The REDSTAR2000 Papers

Listen to the worm of doubt, for it speaks truth. - Leftist Discussion

"Left" Drug Wars May 21, 2005 by RedStar2000

No one these days (who's not living in a cave) is unaware of drugs...indeed, they seem to be everywhere.

As do drug users. A fellow told me a few years ago about his boss offering him cocaine at work...right beneath the sign that proclaimed "This is a Drug-Free Workplace".

Ok, this is part of social reality now...what should the communist position be?

Would you believe prohibition?!



I find that drug-use (particularly alcohol and marijuana) does almost as much damage to the revolutionary movement as the police do.


I'm down with the point of discipline, "don't use drugs or get drunk." I do encourage everyone to quit smoking (tobacco and weed) too, because that shit fucks your body up.

The way things are going, it wouldn't really surprise me to learn that some revolutionary group or another now mandates a piss-test before you can join...and random tests for all the members (though not the leaders, of course).

Just what we really need!

The left historically has always suffered from a puritanical obsession with people's sexual and chemical behavior...though in the 60s, a lot of that was summarily rejected.

But puritanism (like religion) is a "tough old bird" and seems to be making a come-back of sorts -- in the U.S., one would have to look long and hard for a meeting where people were permitted to smoke cigarettes.

People are different, of course, and one person's harmless indulgence is another's "noxious habit".

But consider the kind of society that you want to substitute for capitalism.

Are you going to keep fighting "the war on drugs"? Perhaps adding tobacco and alcohol to the list of "forbidden substances"?

And building ever larger and more numerous prisons?

Or will you admit the obvious: people use drugs because life is better with drugs than without them.

Humans have been intoxicating themselves for pleasure for a very long time -- pots have been discovered with residues of wine and beer that are not less than 7,000 years old.

See what you're up against?

Rational people no longer shun pleasure because it is a "sin". But the modern secular version of puritanism conveys the same message. If you get sick, it's because you did drugs, or smoked, or didn't exercise enough, or ate too much junk food -- it's your own damn fault, sinner!

Overlooking the fact that no matter what you do or refrain from doing, you are going to get old, and then get sick, and then die.

I do not imagine that any serious revolutionary movement in history ever suffered any significant damage from chemical (or sexual) indulgences...though some small sects, I've heard, did suffer from excessively drunken leadership.

But those considerations are not really relevant to the neo-puritan -- what really torments them, as H.L. Mencken noted early in the last century, is the realization that "somewhere, somebody is having a good time".

First posted at AnotherWorldIsPossible on May 11, 2005


Saying that life is better with drugs is a pretty bold statement, redstar.

Seems rather obvious to me...otherwise, why would people ever use them? Suppose you tried a drug that made you feel like shit...would you go back for a second try? Much less a third try!

No, people use drugs because they enjoy them...they like the way that their favorite drugs make them feel.

(Exception: professional athletes use steroids to enhance performance and make more money...but that's a special case and not relevant to this thread.)


I think, in my opinion, it's simply better for a revolutionary's mind not to be clouded by drugs.

Well, some drugs actually enhance mental acuity (nicotine is one)...but it's true that most recreational drugs have a depressing effect on the central nervous system. I'm not sure why people find that pleasurable...but it cannot be denied that they do.

Even a revolutionary with "straightedge" (Mormon) principles (no tobacco, no alcohol, no coffee, no tea) will have his mind "clouded" by sleep for about 1/3rd of every single day.


It is a bad example for the people.

That suggests that you view revolutionaries as "morally superior" to ordinary people; a revolutionary who uses drugs is like a priest that visits a brothel.

It makes the party (church) "look bad".


I don't think a society where people are compelled to ingest poisonous substances to make their lives "better" (as you say) is a society I'd want to live in.

Compelled? It seems to me that what you offer is a society in which people are compelled not to ingest "poisonous substances"...even if they want to.

You want to coerce people for their own good!

The inevitable sign of the puritanical despot.


I think that we can implement programs like those in China described in the article that I linked to in my previous post.

News Flash: America is NOT CHINA.

One of the most distressing things about American Maoists is that, when faced with a problem, they show a marked tendency to "fall back" on something like "we'll do what Mao did!".

No you won't...because conditions here are profoundly different from those of China in 1949.


They struggled with addicts and won them over to a correct line of smashing the addiction at hand...

Puh-leeze. They cut off the supply. The addicts suffered.

That was it.


Also, redstar, you seem to be saying that drugs are harmless and even beneficial. This is wrong, scientifically.

Actually, all drugs have both beneficial and harmful aspects...depending on a great number of factors (including the effects of different combinations of drugs ingested).

The "science" of the anti-drug warriors is, in my opinion, dubious. It is clearly motivated by a desire to "find more bad stuff about drugs".

After the revolution, I would be in favor of throwing it all out and starting over with new and more objective research.


The history of civilization is the history of beer.

A most amusing "parable"...and there could even be something to it.

Not a whole lot...but something.
First posted at AnotherWorldIsPossible on May 12, 2005


People enjoy a lot of things...not all of which are good.

I see.

What else do you intend to prohibit, oh Great One?


A rapist might say that rape feels good, and that they enjoy the experience and the way it makes them feel.

Nice "parallel" there.

And everyone "knows" that drug users are all "potential rapists". (!)

In fact, that was the initial rationale for criminalizing marijuana -- "because" black males would get high and then go and and "rape white women".

Glad to see that you're up on the latest "scientific" knowledge.


That doesn't mean that I can't self-criticize and say that it is incorrect and unhealthy, and that in a socialist society it would be great to have better alternatives to that kind of stuff.

Self-criticism used to be called "confessing your sins". Different words now...but the meaning is the same.

And I can't wait for those "better alternatives". Instead of drinking or smoking "poisonous substances", let's all go out in the country and shovel pig-turds.



I don't think such deep-rooted social practices as drug and alcohol use should be left untouched or uncriticized simply because they are deep-rooted.

The Christians feel the same way about sin. Think you'll have better luck than they have?


As revolutionaries, yes, we should strive to be exemplary in everything we do. Is there something wrong with that?

You mean aside from the fact that it gushes arrogance and smugness from every orifice?

Why, not a thing.


If you grew up with any brothers or sisters, especially younger ones, wouldn't you want to set a good example and not do fucked up things (like drugs), even just for their sake, so as not to see you doing it?

You know, I've heard that a lot...both in the form of a question as well as people actually putting on a charade of "rectitude" for their younger relatives.

I think it's utterly bizarre...and worse, dishonest!

As you may know, honesty is way up there in my list of "revolutionary virtues"...lying to people is never "for their own good".


Where did I say that I wanted to coerce people to not use drugs, redstar?

Is that not implicit in your whole outlook? Why would you even talk about this stuff at all unless (1) you thought it was bad and, (2) you wanted to put a stop to it?

Unless you plan to limit your activities to putting up posters -- "Bob says Just say no to drugs." -- then you perforce must rely on coercion.


Are you denying the fact that we have anything to learn from the rich experiences in China?

In the sense of crude imitation, I certainly am.

Look, the Chinese in 1949 became isolated from the world market...including, for the most part, the trade in drugs. Since the new Chinese currency was worthless in the drug-exporting countries, the supply of drugs abruptly came to a halt. Only someone with a supply of hard currency, gold, jewelry, valuable antiques, etc. would have been able to import any substantial amount of drugs...and the Chinese revolution didn't leave many such folks unmonitored.

No drugs = no drug addicts.

Perhaps something like that would work for a post-revolutionary United States...I don't know.

But I frankly doubt it. You might successfully wipe out heroin, cocaine, and even tobacco use...but other drugs can easily be grown or manufactured inside the U.S.

Even opium poppies will flourish in most parts of the U.S.


It's going to take a major struggle to fight this shit.

And you're rubbing your hands with gleeful anticipation, aren't you?

"Smiting the sinners" is so much fun!
First posted at AnotherWorldIsPossible on May 12, 2005


When did I say I was going to prohibit anything?

Because that's the obvious implication of your disapproval.

Why would you bother expressing an opinion unless you would want to see it translated into least in some fashion?

Prohibition is the obvious recourse for those who are opposed to the use of any or all drugs...or of any other human activity.

We would agree that rape and murder should be fooling around, right?

So I think you should stop evading this point; anything you want to stop people from doing must be prohibited.


I made an analogy between two things that some people might say feel good to them subjectively to illustrate the point that not everything that might seem to feel good to someone subjectively is objectively good.

Yes you did. You specifically compared the good feeling of the drug user to the good feeling of the rapist...hinting that by "my" logic, they both "must" be considered objectively good.

And I let you off the hook gently...always a mistake.

So now I will be blunt: To suggest that the good feelings of the drug user is somehow equivalent to the good feelings of the rapist is a monstrous proposition.

It is not only insulting to me personally; it is also insulting to every rape victim.


God forbid I hope for something better than the situation we're in now, right?

What's that got to do with the ritual of self-criticism? Do you imagine that by periodically confessing your sins that you will stop sinning? Or that objective conditions will change as a consequence?

You criticize yourself and the party forgives you.

Who cares?


And the communists feel the same way about the exploitation of the proletariat. Think you'll have better luck than they have?

I couldn't do worse, could I?

But let us be clear about this. Real communists seek to abolish class society...even in the face of the fact that all of recorded history is a history of class societies.

No small task.

You (and the Christians) want to go even further; you both have a list of common human pleasures that you want to abolish.

Or, if that proves impossible, at least make those who indulge in those pleasures suffer for their "sins".

That's something else that some people do because it makes them feel really good...and is objectively reprehensible.


But it is good to strive to improve one's weaknesses, no? Or are all of our practices, ideas, and opinions perfect as they are and we shouldn't change anything?

If you think you have "weaknesses" that require "improvement", just do it. Public breast-beating about your "weaknesses" and your determination to renounce sin in the future are superfluous...and, moreover, boring.


I'm not referring to pretending not to use drugs in front of relatives, but actually not using them.

Well, that's honest...though it remains utterly wacko.

Do as you wish in this regard -- but spare the rest of us, please. It's your business.


I want to convince people not to use drugs, not through posters, but through struggling with them on an ideological level.

On what grounds do you think that a drug user is going to find it more pleasant to struggle with you, even on an "ideological level" (whatever that might mean), than to actually go on using the drug?

The only thing that I can see is your implied promise to make life very unpleasant for the drug user if s/he doesn't listen to you and stop using drugs. or implied.


I think we are victims of drugs, drugs are not the forbidden fruit that we are sinners for "indulging" in.

Unfortunately, most if not all drug users disagree with you about that.


In China, which borders Afghanistan (#1 opium producer in the world) it is possible to grow many different kinds of drugs.

Indeed it is...and I'm sure (unlike most Maoists, who regard government claims from the Mao era as "holy writ") that some domestic opium was produced and some people continued to use it all through that period. And small amounts were even imported.

What really ended was the open and public mass addiction that existed under the pre-revolutionary regime. Using opium in urban areas became difficult, expensive and dangerous; producing and distributing it became even more so.

(On a minor note: I'm not sure that Afghanistan had reached its current dominance in opium production in 1949; I think the northern parts of French Indo-China and Burma -- "the Golden Triangle" -- were the "industry leaders" in those days.)


You're looking at it from a perspective of drugs being something that humans need and that I want to take away from them.

Not "need", want. When people find an experience pleasurable, they want to repeat it. That's especially true when the amount of effort needed to repeat it is minimal -- such as ingesting a drug.

You may not think that they "should" want it...but they do.


I don't advocate the "smiting" of anyone for drug use. Fighting drug addiction is not the equivalent of killing people, it is the opposite of that - drugs are what is killing people.

Drug use in the U.S. is occasionally fatal. But I would argue that the reasons for the fatalities are (1) illegal drugs are manufactured and packaged without pharmaceutical controls in place to insure purity and standard dosage; (2) illegal drugs are occasionally contaminated with hazardous additives; and (3) through ignorance, users occasionally take a combination of drugs that while individually harmless, prove to be lethal in combination.

There's nothing there that responsibile legalization could not marginalize to the vanishing point.

I suspect that the "war on drugs" kills far more people -- including people in the "third world" -- than drug use does.

I didn't want to let this one go by...


What is "elitist" about straightedge? What's elitist about making the personal choice to abstain from drug-use and permiscuous sex?

The word I think you want there is promiscuous. *laughs*

A personal choice is a personal choice; it's not elitist at all.

But when you publicly advocate that choice, then you're saying that it's "superior" to other choices...and, by implication, that you are "superior" to those who choose other options.

There's nothing wrong about making public choices and advocating them, obviously. But those public choices should be confined to public issues...which does not include who you choose to have sex with or your dietary preferences or your chemical idiosyncracies.

That stuff is your business...nobody else gives a rat's ass.

If you do intrude into public space with that stuff, everyone will assume that the reason you have done so is that you desire to impose your personal choices on the public in general.

And you will receive an extremely unfriendly reception.
First posted at AnotherWorld Is Possible on May 13, 2005


But all drugs are not the same.

As a statement of fact, that's indisputable. Unfortunately, it easily serves as a "foundation" for an argument "in favor of my drugs" and "against other people's drugs". My drugs are "good" or at least "not so bad" while other people's drugs are "really evil shit".

So people can then squabble over which drugs should be legal and inexpensively available and which should be condemned as "the work of the devil" and the producers and consumers of such drugs should "be made to suffer for their sins".

Setting aside the naked hypocrisy of such an approach, what is its practical utility?

What do we gain with a two-faced approach?

We have seen that people will actually go to irrational lengths to obtain their drug of choice, regardless of financial expense, danger of arrest and imprisonment, and even sometimes risking their lives.

Whatever drug you decide to criminalize, you will create a group of people like that...and, necessarily, the repressive apparatus to "control" them (make them suffer for their sins).

And to what end? Even if you were entirely successful in wiping out some drug that you thought "particularly evil", how long would it stay wiped out?

And what would replace it?

Recall that heroin was invented as a "cure" for opium addiction. And methadone was supposed to "cure" heroin addiction.


At the same time, Redstar's exuberant defense of intoxication kind of misses how "medicated" this country is. We use drugs for maintenance... such as speed for grade school kids, sugar and coffee often provided free at work. This is destructive to our health and kind of weird.

Yes, it's probably true that our "chemical goal" is more along the lines of "just getting through another day" than having isolated experiences of euphoria...and that's kind of a shame, isn't it? Even our intoxication is tainted with alienation.

This suggests that our patterns of drug usage might spontaneously alter quite a bit in a post-capitalist society...depending on what daily life was actually like in such a society.


Redstar may not be interested in China's eradication of drug addiction, but it is one of the greatest accomplishments in history.

So is "the great Wall"...that doesn't mean there's any point to building one here and now.


What is particularly important about it is that it mainly happened through the activity of people themselves and not through criminalization and punishment.

I don't see what meaning a statement like this can have. People didn't spontaneously stop using opium. If they stopped, it was because it was simply no longer available (or at least no longer readily and inexpensively available).

That was a special case...and I don't see how it would ever be relevant in any advanced capitalist country.


Junkies don't "suffer" because they can't get dope. They suffer because they are addicts.

A positively "Talmudic" distinction! What in the world is the difference?


Getting heroin and coke out of our cities is an important part of people getting free.

Won't happen!

Unless someone invents better drugs to replace them...always a possibility, of course.


There is very little "pleasure" involved in it. Maybe at first, but it quickly goes away.

Well, you certainly have a point here. We humans are not, by and large, very rational about this stuff...otherwise we'd realize that "off and on" usage of any drug would increase the "cumulative lifetime pleasure index". Our general practice is rather one of constant that the pleasure mostly disappears and "just getting by" takes over.

It would help a lot if we had real drug education...if people were widely aware of what different drugs do and how to use them effectively -- to maximize pleasure.

I was 30 years old before I learned how to use alcohol in an effective way to have a good time and avoid getting sick, hung over, etc. Like most people, I had to "teach myself". (!)

That's no good! A revolutionary society ought to be able to teach people this basic stuff from adolescence...without, needless to say, neo-puritanical moralizing.

But of course there's little chance of such a rational course prevailing unless and until revolutionaries get rid of that primitive ideology themselves.

And who knows when that will happen?
First posted at AnotherWorldIsPossible on May 18, 2005


I have previously remarked that redstar often has a kind of deep pessimism about what revolution can accomplish...And he can't imagine revolution eliminating drug addiction!!

Well, I can.

Fine...but that's not really an argument.

Unless you can find a way to stop the supply of a particular addictive drug from reaching potential users, then you will not "eliminate" drug that particular drug.

Unless you can find a way to stop all supplies of all addictive drugs from reaching potential users, then you will not "eliminate" drug addiction as a social phenomenon.

Neither you nor others in this thread have revealed anything in the way of a feasible plan to accomplish either of those goals.

"We'll do what Mao did" is not a plan.


I agree with those who see a big difference between milder mood-altering drugs (like alcohol and pot) and drugs that are addictive (and therefore life-altering).

What makes addictive drugs "life-altering"? Sure, they produce quasi-permanent alterations in brain and body chemistry.

But is it not, in fact, the present social context that is what is really "life-altering"...for the worse?

Suppose heroin or cocaine or "Drug X" came in a bottle -- like aspirin -- and cost $3.99 at the local drugstore? Suppose no one thought any more about its purchase, possession and use than they think about the purchase, etc., of a bottle of aspirin?

Now, what's your "gripe"?


For the masses of people (both historically and internationally) drugs like opium, heroin, cocaine, meth, etc. have been highly destructive. And eliminating them is a great achievement that revolution can accomplish.

I repeat: is that "highly destructive" stuff a product of the specific drug or is it a product of the social context?

I don't mean to suggest that "everyone" would use every drug "responsibly". Some would not...and they would physically suffer because of that real drug abuse.

Alcohol is legal, readily available, and relatively inexpensive...and some people become drunks.

It would be logical to assume that this would also be the case with all other drugs.

In that sense, negative life-alteration is inevitable.

But most people who drink do not become drunks. And I think it reasonable to expect that most people who will use other drugs will likewise avoid negative life-alteration. They will not be criminals, hopelessly strung-out wrecks, zombies, etc.

They are like that now (in many but not all cases) because of the social context of drug usage that exists now.


As for revolutionaries: I think that if you take up a serious struggle with this system, you should work to keep your mind sharp and clear. And there is no room for being seriously intoxicated -- and "out of control" in that sense. And it is a mistake to give the other side openings to arrest you for "non-political crimes" like possession.

And it is important for the revolutionary ranks to not have among them people who have become addicted to alcohol or other drugs (because, once you are addicted, that is what is principal in your mind and life -- regardless of your subjective desires).

I actually agree with most of this (although I think possession of illegal drugs is a "political crime" in this society).

If your message could be delivered in a clear and "unadorned" way, I'd have little problem with would be on the same level as "don't drink and drive".

Unfortunately, the neo-puritanical stuff hitches a ride on this common-sense "don't drink and drive" becomes don't drink!

And then it blossoms into "drinking is a sin"...and so is any other form of human pleasure.

Suggesting that in post-revolutionary society we shall spend our leisure hours reading the collected works of B.A.

Not wishing to seem too "personal", this outcome does not appeal to me.

At all.
First posted at AnotherWorldIsPossible on May 19, 2005


If you want evidence that it's possible to live an intense, rich life without the use of drugs, I recommend laying off the substances for a week and trying it.

Of course, you'd "recommend it".

The neighborhood evangelist would say the same thing: "Try Jesus and see how much better life can be".

Why should I believe you and not him?

There's considerable clinical evidence on the effects of giving up alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine...and all of it's negative. Headaches, irritability, and sleeplessness have all been widely documented.

Why should I feel worse on the chance that you "might be right"?


Beneath the pavement.. a beach!

You have, I'll admit, a real "gift" for rhetoric...but the same could be said for many preachers as well.
First posted at AnotherWorldIsPossible on May 30, 2005


And I don't think that's a fascist ideology, to hate what these substances do to otherwise functioning human beings.

No, it's not a "fascist ideology" per se...but I think the argument could be made that it's one of the components of fascism.

"Straight edge" would have fit neatly into Nazi racial hygiene theory, for example.

The "pure Aryan": clean, drug-free, moral, etc.

The racially-mixed "untermenschen": polluted, degenerate, decadent indulgence in sexual and chemical depravity, etc.


I was also once part of a discussion concerning cigarette smoking among revolutionaries, whether the act of smoking cigarettes constituted being counter-revolutionary...

Yes, that's what it leads fact, any form of personal pleasure can be attacked for being "counter-revolutionary". What "right" do you have to any personal pleasure when the time and resources spent on it could have been spent on revolutionary activity?

The money you spent on cigarettes could have been spent on propaganda instead. The time you spent going to the store and buying them could have been spent distributing that propaganda.

And so on!

The "self-harm" argument is objectively weak; you are most unlikely to suffer any significant harm from smoking tobacco in your 20s and 30s...which are your "active years" as a revolutionary. If smoking damages your health, it will happen in your 60s and 70s -- you'll die some 6 to 10 years earlier than a non-smoker (on the average).

The "left" neo-puritans have embraced what I call the "Aztec Theory of Revolutionary Commitment" -- you drape yourself over the Altar of History and cut your own heart out!

An extreme example of this is the "Maoist Internationalists Movement" -- which strongly pressures its heterosexual members to take a "vow of celibacy" until after the revolution and the destruction of patriarchy.

Now that's "straight edge"!


...and BA was pretty firm that there wasn't going to be criminalization of drugs, certainly not the way the US does.

Well, we'll have to "wait and see" on that one. Right now, the problem seems to be one of "political criminalization" of drugs in the left.

If neo-puritanical "straight-edgers" have their way, then drug usage of any kind is "counter-revolutionary" and you will "get the boot" if you get caught.
First posted at AnotherWorldIsPossible on June 1, 2005


Redstar, I think we have such different life experiences that we are not even talking about the same thing. You seem to be under the impression that drugs/drinking constitutes one person having one drink, or maybe experimenting with substances for a while and that this is a natural part of life, where as I have had such experiences that I want nothing to do with these substances.

That is entirely possible...especially considering the enormous population of the U.S.

I've only known one drunk in my entire life and only three heroin addicts. And inspite of their respective addictions, they all seemed to function pretty much like the rest of us, more or less.

I've known a large number of regular marijuana smokers...and they also seemed to get by ok.

Of course, I personally have been a smoker, a coffee-drinker, and an alcohol consumer since the age of 12 or 13.


People get in positions where they are so addicted to substances that they do very brutal things, to themselves and others. This is not natural or harmless, and it's not something I would want to be prevalent under socialism.

I have to keep repeating this: is it the drug or is it the social context?

If addictive drugs are illegal, expensive, etc., then people may well "do brutal things" (or at least stupid things) to acquire their drug.

That's not the drug; that's the effect of neo-puritanical repression.

If all drugs were inexpensive, readily available, etc., then addiction would not matter -- the "social consequences" would be zero. (Except for the resources used in producing and distributing the drugs...which are not particularly large.)


These substances are also physically poisoning.

Some may many cases the data and the interpretations are quite dubious.

And, in any event, they are not immediately poisonous...which is what really counts.


Dying 5-10 years sooner from smoking is a BIG DEAL!

The time comes off the end. You don't lose any of the good years of life, you lose the years that you'd otherwise spend wearing an adult diaper.

Speaking from first-hand experience, old age really sucks!

And there's no cure!

Suppose we could say: "If you stay away from drugs, then you'll never get old" -- well, that would be a very powerful argument.

But you can't say that!

All those "straight-edge" health-nazis are also going to get old, and get sick, and die! Their extra 10 or even 20 years of "life" is going to be shit! And I am just vindictive enough to say "Good! The bastards have it coming to them!"


...people are actually precious things...

Indeed they are...but what makes them precious?

To me, it's the ability (or the potential) to use the power of their own reasoning to act autonomously. When you get old and fucked up physically, can't think rationally anymore, can't take care of yourself anymore, etc., then what's the point of continuing to live?

Want to "live" with a feeding tube rammed down your throat? For decades???


I don't think that under socialism the question would be about criminalization, but I could definitely see a debate regarding use of resources of, say, growing tobacco or coffee plants versus "real" food. You also start to get into health generally, like whether to mandate exercise and the elimination of a lot of sugar in our diets (not outlawing it totally, but I don't think we'll be producing cocoa-puffs for instance, or pouring corn syrup into everything).

I see. You plan to eliminate coffee, tobacco, and (most) sugar...and make exercise compulsory.

Sounds wonderful! Where do I apply for my exit permit?


I don't think people are going to embrace or advocate a "neo-puritanical" ideology...

You just did exactly that.
First posted at AnotherWorldIsPossible on June 2, 2005
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