"All the World's a Stage We Pass Through" R. Ayana

Wednesday 2 April 2008

Recreational Freedom: The Politics of Ecstasies

Recreational Freedom  
The Politics of Ecstasies     

The prohibition of many recreational drugs is more than just a random abuse of civil liberties. It is deliberately maintained by governments as a tool for international political control.
         Most countries are signatory to one or more ‘drug control’ agreements – either of their own choice, or through diplomatic pressure from more influential nations. These treaties impose certain obligations on the governments involved, though in practice they are selectively enforced for political purposes.
         One of the most obvious examples of this cynical manipulation is the US attempt to oust Panama’s General Noriega on the grounds he was involved in cocaine trafficking. The hypocrisy of this action became apparent when it was realised that top U.S. officials knew all about Noriega since at least 1983 but didn’t start to act until 1987. Since the mid-1970s, Noriega had been a paid agent of the U.S. and his activities were tolerated and even encouraged – as long as he remained on side with the U.S. Government’s Central American policies.   Sudden extradition attempts and media hate campaigns against Noriega were a result of him falling out of favour with Washington, who decided to use their drug policy tool against him. This softened up Panama for subsequent illegal invasion in a ‘police action’ by U.S. troops that forcibly removed the dictator from office – but certainly didn’t stem the tide of cocaine.
       There are numerous advantages in using drug policy as a political tool;  Firstly, it’s easy to disguise political assaults as police actions on populations or individuals and to avoid questions as to ulterior motives. Political enemies can easily be persecuted on trumped-up charges or have evidence planted on them by corrupt officials.  Secondly, there is a large and effective propaganda machine dedicated to spreading the false belief that all ‘illegal drugs’ are evil, as is anyone associated with them. This means that any accusation of ‘drug crimes’ automatically blackens the reputation of the accused and makes their position harder to defend, while at the same time distracting public attention from real issues.
  It must be borne in mind that the manufacturers of legal drugs – who are responsible for over 95% of all drug-related deaths – are completely ignored by the same authorities who will baulk at nothing in their persecution of those supplying less dangerous commodities.  In 1987 the US Attorney-General Edwin Meese (who subsequently resigned after corruption allegations were leveled at him) suggested that the Air Force should shoot down any aircraft suspected of carrying ‘illegal drugs’ and ask questions later. In one New York high school at the same time, police tortured a student with electric cattle prods after marijuana was found in his possession. [Similar practices are now widespread in a society that has seemingly come to tolerate even more extreme forms of torture.]
       U.S. cars and boats can be confiscated even if the smallest quantity of cannabis is found on board. In Australia civil liberties eroded long ago, to the extent that warrants are no longer required in most states for searching homes or vehicles – as long as there is a ‘suspicion’ that drugs are present (the local equivalent of U.S. ‘probable cause’).
          All property can be confiscated from suspected drug dealers from the time of their arrest, reversing the centuries-old protection of presumption of innocence. Furthermore, the unconvicted ‘offender’ must prove that anything in their possession was acquired legally or it is confiscated in a complete reversal of due process; it’s normally required that law enforcement agencies prove a crime has been committed, before taking punitive measures against convicted criminals – let alone those merely accused of having committed a victimless crime. Likewise, blood and urine tests are selectively applied, as mechanisms of social control and stigmatisation – they are not designed to be random, like alcohol breath tests.
         The situation is made all the more repulsive by the fact that there were cynical political reasons for most of these drugs being prohibited back in the 1930s.  The international economics of prohibition, while both simple and obvious, somehow escapes all mention in mainstream media; when a product in demand is prohibited, it will be supplied by ‘criminals’. The prices will escalate to cover the overheads of secret production and transport, bribery etc. High prices mean that poorer nations are attracted to drug exports as a means of paying extortionate international debts. 

Inevitably, almost all ‘third world’ economies are boosted by quasi-official exports of ‘illegal’ products, often with the involvement of government officials.  The anti-drug enforcement authorities know this, but use it for political advantage by persecuting their enemies while ignoring the same actions performed by their friends. And not just friends, but partners in high-level corruption, including manufacture, transportation and laundering of more money than most people can imagine.   

          [Do you think it’s surprising that Afghani production of opium is out of control now that the nation is under ‘international’ control? Does anyone recall the world-wide flood of heroin that accompanied French and U.S. incursions into Vietnam and the Golden Triangle? The mass media abounds in numerous reports of instances when nations and organisations raised unreportable ‘black’ money by controlling the production and dissemination of illegal drugs – it’s long been the common practice of many governments and intelligence agencies. Ice – smokeable speed – was formulated as a way for the C.I.A. to raise money domestically within the U.S. from underprivileged ethnic minorities.]
       These conditions create a natural link between drug prohibition and terrorism. High-priced drugs are shipped from producer countries in return for armaments from the developed nations which buy the drugs. This was the case with the Nicaraguan “Contras”, who repeatedly sent cocaine and cannabis to the U.S. in exchange for guns and bombs. In 1984, a funding exercise arranged by then Colonel Oliver North even involved the landing of twelve tons of marijuana at Homestead Air Force Base in Florida(!) North operated with the knowledge of the highest levels of political power in the U.S. at the time. For some reason the ‘anti-drug’ Reagan administration – responsible for inaugurating many of the international treaties that removed the civil rights of recreational drug users and producers – continued to support the cocaine-trafficking Contras while taking extreme punitive measures against others.
          Accusations of official complicity in ‘drug trafficking’ provide a powerful means of putting pressure on leaders, who can be extradited to face trial in the courts of their political enemies – all without a squeak of international protest. Individual citizens can be selectively victimised in similar ways for a multitude of reasons.  [Many of the millions incarcerated in U.S. prisons – more than one adult in a hundred in the ;land of the free’ - have been locked up for victimless crimes of possession of recreational substances – drugs that many policemen, politicians, judges, soldiers, corporate high flyers and a huge proportion of the population use every day.]
         The next time you see a news report about the ‘drug trade’, don’t let the propaganda machines program your brain – read between the li(n)es!      

- Kenny B. Satyr 

    This is a version of an article first published twenty years ago (in NEXUS New Times Magazine, Vol. 1 No 6); twenty years of selective repression, destroyed lives and enormous profits for drug manufacturers of all stripes. Those who profit include the merchants of death who sell us poisoned Corporate chemicalised tobacco and alcohol ‘products’ – and the chemical corporations that produce toxic, legally sanctioned and obscenely profitable ‘medical’ drugs.

          Many natural alternatives to these poisons are true cures for a multitude of ailments – but if they’re so easily propagated that no-one can legally own them (at a molecular and genetic level) and control their production, you’re not allowed to use – or grow or sell – many of Mother Nature’s most useful, versatile and easily grown plants.  The illegalised drug trade has become the biggest-grossing business on the planet, nudging past weapons and even oil. 

       Who really reaps all the profits from this? Certainly not the citizens of nations with draconian anti-drug laws, who pay with their property and lives, to cover the exorbitant prices required by addicts to service their habits.    Certainly not the small-time producers, dealers and users – or the nations that must shoulder the huge monetary and social costs of incarcerating many fundamentally innocent citizens, while protecting massive illegal drug supply routes with pyrrhic military operations. As everyone should know by know, many of the kingpins of the illegal drug trade are well-regarded, ultra-wealthy pillars of society.

      The real costs are borne by everyone, even those who imagine they’re above the effects of their plunder. Healthy populations don’t spend or consume as much as sick ones – the economic equation is that simple. Humans are seen as very common and replaceable commodities by a majority of those who wield power – whose catchcry goes, ‘It’s the economy, stupid’. The lovers of money are lethal to us all.
        Decriminalisation is only a good start, a first step – legalisation of all naturally occurring recreational substances is the only just and all-encompassing solution to the political, economic, health, social and justice issues created by the failed policies of selectively enforced prohibition and ‘zero tolerance’.   Regulation – not criminalisation - is only really required for manufactured drugs and pharmaceuticals with dangerously low lethal dose thresholds – including heroin, cocaine and the vast majority of legally prescribed pharmaceuticals.

        The quality, dosage and safety of illegal manufactured substances is always questionable. Know your source - and remember how many dirty fingers have probably touched what you’re putting into your body, on its way down clandestine supply routes.   We can create a much better New Millennium than the one our power-mongering dinosaur ‘leaders’ have in mind. Your parents and grandparents were happy and satisfied to be lied to by those who still get away with stealing the wealth and knowledge of the Earth for themselves – are you?   Are you about to imbibe some insanely expensive corporate chemical poison potion - a ‘beverage’ that has a little bit of alcohol added? Litre for litre the stuff costs about as much as gasoline to produce, and is about as safe to drink; it can swiftly cost you your health and life. Better to brew or distill your own; better still to get the monkey off your back. Are you still smoking that government sanctioned, highly taxed corporatised brown weed - instead of an alternative that actually makes you feel better and question supposed authority? Better to grow your own. Home-grown tobacco always tastes better.

         There are always much better alternatives than those offered you by ignorant political gangster and their cronies. Turn on. Tune in. Opt OUT!    

 -               R.A.
image - R.A.

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