FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Drugs are Bad, Got It?

by KEVIN CARSON

Every once in a while a government functionary slips up and inadvertently lets out the truth about how things work, in tones so frank it leaves us shaking our heads and wondering if we really heard correctly. That’s what happened when Blake Ewing, an Austin area assistant DA, expressed his true feelings (“Breaking Bad Normalizes Meth Use, Argues Prosecutor,” Time, September 20) about the TV drama Breaking Bad.  The problem, he says, is not that Breaking Bad glorifies or romanticizes meth use. It’s that — as his title suggests — it “does normalize meth for a broad segment of society that might otherwise have no knowledge of that dark and dangerous world.”

“Before Breaking Bad, relatively few people knew someone whose life had been touched by meth, but now millions more people have an intense emotional connection with at least two: Walter White and Jesse Pinkman. And suddenly, for those spellbound viewers, the idea of people using meth is a little less foreign, a little more familiar. And that false sense of familiarity is inherently dangerous.”

And this is dangerous, Ewing makes clear, mainly from the perspective of the Drug War and his friends in the law enforcement community who fight it: “Law-enforcement officers’ duties bring them into contact with the drug-addled on a daily basis, so the proliferation of dangerous drugs directly affects their lives and families more than it might affect yours or mine.”

So there you have it. The very fact that a broad segment of the public has greater knowledge of an aspect of life about which they were previously ignorant makes it harder for the state to carry out its functions. Before, when almost nobody had any direct emotional connection with anybody who used meth, they depended mainly on the state’s Drug War propaganda for whatever, ahem, “knowledge” of the subject they possessed. So long as people who used drugs were a vague, menacing Other whom they’d never met in person, it was easy to mold their view of the world with crude propaganda of the Reefer Madness type, or smarmy PSAs (“Did You Know …”) from the White House Office of Drug Control Policy.  If the state thinks you need to know any more than that, in order to serve its own purposes, it will tell you what you need to know — when it gets good and ready.

So long as the public perception of the shadowy Drug War enemy was shaped by state propaganda — breathless local TV news reporters covering heroic meth lab busts, the “thin blue line,” etc. — it could scare the public into supporting police militarization and the erosion of civil liberties. After all, the police are our friends — all that military equipment, all those warrantless searches, are to be used against … THEM.

The last thing the state wants is for the enemy to have a human face. The Western Allies’ High Command had a similar reaction to the Christmas Truce of 1914, when French, British and German troops suspended hostilities in northern France entirely on their own intiative, visited each other’s campfires, exchanged gifts or bartered goods, and played football in No Man’s Land. The British and French leadership didn’t like their grunts finding out that those baby-killing Huns were just a bunch of dumb grunts like them who believed the crap their government told them and went where they were ordered — and vice versa.

The state’s power depends on keeping you ignorant, on controlling your perceptions of the world, on making you fear the enemies it wants you to fear. But it’s the state itself, and the classes that control it, that are your enemies. Free your mind!

Kevin Carson is a senior fellow of the Center for a Stateless Society (c4ss.org) and holds the Center’s Karl Hess Chair in Social Theory.

Kevin Carson is a senior fellow of the Center for a Stateless Society (c4ss.org) and holds the Center’s Karl Hess Chair in Social Theory. He is a mutualist and individualist anarchist whose written work includes Studies in Mutualist Political Economy, Organization Theory: A Libertarian Perspective, and The Homebrew Industrial Revolution: A Low-Overhead Manifesto, all of which are freely available online. 

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

February 27, 2017
Anthony DiMaggio
Media Ban! Making Sense of the War Between Trump and the Press
Dave Lindorff
Resume Inflation at the NSC: Lt. General McMaster’s Silver Star Was Essentially Earned for Target Practice
Conn Hallinan
Is Trump Moderating US Foreign Policy? Hardly
Norman Pollack
Political Castration of State: Militarization of Government
Kenneth Surin
Inside Dharavi, a Mumbai Slum
Lawrence Davidson
Truth vs. Trump
Binoy Kampmark
The Extradition Saga of Kim Dotcom
Robert Fisk
Why a Victory Over ISIS in Mosul Might Spell Defeat in Deir Ezzor
David Swanson
Open Guantanamo!
Ted Rall
The Republicans May Impeach Trump
Lawrence Wittner
Why Should Trump―or Anyone―Be Able to Launch a Nuclear War?
Andrew Stewart
Down with Obamacare, Up with Single Payer!
Colin Todhunter
Message to John Beddington and the Oxford Martin Commission
David Macaray
UFOs: The Myth That Won’t Die?
Weekend Edition
February 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Exxon’s End Game Theory
Pierre M. Sprey - Franklin “Chuck” Spinney
Sleepwalking Into a Nuclear Arms Race with Russia
Paul Street
Liberal Hypocrisy, “Late-Shaming,” and Russia-Blaming in the Age of Trump
Ajamu Baraka
Malcolm X and Human Rights in the Time of Trumpism: Transcending the Master’s Tools
John Laforge
Did Obama Pave the Way for More Torture?
Mike Whitney
McMaster Takes Charge: Trump Relinquishes Control of Foreign Policy 
Patrick Cockburn
The Coming Decline of US and UK Power
Louisa Willcox
The Endangered Species Act: a Critical Safety Net Now Threatened by Congress and Trump
Vijay Prashad
A Foreign Policy of Cruel Populism
John Chuckman
Israel’s Terrible Problem: Two States or One?
Matthew Stevenson
The Parallax View of Donald Trump
Norman Pollack
Drumbeat of Fascism: Find, Arrest, Deport
Stan Cox
Can the Climate Survive Electoral Democracy? Maybe. Can It Survive Capitalism? No.
Ramzy Baroud
The Trump-Netanyahu Circus: Now, No One Can Save Israel from Itself
Edward Hunt
The United States of Permanent War
David Morgan
Trump and the Left: a Case of Mass Hysteria?
Pete Dolack
The Bait and Switch of Public-Private Partnerships
Mike Miller
What Kind of Movement Moment Are We In? 
Elliot Sperber
Why Resistance is Insufficient
Brian Cloughley
What are You Going to Do About Afghanistan, President Trump?
Binoy Kampmark
Warring in the Oncology Ward
Yves Engler
Remembering the Coup in Ghana
Jeremy Brecher
“Climate Kids” v. Trump: Trial of the Century Pits Trump Climate Denialism Against Right to a Climate System Capable of Sustaining Human Life”
Jonathan Taylor
Hate Trump? You Should Have Voted for Ron Paul
Franklin Lamb
Another Small Step for Syrian Refugee Children in Beirut’s “Aleppo Park”
Ron Jacobs
The Realist: Irreverence Was Their Only Sacred Cow
Andre Vltchek
Lock up England in Jail or an Insane Asylum!
Rev. William Alberts
Grandiose Marketing of Spirituality
Paul DeRienzo
Three Years Since the Kitty Litter Disaster at Waste Isolation Pilot Plant
Eric Sommer
Organize Workers Immigrant Defense Committees!
Steve Cooper
A Progressive Agenda
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail