FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Drugs are Bad, Got It?

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.

More articles by:

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. 

Weekend Edition
July 13, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Brian Cloughley
Lessons That Should Have Been Learned From NATO’s Destruction of Libya
Paul Street
Time to Stop Playing “Simon Says” with James Madison and Alexander Hamilton
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: In the Land of Formula and Honey
Aidan O'Brien
Ireland’s Intellectuals Bow to the Queen of Chaos 
Michael Collins
The Affirmative Action Silo
Andrew Levine
Tipping Points
Geoff Dutton
Fair and Balanced Opinion at the New York Times
Ajamu Baraka
Cultural and Ideological Struggle in the US: a Final Comment on Ocasio-Cortez
David Rosen
The New McCarthyism: Is the Electric Chair Next for the Left?
Ken Levy
The McConnell Rule: Nasty, Brutish, and Unconstitutional
George Wuerthner
The Awful Truth About the Hammonds
Robert Fisk
Will Those Killed by NATO 19 Years Ago in Serbia Ever Get Justice?
Robert Hunziker
Three Climatic Monsters with Asteroid Impact
Ramzy Baroud
Europe’s Iron Curtain: The Refugee Crisis is about to Worsen
Nick Pemberton
A Letter For Scarlett JoManDaughter
Marilyn Garson
Netanyahu’s War on Transcendence 
Patrick Cockburn
Is ISIS About to Lose Its Last Stronghold in Syria?
Joseph Grosso
The Invisible Class: Workers in America
Kim Ives
Haiti’s Popular Uprising Calls for President Jovenel Moïse’s Removal
John Carroll Md
Dispatch From Haiti: Trump and Breastfeeding
Alycee Lane
On Heat Waves and Climate Resistance
Ed Meek
Dershowitz the Sophist
Howard Lisnoff
Liberal Massachusetts and Recreational Marijuana
Ike Nahem
Trump, Trade Wars, and the Class Struggle
Olivia Alperstein
Kavanaugh and the Supremes: It’s About Much More Than Abortion
Manuel E. Yepe
Korea After the Handshake
Robert Kosuth
Militarized Nationalism: Pernicious and Pervasive
Binoy Kampmark
Soft Brexits and Hard Realities: The Tory Revolt
Helena Norberg-Hodge
Localization: a Strategic Alternative to Globalized Authoritarianism
Kevin Zeese - Nils McCune
Correcting The Record: What Is Really Happening In Nicaragua?
Chris Wright
The American Oligarchy: A Review
Kweli Nzito
Imperial Gangster Nations: Peddling “Democracy” and Other Goodies to the Untutored
Christopher Brauchli
The Defenestration of Scott Pruitt
Ralph Nader
Universal Voting Dissolves the Obstacles Facing Voters
Ron Jacobs
Vermont: Can It Happen Here?
Thomas Knapp
Helsinki: How About a Fresh START?
Seth Sandronsky
A Fraught Century
Graham Peebles
Education and the Mental Health Epidemic
Bob Lord
How to Level the Playing Field for Workers in a Time of Waning Union Power
Saurav Sarkar
I Got Arrested This Summer (and So Should You)
Winslow Myers
President Trump’s Useful Idiocy
Kim C. Domenico
Outing the Dark Beast Hiding Behind Liberal Hope
CounterPunch News Service
First Big Strike Since Janus Ruling Hits Vermont Streets
Louis Proyect
Survival of the Fittest in the London Underground
David Yearsley
Ducks and Études
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail