We rely on Fiction far more than we are prepared to admit. The UK was once a major drug grower and trader whilst insisting on Prohibition at home. The Opium Wars and all that – though the trade was still going on after 1900. There’s information on Wikipedia and you can read up for free at the Gutenberg Project (get the Google gadget – it’s great source of old books). We gave interest free loans to Indian growers and were involved in later manufacturing, product diversification and delivery. Monies concerned are listed in official government financial statements.
Heroin was once a currency, used by the Chinese hierarchy to buy goods and services and we competed with this. The trade goes on, having merely changed its form. Until we understand this, we cannot sort out the problems. The arguments are written in moral posturing and panic.
The trade needs to be decriminalised, but the criminality involved still needs to be dealt with. Currently, key evidence lies in possession – take this away and police will find it even more difficult to deal with the nuisance, violence, exploitation and other matters that should be the real concern. Alternatives are available – and the current system does not work at all well. Most cops will say privately it’s like cutting a head off the Hydra.
Prohibitions are not all bad – we prohibit murder and other behaviour. If prohibition worked reasonably well in the drug arena, I would vote for it (not that one can vote on anything that does matter). Give and take would be involved in my decision. I would want anyone to be free to take clean drugs, yet also do not want anyone to live near the nuisance druggies usually cause – and so on. Questions as to whether we would all end up as druggies if the stuff was freely available are pertinent, as is whether this would be a bad thing.
Many of the old rackets are now legalised – numbers to national lotteries and so on. Booze and fags … and key here is the stuff being taxed. All sorts of stuff is peddled at us that is no good for us – from fast-food and snacks to ‘Quantum Jumping’ and Scientology. It’s very sad to see children die because they steal Daddy’s stash, but they also die drinking bleach from under the sink.
David Malone (http://golemxiv-credo.blogspot.com/) puts forward a speculative and interesting piece on what may be involved with the drug trade. It would be interesting to account for what is involved in the trade as a whole – the lifehistory of atoms grown as drugs and their progress in destroying lives and creating banks – something like Julian Barnes’ history from the earthworm’s point of view.
I’m struggling with a change in my diabetes at the moment and am losing weight. Some sad experience on opium, an experience ‘forced’ on many poor people, might almost help! In some places, drugs are cheaper than food, life miserable enough for balls of opium to be preferable to another form of daily grind. One can find the same round the corner, if prepared to look. Life is so great, even some of the ‘successful’ blow themselves away on white and brown powders.
It’s true, that as you blow some Bolivian marching powder up your nose, that you are, in part ‘responsible’ for some of the war-scale deaths in South America – but you are ‘responsible’ for much squalor in eating a tin of tuna. I wonder, at least, whether a trade that ends up with some scumbag cutting his product with ‘Vim’ and creates banks, is both worse and bigger than we know. The current mess stops someone in pain getting some ‘medicinal herb’, allows various scum a living, kills, ruins lives and the rest, makes ‘responsible bwank’ profits and encourages criminality. We need to have its economics in public circulation, remembering this wasn’t the case in our exploitation of China. The drugs, of course, are in public circulation. Easier to get than the real arguments.
Decriminalisation arguments need to demonstrate how much criminal, shit behaviour will be controlled and what steps can be taken to ensure the money-grubbers don’t find other ways to ‘trade and bwank’. We would not just be taking on street scrote in this. Decriminalsation might well need new laws to deal with shit behaviour – and has in the Dutch attempts. Such law is likely to be administrative law (ASBOs are an example). This is a challenge to vested interests in our ludicrous courts and their fanny-farting over celebrity secrets and evasion of access to very serious problems faced by ordinary people harassed by the drug gangs and soundblaster terrorists.
Off-beam, we might look at video games and Internet pornography in the same light. The entrepreneurs are good at selling us shoddy shite. Why is this so easy? Banks appear in poor towns where there is no market, and money made in all kinds of dubious industries eventually puts us in its thrall, leeching from our work. The drugs and prostitution people buy up hotels, catering and so on (good studies on Amsterdam). We end up working for the ‘power’ this money brings, if indirectly. Drugs are just one example of accumulation that is not about a fair day’s pay for a hard day’s work. We need to question who makes the money and why so many get involved, for pay that is less than the minimum wage, generally welfare supported. They would still need money to buy legal drugs, and we would be taking their livelihoods away. What might they do? Steal your TV rather than flog other crap?
The difficulties are no reason not to go for radical change. We need to break through the off-the-shelf arguments of moral panic and chronic self-interest. If agriculture is 4% of world GDP and criminality, including drugs is higher, what is going on? It’s much cheaper to have a day out on drugs than to make a trip to Blackpool.