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The British Home Secretary On Drugs

Headlines here are about the 7th member of the Drugs Advisory Committee to resign out of principle. Now I’m no great fan of the committee anyway – it’s nobody else’s business if people want to poison themselves, so long as they’re not being tricked into it. But the scientific advisors are – finally – starting to stand up to the tendency to ban even stuff that apparently is not even poisonous.

For those who don’t follow the British media – and who could blame you? – it’s all about a drug called Mephedrone, or 1-(4-methylphenyl)-2-methylaminopropan-1-one. It is what is known as a legal high, a euphoric that has not yet been banned. There is a continual arms race between the black market chemists who search for new variants to sell to those people who want them and the governments who race to find evidence to ban them.

Many governments already have. It is already illegal in Australia (de facto, if not de jure), Canada, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Guernsey, Isle of Man, Israel, Jersey, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Romania, Sweden, and North Dakota in the US. It is odd, then, that the UK scientific committee are saying they know of no solid evidence linking it to harm. On what basis have all those other governments banned it, then? This is clearly not a UK-specific issue.

So far as one can tell the only problem with the drug, what people are really objecting to, is that it is pleasurable; and the solid belief that enjoyment is bad for you – a belief in some sort of inverted cosmic karma – has led people to conclude that this must be bad for you, and it is their duty to seek out the evidence to prove it and have it stopped. This is the defining belief of Health-Puritans. As HL Mencken quipped:

Puritanism: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.

It is an old problem, founded on an ancient tendency in the human psyche to interfere. Obviously the people so oppressed have always objected. What is in comparatively short supply, though, is the organised urge to fight it – also not a new problem. Bertrand Russell:

But no organized body represents the point of view of those who believe that a man or woman ought to be free in regard to enjoyments which do not damage other people, so that the Puritans have met with no serious opposition, and their tyranny has not been regarded as raising a political issue.

The Home Secretary has declared his intention to have it banned anyway, despite there being no evidence, no support from the scientists they specifically employed to give them cover for their totalitarian policies, and despite that doing so without a properly constituted advisory committee is of questionable legality. An election is coming. Law and order is popular. He’s not about to let the facts get in the way of a good knee-jerk ban.

And all the fuss is about whether they can or should ban it without scientific backing. But surely the fact that they are even trying should raise the question of whether they should be doing it at all? Why do we trust these people to make such decisions on behalf of us all? They have no greater moral standing, no greater scientific understanding, no greater knowledge, or wisdom than the average. They would appear to be far below average in many such regards. And yet we all follow them. Do what they say.

I am wondering whether it is a coincidence that the committee has broken ranks just before an election. Is it some faint stirrings of a desire for liberty, expressed at a time when it is most likely to have an impact? Or merely a play for more power? Or an ingratiation with the anticipated new government?

There is a great deal of talk about the “public demand” for banning the drug, but I haven’t personally heard any myself, I haven’t seen any polls. And you can be sure that if there were favourable polls we would hear about them. Is there a public demand? Is there anything more than a few campaigners, and a lot of people going along with what they think they ought to say? I haven’t even seen the usual vox pops, from members of the public giving their opinions. There are plenty of people in favour of liberalisation – surveys of clubbers show it to be one of the most popular. Who exactly is it that’s against?

We libertarians are often told we are a minority view, and judging by votes cast in elections that seems to be the case. But is it possible that we are less of a minority than we are told? And as the state encroaches ever more on liberty, growing larger?

How many times can a dog be kicked before it turns?

5 Comments

  1. Ian B says:

    Well you know my view; our society doesn’t contain some puritans. It is ideologically puritan as the result of a cultural revolution in the nineteenth century that strangled liberalism when it was still a toddler. Anglosphere statism is puritanism (in the vernacular sense rather than the theological sense); it is directly descended from the Cromwellian millieu, as a revival after the liberal C18 that swept through society just as the new phase (which we call “political correctness” amongst other things) is doing now.

    Thus for instance we need to shift our understanding on economics. We’re not fighting communists any more. They really are gone. The anglo-socialists are moral socialists, and their understanding of markets is in terms of moral inputs and outputs. (So for instance, if you ask a market liberal or a communist what a tractor factory is for, they will say “to manufacture tractors” and then argue about which system will produce most tractors. A moral socialist will say, “it is to provide employment, because work is good for the (soul of) the working man”. The moral socialist doesn’t care if any tractors are produced or not; indeed they fear that more tractors will produce more food, and then people will be immorally glutonous and become fat. Ideally, business employs people and “leads the community” but doesn’t produce anything).

    So anyway, we have to dismantle the moralist moral hegemony. Revolution is next tuesday; bring a kagool, sandwiches and a copy of Razzle.

  2. Ian B says:

    Also, regarding the hissy fit by the committee members-

    This is because, interestnigly enough, Johnson isn’t playing the game. Under the progressivist system, politicians (let alone teh people) don’t make policy. Policy is made by technocrats- academics, experts, lobby groups, etc etc and merely implemented by politicians, whose only job is to implement the laws decided by The Network. This is the future political system we will live under (if it is not stopped by us of course, heh); there is a power shift occurring similar to the depowerment of the monarch in previous centuries.

    Now those who stole power from the monarch are having their power stolen by the progressive network, such that in time we will have what one could call a “constitutional parliament” just like we have a constitutional monarch- in theory Mrs Queen passes laws, but she’s just a constitutional nicety, a rubber stamp. Likewise, proggies intend the parliament etc to be the same thing; a rubber stamp for the policies they make. The process is already far advanced, such that a minister is considered daring if he disputes them, just as the monarch is being daring if she were to refuse to sign a law made by her usurpers.

    So strangely, although it’s a stupid law, constitutionally he’s doing the right thing from our perspective- saying “I make the law, not you”.

    To repeat myself. In constitutional terms, under Constitution 2.0, the Queen makes laws with “advice” from her ministers. In reality, the ministers make the laws. Under Constitution 3.0, ministers make laws with “advice” from technocrats. In reality, technocrats make the laws.

    We’re somewhere around Constitution 2.7 or so at the moment. Everything’s progressing according to plan.

  3. John B says:

    I suppose they might feel that anything that makes you feel more happy than you otherwise might, about reality, must be distorting your perception somewhat and therefore might be dangerous?
    But the general tendency to be down on anything happy (the hippies took them by surprise and it was a year or two before they managed to fully trash that development back on itself) is part of the campaign to keep the people in defeatism and therefore controllable.
    Obscure, fudge and destroy the pursuit of excellence.
    Those who would pursue excellence get them to compromise somehow (arrogance, yobbishness, shallow delight, greed?)
    Where do you think true poetry has gone?
    Where are the poets?

  4. Sunfish says:

    So the next step is to make the technocrats rubber-stamp someone else. And the step after that is to make the someone else be a rubber stamp for yet another entity.

    Let’s keep this going until the UK’s laws are all made by a yank at 6000′ ASL in his own living room. Because I’ll have some fun with this (burning rubber, so to speak) until it becomes my turn to rubberstamp someone else.

    Speaking of which, your proposal to require that all MPs prance up the street in fetching sundresses (regardless of sex) while singing “I Feel Pretty” from Guys and Dolls, en masse, immediately after every vote, has been approved. Implementation begins as soon as HM grants Royal Assent to the rubberstamp from the Parliament in response to the rubber stamp from the Civil Service given to the rubber stamp from the QuaNGO that is supposed to rubber-stamp my decision.

    Or, in the profound philosophical manner of speaking of my people: how many monkeys are going to try to fuck this football at once?

  5. I find the whole issue humorous. Im surprised there hasn’t been legislation for funny movies, amazing food, great music, jokes and roller coasters!

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