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24 August 2005 @ 12:23 pm
the war on (some) drugs is the height of hypocrisy.  
I say this not because i think drugs are great, but because an examination of it reveals the prejudicial attitudes on which it is predicated, and because i am sickened to see the many lives that have been sacrificed on its altar.

The War on Drugs is predicated on the idea that drug use is indication of a "moral failing." Person X lives a somehow "degraded" life (and we can therefore pity or despise her) and "turns to drugs" to "escape the harshness of her life." Or, alternately, person Y is a bored suburbanite teenager "lured" to drug use, like sailors drawn to the rocks by the siren song, pressured into trying it by his peers ("if it weren't for that kid with funny hair and ex-hippie parents, my child would never have tried them").

This is the way drug use is portrayed by the malestream media, projecting this moralistic analysis from the safety of gated communities far from the 'iniquity' of urban life, and thus, presumably, far from anywhere drugs are commonly used or sold.

It is but one brick in a wall built to disguise an authoritarian kyriarchal agenda, a power grab by the elites of this society predicated on racism, classism and sexism. It is a bandage covering a festering wound and soaking up the pus without allowing efforts to heal it by addressing its cause: oppression and exploitation. The "Drug War" is a way of pretending that oligarchical collectivism and cronyism can exist in a civilized society, by othering the victims and labelling them immoral.

This becomes obvious when we see that the addictions that are tolerated are precisely those that mask people's feelings and thus make people more pliant and/or hard-working. Caffeine and nicotine are more dangerous than THC or opium and are more habit-forming, but they are the "socially acceptable" addictions. Other "acceptable" addictions include several SSRIs and other prescription medications, which can also have more dangerous side effects than THC or opium.

The previous paragraph is not meant to promote pot or heroin, but just to point out that the "Drug War" rationale of protecting people from harmful substances is utter hogwash. Where was this rationale for the 38,000 people killed by Vioxx in four years? Other myriad dangers of drug use are the direct result of efforts to ban them.

Some therapists refer to drug use as "self-medicating," because the main reason people form drug habits is to feel normal. There are exceptions, of course, people seeking pleasure or thrills. But lots of people try many different drugs and don't form addictions because, nice as it may make them feel, they don't need it to correct dopamine-receptor imbalances caused by long-term physical abuse, or to mask emotions they feel required to hide from friends and partners, or to get through long hours of dehumanizing work.

It's long been noted that drug war punishments are disporportionately directed at people of racial minorities. This is a typical "one-two punch" pattern of cannibalistic oppression: to treat the often necessarily drastic and long-term-self-destructive survival tactics of people in oppressed minorities as though they are moral failings, and then punish them.

I touched on this issue a few weeks ago with my post on "options and empowerment." If you have an imbalance of this kind in your life, the solution is not court-mandated therapy, but actual changes to your life and environment. Drug users cannot make the real changes that they need in their lives, because decisions about how we are going to live and survive are not up for democratic discussion. Those decisions are hoarded by those with the power to decide where jobs will be located, with the power to hire and fire.

On another dimension, the "Drug War" is an attempt by authoritarians to control what substances people put into their bodies. Historically, psychoactive substances have sometimes played a role in revolutionary awareness (recognizing this is somewhat of a shift from my previous thoughts on this matter), and guiltless pleasure has the potential to undermine the militaristic tone of an authoritarian culture.

crossposting to my journal and crossposting to kyriarchy
The Forsakenazaz_al on August 24th, 2005 04:51 pm (UTC)
Ok, I had accidentally not had this community on my default view for some reason - I was wondering why I wasn't seeing the posts!
(Anonymous) on August 25th, 2005 03:02 am (UTC)
The war on drugs has always been this way.

Back in the day when opium was the drug of choice, the government made opium smoking illegal (I believe this was the Harrison Narcotics Act of 1914). This mostly targeted Chinese immigrants and their opium dens. Nowhere in this law did it condemn drinking opium, or laudanum, so the bored rich housewives of the time could still take their drug of choice.

Today, possession or use of crack carries a stiffer fine and a longer jail sentence than powder cocaine. Crack is cheaper than cocaine, and is traditionally used by poorer people, while powder cocaine is the drug of choice for celebrities.

I think the best example, though, is addiction to painkillers and anxiolytics. Valium was very popular when used to soothe the boredom of housework. Opium derivatives have been getting more and more powerful and almost all of these derivatives have been abused at some point. But somehow, it's more okay to be stoned on OxyContin than on marijuana.

The last paragraph mentions governmental control over what people put in their bodies. I've heard some people apply this to the battle over legalized marijuana. If marijuana is legalized, people could grow it at home! Even the fact that it's efficacious and has a low incidence of side effects (and, unlike opiates, alcohol and benzodiazepines, does not affect respiration or heart rate and therefore cannot be lethal) means nothing against the fact that the government would lose control over it.
Kerryjaralith on August 25th, 2005 03:02 am (UTC)
Eh? Since when did I log out??