my unanswered question for Philosopher Patrick Grim
esterday, I joined a YouTube chat with Philosopher Patrick Grim arranged by Wondrium, formerly known as Great Courses Plus. I wanted to finally ask one specific philosopher what he thought about the way that the Drug War bars him from studying the effects of plant medicine on human consciousness. After all, Patrick lectures on the Philosophy of Mind and Body and draws conclusions about the nature of consciousness and ultimate reality. Surely, it would be problematic for him (at very least) to have his study in such a field limited by a government which criminalizes consciousness-changing plant medicines that have inspired entire religions and given users perceived glimpses of an afterlife. For it was the soma plant medicine that inspired the Vedic religion and the psychedelic-fueled Eleusinian Mysteries that interested Plato in the afterlife.
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So I posted my question -- or rather I tried to. However, the black-listing software that runs behind the scenes at YouTube removed my question shortly after I posted it, giving me the eerie feeling that American prejudices on the topic had been so inflamed by racist politicians that merely mentioning the "Drug War" was now considered hate speech. Fortunately, my question was restored after I brought the ham-fisted digital deletion to the attention of the moderators, and to my surprise, my question was soon put to Professor Grim himself. In paraphrasing my post, the moderator basically asked Grim, "How can we study mind and body in a society where a Drug War keeps us from studying psychoactive plant medicine, given that such substances have inspired entire religions and given saints and philosophers hints of new worlds, etc.?"
Unfortunately, Professor Grim dodged the subject almost entirely. He first cited William James' use of psychoactive substances (such as nitrous oxide), which sounded like a promising start, but then he switched to the topic of human souls (apparently grasping at that topic as to a life vest, since the word "souls" happened to have been used somewhere in the moderator's casual iteration of my drug-war-related question), beginning with the observation that James saw no proof of the soul, then branching out to the modern disbelief in souls, which he apparently shared, saying that there was no reason to believe that such a thing existed, and then tracing the origins of this seeming myth to the insights of Plato (failing to mention, however, that Plato's own ideas on this topic have been ascribed to his participation in the psychoactive mysteries mentioned above).
I asked my question, not hoping to ambush Grim, but rather to clarify my own views about philosophic silence about the Drug War. Were things really as bad as they seemed? I've written to over 100 of America's top philosophers on the topic of the Drug War and never received so much as a single response. I wanted to see if philosophers -- especially ones specializing in "mind and body" -- really felt indifferent to that the way the Drug War circumscribed their studies. I was hoping to finally get an answer on the question, rather than to simply be ignored. For I just could not believe that philosophers of the mind could really ignore the Drug War, since to me that would be like Galileo (in some hypothetical modern interview) ignoring the role that the Church played in limiting his astronomical researches.
I don't blame Grim for avoiding the topic entirely, any more than I blame the other 100 philosophers who ignored my letters on the subject -- theyv'e got their jobs to consider -- but I do blame US drug policy, which is so draconian that it not only limits scientific research, but it so frightens researchers (with implicit criminal threats and threats of ostracism) that they dare not even protest those limitations.
This is not a free academia, folks, it's an academia made complicit in its own muzzling.
There's an additional problem with a materialist like Grim remaining silent about the Drug War. It is like a democrat remaining silent about the fact that the republican party has been outlawed (or vice versa). The democrat profits politically from the silencing of his opposition, and so does the materialist. The materialist's "opposition," after all, comes from those who gain practical and ontological insights from the use of psychoactive plant medicine -- and if such use is forbidden, then Grim wins the battle against the spiritualist school by default. No need to argue, his opposition has been silenced.
5% of proceeds from the sale of the above product will go toward getting Brian a decent haircut for once. Honestly. 9% will go toward shoes. 50% will go toward miscellaneous. 9% of the remainder will go toward relaxation, which could encompass anything from a spin around town to an outdoor barbecue at Brian's brother's house in Stanardsville (both gas and the ice-cream cake that Brian usually supplies).
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. 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.
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)
Andrew, Christopher "The Secret World: A History of Intelligence" 2019 Yale University Press
Aurelius, Marcus "Meditations" 2021 East India Publishing Company