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Brendan O’Neill

A war on drugs? I do hope so

A war on drugs? I do hope so
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I’m not going to lie, I let out a little chuckle — maybe even a murmur of approval — when I read that the government plans to target middle-class drug users. About time, I thought to myself. For too long the so-called ‘war on drugs’ has focused on the poverty-stricken poppy-growers in far-flung fields, or the desperate ‘mules’ who risk life and liberty to get drugs across borders, or the working-class kids in the UK who get caught up in drug-dealing because they feel they have few other prospects in life.

And all the while the privileged people whose narcissistic needs motor this industry, whose selfish desire for a synthetic high is the driver of all this risk-taking and crime, get off scot-free. They lounge around in their hip clubs shoving the white stuff up their noses with barely a second thought for the people who have died or who languish in jail just so that they can enjoy their cheap coke thrill.

Now, at last, the government says it will go after the real culprits in the world of drugs — not the suppliers, who only want to make a buck, but the demanders, who seem to think it’s fine that poorer people’s lives are put on the line for their vain debauchery. Good.

Look, I don’t want a tyrannical clampdown on these plummy consumers of illegal drugs. I don’t want them locked up. I’m even a tad uncomfortable with the government’s proposal to confiscate their passports or their driving licences in order to teach them a lesson. But I do want them to face up to the consequences of their habits and the government is taking a positive step in that direction.

Part of the government’s ten-year strategy for tackling the scourge of drug-taking will focus on the ‘wealthy professionals’ whose habits, in the words of the Guardian, are ‘driving exploitative practices’. So, for example, police will have the power to go through drug dealers’ phones and send a message to their clients to warn them about their drug use.

I have no problem with this at all. It speaks volumes about the class privilege of the coke-snorting set that they are up in arms today about this relatively mild proposal. They really do believe that they should have the right to get embroiled in iffy, criminal activity without suffering any consequences whatsoever, even if it’s just a reprimanding text message from the cops. The arrogance of these people.

This is one of the ironies: the young darlings of wokeness are obsessed with consequences. They think ‘consequences’ should be rained down on anyone who has the temerity to deviate from correct-think and conformist behaviour. Feminists blaspheming against the ideology of genderfluidity? Football fans booing the taking of the knee? Unleash the consequences! Demonise them, isolate them, no-platform them.

Yet when it comes to them possibly facing consequences for snorting a substance that was farmed, developed and transported in the most dangerous of ways, by often desperate and very poor people, they reach for the smelling salts. Or at least for something to put up their nose. ‘How dare you impugn my pristine and virtuous reputation?’, they inquire, with last night’s white powder still clinging to their nostrils.

It would be funny if the consequences of their decadent compulsions were not so dire. These are the kind of people who only eat fairtrade chocolate and who would never desecrate their hair with a shampoo that was tested on a bunny rabbit — and yet they are happy to ingest substances smuggled across borders in the stomachs or anuses of hard-up women.

These are the kind of people who will tell anyone who will listen that they never shop at Amazon because its workers sometimes have to eat their lunch on the job — the horror! — and yet they’ll happily buy a product whose providers frequently stab each other to death in order to maintain their gangland monopolies. Amazon is the employer of the century in comparison with the hyper-exploiting gangs who provide the posh with their little bags of fun.

'Hypocrite' is too soft a word for those people who pose as purveyors of virtue during the week and who then, at the weekend, gobble up a drug whose production regularly causes death to those involved in its trade.

Of course every now and then they’ll say ‘End the war on drugs!’ because they’d like nothing more than to be able to engage in their bourgeois degeneracy without having to worry about all the black and brown people whose back-breaking criminal behaviour makes their weekend indulgences possible. But the fact is that drugs are still illegal and are likely to remain illegal for a long time and still these people do what they do. They have made a conscious choice that their temporary ersatz thrill is more important than the life and liberty of armies of poor people.

So, good on the government. Traditionally the ‘war on drugs’ has been severe on suppliers and soft on demanders; ferocious against working-class dealers and gentle with middle-class snorters. Shouldn’t it be the other way round? We certainly need to do something about the decadence of the addled elites that underpins so much of today’s dangerous drugs market.