(Written early in the 21st century for a Roger Scruton publication)
The libertarian position on drugs is simply stated. People should have the right to do with themselves as they please. This necessarily includes the right to take any drugs they please – for recreation or for medication. No one else automatically has the right to interfere with such choices, unless they can be shown to involve force or fraud or some attack on the whole community that threatens its dissolution.
Taking drugs in consenting company is not an act of the first kind – it causes no one else the sort of harm against which they can legitimately demand protection. Nor is it an act of the second kind. We are told endlessly that drugs are a danger to social stability – that they lead to crime and degradation and so forth. There is no evidence for this claim.
The British past provides a compelling example. Until 1920, drug use was uncontrolled. Between 1827 and 1859, British opium consumption rose from 17,000lb to 61,000lb. Workmen mixed it in their beer. Gladstone took it in his coffee before speaking. Scott wrote The Bride of Lammermoor under its influence. Dickens and Wilkie Collins were both heavy users. Cannabis and heroin were openly on sale. There was no social collapse. There were few deaths from taking drugs. Most deaths involving opium were individual accidents, and even these were negligible – excluding suicides, 104 in 1868 and thereafter to 1901 an annual average of 95. Hardly anyone even recognised that a problem might exist.
Last week Neil Franklin, a retired major from Marylyn State Police, led a troop of serving and former police chiefs, soldiers and a former spy into the Parliament to call MPs to end the war on drugs. Their testimony was damning and revealing.
Franklin opened the meeting with an explanation of the campaign’s mission to “reduce crime, disease, death and addiction by ending the most socially destructive public policy since slavery.” Franklin explained how his organisation of “police officers, agents, judges, criminal prosecutors, corrections officials and others” including over 180,000 members and supporters in over 180 countries share one goal, to end “the world’s longest war”.
According to Franklin “we have been attempting to solve a public health crisis with criminal justice solutions and the results have been catastrophic”. While repeated calls from academia and public health have failed to convince most politicians, the group hopes calls from within the criminal justice system will finally make them listen. What follows are all direct quotes, edited for concision.
Suzanne Sharkey (pictured above): Former Constable and Undercover Officer at Northumbria Constabulary
“When I look back at my time in the police I feel ashamed, I feel a sense of failure. I feel ashamed that I wasn’t arresting career criminals. I was arresting people from poor socially deprived areas with little or no hope whose crime was non-violent drug possession, a complete failure of the war on drugs. I believe that one of the biggest barriers for people with problematic substance misuse to seeking help and treatment is the current drug policy. It does nothing, it achieves nothing except creating more harm for individuals, families and society as a whole. All of us know the problems and what we need to do but rather than be united by the problems let’s be united by the solutions. Solutions based in health, education and compassion rather than criminalisation.”
Fate lays upon me the task of writing you from distant shores. My name is Augustus Invictus, and I am a candidate for the United States Senate. Though I am an American, I am by blood a son of Europe. My ancestry is British, my name Roman, my religion pan-European. I am trained in Anglo-American law, educated in continental philosophy and politics, steeped in Western aesthetic. Though Florida may be a great distance from my ancestral land of Scotland, I am in blood and in soul your brother.
And though I am an American politician, the issues I raise in my campaign for the Senate here affect every man, woman, and child of the West. I write to you today not to condescend or to advertise my American arrogance, but to call for the unity of all Westerners against the powers that would destroy our people.
From New Zealand & Australia to the United States & Canada, and even to South Africa, we share a common civilization, born of Europe. This is impolitic to say in any country, and it is now evidence of “hate speech” in several. We must ask ourselves why the self-described elites in our respective countries would keep us divided, why they would insist that we have no common culture, why they would insist that we take literally countless immigrants into countries callously neglecting their rightful sons and daughters.
I hope that we may come to see each other as fellows. I pray that we may come to cherish what we share more than we might lament the differences between us. Though we have warred, though we have viewed each other with great suspicion, these misfortunes are, I hope, passed. We share a common bond that the millions of immigrants recently recruited to our ancestral land will never share. We, as Westerners, are brothers, though long-separated; they are foreigners being imported by your own governments to destroy the proud heritage and people of Europe.
Hawaii is ushering in the new year with the introduction of a law making it illegal for people between the ages of 18 and 20 to obtain tobacco products. Fines will be imposed on those selling tobacco to individuals in this age range as well as those purchasing it, following a three month grace period. Similar laws have been passed in cities around the country including New York and Boston.
The bill was passed by Hawaii’s Democratic governor David Ige. One would hope the Democrats would be better served by supporting less drug prohibition, rather than more. It is amazing any young people or those with a even shred of anti-authoritarian sentiment would be supportive of a party so enthusiastic about taking their liberties away.
If you can be asked to vote or told to fight and die for your country you should be able to make your own choices about tobacco use. Such a denial of liberty is both the height of authoritarianism and highly insulting to young people. Frankly, we should be teaching teens to make responsible choices rather than denying them choice. The last thing we need is the continued infantilization of American teens by the government. If you want people to act like adults, treat them as such.
This is interesting. A 50 percent plus majority of Americans now favor legalizing marijuana. However, two thirds say it should be a states’ rights issue. How can this be? Because the demographic that is least likely to favor legalizing marijuana is the one that is most likely to favor states’ rights due to their constitutional fundamentalism. As I have been telling my fellow anarchists and libertarians for years, this is the key to ending consensual crime laws and overcriminalization. Use local initiative and ballot referendums in order bypass the professional politicians that make up state legislatures. Take your issues directly to the public, and build support for your movement over time. Do so in jurisdictions where your are likely to get a sympathetic hearing. Invoke wider principles like states’ rights, local autonomy, the Bill of Rights, human rights, anti-racism, civil liberties, freedom of choice, whatever is most appropriate for the particular issue, time, and place. This is how we shut off the fuel pump to the police state and prison-industrial complex.
The legalization of recreational marijuana is still a controversial issue in the United States, but approximately two-thirds of Americans believe the federal government should not interfere with state laws on the subject.
In fact, 67 percent of voters want Congress to pass a law that carves out a “safe haven” for states that legalize recreational pot use, according to a new poll conducted by Third Way think-tank. Under the law, “legal” states would be protected from federal legislation, which still classifies recreational and medical marijuana as illegal.
This event that took place this past June is a prototype for what there needs to be more of. There needs to be mass protests all over the world against the U.S. and U.N.-led War on Drugs that ties all of the relevant issues together: police militarization, civil liberties, the U.S. prison industrial complex, prisoners rights, race and class disparities in criminal justice, medical freedom, mandatory sentencing, police brutality, institutional corruption, Third World poverty, and U.S. imperialism. Such a movement needs to be organized on the level of the anti-Vietnam War movement of the 1960s, the anti-apartheid movement of the 1980s, and the Palestinian solidarity movement today.
This is also the idea issue for anarchists, libertarians, and radical anti-statists to asset themselves and become frontline leaders of radical and revolutionary movements all over the world. Anarchists and libertarians, where are you?
For decades, government policies against drugs have created problematic situations in virtually every corner of the world, from cartel warfare to rampant incarceration. For many citizens and advocacy organizations, the war on drugs has created more problems than solutions.
On June 26, 2014, citizens of 80 cities across the globe will take to social media, press rooms, and the streets in a joint day of protest declared by the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC) against the war on drugs. From Nairobi to Rome, hundreds of individual organizations and cities have stepped up to plan their own demonstrations.
As each nation has its own nuanced perspective and experience with the war on drugs, each protest has its own focus and reasons for participating. By participating in a worldwide protest, however, all of the organizations stand as one and become a formidable force against outdated government drug policies gone awry.
World Policy Journal reached out to leaders of war on drugs protests on three continents to provide a sampling of the different campaigns around the world:
Two Out of Three Americans Think People Shouldn’t Be Prosecuted for Possession of Drugs Such as Cocaine and Heroin; 63% Support Moving Away from Mandatory Minimums; 54% Support Marijuana Legalization
DPA’s Ethan Nadelmann: It’s Time to Stop Arresting People for Drug Use or Possession
A new national survey released today by the Pew Research Center reveals that a broad majority of Americans are ready to significantly reduce the role of the criminal justice system in dealing with people who use drugs.
Among the key findings of the report:
More than six in ten Americans (63%) say that state governments moving away from mandatory prison terms for drug law violations is a good thing, while just 32% say these policy changes are a bad thing. This is a substantial shift from 2001 when the public was evenly divided (47% good thing vs. 45% bad thing). The majority of all demographic groups, including Republicans and Americans over 65 years old, support this shift.
At the same time, there has been a major shift in attitudes on whether the use of marijuana should be legal. As recently as four years ago, about half (52%) said they thought the use of marijuana should not be legal; 41% said marijuana use should be legal. Today those numbers are roughly reversed – 54% favor marijuana legalization while 42% are opposed. Just 16% say it should not be legal for either medical or recreational use.
Two-thirds (67%) say the government should focus more on providing treatment for people who use drugs like cocaine and heroin. Just 26% think the focus should be more on prosecuting people who use such drugs.
Read this classic lecture from 2000 by Professor Van Creveld, and then read my “Philosophical Anarchism and the Death of Empire” from 2003. Van Creveld’s lecture describes the emerging world order, and my essay outlines a new paradigm for the “worldwide Grey Tribe” as it might be called.
This is an excerpt from the keynote lecture given at the Mises Institute conference on the themes in Professor van Creveld’s talk.
The background of the state as we know it today is formed by civil war, although at that time, of course, it was not yet called civil. The endless wars between the various principalities, some of them Christian and others Moslem, that took place in the Iberian Peninsula during the fifteenth century; the English Wars of the Roses; the French guerres de religion; and the Thirty Years War which devastated much of Germany and Central Europe–all these resulted in so much death and destruction that, to end them, people were even prepared to have their appetites controlled. As figures such as Jean Bodin and Thomas Hobbes argued, the only way to bring about peace and quiet was absolute government invested in a single person. And peace and quiet, more than anything else, was what people wanted and what history seemed to demand.
This issue will probably become increasingly contentious as the movement to legalize marijuana spreads to more and more states. This will also likely be a divisive issue on the Left between the libertarian left and the therapeutic statists, health fascists, and anti-smoking crusader types.
SEATTLE (Reuters) – Supporters and opponents of the federal ban on marijuana took to the pages of The New York Times this weekend with full-page color advertisements that highlight the fast-evolving debate in the United States about medical and recreational drug use.
The advertisements followed The New York Times‘ decision last month in a series of editorials to call for repealing the ban, the biggest U.S. newspaper to do so. Opinion polls show a majority of Americans now back the legalization of pot.
Liberals are increasingly religious about their own liberalism, treating it like a comprehensive view of reality and the human good.
A lot of liberals are taking things very personally these days. (REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)
At the risk of sounding like Paul Krugman — who returns to a handful of cherished topics over and over again in his New York Times column — I want to revisit one of my hobby horses, which I most recently raised in my discussion of Hobby Lobby.
My own cherished topic is this: Liberalism’s decline from a political philosophy of pluralism into a rigidly intolerant dogma.
Jason Hurley, an acquaintance from maverick anarchist circles, offers the following insights concerning this article by Matt Walsh. Read Walsh’s article here. Says Jason:
“Matt Walsh, your entire premise is based in medicalized morality. It’s no secret that early doctors and scientists of the developing western world carried their Abrahamic biases with them as they made discoveries and observations. They effectively synthesized their own moral prejudices into the taxonomy of disease they were building, and lacked the properly equipped mind or methodology to ask the much more important and responsible question, “Is it even a disease at all?”
Your premise assumes that sex possesses an intrinsically sinister or dirty underpinning, and that certain types of sexual relationships are universally traumatic to all human beings. But just as many people do not become squeamish in the face of blood or viscera, not every person thinks of public sex or even monetized sex as being a painful, exploitative invasion of their sacred pee-pee temple. Many people who aren’t repulsed by blood become surgeons. We value surgeons in our crypto-Abrahamic, nominally secular society. People who are not affected adversely by promiscuity or public displays of orgy become porno stars. We don’t value porno stars or prostitutes in our society. That is the only difference. More…
Radio hosts Gregg “Opie” Hughes, Anthony Cumia and comedian Jim Norton, of the popular “Opie and Anthony Show” on SiriusXM, went on a fiery tirade Tuesday against “trigger warnings” and the current culture on college campuses, which they argue is producing childish adults unprepared to deal with the “real world.”
Norton also scolded the progressive left for becoming “exactly what you hated.”
“You have become exactly [like] the conservative, religious book burners of the 40s and the 50s and the 60s. You are it!” he said. “You are the speech repressors, you are the hypersensitive ones, you are the ones who want people fired immediately, you are the ones calling for people’s jobs. You have become what you hated.”
The discussion that preluded his rant got heated after Norton brought up a recent story out of Wellesley College where “hundreds” of outrage college students objected after a lifelike sculpture of a sleepwalking man in his underwear was erected on campus. Students ended up creating a petition to have it removed.
“Oh my god,” Hughes responded. “We are raising a nation of pu***es, we’ve been saying it for years.”
Libyan Rebels celebrate village victory firing off AK47 shots as they ride out in convoy, 30 km from Bani Walid, on September 3, 2011. (CARL DE SOUZA/AFP/Getty Images)1
It’s not just that I think morality is non-cognitive and largely bad in most people, it’s that I think it’s useless to engage in. The struggle someone on the political and cultural fringes faces is not moral or intellectual – a matter of normative values or ideas – but physical. If we have the physical organization, including of course intangibles like network, influence, wealth, etc. we need not concern ourselves with the broken moralizing of herd animals or the cultivated ignorance of the creepy left: just as left-liberals don’t bother Chinese eugenicists, it isn’t because the Chinese won an argument, it’s because they will shoot liberal fruitloops who try to interfere.
This is also why I find the ‘libertarian movement’ to be tedious and ineffectual, despite broad sympathy with their ruling-class-annihilation schemes. The fact is that the masses are not educable, that their morality is not amenable to reality, and that libertarians can be as right as they want, if they’re not willing to fight the state they’re just not committed to libertarianism.
This essay was authored by Paul Gottfried for Nomocracy in Politics.
As a young faculty member at Rockford College forty years ago, my divisional chairman, who was a devout Straussian, once told me that a faculty colleague did not believe in “liberal democracy.” I’ve no idea how my superior arrived at this discovery, but he was clearly incensed and felt “real enmity” for people who didn’t see any difference between “liberal democracy and other forms of government.” My superior also shared with me a text he was then working on that showed definitively that Marx “rejected liberal democracy.” The strange thing is that up until the moment I listened to these harangues, I had never encountered the term “liberal democracy” and when I first heard it used (at age thirty-one), I thought it was a reference to Democrats who had endorsed George McGovern.
In 1974, a daredevil walked across a tightrope that connected the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers. It was called “the artistic crime of the century.” The DA considered trespassing charges but dropped them in the face of the city’s enthusiasm for their new hero. The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey awarded him with a lifetime pass to the South Tower’s observation deck.
Last week, the NYPD demanded that the BASE jumpers who leapt off the Freedom Tower last September turn themselves in to authorities. After they surrendered on Monday, the NY Post said that the jumpers’ “only regret was getting caught.” My only regret is that we didn’t hold a parade for these guys. Have you seen the video? It takes balls to even watch. They are standing there almost 2,000 feet off the ground breathing heavily and saying things such as “Hell, yeah,” “Thanks, bro,” and finally, “You got this, man” before leaping into the black abyss. The highest bungee jumps in the world are barely half that height, and I doubt anyone reading this would have the courage to try any of them. These guys did it with no help from anyone, and they landed on the West Side Highway without inconveniencing a soul. But instead of giving them lifetime passes, the new Port Authority joined “the NYPD in condemning this lawless and selfish act.” Our life expectancy may have increased by ten years in the past half century, but our balls are 80% smaller.
“America was founded on mutts from all over the world who were sick of being told what to do. Now we live in a culture where rules rule.”
On March 13, the Colorado Court of Appeals issued a ruling that may provide a benefit for a small but not insignificant number of the people arrested for marijuana in the state. Brandi Jessica Russell had her 2011 conviction for possession of less than an ounce of marijuana overturned, and this precedent could be applied to other specific cases where the defendants had appeals in process when Colorado’s Amendment 64 passed in November 2012.
The victory will be small, since most people charged with drug possession plead out instead. But it’s progress. And in spite of some handwringing about the legal precedent set by retroactively applying a law by such dissenters as The Denver Post editorial board, this is a good thing. As Tom Angell, the founder of the Marijuana Majority, told me by email, “The voters of Colorado … declared the war on marijuana a failure on Election Day 2012. It’s very good news that their sensible action at the ballot box will not only prevent more people from being arrested under senseless prohibition laws but will provide help to those who have been caught in the grips of those laws in years past.”
The drug war. We often here about how this or that Republican politician is a “libertarian” or “libertarian-leaning” or a “friend of liberty.” In the vast majority of the cases (if not all of them) said Republican politician supports the war on drugs. Oh, some of them may say that the states should decide if marijuana should be legal, but they themselves favor its prohibition and, of course, all stronger drugs as well. The drug war is a great litmus test for Republicans who want to get libertarian votes on election day. I propose that any Republican politician who is not in favor of ending the drug war is not a libertarian, libertarian-leaning, or a friend of liberty. He is an enemy of these things and not worthy of libertarian votes no matter how “good” he appears to be on other issues.
The War on Drugs is an unmitigated failure. Those who support that war might recall Prohibition, a similar deployment of government paternalism, which was wisely repealed 80 years ago this month.
Prohibition was the result of misnamed “temperance” crusaders who sought to outlaw the manufacture, transportation, and sale of alcoholic beverages. On January 16, 1920, they got what they wanted in the 18th Amendment.
Prohibition temporarily lowered alcohol consumption in the early and mid-1920s. The “noble experiment” not only failed to alleviate the various ills decried by prohibitionists but succeeded in making most of them worse.
The FDA may soon kill off the world’s most delicious dessert—Baltimore’s own Berger Cookies. Please believe I make this claim as one who is not otherwise overly enamored of sweets.
For those who haven’t had the pleasure, we’re talking fudge slathered over a shortbread cookie to rapturous effect.
If you are one who feels another dessert has a better claim to distinction, know that it doesn’t matter. Whatever you’re into will be banned too if it contains artificial trans fats, which the FDA may decide to outlaw as soon as January.
While restrictions on smoking in public are becoming stricter across the country, one California town has taken things a step further and banned smoking in all homes that share walls with other residences.
The new city ordinance in San Rafael, California prohibits smoking in any homes that share common walls, including apartments, condominiums, co-ops, and even multi-family residences that hold three units or more.