Essay date: December 17, 2022

The Michael Pollan Fallacy

the lopsided concern for ignorant young people in the re-legalization debate

The Michael Pollan Fallacy: "The advocacy of substance prohibition based on a failure to recognize all the stakeholders in the drug approval process, especially a lopsided concern for the well-being of the ignorant young people of one's own nationality."

I've hitherto refrained from pointing this out, because Michael Pollan seems like a genuinely good guy, not to mention the fact that he is a writer who is many orders of magnitude in advance of my own feeble achievements. But the fact is that I find it irritating for any writer to use psychoactive substances themselves while yet telling us that we must keep these substances illegal for the masses. (See page 405 of the hardback edition of "How to Change Your Mind," in which Pollan writes: "Does that mean I think these drugs should be legalized? Not exactly.") It smacks of hypocrisy and elitism, saying in effect, "I am, of course, intelligent enough to use these substances wisely, but the average Jane and Joe will never be able to do so." And this is, in fact, the pernicious party line of the Drug Warrior, who is constantly telling us by implication that the average human being will always be a gullible baby when it comes to psychoactive medicine -- which, of course, is a self-fulfilling prophecy, since the government is officially pledged to the goal of scaring us about such medicines, not teaching us about them, let alone telling us how to use them as wisely as possible for our psychological benefit should we choose to partake.

And so Michael says, in effect, "not so fast," failing to realize that some of us -- myself included -- have now waited an entire lifetime to have their birthright of mother nature's bounty re-legalized for their free use and yet the progress toward this common-sense goal has been glacial in the best of times.

And why is this so? It's so because writers like Michael fail to realize that in protecting a minority of the ignorant through prohibition, he is thereby reducing millions of folks like myself to a life of unnecessary suffering with depression, to say nothing of the millions who (like Paul Stamets) might have undergone uplifting epiphanies had they been treated with psychedelics rather than with Big Pharma's dependence-causing medicines which turn the user into a demoralized ward of the healthcare state. Which brings me to another point. Writers like Pollan take no account of the fact that the status quo itself is harmful to the health of Americans, and that whatever problems arise from legalization, they would be dwarfed by the fact that 1 in 4 Americans are currently taking some kind of Big Pharma med every day of their life, a treatment that they might have gone without were mother nature not off limits. That's a world of real-life socially sanctioned addicts, and yet all Michael worries about viz. legalization are relatively rare POTENTIAL victims of psychedelic misuse. He seems to think that criminalization will do the least overall harm, but this is only because the victims of criminalization are invisible to him. Why? Because they're living what Thoreau called "lives of quiet desperation," and such downsides will never show up on the front pages of tabloids or be ballyhooed on the ratings-conscious nightly news as a national tragedy demanding instant legislative attention.

Moreover, if Michael were really worried about young people, he'd be concerned about the thousands of young Mexicans who have lost parents thanks to the war on drugs. But somehow the downsides of the Drug War never factor into our views of drugs as long as their consequences are felt overseas or in American inner cities.

Finally, if any one class of Americans should find it absurd to criminalize mother nature's bounty, surely it should be botanists. Surely, they, at least, should see such criminalization as a clear violation of the natural law upon which Jefferson founded America and a clear and absurd violation of our rights as denizens of Planet Earth. Instead, folks like Michael, admittedly after a lifetime on the receiving end of Drug War propaganda (a life in which they never encountered positive references to psychoactive substances, neither in the press, academia, nor in TV and movies) tell us that we still have to wait until some unspecified date to re-legalize mushrooms of all things -- mushrooms! And no doubt many selfish American parents would praise him for his go-slow approach ("kill 100,000 in Mexico if you have to, just protect little Johnny here at home!") -- but the billions of silent mental sufferers will not praise you, Michael, nor will the victims of Alzheimer's and autism, whose diseases remain incurable due in part to the fact that we have outlawed, and thus discouraged research on, precisely those kinds of drugs that have been shown to grow new neurons and neural pathways in the brain!

Author's Follow-up: January 5, 2023

Hundreds of thousands of Mexicans have been killed by the psychoactive drug known as sugar over the last few years, mostly consumed in the form of Coca-Cola. Not a word from America's substance-demonizing politicians. QED: the DRUG WAR is bald-faced hypocrisy and the political posturing of racist demagogues -- and otherwise intelligent Americans who have been brainwashed by Drug War censorship into believing that poor little uneducated "junior" is the only stakeholder in the drug approval process. Re-legalize now. And use those billions you've been spending on law enforcement to teach -- rather than to ruin people's lives in a divisive campaign to militarize the world and Nazify the English language with hateful, slanderous and unscientific newspeak like "dope," "junk," and "scumbag."

Next essay: Depressed? Here's why you can't get the medicines that you need
Previous essay: Let's Hear It For Psychoactive Therapy

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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
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