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Liberalization vs. Prohibition, Elites & the War on Drugs

Blog posts are the work of individual contributors, reflecting their thoughts, opinions and research.
Pic of entrance to University of Texas, El Paso by dawn.
Pic of entrance to University of Texas, El Paso by dawn.

This Tuesday, "a never-seen-before combination of Oxford debating and Silicon Valley prowess" (who the heck wrote their copy?) will combine their powers for a fancy mega debate on the drug war.

Ok, first, credit where credit is due. The event title, It's time to end the war on drugs, is kickass.

That said, I think the terms of the "debate" -to take place on March 13th- are actually counterproductive, at least for those of us who believe that ending the (so called) drug war is necessary.

Check out how organizers have framed the discussion:

Prohibitionists argue that legalising anything increases its consumption. The world has enough of a problem with legal drugs like alcohol and tobacco, so why add to the problem by legalising cannabis, cocaine and heroin? 

The liberalisers say prohibition doesn’t work. By declaring certain drugs illegal we haven’t reduced consumption or solved any problem. Instead we’ve created an epidemic of crime, illness, failed states and money laundering. 

So, the pro-war hawks, who know that the war on drugs means big business, the expansion of capital and increased social control, get to hide behind a discourse about defending our health.

And it's up to the "liberalizers" to choose to bring in issues like crime (repression), failed states (foreign policy) and money laundering (big banks).

This event, which seems more like a way to try and revive a flailing google+ than it does anything else, is a good example of how useful the idea of the "drug war" is to elites. Instead of talking about the fact that they're complicit in a bloody awful war, they can speak as if they have some kind of moral duty to control what you and I do with our bodies. 

Which brings me back to the fact that this whole thing, you know, "To liberalise or prohibit, that is the question" is about as compelling as a discussion between oh, say, women everywhere and mostly male anti-abortionists. As in, there's no need for debate: free, safe, legal abortions for women. As in, "liberalise" drugs, but more importantly, end the f***king war.

There's already more than 50,000 dead as a result of the last six years of "drug war" in Mexico. There's hundreds of thousands of poor folks in jail in the U.S. because of the same war. Mass graves. Disappeared activists, brothers, sisters, and friends. Millions of displaced in Colombia. And on, and on...

But yea, the army general who says we shouldn't use drugs? He's totally looking out for our best interests. But I gotta say, Russell Brand doing a bunch of heroin sounds like a lot more fun. I vote yay drugs. Cause that's what this is actually about, right?



Reposted from my blog. If you're on twitter, you can follow me.

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