The “War on Drugs” is Really a War on You

by Kevin Carson

Hardly a week goes by without me seeing another think piece on the question: “Are we winning the war on drugs?”

That depends on who “we” is. The War on Drugs has certainly served some very powerful interests in our society. Between the Drug War and the War on Terror, we’ve militarized police culture with SWAT teams, turned the Fourth through Sixth Amendments into toilet paper, and created the biggest prison-industrial complex in the world. From the standpoint of those who push the Drug War the hardest, these are all — as Martha Stewart would say — good things.

The Drug War has handed over the entire country to organized crime gangs fighting over control of the drug trade. And one of the biggest gangs involved in this turf war is the one in police uniforms. Big city (and increasingly, small city) law enforcement is a wretched empire of entrapment, warrants sworn out on false pretenses, perjured testimony by jailhouse snitches, coerced plea bargains, and civil forfeiture robbery.

Internationally, by far the biggest drug cartel of all is the CIA. It’s used the global drug trade, from the Golden Triangle to the Northern Alliance territory in Afghanistan, to fund black ops that wouldn’t even pass the smell test of the U.S. Congress — and that’s saying a lot.

Just consider the real story behind Afghanistan. One of the reason the Taliban was so unpopular, and the population was so eager to throw off their rule, was that they really did hate drugs — they virtually stamped out the poppy cultivation that had been a main source of income for dirt-poor Afghans. Meanwhile, the opium trade flourished in Northern Alliance territory (a lot like the good ol’ boy sheriff here in Arkansas who turns a blind eye to the farmer with a mortgage who cultivates a little wacky weed to make ends meet). And now that the Northern Alliance has become the Afghan national government — that’s right, you got it — Afghanistan is once again the center of world opium production. If you believe Our Troops are really trying to stamp it out, you probably still look under your pillow for a dime from the Tooth Fairy.

So the Drug War is every bit a success in furthering the interests of America’s real government: The unholy alliance of the intelligence community, the drug cartels, the big banks that launder drug cartel money, and the domestic police state apparatus.

My guess is that the most hard-core drug warrior politicians, sincere or not, whether they’re aware of it or not, get most of their campaign funds from laundered drug cartel money — just as bootleggers used to be the biggest campaign contributors to teetotaling Baptist preachers running for office.

I would guess, further, that any major party presidential candidate who offered a credible promise to end the War on Drugs would find himself buried deeper than Jimmy Hoffa, with more fingerprints on the operation than a million Warren Commissions sitting for a million years could make sense of.

So in the War on Drugs, the important thing to keep in mind is that the public isn’t the customer — it’s the product. On second thought, maybe you better forget it and go back to watching “Dancing with the Stars.”

4 responses to “The “War on Drugs” is Really a War on You

  1. This sort of article is why I keep criticising the Carsonite paradigm. It’s not that it’s entirely wrong, it’s that it’s insufficiently right, and it’s that thing where a partial explanation points you in the wrong direction. Like with roads, you know.

    It’s certainly true that various classes and lobbies benefit from the War On Drugs. But that isn’t why we have one. It is like, radical Islam benefits burka manufacturers, but that isn’t why Radical Islam exists. And to use the metaphor within the article, it was certainly true that bootleggers benefitted from Prohibition, but that wasn’t why Prohibition happened. It happened because of the “Baptists” (the Victorian Era second wave Puritans), and they are why we have a War On Drugs too, which began as a secondary campaign by those same second wave Puritans. In fact, they are the reason for most of the prohibitions in our society; the wave of Victorian Era prohibitionism that constitute in toto a War On Sin (or a War On Fun) intended to herald the Post-Millennial return of Christ.

    “My eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord” sang the Union troops, or at least that’s what they were supposed to sing, in that ghastly bloodthirsty song by an evil puritan harridan- one of the cohort of vicious old matrons who more than anyone else inflicted Big Social Government on the Anglosphere.

    It’s partly about the money, but it’s not really about the money. That’s not the most important thing. I phoned in a while ago to the BBC to support Dr Gabb on a wireless broadcast about whether clothing should have an age rating on it. They didn’t put me on, they put on instead an absurd Scotsman who insisted that 14 year old girls should be playing with dolls and prams, not thinking about boys. Dr Gabb was facing the usual gaggle of mithering puritan matrons saying the same as the idiot Scotsman. They were all from “not for profit” activist groups, not big business or the military industrial complex. They are the enemy. They are the cause. We really need to get the right focus, here.

  2. The issue is not “puritanism” per se. There is nothing wrong with an abstemious or even ascetic lifestyle. It is the desire to stick ones nose into other peoples business and force others to conform to ones own standards that is the issue–and that extends across many belief systems. It is not Christian belief that demands others obey but a holdover from the days when churches where major political players.

  3. Puritanism is not defined by an ascetic lifestyle (thought it is to an extent by an ascetic ideology). It is defined by the desire to impose it on all. The original Puritans were determined to impose a particular style of Christianity and church upon everyone, and were prepared to fight a devastating civil war (twice in fact if you count the USA) to do so. Such ideals do indeed exist in other cultures and religions; radical islam is their puritanism, for instance. Again, it’s not the burka per se that is the problem, it’s the desire to use force to make every woman wear one that is the problem.

    It was the second wave Puritans (who we call “non-conformists” and are in the USA generally associated with being “Yankee”) who switched from a focus on the church itself to a focus on lifestyle modification, under a post-milennialist framework; the intention being to purify the world to induce the return of Christ.

    Puritanism is indeed a particular form of Christianity (and these days, “post-Christianity”). To criticise it is not to criticise the Christian faith in general, which has and has had many other forms, many of which have been far more positive, pleasant, individualist, etc.

  4. Ian B.: If you and I agree on nothing else, we agree on your characterization of the Transcendentalist/Unitarian/post-puritan “reform” type coming out of New England and the Burnt-out District after the last Great Awakening.