Tuesday 9 October 2012

Prohibition Is Bad, M'kay

Students for Sensible Drug Policy have highlighted a rather excellent online graphic novel on the similar failures shared by the war on drugs and 1920s alcohol prohibition (and, by extension, other future bans on popular products). Highly recommended.


SteveW said...

Reminded me of this http://www.bryan-talbot.com/cannabis-conspiracy/ for some reason.

Rolf Norfolk said...

I'm against both prohibition and commercial manufacture and marketing of addictive or harmful substances - which latter is what "Prohibition" prohibited. Why do we have to be driven from one into the arms of the other?

Dick_Puddlecote said...

Interesting. The problem is that prohibition has never, nor will ever, work, whilst it's also evidently against human nature to try to restrict addictive or harmful substances because people will always seek them out and use them.

The only sensible approach then, surely, is to manage potential harm (to society as well as the individual) as effectively as possible. Commercial manufacture - however distasteful some may find it - is the only way of enabling the market to be regulated towards that aim, as prohibition in the US and the counter-productive war on drugs illustrate quite well.

Rolf Norfolk said...

It's not the making available that harmful, it's the pushing. Look how licensing laws have been progressively relaxed since the 50s, mostly for the benefit of brewers and the supermarket lobby. And the advertising - remember only a few years ago the Woodpecker cider ad showing a couple of woodpeckers seated on the ground, cans in hand, with the slogan"Get out of your tree with Woodpecker Cider"? The liberty of the individual is distinct from the liberty of powerful commercial enterprises to exploit our weaknesses, and in this context I do not consider businesses to be persons with the right to liberty.

SadButMadLad said...

Thanks for the link, interesting reading - and nice to see Bryan Talbot's work being mentioned. He's a brilliant artist. I'll have to dig out my Luther Arkright graphic novel and re-read it.

SadButMadLad said...

Liberty can work for the individual and be against corporations at the same time.

If individuals have greater responsiblity for their own lives they will depend less on state or authority telling them what is true or not. So there would be no need for the ASA or its like. Corporations should be free to lie or cheat in advertising, but they will always be caught out in the end and then the result is always worse in PR terms. So organisations will tend to self police. Corporations should also be allowed to use what they like in their advertising, even if it includes stuff others don't like, like cigarettes. Start banning one thing from being used and you allow "experts" to start banning everything else.

There will always be a need for marketing as human nature means that someone somewhere can find a something that is perceived as a need when it isn't. But the thing is, marketing means that people are employed providing that service or product. So are we mugs for believing it and spending our money on tat, or are we helping the economy by keeping money going round and and round. And is there any questionable sector of capitalism. Only those that you (as a hypothetical person, not you personally) don't like, but others might think otherwise.

Rolf Norfolk said...

Hi, SBML. I did say I was against bans of what is currently unbanned (they don't work, and give power to the kind of people who shouldn't have any) as well as against corporate pushing.
The points I have tried to make in a number of places, apparently fruitlessly, are that:
(a) we need to redefine freedom as the "means of production" move from truly private enterprise to faux-private, large corporate enterprise. It is not only the State that is potentially an enemy - and in fact one of our current major problems is that big business is in league with government, makes big profits from government contracts and the grant of monopolies and has captured the lawmakers and regulators with directorships, consultancies and doubtless the promise of future employment after public office.
(b) It is easy to spot oppression of the Big Brother type; but encouraging enslavement to our appetites is another way to control and exploit us.
I have sort of mirrored this debate over here:
Best wishes.