War on Drugs as a Marxist Jihad
property is conventionally construed as an external good: homes,
cars, marshmallows. Ownership becomes a dominion over something
discrete from oneself.
private ownership of homes, cars, and marshmallows is certainly
essential to a free society, it remains subsidiary to the paramount
property right of self-ownership. As John Locke observed, "[E]very
man has a property in his own person. This nobody has any right
to but himself." James Madison similarly wrote that man "has
a property very dear to him in the safety and liberty of his person."
Without this fountainhead, all the mansions, Masseratis, and marshmallows
in the world mean nothing.
one lives on an island where he enjoys any conceivable luxury: an
in-door racquetball court, Turkish bath, the entire Rifleman
series shown in an IMAX theater. The only drawback to this land
of splendor is that he may not leave without the permission of the
islandís head of state. If after reading Intruder
in the Dust and Light
in August he wishes to visit the land that inspired Faulknerís
prose, someone elseís opinion is determinative.
ostensible paradise is thus a prison. Its plenitude does not negate
the expropriation of self-ownership (aka enslavement) it perpetrates
against the resident. In Andrei Sakharovís words, "A free country
cannot resemble a cage, even if it is gilded and supplied with material
supremacy of self-ownership having been illustrated, let us turn
to the War on Drugs, which is a regime of laws and concomitant coercion
deployed against the consumption of particular chemicals.
Rothbard noted the separation of property rights and human rights
reduces people to "ethereal abstractions," and public
discourse about drug prohibition generally overlooks its palpable,
oppressive effect on non-aggressive bodily that is, proprietary choices.
We hear about efficacy strategies, reinforcement programs, etc.
To discuss these matters presupposes the legitimacy of the enterprise.
enterprise in this case is nothing short of a Marxist jihad since
the War on Drugs is fundamentally a war on the paramount property
right of self-ownership, prosecuted with much greater intensity
than the 18th Amendmentís War on Alcohol. (To examine
the drug warís subversion of constitutional norms and militarization
of law enforcement, see After
Prohibition: An Adult Approach to Drug Policies in the 21st
Century, ed., Timothy Lynch.)
of course, is less than smitten with private property. The
Communist Manifesto refers to making "despotic inroads
on the rights of property" and "the abolition of private
property"; the "Address of the Central Committee to the
Communist League" affirms, "For us the issue cannot be
the alteration of private property but only its annihilation."
criminalizing an innocuous indulgence, the drug war perpetrates
abridgment of our most personal property. The expropriative underpinning
of drug prohibition would apply equally to the prohibition of high-cholesterol
foods or tobacco products. ("Pizza and cigarettes promote unhealthy
living, so they must be stamped out.") In short, drug prohibition
implies a mandate for government to prohibit anything.
Jefferson wrote in 1816, "No man has a natural right to commit
aggression on the equal rights of another, and this is all from
which the laws ought to restrain him." The drug war forecloses
this quintessentially American vision with systematic dispossession
and inflation of central power.
drug way tyranny cannot comport with the Foundersí design or a free
society. Simply put, we own our bodies or we donít.
Kantor [send him mail]
and lives in Boynton Beach, Florida