11/26/08 - Bruce Alexander

Cultural Baggage Radio Show

Bruce K. Alexander, author of "The Globalization of Addiction, A Study in Poverty of The Spirit" + Law Enforcement Against Prohibition report from Terry Nelson & The Abolitionists Moment

Audio file

Cultural Baggage, November 26, 2008

Broadcasting on the Drug Truth Network, this is Cultural Baggage.

It’s not only inhumane it is really fundamentally un-American….. ‘NO MORE’ ‘DRUG WAR’ ‘NO MORE’ ‘DRUG WAR’ ‘NO MORE’ ‘DRUG WAR’ ‘NO MORE’ ‘DRUG WAR’

My Name is Dean Becker. I don’t condone or encourage the use of any drugs, legal or illegal. I report the unvarnished truth about the pharmaceutical, banking, prison and judicial nightmare that feeds on eternal drug war.

Ladies and Gentlemen. This is the Abolitionists moment. We must stand. We must speak. We must demand an end to the madness of drug war. This 94 year old prohibition of non-Fortune 500 drugs, must be brought to an end.

This prohibition has no basis, no dignity, no embrace of reality, no reason to exist. As the Abolitionists’ stand against slavery and alcohol prohibition, so too must we stand for truth and reality, itself.

Do your part. Join forces with other Abolitionists. Please visit, endprohibition.org. Do it, for the children.

Hello, my friends. Welcome to this edition of Cultural Baggage. We have with us today, out of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada: Mr. Bruce K. Alexander.

He’s written a wonderful book, “The Globalization of Addiction, a Study in Poverty of the Spirit“. Let’s go ahead and bring in, Mr. Bruce Alexander.

Bruce Alexander: Hello, Dean.

Dean Becker: Hello, Bruce. How are you, Sir?

Bruce Alexander: Well, I’m pretty good this morning. I’m watching the snow fill up the mountains here. It’s the best time of year, actually.

Dean Becker: Well, and it’s not a hundred degree’s here, so…

Bruce Alexander: Is that right? {laughter from both}

Dean Becker: It’s also the best time of year here.

Your book has astounded me, with the in depth quotes and footnotes and underlying reasons to endorse what you’re saying here. But let’s just talk about it in general. Your book, “The Globalization of Addiction, a Study in Poverty of the Spirit.” Kind of outline that for the listeners.

Bruce Alexander: Well, we have a big addiction problem. Let me say first. I was really impressed by the introduction of this show. Amazing Grace and then, a sort of a statement about the drug war. Well, I agree, totally, with that statement. I think we are ‘cursed’ with the drug war and…

Dean Becker: Thank you.

Bruce Alexander: …so, my book builds from there. It says, while we aren’t cursed with a drug war but we do have an addiction problem. It’s a real problem. It’s not limited to drug addiction by any means. In fact, drug addiction is only a corner of it.

We have a real addiction problem and we have become confused about that problem because…. Because of the drug war, really. The drug war makes us think everything in terms of drugs, of alcohol, of all the rest. We can’t really examine the depth of the problem. I think if we really examined the depth of the problem that’s associated with addiction, it is a problem of poverty of the spirit.

Now, I’m not a Christian and I use words like that very carefully because, they mean something to me, apart from their Christian background, which I respect, but that’s not my background.

I think what it means is, we live in a society which has been blemished and cursed by a horrible sort of fragmentation in the interest of the all-mighty dollar and in the interest of, what I call, hypercapitalism. That is not just capitalism but, super cowboy capitalism.

It’s breaking us down psychologically so that we all become collectively vulnerable to addiction problems and to depression problems and to suicide and all the rest of these things that all go together. Then we confuse it all by putting it in a basket and say, ‘Well, we can solve this problem if we just get rid of the drugs.’ Well, that’s where we go crazy. I want to say, pull back from the insanity of the drug war and let’s look though, at the real problem.

Dean Becker: Yes. I want to kind of address… I think a large portion of what you’re saying and the book certainly outlines it is, that we have destroyed our neighborhood, the feeling of community. We have taken away the ability to talk to the elders, to find better ways, to… steer clear of, I guess, those who would influence us towards drugs, or the circumstance that end…

Bruce Alexander: Well, that’s right.

Dean Becker: Go ahead, Sir.

Bruce Alexander: Well, I was just going to amplify what you were saying there. I mean, those people who would mislead us… well, we’re vulnerable to them because we haven’t got what it takes. We haven’t got the fortitude to resist them.

That fortitude comes from a strong community, it comes from a strong religion, it comes from a strong patriotism. It becomes, not the phony variety of these things, not the shrieking phony variety but, the real beliefs. The real solid community values and that’s all gone. We all know that.

It’s not that I’m telling you something you’ve never heard before there or telling your listeners something they never heard, but what I think we have to be absolutely clear on is the connection between that and addiction. Again, now I’m repeating myself.

But, we make addiction into a drug problem, we’re going to get rid of these drugs, we get rid of addiction. Well, never. That’s never going to happen. Nothing like that’s going to happen. That’s why the drug laws don’t work. Right? They’re trying to solve a problem that they can never solve.

Dean Becker: Yes. I use the phrase that the ramifications, the blowback, the horror hysteria, death, disease, crime and addiction is all used as justification, for more of the same thing. Right?

Bruce Alexander: Yes, that’s right. The hysteria just magnifies the problem and that’s all it does. So, I have a lot of respect for people like yourself, who are fighting this thing.

Dean Becker: OK, Bruce. Now, one of the things that also reached out from the book to me, it’s this free market society; free market economy; globalization, as the book indicates, that is trying to make everything the same, I guess, world wide. Trying to destroy the cultures and the practices of generations of eons, perhaps and it takes away that person‘s ability to belong; to feel comfortable with their surroundings. Your thoughts on that.

Bruce Alexander: Well exactly. But, it’s important to make a distinction between, let’s say, hypercapitalism and capitalism. That is, there’s nothing wrong with capitalism if it’s practiced in a cautious and sane and regulated way.

Dean Becker: In Scotland, you had indicated that it had been that way until about the 20th century. That they had maintained that stature, right?

Bruce Alexander: Well, it started… The progress of breakdown in capitalism started even earlier than that but, it reaches it’s height in the 20th century. So, in the 20th century we see capitalism gone mad and in 2007 and 2008, we see the madness gone ballistic. The banks are collapsing and the American dollar, God help us all, is in real danger. Well, this is beyond insanity, this is hyper insanity.

What we have to go back to, I don’t think we’re going to go back to all being, living a tribal life. I don’t think we’re going to go, all become mellowest and live in a communist utopia.

I think what we’re going to go back to is, I think we’re going to discover the meaning of the term, mixed economy. That is, we can have an economy which gives us the kind of freedoms and the kind of innovations which do grow from a good capitalist system and at the same time protects us, so that we can have a house to live in and we have a community to turn to.

In my city and I’m sure this is many cities, the real estate market has gone insane, in the last few years. So that while it was going up, the young people couldn’t afford houses and we had a huge homeless population and the old people, like myself, were going into debt by borrowing on our equity. Now it’s going down and all the problems are turned around but, they’re worse and now people are being foreclosed.

Well, that’s the market and you could say, ‘Well, that’s capitalism.’ No, that’s hypercapitalism. That’s capitalism gone crazy, because we can have a capitalist housing market that will make sense and that will protect families and protect neighborhoods and protect communities and we just have to have it. There is no alternative here.

Dean Becker: I would say the same holds true insofar as the same economic crisis; fiasco, is going to begin to sway politicians and officials and even the general public and perhaps even the district attorneys and the policeman’s unions to realize we can no longer afford to lock up little Johnny for a bag of plant products. Your thoughts on that.

Bruce Alexander: Yeah, well… I’m privileged because I live in a city where we don’t lock up kids for little bags of plant products and I can tell you, it works a lot better.

I can tell you that the people who 30 years ago, ‘cause I’m an old guy. Thirty years ago, I knew people who were saying, throw him in jail, throw away the key and those same people are now saying, ’Well look. It works.’

We have De facto legalization of, De facto yeah, it’s not legal but it essentially is tolerated and marijuana’s tolerated and everybody’s happy. Nobody’s complaining and saying, ‘Oh God, we’ve got to go back to the old way.’ We know it works.

We have to do that with the rest of our drugs too. Not that necessarily everything has to be free and easy as Cannabis can be. But, the laws which lock up little Johnny for a crack pipe are problematic too.

They’re too severe. They’re too… military. It’s really military law. Because it’s law is part of a drug war. What we have to do is have laws which are like other laws, they’re mild and they serve their function in a reasonable way.

Dean Becker: You know, you’re talking about Vancouver being ‘not legal,‘ De facto legal in essence, in most regards and here I am in the gulag city.

We lock up about 90 people everyday for minor amounts of marijuana, empty crack pipe, as you said, an empty bag (something on the floor that the user was never going to use) but they can find a couple of molecules and here, that’s a felony. They will send people to prison for it. It’s just insane.

Once again, we’re speaking with Mr. Bruce K. Alexander. Author of a great new book, “The Globalization of Addiction, a Study in Poverty of the Spirit.”

Bruce, I want to thank you for this because I spoke with a fellow Canadian of yours, Susan Boyd, I guess a couple of months back now…

Bruce Alexander: I know Susan, yeah.

Dean Becker: …and she get’s it. She understands, I call it the quasi religion of drug war and I think you might have a different term for it and she did as well but, it’s just a framework that holds nothing, of no reality, actually and it…

Bruce Alexander: Well it’s a framework which is abusive. As you know, it’s being used to bomb peasants in Central America and South America. It’s an evil, evil thing.

Dean Becker: Right, right. Central and Columbia, they drive peasants off the land, chop of the head of one and watch the others flee into the jungle. It’s a means of controlling the land and the profits of, turning a shrub into a hundred dollar bill. It’s just crazy.

Bruce Alexander: Yes.

Dean Becker: Now, Bruce, as I understand it much of the new flow of heroin from Afghanistan is making it’s way to the U.S. Northeast and as I understand it, it’s also making it’s way into Canada. Have you heard that?

Bruce Alexander: Well I know that heroin is plentiful and cheap here so I guess it is, yeah.

Dean Becker: In your book, you talked about how the free market ran it’s toll against the people of China, as we try to open up that marketplace. Tell us about that circumstance. It’s not how it’s been purported to be over the years. Right?

Bruce Alexander: It’s an amazing story and I… it’s for one reason I really do hope people will read my book.

It’s after about 1980, China had a new regime under Teng Hsiao-ping and this new regime moved China into hypercapitalism. Milton Freedman, for example, the famous Chicago hypercapitalist was the advisor to Teng Hsiao-ping.

Dean Becker: Wow.

Bruce Alexander: They moved into it in every sense. Of course with a Chinese flavor but it’s still hypercapitalism. There are many consequences of that and one obvious one, is China became very, very, very rich.

On the other hand, China became very, very, very addicted. So that the addiction problem in China is now comparable to that of Canada. It’s not up to American level quite yet, but it may soon be up to the American level.

So the Chinese are importing all of our American methods. They’re importing methadone methods, all of our treatment methods and they’re inventing some of their own.

They’ve invented these incredible electronic devices with nanowaves that are suppose to ‘un-fry’ your ‘fried egg’ brain after you’ve got it and they’ve imported all the drug war propaganda. It’s an incredible transformation.

The addiction of course is not just to drugs. It’s to gambling, it’s to internet technology, it’s to sex. You know, addiction is not a drug problem essentially. We always think of it, in terms, as a drug problem. But China shows, as everyplace does, that it’s a problem of a fragmented culture.

They’ve deliberately fragmented theirs and there’s the dilemma, right? They got rich by doing that and they got addicted by doing that and we, in the West, have done the same thing. We got both rich and addicted by doing it.

Now, if you take it far enough, the riches break down because the capitalists, the hypercapitalist’s become so insane that even the riches start to fail. All the same, we have to find a balance here because we like being rich. I like being rich, myself. But, we have to find a balance. We can’t sacrifice everything for wealth or everything for the market. We just have to find a balance. The Chinese know that, as well as we do.

My prediction is, well for years I was predicting that China would have a major outbreak of addiction. They’ve had it. Now I’m predicting that the Chinese will probably, I hope I’m right, will probably be able to control this. Because, they aren’t as, under the control of Wall Street, so to speak, as we are.

They have an independent political controlling device there, which is independent of the banks. I think they may be able to get out of it, better than we are and they’re certainly aware of it.

Dean Becker: OK Now Bruce, I wanted to talk about, there is an analogy, a comparison there between, was it Sweden and Amsterdam and talking about the draconian measures and the result, if you will, of the level of drug addiction. You want to talk about that?

Bruce Alexander: Sure. That’s another interesting point. You’ve picked up all the nuggets.

Sweden is a very interesting country because they don’t like harm reduction. They’re really very strict. They don’t have a drug war but they enforce their drug laws carefully and strictly and you can go jail. Not for long, huge long periods, like in the U.S. or Canada but, you can go to jail for a couple of years for drugs and that’s very serious.

The Dutch, on the other hand, love harm reduction. They invented harm reduction and they’re really, really good at it and they’re constantly expending it.

Those two countries have between them, among the very lowest drug addiction rates in Europe. Even though one is totally against harm reduction and totally in to enforcing drug laws (as I said not a drug war but drug laws), the other is totally in favor of harm reduction. Their drug laws, they don’t enforce them very hard at all.

So why? The question is why are those two countries ahead? The answer is, I believe, that those two countries are the leaders in Europe in terms of moderating their capitalism.

That is to say, they’re both capitalist countries, they’re both doing very well economically. You know, we have dig IKEA stores and Dutch banks all over the place. They’re doing fine as capitalist countries.

But they moderate and modulate their capitalism in such a way that they protect families they have, for example, housing. Homelessness is not an issue in the Netherlands, I’ve been there. Nor in Sweden. They make sure everybody has a house. They have enough public housing, they have enough controls on the market so that people can afford to buy a decent house.

Now, you can’t have a 5,000 sq. ft. house there because there aren’t any. They make houses of a moderate size and people live in them and they’re comfortable and there’s plenty of room for a family and there’s a little yard.

But, they’ve traded off. The extremes of wealth on one hand against protecting families, protecting communities and so forth, and the apparent consequence is, they really don’t have the addiction problem that other countries of Europe and North America have.

Dean Becker: OK. Now Bruce, I want to look at it from an Americans’ perspective. You talk about the displacement. The impact of this free market economy. The disillusion, if you will in essence, of the American family; of the neighborhood, of even the city, community feeling.

Let’s talk about, America is the classic example, of how that has disintegrated and made this drug war what it is. Right?

Bruce Alexander: Yeah. America has the worst addiction problem of any industrialized country.

Dean Becker: Yet we spend more money per capita, for in total, anyway you want to look at it, enforcing and fighting this drug war. It’s not paying off, is it?

Bruce Alexander: Well, there’s the paradox. You spend the most and you’re the most brutal in trying to prevent it and yet you’ve got the biggest problem.

Again, the answer is, the reason is fairly obvious. It appears like a paradox but it really isn’t. The problem is, the United States has gone to the ultimate extreme in the terms of individualization and competitiveness and materialism and all these things which destroy people’s social life and so you’ve got a bunch of guys living alone in their 5,000 sq. ft. houses with three cars in the garage. Well, that’s the stereo type. I haven’t been there recently so maybe my stereo type is a little bit off.

Dean Becker: I know a couple of guys like that but, yeah. I guess I want to really look at it from this perspective. The one thing that just rang the truest with me, you were talking about the dislocation.

I have a friend, Dr. Tom O’Connell, he’s my medical marijuana doctor. He has done a study of some several thousand patients. He’s found that the overwhelming number of users, and in his case they’re nearly all males, they nearly all were lacking a father figure or a father figure who wasn’t around, didn’t participate in their lives.

They went into, I guess, cigarettes and drinking and marijuana and then onto hard drugs and made their way back to, just marijuana. Kind of foregoing all these other drugs.

Bruce Alexander: Yes.

Dean Becker: But it was the displacement or the lack of feeling connected that led many people down that road. Your thoughts on that.

Bruce Alexander: First of all, I’d like you to send me that research report. I don’t know that particular one and I’d like to have it. But second, there’s all kinds of indications like that. Like, I relied primarily on historical research.

But the kind of quantitative research you’re talking about in terms of, what people call risk factor, like having a broken home or divorce or foreclosure, these kind of things are all heavily correlated with addiction and that just repeats over and over and over again.

There’s hardly anything that is as well documented as that, or hardly anything that is ignored as much as the fact that, dislocation is the word I like to use. Dislocation really is the ultimate risk factor, if you will, for addiction. People who don’t have a settled family, community and so forth, well, they’re vulnerable and people who do have those things are hardly vulnerable at all.

Dean Becker: Yeah, ok, I’ll tell you what. We’re going to have to wrap it up here pretty quick but I just want to say that Dr. O’Connell’s findings were published in some medical journal about a year ago and I’ll see if I can’t send that back to you.

Rick Alexander: Well, I’ll be grateful if you can.

Dean Becker: I appreciate it and once again, I am speaking with Mr. Bruce K. Alexander author of this great book, you need to read it to better understand this situation. The book is, “The Globalization of Addiction, A Study in Poverty of the Spirit.” Bruce, thank you so much for being with us.

Rick Alexander: Can I just say one word?

Dean Becker: Yes.

Rick Alexander: Amazon.ca is the least expensive place to buy that book.

Dean Becker: Amazon.ca? Well, fair enough. I appreciate that. Folks, do check it out. Bruce, we’ll be back in touch with you. You’ve got another book we need to talk about.

Rick Alexander: Well, thank you very much, Dean. I’ve enjoyed speaking with you congratulations on your good work.

Dean Becker: Thank you, Sir. {good-bye’s exchanged}

It’s time to play, Name that Drug, by it’s Side Effects.

Light headedness, nausea, vomiting, headache, malaise, fatal disturbance in brain function, imbalanced electrolytes, over dilution of sodium in the blood plasma, osmotic shift in pressure ruptures, cerebral edema, seizures, coma and death.


Time’s up. The answer… and before I give you the answer, let me tell you a little bit more about this product. It’s found in baby food. It’s a major component of the explosives used by the terrorists and it’s freely available in the hallways and used in the classrooms of every school in our nation.

Prolonged exposure causes severe tissue damage. Inhalation, of even a slight amount, can be deadly. Dihydrogen Monoxide is a killer.

Five times as many people die from alcohol each year then from illicit drugs and the misuse of pharmaceuticals. Fifteen times as many people die each year from poor diet and activity patterns. Twenty times as many people die from tobacco.

Why arrest 1.9 million people a year for drugs? Does jailing drug users make more sense than jailing overweight people and smokers? Let’s keep America’s drug problem in perspective. Common sense for Drug Policy. csdp.org

This is Terry Nelson of LEAP. Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. I’m a retired federal officer, spokesperson for LEAP.

I’ve reported many times before on stories similar to my topic for today and unfortunately, I’ll probably report many times more on similar tragedy’s if we continue our current failed public policy called the war on drugs.

Last week, another officer was killed in Pennsylvania, while attempting to serve a drug search warrant. The details are sketchy as to how this tragedy actually occurred but the result is, that a young public servant is dead and a citizen, not named in the war, is charged with his murder.

A Drug Task Force was serving area wide search and arrest warrants in Indiana Township, Pennsylvania and went to the residence to serve the warrant at 6AM. It is still dark at that time and most people are just waking, to start their day.

Drug sweeps, like this, have been going on for four decades and all they accomplish is to create a job opening or business opportunity from some kid or rival gang. Allegedly, the police announced themselves, but in the dark who can tell police from a home invader?

The husband, the person named in the warrant, had allegedly ran to the back of the house. The police then began a forced entry into the home. The young FBI agent allegedly entered the home and was shot by the wife of the suspect.

Her attorney claims that she thought it was a home invasion and is somewhat backed up by the 911 call made to local police. That position will be brought out in court and a jury will have to decide her fate.

But the fate of the young officer, is that his life has ended and for what? The drug war has failed in everyway and we must not lose anymore lives in this disaster.

I once served on a warrant entry team and I’ve some experience in that field. It’s always better to take the suspect down, outside the home and then return to the home, with the person in custody and conduct the search.

It is not as macho as kicking in the door, running and screaming down hallways with adrenaline rushing through your veins, but it’s one heck of a lot safer for the cop and the criminal.

We must change our policy from one of arrest and incarceration for drug possession and use, to one of regulation and control of these substances.

Four decades, millions of arrests and thousands of deaths in this war and drugs are cheaper and more available than they were when it all started. Let’s spend the money on education and treatment instead of incarceration. We all want a better future for ourselves and our children.

Speaking for LEAP, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition at www.leap.cc

This is Terry Nelson, signing off.

All right my friends. That’s about it. I hope you understand that it’s in your hands. You know, Bruce has written this great book, “Globalization of Addiction.” I produce nine radio shows per week about the insanity of this drug war and you, mostly know the truth.

You might need to educate yourself a little bit, you might need to combine forces with others in your community. But, you will make the difference. It’s really up to you and I guess it’s about time to wrap it up.

So once again, I want to remind you, that because of prohibition, you don’t know what’s in that bag. Please, be careful.

To the Drug Truth Network listeners around the world, this is Dean Becker for Cultural Baggage and the unvarnished truth.

This show produced at the Pacifica studios of KPFT, Houston.
Tap dancing on the edge on an abyss.

Submitted by: C. Assenberg of www.marijuanafactorfiction.org