them use a so-called "crutch." And that is utter Christian Science nonsense. If people are severely handicapped, then they NEED crutches, but modern 'psychology' says we should kick such crutches out from under them -- and fry their brains into the bargain.

Let's hope that someday this ideology will be seen for the hateful and fanatical expression of Christian Science that it is -- the same attitude that keeps kids in hospice from getting adequate pain relief thanks to our ideologically fueled fear of prescribing morphine -- and/or of prescribing it in the necessary dosage.

Next essay: How the Cato Institute is Bamboozled by Drug War Propaganda
Previous essay: Rat Out Your Neighbors

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old time radio playing Drug War comedy sketches

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. 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.

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.

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)
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