Thursday, August 8, 2013

Peyote and the White Man’s Gin


Aldous Huxley reflects on drugs in 1958.

In the Brave New World of my fable there was no whisky, no tobacco, no illicit heroin, no bootlegged co­caine. People neither smoked, nor drank, nor sniffed, nor gave themselves injections. Whenever anyone felt depressed or below par, he would swallow a tablet or two of a chemical compound called soma....

In small doses it brought a sense of bliss, in larger doses it made you see visions and, if you took three tablets, you would sink in a few minutes into refreshing sleep. And all at no physiologi­cal or mental cost. The Brave New Worlders could take holidays from their black moods, or from the familiar annoyances of everyday life, without sacrificing their health or permanently reducing their efficiency....

But this most precious of the subjects' inalienable privileges was at the same time one of the most powerful instruments of rule in the dictator's armory. The systematic drugging of individuals for the benefit of the State (and inciden­tally, of course, for their own delight) was a main plank in the policy of the World Controllers. The daily soma ration was an insurance against personal malad­justment, social unrest and the spread of subversive ideas....

For example, the classical tranquillizer is opium. But opium is a dangerous drug which, from neolithic times down to the present day, has been making addicts and ruining health. The same is true of the classical euphoric, alco­hol -- the drug which, in the words of the Psalmist, "maketh glad the heart of man." But unfortunately alcohol not only maketh glad the heart of man; it also, in excessive doses, causes illness and addiction, and has been a main source, for the last eight or ten thou­sand years, of crime, domestic unhappiness, moral deg­radation and avoidable accidents....

Among the classical stimulants, tea, coffee and maté are, thank goodness, almost completely harmless. They are also very weak stimulants. Unlike these "cups that cheer but not inebriate," cocaine is a very powerful and a very dangerous drug. Those who make use of it must pay for their ecstasies, their sense of unlimited physical and mental power, by spells of agonizing depression, by such horrible physical symptoms as the sensation of being infested by myriads of crawling insects and by paranoid delusions that may lead to crimes of violence. Another stimulant of more recent vintage is amphetamine, better known under its trade name of Benzedrine. Amphetamine works very effec­tively -- but works, if abused, at the expense of mental and physical health. It has been reported that, in Ja­pan, there are now about one million amphetamine ad­dicts....

Of the classical vision-producers the best known are the peyote of Mexico and the southwestern United States and Cannabis sativa, consumed all over the world under such names as hashish, bhang, kif and marihuana. According to the best medical and anthro­pological evidence, peyote is far less harmful than the White Man's gin or whisky.

--From Aldous Huxley’s essay, "Chemical Persuasion," which appeared in Brave New World Revisited. Also cited in Moksha by Michael Horowitz and Cynthia Palmer.

Photo credit: http://therevealer.org 

3 comments:

goodlifenoalcohol.com said...

Your blog has been nominated by Healthline.com as one of 15 of the Best Alcoholic blogs on the web.

Here's the blurb:
Dirk Hanson’s blog, Addiction Inbox: The Science of Substance Abuse, takes a more practical view of addiction. The site shares the most recent medical and scientific articles, studies, and other research on alcoholism, drugs, and addiction.

If it’s the science of substance abuse that you’re after, look no further than Addiction Inbox, which is available in book form too.

Congrats!

I'm an alcoholic and 6 years sober. I'm alive because of the 12 Step program of AA.

Dirk Hanson said...

Thanks! Very kind of you to take note of that. And congrats on 6 years of non-practicing alcoholism, as I like to say.

Jim D said...

It's amazing to hear stories like that and to see how much the world has changed.

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