There is an old “Outer Limits” episode called “The Architects of Fear” in which some scientists decide on taking drastic measures in an attempt to prevent the Cold War from erupting into nuclear holocaust. They choose one of their own, played by Robert Culp, to undergo an experimental genetic mutation that results in his transformation into a hideous alien being. A crash landing of his ’space ship’ near the UN is staged , the idea being that he would then engage in such mischief as to create a world wide panic over alien invasion. This would hopefully encourage the warring factions to put aside their differences and unite behind one common cause; the defense of the Earth.This is not a novel idea, but merely a creative Sci-Fi spin on what demagogues and tyrants have known for so very long; It is much easier to control your subjects by giving them a common enemy than it is to maintain a constantly high level of coercion and oppression. People throughout history have proven themselves to be easy pawns at the hands of master propagandists.
The Jewish Holocaust during World War II is the classic example at how unwitting dupes can be conditioned to perpetrate atrocities, just so long as the trains run on time. Many of the Nazi’s may have actually believed their imbecilic theories of a master race and the sub humanity of the Jews, but plenty of them (Albert Speer for one) felt that it was an unfortunate but necessary situation, expedient for the success of the German state. Though this despicable period in history is perhaps the nadir of ‘civilization’ it is certainly not unique.
Thank God this kind of thing can’t happen in America. But of course it can happen and it has happened. American power brokers, both private and political, have used the xenophobic tendencies of our citizens to justify stealing land from the Native American nations while simultaneously increasing their own power base. Many a politician was able to capitalize on the racial bigotry of white Americans as well as the mindless fear brought on by ignorance and propaganda, to advance their own agendas.
“But we are more enlightened now and it is obvious that these examples of fascist demagoguery are far behind us. ” I would disagree. For years now there has been a class of people that have generated such fear among our populace that our police forces have been encouraged to grow dramatically (especially the secret police), that writs of habeas corpus have been suspended and we have willingly sacrificed our protections against unlawful search and seizure. Mandatory and draconian punishments have been eagerly pursued and implemented and even convicted children are imprisoned for many years with no chance of parole. Who are these dangerous people?
In spite of the obvious excesses of the neo-Orwellian “Office of Homeland Security”, I am not talking about Islamic fundamentalists. No, these much more sinister people do not belong to an easily identifiable religion or political group nor do they consist of any singular ethnicity. They can be found at all levels of society, in all cities and towns and in most neighborhoods. In fact, I think some of these subversives may be my best friends!
I am talking about Dopers. Heads. Stoners. Tokers. Pot Heads. Kids and adults who either occasionally or regularly partake of cannabis to enjoy a sensation that is pleasurable, not unlike that of alcohol but with much more humility, much less violence and much less hangover.
Since the ‘War on Drugs’ there are more cops on the street, more people in prison and much more crime in our cities. Our country more closely resembles a police state than the old Warsaw Pact nations do. We have 19 year old kids doing mandatory 10 year sentences with no chance of parole because they were caught with LSD. Not guns, not knives, not low yield nuclear weapons. Acid.
We have parents who have had their cars seized and impounded by the local sheriff’s department because there was a joint found within. These legally stolen cars have proven to be a financial windfall for the state. What a great incentive for additional low risk police work!
There are more anti-drug laws on the books in the USA than there are in Holland yet our per capita drug consumption is higher. (As is our violent crime rate). We have even blithely ignored international law and invaded countries because of the excuse that they are exporters of illegal narcotics. Well then, what’s stopping us from attacking Canada?
The more laws and order are made prominent, the more thieves and robbers there will be. (Lao-Tzu)
I don’t want to clutter things up right now with too many examples of government excess in fighting this conjured up and hyped up “War on Drugs”. Check out what the (very conservative) Cato institute has to say instead:
…or this article by Larry Levine: http://www.cedro-uva.org/lib/levine.secret.html
But I would suggest this; after all these years we still have this prohibition on drugs, this attempt to legislate morality, this ‘tyro-anarchy’, because it benefits people in power. It allows the government, both local and Federal , to consolidate power, to deprive people of due process, to ensure continued lucrative employment and to provide a scapegoat for social injustice that allows our self righteous citizenry to dodge their responsibility. As we sit back on a Sunday afternoon, enjoying our Budweisers and gin’n’tonics we can feel safe knowing that our tax dollars are at work providing today’s Elliott Ness with the means of protecting us from the likes of….Spikoli? From Ridgemont High? Makes me feel much safer, dude.
History has taught us that prohibition does not work. Unfortunately there are too many piglets fighting for their place at one of the many anti- drug enforcement teats to ever expect this country to come to their senses.
“Scarecrows and magic and other fatal fears do not bring people closer together. There is no magic substitute for soft caring and hard work, for self-respect and mutual love. If we can learn this from the mistake these frightened men made, then their mistake will not have been merely grotesque. It will have been at least a lesson—a lesson at last to be learned’
(from the closing narration; “The Architects of Fear”)