Essay date: July 17, 2022

Science Fiction and the Drug War

No matter what the nerds say, neither peace nor peace of mind comes as a result of mere technological progress.

n Seth MacFarlane's Orville, the Union Council has turned Earth into a world without hunger and violence while yet having continued to outlaw all psychoactive substances except for liquor. All problems have been solved and now the world is everbyody's oyster.

Well, we both know that that's never going to happen. No matter what the nerds say, neither peace nor peace of mind comes as a result of mere technological progress. If that were so, today's humans should be ecstatic compared to their condition just 50 years ago, and yet au contraire: today they're shooting up schoolyards and threatening to launch nuclear wars.

That's why shows like The Orville are so irritating: they ignore the obvious solution to violence and hatred, i.e. psychoactive medicine, preferring instead to bring peace to the galaxy through the same old gunboat diplomacy of our forebears and by patching up shrewd treaties with hot-headed (and inevitably gnarly-looking) aliens.

So while the Orville crew may have peace on their home front, they're more than happy to blow a Kaylon ship out of the sky, without sparing one thought for the Kaylon kids who have thereby lost a father.

If Seth wants us to really credit his utopian depiction of Earth, he would show us a world full of psychologically savvy empaths, who help Earthlings to screw their heads on straight through the advised use of any psychoactive substances whatsoever, some of which have inspired entire religions in the past. Then, rather than blasting Kaylon fathers out of the sky, the Earthlings would spread the news around the galaxy about how all human-like species can profit from the godsend psychoactive substances which the barbarians of the past once tried to stupidly demonize with the politically created pejorative called "drugs." Otherwise, his utopia is based on the patently false idea that humans can perfect their species by surrounding themselves with ever cooler apps, until they reach a drug-free nirvana of maximum efficiency.

Author's Follow-up: July 20, 2022

Oh, and pardon me, but Claire Finn's infatuation with robots is absurd. She may as well fall in love with a mannequin. When a child thinks that a robot is real, we laugh; when a full-grown woman (a doctor, no less) thinks that a robot is real, we hold our hands up in despair -- unless, of course, we are acne-scarred programming nerds who are flattered by the idea that our coding is so advanced that it can precipitate the growth of human emotions and even sentience.

If Claire wants to love anyone, it should be the programmer who wrote the code for Isaac, not Isaac himself (or rather itself), who, after all, can be endlessly compiled into infinite variants of himself, each asserting its own list of rights, whereas the programmer has only one go-to face to present to the world and claims only those rights that appertain to one solitary board-certified human being.

And now analog curmudgeons like myself have to treat Isaac as a human being? At least nowadays, I can still yell at a phone-bot when it completely misunderstands my most basic sentence. If Seth MacFarlane has his way, my descendants will be arrested for harassing robots when they task the tin can tribe for their notorious lack of common sense.

That said, I'm a bit of a programmer myself. I'm always worried that one of my programs will spring to life of its own accord someday and demand recognition as a conscious entity. I wrote a rather complicated tic-tac-toe game a few years back -- who's to say that it won't spring into existence someday and demand its fair share of rights as a sentient being? Of course that will raise the question: can mere "software code" have rights, or does the code have to express itself through the medium of human-looking firmware that folks like us can plausibly associate with humanity?

I'd love to be the fly on the wall of the Supreme Court when they tackle that case. I bet the software code will win, too. After all, it does sound like a kind of "lookism" to limit our attribution of sentience merely to creatures that manifest themselves as solid objects. Surely, it's what's in your heart that counts -- or else what's in your hard drive!

Next essay: Heidegger on Drugs
Previous essay: How the Drug War Screws the Depressed

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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. 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)

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
  • 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
  • Griffiths, William "Psilocybin: A Trip into the World of Magic Mushrooms"2021 William Griffiths
  • Hofmann, Albert "The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants: Ethnopharmacology and Its Applications"2005 Inner Traditions/Bear & Company
  • 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
  • Mariani, Angelo "Coca and its Therapeutic Application, Third Edition"1896
  • Mortimer MD, W. Golden "Coca: Divine Plant of the Incas"2017 Ronin Publishing
  • Partridge, Chiristopher "Alistair Crowley on Drugs"2021 uploaded by Misael Hernandez
  • 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
  • Site and its contents copyright 2023, by Brian B. Quass, the drug war philosopher at For more information, contact Brian at