Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Spectacle of Safety

The compulsion of fear begets the need to feel safe.

That is "feel" not actually "be." It is a key distinction. And it is that "need to feel" that thing--in this case, safe--which serves as the foundation of so many illusions.

But what exactly is "fear" about? Good question. Bill the Butcher has an answer:

It's a pretty powerful weapon. Maybe the strongest in any man's (or nation's) arsenal. Used wisely, it is a supremely effective agent of control. But to be used wisely, it must be used in concert with something else. In this case, something else is the "need to feel safe."

Let's take, for example, the "war on drugs."

Some people think all drugs are bad, mmmkay? And that's why, I s'pose, we have a war on drugs.

Plenty of people get rich because of drugs. Some of those people are drug dealers. Some are suppliers. Some are attorneys. Some of those attorneys become elected officials. It is a mutually benefical bifurcation. For the most part. Right up to the point where someone gets arrested and sent to prison for a kajillion years. At that point, there's only one side cakin' up.

And how ridiculous is that? In this straight-from-the-gut editorial, one man speaks on it very truthfully:

The truth is, big drug busts do almost nothing to stem the flow of drugs or change the complexion of the culture, save for making a handful of rather uninformed citizens and angry parents feel better for about 10 minutes, and causing the street price of your narcotic du jour to jump 20 percent for a week. Which, I suppose, is a big part of the reason it happens at all, to give the appearance of justice and enforcement and overall safety, to prevent everyone from freaking out and whining to the mayor.
The "appearance of justice and enforcement." Rather, the appearance of safety.

He's right. We don't need to watch The Wire to recognize the cyclicality of the capital-G Game. It goes on. It will go on. You can't stop it completely because you can't fully eliminate human desire. Not collectively anyway.

Which leaves you--and by "you," I mean a so-called "civilized society"--to choose between A) perpetuating an illusion and B) governing yourself pragmatically.

Obviously, no balkanized group of people is smart enough to agree on a practical solution. So, here we are. And there we go. Exciting ourselves about the evil scourge of all drugs--which is another way of saying that we're ashamed of our own humanity--and cheering on the occasional "victory" that the rich guys who allegedly do the least harm can take credit for.

And, in the end, some of us feel "safe."

While the rest of us are in "the bottle."

Say, brother, can you spare a dollar nine?


Uncle Monty said...

I'd be curious to sit down with some DEA agents and get their true opinions on the drug war. My guess is many of them would strong advocates for changing the current way we fight it.

the_capital_t said...

I believe it.

I saw a documentary not too long ago which featured extensive interviews with a former LA County Sherrif (I think) who spoke freely about the incompetent and comprehensively corrupt nature of the drug war.

Holla at someone for me and let me know what you find out.