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(en) Britain, Direct Action #35 - THEME

Date Wed, 31 Aug 2005 11:16:44 +0300


• The Daily Drugs; War on Drugs Fails to Score
• The ‘Talk to Frank’ Website – Frankly, a Load of Bull Shite
• Just in Case you might be a Drug Dealer
• Consumer culture
The ‘Daily Drugs’
According to my Farnworth dictionary – I couldn’t make it
to Oxford – the definition of ‘drug’ is: any substance
used in medicine; a narcotic; to administer drugs to; to stupefy.
This last one throws a different light on the whole sanctimonious
debate about drugs. Because ‘Big Toe’ and all his Daily
Mail chums only think of drugs as something the yobbish riff-raff
take in sleazy joints and dark alleys while waiting to pounce on fine
upstanding citizens, who also read the Daily Mail.

They don’t think of the ‘Hate Mail’ and all the other
right wing rags as drugs in themselves. But by pandering to the
pleasure zones of people’s prejudices – prejudices that they
have helped create – they are administering a
‘reactionary’ drug. It’s a drug that stupefies readers into
accepting an intravenous drip of ‘shit’ (an old word for
dope). Brains become more addled than after ten pints of Holts
bitter. Real experiences and memories about work, rip-off gaffers,
what it was like when they were young and so on, get lost in a
‘haze’ induced by ‘shit’. They get more
‘paranoid’ than if they’d been smoking ‘white
widow’ for the last five years solid. They begin to think any
foreign lorry is full of bombs, rapists or even ‘asylum
seekers’. They get scared of everything outside their doors,
especially the drug crazed youth, and write letters to the papers to
say so. Then someone else gets ‘hooked’. That’s how
the drug gets passed around.
‘I started on them teenage magazines and one day a friend said
“try the Daily Mail” – I’ve been on the hard stuff ever
since’, said one of the ‘unfortunates’, mouth dribbling
and eyes red after sleepless nights obsesses with single parents and
‘asylum seekers’ taking over their world.

The ‘shit’ they take allows them to ignore what their
wonderful, well-behaved, bright little brats are up to, what they
themselves may have got up to, and still do. They can also ignore all
the pills keeping half the country on an even keel. The new puritans
don’t go on about being ‘tough on the causes of
depression’, ‘tough on bullying bosses’, or anything like
that – oh no! Their drugs induce the ‘hallucination’ that
there’s a wonderful world somewhere where everyone wears
beige, drinks red wine and votes. I think they should all piss off
there.

I say these drastic words because another ‘side effect’ of the
drug passed down from the ‘idle, thieving bastards’ at the
top end of society is people getting ‘hooked’ on the search
for money and power. It shows itself in consumerism and the search
for eternal life. The ones with the real power don’t have to
scramble about for the ‘fix’ of fame, wealth and long life.
They just get it, while some arse licker will make sure they’re
remembered long after death by writing books, painting pictures, or
building statues in their memory. For the rest it’s owning things
and consuming things. You see the ‘addicts’ showing off
how much they’re ‘hooked’ at the posh shops with
loads of bags, drinking ‘starfucks’, in their 4x4’s that
can splatter any other car on the road, continually moving to bigger
houses and mansions, having bigger everything, being more
sophisticated, climbing ladders to ridiculously high paid jobs,
wearing shiny suits and daft ties, being ‘celebrities’
nip-tucked all over and covered in an even suntan.

What’s worse is that these drugs are peddled, alongside other
drugs like sugar for kids, all over the silver tellies to people who
can’t afford them. No problem for the dealers though –
they’ve got a side racket as loan sharks and they’re on the
silver telly too. The world becomes stupefied and some of it turns to
smack or drinking binges on a Friday night. For the rest there’s
happy pills and twenty-three hour shifts to pay it all off, while the
kids look like they’ve been blown up with a foot pump. And the
‘shit heads’ who make a fortune out of all this have the
nerve to moan about ‘drugs’.
Top



War on Drugs Fails to Score

Great news! The global ‘War on Drugs’ has been so
effective that only 200 million people now use drugs! According to
an as-yet-unpublished UN report, despite multi-billion-pound
anti-drug measures, the market is as insatiable as ever.

What the report didn’t mention is that at this rate every man,
woman, and child on planet earth will be on drugs by Christmas
– expect some wild New Year’s celebrations!

South America, Africa, Australia, South East Asia and the
Caribbean have all seen serious drug problems emerging. In Europe,
although the rapid rise of cocaine use has slowed down, an
estimated 5.3 per cent of the population used cannabis in the past
year and use of heroin and crack is still increasing in many regions.

This is proof positive that prohibition creates a black market, floods
the streets with drugs, and churns out crime as fast as you can say
‘would you please hand me my crack pipe, it’s under that
nappy bag?’ Current anti-drug policies have failed miserably in
every way. Demand, supply, addiction, and abuse are rampant
globally. Murder, theft, and money laundering are the norm all over
the world.

The report says that demand has increased in three quarters of the
150 countries surveyed. Consumption levels in some states are
surprisingly high — Israel uses 100 tons of pot, 20 tons of
hashish, 20 million tabs of ecstasy, four tons of heroin, three tons of
cocaine, and hundreds of thousands of LSD blotters annually. Wow,
they are really ‘Stoned Immaculate’ over there!

So the stark reality is that people are going to use drugs regardless of
the penalties and consequences involved. So it would be better for
society to attempt to educate in order to reduce the harm caused by
all those drugs. After all, is all the fuss about drug use itself, or is it
about the harm caused by it? Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m
off to Israel. It’s party time!

Source: Eat the State.org
Top



The ‘Talk to Frank’ Website - Frankly, a Load of
Bull Shite

On drugs and drug addiction, the Oxford Dictionary of Sociology has
the following to say:

“These terms generally refer to illegal drugs...Research shows
that patterns of use, behaviour and subjective experience will be
influenced by particular properties of drugs but also by social factors
such as culture and social expectations. Most commonly used is
cannabis, but the greatest social concern is heroin and more recently
crack/cocaine, LSD, amphetamines and ecstasy.”

This perception of addiction is unhelpful; it suggests a habit with
serious repercussions for the individual and society. Not all drug
users develop dependency, neither do these consequences always
happen. Too often the media portrays drug users as evil criminals,
when often the reason that people use drugs is to block out the
oppression they experience from living in a capitalist society.

The recent New Labour ‘Talk to Frank’ campaign is a case
in point. Established to ‘advise’ young people and parents
on drug misuse, it includes a website with A to Z information on
drugs. It emphasizes prison sentences for possession; the side
effects, the nicknames, the ways to take them. But there’s no
info on using drugs safely or on rehabilitation. It all suggests that
lives will be ruined by experimenting with drugs. The ‘Talk to
Frank’ TV and radio adverts moralise to young people and imply
that phoning Frank will solve their troubles. Obviously Frank is
some good fairy who will cure the poverty the third generation
unemployed live with, along with the despair that comes with it!

In the run up to reclassifying cannabis, Drugs Minister, Caroline
Flint, was at pains to stress that ‘cannabis remains illegal and
that under 18s will still be arrested for possession’. The
accompanying ‘Talk to Frank’ radio adverts focused on
prison sentences, reduced employment prospects and inability to
travel abroad. Emphasising to young people that something is illegal
makes it more attractive and enjoyable to experiment with. The
government is concentrating on moral panic rather than really useful
knowledge.

According to the UK Cannabis Internet Activists (UKCIA),
Frank’s information about drugs is dangerous and misleading.
For example, Frank advises that ‘cannabis is not something that
dealers mix anything with...’ but, as UKCIA has been warning,
so-called “soap bar” is badly contaminated with all sorts. Of
course, if Frank were honest, he’d warn that because cannabis is
illegal, there are no controls on the supply. On occasion dealers rip
you off and offer other drugs, but this is caused by the law, not by
cannabis. Frank has this to say on alcohol: ‘Because it’s
legal and sold only in licensed premises, most alcohol is
unadulterated’. Which is true, so why not warn of the dangers of
the unlicensed, unregulated cannabis market caused by the fact that
cannabis isn’t legal?’

A more disturbing piece of info from Frank suggests that
‘frequent use of cannabis can cut a man’s sperm count and
suppress ovulation in women’. But of course cannabis users
have no problems in breeding! This prompted one visitor to the site
to ask ‘How long does the contraceptive effect of cannabis last
and how many joints will we have to smoke to get the best
contraceptive effect?’ I have visions of millions of unwanted
pregnancies and another government website moralising about
young people’s sexual behaviour.

A group of Manchester University Community and Youth Work
students, researching the effectiveness of ‘Talk to Frank’,
showed that the broader perception appeared to be very limited, with
hardly any uptake by youth workers. Youth workers’ views on
Frank show they thought it had a very limited effect as young people
don’t use the website or helpline at all. Young people don’t
seem to be interested; they remember some of the ads but not the
posters. Some workers thought it was a waste of money, but found
the adverts funny.

The Frank campaign has made little impact on young people. It sees
drugs as an issue for young people only, rather than discussing them
in a wider social context. It concentrates on problematic substance
use and ignores non-problematic use. It also ignores such issues as
identity and growing up; poverty, exclusion and lack of opportunity -
in short, the oppression caused by living in a capitalist society.
Top



Just in Case you’re a Drug Dealer
(the constable might need to smash your head against the wall)

Years ago reality TV cop shows from the US, featuring some bizarre
action man type commenting on grainy footage of car chases, were
stuck in late night slots.

Later, the odd local show appeared with British bobbies upholding
good old British law ’n’ order. They revolved around young
working class people out on the town, getting a bit leery and a bit
lippy, and occasionally threatening to knock seven bells out of each
other. The cops were portrayed as hard working compassionate types
saving people from being beaten up – usually done by piling in
and shouting a lot.

Now, having lived near pubs, spent quite a lot of time in them and
been on the wrong end of a pissed up idiot or two, I know drunken
louts aren’t new. What is new, are pub chains packing drunk
kids in, getting ‘em extra juiced up and shoving ‘em on to
the street the minute the bar shuts. What better way to create
trouble.

And it makes ideal telly – lots of ‘incidents’ for heroic
TV crews riding round in armoured cop vehicles; lots of equally
armoured cops; and lots of scary youngsters, the worse for wear,
with little clothing, let alone armour. What’s more, it’s
cheap. All it needs is a camera, sound person, someone to kick off,
and a bod to pixilate faces. No big travel budgets. The only major
expense is over time – oh, and an editor to stretch the whole
thing out to half an hour.

the usual plot

More recently there’s been a move to prime time. The other
night BBC1 had a show about police operations in Norwich against
drug dealers and drug users who commit crime. Just the usual plot
– a nasty, scary, brutish world teeming with ne’er-do-wells;
the cops know who the ne’er-do-wells are and they’ll be
hunted down and banged up; in saving us from the
ne’er-do-wells, the jolly nice cops have to use a few unpleasant
means. In Norwich they’d decided to reduce crime by targeting
known drug users and thieves one by one. So a dozen coppers tore
around Norwich in cars and helicopters for days looking for some
bloke who was asleep in a tent behind some trees. They followed
another bloke around before superior amounts of plod piled in to stop
the ‘criminal’ – not ‘suspect’ – from
‘swallowing the evidence’.
It’s not as though such shows put police activity in context or
show its full extent. It’s not as though the people targeted are
given any depth or background. It’s not as though alternative
approaches to problems of drunkenness or drug addiction are
addressed. Being TV, the producers want exciting images, cops
running about Sweeney-style, hooligans terrorising town centres,
druggies robbing our cars and dealers seeping poison into our
pleasant homes.

bored kids

In Norwich the lads harassed by repeated stop and search were
‘cocky drug dealers’ – not bored kids on street corners.
In the city centres the people being piled into, shouted at, pushed
about and randomly thrown in the van were ‘violent
drunkards’ – not strikers or demonstrators. The people being
tracked, targeted and pounced on were ‘one man crime
waves’ – not some poor sod the local bill had decided was a
menace to society.

These shows are police propaganda putting the sugar on the pill of
aggressive and authoritarian policing by portraying it as a reasoned
response to carefully selected and edited bogeymen.
Top



Consumer Culture

While Tony Blair pops into hospital for a routine heart operation to
cure his palpitations - undoubtedly caused by the pressures of
juggling a wife, children and a full time job, certainly not by the fact
he is responsible for thousands of deaths - my teenage children
inform me they know what palpitations are since they suffer them
regularly. Classic symptoms of stress at fifteen! Some will nod
sympathetically and point to the pressures of school and exams,
which no doubt play a detrimental role in the increasingly stressed
lives of young people, but there are other issues to think about.

Writers like Klein (‘No Logo’) and Quart
(‘Branded’) highlight how we are bombarded by brands on a
daily basis. The global media has a homogenising effect on the
world’s cultures, creating a culture of consumerism. This has
led to the rise of global brands like Nike and McDonalds, who no
longer promote a product, but a way of life.

Advertisers use celebrities such as David Beckham and Britney
Spears to endorse brands to inspire an image of wealth, beauty,
success, intelligence and sophistication. Buying them means buying
a piece of that image. It is also part of the message that whatever you
have will never be good enough - you can always have more.
Magazines and television bombard us with the luxury lifestyles of
the very rich, creating an artificial and subjective sense of
insufficiency, to ensure we keep on consuming.

And it’s not just teenagers who are targeted. Studies now show
that more four to five year olds recognise the McDonalds logo than
recognise their own name.

The power of advertising is phenomenal. Whilst advertisers and
manufacturers argue that they merely supply the goods we demand,
the effect is not positive. Images of skinny models which adorn
teenage magazines are linked to the rise in anorexia. This goes
alongside rising childhood obesity. So, in an effort to maintain a
healthy diet, parents often find themselves battling children
influenced by the daily barrage of junk food adverts.

The result - young people judge themselves, and each other, not on
their actions but on their clothes. This is a problem when taken
together with poverty and unemployment. The poor live in the same
world that has been manufactured for the benefit of those with
money and power. The consumer culture is all around us - on
television, at cinemas, in magazines, on the internet and increasingly
within schools. Many people do not recognise the extent to which
advertising has tied them in to a culture which encourages feelings
of doubt, insecurity and inadequacy - feelings which are especially
strong among teenagers.

This is a concern. Wearing brands is so normal now that, even when
faced with evidence of the abuses which take place to supply them,
many feel nothing can be done. The rise of the global brand has left
people in many parts of the world living and working in terrible
conditions so we can convince ourselves, and society around us, that
we are part of the consumer culture.

Young people use branded goods to label themselves; to give the
outside world what they believe to be the right image. The
construction of an identity based upon your work is no longer an
option when jobs for life are no longer a reality. Therefore people
build their identities on what they eat, drink and wear, constantly
striving to be seen with the ‘right names’ and in the
‘coolest’ places.

The power of the global brand, aided by the media’s global
reach, has led to the rise of the global teenager. The global teenager
conforms to the latest fashion trend, is told by global celebrities what
to drink and what to wear, and is made increasingly insecure by the
portrayal of the perfect, ever-youthful body image, to which many
can never aspire.

Fear of crime and isolation, worries about education and
unemployment all mean that teenagers, far from being free-minded
individuals making rational personal choices in a global marketplace,
are instead controlled and brand-orientated, with Coca-Cola,
McDonalds, Nike, and others, creating a homogenous culture of
insecurity and doubt.

And they worry about them having the odd spliff!

=====================================
Journal of the anarchist Solidarity Federation
THE BRITISH SECTION OF THE INTERNATIONAL WORKERS'

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