Up in my part of the country, northern Vermont, drug addiction has been getting a lot of attention of late. In 2014 Governor Shumlin dedicated his state-of-the-state address largely to heroin addition. More recently, Governor Hassan of New Hampshire testified before the legislature in support of a bill to provide more resources to fight the “heroin and opioid crisis.”
By and large the measures advocated for do not address the fundamental issue: why do people begin taking drugs in the first place. (Setting aside those who become addicted from taking medication prescribed to them.) Most of the efforts are to treat the addiction as a health problem rather than a crime and stronger enforcement of anti-drug laws. The government’s action to stop the drug use before it starts boils down to a re-boot of Nancy Reagan’s, “Just say no” campaign from nearly 40 years ago, but note this does not really address the underlying cause. It simply says, “if you have the urge to use drugs, don’t do it” without getting to why the urge is there in the first place.
In her 1970 essay “The Comprachicos,” available in Return of the Primitive: The Anti-Industrial Revolution, which dealt with the process by which Progressive education destroys the proper function of children’s minds, Ayn Rand addressed what she believed was the reason for the widespread drug abuse at the time. She wrote:
…a silent warning to all the comprachicos and their allies: You can destroy men’s minds, but you will not find a substitute–you can condition men to irrationality, but you cannot make them bear it–you can deprive men of reason, but you cannot make them live with what is left. That proof and warning: drugs.
The most damning refutation of the theories of all the hippie-activist-Marcusian hordes is the drug-glazed eyes of their members. Men who have found the right way to live do not seek to escape from awareness, to obliterate their consciousness and to drug themselves out of existence. Drug addiction is the confession of an unbearable inner state.
Drugs are not an escape from economic or political problems, they are not an escape from society, but from oneself. They are an escape from the unendurable state of a living being whose consciousness has been crippled, deformed, mutilated, but not eliminated, so that its mangled remnants are screaming that he cannot go on without it.
The phenomenon of an entire generation turning to drugs is such an indictment of today’s culture—of its basic philosophy and its educational establishment—that no further evidence is necessary and no lesser causal explanation is possible.
As I was making my notes for my podcast roundup post this week there were two segments of the Radical Capitalist Episode 41 with Amanda Maxham that brought this quote to mind.
The first was when Dr. Maxham was discussing the response of the more consistent environmentalists to people having children. One article quoted in the podcast stated that having one less child was the best thing a couple could do for the planet. Naturally, though not stated outright, if one less is better, then having none is better still. Another article quoted an op-ed that said in part “From the earth’s point of view, it’s not all that important which kind of diapers you use. The important decision was having the baby.” The context of this quote was a discussion of whether cloth or disposable diapers were more harmful to the planet. The implication is that the child’s mere existence is more damaging than either.
All of this is easily accessible to children, especially given the prevalence of environmentalism being taught in schools. How might an insecure young person react to reading that the ideology they are learning is vital to “saving the planet” views their very existence as damaging to the planet?
The second item was during Don Watkins’ call in to the podcast. In discussing the American Dream, he spoke about how we are not taught to value productive achievements and instead our intellectual and political leaders tell us that those who make those achievements do so because of luck. As Watkins concluded, “When you teach that success is due to luck, who is going to work hard?” Again, this is something that is prevalent in the culture today and young people are bound to hear it, and hear it frequently.
So today, not only do we have an educational system that cannot be said to have improved since 1970 but we also have a culture that tells students that success is only achievable by luck, not by their own efforts, and that their existence is a blight on the planet. Is it any wonder that drug use has become a “crisis?”
Until our educational system and culture improve so that people young and old have the tools and the confidence to look at reality and say to themselves, and the world, “I can handle this and I deserve to succeed,” we will continue to see large numbers of people turning to drugs to drown out the screaming remnants of what should be a glorious, capable consciousness.