CONFESSIONS OF AN AMERIKAN LSD EATER
By Dale R. Gowin
So here I am, locked in a cage in an ancient, crumbling dungeon, doomed to spend a decade of my life marching through these murky corridors under the watchful gaze of club wielding cops with bloated guts and beady, piggish pink eyes-- cops that will routinely open my mail, control the food I eat and the clothes I wear, examine my urine for outlaw molecules, and search my rectal cavity to make sure I’m not hiding any forbidden objects.
For companions in these corridors I have a motley crew of social misfits, some like Arlo Guthrie used to say "mother-stabbers and father-rapers," some thieves, bank robbers, muggers and con men, some revolutionary warriors and enemies of the State, and an increasing number like myself who are condemned to this fate because of a fondness for forbidden visionary vegetables.
Yes, I am one of the most despised and despicable of media monsters, that blight of corruption against morality and decency and law ‘n’ order--one who chooses to partake of consciousness-altering flowering herbs and alchemical essences-- a drug user!
Ever since my discovery in the late 1960s of the miraculous and magical mind-manifesting powers of psychedelics, I have continued to occasionally use and enjoy these heretical vegetable products. Further, I have spoken out honestly, in print and from the public stage, about my belief that these products should be legal so that those of us who choose to use them can do so without fear. It has been my opinion that the lungs, stomach, bloodstreams and brains of individual citizens are beyond the legitimate limits of government authority-- and that in a free society, people should be free to grow, prepare, use and exchange whatever vegetable products they like, without interference from the State.
Over the last couple of decades, I have continued to publicly oppose prohibition laws and other forms of social and political authoritarianism. This open activism caused me to come under the surveillance of the "authorities," and it came to pass that I was busted in a sting operation in the city of Syracuse, New York, late in the evening of October 17, 1990.
A "friend" who I had known and trusted for many years had decided to earn some extra income for himself (or, perhaps, exculpate himself from a legal embarrassment of his own) as a paid informant to the Thought Police. He arranged to introduce me to an undercover police agent, who expressed an interest in LSD and asked me if I could find him some.
This wolf in sheep's clothing (a skillful agent who specializes in entrapping drug heretics) wove a web of lies and deceit around me to establish his credibility. He wore his hair long and shaggy; he dressed in old, ragged jeans and motorcycle boots; he affected counter-culture mannerisms of speech and demeanor; he smoked pot with me at my house on a number of occasions. I located some LSD for him, and he came to my house to pick it up. At first he bought a few hits, and then he returned for increasingly larger quantities.
On the final occasion, he had worked his way up to a bundle of ten sheets (each sheet containing 100 doses of LSD in little squares of blotter paper). On this visit, he brought a team of heavily armed police thugs with him. They were waiting at my front door when I opened it to let him out. Suddenly I found myself looking down the barrels of six 45-caliber pistols.
I was thrown to the ground, pummeled, kicked, handcuffed and hauled back into my home for a few hours of interrogation. While two of the thugs "questioned" me (trying to convince me to turn informant so that I could "get off easy"), the rest of the team proceeded to "search" my apartment. They had a great time and did a very thorough job. They ripped up and smashed everything in sight-- pulling books down from the shelves, ripping them apart and heaping them on the floor; demolishing the shelves; tearing paintings from the walls and trampling them; hurling computers and stereo equipment across the room. Records and tapes and files of documents were strewn around like rubble. They confiscated a selection of books and documents to be used as evidence against me. In the course of the search, they found some more sheets of LSD, a small amount of marijuana, some dried mushrooms and a set of scales.
I found myself facing six felony charges and a handful of misdemeanors (including multiple counts of sales, possession with intent to sell and possession of a controlled substance). My court-appointed attorney told me that, since I had a previous drug-related indiscretion on my record, I faced a probable 25-to-life sentence, unless I was willing to switch sides and help prosecute my comrades. I spoke of challenging the charges on constitutional grounds, but I was told that this would virtually guarantee a maximum sentence. Other lawyers I sought advice from concurred, citing the prevailing political climate. (Shortly after I was busted, an undercover cop was killed during a failed cocaine sting-- unfortunately not the cop that nailed me-- and the media was filled with anti-drug hysteria that approached a lynch-mob mentality. The judge assigned to my case was evidently persuaded that my offenses exceeded in seriousness such paltry crimes as mere murder, rape or grand larceny).
After I had cooled my heels in the county jail for three months (in lieu of $50,000 bail), the D.A. evidently realized that I wasn’t going to "cooperate" with the Unholy Inquisition, and I was offered a "plea bargain" in which the original charges against me were dropped and a charge of "conspiracy" was substituted-- a handy, all-purpose charge which can have any meaning they choose to give it. At first, this deal came with a 12-to-life sentence (12 years in prison followed by life on parole), but eventually, as I continued to hold out, they dropped it down to 6-to-12, and I was told that this was the final offer-- I could take it or demand a jury trial and get the maximum 25-to-life sentence. So, swallowing my misgivings, I took the deal.
My experience was not an uncommon one. Recent statistics indicate that there are more than 1.2 million Americans currently incarcerated in jails and prisons, and that something close to 50% of us are locked up for prohibition violations.
BEHIND THE SCENES IN THE "WAR ON DRUGS"
So, here I am; a prisoner-of-war in the "war on drugs."
A look beneath the veneer of propaganda shows that this "drug war" is a deceptive and insidious attack on human freedom, waged by an ultra-rich class of corporate profiteers who have successfully subverted the American political system and are attempting to establish a stranglehold on the entire world-- a "new world order" that will ensure their global economic and political dominance. The drug prohibition laws are one element in their conspiracy, one cog in their machine of global domination.
The "drug war" is the epitome of hypocrisy. The politicians who wage this war against users of non-approved drugs are nearly all addicted to alcohol, tobacco and caffeine, which are among the deadliest drugs ever used by humans.
Tobacco alone causes over 400,000 deaths of Americans annually.
Alcohol is the direct cause of over 125,000 U.S. deaths each year, and it is responsible for many times that number of deaths because of its causal relation with traffic accidents, homicides and domestic violence.
Even caffeine, which is considered relatively innocuous and is loaded into children's candies and soft drinks, causes up to 10,000 U.S. deaths annually.
In comparison, all illegal drugs, including the most harmful, cause less than 5,000 U.S. deaths annually. And the #1 target of the "drug war," marijuana, has never caused a single death in all of history anywhere in the world, despite the fact that it has been more widely used, and more thoroughly studied, than any other mind-altering vegetable product.1
This fact was admitted by Francis L. Young, a D.E.A. administrative law judge, in an official ruling in 1988. He confirmed that there are no known deaths attributable to marijuana use, and stated that marijuana is "one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man," and added, "In strict medical terms, marijuana is far safer than many foods we commonly consume."2
Tobacco, besides being more deadly to human health than any other legal or illegal recreational drug, is also one of the most addictive. It is often easier to kick a heroin habit than to stop smoking tobacco. Yet, the U.S. mass media is littered with seductive ads urging consumers to get hooked. These ads are prominently displayed on giant billboards in every major American city, on highways and at concerts and sporting events. They use subliminal techniques to manipulate the minds of the people. And the U.S. government subsidizes tobacco growers at taxpayers’ expense.
SECRET GOVERNMENT DRUG TRAFFICKING
But there is another level of "drug war" hypocrisy that is even more insidious. While the U.S. government has been prosecuting users of illegal drugs, it has been engaging in secret trafficking in heroin and cocaine, with the aid of the CIA, to finance "covert" military operations.
Many veterans returning from Vietnam in the early 1970s described how they had witnessed, or had been forced to participate in, the smuggling of tons of heroin into the U.S. from the Southeast Asian "golden triangle" during Nixon’s "secret" incursions into Laos and Cambodia. The heroin was loaded into sealed coffins supposedly containing the dismembered corpses of American soldiers.3
In the 1980s, the same type of government sponsored drug trafficking occurred with cocaine (and there are indications it continues today). The CIA arranged the importation of thousands of tons of cocaine into the U.S. from Central and South America and the Middle East, to provide covert funding for the Nicaraguan "contra" war. Details of these dealings leaked out during the Iran-Contra congressional hearings, and the story was widely reported by the newspapers of the world-- except in the U.S., where it was totally suppressed.4 The government of Costa Rica identified Oliver North, John Poindexter, and Richard Secord as conspirators in a cocaine trafficking plot, along with CIA operative John Hull, whose Costa Rican ranch was used as a trans-shipment point for drugs and arms.5
This covert government involvement in drug trafficking was designed to serve a dual political purpose.
On the international level, it provides financial support for covert military operations in the Third World, in furtherance of the strategy of "low intensity warfare" in support of U.S.-based multinational corporations.
Domestically, the proliferation of debilitating drugs is used to destabilize the oppressed populations of the inner cities, to counteract potentially revolutionary tendencies, and to provide a pretext for the militarization of domestic law enforcement and the erosion of traditionally protected civil liberties, bringing us a step closer to the monolithic police state that the corporate oligarchs have planned for America and the "new world order."
Heroin flooded the streets of U.S. cities during the late 1960s and early 1970s, plummeting in price, giving Nixon the diversion he needed to veil his major crackdown on dissidents and revolutionaries (including the FBI’s "CoIntelPro" purges and the police assassination attacks on the Black Panther Party, and the frame-up of Timothy Leary on pot charges as he was putting together his campaign for governor of California). Part of this wave of repression was the draconian anti-drug law that was sponsored in New York State by governor Nelson Rockefeller, the Butcher of Attica.
Under the Carter administration, there was a brief, partial thaw in the anti-drug rhetoric, during which some marijuana "decriminalization" bills were being passed by state legislatures, and some research was conducted on marijuana’s many medicinal properties. But with Reagan’s "October surprise" takeover of the federal government, this liberalization abruptly ended. Positive findings about marijuana’s value in medicine were suppressed. Cocaine flooded U.S. cities in unprecedented abundance, dropping rapidly in price. George Bush, former CIA director under president Ford and Reagan’s top anti-drug enforcer, toured the country making speeches about the new menace of "crack" just as it was being introduced into America’s underground markets, as if he were a soap salesman drumming up interest in a new brand of detergent.
homo sovieticus and mind control
By Richard Marshall.
Homo Sovieticus, by Wladimir Velminski, MIT, 2017
This is a strange, unsettling and weirdly great little book about the strange and unsettlingly weird attempts of the Soviet Union to master brain waves, mind control and telepathic destiny in order to control the masses. Read this book alongside Svetlana Alexievich’s necessary books about Homo Sovieticus to further understand how the Soviets attempted to guide its people towards Utopia. Read it alongside current research and advances in Neuroscience and Artificial intelligence (AI), and see how far this pioneering work of the Soviets is now bearing fruit in the rest of the world. One example of this is at the intersection between network neuroscience and network control theory where we find work examining how network control fundamentally relates to mind control. The basic idea behind this kind of control is straightforward. Injecting energy into one part of a network should influence activity in other parts of the network. Read alongside books such as ‘Acid Dreams’ by Martin A Lee and Bruce Shlain about the CIA obsession with LSD as truth serum; Melvin Powers’ ‘Advanced Techniques of Hypnosis’ and ‘Hynoptism Revealed’; Herman Sherman and Sir Hubert Wilkins’ ‘Thoughts through Space’ first published in 1941, a “well documented” account of the Wilkins-Sherman experiment in long distance telepathy where “ Wilkins and Sherman, though 3,400 miles apart – one encamped on the snow swept Arctic Tundra, the other living in a Manhattan apartment – kept in mind-to-mind contact three nights a week for three months”; J.C. Lily’s ‘Communication Between Man and Dolphin,’ ‘Programming and Metaprogramming in the Human Biocomputer’ of which Timothy Leary writes: ‘ Start thinking of your brain as a biocomputer. Wet warc. Start thinking of your minds (plural) as your software. You know, sloppy disks that you use to process your thoughts and create images on the screens of your consciousness. This is the basic concept of the Cybernetic (Information) Age. I consider it the crowning achievement of post-industrial philosophy. Is not J.C. Lilly the ultimate reality hacker of our era?’; and A.R. Luria’s ‘Cognitive Development- Its Cultural and Social Foundations’, ‘Higher Cortical Functions of Man’, ‘The Making of Mind – A Personal Account of Soviet Psychology’ and the rest of Luria’s works of which Oliver Sachs writes: ‘The new science of brain/mind which Freud envisaged came into being in the Second World War, in Russia, as the joint creation of A.R. Luria (and his father, R.A. Luria), Leontev Anokhin, Bernstein and others , and was called by them ‘neuropsychology.’ The development of this immensely fruitful science was the lifework of AR Luria, and considering its revolutionary importance it was somewhat slow in reaching the West.’
What strikes anyone today about the current state of play regarding how governments seek to control societies is how ‘soft control’ in the West, as laid out by Chomsky and Herman in ‘Manufacturing Consent- The Political Economy of the Mass Media’ and by Chomsky in ‘ Necessary Illusions – Thought Control in Democratic Societies’ is being supplemented by a technological prosthetic utopianism of which the Soviet experiments presented here are eerily prescient. Dreams of wars without soldiers, cars without drivers, work without workers and minds without consciousness or willpower (just intelligence) are being presented as dreams not nightmares. What strikes the reader of ‘Homo Sovieticus’, and what makes it such a strange and weird read, is the lack of dystopian alarm bells ringing for any of its protagonists. The same sense of unease strikes me when I listen to our current technocratic apologists when they talk about the latest advance in AI: have Elon Musk and co had Frankenstein bypasses somewhere along the line – or is that deficit the price they – and the rest of us – pay for their amazing gifts? What also struck me was how the Soviet scientists, technologists and futurologists overestimated their ability to deliver on their visions for the future. Their research programmes ended up with little to show despite their grandiloquent promises and one is left wondering whether our current crop are going to similarly fall short of delivering on their promissory notes.
The Soviet experiment in mind control is therefore, among other things, a fascinating prototype of our contemporary landscape. The story is a harbinger for what is to come, but with the sad and genuinely pathetic payoff of Soviet bathetic failure. The story is about how belief in science coupled to metaphors from the cutting edge technology of its day resulted in research programmes and practices designed to support the prevailing ideology of the state. Today the metaphors that dominate research are the computer, AI and the algorithm, back then it was radio, cybernetics and electromagnetism. The climax shows the crumbling Soviets as ridiculous rather than dangerous: one wonders why anyone thought that world domination was even a remote possibility by the time we get to its final demise.
The culmination of this strange story is a series of tv broadcasts in 1989. As the Berlin Wall fell and perestroika fulfilled its aim to end the Soviet experiment Anatoly Mikhailovich Kashpirovsky broadcast six programmes on Channel 1 to millions of Soviet citizens:
‘You can leave your eyes open for a while. Have a look at your surroundings. There should be no pointed objects, and no fire. Your posture should be stable. If anyone is seriously ill – for example, suffering from epilepsy – please do not participate in our séance; simply turn off the television.’
The first of the six was broadcast at 8.30, 8th October 1989 straight after the evening news. Kashpirovsky was a licensed physician who had provided services to the national weightlifting team. This was the team that at the Seoul games of 1988 had dominated the event and won six gold medals (and the whole games had been dominated by the Soviets, which had won 132 medals overall, and his reputation was such afterwards that his psychic tunings had reached beyond mere sport.) As the society collapsed it was thought that he would be able to heal the body politic by turning citizen’s minds away from the chaos and turbulence to new goals.
After the first tv viewing Leipzig exploded and mass demonstrations broke out for the first time against the GDR. Kashpirovsky’s second session lasted twenty minutes. Between the third session on 5th November and the fourth two weeks later Channel 1 announced, on Fiday November 10th , that the Berlin Wall had been opened the previous evening. Kashpirovsky charged drinking water in people’s homes with his psychic energy and audiences continued to receive his messages in order to refocus their faltering image of the world.
How cybernetics connects computing, counterculture, and design
Cybernetics and Counterculture
Cybernetics connected with counterculture on several levels. Perhaps the most obvious was an interest in the brain and the mind, which led to experiments in the effects of strobes and bio-feedback. At another level, cybernetics was, as Pickering notes, simply “odd”—with its chemical and biological computers, synthetic brains, and interactive art pieces—developed largely outside traditional academic and corporate sponsorship, on an “amateur” basis in their practitioner’s free time. Yet, at a more fundamental level, cybernetics also questioned basic assumptions about how we organize the world. As Pickering notes, cybernetics challenged conventional dualism with experiments that “threaten the modern boundary between mind and matter, creating a breach in which engineering, say, can spill over into psychology, and vice versa.” Pickering further argues that cybernetics presents an alternative to the dominant reductive and “enframing” culture, an alternative that is holistic and “revealing” in its stance—a stance that is “open to possibility.”
Turner notes, “Brand came to appreciate cybernetics as an intellectual framework and as a social practice; he associated both with alternative forms of communal organization.” Brand traveled between—and connected—several communities: cybernetics (Bateson, Mead, and von Foerster), computing (Engelbart, Kay, Nelson, and Negroponte), and, of course, counterculture (Ken Kesey, the Merry Pranksters, and other communards).
John Markoff has chronicled “how the sixties counter-culture shaped the personal computer industry”—focusing on use of LSD in Silicon Valley, where he describes Brand and Engelbart experimenting with it. Ted Nelson reports that acid guru Timothy Leary introduced him to Heinz von Foerster. Pask also appears to have had a serious amphetamine habit. And von Foerster was a nudist (one reason he and his wife lived in the woods near Pescadero).
Brand’s introduction to bohemian culture began earlier, while he was in the Army working as a “military photographer.” On his time-off, he got to know the New York art scene, and he became involved with USCO (an artists collaborative, where he also worked as a photographer). Brand notes, “The artists I worked with in New York City in 1961-64 were reading Wiener closely.”
Cybernetics became popular just as computers were beginning to be used to make images. Two exhibits featured related work. First Cybernetic Serendipity: The Computer and the Arts at the ICA in London in 1968 included Pask’s Colloquy of Mobiles as well as Beer’s stochastic analog machine (SAM), and a few months later The Machine as Seen at the End of the Mechanical Age at MoMA in New York featured works from Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.), including a piece by Jeff Raskin—later a founding member of Apple’s Macintosh computer team.
Also in 1968, Stewart Brand published his first Whole Earth Catalog—a bible for the counterculture—a collection of reviews and recommendations, providing “access to tools,” promising “intimate, personal power … power of the individual to conduct his own education, find his own inspiration, shape his own environment, and share his adventure with whoever is interested.” Decades later, Steve Jobs famously summed up the Whole Earth Catalog as, “… one of the bibles of my generation … it was all made with typewriters, scissors, and Polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: it was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.” Like the search engine giant, the Whole Earth Catalog acted as a kind of text-based browser or window onto an aggregated world of products, books, devices, and ideas that were not for sale through the catalog directly, but would in effect create a community or a network of subscribers—likeminded members of the counterculture.
Apolitical Pharmacology: From Altruism to Terrorism in Psychedelic Culture
Posted on October 12, 2017
BY HENRIK DAHL
Most people who use psychedelics would probably say that being a white supremacist or racist is completely incompatible with taking psychedelics. However, even though they are presumably rare, some people in psychedelic culture actually do have racist views. The respected and celebrated lyricist and seasoned psychonaut Tommy Hall of the legendary psychedelic rock band The 13th Floor Elevators made the following statement in a 2009 article in SF Weekly: “The white consciousness is the most evolved. The blacks aren’t as evolved as we are.” The legendary musician also harbours homophobic views and according to the article he often rants about a “fag agenda.” Interestingly, despite the fact that most of his fans in the sixties came from the counterculture, Hall actually hates hippies: “They were out there throwing bombs. You can’t blame Nixon for cracking down.” Hall’s prejudice views no doubt cast a dark shadow on his work as a lyricist for one of psychedelic culture’s most seminal rock bands.
The racist views of Tommy Hall echo those of the Neo-American Church. Founded in 1964 by former school psychologist Arthur Kleps, the church was loosely modelled after the Native American Church. The Neo-American church used psychedelics such as peyote and LSD as its sacraments. Described by Timothy Leary as a “mad monk,” Kleps lived for a year at the Millbrook estate before the commune was dissolved in 1968. While at Millbrook, Kleps underwent a mystical experience after having been dosed with a large amount of LSD. Even so, “The Chief Boo Hoo” was accused of having anti-Semitic tendencies and according to his biography at Erowid he was at one point kicked out of the Netherlands on this charge.
In a 2002 article titled “Entheogenic Sects and Psychedelic Religions,” published in a MAPS newsletter, its author R. Stuart brings up the church’s outright anti-Semitic views. For example, their website at the time stated that the Holocaust was a hoax. It also contained anti-Semitic rants about how the “parasitic” Jews have seized control of the American media. The Neo-American Church appears to be still active. Nowadays known as the Original Kleptonian Neo-American Church, they continue to believe in the use of psychedelics, and new members must subscribe to three principles of which the first starts with the following statement: “The psychedelic substances, such as cannabis and LSD, are religious sacraments since their ingestion encourages Enlightenment.” Clearly, though, using psychedelics is no antidote for anti-Semitism.
Connections between far-right political views and psychedelic culture very seldom come to the surface, and sometimes possible associations can be hard to decipher. In Strange Drugs make for Strange Bedfellows, Alan Piper discusses the links between the “Radical Traditionalist” journal TYR and Counter-Currents Publishing, which, among other things, publishes literature by the likes of “Nazi Hindu” Savitri Devi. The publisher has also released books by Collin Cleary, who is a long-standing contributor to TYR. Counter-Currents is run by Greg Johnson, an American writer and editor with far-right views. Besides having a fascination for Nazi culture, he is a big fan of psychedelic philosopher Alan Watts, whom he ranks as one of his favourite writers. It should be noted though that Johnson is not a psychonaut, which Piper fails to mention. Still, most readers of Strange Drugs make for Strange Bedfellows will probably get the impression that he is an active participant in contemporary psychedelic culture, which is not the case.
Although far from being a psychedelic journal per se, TYR have published pieces relating to psychedelics and entheogenic shamanism. Examples include articles by the noted German anthropologist Christian Rätsch and an interview with psychedelic scientist Ralph Metzner (conducted by Swedish occultural writer Carl Abrahamsson). Incidentally, TYR co-editor Michael Moynihan is married to Annabel Lee (aka Annabel Moynihan), who is a translator of books published by Inner Traditions and its imprint Park Street Press. Titles translated by Lee include LSD and the Divine Scientist and Witchcraft Medicine. She also translated the English edition of Ernst Jünger’s Visit to Godenholm, which, by the way, was reviewed by Alan Piper in Psychedelic Press UK 2015 Volume III.
While it is true that there exist links between TYR and Counter-Currents, it is important to keep in mind that the two are only loosely connected. Furthermore, one may ask if it is even relevant to discuss them in a psychedelic context. Pieces on psychedelics are few and far between in TYR, and Counter-Currents does not publish any literature on psychedelics. Hence, it is questionable if TYR and Counter-Currents merit several pages of ink in an essay that deals with the politics of psychedelics.
It should come as no surprise that TYR co-editor Michael Moynihan is highly critical of the way TYR is presented in Piper’s Strange Drugs make for Strange Bedfellows. In an email exchange with the present writer, Moynihan sent the following comment: “[Alan Piper] claims to be shedding light on the views of the people he discusses—but whom he has never bothered to contact himself. This could have easily been done, of course, had he so wished. Actually speaking to people and asking them directly about their own views is avoided in a case like this for a reason: to do so could bring unwanted nuances to the matter, making it difficult for the author to paint things just as he wishes. Worst of all, it might then be impossible for him to assume an imaginary higher moral ground, which is the unspoken prerequisite for any ‘politically correct’ position.”
Whereas psychedelia in the 1960s was mostly linked to left-wing views, it is safe to say that today’s psychedelic movement is, at least in part, a more conservative phenomenon. To illustrate this, let us for a moment take a look at one of today’s most well-known advocates of psychedelics, namely the American comedian and podcaster Joe Rogan. At first glance, Rogan, who is also a sports commentator and a former Fear Factor host, is a somewhat unlikely figure to promote mind-expanding drugs. His podcast “The Joe Rogan Experience” reaches an impressively large audience – which consists of millions of people – and several of today’s leading psychedelic scientists and researchers have appeared on his show. Given its reach, it is easy to see why they accept being interviewed by Rogan (even though the latter seems to do most of the talking).
To those who are familiar with Rogan’s political views it should come as no surprise that he endorsed the conservative politician Ron Paul in the 2012 presidential campaign. In case one is not acquainted with U.S. politics, Paul is a two-time Republican presidential candidate and is considered a libertarian as well as the intellectual godfather of the Tea Party movement. Although Paul opposes the War on Drugs, his values in general are typically conservative. For example, he is strongly against abortion and has called global warming a hoax.
Rogan’s popularity illustrates how far the psychedelic movement has detached itself from the mostly left-wing LSD counterculture of the 1960s. While, for example, the previously discussed Stephen Gaskin was a typical counterculture figure, Rogan is his very opposite. Gaskin was a long-haired and slender vegetarian acidhead who believed in, and practised, altruism and had a left-wing outlook. Rogan on the other hand is a muscular, bear hunting and DMT loving macho psychonaut with conservative views (which by the way his fans describe as “libertarian”). Furthermore, while Gaskin was a thoughtful intellectual, Rogan uses crude humour and satire. The latter does not hesitate to attack various groups and individuals with his strong views that masquerade as comedy. Rogan is no doubt a colourful character, but his scornful attitude towards certain groups and individuals makes him a far cry from the great psychedelic thinkers of the twentieth century. For example, Rogan hates veganism and has publicly voiced his contempt for vegans on several occasions. He also has a big problem with men calling themselves feminists, which provoked him to utter the following: “If you’re a man and you call yourself a feminist I hope you choke to death on vegan pizza…”
Ohler, of course, puts it all into a nutshell: Pervitin, formerly an “upper” for civilians, was now pressed into military service. “I’m convinced that in big pushes, where the last drop has to be squeezed from the team, a unit supplied with Pervitin is superior,” says one German officer, while also quoting from the report of a unit just returned from the Polish campaign:When crossing the […] river Vistula in Poland, the 3rd Panzer Division […] report[ed] […] euphoria, an increase in attention span, clear intensification of performance […] [e]veryone fresh and cheerful, excellent discipline. […] After taking four tablets, double vision and seeing colors […] a vigorous urge to work.
By this, he meant killing, Ohler notes.
While the lightning-war assaults on Russia and France were undoubtedly helped along by the presence of this, and other performance-enhancing drugs, some of which negated the need for sleep for up to three days, that is a narrow slice of the story of even these specific campaigns, much less the European war.
Just as drugs aren’t the motivating secret for Hitler, neither do they explain the Nazi phenomenon as a whole. German troops did not conquer Poland and Czechoslovakia thanks to a pill called Pervitin; Paris was not overrun by German soldiers thanks to a hearty breakfast and good, strong coffee; Holland and Norway were not conquered because of stimulants; and German architects and engineers did not build barracks and structures equipped with poison-crystal chutes while working in a state of “mass intoxication” except in the most metaphorical of ways. Indeed in the most profound and all-pervasive sense, Adolf Hitler was their drug. Chemicals like meth were merely add-ons. Only Hitler’s criminal charisma, his energy, truly explains the Third Reich, its horrors and its successes.
Translator Shaun Whiteside deserves plaudits for turning in some nice English phrases from Ohler’s German. When discussing the Weimar era: “Everything whirled apart in a toxicological frenzy. The icon of the age, the actress and dancer Anita Berber, dipped white rose petals in a cocktail of chloroform and ether at breakfast, before sucking them clean.” Whiteside does an admirable job, too, of making a 1919 German ode to drug-taking and nightlife work quite well in English:
Let drowsy morphine take its
Upon our nervous system —
We snort and we inject!
And if we snort ourselves to death
Or into the asylum,
Our days are going downhill fast —
How better to beguile ’em?
Europe’s a madhouse anyway,
No need for genuflecting;
The only way to Paradise
Is snorting and injecting!
German ideology and pathology
Posted on August 7, 2011 by Hans Kundnani
I’ve been fascinated by Horst Mahler – who, it has just emerged, may have been a Stasi informant in the 1960s – since I wrote a profile of him for The Times in 2003. The son of a Nazi, he became a socialist lawyer in the 1960s and represented leaders of the West German student movement such as Rudi Dutschke. After its collapse, he founded the Red Army Faction (RAF), the West German left-wing terrorist group, and spent the whole of the 1970s in prison until he was released with the help of another young left-wing lawyer named Gerhard Schröder. Just after Schröder became Germany’s Social Democrat chancellor in 1998, Mahler became a neo-Nazi and represented the far-right NPD. He is now in prison serving a seven-year sentence for denying the Holocaust – a criminal offence in Germany. But what, if anything, does his strange political journey tell us?
The key question about Mahler – who is also one of the central characters in my book, Utopia or Auschwitz – is whether he should be seen as an anomaly or representative of a wider phenomenon. As David Aaronovitch put it at the launch of the book in London in November 2009, are we talking about an ideology or a pathology? Many on the left in general and former members of the student movement in particular dismiss Mahler as simply crazy. To some on the right, however, Mahler’s strange political journey is actually an illustration of the proximity of far-left and far-right ideology – the idea that “les extrêmes se touchent”. The best answer I have to Aaronovitch’s question is that the thinking of the 1968 generation – of which Mahler is not representative but nevertheless illustrative – was the product of a complicated mixture of both ideology and pathology.
The key to understanding Germany’s 1968 generation, it seems to me, is the Nazi past. The Achtundsechziger were the children of the generation of the Germans who were responsible for the Holocaust – what they called the “Auschwitz generation”. Many of them grew up with an acute sense of being the “children of murderers”, as Rainer Langhans, a key figure in Kommune 1 (a West Berlin commune that played a key role in the student movement), put it when I interviewed him for the book. The West German student movement can therefore be understood as a kind of ex post facto resistance against Nazism. The sympathy of some of its members for the “anti-fascist” GDR should also be seen against this background. Yet although it thought in terms of “resistance”, it also had nationalist and anti-Semitic undercurrents within in. In other words, it was not simply a left-wing movement but rather a mixture of left-wing and right-wing ideas.
Mahler is the most extreme – but not the only – example of this phenomenon. As I told the Guardian last week when it emerged that he may have informed for the Stasi, his whole life has been a struggle with the Nazi past. In that context, it seems to me that his far-right turn can be understood in pathological terms as a kind of posthumous reconciliation with his Nazi father. “We have to straighten out our relationship with our parents,” he wrote in a book published together with another German neo-Nazi, Franz Schönhuber, in 2000. Another striking example is Bernward Vesper, Gudrun Ensslin’s husband. Vesper’s father was the Nazi poet Will Vesper, whom he both hated and tried to rehabilitate together with Ensslin before she left him for Andreas Baader, the central figure in the RAF. (The story of the bizarre love triangle between Baader, Ensslin and Vesper is the subject a good movie that came out in Germany earlier this year, Wer wenn nicht wir).
At the same time, however, it seems to me impossible to understand the 1968 generation completely in pathological terms. Rather, it inherited and developed elements of a longer line of anti-liberal political thought in Germany – what Adorno, in his essay “Was bedeutet: Aufarbeitung der Vergangenheit” (“What is meant by the working through the past?”), called “the anti-civilisational, anti-Western undercurrent of the German tradition”. This undercurrent is intimately connected to the history of German nationalism, which emerged in opposition to the French revolution and the Enlightenment ideas it represented in the early nineteenth century. It influenced both right-wing and left-wing critiques of capitalism in the twentieth century and culminated in Nazism but continues to be of relevance to contemporary debates about Germany and the West. What Mahler ultimately illustrates, it seems to me, is that in some ways the most interesting fault line in German intellectual history is not between left and right but between liberalism and anti-liberalism.
American Dream » Thu Mar 27, 2014 8:54 pm wrote:American Dream » Fri Jun 07, 2013 8:35 pm wrote:Red Army Faction Blues: Trailer #1
http://redarmyfactionblues.com/2011/11/ ... trailer-1/
http://journal.radicalcriminology.org/i ... ew/10/html
The Red Army Faction—A Documentary History. Vol. I: Projectiles for the People
Smith and André Moncourt (Eds),
(Montreal: PM Press, 2009).
Reviewed by—Guido G. Preparata,
Kwantlen Polytechnic University, March 2012
This first installment of the documentary history of the Red Army Faction by J. Smith and A. Moncourt is a hefty tome of nearly 700 pages, which covers the vicissitudes of Germany’s most famous terrorist outfit. The historical segment under review is the “classic” septennium: 1970-1977. This, indeed, was a time when the world at large seemed to have been invested by a wave of metropolitan counterinsurgency movements— from Latin America to Turkey and Japan by way of Europe, with Germany and Italy as its two most salient manifestations. The simultaneousness and similitude of such socio-political phenomena across geographical and cultural divides was, to put it mildly, uncanny. In this regard, the seventies were a unique period, and the detailed chronicles variously compiled of the strife that shook the constituted order in several nations at the time make up dazzling and forbiddingly complex material—material whose interpretative key social scientists and historians alike have been striving to discover ever since.
Complex material in that, much like the now-faded (and far from fully understood) tales of late-XIXth century “anarchism,” the rebellious actions of these masked sappers of the urban underbrush —pre-modern or post-modern— could never be quite construed as simple, obvious strikes at the most conspicuous (physical and/or institutional) symbols of the “system.” Through their deeds, these guerrillas might have thought they were propitiating full-scale revolution, but seen from a distance, their agitation seemed rather to have weighed as yet another variable in a larger equation. Not only were the vast majority of terrorist cells subject to standard life-cycles and reorganization processes—e.g., an old guard superseded by a more militant and violent “second wave” (and sometimes, a third and fourth wave)—, but their offensive patterns were also too heterogeneous, their strategies too mutable over time, and their targets too specific to have made terrorism’s enterprise, in the final analysis, a simple expression of (class) warfare seeking to reform “the capitalist system.” In other words, terrorism is not merely the extreme embodiment of economic grieving —and of its concomitant political disaffection—but is rather a matter of politics, of power. At the grassroots levels, most of these movements of urban warfare had emerged during the turbulent parenthesis of the Counterculture era (late sixties), yet they eventually survived, evolved and morphed into ever more elusive apparatuses—not few of them with unfathomable international ramifications— at a time when the popular ferment that birthed them had virtually disappeared (mid-seventies).
Originally tuned in the key of social justice, subsequently bolstered by choreographed violence, and finally deployed on the chessboard as a full-fledged political player, (Left-wing) terrorism confronts us defiantly with its mysteries. So we wonder, what is/was terrorism? And, to retrace the notable antecedents, what was the RAF, in essence?
Smith and Moncourt’s volume is a very valuable resource in this regard: it is compilation of the most significant tracts of the paper trail left behind by the organization during its first and defining seven years: manifestos, interviews, communiqués, letters and all manners of invectives penned by the RAF’s members, friends and foes. To have all such “originals” in one book, complemented by a meticulous chronology is special indeed: one may excavate, re-appraise the old revolutionary lingo, and even attempt to guess the sentimental contours of that distant, strange world by nosing into the (often inflamed) letters the guerrillas would write to one another in and from jail. The book is organized chronologically in fifteen chapters, from the immediate postwar era to 1977—that is to the conclusive year of the RAF’s “historical” phase, which itself comprised two sub-periods: that of the so-called original nucleus of Baader-Meinhof (1970-1972), and the second wave of 1975-1977. Each chapter is prefaced by a deeply researched study of the editors, who frame the chronicle of the armed struggle in its socio-cultural context: cumulatively, such introductory labor takes approximately a third of the book—it is thus substantial and particularly informative.
As said, and as is the case for most flamboyant terrorist cells, the mere storyline of the RAF—its characters, the military “spectacles,” the incarcerations and mysterious deaths—is in itself particularly gripping: cinema-worthy indeed, as shown by the recent release of The Baader-Meinhof Complex (2008). In synthesis, this is the story of an original core of rebellious types who had risen to front the violent, illegal vanguard of the most recalcitrant wing of the students’ anti-imperialist movement. These types were animated by palingenetic furore and driven by a keen death-wish—for such seems to have always been the psycho-sociological template of the “average” urban guerrilla; Baader had sentenced: “We are a projectile.” The highlights of this “baptismal” phase (consummated between 1970 and 1972) were feats of arson; bombing attacks (the 1972 “May Offensive”) against two NATO bases in West Germany, which altogether claimed the lives of 4 US soldiers, and other domestic targets, including the emblematically conservative Springer press; and the armed rescue of the charismatic leader Andreas Baader (May 1970) by his confederates, a mere month after his forcible detention (on charges of arson). These beginnings drew to a close as all the historical figures of the RAF were, by July 1972, apprehended one by one, amidst a frazzling whirl of incidents. Chief among these incidents were putative State-provocations—i.e. “false-flag” operations, hoaxes, and the like, all of them designed to foment a state of collective dementia praecox and reinforce the Establishment thereby—as well as the hunting down and eventual killing by police forces of RAF fighters in broad daylight. And to crown it all, it so seemed that throughout this interlude that RAF had moreover availed itself of an intriguing connection to the Stasi, the odious secret police of the GDR—connection which seemed to account for the organization’s fluid use of the international réseau that would put it in operational contact with other European and Palestinian terrorist squads.
With the definitive demise of the “old guard” began the second and far more puzzling, as well as disquieting, act of the narrative. To begin, these founders of the RAF, under what appeared to be a studiously torturous and dehumanizing regime of imprisonment, were on the other hand publicly recast as waxen icons of the militant Left—icons which the authorities, with a developed sense of museological theatrics, proceeded to encase into the ultra-modern carcerary shrine of Stammheim. From there, in semi-effigy, they were to “radiate” their iconic strength to the outer rims of West Germany’s Marxist-Leninist subversion and inspire its militants with renewed revolutionary ardor. While this set-up was being completed, the recruits of the “new” RAF, including the auxiliary phalanx of another terrorist clan—the Movement of the 2nd June (2JM)—were preparing the second grand offensive of 1975-1977. This sensational offensive would feature the abduction of Christian-Democrat politico and mayoral candidate for W. Berlin, Peter Lorentz (February 1975), and his subsequent release in exchange for a group of political detainees flown on the occasion from West Germany to Yemen; the takeover of the West German embassy in Stockholm (April 1975); the assassination of Attorney General Siegfried Buback (April 1977) and of banker Jürgen Ponto (July 1977); and, the high climax of this progression: the kidnap and ensuing assassination of the industrialist Hans-Martin Schleyer, in concomitance with the hijacking of a Lufthansa aircraft by a Palestinian commando—a spectacular move improvised to ante-up the RAF’s request to swap Schleyer with the inmates of Stammheim (September-October 1977). Refusing to negotiate on behalf of Schleyer, the executive of Helmut Schmidt eventually managed to retrieve the hostages by dispatching a Special Force commando to storm the plane, which, in the course of a veritable and tragic odyssey, had been ultimately diverted to Mogadishu. The morning following the day of the rescue operation (October 17), the authorities announced that the bodies of Baader & co. had been found (gruesomely) “suicided” in their cells at Stammheim, and on October 19 the RAF led the police to a car in the city Mulhouse, near the German border, in whose trunk lay the bullet-ridden corpse of Schleyer.
All of which is here recited to emphasize, by way of summary, that the RAF’s is indeed an extraordinary, and extraordinarily mysterious, story. And all of it is recounted with captivating rhythm in this book. Clearly, in no fashion does this summary exhaust the many themes of the narration; one can dig in the book so much more: viz., the socio-economic portrayal of Germany during reconstruction; the very interesting description of West Germany’s anti-parliamentarian, spontaneous scene; the retelling of the late post-modern drift of the West-German Left into feminism and environmentalism; the genealogy of notorious political figures of our time from the turbulent seeds of the seventies (e.g., Gerhard Schröder and Joschka Fischer); the fundamental role of “the lawyer” in these games of terror/power, and the enigmatic trajectories that some of these lawyers did take (the fascinating case of Horst Mahler, from RAF counsel to Holocaust Negationist); and finally, not to be missed, that surreal anecdote of the terrorists’ brains removed before burial and handed over to the clinicians of Tübingen with a view to discover, in the worst Lombrosian manner, a lesion that could “scientifically” account for the revolutionists’ moral insanity (a vignette, by the way, that elicits a twisted reminiscence of Kaspar Hauser’s autopsy…).
To return to the point previously made about terrorism being a game of power, what seems to be somewhat lacking from this otherwise notable collection is precisely the political commentary, i.e. the sub-text of “deep politics.” In this respect, Smith and Moncourt confine themselves to the traditional explanations of radical economistic theory, according to which modern society is divided into a capitalist elite and a majority of (subdued) subjects. The subjects, de facto, are depicted as (indentured) servants of this elite that coerces them daily via a strict diet of hard power (physical intimidation, if need be) and a multi-layered fare of soft-power stimulants, of which the circus and the bread-line remain the foundational archetypes. It follows that if such is the realm we are given to live into, social justice can only be achieved by means of resistance, or defiance, which, ultimately, signifies struggle. Violent struggle, that is. Adopting the leftist historiographical stance, Smith and Moncourt maintain that the FRG was in actuality nothing but a repressive technocracy erected, under the American aegis, upon the foundations of the former Nazi Behemoth. In light of this, any kind of resistance—even, if not especially, armed resistance—was entirely justified in their view. Clearly, the authors feel admiration and—as they retell their gestes—root for the fighters of the RAF, making no mystery of their sympathies, which go out not just to the idealist guerrilleros of the Marxist left, but to all armed rebels of the “undogmatic Left.” In this sense, this book is also very much a paean sung for all those insubordinate types that have categorically refused, often paying with their life, to adapt to a mode of life that so completely antagonized their moral sense and deepest psychic and sentimental affects.
Needless to say, the issue of justice in this world and the challenge of coping with the strictures of collective life, especially for those who happen to have been born on the wrong side of the fence (the vast majority of the world population), is not just the crux of political philosophy broadly defined, but is one of the questions that impinge on the very meaning of life itself. Vast problem. I do not wish to dispute the validity of radicalism’s basic premises—namely, that the world is for the most part organized upon the exploitation of the peaceable by the barbarous, and that the peaceable must “resist” somehow. It may very well be so. But the vexed question is what forms this resistance should take, and in the name of which principles. As said, Smith and Moncourt have no doubt. The impassioned, if not exceedingly “youthful,” tone of their narrative conveys the message without ambiguity: the struggle should be fierce for it is clear that right always lies on the side of the Left’s “steadfast combatants”—heroic guerrillas who, in the editors’ words, will always be countered by the “vulgar” and underhanded brutality of the “cops” and the “dirty play” of their capitalist paymasters in the government.
Now, I find this sort of approach problematic for two orders of reasons. First, advocacy of violence is always dangerous: one, simply because it is immoral, and, two, because many of those who care about the fate of social justice no less strongly than the authors, are instinctively repulsed by the language and praxis of violence, which, as we all know, are the defining expressions of the exploitative mindset we all wish to resist in the first place. It’s an old story, of course: that of the young, tormented idealist that wants to change the world, finds out he cannot, and so reverts to conservatism; an old story that has covered vast expanses of discursive production, some of which keeps returning to various modules of Machiavellian resignation (think of Julien Freund and others). Leaving for the moment this daunting preoccupation aside, and without further digressing, it should nonetheless be stated that the primary objective of a movement for civil dissent is to keep its feet on the ground, not to hearken impulsively to the (now totally vanished and positively perplexing) heyday of Baader & Co, and never stop thinking of peaceable ways in which to implement social reforms.
Secondly, and more to the point, to treat the historiography of the RAF according to this “us vs. them” format does not add much, if anything, to the mainstream (i.e. conservative) version of these events—i.e. to the very mainstream version that Smith and Moncourt’s have designed to challenge with their prefatory scholarship. It is as if we are re-viewing the same reel but with a different soundtrack, punctuated this time around by cheers rather than boos: yet the plotline remains as impenetrable as ever. Because Smith and Moncourt should know, in fact, that it is unthinkable that a fistful of death-prone, yes, but not particularly intelligent, resourceful or talented twenty-somethings (and the “first” RAF even had a sixteen-year-old recruit!) could, by the skin of their teeth, hold in check or merely defy, for almost a decade, something as formidable as the apparatus of a modern bureaucratized State such as the FRG. Obviously, they were (sacrificial) pawns in a bigger game. Everything indeed, points in this direction: their remarkable connection to the Stasi and Palestinian terrorism; the particular timing of the bombing campaigns and of the arrests; the whole circus macabre of Stammheim; the essential spin of the media, the function of the latter as sounding board of the terrorist antics, and the central role played in this regard by Der Spiegel; the surgical targeting of Buback, Ponto and Schleyer; and, last but certainly not least, that sensational coda of the Schleyer/Mogadishu affaire. How can all this boil down to a simple tale of urban revolt for fairer economics?
Holding on to their economistic mold, the authors do not provide a theory that explains consistently, and in keeping with the political evolution of the West German scene in the context of the Cold War, the true strategic motivations behind this sequence of terrorist maneuvers. This brings them, for instance, to dismiss the Stasi-connection and the financial/logistical support that came with it, as something utterly marginal and almost mischievously intended “to get at the Americans.” But, evidently, it was neither. Likewise, in their view, Ponto was obviously assassinated because he had financial ties to Third World tyrants (and the Apartheid); and Schleyer was obviously kidnapped (and then killed) because, having once fought in the SS, he was “the most powerful businessman in West Germany at the time,” and like, Ponto, “a frequent figure on television representing the ruling class point of view” (p. 477). But was Schleyer really West Germany’s most powerful businessman? How “powerful,” and in what sense, exactly? And, is it not rule n. 1 for truly powerful people never to appear, least of all on television?
And, in truth, what was there to gain, for the revolution, concretely, by bombing a supermarket or NATO headquarters, or by singling out and liquidating, say, a high-level businessman or banker, even assuming (erroneously) that he was so “powerful” as to be irreplaceable? Nothing —and there is the rub of the entire matter: that the illusion entertained by all guerrillas (at least officially) to fire up the masses with such inciting murders was just that. It was never a possibility in the early days when the fires of protest were still smoldering, and, as mentioned above, it had become a total delusion by the mid-seventies: from the outset, the “angry ones,” the potential rioters without any stake in conformity, had always been far too few to spark anything even remotely resembling the mass uprising they were all dreaming of.
In sum, the analysis suffers somewhat not only from a disregard of the wider political landscape of that era, but also from the candor of taking events at face value: politics is also theatrics, and terrorism/urban guerrilla warfare, by definition, is certainly not the weapon the weak wield against the powerful, but, rather, an instrument of (civil) conflict which the powerful, when sundered in factions, employ to fight one another by using (a particular typology of) the weak. Even after all the painstaking and precious work of historical reconstruction of the RAF’s experience, such as has been carried out also in this volume, there still remains, in the end, to solve the whole mystery. The questions to be asked are thus: who/what was maneuvering these expendables in this complex game of murder and provocation, and to what end?
Watch Jerry Garcia Tell A Funny Acid Story In One Of His Last Interviews
Posted by Sara Furer on Thursday September 17th, 2015
It is no secret that the Grateful Dead were pioneers of the LSD movement of the 1960s. However, after some years, Jerry Garcia preferred to not play under the influence of powerful psychedelics. In a classic 1994 interview — one of his last ever before his death just a year later — Jerry tells a funny story of inadvertently taking way too much acid before a concert in the late 60s, via a birthday cake containing 800 hits, and thinking the mafia was out to get him! Listen to his awesome retelling of the tale below.
What’s wrong with the Perennial Philosophy?
1) All religions are not the same
The Perennial Philosophy, by being so universalist and essentialist, ends up doing violence to the traditions it tries to cohere. The Tao is not the same as the Christian God (the Tao cares nothing for individuals, as Lao Tzu says), nor are either the same as Buddhist sunyata or emptiness. The eternal now of Buddhism or Stoicism is fundamentally different to Christianity’s radical hope for the future. The mystics themselves do not agree that all religions are talking about the same ultimate reality.
2) Perennialists tend to rank religions hierarchically
All religions are equal, but some are more equal than others. Perennialists tend to rank religions, and even sects within religions. Shamanism is the lowest, then monotheisms like Christianity, Judaism and Islam, then mystics within these traditions (Rumi is better than Mohammad, Meister Eckhart is better than Jesus), then Buddhism and Hinduism, and the peak of the mountain is non-dualist philosophies of emptiness like Advaita and Tibetan Buddhism’s Dzogchen.
All religions are equal, but some are more equal than others
Christianity is usually near or at the bottom – Sam Harris says it has basically nothing useful to say about the human condition, Aldous Huxley said the Bible was an obstacle to evolution – and Tibetan Buddhism is at the top. Look at the Contemplative Studies conference I’m going to in Boston this month – I’d estimate 90% of the speakers are western Buddhists, hardly any are Christians, and the key-note speaker is, obviously, the Dalai Lama.
Perennialists tend to be western and tend to have rejected their Judeo-Christian background, and therefore rank Christianity low in their wisdom rankings. And of course Christianity, like Islam and Judaism, fits uneasily within a Perennial framework, with their tribal eschatologies and their faith in their unique revelation.
3) Perennialism often tends to the tyranny of empiricism and Cartesian reductionism
Perennialists like Huxley, Maslow, Wilber or Sam Harris tend to describe the Perennial Philosophy as a ‘science of consciousness’, providing empirical certainty for some of the claims of the mystics. Your mind is the laboratory, in which you can go and check these facts for yourself. This attitude, while understandable in its attempt to validate spiritual experiences within a hostile scientific materialist environment, tends to reduce such experiences to subjective occurrences in the individual brain.
Heroin and Italy's 'Disappeared' Generation - Emilio Torrini
An article describing the devastating effects of the Italian Mafia (with conspiracy theories alleging CIA assistance) disseminating cheap heroin within anti-establishment circles in 1970s Italy.
The alleged collaboration between drug traffickers and government forces in pushing heroin during the 1970s in Italy brought on a devastating rise in opiate dependency and deaths in the 1980s, creating the so-called "disappeared generation."
Drug use in Italy experienced a seismic shift in the 1970s and 1980s. Between 1974 and 1975, heroin began to appear in large quantities on Italy’s drug market. During this period, heroin use was primarily concentrated among the country’s counterculture; groups who were firmly against the political establishment and who rejected consumerism. However, this association between heroin and rebellion/political struggle did not last long. By the beginning of the 1980s, use of this substance involved groups across the societal spectrum, including the most disadvantaged social classes, adolescents, students, and professionals, among others.
There is, of course, no simple explanation behind this sudden spread of heroin in Italy. One overarching dynamic, though, is the shift in drugs marketing by dealers; as dictated by traffickers, there was a dearth of other narcotics on the market and an abundance of heroin at low prices. Once a number of drug users had shifted to the opiate and in many cases become dependent, drug sellers exploited this by increasing the price.
The motive behind introducing heroin onto Italy’s black market in such a calculated way is tied up in conspiracy theories that traffickers at the time were colluding with the government and American intelligence services to quell anti-government social movements. Such movements were known to constitute one of society’s larger groups of recreational drug users, and the rationale in pushing heroin in these circles was that it would essentially render them ineffective.
What has become known as Operation Blue Moon (Operazione Blue Moon) allegedly had three main components:
1) The aforementioned market move. The mafia, through their control of the soft drugs market, had no difficulty in orchestrating a drought of one set of narcotics and a glut of another; heroin. Thousands of people, who had no prior experience of the drug, or knowledge of its effects, were not resistant to trying it.
2) To ensure heroin dominated every area of the market, the regulated supply of opiates – principally in the form of morphine – similarly dried up. Although prices were higher, morphine users had no choice but to switch to heroin, considering that it is a pharmacologically suitable substitute.
3) Arrests related to other drugs such as hashish and cannabis, along with interdiction of these substances increased as the government enforced a clampdown on illicit narcotics other than heroin.
In the context of the final component, the dynamic of the public-police partnership was also extremely important in ensuring that drug use outside of the newly available, little understood heroin was cracked down on. Authorities were feeling the pressure from media outlets and the public to combat the perceived negative effects of drugs in Italy at the time.
To illustrate a typical case in 1970s Italy, a parent would be more likely to report their child to the police for drug use in a misguided attempt to “save them,” rather than fostering a network of support. The result in such a scenario was the transformation of the family into a network of “free espionage” for the police.
The heightened stigma and criminalization attached to all other substances than heroin left Italy’s youth vulnerable to the latter’s devastating effects. Authorities were not concerned with policing the drug as heavily as other narcotics meaning people could essentially use without fear of arrest at the time. Even if someone were interested in purchasing something like hashish, they were being increasingly deterred by its scarcity, high prices (£2-3 per gram, a huge price for the era), and poor quality.
A research report on the trend of the epidemic of drug use in Italy, published in 1992 by the British Journal of Addiction, indicates a noticeable increase in both drug-related deaths (mainly from overdose) and HIV/AIDS cases reported in injecting users during the 1980s. The report authors estimate that in 1977 there were 28,000 opiate users; by 1982, this had jumped to a staggering 92,000. To highlight this increase further, the authors found during their study period (1985-89), that the number of subjects attending drug dependency units increased from 13,905 to 61,689, a rise largely driven by the uptick in heroin use.
Unlike places such as the United Kingdom – where the rise in heroin use in the 1980s was mainly due to its spread in areas hardest hit by the economic recession – Italy’s increase was one partly driven by a period of comparative prosperity. Areas of the country, particularly the north-east, began to experience sudden and increased economic well-being. In fact, the 1980s were years of economic and social modernization, years in which the Italian society quickly got rid of the previous decades’ features. As a consequence, the increased financial capacity of large segments of the population allowed a cross-cutting diffusion of drugs, in particular heroin. The middle class and professionals had newfound disposable income, and thanks to the lack of education on the drug, were using it in many cases to purchase heroin.
According to several studies, this phenomenon mostly hit northern Italy. Big cities such as Verona, Pordenone, Udine, Milan, Varese registered the highest level of drug users among the most disparate of social backgrounds.
Of course, this phenomenon of a manipulated black market and possible governmental involvement was not long-term. However, its impacts were lasting with the rise in heroin dependency rates and overdose deaths in the 1980s, a devastating result that ensured a disappeared generation.
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