The New Zealand Government Has Been Separating Children From Their Cannabis-Growing Parents for Decades

This is no worse than what our own Government is doing to us

Today’s mass media assault on consciousness involved emotional images from America of Mexican children in cages. The ensuing outrage was based around the fact that when a Mexican family is apprehended crossing the American border illegally, the children are temporarily separated from their parents. Although this is regrettable, what the media is ignoring is that the New Zealand Government has been doing the same thing to its own citizens for decades.

For one thing, it’s standard practice for the New Zealand Government to separate children from their parents if those parents are going into custody for breaking the law. In this regard, the New Zealand Government’s normal actions are no better than what the American Government is doing. Even worse than this is the fact that many of those parents are going to jail for offences that don’t harm anyone, unlike (arguably) illegal immigration.

The fact that cannabis is a medicine is a fact near enough to universally acknowledged by the young people of the world, even if Baby Boomer politicians have been slow to understand it. However, cultivation of it remains a crime punishable by up to seven years imprisonment in New Zealand, despite that the plant has a wide range of medicinal effects and is used all over the country to alleviate needless suffering.

Because cannabis is so good for alleviating suffering – taking away pain, nausea, insomnia among other maladies – people continue to grow it, despite the law. But because of the law, a significant number of these people end up being apprehended by Police and sentenced to prison.

Many of the medicinal cannabis growers who have been put in prison over the past 40 years have had children. Those children were forcibly separated from their parents by the New Zealand Government for the sake of enforcing a law that should never have been a law.

So all the perfectly natural dismay that Kiwis have been induced to feel at what the Mexican children at the American border are forced to endure – a traumatic forced separation from their parents as a consequence of an arbitrary law enforced by armed men – could just as well arise as a result of thinking about what Kiwi children have to go through as a result of cannabis prohibition.

In fact, our own children have it worse, because they will often not get to see their parents again for a long time.

So if people in New Zealand are going to get upset because of an outrage that the global corporate media manufactured in order to target a conservative American President, let’s get equally upset about similar and equally evil actions in New Zealand.

Every time a New Zealander gets put in prison for a cannabis offence that has harmed no-one, leaving a child on the outside who is now missing a parent, we ought to react with the same outrage towards our own Government as we had today for the Trump Administration. If we’re going to expend energy on outrage let’s at least direct it somewhere where it can do some good.

*

If you enjoyed reading this essay, you can get a compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2017 from Amazon for Kindle or Amazon for CreateSpace (for international readers), or TradeMe (for Kiwis).

Why Neoliberals Love Mass Immigration

Mass immigration is often supported by the left, but it happens to also achieve a number of major right-wing goals

Neoliberalism is a right-wing movement in the sense that the ultimate aim of it is to take power away from the poor and give it to the rich. However, it is not a conservative movement, because neoliberals don’t care at all about the disruption that their policies have on people’s lives. So some of their positions are hard to understand at first. This essay seeks to explain why neoliberals love mass immigration so much.

Classical conservatism recognises that the wealthy already have the power, and so the wealthy try to keep things the same to preserve their good position. Change is therefore considered bad. Where this differs from neoliberalism is that the neoliberal tries to entrench the already strong position of the wealthy by further weakening the position of the poor. Accordingly, changes to the social structure are permissible if they make the rich richer and the poor poorer.

The basics of labour solidarity work like this. The rate of pay is a function of the supply and demand of labour. As long as labour is not available below a certain level of pay, then the rate of pay must rise above this to meet a higher equilibrium. So if all the workers in a certain area or industry get together and agree to not work for less than, say, $15/hour, this constricts the supply of cheap labour, which presses the price of labour upward.

To counter this, employers like to import cheap labour from outside of the area. The most infamous example of this is the trans-Atlantic slave trade, but the importation of labour doesn’t have to be involuntary. To the contrary – there is a virtually infinite supply of cheap labour in the world that can willingly be brought in to work for less, because there are always impoverished shitholes with high birth rates that people want to escape from in exchange for the McDonalds lifestyle.

Seen in union-busting terms, immigrants who are brought into the country by capitalist interests to work for less money than the locals are effectively scab labour. After all, there’s no real difference between scab labour that breaks a picket line and someone willing to immigrate to another country to do work at a wage lower than the locals would accept: both push wages down.

Not only does this outside labour have the effect of lowering wages through the scab effect, but it also makes future labour organisation more difficult. It’s much harder to conduct the conversations necessary to start a union when the workplace has no common language, and no-one is going to start a union anyway if their work visa is dependent on pleasing their employer.

It can be seen, then, that liberalising immigration through globalising the workforce has the immediate effect of not only driving wages down by increasing the supply of labour, but it also makes it harder to agitate for a higher wage, a double effect.

In other words, mass immigration is simply another example of the same union-busting behaviour that the ruling class has always used. The only difference is that it destroys the bonds of solidarity on the national level, instead of only destroying them in a certain area or industry. With a menagerie of different languages and cultures in the same area, the solidarity necessary to resist the divide and conquer attempts of the ruling class cannot be achieved. If that area is the whole nation so much the better.

Regular conservatives are a bit leery about destroying the working class in quite so brazen and irreparable a manner. The fear seems to be that they might rise up in anger and riot. Neoliberals have to be understood as significantly different to regular conservatives in this manner. They’re not at all shy about rubbing the faces of the Western working class in dogshit, knowing that their complete media domination makes the threat of retaliation essentially nil.

The real beauty of the mass immigration issue, from the neoliberal perspective, is that they can destroy the Western working class in this manner with the kindest of rhetoric. Mass immigration is presented by the mainstream media – almost completely owned by banks – as a compassionate solution to foreign poverty, only opposed by racists, bigots and rednecks.

This means that the already disadvantaged classes tear themselves in half as the globalists feel solidarity with the immigrants and refugees and the nationalists with the indigenous people. The neoliberals laugh all the way to the bank.

*

If you enjoyed reading this essay, you can get a compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2017 from Amazon for Kindle or Amazon for CreateSpace (for international readers), or TradeMe (for Kiwis).

VJMP Reads: David Seymour’s Own Your Future IV

A Liberal Vision for New Zealand in 2017

This reading carries on from here.

The third chapter in Own Your Future is ‘Superannuation and the Gold Card’. This essay starts with a dig at Winston Peters, who was once investigated by the Serious Fraud Office. Seymour doesn’t like the wasteful spending he sees in the Gold Card, especially as many of the recipients of the largesse of it are already millionaires.

Universal super is set to cost us around $20,000,000,000 per year by 2031, Seymour informs us. Here he makes a play for younger voters by having a go at the Baby Boomers. He references the suspicion of the younger generations that they aren’t going to get the same sweet pension deal that their parents got – after all, we didn’t get the same free tertiary education that they got.

He raises the spectre of a Greece-style economic apocalypse happening as a result of a debt spiral triggered by having to pay these lavish pension funds up to and past 2060. It’s hard to deny Seymour’s maths, as it appears to be true that we will soon reach a point where there are only two workers for every pensioner (as opposed to today’s four).

The options, as he sees it, are: raising taxes by about a quarter or raising the retirement age, neither likely to happen because young people don’t vote. Seymour here criticises both John Key and Bill English for lacking the courage to deal with the issue, and makes an entreaty to the young to not become disengaged from politics.

This seems baldly hypocritical, considering that ACT spent all of the last nine years voting alongside the National Party, who are the party that represents all the Baby Boomers. As Dan McGlashan showed in Understanding New Zealand, the vast majority of Baby Boomers vote for National, whose efforts to fuck over the young were eagerly supported, for nine years straight, by all ACT MPs including David Seymour.

National closed down rape crisis centres and gutted mental health funding, leading to New Zealand having the developed world’s highest youth suicide rate, and Seymour supported them all the way, despite that many young people voted ACT in 2014. He does not acknowledge that this may have contributed to the low turnout rate among the young.

True to neoliberal form, Seymour’s solution to this looming pension crisis is to squeeze some extra labour out of the working class, by raising the age of retirement to 67, and soon. No means testing, despite that 25% of people claiming the pension are also either claiming a salary or run their own business (as admitted by Seymour himself) and at that point the chapter abruptly ends.

One realises here that Seymour is primarily trying to win votes from people too young to know anything other than neoliberalism. Old people are too conservative to vote anything other than National or sometimes New Zealand first, and it’s the young and well-heeled (who don’t expect to be reliant on a public pension in old age) who are the most amenable to Seymour’s suggestions here.

*

If you enjoyed reading this essay, you can get a compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2017 from Amazon for Kindle or Amazon for CreateSpace (for international readers), or TradeMe (for Kiwis).

Can North Korea Teach the West How to Have A Humane Cannabis Policy?

Our media has been giving us the Two Minute Hate about North Korea for over two decades. Anyone who has read 1984 knows that most of the reason for this is to distract from the crimes of our own politicians and industrial leaders. One of these crimes is the War on Cannabis: Western Governments could learn from the North Koreans how to have a humane, honest and fair cannabis policy.

For the past 40-50 years, Western Governments have conducted a War on Drugs against their own people, without the consent of those people. Trillions have been spent during these decades to persecute tens of millions of Western citizens, many of whom had not caused any harm to anyone. This mass human rights abuse – because that’s what it is – continues to this day, despite small wins for the people in some areas.

This War on Drugs has been justified with a rhetoric so clumsy and corrupt that even a 1930s-era propagandist would be embarrassed by the lack of subtlety. From the infamous “Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men” to “Cannabis use causes psychosis” to today’s horseshit stories about how buying cannabis is supporting Mexican narcoterrorism, no more hamfisted effort has ever been made to sell anything.

For roughly half a century, Western families have been ripped apart from having one of their family members sent to prison for a cannabis offence. Tens of millions have been forced into a traumatic encounter with the Police and justice or prison systems, treated as criminals when most were mentally ill and needed help. In America in 2016, there were 574,641 people charged with the crime of simple cannabis possession.

One would expect then, that the punishment for cultivating cannabis in a place as fundamentally evil as North Korea would be horrifically draconian and senseless. If it’s up to seven years imprisonment in New Zealand it must surely be life in prison or even execution there.

To the contrary – far from scheduling cannabis as belonging to the most dangerous category of addictive drugs with no medicinal value as America does, North Korea doesn’t even consider cannabis a drug. Not only are people free to cultivate it without sanction, but it grows freely by the roadside in many places, being a weed and not being subject to eradication programs. North Koreans are free to harvest and smoke it every single day – and they do.

Many would personally be happy to trade all the supposed Western freedoms to drink booze, watch television and chase loose women for the freedom to smoke cannabis, have quality conversations with intelligent people and at the end of the night still be capable of maintaining an erection. So one has to ask: who’s actually better off?

The thawing of relations between the West and North Korea might have implications for cannabis policy in the West. Those Westerners who are still labouring under primitive superstitions such as “cannabis causes brain damage and therefore people should go to prison for it” might learn something from the more enlightened approach taken by the North Korean Government.

Perhaps North Korea could send advisors to the West to educate our politicians about how large industries conspired to make cannabis illegal for the sake of wiping out a competitor, and that keeping it prohibited is actually an immoral thing to do. These North Koreans could also be tasked with going through our Police and justice system employees to root out the sadists who believed that imprisoning someone was ever a fair or reasonable response to drug possession, because they are morally defective and cannot be trusted to serve the public.

*

If you enjoyed reading this essay, you can get a compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2017 from Amazon for Kindle or Amazon for CreateSpace (for international readers), or TradeMe (for Kiwis).

Writing Histrionic Personality Disorder

People with Histrionic Personality Disorder (HPD) are colloquially known as “drama queens” or “shit-stirrers”. Fundamental to the disorder is a desire for attention that borders on the narcissistic, as well as strong, shallow, rapidly-changing emotions. This article looks at how to write realistic and believable characters with HPD.

As is the case with many of the conditions in this book (and especially the personality disorders), people with HPD are often high-functioning in several ways. As with most of the conditions in this book, people with HPD can often be entirely competent and effective in their niche. For instance, they excel at screen and theatre acting.

A simple (if crude) way of conceptualising HPD is that, for people with it, drama is like a drug. They get hooked on it, they seek it out compulsively, they try to get bigger and bigger doses of it. The more attention they can draw to themselves the better. A cynic might call them a “psychic vampire” because dealing with them frequently leaves a person tired.

For these reasons, HPD is a fitting and excellent choice for some of the characters in your fiction. A character with HPD will naturally liven things up – even if they end up causing chaos. Because they seek drama out, it is never far from them. Not only do they like drama, but they tend to have just enough narcissism to bring some truly dark emotions out of others.

From the perspective of other characters who might encounter a character with HPD, one of the most difficult things about them is their apparent need to be overly emotional and dramatic all the time. Because emotional reactions are contagious to some extent, a person with HPD will tend to trigger those around them – a great quality in a bartender perhaps, but if there is a need for calmness and order this is usually unhelpful.

Other characters might also find the constant self-aggrandisement extremely tiresome. People with HPD like to use elaborate and flowery speech when unnecessary or even unhelpful, and love to tell stories that feature themselves looking good or being heroic. Such typically unsubtle attempts to draw praise are sometimes described as “needy”. Indeed, it is common for people with HPD to display symptoms typical of Dependent Personality Disorder.

Several common characteristics of HPD overlap with common characteristics of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. One of these in particular is the usual reaction to criticism. For the histrionic, any and all criticism is a brutal personal attack, an act of the utmost cruelty. It is so bad that any retaliatory measures are justified (although a character with HPD will tend toward passive-aggressive revenge tactics).

Related to this is the constant seeking of reassurance or approval. A protagonist with HPD might have compulsive thoughts about not being a good enough person and so seeks out ways of being told that they’re worthwhile. If a character has HPD, there might also be very clear ways that this can be shown through their clothing choice: “Loud and proud” would sum up their dress style.

Other characters might find it very stressful to be around a character with HPD, partially because of the narcissism but mostly because they don’t leave other people in peace. Because of their need to be the centre of attention, a character with HPD might continually butt into other people’s conversations, or make it all about them. They’re also generally happy to spread rumours around, especially if they think that doing so will make someone angry.

A character with HPD might strike other characters as superficial or false. After all, their emotions might strongly rise, but they also strongly fall and quickly transform into other ones. A second character might come to feel that they can’t really trust the histrionic one. It’s hard to know whether they’re acting or genuine.

One area in which the lives of people with HPD tend to be in particular disarray is romantically. They commonly perceive sexual interest where none exists. This makes their own lives difficult, as they often end up misreading the signals and making a move on someone who then rejects them. It can also make other people’s lives difficult, as people with HPD tend to perceive sexual infidelity where it doesn’t exist. This jealousy can fuel untold dramas.

On a darker note, people with HPD are well-known for hitting on people who are already in established relationships. This is partly because of the aforementioned tendency to perceive sexual interest where none exists, but this can also be influenced by a narcissistic refusal to respect other people’s boundaries and an inability to delay gratification.

Having said that, people with HPD are often very engaging to make love to. Excessive sensitivity and dependence on other people’s approval can make for a powerful contribution to the bedroom magic.

Adding a character with HPD to your story, or adding aspects of it to a character in your story, has the potential to liven things up but there is a risk that it can also make things more trivial. Because histrionic characters can get upset over small things, they can be hard for the reader to relate to, and therefore are often better as a foil to another character or as comic relief.

*

This article is an excerpt from Writing With The DSM (Writing With Psychology Book 5), edited by Vince McLeod and due for release by VJM Publishing in the summer of 2018/19.

The Solution to the Authoritarian Right Wing is Not the Authoritarian Left but Libertarianism

The answer to right-wing authoritarianism is not more authoritarianism only with a softer face

The Western World is still recoiling at, but fascinated by, the horrors of World War II. Consistent with Francis Fukuyama’s Great Pendulum Theory, we have been looking for solutions to the problems of life that led us into World War II and this has pushed us to the far-left. This essay will argue that the solution to the excesses of the authoritarian right is not authoritarian leftism but libertarianism.

The authoritarian left can be found crying crocodile tears over all kinds of suffering that it blames on the right, in the hope that they can gather more power as a result of the ensuing outrage. Characteristic of the authoritarian left is that they make the same critiques of capitalism and verticalised social structures as the libertarian left, but they offer radically different solutions.

Instead of more freedom for good people, the authoritarian left seeks less freedom for bad people. It sounds like it should lead to similar results, but it doesn’t. Less freedom for good people is one obvious side-effect, but this is considered merely a bit of collateral damage. Those who lose out will understand that such measures were necessary for the sake of the greater good – and if they don’t understand this we will force them to.

Another flaw of the authoritarian left is their bloodlust for punishing those who they consider to have transgressed the moral code. In this sense, the authoritarian left is no less vicious than the authoritarian right, only they purport to brutally punish people to further an agenda of horizontalism instead of one of verticalism. Anyone who tries to elevate one person or group above another is to be ripped down.

Right now, the wet dream of all authoritarian leftists is control of public speech, especially on social media. There is nothing that they would like more than to bring in “hate speech” laws governing social media discourse, so that anyone who expressed a politically incorrect sentiment would be harassed by the Police. Their logic is that if the people were forbidden from expressing certain dangerous ideas then those ideas would become less widespread, thereby dispelling the danger.

The real problem with authoritarian leftism is that the people promoting it are also promoting authoritarian solutions, which tend to mutate back into authoritarian rightism before anyone realises it. As mentioned above, the authoritarian leftists tend to make accurate and fair criticisms of right-wing policy – the problem arises when their recommended response to those criticisms is to centralise more power in their own hands.

The real solution to the problems of the authoritarian right is libertarianism, whether of the left or the right variety. That some on the libertarian left are unwilling to concede this point is a real danger. If the libertarian left is unwilling to co-operate with the libertarian right to oppose authoritarian solutions, they will find the authoritarians co-operating to split the libertarians in half.

Currently, there is a large risk that the extreme, authoritarian right will come back to prominence as a consequence of the social unrest brought about by mass Third World immigration into the West, especially Europe.

The authoritarian left’s solution to this problem is to “stop bigotry” by cracking down on what they deem “hate speech”. Because the dogma has it that all human groups are precisely equal in all ways, any economic disparity between one group and another must come from the malicious efforts of the wealthy group to undermine and impoverish the poor one. Therefore, Third Worlders can only be poor and violent because of prejudice, which must then be stamped out.

The problem with this is, if and when the authoritarian right comes back into power, they will have all these hate speech laws already on the books and a population conditioned to accept gross abuses of state power in the service of some spurious link to a greater good. They might even have – worst of all – a population desperate for change, baying for blood and with hate speech laws on the books. Then it’s a simple matter of adjusting the definition of hate to “speech against nation/race/ruler” and we have another genocide on our hands.

Beating the authoritarian right will require that we intelligently encourage avenues of freedom that take people away from the left-authoritarian/right-authoritarian cycle. If we love freedom more than we love our own delusions that we can perfect the world by force, then we can accept that working towards libertarianism is a worthwhile goal, regardless of whether it’s left or right in form.

This will require that the ruling powers guarantee the cognitive liberty of the people. In particular this means to keep the Internet free, to keep artistic expression unrestricted, to keep the press free and to refuse all punitive forms of drug prohibition.

*

If you enjoyed reading this essay, you can get a compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2017 from Amazon for Kindle or Amazon for CreateSpace (for international readers), or TradeMe (for Kiwis).

Te Reo With Mnemonics: Caring And Sharing Words

help – āwhina

A child cries: “I lost my letter R!” A man says “My dog will help you – he’s an r-finder!” His dog goes into the bushes and comes back with a letter R.

give – takoha

A family is sitting around eating Mexican food when a baby stretches out a hand and says “Give. Give. Taco here.”

share – toha

A lady at a party produces a bowl full of toes. She goes around sharing them, saying “Get a toe here.”

care – kumanu

A man cares lovingly for a cow, who shits into a wheelbarrow that the man wheels over to a gigantic pile of shit with a sign that says “Cow Manure”.

neglect – whakahapa

A child sits outside, neglected. Its parents neglect it by sitting inside partying. The child picks up some binoculars and sees a person playing a harp on a distant hill. It can see the far car harper.

contribute/provide – homai

A donations collector approaches a bunch of gangsters. One of the gangsters says “Okay homies,” and they all contribute some money.

The Māori word for neglect – whakahapa – shares a “f-k-h-p” construction with the English phrase ‘far car harper’.

kind/to show kindness to – atawhai

A really tough-looking man jumps when a nurse kindly wraps a bandage around a sore finger. She says “So you’re not such a toughie!”

nasty – whakawiri

A soldier says “I’m worried.” With a nasty expression, his sergeant says nastily “Fuck worry!”

support – taituarā

A tuatara, supported on the shoulders of two other tuataras, reaches up and pulls down a piece of fruit.

take – tango

A man holds out a twenty dollar note, and a couple tangoes up to him to take it.

thank/acknowledge – mihi

A man shakes hands with a doctor. The man says “I’d like to thank you for fixing my head.”

consider – whaiwhakaaro

A car drives around with three bagpipers leaning out the windows playing their pipes. A man looks at the piper car and says “They should consider those trying to sleep.”

*

The above is an excerpt from the upcoming Learn Maori Vocabulary With Mnemonics, by Jeff Ngatai, due to be published by VJM Publishing in the summer of 2018/19.

VJMP Reads: David Seymour’s Own Your Future III

A Liberal Vision for New Zealand in 2017

This reading carries on from here.

The second chapter of Own Your Future is titled ‘Tax’. Seymour opens with a complaint about wasteful government spending, citing the example of Gerry Brownlee flying to San Francisco on the taypayer’s dollar for a photo op. Indeed this was an appalling waste of money for no benefit to the nation, but Seymour leaps from this fact to the tacit assumption that all tax money is likewise wasted.

Seymour is right when he says it’s stupid that the Government is running surpluses while the average New Zealand household is at record levels of debt. The solution is, naturally, lower taxes. Here Seymour makes a sharp distinction between “our own” money, and “another person’s” money. Not for him the interdependence of all things. In Seymour’s world, there are very clear lines over who owns what.

Government takes in taxes equal to 40% of GDP, Seymour notes – “exclusively” another person’s money. Seymour doesn’t agree with the idea that the state is the most efficient provider of many services on account of the economies of scale afforded by its unique size. For him, the Government is merely a parasitic entity that sucks tax money out of hard-working Kiwis and wastes it frivolously.

Breaking step with the usual neoliberal choice of target, Seymour points out that there is a tremendous amount of corporate welfare in New Zealand as well. This only lasts for a few sentences, because he’s soon back to crying about taxation. Bracket creep comes in for particular ire – for Seymour, the wealthy aren’t getting a big enough share of the spoils of economic growth.

True to being a politician, he is dishonest. He claims that bracket creep happens because wages rise (which is true) but he also claims that wages rise to meet the increase in the price of consumer goods. The truth is that wages are not linked to the inflation of consumer goods – they are a function of the relative leverage that the employer has over the employee. When consumer goods become more expensive, this gives the employee absolutely no additional leverage through which they can negotiate a higher wage with their employer. If anything, it gives them less leverage because the lower standard of living makes them more desperate to settle.

In one paragraph, Seymour abandons even the pretense of reasoning and simply lists American libertarian slogans: “High tax rates… drag the economy down”, “people spend their money better than governments do”, “Money goes more good in the private sector than in the public sector.” Again one senses the cold shadow of the millions starved to death by Communism.

Seymour makes some good and fair points when he talks about the bureaucratic waste in the system. The problem is that this waste is the only thing he sees – all Government spending is hip-hop tours and junkets to San Francisco. He will not acknowledge that tax money is used for anything good, or that taxpayers get anything back for their tax money. National are the good guys because they levy less tax; Labour are bad and the Greens are the worst of all.

It’s hard to disagree, however, when he complains about the top tax bracket being $70,000. One doesn’t have to be wealthy to concede that someone earning $70,000 a year is far from loaded.

In all, one feels that Seymour is capable of making some good points but has a dishonest method for selecting and presenting them to the reader. Despite that, it’s easily arguable that Seymour and his party are tasked with playing an important role in New Zealand politics – that of keeping a check on Government waste – even though they are apologists for neoliberalism.

*

If you enjoyed reading this essay, you can get a compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2017 from Amazon for Kindle or Amazon for CreateSpace (for international readers), or TradeMe (for Kiwis).

Will Drinking Alcohol Still Be Popular In 50 Years?

Booze: it’s kind of crap, and it’s time we moved on to better drugs

A lot of really stupid things have fallen out of fashion in recent decades, and for good reason. Smoking tobacco is now uncommon, because we’re now much more aware of the deleterious effects than we used to be, and seeing someone riding a motorcycle without a helmet is rare too. This article asks the question: will drinking alcohol still form the basis of Western social interaction in half a century?

Let’s face it: the only reason we drink a lot is habit. It’s not because alcohol is good, and it’s not because alcohol is safe. Alcohol isn’t really good because there are plenty of other common drugs that are better: MDMA is a better entactogen, cannabis is more relaxing, opium is better for getting wasted with. It’s also not safe, for reasons that are obvious to anyone who has spent time around drunks.

No – the reason why we drink a lot is because our parents did, and they drank because their parents did, and so on, and in every case it’s true that people drank alcohol because that’s just what people did. For thousands of years, the ancestors of Westerners knocked back the booze – they didn’t know about the relationship between alcohol and heart disease, liver failure or cancer, because people seldom lived long enough to be affected by such things.

Moreover, there are large capital interests that are tied up in alcohol manufacture and sales. The alcohol industry is easily big enough to buy off politicians at the national level – and they do. These politicians have been more than happy to stop any competitor to alcohol getting established, which is why our recreational drug scene is soaked with booze (and thereby with the violence, sluttiness, vomiting and hangovers that inevitably accompany the alcohol experience).

These factors might very soon stop having an impact. The changing drug market scene has smashed the duopoly over the recreational drug market that alcohol once enjoyed along with tobacco. Not only are there now over a dozen territories where cannabis is properly legal, but the rise of dark markets on the Internet has made it possible for people anywhere to access a wide variety of drugs without needing anything more than a postal address.

There have also been more sinister undertones to the historical promotion of alcohol use.

From the earliest days of the Age of Colonialism, European traders were aware of the destructive effect that alcohol (usually in the form of rum) had on the natives of the New World. There was no need to shoot them when you could simply trade them some booze and watch them destroy themselves. Although it was not appreciated at the time, alcohol was effectively able to be used as a bioweapon by the Europeans.

This was because they had developed a genetic resistance to alcohol over thousands of years of exposure, while the natives had not. Over the past several thousand years, because Europeans were getting drunk much of the time, there was a selective pressure against those who misbehaved while drunk. Anyone who became excessively violent or stupid while drunk was liable to delete themselves, and their genes, from the gene pool. Over time, therefore, Europeans adapted to behave relatively tamely when intoxicated.

So when the European traders introduced alcohol to the delicate psychobiological balance of the New World, it had a similar effect to a hand grenade. Alcoholism has destroyed the native peoples of North America, South America, Australia and Polynesia. If European complicity in this was widely accepted and owned up to, the need to legalise recreational alternatives to alcohol would become obvious.

Given all of these factors, it has to be asked whether the widespread consumption of alcohol is something that will continue much further into the future. It can already be observed that the youngest generation is abandoning alcohol en masse, usually for cannabis but sometimes for other substances that can be easily be obtained: MDMA or research chemicals are popular alternatives.

Global recreational drug culture this century is more likely to revolve around cannabis for the reasons described. Cannabis is something that people of all nations and races can enjoy equally without any sense of cultural advantage, unlike alcohol, which is really the white man’s drug. It can already be seen (in the few places they exist) that cannabis cafes serve as places where people of many cultures come together in harmony and good cheer.

As awareness of the harms of alcohol spreads, as recreational alternatives become increasingly available and as world culture moves further away from a Eurocentric model, it’s possible that the prominence of alcohol in our culture diminishes in the same way tobacco did. It’s hard to imagine now, but there are good reasons to think that hardly anyone will still be regularly drinking alcohol in 50 years’ time.

*

If you enjoyed reading this essay, you can get a compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2017 from Amazon for Kindle or Amazon for CreateSpace (for international readers), or TradeMe (for Kiwis).