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January 2010
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We Have Met the Enemy and He is Us

I ran into an interesting paragraph at Family Security Matters. I’ve run across their site a couple of times and don’t find their views particularly useful, but I was intrigued by this article by Frank Hill, in which he suggested that we should stop blaming others for so many of our troubles.

Here’s the paragraph — it’s worth analyzing because of the power inside these two simple sentences:

The drug crisis would disappear if we and our children stopped using cocaine and marijuana for recreational purposes. Drug pushers don’t force it down our throats; we willingly buy it and use it and talk about it as if it was something to be proud of.

Let’s start with the second sentence: “Drug pushers don’t force it down our throats; we willingly buy it and use it…” Very true. And this is an area where we constantly face blatantly absurd statements. The liberals will talk about the dangerous drugs that poison people, while the conservatives bemoan the evil drug dealers that poison people, but, in fact, the incidents of people being drugged against their will are rare indeed.

Most people who receive drugs seek them out willingly, even eagerly, and voluntarily offer to pay money for them. And, most of them do so with full knowledge of the risks involved (to the extent that they don’t, that’s another bad side-effect of prohibition).

It’s nice to see this point acknowledged, and it’s important that we make it clear to people.

Back to the first sentence: “The drug crisis would disappear if we and our children stopped using cocaine and marijuana for recreational purposes.” Also true. If everyone voluntarily stopped using currently illicit drugs, the problems related to those drugs and the prohibition of those drugs would go away pretty much overnight. Absolutely true. And absolutely irrelevant, because it’s an absolute impossibility.

This is like saying “If everyone stopped having sex, we could eliminate STDs, abortions, and unwanted pregnancies.” True, but absurd — not even worthy of a science fiction short story.

You can take responsibility for yourself, and say “I’m not going to take these drugs,” and you can attempt to encourage those around you to follow your lead, but you have no power to force the rest of the world to suddenly move into your fantasy world where nobody wants to do drugs, and all the hot people want to sleep with you.

In the article, Frank Hill invokes Pogo’s famous cartoon line “Yep, son, we have met the enemy and he is us.” And it’s true, but not in the way Hill envisions. Yes, people choose to do drugs, but that’s not us-as-enemy, that’s freedom. And yes, we could end drug problems by stopping all drug use, but that’s also not us-as-enemy, that’s fantasy.

The enemy that is us… is prohibition. It is the war that we fight against our own people, our own children, with our own money. It is the politician afraid to follow the truth, the neighbor seduced by the propaganda, the cop and prosecutor caught up in the heat of the battle. It’s the academic who just wants to find a better way to make prohibition work, the scientist who goes for the gold and the publicity, rather than the science. It’s the political party member who says this just isn’t the time for reform.

The enemy is us, indeed.

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23 comments to We Have Met the Enemy and He is Us

  • BruceM

    Also it presumes a “drug crisis” when there is in fact no such thing.

    Objection – assumes facts not in evidence.

    [If only the rules of evidence applied to the drug prohibition debate…]

    The only “crisis” related to drugs is that people who call themselves free and claim to value liberty have to commit a felony and risk imprisonment to acquire drugs for their own personal use. That’s a crisis as far as I’m concerned.

    There’s most certainly a drug law crisis.

  • DavesNotHere

    Gotta love the thought-provoking, intelligence based posts Pete comes up with like this. Good find.

    Have to repeat myself.

    If we stop voting for prohibition supporters, there won’t be any. That’s a hell of a lot easier to do than having everyone decide to stop using “drugs”. We stopped voting for racists and misogynists, so why not stop voting for drug warriors?

    BruceM, we do have all kinds of crisis they ignore in favor of the crisis that gives them power or money. You made me think about our actual crises.

    We have a freedom crisis. We have a democracy crisis. We have a debt crisis. There are a lot of things higher on the list than drugs.

  • Live Free or Die

    There is a backbone crisis in this country. I don’t want the government as my mommy. I don’t want to be told what I can or cannot put into my body. Yes it is a damn shame that a plant and it’s leaves and buds will get you a felony. What would you expect from a place in terror (oh the terror) over panties of mass destruction. Let’s keep telling ourselves what rough and rugged individuals we are as we march in line in an idiocracy.

  • kaptinemo

    LFoD, you probably have never heard of Philip Wylie, but he was a major social critic in his day, warning about what he called ‘Momism’ and what it was doing to the country. Namely, exactly the same kind of thing that has happened with regards to issues such as erosion of freedoms and liberties and the development of an overweening government Hell-bent on saving you from yourself, at the cost of your life if it deems it necessary.

    Government-as-substitute-mother, forever attempting to keep you in some kind of wardship, where you’re as free as its’ iron-chain apron-strings clipped to a collar composed of ‘public safety laws’ (like the drug laws) will allow you to be. A government intent upon infantilizing a population of grown human beings.

    Wylie had it right all those years ago, and it’s a pity more people of lower-case ‘l’ libertarian sentiment don’t know him as well as they know their Albert Nock. And I offer a link to what may be Nock’s greatest essay to illustrate the similarity in thinking.

  • InsanityRules

    As long as we’re hell-bent on banning things, we should ban friction and outlaw gravity! Now that would solve our energy problems, and would greatly reduce greenhouse gasses. Physics by legislative fiat has about as much chance of success as regulations that attempt to change the laws of economics, so what do we have to lose?

    I just can’t figure out if this will be popular with liberals or conservatives. Maybe it will be truly bi-partisan: Ignoring science is always popular with conservatives, and more regulations and bureaucracy will no doubt appeal to liberals. We may have a winner here!

  • kaptinemo

    And for the curious, from that essay (Chapter One):

    Thus the State “turns every contingency into a resource” for accumulating power in itself, always at the expense of social power; and with this it develops a habit of acquiescence in the people. New generations appear, each temperamentally adjusted – or as I believe our American glossary now has it, “conditioned” – to new increments of State power, and they tend to take the process of continuous accumulation as quite in order. All the State’s institutional voices unite in confirming this tendency; they unite in exhibiting the progressive conversion of social power into State power as something not only quite in order, but even as wholesome and necessary for the public good.” (Emphasis mine – k.)

    Think of the martini-swilling, tobacco-smoking members of ‘anti-drug’, ‘concerned parents groups’ uniting with the Federal bureaucrats and opportunistic legislators to push for ever more destructive drug laws that our great-grandfathers would never have allowed in principle. Think of the bald-faced attempt to propagandize kids via DARE…and turn them into little spies for The State. And most of all, think about how so very few people in this country, who see things like that and so much else along the same line, as being horrific and terribly dangerous to civil liberties, are so few in number.

    Like the people who read and post here. They are Nock’s ‘Remnant’. The vanishingly few who know what real freedom means, as opposed to the cheap, hollow plastic substitute graven image called ‘Freedom’ they’re supposed to pray to.

    Yes, we are ‘the enemy’ to The State, for drug law reformers remind people of a time when real freedom meant being able to put in your body any damn’ thing you please, and Nervous Nellies could go bugger off if they didn’t like it. We remind people that that kind of freedom also meant being able to tell busybody bureaucrats to also bugger off, or risk being run out of town on a rail…after a tar bath and feather rinse.

    The State doesn’t want to be servant but master, and we remind people when it was a servant. That’s why prohibs don’t like us. Not because of what we want to do, but because of what we are…and what they are not.

  • Just me.

    Yes, we are ‘the enemy’ to The State, for drug law reformers remind people of a time when real freedom meant being able to put in your body any damn’ thing you please, and Nervous Nellies could go bugger off if they didn’t like it. We remind people that that kind of freedom also meant being able to tell busybody bureaucrats to also bugger off, or risk being run out of town on a rail…after a tar bath and feather rinse.

    The State doesn’t want to be servant but master, and we remind people when it was a servant. That’s why prohibs don’t like us. Not because of what we want to do, but because of what we are…and what they are not.

    Thanks Kaptin, I am proud to be what we are. Maybe our country still has a chance to over rule the “mommyState”.
    I for one love scaring the hell out of the conditioned nervous nellies.

    Wonder if Hill thought of this, stop voting for war mongers and we may stop wars of all kinds, this too is a crisis. Too many just dont understand that in many cases (Especially these days) these wars we fight are our own fault. We have caused them by our Empire mentality. We have created our enemies around the world as much as we have made our selves enemies in this drug war. Conrtol of what we dont understand or what we fear. Yes indeed, “We have nothing to fear but fear its self” for it is the reason we do what we do.

    No, cant see that happening either. Mommy state, please help us , for we are fearful.

    Yes we have a backbone crisis in this country. Maybe if we could address this crisis , we could rid ourselves of all the fear induced legislations,wars,power hungry crooks,erosions of freedom.

    Yes we are the enemy, we are also our own WORSE enemy.

  • Bruce

    Excellent in its entirety, both story and comments.
    Glad to see not all americans are chemically kept alive BORG pseudo-reptiles.

  • James Bain

    Interesting exposition; side-stepping the CAUSES of poverty, joblessness, concurrent hopelessness and general greed fueled by glorification of all the fantastic bling (e.g. lawn chairs, cheese in a spray can, edible women’s panties and cinnamon dental floss…) available to current residents of this great market economy, I STILL hear no one utter the old Roman dictum,”Qui Bono”- who benefits? If there were no money to be grifted from the granting of prison construction contracts, nor to be made from merely running the damn things, let alone the grift and ego attendent to putting people away, regardless of their culpability; never mind all the other conditions you all can and do imagine, if you haven’t already read about them in the alternative press websites and the like…would we be discussing this at all? Of course not. We are indeed our own worst enemies, considering in whose hands we place our destinies-clowns who, like the character Tyler Durden spoke to in “Fight Club”, who need us to cook their food, repair their cars, clean their toilets and, generally, pick up after their lazy, unimaginative asses (and let’s not forget, now that we’re on the subject, fighting their greedy little wars of every stripe.).
    I, for one, am delighted I am an old man-I see no peaceful resolution, a la death of apartheid in S. Africa, to this in America and woe be it unto those with children who have not acquainted them with the possibility of living, no, existing in a future bereft of rights AND the illusion of rights.
    I am reminded of a time, when, not long ago, we laughed at the Soviet Union for news organs that only published good news. The exclusion of bad news, even REALLY bad news, like the photos of Iraqi war dead arriving back on our soil that were disallowed from publication and dissemination is a harkening back to those times and conditions, only here, in the so-called land of the free. Will the internet survive as our only source of real information?
    We all know who benefits. The news is full of those who don’t.

  • Duncan

    “The drug crisis would disappear if we and our children stopped using cocaine and marijuana for recreational purposes.”

    Yes, we could also solve climate change by altering the distance of the earth from the sun.

    If things were different, they wouldn’t be the same.

  • Duncan

    (P.S. climate change may or may not be real, and I may be the only soul on the planet that genuinely doesn’t give a flip either way)

  • Shap

    The politicians’ excuse not to tackle the problems associated with our drug policy that is most aggravating is the one that states that “we just have too many other crises currently and once those are all solved, we’ll tackle that whole drug thing…” When is there a lull in the national political debate when nothing important is happening. They claim “there’s a recession, a job crisis, and two wars” yet when is there ever a time when nothing important is going on around us? Any politician who has made this excuse not to make drug policy a priority should be forced to recall a period in history when there was no other “crisis” to take care of and America was able to take care of all of those less important problems, like, you know, our war on drugs.

  • claygooding

    When speaking of freedom,you have to be speaking to someone that knows what freedom is. Not only the freedom of what “they” think or do,but the freedom of everyone else too think and do what brings them happiness or pleasure,as long as that pleasure or happiness in no way
    prevents the other guy from the same.
    If it makes you happy not to do drugs,then by all means,don’t do them. Teach your children your values and thoughts,when they grow up,they will follow their own path too find their pleasures or happiness.
    If your teachings are based on truth and fact,then why would you worry about other peoples teachings?
    Any moral laws are a waste of time and money,and doomed too failure before you ever write them. You may as well
    make masturbation illegal,and anyone that does it should have a criminal record for the rest of their life.
    This whole prohibition has caused more problems than it has solved,if it has solved anything at all. It just continues creating problems. It might be sustainable if the ONDCP could give us an estimate of how much longer it is going to take for him to make America drug free,and how many billions of more dollars is it going to take,and how many more civil rights that law enforcement must circumvent in order to achieve that goal. That may be too big a problem for him too figure out,so just give us an estimate on making Washington DC
    drug free,including congress. Still too big? How about on any city in America with a population of over 25,ooo
    people? How long will it take for the DEA and law enforcement to make any prison in America drug free?
    If the people that are in the DEA and law enforcement were doing this same job in the private sector,they would be job hunting because no company in the world would keep them working with their present efficiency
    and the results they have given us for the trillion dollars they have spent,just getting too where we are now.

    “Marijuana is addictive to people the same way sex is,anything that good needs repeating!”

  • Servetus

    There wouldn’t be any winter if it weren’t for skiers.

    All that white powdery stuff, and the adrenaline rush it delivers on skis or snowboards; it’s just too tempting of a high.

    The litany of broken legs and cracked skulls on ski slopes will continue as long as people refuse to swear off snow.

  • kaptinemo

    Shap, IMHO, it’s more a mixture of cowardice and opportunism combined with retinal blind spots the size of Mack trucks.

    The cowardice in not standing and facing the electorate and explain that the DrugWar has been a ruinously expensive farce is understandable…but no less contemptible. (After all, how many had voted to maintain it?) The opportunism is also understandable…and equally contemptible. But the blind spot is the key to it all. Many just don’t see the octopus, as all they see is the one or two tentacles.

    So much of what’s wrong in this country was started with the DrugWar, and an enormous amount of what’s wrong in this country is perpetuated by it. And if you refuse to look at it, it makes it easier to continue it.

    A long time ago I read a Kipling story, “The Man Who Would Be King”, in which a religious order was described that went around with their eyes shut so they would not have to look at the ugliness of the world and be affected by its’ sinfulness. They were led around by the hand by others. That’s the pols who rely on the prohibs to guide them. Needless to say, the prohibs have their own motivations, few of them pristine. The pols need to be made to feel ‘safe’ in opening their eyes so that they can look at the octopus and see it for what it is, and realize that there’s more tentacles than the ones they’ve assumed…and that they’ve been led around, not by the hand, but by the nose.

    (Of course, there’s a small group of pols who’ve been feigning that they were closing their eyes, too. They’re the ones directly benefiting from the DrugWar, the kind that people like the brave Sibel Edmonds testified against recently last year. They know their financial gravy train depends upon keeping this tragic farce going, and have no intention of allowing real justice be done until they are safely out of the country with their ‘filthy lucre’.)

    Those eyes could remain closed as long as it wasn’t expensive to them politically to do so…but with the fiscal conditions eroding in this country, the ‘cost’ of that will be more than just political or monetary, it will be social. It’s either begin to jettison the baggage that is causing the ship to sink, or sink with all their perks. And the way things are going, that won’t be too long forthcoming…

  • primus

    There is an old saying that people receive the government they deserve. The present ones in western societies reflects the ‘will of the people’ in ways that are not in the peoples’ best interests. The whole thing changed when women began voting. Women tend to mother to the point of smothering. Freedom is very scary to women because all they see is the peril, not the pluses. Since universal suffrage, political parties have found it increasingly in their best interests to pander to that smothering instinct, because if they upset the women, there is no way they will be elected. If they upset the men, it makes no difference, because men do not block vote. Women do. The other factor is the party system. It affects the type of people who will run for office. They must first be ‘party’ types, who will fit into the party system, not rock the boat, do as they are told types. The public likes this approach because then all they must do is vote for the party, assuming that they understand the man because of his affiliation with the party. In other words, our society has become a bunch of wimps who only elect wimps who have no spine, no testicular fortitude, who are too wimpy to stand on their own hind legs and be strong in themselves. We select herd animals who have no courage, then wonder why they do as they do. We are the fools, and we have an appropriate government for a bunch of fools.

  • Ripmeupacuppa

    moo!

  • Freedom

    For anyone that wants to help fight prohibition even more.

    http://www.citizensopposingprohibition.org/blog-home

    This is Howard Wooldridge’s new site. If your not familiar with him, hes the one who rode his horse cross country to bring attention to drug reform…Former member of LEAP.

  • BruceM

    I blame the rise of the nanny state and “TPC Politics” (tpc = ‘the precious children’) in large part on our collective decision to give women the right to vote. No, we should not take away their right to vote, and I’m not even saying we shouldn’t have given it to them in the first place. But to pretend the maternal instict, which has evolved over billions of years to protect the next generation (TPC) at the expense of the current generation, has absolutely no effect on a person’s voting decision when they have estrogen flowing through their veins is simply delusional.

    50% of the voting base became instantly attuned to “children” being “in danger” or “at risk” and no matter how tenuous, unlikely, or irrational the fear, the maternal instict is hard to overcome and thus half the population is easily swayed – too easily – by politicians who threaten TPC (more specifically, who say their opponents are a threat to TPC).

    Bleep out the words “child” and “children” whenever a politician says them on television, and we’ll see a huge change in America’s voting habits overnight.

  • […] Guither has a great post mocking the bizarre, yet common, observation that the drug problem would go away if everyone […]

  • @ Freedom… thanks for the Link to Howard’s new wwweb digs!

    I found this little quote quite interesting: “going to a heroin clinic in Switzerland on my honeymoon last year — & of the Swiss offer to send a 3 person team to Congress to explain their program, if Congress would request it”

    Verdad? Really? Sounds like a move we need to start suggesting to our Reps and Senators…

  • Freedom

    BAAAA! BAAAA!

    America.

    If that pisses you off…good…it should.

  • Folks, please think before you post. Remember, no name calling against other commenters. Period. I’ll start deleting posts.

    Second. Think before you post. I don’t mind a couple of clarifying posts, but 8 in a row is littering.