Refining opinions: Legalising drugs, Part I

As promised (or did I?), better posts coming up. What’s the point, you may ask?

Rather selfish, for now. I like to hear myself talk (even though I don’t especially like to re-read what I’ve written) and I think I could potentially profit from some thought-provoking counterarguments. Not that I think any of you might have a point (I’ll look to the Ayatollah Rand and – potentially – Mr Rothbard and Mr Mises for that) but you can still help me prepare for the fights coming up. Obviously, I’m so undeniably correct that I don’t expect much coming this way. 😉

Anyway, I’ve done most of this in some other form multiple times already but this might turn into some kind of proper reference – and a guide to my views. Commenting on news articles is indeed rather pointless and I lack the time so I’ll concentrate on fundamentals.

First up: legalising drugs. All drugs. Yes.

To fellow libertarians this won’t sound very daring – so you’re allowed to skip this one. And any other post in this vein. Even though I’d appreciate it if you didn’t and helped me see where I’m missing something or forgetting about an important argument.

Off we go. I’ll split this into various parts so as to keep it readable (and to offer me the opportunity to write on an issue more than just once). I’ll beginn this one with the most fundamental point that I can come up with:

The state has no right to tell people what they can and can’t put into their bodies.

I’m not gonna start with discussing whether or not actually taking drugs is a terribly good idea (I’m leaning towards yes, currently) but this is at the very heart of the discussion. What justification is there to tell people what they can and can’t put into their own bodies, by their own free will?

The obvious answer to the question is: “someone else will be forced to pay the bill”. That just shows how horribly flawed the system is and says absolutely nothing about drug use. Sure, socialized health care, government handouts to drug addicts – all these costs might conceivably offer some kind of justification for state intervention. The problem though: all these state interventions shouldn’t be there in the first place. They directly contradict what a free society ought to be about – people making choices and living with the consequences.

Yes, you might become addicted to drugs and yes drugs might fuck up your body real bad (even though I’ll argue in another post that this would actually be less dangerous under a system where drugs are legal) – that’s a risk you take when choosing to use drugs. Do the necessary homework, take the necessary precautions and you should be fine. And even if you aren’t – isn’t that your own fault? Yes, it quite obviously is. You are the one that decided to take drugs so you are the one that needs to man up and live with the consequences. Obviously, you have no right to make society pay for the bills.

The more general argument, though, is nanny statism at its very worst. Someone, probably even a majority, thinks “it’s bad for you” and therefore you shouldn’t do it. And because you shouldn’t do it, there “oughta be a law” that prohibits it. Again, you could call this all kinds of dirty words – fascism, totalitarianism, collectivism. It’s the belief that your life belongs to someone else, that society has a claim to what you do with your own life. That you need to be told what to do because it’s for your own best. That someone else knows what’s better and that this someone gets to make that decision for everyone else.

I don’t think I need to point out where that kind of reasoning leads – the real world provides enough examples. Outlawing smoking in restaurants, pubs, clubs and pretty much everywhere else. Government money for convincing people “not to drink”. Outlawing real, proper light bulbs. Limiting the food choices people have (think PETA and their approach to eating meat). The list goes on and on.

I’m pretty sure you can tell where I’m going with this. It’s not that “it’s gone too far”, it’s not that the system needs some tweaking. It’s that the fundamental concept is wrong. It doesn’t matter how small the intrusion is – there’s no justification for it.

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6 Responses to “Refining opinions: Legalising drugs, Part I”

  1. danielquenton Says:

    I agree with you, everyone should have the right to chose whatever he wants to consume.
    But the whole libertarian idea funds on us being free. We have to have a free will.

    Making bad choices should be allowed, (making good ones obviously should be allowed, too, but that should naturally go without stating) but with some drugs there is just the one choice and then you’re addicted, and there is no choice left, you’ve ripped yourself of your free will and you no longer have the power to take that decision back. It’s your fault, that’s true, but it’s a little like suicide (or quite much if I think about it more thoroughly)

    So let’s talk about legalizing suicide. (Since there are the same principles at the core, so it might give us another view at the subject)
    Don’t get me wrong, I think suicide should be legal, but:
    There are certain mental illnesses, such as manic depression (or similar) where you don’t exactly have a choice not to commit suicide, so it isn’t exactly your free will, shouldn’t the government intervene there?

    For me this is a subject, the longer I think about, the less clear my position on it seems to become…

  2. danielquenton Says:

    Alright, I’ve thought about it a little more, and here’s what I’ve come up with:

    Let’s say there was a disease called “bad, kill yourself disease” and what that hypothetical disease does, is, it makes you get a gun and shoot yourself in the head with it. There is no way to stop this, because there is no cure, and once you have the “bad, kill yourself disease” your only goal will be to shoot yourself in the head with a gun. But you will also realize, that you have that disease immediately once you have it.

    Now, there are two interesting possibilities I want to look at:
    1st: The “bad, kill yourself disease” is passed on by body contact, so if someone infected with the “bad, kill yourself disease” comes in contact with you, you will be infected, too. This should be forbidden, shouldn’t it? Because the infected person, knows, that he has the disease and passing it on is a violation of the persons freedom that gets infected. (It is actually quite similar to just sticking a gun to the persons head and pull the trigger yourself) So it should naturally be forbidden, and it is the governments duty to prevent (through legislation) and punish such acts.

    2nd: Lets assume, the “bad, kill yourself disease” was genetically passed on, and lets further assume, that the possibility of getting the disease from an infected parent was 100%. This would also be a violation of the child’s freedom and would therefore have to be prevented, but this would effectively be a prohibition for “bad, kill yourself disease”-infected to have children – how does this work with libertarianism?

  3. midmull Says:

    I’ll let the Ayatollah herself answer that one (sort of):

    This is an example of what I call “lifeboat questions” – ethical formulations such as “What should a man do if he and another man are in a lifeboat that can hold only one?” First, every code of ethics must be based on a metaphysics – on a view of the world in which man lives. But man does not live in a lifeboat – in a world in which he must kill innocent men to survive.
    […]
    Personally, I would say the man is immoral if he takes an innocent life. But formally, as a moral philosopher, I’d say that in such emergency situations, no one could prescribe what action is appropriate. (Ayn Rand Answers, p.113-114)

    In other words (mine): I my dick were a unicorn and everytime I came a baby kitten would turn into an angel that smells like butterflies at the first sign of sunlight at the beginning of spring – would you push the button?

    I’m pretty sure you get the point by now… 😉

    Now, let’s answer those questions of your’s:
    1) Depends on whether there is a government – obviously, this is just plain murder, so yes “murder should be illegal” or at least “you have the right to kill that person in self-defense”. The question, though, why’d the person be running around when all he’s in intent on is killing himself?
    2) This doesn’t have to be prevented. This is just plain fascism you’re spouting here. It doesn’t come quite as clear-cut as what you’re offering here (again, though, same problem – they’re trying to kill themselves so why have babies?) but it’s essentially the same principle. “There shouldn’t be incest so incest should be outlawed” – it’s classic “there oughta be a law” thinking. A is bad so we should outlaw A.

    As to your first comment on “dangerous drugs” – I’ll respond to that in part II.

  4. danielquenton Says:

    I know, that my assumptions are ridiculous, but never the less they exemplify a situation which could (not that extreme, but in some lesser form) happen, e.g. with HIV/AIDS or similar. I just find, that some thing are so much easier to point out in extremes, and that you can see certain things much more clearly, when you go into extremes. Reading Atlas Shrugged, I find this is a technique, which Ayn Rand also uses quite often. 😉

    1) He’s obviously running around to get a gun, to shoot himself with. 😉 ^^
    2) Things happen… But with the “I’m not allowed to harm anyone physically unless it’s self-defense”-law this would be banned wouldn’t it?

  5. midmull Says:

    Okay, hit me – where’s the surprise? 😉

    You’re obviously setting up something here and I can’t really see it yet…

  6. danielquenton Says:

    No setup. 😉

    Now, what am I getting at?
    In my opinion libertarianism ceases to work, when at least one person (lets say one mature person, to avoid any additional problems) loses its free will. And some drugs do that trick…


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