Friday, July 11, 2008

The 'Respectable' People Continue to Make War on the Rest of Us (Robert Higgs)

Robert Higgs on the self-righteous busybodies who think they should remold society as they see fit:

Scarcely any critical commentator on the "war on drugs" has failed to remark on the striking inconsistencies that permeate the current prohibitionist stance. Contemporary crusaders for social purity ardently seek to outlaw X (e.g., marijuana), yet they cheerfully abide Y (e.g., Chardonnay), whose consumption is at least as harmful and in some cases is manifestly more so. How are we to make sense of such blatant contradictions?

We can see a pattern in the apparent incoherence of the prohibitionists’ position if we recall that the war on drugs, like all the preceding prohibitionist crusades in American history (some of them still continuing), amounts to a defense of bourgeois WASP conventions against persons and classes deemed less respectable. So, SSRIs, yes, ecstasy, no; Benzodiazepines, yes, heroin, no; a pleasant cocktail party, yes, reefer madness, no; and so forth. Everything turns on the sort of people who tend to consume the substance.

The better sorts have been waging war for centuries to keep the rabble in line. The self-anointed "respectable" people live in constant anxiety that their beloved way of life faces mortal menace from the disorderly masses, who may be disinclined to toe the line drawn for them.

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