Home > Critical Thinking, Current Affairs, Dystopia, Musings, Philosophy sans Sophistry, Reason, Secular Religions, Skepticism > The Bizarre “Rationalization” of Drug Prohibition

The Bizarre “Rationalization” of Drug Prohibition

One of the most common “rationalization” against legalizing all drugs goes something like this..

“We are just trying to protect some people from harming themselves”

But is that “rationalization” based in anything even remotely approaching reality. Who exactly are the ‘We’ in that statement? Why are ‘some people’ deliberately ‘harming’ themselves in the first place? And why are ‘We’ interested in ‘protecting’ those people from themselves? My interest in examining this “rationalization” is part of a much larger issue that will be explored in more detail in an upcoming series of posts.

Let us start by looking at the cherished belief that a group has an altruistic and humanitarian interest in stopping some of its members from harming themselves. Is that really the case? Do you see evidence of it around you? Many of you might point out to the plethora of laws and regulations concerning everything from food safety, building and zoning codes to occupational health and safety regulations as evidence that ‘society’ cares for the safety and well-being its members. But is it really about altruistic or humanistic concern? If so, why did we not have such laws and regulations for most of human history? Why did they suddenly start appearing in the last hundred years and then became far more pervasive and widespread in the last 60 years? What changed?

There are those of you who will say that increased standards of living created by capitalism allowed people to become more comfortable and therefore more humane. While that is a partially true and heartwarming story, it does not explain the most important feature of the ‘need’ to legislate and regulate in the name of social good.

Why have the number of laws and regulations meant to keep ‘us’ safe from ‘bad things’ increased at an exponential pace in the last 40 years? Why are they getting ever more complex?

While almost nobody will oppose laws or regulations that should make food safer, how many of the ones passed since the mid-1980s have actually done that? How many had the opposite effect? What about laws concerning building codes and regulations? How many of the ones passed in the last 30 years have made things better? How many have made them worse? How many of the zoning codes passed in the last 30 years have made the world a better and safer place? How many were about ego, racism and rent-seeking? In my opinion, legislation and regulations to make ‘us’ safer are NOW mostly about extracting more money from the rest of society. It is about creating new or bigger revenue streams for businesses with the right connections. It is also about employing more people to create bigger corporate and public sector fiefdoms.

In short, laws and regulations to ‘maintain and improve public safety’ are now about everything but their originally intended and still advertised purpose.

But that is not an aberration. People in positions of power inside any system of governance have never been interested in improving the lives of their subjects. All types of leaders, wannabe leaders, priests (“experts”), bureaucrats and institutions throughout human history have always focused on facilitating maximal rent extraction for the benefit of a few via systemic impoverishment, abuse and exploitation of everybody else. Indeed, this aspect of governance is remarkably consistent across systems as diverse as state communism, state capitalism, “free market” capitalism, monarchies, dictatorships AND corporations.

Therefore, all those people who push for more ‘public safety’ are doing it to accumulate more power and money. They have no interest in ‘public safety’ beyond what is necessary to maintain an image of action and competence. It is not unlike all those “cure cancer” charities who are in it for the money, power and status rather than any desire to facilitate the discovery of better treatments for cancers. Now that we have established the true motivations of the ‘do good’ crowd, let us turn to the other part of the problem.

Why are ‘some people’ so heavily into ‘harming’ themselves?

Let us begin this part by acknowledging that people without severe brain damage or disease are simply not into harming themselves. While people might flirt with dangerous situations to make themselves feel more alive, they have no real interest in getting seriously hurt or dead. We like our vampires in books, films, TV shows and Halloween parties- not real life. Zombie apocalypse themed movies and TV shows are far more popular than the real deal. Similarly, women are into spankings, bondage and role-play to a point where they can enjoy it without feeling genuinely scared.

To make a long story short, people with options do not willingly put themselves in a situation where they are at a serious risk of bodily harm or death. That is also why people prefer to drink wine or beer vs say toilet cleaner or gasoline. Now you might say- Wouldn’t a 2-year kid drink toilet cleaner, given the chance? And my answer is.. Yes, but only because they cannot comprehend the concept that toilet cleaner is poisonous. How many 6- or 10-year old kids accidentally or deliberately drink toilet cleaner? Similarly, while a 6- year old might burn himself while playing with fire, it is almost always never intentional.

But is that the case when adults do drugs? What percentage of adults who do drugs (“legal” or “illegal”) are unaware of what they are doing or the risk associated with doing them? Short of mislabeling or adulteration- drug users are very aware of what drugs they are doing, how often they are doing them and why want to get high. It is therefore no accident that the vast majority of people who have used drugs (“legal” or “illegal”) are sporadic, occasional or habitual users with an otherwise ‘normal’ lifestyle. Those who go on to become dependent or addicted to any given drug are always a small percentage of those who have ever done that drug.

While there are many risk factors for becoming dependent or addicted to drugs, they all converge back to one issue. People who use a lot of drugs, all the time, are very unhappy and unsatisfied with their lives when they are not high. Now you can try to ascertain whether said lack of happiness and satisfaction is ‘real’ or ‘not real’, but isn’t pretty much all of what we consider “reality” in our heads.

Drug use to the point of physical dependence or addiction should therefore be seen as an attempt at self-medication, rather than some “moral” flaw or desire to be “anti-social”.

The war on drugs has never been about ‘protecting’ all those ‘irresponsible’ and ‘self-destructive’ people from themselves. Indeed, it does not even require the existence of such mythical characters. The war on drugs has always been about killing and persecuting people ‘they’ did not like, typically non-whites and poorer whites. It has also been about intimidating, dominating and abusing the rest AND making them foot the bill for it.

What do you think? Comments?

  1. Matt
    June 5, 2013 at 10:02 pm

    Prohibitions are typically brought to you by your friendly neighborhood liberal, who wants to get in everyone else’s business.

    Or CONservative.

  2. P Ray
    June 5, 2013 at 10:24 pm

    Licenses earn people money.
    To anyone who says “be all you can be”, I have told them to dress up as a doctor and begin prescribing medicine. Or dress up as a cop and start enforcing the law.
    Those secret societies really get riled up when they have competition.
    Even the porn industry wants to protect us from self-harm through “Google Glass”:
    And Missy Martinez, another porn actress, has said it could lead to a slew of ‘gonzo-style’ movies from amateurs with no experience.
    Beware! Gonzo porn will harm you!

  3. June 6, 2013 at 2:11 am

    Reblogged this on oogenhand and commented:
    The old libertarian argument, rehashed. I think these processes are irreversible, that is, although banning things wasn’t necessary, now a criminal underground has formed, that won’t allow a healthy situation to develop.

  4. ThousandMileMargin
    June 6, 2013 at 2:34 am

    If cocaine was legal it would cost about the same as chocolate or coffee. It’s grown in the same countries by the same people after all. Legalization would mean hundreds of billions of lost revenue for cartels because their margins would collapse.
    So logically you would expect the cartels to be willing to spend billions to protect their investment, campaigning to maintain prohibition.

  5. doclove
    June 6, 2013 at 2:37 am

    Advocatus Diaboli
    This was truly insightful, but most people are too stupid to realize this. It is pretty much a libertarian( or you might say LIEbertarian) argument you made. Libertarians for all their faults seldom if ever want to prohibit anything. I agree with you and Matt in your comments above that both liberals (LIEberals) and conservatives(CONservatives) are all about prohibiting things. It’s just that some of them are the same and some of them are different. Here’s a few examples. The liberals would prohibit your free speech to say nasty things about liberalism or racism and prohibit your right to self defense against intrusions by government and private citizens by restricting your right to own, carry or use firearms. The conservatives would prohibit one from using narcotics and one from entering a civil union or marriage with the same sex and would be more likely to prohibit polygamy and polyandry. Both liberals and conservatives are for the most part for the disastrous state of marriage supporting misandry otherwise known as the exploitation and humiliation of men stupid enough to marry. Both liberals and conservatives are for the most part for prostitution prohibition. Prostitution prohibition makes less sense to me than narcotics prohibition. Since you are the best blogger I know of regarding being a customer or john of prostitutes because you have been an insightful john and blogger Maggie McNeill, a former escort,( http://www.maggiemcneil.wordpress.com/ ) is the best blogger I know for writing about prostitution from the whore’s side of the story, there are a couple of questions I would like to ask. Would you not say that your arguments regarding narcotics prohibition are largely similar to the ones you would make about prostitution prohibition? Will you write an article about prostitution prohibition?

  6. doclove
    June 6, 2013 at 3:00 am

    Oddly I just got done reading Maggie McNeill’s 6 June 2013 article called “Book Review: America’s War on Sex” about a book called “America’s War on Sex” written by Marty Klein. She was right to point out that the liberals, neo-feminists as she called them are more dangerous than the social conservatives, conservatives. The reason she states is that the social conservatives have adopted some of the neo-feminist, liberal, ideology but the same hasn’t happened in reverse. The other reason she states is that neo-feminist ideology is more influential and ascendant than social conservative ideology. The 3rd and last link above got me to her website. Hopefully this will link you to the article. http://maggiemcneill.wordpress.com/2013/06/06/book-review-americas-war-on-sex/

  7. Webe
    June 6, 2013 at 3:24 am

    Well, I’ve always felt that at root the prohibition/fear against drug use is based on repugnance at the idea that people can obtain pleasure at essentially no cost; this is especially threatening to the mean-spirited attitude which assumes that perpetual punishment (work, etc) is the only truly important social force: people ought to endure a lot of nastiness before they’re entitled to a chance at some happiness.

    But, without disagreeing with what you have said, it’s not just safety and regulation that are growing exponentially, it’s also things like jurisprudence and intellectual property, and even “management” is at bottom an attempt at making everything explicit. Everybody “knows” some things are not just — and that perception has at bottom fed legal codification. But whereas in centuries past laws were largely seen as object lessons/examples to guide judgement, now everything has to be spelled out to the last detail, and if not, you cannot be held personally responsible.

    This is very different than face-to-face societies (and this still survives to a certain extent within families and some other contexts), where you cannot get out from under your responsibility simply by saying that you didn’t break any rules: if you put in the wiring and it was shoddy, you are still considered accountable.

    So I think a lot of the dynamic behind this exponential bureaucracy is an attempt to fill the gap where personal trust and accountability (and personal retribution) give way to impersonal and mechanical measures (thingifying or reifying personal relationships).

  8. hans
    June 6, 2013 at 4:31 am

    Follow the money.
    Are the Mexican Cartels standing in Afghanistan and guarding the poppy fields?
    Who ran Air America in Laos around the Vietnam War era?
    How the fuck are all these “Drug Bosses” managing to so easily launder their monies.

    Prohibition has always been good for business.
    That and the unwillingness of the people to face the uncomfortable facts are the real reason for supposedly bizarre rationalizations.
    They are not bizarre at all, but indeed very effective to confuse the populace just enough so they have the excuse of not facing the grim truth of being slaves voting for traitors to run a traitorous system.

  9. June 6, 2013 at 5:18 pm

    advipoops, this will crack you up…

    • hans
      June 6, 2013 at 11:48 pm

      Wow, there´s always the man hating undercurrent with lesbotrons.
      They just can´t help it.
      Biotches, most men don´t like to see abused or intentionally contaminated cunts either.
      We have to stick our dicks in there after all and those holes are filthy enough as it is.

  10. Ådne
    November 18, 2013 at 2:21 pm

    I like reading this.Thanks.
    Its like an old worn record with some people,it keeps repeating itself,until someone gives them a knock.These people like to be in the government & in politics,where they can stop the world from proceeding in any direction.

  1. January 24, 2017 at 10:26 am

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