old fashioned family values

LI is a pro-drugs site. It is a pro-sex site. It is a pro-hedonism site. We stand upon the principle that you should be able to put whatever chemicals get you high in your bloodstream once you reach the age of maturity; and that you should be able to sell said chemicals, under the kind of regulations common to such commodities, without fear of arrest. No ifs, ands or buts.

The history of drug bans goes back to the temperance and progressive movements in the 1900s in the U.S. – the country that drove the whole international prohibition movement. Certainly the Brits and the French, with their lucrative opium businesses, were not enthusiasts for the regime of coercive sobriety that enthused the Yankees. Recently, we’ve been reading a very entertaining history of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (remembered, if at all, for whipping up the reefer madness hysteria). The Strength of the Wolf by Douglas Valentine, is a gold mine of the old weird America – the legendary weave of national security thugs, narcs, drug dealers, Mafioso, and politicians which conspiracy groupies love to ponder, the world within a world of the Lee Harvey Oswald character in Libra, the fascoid underbelly of the American Dream, if your version of the American Dream is the Black Dahlia.

Valentine makes us realize that the government and business derived two advantages from the banning of narcotics. One was realized early on: black money could be used to support surreptitious foreign policy. As early as the twenties, the U.S. government was cooperating with the Nationalist Chinese government to import opium into the U.S., washing the money back to our anti-communist friends among the Nationalist fascists. If Mao Zedong had failed to unseat the Nationalists, we would look back on Chiang Kai Shek as one of the great mass murderers of the twentieth century, behind Hitler and Stalin. Unfortunately for China, his millions are cast into the shadow by Mao’s more millions. Typically, the tension between the American policy of supporting the Nationalists and supporting prohibition created a structurally disastrous system of corruption that ultimately helped destroy the Nationalists, but not before it had spread the network of abetting narcotics and banning them all over Southeast Asia. Poison tutti frutti. The U.S. has pretty much gone with the same model ever since: the Mafia in Sicily in WWII, the Laotian warlord/opium dealers, the Contra coke-runners, Afghani poppy farmers – it is all a golden braid.
LI naively thought that the other advantage was mere coincidence – the proliferation of true dope by way of “legitimate” pharmaceutical companies. Apparently this wasn’t just an unexpected synergy – the FBN cultivated its contacts with big pharma. Every dope head tells some story about how driving out marijuana and letting in tranquillizers is a sort of master plan. This is not a myth – or not only a myth – but a dim memory, much as the memories that collected around barrows over the cliffs near the Bosphorus sorted themselves out in a tale of gods and heroes. In an age in which big pharma routinely reaches down to the elementary school level (in schools that put up signs with the wonderfully brazen lie, Drug Free Zone, under which the dispense colorful attention and mood alterers like M and Ms to the six year old to twelve year old set), I suppose it is naïve to suppose this has all been a big coincidence. Still, it is a bit shocking to realize that Anslinger, the head of the FBN, was instrumental in revising the League of Nation’s accords on pharmaceuticals to open up the international market. There is nothing like knowing that yesterday’s narc was moonlighting for yesterday’s makers of prototype barbs and diet pills to make the paranoia and night sweat of someone like Burroughs seem like the most naturalistic and reasonable response to the historic circumstances.

PS – the counter-recruitment folks out there shouldn’t be too worried by this Washington Post story that the Army met its recruitment goals in June. It met them by cutting down the goals to meet them. From an earlier WP story:

"The Army will make a "monumental effort" to bring in the average 10,000 recruits a month required this summer, said Maj. Gen. Michael D. Rochelle, head of the Army's recruiting command. An additional 500 active-duty recruiters will be added in the next two months -- on top of an increase of 1,000 earlier this year."

If the 10,000 mark is used, the Army fell short by about 4,000.

Starving the beast is a long journey, but step by step will stop the flow of WMD to Bush and his criminal gang.


Deleted said…
I take it, then, that you don't support staying the course in any of these happy little wars? The drug war, at least, allows us to live in fear and kill each other.
kmort said…
I don't think cyberpunks or nova goys or freaks of whatever flavor should be opposed to recruitment or even a draft. There are decent reasons why hs dropouts should be conscripted: many urban blacks or hispanics are most likely better off in the Army or Marines than as gangstas.

And if gung ho high school thugs are voluntarily enlisting and then get caught in a firefight and sent back stateside in a bag my sympathies at their demise is limited: the yokel conscript dead in 'Nam, who never knew what was really occurring, thinking he was doing the right thing--that is tragedy.

I am not one to side with the Vichy but a Sartre so much above a Celine?
Deleted said…
I wonder if the best fate for people who can't fit into school is the military. I'm not so sure it's good for the military either. Our society is militarized right down to cops treating neighborhood patrols like they were looking for fights. Conscription in many neighborhoods would have to be in the form of press gangs. I think the smart way to deal with young thugs is to rope them into something they like doing that carries a bit of status.
roger said…
Hey, this is about a strike, not the end of the military. The strike has a limited goal: to deny manpower to the war in Iraq. That's the only goal involved here -- there's no larger point about career opportunities in the military. I'm not a pacifist, and I think I differ from you, Harry, in thinking the Afghanistan war was justified. Alas, the justification is now living in Pakistan, and we are paying 3 billion per to his zookeepers, the Pakistani gov, to maintain the farce that we are doing something... But that is another story altogether.

About becoming a soldier: it is good for some people, bad for others. The goal of the strike is simply to delay enlistment until the American gov hollers uncle and gets out.

I don't have any other great philosophical insight into it.
Deleted said…
Roger, I think the war in Afghanistan continues to make no sense and is, as you say, another story altogether.

I'm not a pacifist either, though I do prefer others to do my killing for me, whenever possible. It's also worth noting that there's been very little done in the last few years that the vigilance committee couldn't have handled better.