March 2, 2002

Strakon Lights Up

Two ... (clack) ... two ... (clack) ... two wars in one!

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Those who watched the latest Super Bowl on the telescreen got a preview of the regime's new propaganda campaign against the drugs it claims to disapprove of. In Public Sermonizing Announcements that aired a couple of times during the breaks, various adolescents explained that drugs don't hurt anybody and that drug use is a victimless crime; but as they spoke, they periodically interrupted themselves, so to speak, from off screen to contradict what they were saying on screen: "I help finance people who crash planes into buildings," and what not. You get the drift. It was all very cleverly crafted, assuming, as always, that the intended audience consisted of morons.

A few days later, the Emperor of Bricks and Turtles and Everything Thick and Slow confirmed "his" regime's new approach in a speech unveiling "his" National Drug Control Strategy. Kids, he said, when you use drugs (the officially unapproved kind, that is) you're helping to support terrorism. In fact, he said, "When people purchase drugs, they put money in the hands of those who wanna hurt America, hurt our allies." (My God! Not "our allies"! By the way, what does "allies" mean these days? "Provinces"?)

On the domestic front, Our Suddenly Great but Still Impaired Ruler proclaimed: "Drug use causes people to commit crime, makin' neighborhoods less safe and less secure for our families." Moreover, said he, "Schools can turn inna places of violence and chaos as opposed to places of learning and hope."

So now we know. The only thing that has to happen, to save America's state schools from grinding on toward the year 3000 as factories of deracination, tyranno-chaos, and ignorance on stilts, is for students, teachers, janitors, and administrators to refrain from taking certain drugs that Bush and the other D.C. geeks (purportedly) don't approve of. "Places of learning and hope"! Liyeeek, give me a nose-ringed, tattooed, Rap-grunted, George-Washington-purged, Christmas-card-free, "Who was that Columbus freak, anyhow?" break, dude.

On the drugs-finance-terror front, Bush somehow neglected to mention that many of the world's illegal-drug networks, dealing both in opiates and cocaine, have received subsidies or other assistance from the CIA. How dare state officials blame ordinary private Americans for any evil thing that emerged in the past 20 years from Afghanistan, of all places! Maybe it's once again time to trot out that verse from St. Matthew dealing with motes and beams.

This drugs-finance-terror business is another example of the government's creating a social problem and then turning right around and demanding more boodle and power to "solve" that very problem. Poor Bush himself, of course, could have no clue about how it works, but seeing how everyone is always marveling at the high IQ of all the advisors and Cabinet officers who surround him, perhaps I'll be forgiven for suspecting that many of those folks do understand very well that government feeds — gorges! — on the chaos it cultivates. Bush's own father, a former CIA chief, must understand it. In any event, I'm sure the Dark Suits whom they all really work for understand it very well. If I may once again mangle Randolph Bourne, state-created chaos is the health of the state.

I've already insulted Bush's intelligence, and I intend to do so again before I'm finished, but make no mistake. Our true rulers are brilliant, and in folding the war against drugs into the current war of empire, they are performing a brilliant synthesis. At the same time, they're offering us a valuable lesson. Libertarians already know that freedom is unitary; our rulers are reminding us that totalitarianism is, too.

When I sit down to write a column — and I assume that this goes for other manufacturers of opinion — I usually do my best to say something a little new, or maybe just something old in a new way. But when I hear the same transparent idiocy repeated year after year, decade after decade, and, worse, swallowed by the sheeple year after year, decade after decade — I swear, brother, it's hard. On the one hand, one doubts that simple repetition of the contrary view is going to work, but on the other, one eventually runs out of new and ingenious ways in which to couch the simple truth.

The simple truth is, when you prohibit traffic in a good or service that a lot of people want, the price for that prohibited good or service soars because of the extreme risk climate you've imposed; or its quality and safety plummet; or both. You've driven the traffic underground and entrusted it to the least trustworthy, most reckless, most violent elements of society. If some of those words sound familiar, I'm plagiarizing myself in "A two-legged stool," one of my Two Essays on Race (pp. 20-1). Not to mention, about 10,000 other writers have made the same point. If true terrorists in foreign lands have taken over a share of the illegal drug business, that's just an extension of the same dynamic to a global scale.

That's the supply side. On the demand side, many of the customers for officially unapproved drugs seem to get a mite violent, too; more so than, say, your fellow browsers at Borders or sippers at Starbucks. I don't buy the deterministic view of addiction (otherwise "addicts" could never "recover," could they?), but officialdom certainly does buy it, so you'd think — if you were 1) an adherent of logic and 2) a Martian — that they'd favor a free market in drugs in order to keep those substances cheap and thereby eliminate "drug-related" muggings, burglaries, and so on, as well as inadvertent overdoses caused by a lack of labeling, poisonings caused by a lack of quality control, and epidemics caused by furtively shared needles. As I say, I'm no determinist, but if we're talking about how to bet, I'd give odds on a remarkable uptick in public health and safety.

Our supervisors must have goals in mind other than public health and safety. But, egad, I do wish one of them or their intellectual bodyguard would be honest enough to admit that it was the prohibition of drugs, not the drugs themselves, that was to blame for "drug-related" street crime.

Speaking of causation, did you catch on to what a dumb-head determinist Bush is? "Drug use causes people to commit crime." Intellectually, that formulation is on a par with his promise to "eliminate evil from the world." I'm unwilling to say even that the state "causes crime" among drug abusers. (I am willing to say that the state is crime, though.) Most high-school grads, if they were being a little careful, would talk instead in terms of blame, influence, incentives, and tendencies. But apparently W. fell asleep in third grade and never woke up.

Not to pile on the hapless Turtle Monarch, but I've got to point out that it's drug abuse that's the problem, not drug use, though that confusion results not so much from Bush's small mind as from his bad ideology. Here's more of it. Bush claimed that "illegal drugs cost our health-care system almost $15 billion a year." Whenever you hear someone say something like that, you know socialist premises are at work. (Bush is living proof that it doesn't take an over-achiever to be a socialist.)

No one would ever say, for example, that the heartbreak of flaky scalps costs the dandruff-shampoo industry so many gazillion dollars a year. The heartbreak of flaky scalps costs the owners of the scalps; the folks at Head & Shoulders profit from it; and it's no one else's business. That's because the dandruff-shampoo industry is entirely privately owned and operates in a substantially free market, apart from some FDA niggling and naggling. The extent to which drug abuse "costs" the health-care system anything is the precise extent to which that system is socialistic.

What of Bush's listeners — the ones with all that wool between their ears? Like Bush, they suffer from a head condition no shampoo can cure: the heartbreak of flaky ideology. After all, most Americans aren't congenitally stupid. Dysgenics have not proceeded that far, not yet, at least not with respect to the historic core population.

To understand the suffocating idiocy we're drowning in, it helps to think in terms of what I once called "operational intelligence." Whatever a man's genetic endowment, bad ideas and bad habits of mind can lead him not only to evil but also to some variety of stupidity. (I know that doesn't account for those who are both smart and evil — such as our ultimate rulers, the Dark Suits — but the stupid-making process I'm talking about probably requires a modicum of original innocence, or at least heedlessness.)

After the events of September 11, I wrote that many Americans seemed to have lost 40 IQ points overnight. A sudden stupidizing of that kind is as sure a token of wartime as all the sudden flag-waving. Now, remind me, how many Wars on Drugs have our masters waged by now? The bellowing tyrannical nonsense has been going on for all of my adult life, and I'm 52. How many more IQ points can our people afford to lose?

The suppression of operational IQ during wartime couldn't happen if people hadn't already been conditioned to look at their rulers and their actions and their assertions in a way drastically different from the way they look at their own neighbors and their actions and their assertions. I've got another little phrase to describe that: "statish thinking." In his drugs speech, Bush navigated that hallucinatory mental universe like the native he is. I'm afraid that, in this sense at least, he is truly a man of the people.

March 2, 2002

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