Skip to comments.Why we should legalise hard drugs
Posted on 02/25/2003 7:22:28 AM PST by MrLeRoy
I was having lunch last week with a senior member of the Garda Siochana or Irish police in Dublin. He is a man with 32 years of service fighting crime in the Irish capital. Throughout his career he has witnessed three major drug waves in the Irish Republic - the first heroin epidemic of 1980; the explosion of ecstasy and cocaine use in the mid 1990s and now the introduction of crack cocaine at the start of the 21st century. He is a superintendent with some major successes under his belt including the operation against John Gilligan, the drugs baron who ordered the murder of my colleague, the reporter Veronica Guerin. He has seen millions of pounds of euros in drugs seizures. But the officer was highly modest about the scale of his achievements in the fight against drugs. In his most candid moment of the afternoon he came across with a startling statistic - the police only seize about ten per cent of the drugs that come into the state at any time. When you press him about the success of the war on drugs he is dismissive. This is a war, he states, that cannot be won.
The drug sub-culture still fills me in equal parts with disgust and ennui, but there seems to no logic to prolonging what is arguably the most futile conflict in human history: this so-called war against drugs. This war, equivalent to fighting a thousand Vietnams at once, can never be won. Even the United States, with its superpower monopoly and infinite military resources, has failed to stem the narcotics flood. Dictatorships, whether of the Islamic fundamentalist variety as in Saudi Arabia or the Leninist-capitalist model in China, have employed brutal methods to suppress drugs, respectively beheading or blowing the brains out of alleged dealers. The latter means of dispatching drug peddlers is also used by the IRA on the streets of Belfast, Derry and even Dublin.
But neither the Saudi and Chinese cliques nor the IRA can put an end to the production or consumption of drugs. That is because since the time of the ancient Greeks - and quite possibly even before - the iron laws of economics have operated: a permanent demand creates an inevitable supply. Dealers are prepared to continue risking their lives on the streets of Belfast, Beijing and Riyadh to meet that demand.
Prohibition, as the Americans found with alcohol in the 1920s and 1930s, is counter-productive and only gives rise to a vast criminal sub-culture. The monopolisation of supply in criminals' hands hikes up the price of drugs to the point where consumers can only feed their habit through larceny or prostitution, thus further fuelling crime.
Then there is the enormous and totally unnecessary cost to the state of prosecuting those individuals who choose freely to take drugs as a means of entertainment or escapism. The Economist magazine has estimated that between 1996 and 2000 the British taxpayer paid out £36 million to lock up people who were tested positive for cannabis. The figures for jailing those consuming hard drugs are reckoned to be even higher.
Then there is the one drug which is widely available, legal and socially acceptable. Families are ripped apart and lives shattered through the fermentation, advertising and distribution of the most popular legal drug in the free world - alcohol. How many young men for instance will end up in the casualty wings of Irish and British hospitals this weekend due to obscene bouts of boozing? What are the odds of someone getting mowed down on an Irish or British road by a drunken driver?
Despite this we persist in glamorising drink while demonising drugs. In Ireland more people are killed by drink and cars than drugs. These are indisputable facts yet we never hear calls for the prohibition of alcohol or driving. Nor does society ban dangerous sports such as hang-gliding, air boarding, bungee jumping and so on. These activities are taken up by individuals exercising personal freedom and choice. The state does not intervene in these choices.
Opponents of legalisation claim that drug takers are not free individuals. This is because the moment they consume a drug, any drug, their minds are altered and thus their ability to act as free thinking individuals. But if you apply this logic consistently then what about the moment that someone takes a sup of his first pint, then his second, third, fourth and so on? That individual's mind is also being altered by chemicals. Are our opponents seriously suggesting that we should therefore ban alcohol because it stops us from being rational individuals the moment we put pint or glass to our lips? I think not.
Legalisation of course contains inherent dangers. The sale of narcotics should be regulated but definitely not controlled by the state. The prospect of the state selling drugs to consumers brings to mind Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, where the regime kept the masses docile by doling out Soma. Nor should legalisation imply hedonistic license. The minimum age should range from between 16 for soft drugs and 18 for harder substances; those who sell to children must suffer the maximum penalties.
There are pitfalls over price fixing. An exorbitantly taxed product will result in what has already happened with tobacco in Ireland, where the paramilitaries have flooded the market with cheaper illegal foreign cigarettes. Tax revenue from drugs should be funnelled into drug treatment programmes and preventative education aimed at de-mystifying drugs.
None of this is to suggest a solution to the drugs problem because there is no solution, only the pragmatic management of it. A reasonable tax on narcotics can help fund education programmes aimed at reducing demand for drugs. Furthermore, decriminalisation would wipe out far more effectively than the Criminal Assets Bureau the profits earned by loathsome beings, such as John Gilligan, who control supply.
With apologies to The Verve: the drugs don't work but the ban on them just makes us all worse.
When Napoleon was asked upon whom he would most like to wage war, the vertically-challenged dictator replied,
"My allies." With this in mind I would like to turn my intellectual guns on the libertarians the so-called
"allies" of conservatives.While superficially conservatives and libertarians have a political alliance based on a
mutual support of the free market and opposition to the omnipotent State, philosophically we are mortal enemies.
The philosophical war between conservatives and libertarians began two hundred years ago when the first aristocratic
French head was placed on a pike as declaration of war to prescriptive society.
Libertarians are the disciples of the Enlightenment and staunch supporters of the French Revolution.
They are the bastard children of Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Thomas Paine.
Conservatives, on the other hand, are the disciples of the eighteenth-century British statesman Edmund Burke.
It was his fiery diatribe against the French Revolution, Reflections on the Revolution in France ,
that gave conservatives their philosophical substance for the next two centuries. Burke railed against the atrocities
of the Jacobin revolutionaries as well as Enlightenment philosophers like Rousseau, whom he viewed as responsible for the revolution.
Unfortunately, most modern-day conservatives and libertarians are ignorant about this 200 year old quarrel.
Most believe the alliance based on superficial common interests is sound political practice. But the conservatives' pact with the libertarians
has been most harmful to the cause of true conservatism as expounded by Burke.
More often than not you hear so-called conservatives constantly singing the praises of the free market
and stressing individualism rather than speaking about tradition and the spirit of community. The libertarians have so polluted the intellectual waters of true conservatism
with their ideological filth that many conservatives now have trouble distinguishing between the two. In light of this,
I would like take this opportunity to remind my fellow conservatives of the extreme philosophical chasms which
have always separated conservative man from libertarian beast.
The most fundamental difference between conservatism and libertarianism is one of ideology.
Libertarianism is an ideology based upon abstract ideas and doctrines such as the free market,
absolute liberty, and radical individualism. The libertarian foolishly believes that if his abstract ingredients are properly mixed within the social
cauldron, an earthly utopia will bubble forth. Conservatism, as H. Stuart Hughes declared, is the negation of ideology. Ideology is founded upon abstract ideas
which possess no relation to reality, whereas conservatism is founded upon history, tradition, custom, convention, and prescription.
As Russell Kirk put it, "[C]onservatism...is a state of mind, a type of character, a way of looking at civil social order.
The attitude we call conservatism is sustained by a body of sentiments, rather than by a system of ideological dogmata."
The conservative puts his faith in the wisdom of his ancestors and the virtue of experience,
rather than the abstract jargon of "sophisters, calculators, and economists." He knows that there are no simple political formulas to solve all the world's troubles.
Next, conservatives and libertarians disagree over what binds civil society. Libertarians view civil society
as something artificial a dissoluble agreement made to furnish individual self-interest.
In their repugnant view, society is a "partnership in things subservient only to the gross animal existence of a temporary and perishable nature."
Society is merely a machine with interchangeable and separable parts, says the libertarian.
In contrast, the conservative declares that society is not a paltry economic agreement or a mechanical device,
it is a spiritual and organic entity. The conservative, imbued with the spirit of Burke,
sees society as a partnership between the living, the dead, and those yet to be born a community of souls.
Each social contract in each particular state "is but a clause in the great primeval contract of eternal society, linking the lower and higher natures..."
It is not true that the legitimacy of the state is dependent solely upon tacit consent, as the libertarians would
have us believe. The social contract's legitimacy is the work of history and traditions which go far beyond any single generation.
The present is not free, as political rationalists tell us, to redesign society according to abstract doctrines or theoretical dogma.
As Russell Kirk put it, "Society is immeasurably more than a political device ... If society is treated as a simple contraption to be managed on mathematical lines,
then man will be degraded into something much less than a partner in the immortal contract
that unites the dead, the living, and those yet to be born, the bond between God and man."
The next philosophical issue at which conservatives and libertarians cross swords is the concept of liberty.
Libertarians believe that liberty is the first priority of any
society. But the liberty they value so highly is solitary, unconnected, individual, selfish liberty. Theirs is an abstract liberty divorced from order and virtue.
The libertarian views liberty as a good thing in and of itself and constantly strives to maximize it, no matter the cost.
The conservative believes that order is the first priority of society, for it is only within the framework
of an enduring social order that a true and lasting liberty may be attained. To the conservative, the only liberty is
"a liberty connected with order: that not only exists along with order and virtue, but which cannot exist at all without them." When considering the effects of liberty,
the conservative hears Burke's words ringing in his ears: "The effect of liberty to individuals is, that they may do what they please: we ought to see what it
will please them to do, before we risk congratulations, which may be soon turned into complaints."
Individualism is the next battlefield on which conservatives and libertarians slip the dogs of war.
Libertarians possess an ideology of individualism which denies that life has any meaning other than the gratification
of the ego. They envision a utopia of individualism where man
exists for his own sake and human beings are reduced to social atoms. Selfishness is a virtue, says the libertarian.
Conservatives recognize that that basic social unit is not the individual but the group autonomous groups such as
family, church, local community, neighborhood, college, the trade union or guild, etc.
These groups intermediate between the individual and State and help preserve social order. As Robert Nisbet pointed out,
"Release man from the context of community and you get not freedom and rights but intolerable aloneness and subjection to demoniac fears and passions."
The conservative values the spirit of community and agrees with Marcus Aurelius that, "We are made for cooperation, like the hands, like the feet."
Both conservatives and libertarians support the free market economy, but they differ in the degree of their devotion. Many libertarians worship the free market
as if it were a religion indeed many have no trouble replacing the cross with a dollar sign. But libertarians do not
confine their zeal for the market to the economic arena. They believe the market is an abstract doctrine to be applied to all facets of life and social problems.
The libertarians are really just inverted Marxists, who substitute the free market for socialism as not only the dominant economic system but also the overriding
social and political influence. Indeed, they are guilty of the same dialectical materialism as Marx.
Conservatives know that society is too complex to be reconstructed according to abstract economic doctrines.
They think too highly of man and society to distill everything in existence down to the production and consumption of material goods the nexus of the cash
payment is indeed a weak social link. The laws of commerce are no substitute for the laws of convention and the Divine.
In conclusion, libertarianism is as much an anathema to true Burkean conservatism as Marxism and it should be fought against equally as hard.
As Russel Kirk once said, "Adversity sometimes makes strange bedfellows, but the present successes of conservatives disincline them to lie down, lamblike, with the libertarian lions."
There's nothing like lying about your opponents.
I've FReepmailed the AM and Jim Robinson with that very question.
I, too, am a conservative. I am no longer a Republican, and do not feel compelled to find another herd to enjoy communal grazing with.
The many despicable stands on various issues(like drugs) I have read about Libertarians are disturbing. I have noticed, however, these positions are always stated by non-Libertarians. Primarily Republicans.
The vile descriptions offered carry a most familiar ring to me. The venom with which they are sold is identicle to that said about me, by Democrats, when I was a Republican.
I do not: starve children, rape the environment, kick the old into the street, lynch blacks, or burn their churches. These are vile, malicious lies; succesfully sold to many of my neighbors. They were designed to incite hatres, and they have.
Among other disappointments I suffered from elected Republicans, were their many similarities to Dem.s.
The ridiculously evil portraits of Libertarians painted by Republicans carry the same design; and will appeal to an equal share of childish intellects.
Those who do drugs, engage in a risky life style. I welcome the opportunity of standing aside and letting them remove themselves from the gene pool.
I know this is meant to portray a repugnant characteristic, like when you allied Libertarians with the French, but; selfishness, if not a virtue, is certainly a duty.
Who else should look out for my best interests? Society? The government?
Elected office holders(on both sides), news media, educators, and my neighbors have all sold me down the river.
Why on earth do you insult anyone for tending their own?
Democrats have nothing positive to offer about their own party, only negatives about the other.
Have you anything other than the negative to offer? Are you now, or have you ever been, a Democrat?
No, I attacked the piece based on its content, in post #5; having established the lies, I thought it would be interesting to see the liar.
No, pack of unsupported lies.
Oh puke. Let's all hold hands and sing.
What have you against conservatives, and why are you saying these embarrasing things about us?
You can tell that just by looking at a picture? Wow!
Well then, check out this doofus. Clearly a dunce:
Close. Keep trying.
Which is why they often appear to be bordering on anarchy.
No, pack of unsupported lies.
You can tell that just by looking at a picture?
No, in combination with his pack of unsupported lies.
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