and how we respond to it -- an open letter to Professor Nathan Nobis
ood morning, Professor Nobis.
I am a 64-year-old philosopher and the founder of abolishthedea.com, where I post a wide variety of philosophical arguments against America's Drug War.
I just wanted to share with you a few ideas I have on the subject, if you have a moment. I'll try not to presume too much on your time, however, because if you have any real interest, you can always browse my writings on the topic at abolishthedea.com.
Here then are ten points that I believe receive "short shrift" by current opponents of the Drug War:
1. The Drug War is a violation of the natural law upon which Jefferson founded America, because it involves the government telling us which plants we can have access to -- whereas John Locke himself wrote in his second treatise on government that human beings have a right to the use of the land "and all that lies therein." (Surely Jefferson was rolling in his grave when the DEA stomped onto Monticello in 1987 and confiscated his poppy plants.)
2. The Drug War represents a wrong way of looking at the world. To understand this, we merely need to replace the political term "drugs" with the term "godsend plant medicine." In short, the Drug War makes sense only if we take a jaundiced Christian Science view of the medical bounty of Mother Nature (which is really an anti-Christian outlook since the Christian God himself said that his creation was good).
3. Which brings me to point 3: the Drug War can be seen as the enforcement of the Christian Science religion with respect to psychoactive medicine. The government requires us to believe that drugs are morally bad in this latter case.
4. Drug testing is wrong because it punishes people, not for impairment, but for the mere use (however dated and fleeting) of a proscribed substance. In this sense, it is an extrajudicial "fishing expedition" by corporations acting on behalf of the federal government. Moreover, the punishment is cruel and unusual, insofar as it involves the removal of the "guilty" party from the American workforce without trial, a punishment not even inflicted on paroled murderers.
5. Many opponents of the Drug War (especially libertarians) start on "the back foot," since they effectively agree with the prohibitionist notion that there is no reasonable use for "drugs." This standpoint ignores the fact that the Vedic religion was inspired by the psychoactive impact of botanicals, that Plato's view of the afterlife was inspired by the psychedelic-fueled Eleusinian mysteries, that Benjamin Franklin, Marcus Aurelius and many poets and authors have profited from opium use, and that coca has been used for centuries by South American cultures and inspired the writings of such authors as HG Wells, Jules Verne, Alexandre Dumas, and Henrik Ibsen.
6. In light of point 5 above, the Drug War may be seen not simply as the outlawing of a religion, but rather as the outlawing of the very fountainhead of the religious impulse.
7. The Drug War has government dictating what can be studied by scientists in the same way that the Church once dictated terms to Galileo, with the exception being that Galileo recognized that he was being censored, while modern scientists almost never acknowledge this censorship, so used have they become (through lifelong indoctrination) to considering Drug War prohibitions to be a natural baseline for modern research, thereby drastically limiting their conception of what drug-aided wonders might be possible with respect to improving human happiness, learning potential, ability to overcome addiction and depression, and even bringing about world peace (considering how Ecstasy brought peace, love and understanding to a multiethnic dance floor -- before being shut down by prohibitionists who couldn't get their minds around the fact that this utopia was brought about by a "drug"). Even the fight against Alzheimer's and autism is stymied by our outlawing of medications that show great prima facie potential for ameliorating if not curing these conditions (as, for instance, psychedelics can generate new neurons and new neuronal connections).
8. Almost no drug-war critic holds the Drug War responsible for the fact that 1 in 4 American women must take a Big Pharma med every day of their life (far more than were ever "habitues" of opium prior to 1914), and that the meds in question can be harder to kick than heroin thanks to the way that they change brain chemistry, without yet "fixing" the depression at which they were targeted (source: Julie Holland).
9. In light of point 8 above, we can see how the term "addict" is a political term in a Drug War society. Before prohibition, opium users were "habitues." Only after 1914 were they demonized as "addicts." Likewise, a lifetime heroin user is deemed an "addict" (with all the judgmental baggage that implies) while the lifelong user of a modern antidepressant is not only NOT an addict, but is someone whom we actually tell to "keep taking their meds."
10. Drug war propaganda is spread in very subtle ways. Academic papers about "drugs" almost always focus on misuse, abuse and addiction, thereby giving the impression to those who merely browse such collections that outlawed substances do absolutely nothing other than pose a threat to human health. The articles may all be 100% accurate and yet the collective effect of these articles is misleading because it is ahistorical and ignores a world of therapeutic possibilities that we have dogmatically decided to ignore on an a priori basis.
As said, I do not want to presume on your time. Suffice it to say that my drug-war focus and belief is the following: that the Drug War is far more insidious and wrong than almost any Drug War critic has yet realized, and that the Drug War can be shown to cause all of the problems that it purports to fix, and then some.
My goal is to share ideas like these that I do not think have been adequately considered by drug-war opponents, and I hope you find these ideas interesting and useful in fighting the war on the war on drugs.
PS I personally feel that the modern attempt to roll back the Drug War is unnecessarily defensive, often starting on the assumption that "drugs" really are bad and unnecessary. I would advocate an offensive approach, wherein we push for the legal prosecution of the DEA for crimes, such as lying about plant medicine for the last half century and poisoning Americans with a weed killer that causes Parkinson's Disease (and which was known to be deadly to human beings even at the time that it was first employed by Reagan's Jefferson-busting DEA).
November 10, 2022
Brian failed to point out, bless him, that Professor Nobis is a bioethics philosopher at Morehouse College. Nor has our author made it entirely clear why he contacted Nathan in the first place. This is a trifle puzzling, given his worship's usual rigor on such points. Fortunately, the admittedly interesting observations enumerated above can stand on their own. Still, one can't help speculating about the nature of the no-doubt fascinating article and/or opinion piece that prompted them.
Author's Follow-up: November 10, 2022
Professor Nobis has not yet quite seen his way clear to respond to me. But it's early days. Watch this space for developments.
Buy the Drug War Comic Book by Brian Quass, featuring 150 hilarious op-ed pics about America's disgraceful war on Americans
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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