The Drug War
The Drug War
From Vision to Vice
This chapter examines the ideological assault on psychedelic drugs. These days drugs are a metaphor not for freedom or ecstasy but for slavery and horror. It’s the “hard” drugs—especially heroin and cocaine—that obsess the American imagination; the word “drug” has often been intertwined with “abuse” or “menace.” On this issue the ideological right’s triumph over 1960s liberationism is now an unquestioned axiom of public discourse that drugs and drug taking of any but the purely medicinal sort are evil. And yet the use of illegal drugs has never been more pervasive, visible, and socially accepted, especially among young people. Although the counterculture indulged in a lot of mindless romanticism about drugs, there was also a thoughtful side to psychedelic culture, a salutary self-consciousness about the process of drug taking and what it meant. The ideological assault on drugs has given rise to a predictable irony: psychedelics and the idealism surrounding them have gone underground, while the hard drugs, which no one, including their users, ever defended in the first place, become more and more entrenched.
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