Avaaz wants us to give up on the war on drugs
|Avaaz, an internet advocacy group, sent me a newsflash on their latest campaign on drug 'reform'. I support a lot of their causes. However, the whole area of discussion around the subject of illicit drug prohibition is an administrative and social minefield. Regulation rather than prohibition may sound good, sensible or even 'progressive', but perhaps we are just fudging the prospect of surrender in a war we have lost disgracefully.
So I replied to my friends at Avaaz in the following terms:
"Let us not confuse surrender to and defeat by a social evil with 'progress' and 'reform'. It may turn out that there really isn't any choice because we have been beaten by network marketing, third world chaos, transnational criminal corporations and a first world consumer culture built around indulgence, the marginalisation of social governance and the deliberate destruction of ordinary moral boundaries.
We are still trying to fight off tobacco and we are now saddled with a completely laissez-faire alcohol culture that is doing considerable social and health damage. You want to add new rafts of legalized funny stuff to the already volatile mix at the bar.
Bring on the Clockwork Orange. We are lost.
If you are going to advocate this unpleasant future, at least admit to the shame and social failure that it represents. If we were talking about the 'war' on rape, or child labor, or slavery, the moral bankruptcy of what you are saying and the extent of the defeat you would be admitting, would be obvious, even to 'progressives' like of you.
In places where there is still a measure of grassroots community based social order, discipline and consistent enforcement of its edicts, it is the illicit drug trade that gets marginalized and forced not so much to surrender, as remain deeply covert, risk averse and small scale in its impact. In places like that, the only reform they are talking about is just how radical the marginalization should be.
The extent and dynamism of the drug trade is directly linked to the social health and governance of the society it tries to invade. In the long run, bad social practice equals big drug profits. Powerful international drug cartels and dysfunctional third world societies make it much harder for prohibition, but not impossible by any means. It just means rethinking social priorities, values and practice a little more rigorously.
The drug trade cannot be beaten or marginalized by law enforcement alone. Only societies that can effectively protect and control their young, who are its most vulnerable potential customers, will be able to permanently marginalize it. And that means re-instating social authority to its proper place, returning youth to a junior and respectful place that is run by responsible and senior adults, and a preparedness by adult society to be tough in asserting this.
Above all, we have to accept that human rights have to co-exist with the responsibilities that underpin them. Nobody gets anything for free, because everything costs, including human rights. It is the social commons that provides the wherewithal for any social benefits that we enjoy. If you want a drug reduced culture, you pay for its protection by sustaining it with a broad social conformity to its requirements and punishing those who fail to deliver on them, not just at an institutional, but community and family level.
Anything less is just not social governance worth the name. And the seriousness of the threat of the drug culture will reflect that. If you don't pay your social dues, you don't get the protection you need to stop the children from being victimized. Period.
In drug resistant cultures, the social commons is what provides the umbrella protection against predators, by keeping its young and vulnerable close and under supervision. This is so obvious, it should not need to be pointed out. The fact that it does is testament to the dissolute power of a consumerist ideology that says you can have it all and now, and to hell with the consequences and the eventual cost.
I refuse to accept corrupt excuse making, rationalizing and moral evasion. Our moth eaten social commons has been so beaten up and abused, there is hardly anything left. I refuse to stand by a watch this travesty anymore. It is time for a change. And change is coming, ready or not."