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.