Thursday, January 26, 2006

Democracies for the world - "democrises" for Bush

Changing the Drug War Debate

The ape emperor's promotion of democracy must be coming back to haunt him. He may have stolen the electoral vote that brought himself to power, but things can't be corrupted quite so easily in less complacent parts of the world. Yesterday's rise of Hamas to true political power will probably have the White House incumbant running for an extra dose of anti-depressants.

Some reckon he might be running for the old Bolivian Marching Powder too - but surely not? After all, that comes from another source that's misfired. Evo Morales democratic election is another blow to the rape of South American resources.

The headline link above actually leads to an article about re-defining the "drug war". Amerika may scowl, but Morales (as in "morals"?) actually intends to eradicate the cocaine trade. What he does want to do however, is use the natural product formerly synthesised into that chemical, as a legitimate crop already integral to his country's economy. In other words, as with fuel resources, he seeks to redeploy a previously hi-jacked infrastructure to serve the interests of his nation. His democratic mandate to do so is a threat to Amerika's imperial power of interference. The coca plant has myriad uses over and beyond the manufacture of cocaine and it is on this that Bolivia seeks to capitalise.

As Britain is now forced to send even more troops to Afghanistan, there is a lesson to be learned here. Post Amerikan invasion, that country has been a minefield of instability with no solid economic direction. It too has been reliant on the export of "contraband" goods - ranging from the relatively innocent marijuana plant through opium and heroin production. Trying to wipe out this pervasive industry is a pretty futile quest, especially where no adequate replacement can be offered. A future democratic government in Afghanistan would logically seek to redeploy cultivation and manufacture of these existing resources to beneficial ends. An emphasis on the hemp plant would be a good idea - it can be used to manufacture "paper", rope and all manner of other things. Were it not subject to draconian prohition elsewhere, the female marijuana plant could be a controlled export crop. Opium too as many traditional uses, mostly in medicine. If legitimate uses for the plant could be established, the production of heroin would probably diminish of its own accord as new market demand took over.

This would all be bad news for the huge "underground" criminal corporations that now operate the global black market for illicit drugs. With their suppliers incorporated into the mainstream economy, sources would dry up. With less product available, the market would gradually implode. The "war on drugs" would become easier where dangerous products are concerned - especially if legal alternatives were available to customers. These legal alternatives could be the sort of thing both Bolivia and Afghanistan might produce.

There is no simple solution of course. It can be argued that the black market would continue by offering potential suppliers higher prices than legitimate industry can pay, in turn charging their customers higher prices and increasing criminality among users desperate to feed their habits. But were drug use itself to be addressed as a social problem divorced from criminality, serious addictions could be treated with pure and unadulterated products newly available from authorised suppliers. The "war" would not be won overnight, but as a model for re-appraising the futile policy of trying to "police" a hidden growth industry it is worth some thought.

The human demand for recreational intoxication will never go away. Relying on alcohol alone (itself a very dangerous drug) as an avenue for such escapism is leading to violence and anarchy in an increasingly stressful 21st century society. Probibiting tobacco smoking in an air full of petro-chemicals and other hydrocarbons is just the latest hypocritical ploy by government to convince us they are really concerned about public health. All the signs suggest that goverments of the developed world are trying to engineer their populations into docility and an anti-progressive mindset. They think the "total absorption" of television and new media will keep us comfortably numb. They forget that the disenfranchised who cannot subscribe will find their own escapes. So too will the social pioneers of each successive generation who grow up bored with the norm. If those escapes involve the herbs and chemicals the planet provides, it will be no surprise. It is the continuation of an ancient human legacy.

Accomodation of diversity is better than the prohibition of dissent. This applies as much to nations and cultures as it does to individuals. Otherwise we'll always be at war - abroad, at home or within ourselves.



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