how materialists collude with drug warriors to keep us from using godsend medicine
n my philosophical review of "Opium for the Masses" by Jim Hogshire, I took materialists to task for failing to recognize what we pedants would call the potential ontological significance of the opium dream experience -- which is to say the fact that opium dreams may tell us something about reality writ large. It's since occurred to me that the rap sheet for materialists is far longer than this seemingly isolated criticism might suggest. Materialists are, in fact, unindicted co-conspirators in the war on drugs.
Here's where Shakespeare's Mistress Quickly would blurt out: "Make that good!"
To which I say: "Peace, my lady, give ear and perpend!"
It is the materialist reductionist outlook that keeps us from recognizing the therapeutic value of all sorts of godsend medicines, and not just opium.
Consider the astonishing proposition that such medicines have no therapeutic value whatsoever. How could that be? No positive uses for a drug that Galen himself considered to be a panacea? That statement, if it's to have any truth value at all, has to presuppose the ideology of materialism.
You see, to the materialist, the proof of efficacy has to reside in molecules and chemicals, not in undeniable anecdotes and human history. You say millions have found opium wonderful and it has inspired great poetry? That means nothing to the materialist. He wants molecular proof that can be added to a PowerPoint presentation, figures that can be quoted in a grant application, objective numbers that can be added to a database. The materialist is deaf to any subjective evidence.
It's this myopic lack of common sense that causes otherwise brainy people like Dr. Robert Glatter to ask silly questions, like "Can laughing gas help people with treatment-resistant depression?", in an article of that title in the June 2019 edition of Forbes magazine. Of course laughing gas can help the depressed, by definition even! The reason Glatter doubts it is because he's a materialist and only accepts reductive explanations of efficacy.
This is why Descartes denied that animals could experience pain, because reductive evidence did not prove it. Sure, dogs will howl when you hurt them, but Descartes tells us that's just noise. Likewise laughing, for materialists like Glatter, is just noise.
The fact is, however, that common sense is not that problematic! Happiness -- drug induced or otherwise -- is happiness. What's more, happiness -- and the anticipation of happiness -- are health-producing.
For this reason, any drug in the world that provides a pleasant feeling can be valuable in treating depression. Any drug in the world. Even opium. Nor is the possibility of dependency a reason to ignore opium, for with opium, dependency might be called a bug, but for modern anti-depressants (upon which 1 in 4 American women are hooked for life), dependency is a feature. This is why doctors keep unabashedly telling such women to "keep taking your meds." We see then the outlawing of opium is based on an aesthetic judgment about what constitutes the good life, not on some scientific evidence that shows us what does and does not actually work for the "user."
Author's Follow-up: June 7, 2023
In "Opium for the Masses," Jim Hogshire includes a section entitled "the Role of Pain in Freedom." I hope Michael Pollan reads this part carefully and that it helps him reconsider his view expressed in "How to Change Your Mind" that outlawing Mother Nature makes any kind of sense in a free society. For if Pollan thinks outlawing marijuana makes sense, he's certainly onboard with outlawing the poppy.
The poppy's central and indispensable position in our civilization makes access to it important, and thus forbidding public access to the poppy is staggeringly cruel. Ceding control of opiates means ceding control of pain relief to the State... which has shown truly morbid interest in inflicting pain and denying its relief in order to effect social change and maintain social control. This is power that free people should never relinquish easily or without a fight.
Again, I call on Michael to repent. Outlawing Mother Nature is a violation of both common sense and natural law. It is a wrong way of looking at the world. The book of Genesis tells us that God's creation is good. The Drug War represents a religious view that mother nature is evil until proven otherwise. In orthodox Christianity, however, there are no evil things: only evil people and the evil policies that they create. When we think in terms of evil things, like evil drugs, we go astray and hence the endless downsides of prohibition, including inner-city shootings, civil wars overseas and the suppression and censorship (usually self-censorship) of scientific research. Substance demonization and prohibition is unbecoming of a free country, Michael. Please repent! Teach, don't punish.
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