We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Johann Hari: Everything We Know About the Drug War & Addiction is Wrong -- part 1 and part 2

Click here to access the 20 minute video interview and transcript for part 1, from Democracy Now!  

Click here to access the 11:13m video interview and transcript for part 2, from Democracy Now! 

In this two part series Ami Goodman and Juan Gonzalez interview British journalist Johann Hari, author of the new book, Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War of Drugs. He explains the dramatic headline based on his extensive investigations into the drug war and its background. 

While his discoveries about past drug policies and the "War of Drugs" is very good, I noticed that Goodman carefully avoided any followup of his comments about the relationship of drug problems to capitalism. Early in the interview Hari explicitly connected drug addiction to life in a capitalist society.

We have created a society where huge numbers of our fellow citizens can’t bear to be present in their lives and have to medicate themselves to get through the day with these drugs. You know, there’s nothing—a hypercapitalist, hyperindividualist society makes people feel like the rats in that first cage, that they’re cut off, they’re cut off from the source. I mean, there’s nothing—as Bruce explains, there’s nothing in human evolution that prepares us for being as isolated as the—you know, as the ideal citizen of a hypercapitalist, hyperconsumerist country like yours and mine.
This key observation by Hari received no followup questions by either interviewer and thus disappears from the discussion altogether. Instead, we are exposed to the tragedies of drug addicts past and present, and left with the impression that all that is needed are programs to make drugs freely available to drug addicts, to pay employers temporarily to train and hire drug addicts, and to set up programs to prevent child abuse: all liberal, or capitalist left-wing, causes.  

This is very typical of Goodman's Democracy Now! programs which discuss controversial topics but carefully deflects any implications the issues might have for the capitalist system. Amy Goodman and her program are beneficiaries of generous grants from wealthy foundations and charities whose purpose is precisely that.