VJMP Reads: Ted Kaczynski’s Unabomber Manifesto II

This reading carries on from here.

The next chapter in Industrial Society and Its Future is ‘The Power Process’. The next few chapters relate to this. Here, Kaczynski outlines his take on Nietzsche’s concept of the Will to Power. He states that “in order to avoid serious psychological problems, a human being needs goals whose attainment requires effort, and he must have a reasonable rate of success in attaining his goals.”

Consistent failure to achieve goals throughout life leads to depression and low self-esteem. This is a particular problem in modern society on account of that we have a lot of leisure time – all that is necessary to be wealthy is to learn some simple skill and then to hold down a job. As a consequence, we have developed surrogate goal-seeking activities.

Kaczynski was able to point out, even back in 1995, that many leftists support their pet political cause by means of finding a surrogate for their need to partake in the power process. These surrogate activities can be dangerous because they aren’t as satisfying as taking care of actual survival needs. As a result, they tend to be performed without end.

In the chapter ‘Autonomy’, Kaczynski points out how a sense of being able to operate autonomously is important for a satisfactory resolution of the power process. Individuals need to feel like they have had some input into how things are run, or at least need to be able to have some autonomy in how they carry out their orders. Absent this, we get “depression, anxiety, guilt, frustration, hostility, spouse or child abuse, insatiable hedonism, abnormal sexual behavior, sleep disorders, eating disorders, etc.”.

‘Sources of Social Problems’ is where Kaczynski relates all the previous to the problems currently plaguing our society. Acknowledging that “the world today seems to be going crazy”, he argues that primitive man was free of many of the stresses that currently plague us. However, he is not a Rousseau follower – he acknowledges that primitive life was tough in many regards. The main point is that human beings evolved to adapt to a radically different from the one we now live in.

Here Kaczynski is extremely insightful. He pinpoints the origin of many social problems as excessive population density, alienation from nature, speed of technological change (what Alvin Toffler called “future shock”) and breakdown of the normal small-scale communities like the family and village. The crowding and isolation from nature follow naturally from technological advancement. A modern industrial society has to tame and emasculate people in this manner in order to function.

Modern people feel like all change is imposed in them from the outside – this is the origin of their frustration and discontent. “the most important cause of social and psychological problems in modern society is the fact that people have insufficient opportunity to go through the power process in a normal way”. Leftism is a symptom of this deep malaise.

In the chapter ‘Disruption of the Power Process in Modern Society’, Kaczynski gets down to the evolutionary psychology behind our current malaise. Essentially the problem is that all of our physiological needs are easily met: all we have to do is to be obedient at work. This means that the power process is not being met. We have very little autonomy at work with which to achieve our goals.

Capitalism is partly to blame. “Advertising and marketing techniques have been developed that make many people feel they need things that their grandparents never desired or even dreamed of.” We put a lot of effort into chasing meaningless things, and consequently life feels meaningless. The power process can only be fulfilled by external goals, not concepts like “fulfillment”. This is hard because “Today people live more by virtue of what the system does FOR them or TO them than by virtue of what they do for themselves.”

Frustration also arises from the fact that only 500 to 1,000 people have any real power, and the rest just get things done to them. Primitive man, although his life is shorter, is better off in this regard because he is not helpless. Modern man can do anything he likes as long as it is unimportant; our behaviour is tightly regulated in all other matters. Primitive man has fulfilled his need to participate in the power process and therefore avoids many pathologies that affect modern people.

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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).

One Year of Rule by the Left Wing of the Capitalist Party: A Retrospective

The Labour faction of the Capitalist Party came to power at the end of 2017, taking over from the National faction of the Capitalist Party after that year’s general election. Even though everyone knew that the Capitalist Party would still be in charge, many believed that the ascendancy of the Labour faction would mean a new deal for the beleaguered Kiwi population. As this essay will recount, they proceeded to piss in the faces of the New Zealand working class in at least four major ways.

Despite a promise to not sign the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement, the Labour Government did so to much fanfare on the 9th March. Thousands of people marched against the TPPA in 2016, in New Zealand’s largest protests in recent years. Then Labour Leader Andrew Little was quoted at the time as saying that “Labour was opposed to the TPPA because compromises to New Zealand’s sovereignty were not justified by the ‘meagre economic gains’.”

Most people in the New Zealand working class oppose such trade agreements because neoliberalism makes it easier for capital to bid down their wages. The Capitalist Party, on the other hand, represents major moneyed interests, and they welcome such trade agreements because they shift the power equation even further away from labour and even further towards capital. Therefore, the Labour wing of the Capitalist Party is happy to see the wages of New Zealand workers fall, and they happily pissed in the faces of Kiwi workers by signing the TPPA.

Related to this betrayal was a second face-pissing, when the Labour Government raised the refugee quota to 1,500. It’s well known that these people won’t be dumped in neighbourhoods where the rich live. The sex, violence and property crimes that they bring in their wake will not affect the wealthy, who live far away from the ghettos. It is the working-class suburbs that will be forced to absorb these human crime waves, not the rich suburbs in which Labour and Green Party MPs live.

Those wealthy will, however, benefit from the downward pressure that refugees have on wages. The greater the national pool of cheap labour, the lower wages will fall, therefore the more profitable local capitalist enterprises become. If the Labour Party represented the working class, they would not have raised the refugee quota – this would have had the effect of restricting the inflow of cheap labour and thereby creating upward pressure on wages.

The lying about legalising medicinal cannabis comprises the third major display of disrespect on the part of the Labour Party towards the New Zealand working class over the past year. Poor people in New Zealand are desperate for a substance that can help ease the pain of living in this failed society, but which doesn’t have the terrible side-effects of alcohol or opiates. The Labour Party have refused to budge so much as an inch on this issue, acceding only to allowing people who are dying an extra defence in court against a cannabis possession charge.

Although a clear majority of New Zealanders want some kind of cannabis law reform, and although outlets like VJM Publishing have been arguing in favour of cannabis law reform for years (most seriously from 2012, with the publication of our Cannabis Activist’s Handbook), the Labour Party had eight MPs that voted against Chloe Swarbrick’s medicinal cannabis bill, which would have allowed sick Kiwis to grow a medicine at home.

A fourth face-pissing, delivered today, was Labour’s plan to ban vaping. Predictably, the person pushing it – Manukau East MP Jenny Salesa – was one of the eight backstabbing scum in the Labour caucus who voted against Swarbrick’s bill. It seems that authoritarianism against working class practices are entirely acceptable for the Labour Party.

The reason for the vaping ban is not because of health reasons – vaping has led to many people, particularly working-class people, quitting tobacco smoking. The reason for it is that there is no national vape juice producers’ or vape manufacturers’ association to bribe the Capitalist Party, therefore the interests of the tobacco manufacturers come foremost. Unless you are in control of a large amount of money, the New Zealand Capitalist Party will not pass laws in your favour, and will be more than happy to pass laws to your disfavour if a large moneyed interest tells them to.

All this amounts to a lot of disrespect shown by the Labour Party towards New Zealand’s working class. The way that one can tell that the Labour Party is nothing more than the major left-wing faction of the Capitalist Party is because they have not acted in the favour of the New Zealand working class over their one year in charge. New Zealand’s capitalist class, on the other hand, have benefit greatly from the TPPA, from the cheap labour of “refugees”, and from retarding cannabis law reform and prohibiting vaping for the sake of of their investments in alcohol producers and pharmaceutical companies.

In summary, the past year of rule by the left wing of the Capitalist Party has gone much like the preceding nine years of rule by the right wing of the Capitalist Party. The Labour Party has, in the vast bulk of instances, taken measures that benefit wealthy capitalist interests at the expense of the New Zealand population, in particular the local working class.

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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 Slave Morality is the Future of the World

Master and slave morality is not much more than the alpha/beta positioning of primates on a dominance hierarchy. Master morality comes naturally to primates at the top of a dominance hierarchy, and slave morality comes naturally to those at the bottom. This essay makes an argument for the inevitability of a horrific future world, in which slave morality has come to dominate.

The relentless growth of our societies has led to a problem, and it’s getting worse. Increasing medicinal technology means more people survive to reproductive age, and the world population has swollen. The larger the dominance hierarchy becomes, the greater the number of subordinate positions – but the number of dominant positions doesn’t really increase, because ultimately there is only one of those. This means that, as a dominance hierarchy grows in number, it gets extended past the bottom.

If you are in a war party of 15 men, you have a small but real chance of being the ultimate authority yourself, and if you are not then you could easily become such by displaying greater competence or courage than the other 14. If you are in a tribe of 150 people, you have less than a 1% chance of being the ultimate authority, and now it’s probably not just a matter of fighting ability but also of intelligence, which you may or may not possess. If you are in a clan of, say, 1,500 people, you have essentially no chance. The clan will have a chieftain, and that position is probably hereditary.

Groups of 1,500 people were extremely rare before agriculture enabled large populations to settle down. When this happened, however, it became possible for there to be people who had essentially no chance of ever being at the top of the dominance hierarchy – no matter their personal qualities. Once there were city-states of 15,000 people or more, contesting the dominance hierarchy became so complicated and so sophisticated that it became its own specialised endeavour, and we called this politics, and the people who practiced it politicians.

Slave morality, as Nietzsche recounted in The Genealogy of Morals, came about when some of the people who had no hope of getting off the bottom of the dominance hierarchy became so resentful that they started to extol the personal qualities that had landed them there. There is no slave morality in a war band of 15 men, because anyone sufficiently strong can get to the top. In a city of 1,000,000 – especially when many are literal slaves captured in war – slave morality is commonplace, and this is why degeneracy inevitably follows.

One problem with the modern world is that this basic dominance hierarchy is now so extensive, being global and comprised of billions, that it’s no longer contestable.

If I, as a New Zealander, wanted to overturn my local dominance hierarchy, I would be presented with a number of great problems. First of all, I would have to overcome the power of the local Police forces to keep the peace and to maintain their version of order. This would require at least a dozen men armed with automatic rifles who were willing to use them in defence of whatever ideology I was offering. Finding a sufficiently persuasive ideology would be extremely difficult.

Even if one succeeded here, another task would arise. The problem with overwhelming the local Police is that the New Zealand Government, upon recognising that the Police were insufficient, would send in the Army. This would involve, potentially, a regiment of riflemen with machineguns and close air cover. Defeating a force like this would require a vast amount of territory and population. An area at least the size of Canterbury would be necessary.

Even if one succeeded here, i.e. even if the New Zealand Army was unable to bring you to submission, your actions in fending them off would be considered a civil war. It turns out that the British armed forces are constitutionally obliged to intervene in the case of a civil war in New Zealand – New Zealand is, after all, ultimately a possession of the Crown (like Britain itself).

So getting that far up the dominance hierarchy would mean that you have to come to terms with a naval power that has submarines that carry over a dozen intercontinental ballistic missiles each. Outside of a fantasy novel, this has no chance of happening.

Therefore, more people inevitably means more resentment, as it means more people who can never get to the top. In a system the size of ours, the prospect of any self-direction is minimal, and therefore resentment has become the natural state of affairs. Some moral values, in particularly the value of inclusiveness and diversity, have become normalised on account of this shift to slave morality.

What this has meant is the rise and rise of slave morality. Where there used to be a small and resentful underclass, the proportion of people who effectively have no chance of rising to the top of the dominance hierarchy now comprises the vast bulk of our society. The actual rulers are selected from a minuscule sliver of the population, and the number of people that these rulers actually listen to is also tiny. Encompassing this tiny number are heaving masses who essentially have no say at all in the destinies of their group.

As the populations of cities continue to surge, this wave of increasing slave morality will only grow in fervour. Already we have seen the socially corrosive effects of mass resentment on our culture. Current trends suggest that the human population will continue to expand, and cities will continue to absorb the excess, which means that slave morality will become ever more the default way of dealing with things.

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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).

The Case For Cannabis: Cannabis Does Not Cause Schizophrenia

One of the most common pieces of folk wisdom regarding cannabis is that it causes schizophrenia. For some reason, the one thing that every muggle seems to know about cannabis is that, if you smoke too much of it, you go crazy. Like almost everything else that muggles think they know about cannabis, this factoid is bollocks, as this examination will show.

The reason why it is commonly believed that cannabis causes schizophrenia is because of the large number of schizophrenics who smoke cannabis. It is believed that up to 25% of schizophrenics have a “cannabis use disorder”, and there is certainly a strong association between the two, but it isn’t because cannabis causes psychosis.

Most schizophrenics could have told you many years ago (as we did in the Cannabis Activist’s Handbook) that cannabis is medicinal for people with mental illnesses. There is currently much interest in the use of CBD (cannabidiol) medicine in the treatment of psychosis. This is also mentioned here. A Schizophrenia Bulletin article stated that “Interest in the therapeutic potential of CBD stemmed from evidence that it has broadly opposite effects to that of THC.”

The most recent evidence suggests that cannabidiol has the opposite effect of THC in many ways. CBD appears to reduce positive symptoms (e.g. hallucinations) in schizophrenics, which again testifies to its medicinal qualities. It doesn’t cause them – indeed, “even high doses of oral CBD do not cause psychological, psychomotor, cognitive, or physical effects that are characteristic for THC.”

This recent research suggests that some of the cannabinoids in the cannabis plant, particularly CBD, have a calming and soothing effect. This effect is not necessarily limited to people with mental illnesses, but for people with mental illnesses this calming and soothing effect is certainly medicinal. Once the medicinal benefits of CBD are understood, it becomes obvious that much of the reason for the association between psychosis and cannabis is because psychotics find that ingesting the CBD in cannabis alleviates some of the suffering that comes with psychosis.

This study found that it was much more likely that predictors of schizophrenia led to cannabis use than that cannabis use led to schizophrenia; in other words, underlying factors that tended to cause schizophrenia also tended to cause cannabis use. Of some interest is that schizophrenia itself is a predictor of future cannabis use, which supports the idea that the nature of the suffering caused by the condition happens to be alleviated by cannabis. Indeed, cannabis use itself is a heritable trait.

Supporting this was a study that found that “cannabis use was genetically correlated with a wide range of behaviors and personality traits, such as alcohol use and dependence, increased risk taking, and decreased conscientiousness, as well as a variety of mental health disorders.”

So there is mounting evidence that underlying psychological factors explain much of the cannabis-psychosis connection. It’s known that genes heavily influence many personality traits, such as openness and degree of neophilia/neophobia, and it’s likely that such qualities lead naturally to both schizophrenia and to cannabis use. Personality characteristics that correlate with developing schizophrenia also correlate with future cannabis use.

Yet another study found that executive function in schizophrenics was superior if they were cannabis users. Examples of executive function are problem solving, working memory and cognitive flexibility. This ties in with the argument, made at length elsewhere (such as here), that the use of cannabis keeps the mind young and plastic. This may be especially true in the case of schizophrenics because of possible neurodegenerative effects of schizophrenia.

Many schizophrenics are able to tell you that cannabis grants the ability to set aside certain recurring thought patterns, particularly those of the brooding or obsessive variety. It is often possible to get stuck in thought loops and ruminate if one does not have a substance that facilitates novel and original thought patterns. Something about the nature of schizophrenia makes brooding and obsessive thoughts more likely, and so it’s apparent that a substance with the effects mentioned in the studies above will be of benefit to schizophrenics, and that this will cause them to use it more.

So the reality is that cannabis does not cause schizophrenia, but that factors associated with schizophrenia are also associated with cannabis use, and these underlying reasons are why schizophrenics use so much cannabis. In particular, a certain kind of mind has qualities that make then prone to both developing a cannabis habit and developing schizophrenia. We can guess at what some of these qualities are: no doubt openness and creativity are at the forefront, as is an early childhood marked by abuse and neglect.

Most crucially, it’s now more apparent than ever that cannabidiol is highly medicinal for people with schizophrenia. This is the main reason for the association between schizophrenia and cannabis use – using cannabis brings relief from the suffering that comes with conditions like schizophrenia. People with schizophrenia have long known this, which is why they continue to use it at high rates despite intense discouragement from doctors and politicians.

Not only is the argument that cannabis causes schizophrenia false, but the opposite is true. Elements of the cannabis plant act as anti-psychotics that alleviate the symptoms of psychotic disorders. Cannabis should be made legal so that those who benefit from the anxiolytic and antipsychotic properties of, e.g., cannabidiol, can get access to it for the sake of alleviating the suffering associated with their condition. This is especially true for schizophrenics, who seem to benefit greatly from CBD medicine.

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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: Ted Kaczynski’s Unabomber Manifesto I

Having completed our reading of David Seymour’s Own Your Future, we now turn away from neoliberalism and have a look at anarcho-primitivism. The next subject of the VJMP Reads column will be Industrial Society And Its Future, otherwise known as the Unabomber Manifesto, by Ted Kaczynski.

Sent to the Washington Post in June of 1995, alongside a threat to kill more people with mailbombs if it was not published, the 35,000-word manifesto is broken down into 232 numbered paragraphs. These are grouped in short chapters, each with a subject heading.

The first of these groups is the Introduction. Kaczynski wastes no time shocking the reader: the first sentence is “The Industrial Revolution and its consequences have been a disaster for the human race.” This section pulls no punches: Kaczynski is adamant that the effect of industrial society has been to increase the amount of human suffering, and that it will only get worse as society develops. The only solution is a revolution, which may or may not be violent.

Kaczynski then moves on to the psychology of modern leftism. He writes that “One of the most widespread manifestations of the craziness of our world is leftism,” which is curious if one thinks that this was written in before 1995, when ‘trans’ meant transvestite. What underlies modern leftism, Kaczynski states, are feelings of inferiority and oversocialisation. This ties in with the idea, expressed elsewhere by Nietzsche among others (such as VJM Publishing), that leftism is essentially a slave morality.

To elucidate further, these feelings of inferiority are a group of qualities such as self-hatred, low self-esteem, defeatism etc. that are not only shared by modern leftists but which have collectively come to shape the course of history. Kaczynski is extremely insightful when he points out that the people who most angrily take offence at politically incorrect statements are those from privileged families. Leftists are also dishonest. They are outraged when a Western country performs a certain action but are indifferent when a Third World or socialist country does so.

Leftists identify intensely with anyone weak, repellent or otherwise inferior, hence they take offence on their behalf. They hate anything good and successful. This makes them feel like losers, so that they have no faith in their own personal ability to provide. As a consequence, they become collectivists. They hate science and rationality because these mindsets consider some ideas superior and others inferior. Leftists hate that, because of their fear of being judged inferior. They hate IQ tests for similar reasons.

Oversocialisation is an extreme form of the process that psychologists describe when they explain how children learn to conform their behaviour to the demands of society. The difficulty with the current world, Kaczynski has it, is that has become so complicated that no-one can act morally anymore. Oversocialisation is the process whereby leftists, “In order to avoid feelings of guilt, […] continually have to deceive themselves about their own motives and find moral explanations for feelings and actions that in reality have a non-moral origin.”

Oversocialised leftists tend to be intellectuals or members of the upper-middle class. What they like to do is to take accepted moral principles, declare them as their own, and then accuse society of violating them. Leftists do not rebel by violating society’s principles, but they express their hostility by accusing society of not living up to them. Their hypocrisy is evident when they claim to support black people, but then insist that these black people live up to the values of the industrial-technological society that imprisons them.

Today’s society seeks to socialise us more than any previous society. As a consequence, oversocialisation has affected us more than ever before. These problems of the leftist are problems of our entire society in microcosm.

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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).

Bob McCoskrie Is An Absolute Fuckwit

Giving Bob McCoskrie a national platform to rant about “dope” and “Big Marijuana” is like giving your granddad a national platform to rant about Islanders after he’s had a few sherries on Boxing Day. Stuff did it anyway. This column will have a look at McCoskrie’s screed of fuckwittery, with the intent of responding to his shamelessly dishonest rhetoric with some facts.

One can guess from the title of the article (“Legalised dope is a licence for Big Marijuana to exploit young people”) that it is going to be crudely dismissive of the wishes of the New Zealand cannabis community. To have an article with the word “dope” in the headline is like publishing an anti-immigration opinion piece that had the word “niggers” in the headline. He has blatantly chosen the most inflammatory possible term to describe cannabis, one that associates cannabis use with brain damage.

In this piece, McCoskrie recounts his observations from a recent trip to Colorado, one that he undertook to “see first-hand the effects of legalising marijuana”.

His second paragraph mentions “a money-making industry of lobbyists and special interest groups putting profits over evidence-based policy protecting public health and safety, and ready to flout and challenge any regulations,” with the implication that this describes the industrial cannabis lobby, but this description more aptly fits the alcohol and timber industry lobbyists who agitated to make cannabis illegal in the first place.

McCoskrie gets hysterical about the high THC content of the cannabis products he spies in the Colorado “dope shops”, but the facts are that a high THC product actually makes the product safer. Like the fuckwit he is, McCoskrie is thinking about THC as if it was alcohol, so that a high-THC cannabis edible is somehow functionally equivalent to an absinthe or similar.

No-one has ever died of a THC overdose, so comparing it to high-proof alcohol is nonsense. Unlike alcohol, which kills people in New Zealand every weekend, cannabis doesn’t kill anyone. The most dangerous thing about cannabis is probably the long-term effects of regularly smoking it – and these are completely avoided by the edibles and vaporises that McCoskrie rants about. In other words, what he is railing against are the signs of people using cannabis more safely and responsibly to minimise harm.

Some of the paragraphs in this article are “Old man yells at cloud” level, and the reader can’t help but to wonder if McCoskrie has some kind of senile dementia that has caused him to see things that aren’t there. He decries people in Colorado “popping a handful of Gummi Bears containing 10 times the legal limit of THC per serving,” but there is no legal limit of THC per serving, any more than there is a legal limit of caffeine per serving. The sentence is simply nonsense.

McCoskrie is so hysterical that at some points in his screed he becomes completely detached from reality. The worst example is when he cites the existence of cannabis suppositories as proof that cannabis producers are deliberately targeting their product at the young. In fact, the vast majority of people who use cannabis suppositories are elderly ones who cannot use other route of administration because of the complications of old age. Perhaps McCoskrie should have tried a few while he was over there?

It’s noteworthy that at no point in his travels through Colorado did McCoskrie see anything untoward happen on account of cannabis legalisation. He talks about the terrible panoply of cannabis-related products as if it were Weimar Republic pimps selling children on a Berlin street, but can’t recall seeing any notable level of crime in Colorado or any homelessness in the streets, or any sign of social decay. This is striking, considering that the state legalised cannabis four years ago, which is easily enough time for anything of that nature to have occurred. McCoskrie is just a wowser.

No anti-cannabis rant would be complete without employing the slippery slope fallacy, and McCoskrie duly gives us the line “they will want legalisation not just of this drug but all drugs – cocaine, heroin, P”. By this he somehow draws a connection between people who want access to medicinal cannabis and people who go on methamphetamine benders, when the two people could hardly be more different.

It’s exactly this kind of rhetoric conflating people who need medicinal cannabis with reckless criminals that fuels the War on Drugs, which means that McCoskrie must share some blame for the suffering caused by cannabis prohibition. It’s because of people like him that people like Helen Kelly have to suffer needlessly as they die.

Predictably, McCoskrie gets savaged in the comments below the article. What he is writing might have been considered mainstream conservatism 40 years ago, but now it goes down about as well as other conservative ideas from 40 years ago, like whipping up hysteria about white people and Maoris sleeping with each other. It’s apparent from reading this article that McCoskrie doesn’t have the faintest idea what he’s talking about, and is panicking for no good reason.

The only thing this piece can be compared to is a sermon by a Third World religious fundamentalist, who has travelled to the West and seen dancing and intermingling between unmarried youths and shit their pants. McCoskrie is a religious fundamentalist – his Family First lobby group want to recriminalise prostitution and further restrict alcohol. Essentially, they are theocrats, and McCoskrie wants to prohibit cannabis for the same reason that the rulers of places like Iran and Saudi Arabia do.

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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).

The Case For Cannabis: Cannabis Is Not A Gateway Drug

A common argument for cannabis prohibition asserts that cannabis is a gateway drug, in that using it inevitably leads people to using harder and harder drugs. The idea is that we need to keep cannabis illegal so as to keep people off the pathway that leads people onto truly destructive substances. As this article will examine, there is a modicum of truth to the gateway effect, but not in the way it’s usually presented.

The usual way that the gateway drug theory is portrayed is as follows. An individual tries cannabis for the first time, and experiences a cannabis high. This is a pleasurable sense of peace and euphoria that the user decides they want to have again. So they try cannabis again, and have a good time again. So they use it some more, and soon find that they need more and more of it to get the same level of hit.

Eventually the user is addicted to cannabis. After a while, cannabis is no longer able to do the job. At this point the drug user naturally comes to seek out harder drugs, such as methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin, in the hope of getting a chance to relive the original amazing high that cannabis gave them. For some reason, the idea that cannabis use leads to heroin use is particularly prevalent in some circles, especially among the elderly (which reveals that the genesis of the gateway drug theory is in old-fashioned superstition).

The logic is that cannabis prohibition should prevent people from getting exposed to that initial cannabis high, by way of making the substance harder to get hold of. The harder it is to get hold of, the fewer people get addicted, and so the fewer people who seek out really hard and destructive drugs. Therefore, cannabis prohibition protects people from the harmful effects of, for example, methamphetamine or heroin addiction.

The reality is that the gateway effect is a phenomenon that is caused entirely by cannabis prohibition, and which would mostly disappear if there was cannabis law reform, except for in the case of people who have a deathwish.

Many drugs are illegal. Of those, cannabis is particularly badly suited to serving as a contraband substance. It has a strong smell, is bulky and doesn’t generate much raw profit if one considers how much time and expense goes into cultivating, transporting and storing it. Most other contraband substances are much easier to deal with and more profitable, especially those of the powdery kind.

For this reason, many unscrupulous cannabis dealers use cannabis as a kind of lure, by which customers can be induced to buy more profitable (and/or addictive) substances. It’s common in New Zealand for cannabis dealers to suddenly “run out” of cannabis when a particular customer comes around, only to offer a hit of methamphetamine by way of compensation. If the customer decides that they do like it (and this is very common), the dealer is right there to sell them a point bag.

When the would-be cannabis user is then hooked on methamphetamine, they are much more profitable than they would have been if the only other option was to sell them an ounce of weed every two weeks or so. A person who is into methamphetamine is able to burn through thousands of dollars in a week. A dealer can potentially make twenty times as much money selling methamphetamine to a person than they could selling cannabis.

So the idea that cannabis is a gateway drug is untrue. There is such a thing as the gateway effect, but this only exists because of prohibition, in particular because of the opportunity that prohibition creates for drug dealers to get naive cannabis-seeking customers hooked on harder drugs. Far from being a gateway drug which leads to people recklessly doing coke, crack, meth, smack and anything else they can find in search of a buzz, cannabis has shown promise as an exit drug for conditions like heroin addiction and even alcoholism.

If cannabis was legal, people who want to use it could simply go to a cannabis cafe or cannabis store, buy their sativa or indica as desired, and then go home without being exposed to methamphetamine or heroin or anything else. A clerk at a cannabis store is no more likely to offer the customers methamphetamine than a bartender would. After all, they already have a steady and secure income through selling a legal drug to a set market, so why would they want to screw that up?

The truth is that cannabis prohibition forces people into the arms of criminals. This is the true causal origin of the gateway effect. Repealing cannabis prohibition would mean that the people who want to buy cannabis don’t need to encounter criminals in order to so, and consequently never get exposed to a dealer offering to sell them a truly destructive drug.

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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.

The New Zealand Student Media is Just as Gutless as the Mainstream Media

It’s rare for a Kiwi to look towards the New Zealand media establishment with reverence or even anything approaching respect, on account of that the profession is little more than a bunch of corporate whores cheerleading for neoliberalism. Even so, it is sometimes astonishing to learn quite how gutless the New Zealand media is, as local anarchist Rick Giles found out earlier this week.

The depths to which the New Zealand yellow press is willing to sink can be observed by the treatment of Giles by Auckland radio station bFm. bFM had Giles on their live show, where he was interviewed by Laura Kvigstad. The segment was called “Anarchy in Aotearoa” and featured Kvigstad and Giles talking about Giles’s interest in anarchy and some of the realisations that had led him to anarchism, and some of the things that anarchism had led him to believe.

This was a part of a wider series called “Wire Worry Week”, which was a week at bFM dedicated to “focusing on the concept of anti government; expanding upon how movements that have worked against governmental systems have influence on the current state of the world.” Giles, as the man behind AnarKiwi, was invited onto the show to speak freely about his political opinions. Readers can listen for themselves to decide whether Giles said anything genuinely worthy of specific repudiation.

In response to – presumably – the shrieking of upper-middle-class Social Justice Warriors all over Auckland, bFM made the following statement:

NB: Following the broadcast of this interview it has come to 95bFM’s attention that the subject of this interview, Rick Giles, espouses political and historical views that the station finds particularly unsavoury. We will not be removing or editing the interview, but wish to make it clear to all listeners that 95bFM does not support or align itself with the personal politics of the interviewee. Our decision to provide Mr. Giles a platform during a week-long discussion on anti-government movements was one that, with hindsight, would not have survived greater scrutiny and vetting process. The station, its volunteers and wider associates do not wish to endorse Mr. Giles’ particular brand of historical revisionism in any way, shape or form and we sincerely apologise for any concern or aggravation caused via our negligence in this case.

It is an incredibly pathetic measure for a radio station to go to these lengths to repudiate a New Zealand intellectual who is guilty only of wrongthink. So gutless are bFM that even when they decide to specifically give a platform to the counterculture they can’t bring themselves to allow alternative points of view to pass without condemnation. Even worse, they are not even decent enough to say exactly which of Giles’s political opinions were so heinous as to be worthy of deplatforming.

What’s hilarious is that you know if Hillary Clinton wanted to appear on bFM to speak to the students of Auckland, they would fall over themselves to provide her a platform, despite that she has killed at least 2,500 more people than Giles, and that’s only counting one of her many crimes. After all, they’re happy to happy to give Peter Dunne a platform, despite the fact that the lies he told about cannabis and about synthetic drugs are responsible for the deaths of hundreds of young Kiwis.

The really terrible part about all of this is that bFM, and by extension the University of Auckland, have failed in their primary purpose of being a university. The primary purpose of a university is to provide a safe space for free-thinkers to discuss ideas that might otherwise be too controversial to discuss in public, on account of that the public would chimp out upon being asked to consider (not accept, just consider) some of the assertions that are necessary to discuss such things.

Apparently the fashionable trend in mainstream media circles right now is to take the exact opposite approach to VJM Publishing; we believe that dialogue is the way to destroy ignorance. The mainstream media don’t care about ignorance; they believe that destroying dialogue and virtue signalling is the way to greater profits. bFM, by making a statement repudiating Giles, are simply learning how to be good, obedient corporate whores. This is, after all, what they will be after graduation.

Part of being a corporate media whore is deplatforming anyone not part of the Establishment (such as Giles) while happily platforming anyone who is part of the Establishment, no matter how many people have died as a result of their negligence or dishonesty (such as Dunne). bFM are willing to give a platform to a Government agent whose ham-fisted cruelty caused New Zealanders to die, but Giles is “particularly unsavoury”.

What bFM did to Rick Giles is a microscopic example of what the mainstream media does to New Zealand all day, every single day. They take uncontroversial ideas, and they sell them as rebellious and controversial so that the desire of some individuals to portray themselves as free-thinkers can be satisfied. In every case, genuinely controversial ideas are ignored as “loony” and their purveyors deplatformed, as happened to Giles. They are a pack of absolute fucking whores, and the alt-media will continue to be a thorn in their side.

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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 XII (incl. Summary)

This reading carries on from here.

The eleventh, and final, chapter in Own Your Future is ‘Treaty of Waitangi’. Given eight pages at the back of the book, it’s hard to imagine that Seymour takes this issue very seriously. One gets the feeling that it will be a quick virtue signal with one quiet mention of the Resource Management Act and that would be it.

He starts with a story about how the elders at the Te Tii Marae preferred him to the Green Party MPs at a Waitangi gathering on account of that he knew his Ngapuhi genealogy. Dismissing the Green MPs as “up themselves”, he is very much the hero of this story.

True to form, he then launches into the virtue signalling, being careful to place a macron over the a in ‘Maori’ and pushing a warm, fuzzy, globohomo vibe about how much he loves Maori culture. Seymour comes across as revoltingly dishonest and shallow here, considering that his ACT Party supported the Fifth National Government in its destruction of the Maori people. Politicians demand to be judged on their words, not their actions, like all hypocrites.

What Seymour writes here isn’t unreasonable on the face of it. It’s certainly true that many of the land confiscations made by the New Zealand Government were done so on spurious grounds, often outright false, and it is not reasonable for the beneficiaries of this process to get away with it scot free.

The problem is that the same logic can justify a great many other things. What Seymour and his kind like to call “profit”, others like to call “wage theft”. So if it’s true that “if you take something that is not yours, you should give it back” – which is apparently an ACT Party principle – then are the New Zealand working class owed some of their past production that was taken off them in the form of company profits? Why are wages dwindling relative to the cost of living? Seymour doesn’t seems to care about that side of things.

Indeed, the first mention of the RMA comes four pages in. Here, Seymour objects to the idea that local iwis might be allowed to object to land developments under the RMA. This, he cautions, leads to the possibility of Maoris being given a special class of citizenship. So Seymour is happy to virtue signal about how important Maoris and Maori culture are, he just doesn’t want to pay anything extra for it.

Laying down his neoliberal credentials harder than anywhere else in the book, Seymour declares that “New Zealand at its best” can be found at a citizenship swearing-in ceremony, where a bunch of people from other nationalities can be found “uniting as true Kiwis”. Not for Seymour the argument that a true Kiwi is someone who has roots in the country, or someone who can tell stories about his ancestors and their childhoods in the country. Kiwiness is merely another commodity to be bought and sold.

We could bet money that Seymour would profoundly disagree with this article about how being a Kiwi is a matter of the depth of one’s roots in the country.

He is, however, correct when he points that that Maoris have not actually benefit from all the special treatment of the last decades, and in some major measures (such as home ownership) have actually lost ground. He further makes a good point when he mentions that the problems faced by Maoris are the same problems as faced by all New Zealanders to a greater or lesser extent.

In summary, Own Your Future is a terrifying vision of how money and virtue signalling can matter more than heritage, blood links or any other basis for solidarity. David Seymour is the High Priest of New Zealand Neoliberalism, proudly carrying on the ACT tradition of valuing money more than people. He follows Rodney Hide, Richard Prebble and Roger Douglas in the ideology that everything in the nation can be packaged up and bought and sold for cash, people just as well as timber and lamb chops.

In this sense, he is unrepentant: he believes that New Zealand has a moral obligation to take care of foreign refugees out of general taxation money, but has no such moral obligation to take care of its own poor, even though many of them were created by the horrors of neoliberalism, the very same political philosophy he espouses in this book. Own Your Future stands out, even by the standards of political treatises, as an example of absolutely shameless virtue signalling.

Despite this, he makes several very good points about government overreach, especially with regards to its failed War on Drugs. He isn’t wrong when he points out that unnecessary taxation sucks energy unnecessarily from people, and although Seymour could never be a Georgist, he is correct when he labours the link between capitalism, innovation and prosperity. Perhaps, for that reason, there is merit in having an ACT Party seat in Parliament.

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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).

The Case For Cannabis: Prohibition Raises Prices But Also Raises Incentive to Supply

One of the most common arguments for cannabis prohibition is a microeconomic one. The idea is that making cannabis illegal makes it more expensive, which means less people can afford to use it, which means the harmful effects of cannabis use are minimised. The logic is that people won’t be able to afford to harm themselves. As this article will show, this argument, common though it is, is mistaken.

If one assumes that cannabis use is inherently harmful, then one appears to have a clear-cut case for reducing the amount of suffering in the world by making it illegal (that cannabis is not inherently harmful is another argument, and will not be considered here). Making it illegal means that only the black market is able to supply it, which means that the end user has to pay a risk premium that takes into account the cost of Police harassment of the cannabis grower, and the inefficiencies that this harassment introduces into the growing process.

This risk premium makes cannabis more expensive, because the end user has to pay for all of the product confiscated by Police, or stolen by other criminal actors, or which was never grown because the size of the grow room was limited by the need to keep it clandestine. All of these factors serve to drive the price of cannabis up, which – according to the law of supply and demand – serves to reduce cannabis use.

The mathematics checks out. However, the core economic argument that cannabis prohibition reduces harm by disincentivising people from buying cannabis falls down, for a number of reasons.

It is true that prices fall sharply when cannabis becomes legal. The average price of an ounce in Colorado is NZD259, which means that it has fallen almost by half since legalisation took place. Websites that track the price of cannabis across various American states show that the price has fallen as low as NZD100 an ounce in places like Washington, where it is both legal and where the ability to supply is relatively unconstrained.

It isn’t true that this fall in prices leads to more use. Surveys in Washington have found that teen rates of cannabis use remained the same after cannabis legalisation. It is also noteworthy that teen rates of cannabis use in Holland are unremarkable in any sense. These surveys reveal that cannabis prohibition does not deter use.

In any case, the most important question to be asked about the high prices of cannabis caused by prohibition is this: who is getting all the money? In the same way that alcohol prohibition made Al Capone and his fellow Chicago gangsters rich, so too does cannabis prohibition funnel consumer wealth into the hands of the black market. This inevitably means criminal gangs, most of whom are deeply unpleasant people who are using the money to fund enterprises that genuinely do cause mass human suffering.

Once criminal gangs start getting involved in the cannabis trade, it means that there is going to be a lot more violence than if they weren’t involved. The black market means fighting for drug turf, which means intimidating other members of the black market away from certain territories through violence and the threat of violence. It means murders, kidnappings, gun violence, and all manner of other low-rent behaviours that lower everyone’s quality of life.

High cannabis prices incentivise all of this. The higher the cannabis prices are, the stronger the pull of the black market for cannabis on the various shady operators out there. Not only that, but the higher the stakes, the more ruthlessly people are willing to behave in order to secure a share of the profits. No-one is going to kill anyone else over the right to sell cannabis for $75 an ounce.

So the fact is that, in the final analysis, the economic equation balances out. The higher the price of cannabis, the lower the demand, true – but the higher the price, the higher the incentive to get into the black market opportunities for cannabis. If you are a criminal, and you don’t want to work, then growing some cannabis to sell to 15-year olds at $400 an ounce seems like an attractive proposition. If those 15-year olds are happy to wait until they’re 18 to buy it legally at $150 an ounce, well then you’re shit out of luck.

Cheap, legal cannabis would take a large slice of the black market, and render all criminal action in that slice uneconomic. This has several advantages, the foremost of which is that criminals can’t make as much money out of cannabis as before and therefore do not dominate the market. Another advantage is that people will be consuming a much higher grade of cannabis once it’s grown by professional horticulturalists and not gang members, and they will be able to do so more safely.

Cannabis ought to be made legal in order to disincentivise criminal actors from moving into the black market for it. Cheap, mass-produced, high-quality cannabis will take away the profit from what is currently a black market enterprise, which will have the effect of removing most of the criminal element from the cannabis trade. This will have the overall effect of reducing crime and suffering, because the criminal element causes more suffering than is prevented by cannabis being too expensive for some people to harm themselves with.

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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.