Wednesday 23 April 2014

The War on Drugs is a War on Drug Addicts

"There is no war on drugs, you can't have a war on inanimate objects, what there is is a war on drug addicts. When there is a war on drug addicts, it's very difficult to save anybody."
Gabor Mate

"What is addiction, really? It is a sign, a signal, a symptom of distress. It is a language that tells us about a plight that must be understood."
Alice Miller  

I'm very much looking forward to Professor David Nutt's talk – 'The Truth About Drugs', on the Isle of Man next Monday. I wanted to put some stuff on this blog about the drugs war, but I'm going away tomorrow so will only have time to do this one post. I considered concentrating on the economics of the war, but that's really shooting fish in a barrel, we established that prohibition doesn't work (unless you're Al Capone) back in the 1920's.1 Another aspect of this that really fascinates me and makes a farce of the whole thing, is that the same governments that prohibit drugs are often also involved in dealing them. The CIA's role in bringing drugs into the United States has been documented beyond doubt for at least the past twenty years, with Congressman Ron Paul even suggesting that this might be the number one reason why they're criminalised - 'so governments can have a revenue source to do illegal things.' 2

The aspect of the war that most interests and disturbs me however, is that like all wars it has a terrible human cost. Attempting to stop people from using drugs by making them illegal means that those who do must face some form of penalty, usually being locked away in jail. This always struck me as morally wrong, throwing someone in a cage for the 'crime' of ingesting a plant, but just how wrong has been illustrated to me recently by the work of Dr. Gabor Mate. Whilst many people try drugs, not all become addicts, it would seem some people have a higher level of susceptibility than others. Dr. Mate's clinical experience and research lead him to believe that the difference here can largely be attributed to emotional disturbances resulting from trauma in a persons history, most likely in their childhood. He goes as far to say that not one of the most seriously addicted female heroin users he works with in the slum area of Vancouver, wasn't sexual abused in their childhood. The 'war on drugs' is then nothing other than a war on the most vulnerable and abused people in our society -   

“The treatment implication is that if we see addiction amongst other conditions not as a genetically inherited disease but as a problem of brain development, then the question we would be asking ourselves, knowing that the human brain can develop late on in life, if the conditions are right, then the question we would be asking ourselves is 'what conditions do people need for their brains to develop properly, at any age.' Now, the worst possible condition is when you stress an ostracise and criminalise and dehumanise people, under those conditions there's no growth whatsoever. So the war on drugs which is in fact a war on drug addicts which is in fact a war on the most abused section of our population from birth onwards, which is exactly the wrong thing to engage in if you're really intent on helping people and to help redeem them from their addictive habits.”
Gabor Mate

Dr. Mate points out that we can all (himself included) indulge in destructive addictive behaviour to varying degrees, be it shopping or alcohol or work etc. Not wanting to admit to this, society points the finger of blame specifically at those addicted to drugs as a form of scapegoating, projecting blame onto others rather than accepting and dealing with our own issues.

There is a longer TED video, where Dr. Mate talks about his work and his own struggles with addiction, resulting from being born a Jew in Hungary during the Nazi invasion, here -  

1 – This piece by Johann Hari really makes the point -

2 – Someones jut made this rather nice little film running through the history of CIA drug trafficing -
The interview where Ron Paul made these astonishing comments can be seen here -

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Monday 21 April 2014

'The Truth About Drugs' - A Talk on the Isle of Man

Next Monday the Isle of Man Freethinkers and the Positive Action Group have arranged for Professor David Nutt to visit the Isle of Man and give a public talk on drugs policy. Unsurprisingly, I have some strong opinions on the criminalisation of drugs, and I'll try and blog some of these during the week. For now though here's the advert for Professor's Nutt's talk, which I personally am very much looking forward to attending.

Professor David Nutt is to give a talk at the Manx Museum on Monday 28th April entitled “The Truth About Drugs: A Basis for a Fair and Rational Policy?”

It was revealed last year that 40% of inmates in Jurby Prison were serving sentences for drug-related offences. And with IoM drug seizures reaching record levels (Ecstasy up 70 fold, Cannabis up 10 fold – Source: Chief Constable’s Annual Report 2012-2013) maybe we should be re -examining our policies and priorities.

David Nutt is Professor of Neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College London, and was Chair of the UK Government’s Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD). He was famously sacked by the Home Secretary for writing a paper comparing the harms of ecstasy with those of horse riding, and for publicly criticizing the Government for ignoring scientific advice by reclassifying cannabis from Group C to Group B indicating increased harmfulness. Professor Nutt has lectured all over the world on the subject of drug and alcohol policy and addiction, and his book “Drugs Without the Hot Air” has been widely acclaimed. He is President of the British Neuroscience Association, Chair of the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs (ISCD) and Vice-President of the European Brain Council.

The talk, on 28th April, is jointly sponsored by the Positive Action Group (PAG) and the Isle of Man Freethinkers.

A spokesperson said: "Both groups are delighted to have persuaded such an eminent expert to visit the Isle of Man to question and examine issues relating to a long accepted drug policy. After the talk the audience will have chance to question the speaker in what may well prove to be a lively Q & A session."

Topics to be covered will be:
How harmful are alcohol and tobacco compared to illegal drugs?
Does the “war on drugs” cause more harm than good? How does it affect legitimate scientific research into potentially valuable therapies?
What should you tell your children about drugs, and at what age?
Does prison or a criminal record do more harm to young people than smoking cannabis?
What about “legal highs”

All are welcome and admission is free, but with a voluntary exit collection

And here's an interview with Professor Nutt by the ever interesting guys at London Real - 

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Friday 18 April 2014

Remembering Mike Ruppert

I was Very sad yesterday to hear that investigative journalist Michael C. Ruppert had taken his own life. I saw Mike deliver his lecture 'The Truth and Lies of 9/11' in Amsterdam eleven years ago, where he laid out the case for elements within the US government having been involved in the events of September the 11th. Mike was one of the most prominent voices questioning the official account of 9/11 in those early days and his book 'Crossing the Rubicon – The Decline of the American Empire at the End of the Age of Oil', was the first one I read on the subject and I believe remains one of the best. Mike particularly documented the insider trading that went on on 9/11, the unbelievable coincidence of war games mirroring the actual attacks that took place that day and the CIA's connections to international terrorism and the global drugs trade. The latter was a subject he had famously confronted the then CIA Director John Deutch on, publicly informing him of the Agencies long standing role of importing narcotics into the United States.

Mike's erudite research provided a platform for myself and lots of other people to understand the events of September 11th and wider geopolitics in a much deeper way. It's very sad that this work seems to have taken such a heavy toll on the man himself.

Tuesday 1 April 2014

The Libertarian Anarchy Lecture

The videos are here, Professor Gerard Casey's Libertarian Anarchy lecture is now online and available for viewing below.  It's split into two parts, the main lecture and the question and answer session.

And here are some links to subjects Professor Casey mentioned during the talk - 

George Ought to Help - A four minute cartoon explaining the non-aggression principle upon which libertarianism rests and how governments violate this.

Roads Fit for People - An experiment of what happened when traffic lights at a busy junction were switched off and drivers were left to organise priority between themselves.

Professor Casey touched on government control of education.  There're lots of great resources on this, I would particularly recommend anything by the American teacher John Taylor Gatto.  I'll just link to a free book by Libertarian 'guru' Murray Rothbard - 'Education Free and Compulsory'.  Rothbard documents that the State's involvement in education has always been a means of social control, form Sparta to the present day.  As you can see from the opening paragraph, he doesn't pull his punches - 

"The record of the development of compulsory education is a record of State usurpation of parental control over children on behalf of its own; an imposition of uniformity and equality to repress individual growth; and the development of techniques to hinder the growth of reasoning power and independent thought among the children."

The subject of the environment was raised during the questions, specifically how it might be protected in the absence of a government.  You can hear Libertarian Walter Block discussing this issue and explaining how a free-market has protected the environment in the past and could do so again.

Here's economist Bob Murphy discussing how property rights could evolve to tackle the issue of global warming, without the need for government.  This segment starts at the twenty one minute mark.  (there is however a very interesting discussion on the economics of why slavery couldn't exist in a Stateless society before that).

Finally and perhaps most importantly the subject of Democide was raised, how governments are simply too dangerous to be allowed to exist due to them being the number one cause of unnatural deaths throughout history.  This hard hitting video by Alex Jones documents the murder rate of different State's around the world, it contains some graphic images.

Thanks to all those who attended and supported the lecture for making the production of this video possible.  If anyone would like any information on any other topic raised then leave a comment and I'll do my best to to link to some.

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