Almost All Cases of Growing Cannabis Are Altruistic

New Zealand cannabis law reform supporters were overjoyed on Monday by the news that Rose Renton was discharged without conviction in her case at the Nelson District Court. Charged with the cultivation of 58 plants, she could have been facing seven years’ imprisonment. As this essay will examine, the logic used to exonerate her could be used to exonerate almost any other cannabis grower, and should lead to a change in the cannabis law.

Renton was discharged without conviction on the grounds that her offending was “altrustic” in nature, according to Judge David Ruth, who was quoted as saying: “This was effectively¬†an altruistic endeavour on your behalf to help those for whom that help wasn’t otherwise possible.” This is an entirely fair point, and it’s about time a judge said so, but it goes further than this.

She had been growing cannabis to supply medicine to a variety of people, a job that has been given the title “green fairy”. The ‘green’ refers to cannabis medicine and the ‘fairy’ refers to the fact that this medicine doesn’t come regularly but simply shows up whenever the fairy can make it happen. Renton was supplying clones of a CBD-rich strain to people who then grew the medicine themselves.

A Police officer who came to Renton’s home noticed a cannabis plant there. Instead of ignoring it, the officer made the decision to enforce Parliament’s law against cannabis by arresting her. This decision led to 18 months of suffering on Renton’s part, until discharged without conviction on Monday, for the reasons mentioned above.

Cannabis is a medicine. The main reason why people use it is to escape the suffering caused by either physical or psychological pain. There are several effective substitutes for the effect that cannabis has on physical pain, but there is little that can stop psychological suffering as quickly and efficiently. Countless people have found that a bout of rage, depression or despair can be stopped cold by a dose of cannabis.

It’s rarely admitted to, but there is a lot of suffering in our society. Not just the tedium of the drudge-work that we endure, and the anxiety over our uncertain futures, but the stress of encountering new strangers all the time and the alienation of having no community or political representation all combine to create an existence that is wretched for many. This can be measured by our increasing suicide rate, which hit a record level last year.

Almost all the cannabis that is grown, by anyone, ever, is grown with the intent of reducing some of this suffering. There’s no point to it otherwise. No-one grows cannabis with the intent to cause suffering. Anyone who believes this is simply not in touch with the reality of cannabis use. Everyone who grows it does so with the intent that using the end product will alleviate suffering in some way.

So the concept of non-altruistic cannabis growing makes as much sense as the idea of non-altruistic insulin production.

People who aren’t interested in the medicinal effects of cannabis might still be using it for that reason, even if they smoke it in joints. Even casual joint smokers are often motivated by the decrease in anxiety, stress, nausea or insomnia that comes with using it. This means that the vast majority of cannabis that anyone is growing, anywhere, is for altruistic reasons, much the same as with Rose Renton.

Many people are unwilling to accept this, for the reason that this makes the current law seem extremely cruel. The hard facts are, however, that the current law is extremely cruel. It’s possible that the law prevented Alex from getting hold of a medicine that would have saved his life. We’ll never know.

It’s possible that Rose Renton had to watch her son die for no other reason than that New Zealand politicians were too stupid and cowardly to address the need to repeal cannabis prohibition in time. That might seem unreasonably cruel, perhaps even so cruel that it’s hard to admit to, but that’s what we did. We’ve been doing it for decades, to Kiwi families up and down the country.

We have to face up to the fact that cannabis is a medicine, and that the law withholding it from people is killing those who need its medicinal qualities. It’s time for us to accept that the vast majority of people who are growing cannabis are doing so with the ultimate intent of alleviating human suffering, so we should repeal cannabis prohibition and make it legal.

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If you enjoyed reading this essay, you can get a compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2018 from Amazon for Kindle or Amazon for CreateSpace (for international readers), or TradeMe (for Kiwis). A compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2017 is also available.

VJMP Reads: Edward Bernays’s Propaganda III

This reading carries on from here.

The third chapter of Edward Bernays’s Propaganda is called ‘The New Propagandists’. Here, Bernays gets to the task of who it is that molds public opinion. “Who are the men who, without us realising it, give us our ideas?”

Bernays admits openly that these molders of public opinion decide for us who we admire and who we despise, and what we think about all manner of political issues. They decide our fashions, our speech, and even what jokes we feel like we’re allowed to make. They decide the shape of everything in our societies – but who are they?

These people include all of the top politicians, all of the leaders of the biggest industries, all of the leaders of the largest cultural organisations, the editors of the largest newspapers and magazines, the heads of the various industry groups, the chancellors of the most prominent universities and the main religious figures. Even so, most of these people, in their turn, get their ideas from elsewhere.

In some cases, it’s clear who the wirepullers are. In most cases, it isn’t. But these people control the destinies of millions. The degree to which a small number of people influence a large number of public figures is generally not appreciated. This number will, however, always be small on account of the great expense involved in manipulating the machinery of propaganda to form public opinion.

This has given rise to the new (in 1928) profession of professional propagandist, which has been euphemised as “public relations counsel”. This role is necessary because all governments, no matter what their type, depend on the acquiescence of the people. Bernays here gives us the maxim “Government is only government by virtue of public acquiescence.” Even commercial enterprises need public approval to succeed.

The propagandist is not simply an advertiser. Although he might use letters to the editor, radio, lectures, magazines and more, his work does not duplicate that of the advertiser. His first business is to make sure that his client’s product is something that the public can be brought to accept. The propagandist’s next job is to analyse the public, and how to approach the leaders of the various groups within it.

Bernays contends that, in the age of mass media, corporations found it necessary to give the appearance of conforming to the public’s sense of decency and honesty. As a result, and much like governments, corporations found propagandists necessary in order to get anything done.

The ideal of the propagandist’s profession is making the client understand what the public wants, and making the public understand the objectives of the client. Propagandising can therein be likened to a form of diplomacy. Bernays labours at length the point that the propagandist does not work to hoodwink the public, and lists the ethical considerations of the profession.

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If you enjoyed reading this essay, you can get a compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2018 from Amazon for Kindle or Amazon for CreateSpace (for international readers), or TradeMe (for Kiwis). A compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2017 is also available.

VJMP Waitangi Day Address 2019

The only power that scares the Establishment is the unity of the people. Only when Maoris and white people come together, with strong bonds based on mutual appreciation of each other’s talents, do the ruling classes of this country sit up and take notice. Only then do they become afraid of us, instead of the other way around.

There are two very popular, and yet very false, narratives explaining why our society is the way it is. Both of these false narratives serve to divide the nation into two competing blocs, at each others throats. The first is the Imperialist narrative, the second is the Marxist narrative.

The Imperialist narrative has it that Maoris lived in a state of depravity and constant terror. Intertribal warfare and cannibalism were rife; life expectancy was 30 years if you were lucky. According to the Imperialist narrative, Maoris were rescued from this state by the benevolence of the British Empire, which made slavery illegal, and kindly dished out medicine, technology and an end to the Musket Wars.

The Marxist narrative has it that Maoris lived in a state of perfect peace and harmony with Nature. There was no violence and no hunger until the white man turned up. Then the Maoris were driven from their land under musket and cannon fire, into the wilderness to die. The British came here for no other reason than greed, and never saw the Maoris as proper human beings.

Both of these narratives are horseshit. Both have been designed to sow discord and hatred. Both are aggressive, supremacist ideologies, and both are supported by aggressive, low intelligence, egotistical people. Neither has a place in the New Zealand of the new century.

There is a lot of pressure for us to take on one of the false narratives. Many people find it gratifying to blame someone else for their problems, especially an entire group. Many people have chosen a side, not as a Kiwi, but as either a Maori or as a white person, and many of these see the other side of the divide as the enemy who seeks to steal from them.

The British did made slavery illegal, and they did bring technology and medicine here, that is true. They also did some bad things, especially with regards to swindling land from the Maoris, and with creating a society in which money and plastic was valued highly than social and spiritual connections. This is also true.

The Maoris might have problems with violence and abuse and neglect of children, this is true. They have also done outstandingly well compared to other indigenous peoples. Their intelligence and tenacity has enabled them to adapt to the tools of the white man in a way that the others never could. They are much wealthier than Tongans, who were never colonised. This is also true.

We need a new narrative, one that takes us forwards as brothers in arms. Not one that keeps us squabbling in the dirt. Esoteric Aotearoanism can serve as that narrative.

New Zealand society, for the majority of its existence, has been a co-operative enterprise between Maoris and white people. For better or worse, we’re stuck with each other. Neither group of people is going anywhere, and rates of intermarriage are so high that the time will come when there are not only no pure-blooded Maoris left but also no pure-blooded whites apart from immigrants. This is inevitable unless we are divided and conquered by outside forces.

Because of these immensely high rates of interbreeding, and because of the close, sometimes imperceptible, cultural exchange that we have had, Maoris and white people cannot be spoken of as two separate groups. They must be understood as the two major contributing factors to something that is greater than either of them: the Kiwi nation.

There are none of us who are pure Maori, unaffected by the white man’s influence, and neither are there any of us who are pure white people, the same as what can be found in Europe. We are now the yin and the yang of something greater than either of us. Both love rugby, live music, cannabis and exploring the wilderness just as much as the other.

It doesn’t matter what once was.

Co-operation is the only way forward. This demands that we reject the false narratives that cause us to fight each other, and adopt a new narrative that allows each of us to contribute to the greater good in their own way. It doesn’t matter what proportion of Maori blood you have, or what languages you speak, or even what your political attitudes are. There is a niche for you to contribute to the Kiwi nation.

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If you enjoyed reading this essay, you can get a compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2018 from Amazon for Kindle or Amazon for CreateSpace (for international readers), or TradeMe (for Kiwis). A compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2017 is also available.

The Case For Cannabis: Prohibition Funds Crime

Other articles here have mentioned that cannabis prohibition doesn’t mean the cannabis market goes away: it just means that it goes onto the black market. There are several deleterious aspects to this, each worthy of separate discussion. This article will look at the role cannabis prohibition plays in funding crime.

The logic is that, by prohibiting cannabis and by attacking cannabis users through the justice system, it becomes possible to prevent cannabis profits from steadily flowing into the hands of criminals, which would prevent them from being able to fund further enterprises. So criminal activity, and thereby the suffering of the citizenry, can be pre-empted by attacking cannabis users and growers.

As we saw with alcohol, the attempt to prohibit a substance just makes everything about it worse. Alcohol prohibition infamously led to the rise of an entire class of gangsters and bootleggers, the most well-known being Al Capone. Because the substance couldn’t be sold lawfully, it was sold on the black market, and the criminal enterprises who made the profits were happy to use that money to find other ventures.

In Capone’s time, much of that black market money was used to buy firearms, which were then used in the commission of robberies and contract killings. Alcohol prohibition ensured a constant flow of money into the coffers of criminal gangs, and this financed further ventures. Consequently, those criminal enterprises flourished.

We don’t have alcohol prohibition any more, but cannabis prohibition has done a fine job of filling that gap.

The New Zealand Drug Harm Index 2016 stated that “Over $70 million in funding for other criminal activities is provided each year from drug trafficking. The majority of this (nearly 90%) is generated from the sale of cannabinoids.” Another way to write this is to say: Cannabis prohibition puts $60 million into the pockets of criminal gangs in every single year, in New Zealand alone.

This money then finances all the murders, robberies and methamphetamine production that the rest of us have to suffer from. The Police are not wrong when they say that illegal cannabis sales fund further crime – they’re just wrong when they say that the solution is to crack down on it. It’s the cracking down on cannabis that makes it valuable, and this attracts the desperate, greedy and short-sighted.

If a criminal wants to fund the purchase of a large amount of precursors to methamphetamine, they might find themselves in need of a few thousand dollars. This is a similar amount of money to what they could make in one cannabis grow under a 600 watt light, after about three months of growing. Because anyone with a real criminal network knows someone with cannabis clones (or at least seeds), just about anyone inclined to set up a meth operation can also get a cannabis grow started.

Moreover, cannabis prohibition makes it possible to cut up a pound of cannabis into $50 bags and sell them piecemeal. They can do it themselves, or they can get gang underlings to do it – after all, $50 is within the reach of even high schoolers. This makes it possible for criminal enterprises to draw more and more people in.

Under a regime of legal cannabis, such things would not be possible, or would at least be strongly disincentivised. For one thing, cannabis prices are much lower in places where it is legal, and this removes most of the incentive to get involved in selling it. A second factor is that the vast majority of people prefer not to deal with criminals if they can get the same goods from a white market vendor.

So cannabis prohibition makes it possible for a variety of criminal enterprises to get funding, whereas they may not have been able to get off the ground without their backers’ ability to sell cannabis on the black market. A lot of this criminal activity only exists because the law makes it possible. Wherever you have an economic niche, white market or black, someone will step into it.

The common counter-argument that, if cannabis was made legal, gangs would just sell hard drugs, turns out to be the opposite of the truth. The scenario we’re given is that criminals will sell drugs anyway, so it’s better for them to sell cannabis to our children than methamphetamine. The assumption seems to be that criminals choose to sell cannabis in preference to methamphetamine etc. out of kindness.

Leaving aside all the other ways in which this argument is wrong, it takes a certain amount of start-up capital to be able to get in on the market for hard drugs, because it’s necessary to deal with major players. Cooking up a batch of meth takes start-up capital, and even buying precursors usually requires a five-figure sum of cash on account of that people dealing in such are disinclined to make petty deals. Cannabis law reform would make those five figures harder for criminals to come by.

Cannabis prohibition should be repealed so as to take a major source of funding away from criminal gangs. Without black market cannabis, a number of criminal enterprises and schemes would not be able to get off the ground, which would keep our communities safer than cannabis prohibition can.

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This article is an excerpt from The Case For Cannabis Law Reform, compiled by Vince McLeod and due for release by VJM Publishing in the summer of 2018/19.

How The People Are Divided and Conquered

The ruling classes, faced with the fact that they are outnumbered by thousands to one, have refined an array of techniques to divide the people into groups and set them at each other’s throats. This array covers all of the different aspects of human life, so that individuals are made enemies of each other at every turn. This essay describes how the people are divided and conquered across the entire spectrum of life.

Human life covers the complete spectrum from purely physical concerns to purely spiritual concerns. Physical concerns such as blood and soil are different to matters of class and education, and these are in their turn different to religious and spiritual matters. By means of propaganda, people are divided at each part of the spectrum, and made to believe that someone else has stolen from them.

This stealing is how the other side of the spectrum (any spectrum) is characterised as the bad guys, the stealers, the takers. The mouthpieces of the ruling class will tell their listeners that all of the suffering those listeners feel is because those at the other end of the spectrum have stolen from them. The natural result is that the listeners come to hate those others, and in doing so become divided and conquered.

At the physical end, people belonging to any racial group have been led, by way of propaganda, to feel that other races have collectively worked to steal from them. In America, blacks are made to feel that whites have stolen from them through slavery, and owe them compensation; whites are made to feel that blacks have stolen from them through taxation to fund welfare.

The story is the same all over the West. There was a time when New Zealanders considered themselves Kiwis first and their particular ethnic makeup was a secondary thing. But after decades of rhetoric, many Maoris have come to be convinced that colonisation was an act of evil for which they are owed compensation. White people were convinced, at the same time, that Maoris had stolen from them through taxation-funded welfare and crime, and the end result was to split the Kiwi people down the centre.

Less physical issues do not make people less vulnerable to being divided and conquered. Even if everyone was the same race, it is still possible to divide people along class or religious differences.

The most obvious example is of Communist agitation in a factory. The Communist begins by persuading the workers that they are being stolen from because their wages are not equal to the value of their production. If the worker is not intelligent enough to understand the basics of how a business is run, and does not understand that operating a business requires competencies that he does not necessarily have, he may be persuaded that his boss is stealing from him, and that restitution is owed.

Communist agitation in Rhodesia is an example that combines both race and class. Local blacks were convinced that white settlers had stolen land from them and were trying to enslave them. The blacks were told that everything the whites had was stolen from them, and this theft was why they didn’t have it. This led to rising resentment which eventually tore the entire country in two, a blueprint since repeated all across the world.

Education is another spectrum upon which people are divided. The poorly educated are led to believe that the well educated have arrived at their greater position of wealth through sneakery and trickery, not through study and applied competence. As with the other examples, the poorly educated are then made to become resentful, and so come to fight the well educated instead of co-operating with them as yin and yang.

All of this dividing and conquering works because of the state of spiritual ignorance that we have fallen into. People have forgotten that life is suffering, and that suffering is inherent to existence as a mortal being in this world. Because they have forgotten this, it is possible to convince them that their suffering is unnatural, and that someone else must be to blame. This is an example of chains of gold.

All that’s necessary to start it is to find a spectrum of wealth somewhere within society. It can be a spectrum of wealth along race lines, along class lines, along education lines – it doesn’t matter. As long as the people at both ends are told that the people at the other end have stolen from them or are looking to, both groups will dig themselves in and start hating the other.

From there, it’s a simple matter to point the finger at the other side of the national, racial, education or religious divide and say that all the suffering is because those people have stolen from us, and so individuals from that group are personally responsible for restitution. Once this has been achieved, it’s all but guaranteed that those so blamed will point the finger back, and at this point arguing and fighting begins.

Our ruling Establishment encourages divide and conquer logic, because the more effectively the people can be divided, the less able they are to mount a co-ordinated challenge against the will of that Establishment. This is why the media is daily full of propaganda about “injustice”. They don’t care about preventing injustice – they just want to fan the flames of it so that people are angry and blame each other, instead of the rulers.

Certain incompetent individuals also encourage divide and conquer logic, because they know that if the people were united and competent people promoted, those individuals would be left behind. Incompetent individuals, therefore, have an interest in dividing and conquering so that they can slice off their own little piece of turf and rule the smaller group present in it. They want to keep the group small so as to discourage more competent competition for places in the ruling hierarchy of that group.

In summary, people are divided and conquered because their own spiritual ignorance makes it possible for unscrupulous propagandists to blame the natural suffering of life on acts of theft committed by “others”. Blaming all the suffering inherent to life on others ensures that revenge will be sought, that grievances and vendettas will grow, that the cracks diving society will deepen and therefore that the suffering will never be overcome.

Anyone who denies that life is naturally suffering, and who insists that any suffering that exists is the fault of a particular group of people, is working to divide and conquer society. These people must be considered suspect, and their motives potentially malicious. This is true no matter how powerful, rich, numerous or oppressive the so-called bad guys might be.

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If you enjoyed reading this essay, you can get a compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2018 from Amazon for Kindle or Amazon for CreateSpace (for international readers), or TradeMe (for Kiwis). A compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2017 is also available.

VJMP Reads: Edward Bernays’s Propaganda II

This reading carries on from here.

The second chapter of Propaganda is called ‘The New Propaganda’. Here, Bernays elucidates some of the differences between the original approach to propaganda that arose with the advent of mass media, and the “new” approach that was developed after the application of mass psychology techniques to making propaganda more effective.

The industrial revolution has made kings much less powerful than they once were, relative to the masses. It spread economic power, and, with that, political power. The old democrats used to believe that it was possible to educate everyone up to the level where they could participate in rulership – in reality, the average person falls well short of what is required.

Propaganda fills this gap, serving as the means by which the minority can still rule the majority. “Propaganda is the executive arm of the invisible Government.” The education of the common man, instead of teaching him to think freely, only conditioned him to become receptive to propaganda. Now his mind is receptive to propaganda of all sorts.

Using examples from a daily newspaper, Bernays explains how propaganda works in the mainstream media. Anything stated as true by an authority, such as the State Department, is taken as such. Here Bernays gives us a definition of propaganda: “Modern propaganda is a consistent, enduring effort to create or shape events to influence the relations of the public to an enterprise, idea or group.”

In practice, very little is done nowadays without some kind of propaganda campaign alongside it. Propaganda regiments the public mind every bit as much as the Army regiments the bodies of its soldiers. A group so regimented can be every bit as effective as an army.

Today, the approval of the public is necessary for any large undertaking. Therefore, propaganda is necessary for any large undertaking. Formerly, rulers could set the course of history simply by doing things. Today, the masses have control, so propaganda is needed to wrest that control back. As a consequence, propaganda is here to stay.

It was World War I, and the astonishing success of propaganda in that war to manipulate public opinion, that made people aware of what could be done. This was the first time that not only a multimedia approach was made to encourage people to support the national endeavour, but also key men were brought on board in a massive range of industries.

The new propaganda doesn’t just target the individual, but takes into consideration the structure of society and the way that information spreads through it. This is now a feature of society, because new proposals for reform must be clearly articulated before they will be influential. No-one can get anything done anymore without propaganda.

Bernays concludes this chapter by noting that “In the active proselytizing minorities in whom selfish interests and public interests coincide lie the progress and development of America.” The world is controlled by the small number of men that control propaganda, who make the rest of us think as they will, and society only progresses when their will is in accord with the collective good.

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If you enjoyed reading this essay, you can get a compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2018 from Amazon for Kindle or Amazon for CreateSpace (for international readers), or TradeMe (for Kiwis). A compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2017 is also available.

Electoral Consequences of the Rise of a New Blue-Green Party in New Zealand

Much recent attention has been given to the possibility that a new blue-green party might arise to contest the 2020 General Election. A man named Vernon Tava has been interviewed outlining his vision for the putative movement, which is said to have some support. In this article, demographer Dan McGlashan, author of Understanding New Zealand, explains the electoral ramifications.

First, we need to determine who might vote for such a blue-green party. Secondly, we will speculate on what might happen if a large number of people do.

Crudely speaking, and this is very crude, we can say that New Zealand divides into four groups: the urban poor, who vote Labour, the urban rich, who vote Green, the rural poor, who vote New Zealand First, and the rural rich, who vote National.

The borderline between the Green and the National parties, therefore, is between the city and the country, and the unifying feature of these two parties is that their constituents are wealthy. So any new blue-green party would primarily target people who were doing better than average, regardless of whether they lived in the city or the country. But to distinguish them from the conservatives, they would need either an environmental or a social justice aspect from the green side.

Green and National voters are also characterised by being better educated than average (indeed, this is the basis of their greater wealth). So a green-blue party might target students, especially those who study at suburban universities. What unifies them, in particular, is that they tend to have globalist sympathies, and they tend to oppose the nationalist sentiments that they observe in Labour and New Zealand First.

This column has previously discussed the fact that the National and Green parties could ally on the basis of both being strong supporters of globalism. A new blue-green party might combine the green commitment to environmental causes with the desire to liberalise free trade and the movement of cheap labour (ignore the contradictions in that for a moment). They would then effectively be a neoliberal party.

The most obvious point is that such a party would compete directly with The Opportunities Party. As I showed shortly after the previous election in 2017, the bulk of TOP voters were disaffected Green voters. They were mostly young and well-educated, of either gender and any ethnicity, and were the ones most easily reached by the heavy investment made by TOP in FaceBook advertising. They have also had the most anti-nationalist conditioning.

Green Party voters would also be tempted towards a new party. The reason for this is many Green voters are well-educated, and so they often find themselves becoming wealthy by the end of their 30s, which means that they start to have an interest in protecting that wealth, and thereby paying less taxes. This pulls them towards the National Party, but they tend to be repelled by National’s indifferent attitude to human suffering.

National voters, for their part, will be hard to tempt to any blue-green party. For one thing, National voters are particularly loyal: the correlation between voting National in 2014 and voting National in 2017 was 0.99, an exceptionally strong correlation and higher than the equivalent figure for any other party. The other reason will be the electoral ramifications, as discussed below.

Second, the other major area of interest is the electoral ramifications of such a party if it would form and seriously contest the 2020 General Election.

One obvious point here is that the rise of a blue-green party would make things exceptionally difficult for The Opportunities Party. Although TOP does not describe itself as a blue-green party, they are competing for almost exactly the same demographic as any such new endeavour would also be competing for. Getting 5% of the electorate vote is hard enough as it is, and having two fledgling parties contesting that vote will make things extremely hard for both.

The obvious major point here relates to the overlap with Green Party voters. The Green Party only just made it over the threshold at the 2017 General Election, winning a mere 6.27% of the total votes. This means that they would only have to lose 30,000 or so votes in 2020 to a new blue-green party to run the risk of falling under the 5% threshold and so dropping out of Parliament entirely.

Ironically, game theory suggests that this is one of the most plausible ways for National to win the election. If a blue-green party did win enough of the Green Party vote that both parties failed to make the 5% threshold, the left bloc would lose all those Green party votes as well as some of the blue-green party ones, whereas the right bloc would only lose some of the blue-green party ones. This would leave National and ACT against Labour, competing for New Zealand First support.

Of course, these options are moot if the proposed party does win 5% of the electorate vote. As explained above, this would almost certainly lead to the obliteration of both the Greens and TOP, who are chasing similar voters. Assuming New Zealand First also won 5%, then there could be another head-to-head fight between Labour and National for the loyalty of the centrist parties, who would then in all probability hold the balance of power.

Because getting 5% of the vote is so difficult, and because the competition for the blue-green niche already so fierce, the future chances of Vernon Tava’s movement look extremely slim. They might have a greater impact as a spoiler that helps to wipe out the Green and Opportunities Parties, for the sake of ensuring that National holds the balance of power after 2020.

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Understanding New Zealand, by Dan McGlashan and published by VJM Publishing, is the comprehensive guide to the demographics and voting patterns of the New Zealand people. It is available on TradeMe (for Kiwis) and on Amazon (for international readers).

The Case For Cannabis: There Is No Moral Argument Against Cannabis

Some cannabis prohibitionists contend that cannabis should remain illegal because its use is immoral. This immorality is such that it’s fair to use the criminal justice system to prevent it from happening. As this article will examine, not only is there no moral argument against cannabis, but the moral equation suggests that it should be legal.

The sort of person making this argument is usually some kind of wowser. This is the reason why this argument is becoming less common – proponents of it are dying off.

Usually, the argument takes some form of slippery slope argument. The usual patterns is that smoking cannabis is claimed to lead, by stepwise degeneracy, into the total abandonment of all healthy human values, until the user deteriorates into a wretched shell of the person they once were. Here the spectre of Reefer Madness can be seen once again.

The idea that cannabis use is inherently immoral harkens back to the religious fundamentalist idea that all pleasure is inherently sinful, on account of that it induces a person to worship the material world instead of God. It’s essentially a religious idea, and fundamentalist in the sense that the suffering caused by this admonition is ignored.

In reality, human beings have a need for recreational activity or they will become mentally ill. This is apparent from observing anywhere in history where those activities have been restricted. Pleasure is not inherently immoral, and it’s not immoral to enjoy one’s life, provided that one’s duties are still met and one’s responsibilities still discharged.

To the contrary – there is a moral imperative to enjoy one’s life, for if one does not do so, then bitterness, anger, frustration and depression are the consequences. These emotions invariably take themselves out on other people. Therefore, a person has a moral imperative to keep themselves happy enough that they can have a positive effect on other people. If using cannabis helps achieve this, so be it.

Morally speaking, the correct course of action to take at any given time is the one that minimises the suffering of conscious beings. It isn’t to blindly follow the law, and neither is it to blindly follow some crude ascetic concept of religious purity by banning and avoiding all recreational substances. If such a thing could be summarised, we might say that it’s closer to taking the correct decision in every situation, despite the pressures and temptations to take the wrong one.

Some might argue that people have more important things to do than to use cannabis. That’s all well and good, but it isn’t a sufficient argument to make cannabis illegal. It’s entirely possible that some people use cannabis when they could have been doing something more edifying or productive. This would still not constitute a moral demand to attack these people through the criminal justice system.

Others might argue that the moral imperative lies not with the prospective cannabis user, but with society, who ought to act to make cannabis less widely available. But this, too, is an example of putting abstract rules ahead of a sober calculation of which legal arrangement leads to the least suffering. Punishing cannabis suppliers and users cannot be the way forward.

It can hardly be argued that setting the Police and the criminal justice system onto someone for growing or using cannabis is the morally correct thing to do. The effect of being arrested and potentially dragged through court is more suffering than could ever possibly be prevented by breaking a cannabis habit. If moral considerations are important, then we need to look for a less brutal solution.

The most morally sophisticated way of dealing with cannabis is to make it legal, and to use some of the money freed up by this to fix any problem that might arise. It is estimated that legalising cannabis could save even a small country like New Zealand up to $500 million per year. This would provide ample funding to every drug counselling service in the whole country.

If this was coupled with a cultural change that saw cannabis dependency treated like dependency for legal drugs, instead of a moral failure for which one must be punished, it might be possible to encourage people who were dependent to get help instead of intending to force them away from cannabis by using the Police and prisons. If there is a moral argument around cannabis, that is surely the solution.

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This article is an excerpt from The Case For Cannabis Law Reform, compiled by Vince McLeod and due for release by VJM Publishing in the summer of 2018/19.

VJMP Reads: Edward Bernays’s Propaganda I

Fittingly, the Propaganda Ministry turns its attention to the granddaddy of all propaganda literature, Propaganda by Edward Bernays. This short book was written by Bernays, a nephew of Sigmund Freud, by way of explaining his own prodigious insight into the manipulation of mass consciousness in the America of 1928.

He opens in the first chapter, “Organising Chaos”, with a stark declaration that the “organised habits and opinions” of the masses are formed according to the will of men who effectively form an unseen government. These men mold our minds and our tastes, mostly without us knowing who they even are.

Bernays contends that this is necessary, owing to the confusion ordinarily created by the democratic process, with its hundreds of different candidates. People would become confused if they were expected to understand the inner workings of all the issues that politicians are faced with. Therefore, the media narrows things down to a range that can be grasped.

Likewise, Bernays claims that society consents to have its choices relating to commercial products narrowed down by way of media propaganda. Because of reasons like these, there is a constant battle going on to capture the minds of individual people.

Bernays mentions that it may have been better to have had committees of wise men, who made decisions about the best way to do things. But we elected for the opposite of this. We have free competition of ideas, and in order for this to not lead to chaos we have to allow for leadership and propaganda to direct attention. This can be misused, but it is necessary nevertheless.

The advent of mass media has changed the way that the world is organised. At the time of the writing of the American Constitution, the village was the basic unit of society. Thanks to the mass media, it has become possible to be organised alongside people who live thousands of miles away.

Our society, instead of being divided by coherent geographical units, is now cleaved by all manner of social, political, ethnic, religious, racial or moral divisions. It is along the lines of these divisions that propaganda is spread. One influential group leader in any of these domains can soon have all the others in that domain following an idea.

Bernays labours the point that these cleavages are nonetheless comprised of individuals who exist in several groups, and therefore these groups are all interlaced. This is, in Bernays’s view, what society is. It is how democracy has chosen to simplify its decision making.

He summarises the book in the final paragraph of the first chapter. It is to explain how the minds of people are molded in modern democratic society, and how the manipulators of it go about their work.

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If you enjoyed reading this essay, you can get a compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2018 from Amazon for Kindle or Amazon for CreateSpace (for international readers), or TradeMe (for Kiwis). A compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2017 is also available.