The War on Drugs is a War on Consciousness
By Carol Moore
I believe that a prime motivation of those waging the current "war on drugs" is to discredit and destroy any "counterculture" before it becomes the dominant culture. Religious fundamentalists have not forgotten the religious upheavals of the 1960s when millions of young people, often after using marijuana and other psychedelics, reading Timothy Leary or Alan Watts, or listening to "psychedelic" music by the Beatles or the Jefferson Airplane, rejected Christianity and Judaism. Even ministers, priests, nuns and rabbis abandoned their callings! Consciousness, altered consciousness, and higher consciousness rather than obedience, duty, and sacrifice became the prime concern of the new spirituality.
The response of Catholic, conservative and fundamentalist religious groups was to feverishly expand their efforts to enforce more fundamentalist views among their members and to gain greater political influence. While fundamentalists have lost many battles over abortion, prayer and pornography, they have found the government a willing ally in the "war on drugs". For just as drugs, the counterculture and "consciousness" undermine faith in hierarchical religious authority, so do they undermine faith in political authority.
John Lennon's "IMAGINE", an anthem of the counter culture, asks us to imagine "no religion" and "no countries". Lennon, a drug use advocate, was murdered by a fundamentalist Christian, a former fan, who knew how subversive and powerful this message is. In 1990, on Lennon's 50th birthday radio stations worldwide played "IMAGINE" simultaneously to a billion people. All heard Yoko Ono say, "The dream we dream alone is just a dream, but the dream we dream together is reality." The message is that we are not subjects of an authoritarian god or even natural law, but that we consciously co-create reality. Implied is the possibility of a diversity of realities.
Despite the crackdown on drug use, the belief that consciousness is not only the purpose, but perhaps even the very nature, of reality has spread through writings and practices of "new physics" aficionados, humanistic psychologists, and the new age, eastern religion, wiccan, and eco-spirituality movements. Their millions of advocates still lack a coherent and motivating philosophical synthesis or organizational focus. And while many of these individuals have used drugs, and still do, decriminalization of drugs is not yet a major focus of their thought or action.
However, as the horrors of the drug war mount and the injustices spread to all of us, the uneasy feeling that there is some hidden agenda behind the "war on drugs" grows among more aware and conscious individuals. Some of these agendas are scapegoating drug users for larger ills, excuses for racial repression and expanding government power, an outlet for militarism, and the desire of tobacco and liquor producers to squash potential competition.
However, a prime hidden agenda remains the suppression of an alternate religious view -- that consciousness is the nature and purpose of reality, that humans freely create their realities. Because psychoactive drugs are a means of quickly and effectively initiating individuals into this view they must be suppressed -- even if it means punishment, incarceration and death for hundreds of thousands of people. But such is the nature of all religious wars.
Excerpts from INTOXICATION THE "FOURTH DRIVE" by Dr. Ronald K. Siegel. Article in the September/October 1990 HUMANIST magazine. (Later made into a book.)
History shows that we have always used drugs. In every age, in every part of this planet, people have pursued intoxication with plant drugs, alcohol, and other mind-altering substances...Almost every species of animal has engaged in the natural pursuit of intoxicants. This behavior has so much force and persistence that it functions like a drive, just like our drives of hunger, thirst and sex. This "fourth drive" is a natural part of biology, creating the irrepressible demand for drugs. In a sense, the war on drugs is a war against ourselves, a denial of our very nature...
Legalization is a risky proposal that would cut the drug crime connection and reduce many social ills, yet it would invite more use and abuse...Making some dangerous drugs illegal while keeping others (like alcohol and cigarettes) legal is not the solution. Out-lawing drugs in order to solve drug problems is much like outlawing sex in order to win the war against AIDS.
In order to solve the drug problem, we must recognize that intoxicants are medicines, treatments for the human condition. Then we must make them as safe and risk-free and, yes, as healthy as possible.
Dream with me for a moment. What would be wrong if we had perfectly safe drugs? It mean drugs that delivered the same effects as our most popular ones but never caused dependency, disease, dysfunction, or death?... Such intoxicants are available right now that are far safer than the ones we currently use...We must begin by recognizing that there is a legitimate place in our society for intoxication.
Excerpts from THE NATURAL MIND - An Investigation of Drugs and the Higher Consciousness by Dr. Andrew Weil, 1985.
Human beings are born with a drive to experiment with ways of changing consciousness...The desire to alter consciousness periodically is an innate, normal drive analogous to hunger or the sexual drive...
The root of the drug problem is the failure of our culture to provide for a basic human need. Once we recognize the importance and value of other states of consciousness, we can begin to teach people, particularly the young, how to satisfy their needs without drugs. The chief advantage of drugs is that they are quick and effective, producing desired results without requiring effort. Their chief disadvantage is that they fail us over time; used regularly and frequently, they do not maintain the experiences sought and, instead, limit our options and freedom...
Altered states of consciousness...appear to be the ways to more effective and fuller use of the nervous system, to development of creative and intellectual faculties, and to attainment of certain kinds of thought that have been deemed exalted by all who have experienced them...(They) may even be a key factor in the present evolution of the human nervous system...To try to thwart (their) expression in individuals and society might be psychologically crippling for people and evolutionarily suicidal for the species.
Excerpt from book FOOD OF THE GODS by Terence McKenna, 1992.
The suppression of the natural human fascination with altered states of consciousness and the present perilous situation of all life on earth are intimately and causally connected. When we suppress access to shamanic ecstasy, we close off the refreshing waters of emotion that flow from having a deeply bonded, almost symbiotic relationship to the earth. As a consequence, the maladaptive social styles that encourage overpopulation, resource mismanagement, and environmental toxification develop and maintain themselves.