1990s >> 1993 >> no-1061-january-1993
Letters: Hypocrisy about drugs
November saw what was billed as European Drug Prevention Week, yet another disingenuous smoke-screen perpetrated by governments and their statutory bodies. It will no doubt have had the effect of lowering any awareness of the genuine issues relating to excessive drug-use in society, whilst also diverting people from the social causes of drug-abuse.
A genuine drug-awareness week would have exposed the hypocrisy of the governments of the western world and their “War on Drugs” with which they target cocaine, opiates, marihuana and other recreational drugs. Simultaneously they support and protect the producers of alcohol and tobacco (the two biggest killers in Britain) and their markets. In return for this protection (subsidies to farmers, licences permitting the sale of products, etc.) they extort massive amounts of taxes. Protection rackets like these would be familiar to the Colombian cocaine cartels which have been so demonised by Kenneth Clarke and others.
Socialists should need little reminding that the moral values of a particular society often bear close relation to the economic interests of that society’s ruling class. This is demonstrated by current attitudes in legal and governmental circles to illegal and legal drugs. However, perhaps we should expect some changes in coming years as western businessmen and women and their respective governments realize that there are certain profits and tax revenues for all who are in a position to stake a claim. These kind of changes remain unlikely whilst governments use drugs as a handy scapegoat for the problems obvious to all in our blighted inner-cities.
Drug Prevention Weeks and similar campaigns such as Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No!” offer nothing to disaffected youngsters facing a life on the dole, or years of tedious wage-slavery. Is it any wonder that whilst life on the capitalist treadmill offers us so little many workers find solace in drugs? Those who then develop drug problems such as physical or psychological addiction have insult added to physical injury by their treatment by the authorities. Rather than supportative and sympathetic treatment for what are medical problems, drug users are more likely to be castigated as social deviants, criminals and outcasts.
Whilst the establishment of a socialist society would not eradicate all drug problems it would certainly offer people opportunities to engage in cooperative. socially-useful work and foster feelings of social solidarity. Such a society would be far removed from the competitive, individualistic capitalism of today in which so many workers find solace in both legal and illegal drugs.
Socialism and Religion
Very interested to see your endorsement of Tory Michael Caine’s criticism of all religion as cant (Sting in the Tail, November).
Some of us are not only Christians but Socialists as well, opposing war as an immoral pointless means of defending markets and supplies.
Some of us are Christians who believe that capitalism equals exploitation, making the rich richer at the expense of the poor, and that Socialism is the answer to this injustice. Christian Socialists condemn injustice committed by Christian and non-Christian.
Tarring all Christians with the same brush is akin to equating all socialists with supporters of Stalinism.
We still see an inconsistency in being committed to the establishment of a free, socialist society through the democratic self-organisation of the working class without leaders and believing that humanity needs to be saved by some supernatural being who supposedly lived and died 2000 years ago and will return some day to establish his kingdom on Earth— Editors.
Drop the “Great”
From time to time readers write in to the Socialist Standard objecting to the “Great” in the Party’s full title, Socialist Party of Great Britain.
A few years ago you correctly pointed out to one such critic that you no more thought Britain was actually a “Great” country, as opposed to other capitalist nations (all of them that is) than you thought Clapham High Street was actually higher up than other streets.
Unfortunately there will always be a number of readers of socialist literature who feel irritated or offended by your use of “Great”.
Since it does not matter. Great Britain and Britain being interchangeable terms, why not drop the “Great” from the Party’s title now?
In point of fact we now generally refer to ourselves simply as the Socialist Party, reserving our full title only in the international and historical contexts and for formal purposes— Editors.