The Orwellian Consequences of the War on Drugs

Without much notice, the drug war has expanded government search and seizure powers, turned children into their parents’ monitors and urged many Americans toward blind obedience to authority, Kevin Carson writes in CounterPunch.

The levels of drug use and drug-related violence in the United States are either the same or lower than in countries with liberal drug laws, such as the Netherlands, notes Carson, a senior fellow at the Center for a Stateless Society. But that hasn’t stopped private and official groups from promoting an aggressive, punitive and costly societywide war on people who use drugs.

So what’s the point? An especially illustrative insight into the drug war’s insidious social functions pertains to how the school-based D.A.R.E. program has shaped the minds and habits of children.

“As a result of the way DARE interacts with other things like Zero Tolerance policies and warrantless inspections by drug-sniffing dogs,” Carson writes, “the Drug War has conditioned children to believe ‘the policeman is their friend,’ and to view snitching as admirable behavior, and to instinctively look for an authority figure to report to the second they see anything the least bit eccentric or anomalous.”

“The Drug War would indeed be a failure if its real function was to reduce drug consumption or drug-related violence,” Carson concludes. “But the success or failure of state policies is rightly judged by the extent to which they promote the interests served by the state. The Drug War is a failure only if the state exists to serve you.”

Read a few more of its triumphs below before turning to Carson’s full list.

— Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

Kevin Carson at CounterPunch:

3. It has turned drug stores and banks into arms of the state that constantly inform on their customers.

… 7. It has enabled local police forces to undergo military training, create paramilitary SWAT teams that operate just like the U.S. military in an occupied enemy country, get billions of dollars worth of surplus military weaponry, and wear really cool black uniforms just like the SS.

8. Between the wars on the urban drug trade and rural meth labs, it has brought under constant harassment and surveillance two of the demographic groups in our country — inner city blacks and rural poor whites — least socialized to accept orders from authority either in the workplace or political system, and vital components of any potential movement for freedom and social justice.

… 10. By disenfranchising convicted felons, it restricts participation in the state’s “democratic” processes to only citizens who are predisposed to respect the state’s authority.

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Alexander Reed Kelly
Associate Editor
In December 2010, Alex was arrested for civil disobedience outside the White House alongside Truthdig columnist Chris Hedges, Pentagon whistle-blower Daniel Ellsberg, healthcare activist Margaret Flowers and…
Alexander Reed Kelly

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