Journey 18 - LIBERTY AND JUSTICE FOR ALL We always memorialize the fallen heroes of our wars by saying "they
fought for liberty." True enough. However, no Fascist or Communist has ever taken away any of our liberties. Fine, upstanding citizens took the liberties we lost in the 20th Century away. Tyranny was voted by Congress, signed by a President, and upheld by the Supreme Court, despite the First Amendment. It does no good to pledge allegiance to "liberty and justice for all" if we are unable to recognize transgressions. A violation of liberty is tyranny. One instance of such democratic tyranny is the War-On-Drugs. The failure of Prohibition should have told us exactly what the War-On-Drugs would do -- gangs, drive-by shootings, corruption of the police and other officials and a general decline in law-andorder. The whole point of the science of civilization is to learn from experience. As a society, we failed to learn anything from the failure of Prohibition. I have heard many arguments against the War-OnDrugs, but no one points out the worst thing about it -- tyranny, a direct violation of the ideal of liberty. All citizens may do whatever they like in private, no matter how risky, so long as it puts no one at involuntary risk. I can show by many examples that this is the Ideal of Liberty and that the War-On-Drugs violates it. Some of the illegal drugs are very risky, but fewer people die of them than die directly or indirectly as a result of tobacco and alcohol. Besides, everything is risky. Voluntary risk is irrelevant. We allow people to drive in cars, even though forty thousand people a year die in them. Cars leave another hundred thousand paralyzed or permanently brain damaged. Cars kill twenty thousand pedestrians and bicyclists every year. We allow people to climb eight thousand-meter Mountains, even though a third of the participants in this sport die of it. For every four people who reach the summit of Mount Everest, another climber will die. The glaciers around Mount Everest are graveyards, containing hundreds of bodies. Voluntary risk is evidently irrelevant in considering whether we have the liberty to do something. It is not just the War-On-Drugs that is wrong. All the blue laws are wrong. This includes the outlawing of drinking, gambling and prostitution. It is not that I advocate or wish to practice these things. Liberty means allowing other people to do things you disapprove of, if they will give you the same right. We all have different lifestyles, different tastes. It doesn't matter if something is a sin according to the preachers. I could say preaching is a sin, since it is a revival of the Puritanism which burned heretics and witches in our early history. I have a lot of Web friends who enjoy marijuana and magic mushrooms. They are very nice, kind, loving, spiritual people, the best people I know. Yet, they run a terrible risk of persecution at the hands of the DEA. Government agencies no longer bother with civil liberties, such as the 4th amendment against unlawful search and seizure. Anyone carrying a large amount of cash is apt to have it confiscated, because the DEA thinks it must be drug money. There are other reasons why one might carry a large amount of cash, going to a wholesale auction of cars, for instance. In Oklahoma, there is a law on the books prescribing life imprisonment for mere possession of a small amount of marijuana, although this law is never enforced. In fact, marijuana is the second
largest cash crop in Oklahoma. The people elect the local Sheriffs and District Attorneys. A similar disregard for the laws by local sheriffs and DAs was not uncommon under Prohibition. "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all people are created equal, endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, and that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." These stirring words in the Declaration of Independence (slightly translated), written by Thomas Jefferson in 1776, set off a rebellion and a revolution. The Founding Fathers, scions of the Enlightenment, put down Puritanism as a mere superstition of the dark ages. Apparently, Puritanism was only laying low, gathering up its energies, to return with a vengeance in the 20th Century, as a counter-balance to the reductionist religion of science. A Puritan is someone who is afraid that somewhere, somehow, somebody may be having fun. The hippies of the 1960s did seem to be having lots of fun, with pot and psychedelic drugs, free love, rock and roll, and freedom of expression in art, face-painting, spiritual and metaphysical pursuits. All of this was to be crushed out of existence in the following decades. The truth of liberty is not self-evident, and that is why we need this science of civilization. I doubt that we are endowed with liberties by divinity. Nor are rights inalienable. A person may forfeit his rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness by his own criminal acts or by treason. Which is the stronger allegiance? Our pledge of allegiance to "liberty and justice for all," or our actual allegiance to stamping out the production, sale and use of illegal drugs, no matter what the cost in money, the corruption of law and order in nations such as Columbia, and the cost in blood on the streets here at home, as rival gangs shoot it out in the night? I guess that is a rhetorical question. Gangs blight whole neighborhoods in our big cities. Generations are swallowed up in the gangster life, with its blood rituals of initiation. These are the fruits of tyranny. If we legalized gambling and prostitution, there would be no economic basis for gangs. In addition, who are these tyrants? They might be your neighbors. They might be your grandmothers. They might be you, normal, law-abiding people, who sing the National Anthem without a shred of irony. We have met the enemy and it is us. Oklahoma remained a dry state long after every other state was "wet". There was a curious alliance between my grandmother's Women's Christian Temperance Union and the bootleggers. Neither wanted to repeal Prohibition. As the saying went, "The drys have their law, and the wets have their liquor." The WCTU seemed satisfied in punishing the wicked, while bootleggers and moonshiners continued to make a good living. The same is true today of the coca leaf, marijuana plants, opium gum and the various natural psychedelics. Prohibition creates another problem. Addicts have to come up with a lot of money to support their heroin or cocaine habit. Therefore, they turn to armed robbery of gas stations and convenience stores. Jittery addicts in withdrawal sometimes murder the clerks. Their blood is on your hands, you fine upstanding citizens, if you are one of the tyrants who support the war on drugs! The violence of American society began with Prohibition, and continues because of the War-OnDrugs. We not only incarcerate more of our population than any other nation; we also have the highest murder rates among First World Industrialized nations.
As one piece of evidence for that claim, I refer you to a New York Times article of June 27, 1990, p. A10 that offers a comparison among industrialized countries of the number of murders per year per 100,000 young men between ages fifteen and twenty-four. The years of the study were 19861987. Austria was the safest place, with 0.3 murders per 100,000, followed by Japan with 0.6 per 100,000, followed by West Germany, Denmark, Portugal and England. England had 1.2 murders per 100,000. Over the entire nation, we had twenty-one murders per 100,000, but some regions were much worse. Michigan had a murder rate of 232 young men murdered per 100,000. Detroit's rate was higher still, well over 300, a thousand times worse than the murder rate in Austria. Murder has become the number one occupational hazard for women, in part because of the number of convenience store clerks murdered by utterly sociopathic robbers, and in part due to berserk mass killers. "Going Postal" is what we call it in the US. And this doesn't even count the thousands of young women who just "go missing" every year, and are never found, obviously the victims of hundreds of serial killers roaming the country, smart enough to hide the bodies where they will never be found. Since 1990, murder rates have declined some in the US, and increased in the UK, especially in London. Where I live, there are still robbers who kill, and gang member drive-by shootings nearly every night in the TV news, and the local market is fairly small, only about half a million in size. Is the satisfaction the Puritans get from "punishing the wicked" sufficient to reconcile us to a murder rate 1000 times worse than other First World Nations? That is comparable to Third World countries like Liberia! Can we justify the murder of hundreds of convenience store clerks by desperate crazed junkies? The Puritans think that legalization would produce more desperate crazed junkies. It wouldn't if we treated addiction as an illness rather than a crime. How do I know? Look at the example of the Netherlands. Marijuana has never been illegal in Holland for citizens, and they treat addiction to harder drugs as medical conditions, rather than a crime. Addicts from other countries are deported. Treatment usually consists in free maintenance doses of the drug of addiction. And they have seen no increase in addicts or any rise in other sorts of crime. The rest of Europe is now following their lead, and has begun to introduce a little bit of liberty and common sense into their drug policies. See NEWSWEEK, "Europeans Just Say 'Maybe'," 11/1/99, p. 53. The Puritan Overclass in the US may be afraid that legalization would result in chaos--streetwalkers on every corner and crack dealers in every schoolyard. The definition of liberty only applies to private behavior. We need not permit it in public. The Public Vs Private corollary is part of Jefferson's Ideal of Liberty. This ideal, one of several that I regard as true and well-established, says that every community has the right to set its own standards for what is allowed in public, what is permitted at work, or in stores, or on public media, or public transportation. See the chapter on the 7 ideals. The Ideal of Liberty says we must allow prostitution, but we do not have to allow streetwalkers. We can instead have private "sporting houses," which was, in fact, the pattern in the US in La Belle Époque, before the 20th Century wave of Puritanism. We can also draw a distinction between drugs that may be sold and advertised in public and those that must be sold (quite legally) in private, from
a dealer who comes to your door. I draw a distinction between the public Herb shops and the private dealers. In the public Herb shops, we would find natural leaf tobacco, opium gum, estate bottled wines, beers and aperitifs. A farmer or coop of farmers who grows his own barley and hops, makes his own malt, and brews his own beer, putting it into kegs or pony kegs to go the Herb shop or private purchasers is an "estate bottler." The reason I suggest this little wrinkle is to reduce or eliminate the advertising of beer and wine, as well as to provide more local variety. The Herb shops would also have marijuana from various different places, magic mushrooms, peyote buds or purified Mescaline, fresh or dried coca leaves to be used as they do in the Andes, as well as opium gum and herbs and aromatic plants of all kinds. You could buy Cocaine, Camels and Jack Daniels only from a private dealer. Thus, you see that I advocate putting some things in the Private category that are presently in the Public category. Cigarettes and distilled spirits, for instance. Purveyors could not advertise items in the private category. When I say, "locally grown”, I mean something like "estate bottling." The Herb shop buys its herbs directly from those who grow them, dry them, ferment them, or distill them even if the farm is in Columbia or Afghanistan or Brazil. In the case of alcohol, I would allow estate bottled aperitifs in the Herb shop, because they are consumed in tiny glasses, or added to a cup of coffee. I would also allow mescaline, as being no more dangerous than Peyote, and much easier to consume. Eating peyote buds always leads to vomiting. Same rule about Ayahuasca and its associated herbs. The Indians of Brazil always consume the combined product, not just the Ayahuasca by itself. This prevents nausea. These same Indians could distill the active ingredients in both herbs, and sell it in liquid form in the Herb shops, for the same reasons we allow mescaline. I would also allow laudanum in Herb Shops, since it was freely sold throughout the 19th Century, despite the danger of addiction. Laudanum is a tincture of opium in alcohol. Laudanum is measured out by the drop, just like mescaline. The boundary of all liberties, including religious freedom, freedom of the press, personal liberty, and free speech, is placing others at involuntary risk. Some say that drugs, gambling and prostitution do have involuntary victims, because legalization increases public health problems, such as addiction. While this factual claim is untrue, let us ask if drugs, gambling and prostitution in private would put anyone at involuntary risk. I freely admit that doing it in public would place people at involuntary risk and that is why I want to keep it in the private category. We do not allow drinking and driving in public; similarly, we should not allow driving while intoxicated on any kind of drug. Any activity has unwilling victims, in the grievous loss suffered by friends and relatives of the diver who is now a quadriplegic, or the parents of the toddler drowned in the backyard pool. These are accidental victims, not covered by the rule on involuntary risk. Note that "victimless crime" is an oxymoron. How would you punish it? Make the pot smoker smoke still more pot? It is possible to do something about the public health problems associated with drug use. Communities with long exposure to a particular drug have developed customs that protect them from addiction and disease. Pre-Columbian Native Americans did not have lung cancer or
emphysema, because they didn't smoke all day or every day. Smoking was part of a social ritual, when entertaining visitors, or conducting pow-wows. Italian peasants don't become alcoholics because they use wine as a food. They consume it at meals, with grandma and the children present (who get watered wine). It is shameful to become inebriated at the family table. They avoid distilled spirits. Andean peasants don't have a cocaine addiction, because they chew the raw coca leaves, with lime, and they do so to give them strength and endurance in the rarefied atmosphere of the Andes. Turkish peasants don't have heroin addictions because they use the raw opium gum only to treat toothache and other pain. It is apparent that we should all try to emulate these folk customs. Just to take opium as one example, the experience of physicians is that if we take only enough opium to alleviate pain, we never become addicted to opium. How do we treat addicts? I would suggest two routes. Those who wish to get rid of their addiction can sign up for a free 6-month stay in the locked grounds of a rehabilitation center. Those who do not could ask for a free maintenance injection every day at the local Free Clinic. As for the rehab center, once a person voluntarily signs herself in, she has to stay for 6 months. That is the minimum time for the brain to heal and relearn how to live a sober life. An addict must be forever on their guard, and must not frequent those places where their drug is used or available. Wouldn't we have more junkies if we legalized drugs? The Puritans were sure there would be more alcoholics as a result of repealing Prohibition. That did not happen. So the question now is whether or not the ideal of liberty (now that you understand its implications) is true or not? How do we apply scientific method to social ideals? What we need is the equivalent of a theory, a test, and the results. The alternative that survives all testing is the well-established conclusion. Maybe at some future time, we will think of a better theory, or continued pushing on the envelope of testing may eventually refute even a well-established theory. For the time being, it is the best we can do. It is the only known solution. In the Science of Civilization, or "Utopian Analysis," the equivalent of a test is a political experiment, such as the 75 years of the Socialist experiment in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, or the afore-mentioned experiment in Prohibition. The result of such a test is what I call a "normative particular." I suppose you could call it a “value fact,” so long as we understand that values are not facts, and facts are not values, nor can we infer one from the other. That would commit the Naturalistic Fallacy. What we observe is the failure of socialism, whenever and wherever nations have tried it. We also observe the failure of prohibition. The collapse of the Soviet Union is an historical fact, but the failure of the Soviet Union or of Prohibition is an observed normative particular. We did not infer it. We could not have predicted it without making the test. It is an object lesson from history. Every social controversy is a consequence of two conflicting social ideals. This is the "analysis" part of Utopian Analysis, digging out the relevant ideals. Every major ideal and its alternatives has been tried, somewhere, at some time. History provides us with all the political experiments we need to study. I do not regard communes (intentional communities that have withdrawn from the larger societies) as adequate political experiments. A commune can live on idealism or the charisma of its leaders. Real world political experiments cannot live on mere charisma or idealism.
We pursue an ideal, but rarely attain it perfectly. "Utopia" does not mean "perfection". I do not use the term that way. In my usage, any attempt to improve society is utopian, and ideas about improving society should be practical. "Utopia" does not mean "the impossible." In looking for evidence for liberty, we must compare societies that are relatively authoritarian with those which are relatively libertarian. Therefore, it is Sparta versus Athens, Rome versus Classical Greece, France of the Sun King versus England of the Glorious Revolution that made Commons superior to monarchy, Lords or Barrister. More recently, it is 19th Century America versus the monarchies, Czars and Emperors of 19th Century Europe; during the Cold War, it was the democratic West versus the autocratic East. The Hellenic world imitated Athens, not Sparta. Two thousand years of scholars have preferred Classical Greek culture to the brutal world of the Roman Empire, at least in most respects. During the Cold War, the Soviets had to put up walls to keep their population in, since it was rapidly evaporating to the West. Moreover, 19th Century America was the light of the world. That is why immigrants poured into this country from all over the world, and still do. The people of France gave us the Statue of Liberty because they admired our society above all others. "Send us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free," wrote Emma Lazarus in the famous poem now found on a plaque at the foot of Lady Liberty. "I lift my lamp above the Golden Door," says Lady Liberty, and so she does. Our ideals of liberty are the light of the world, and have spread the ideals from the Book of the Law she holds in her left hand around the world. Now if only she would shine a little light on the darkness that has grown right here at home!