The Charlotte Gore Blog

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Is Britain too Infantile to end Prohibition?

November 1st, 2009 at 8:04 pm

Hedonism is not a substitute for liberty.

Alcohol is a recreational drug. Most people tolerate it well – they use it in moderation and suffer very little in the way of side effects. It should be a model of how reasonable, self interested adults are perfectly capable, when they know the facts, of using recreational drugs in a mostly beneficial way.

We should be the kind of society where we can make informed, adult choices about these things. But informed, rational adults are not the target of the drug prohibition. It’s children and the yahoos and the donkeys that behave like children that seem to ‘demand’ that the state sets the boundaries for these children and wannabe children.

In this country we seem to have a problem with a minority abusing alcohol, causing havoc and chaos in our cities and town centres, making them no-go areas at night.

The state is attempting to lay down new boundaries for that too… but why? Why is it necessary? What’s wrong with our particular society that we’re like this?

I think I have a pretty good idea why we’re like this: Telling someone that’s drunk so much that they’re throwing up, yelling, screaming, fighting and behaving like a toddler that they’re utterly repulsive is less socially acceptable than getting paralytic itself. Infantalism is cool, rationality is not. Celebrating stupidity is hot, celebrating intelligence… well not in this lifetime. Bloody intellectuals, eh? What do they know?

But again, I ask: Why? Why are we like that?

We delegate the dirty work of being uncool, boring and judgemental to politicians…  and we all seem surprised when they’re utterly incapable of doing anything about it and slowly society seems to be getting further and further away from any hope of being able to end drug prohibition.

No matter how much better things might be without prohibition, the majority can only see the potential bad – that this is not a society mature or civilised enough to cope with the freedom.

How do you fight this? What do you do about this? Are we in a chicken and egg situation where the state will only treat us like adults if we behave like adults, or will we only behave like adults if we’re treated like adults?

Those of us that already behave like adults resent and hate being dragged under the control of the state for things that other people have done and do, like a squad of soldiers being made to do press-ups because one failed to shine his boots properly.

That’s our democracy though, isn’t it? We vote for the politicians that promise to ‘look after us’ and ‘be nice to us’ and ‘stop people doing bad things’ and we wonder why we get politicians that regard themselves as surrogate parents for a nation of children.

Yet perhaps it’s because this is a country with more rules than freedoms, where the level of inhibitions on our behaviours and controls on our lives has become so oppressive, so subconsciously unbearable (all these additional things on top of simply trying to raise a family and put food on the table) and so universal we’ve come to celebrate and admire those who seem to live beyond these rules, those who rebel – that we ourselves have created the climate where there are cultural incentives and advantages to hedonism, to completely letting go of all self control for a few hours to get away from it all.

So we love rebels, and we love to rebel… well, until we see the consequences of that uncontrolled abandon in the form of vandalism, violence, abuse and so on, at which point the politicians being in more laws, more rules and the pressure keeps building, and glamour of the rebel continues to grow. Round and round we go…

Any society that thinks hedonism is a substitute for liberty is always going to end up like ours, isn’t it?

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