This interview is from the book Subversives: Interviews with Radicals
Robert Arthur is the author of You Will Die: The Burden of Modern Taboos which is “a book that vigorously defends heroin users and sex workers. America has its own ridiculous phobias and beliefs that cause everything from mere tedium to suffering and death. The government and the media use these taboos to lie and mislead. It is not a conspiracy, but by pushing panic for votes and viewers they thwart our pursuit of happiness.”
Can you tell me a little bit about your book, You Will Die, The Burden of Modern Taboos?
You Will Die demonstrates that taboos are not relics of primitive societies. Modern America has its own ridiculous phobias and beliefs that cause tedium, suffering, and death. You Will Die exposes the fallacies and the history behind our taboos on excrement, sex, drugs, and death. It is not simply a novel exploration of sex and drugs, but also of individuality, liberty, and the meaning of life. You Will Die gives readers a new way of seeing their world and allows them to make a more informed choice about living an authentic life.
Your blog Narco Polo is about defending recreational drug use and other consensual adult activities that have been criminalized by the American government. Can you give me some examples of what adult activities you are talking about?
In my writings I defend all drug use and drug selling. I defend all voluntary sexual activities, commercial and otherwise. I also defend gambling, euthanasia, and really hardcore stuff like smoking in public parks.
Let’s talk about drugs. Why is heroin use in the United States not the problem the majority of people make it out to be?
It is a problem, but that is about the only true thing you will hear from the media and the American authorities about it. If opiates were legalized they would arguably be less dangerous than alcohol. Criminalization is exactly what has made opiates so deadly. This concept is complex and cannot be simply explained in two or three sentences so it has a difficult time competing with “heroin kills.”
The scapegoats of the current heroin “epidemic” are doctors who prescribe painkillers for people in pain. If you are over thirty, and do not have a prior history of serious drug problems, your risk of becoming addicted from prescribed opioids is less than 1%. Despite this, the establishment and the media trumpet their beloved bullshit “innocent victim” narrative supported by anecdotes and cherry-picked statistics.
The director of the CDC claimed several years back that doctors are now more responsible than drug dealers for America’s addiction problem. Drug dealers have never been responsible for “addiction” any more than doctors are now. The drug “pusher” has always been a myth. A 2000 survey found that less than 1% of drug users had been introduced to drugs by a professional dealer.
Our society has a certain percentage of people with addictive personalities. Addiction levels have been stable for decades. Popular drugs of abuse wax and wane but the overall addiction levels stay the same. Whenever one drug becomes more popular the media and politicians shriek about the new “epidemic.” The legal status of drugs has not been shown to affect addiction levels. Stress has. For example, in war zones and impoverished areas addiction levels go up. If politicians really cared about the problems that they have caused with prohibition they would invest in mental health support for addicts.
If I don’t do hard drugs, and you do, is there any reason for me to be pissed off at you about that?
No. It is not what you do, but how you do it. The vast majority of hard drug users are not addicts. They get high, have a good time, and go to work on Monday. Even among addicts, many are not the train wrecks that are portrayed in the news and TV shows. You getting pissed at me because I do a line of coke because of what you saw some coke head do on the news is as rational as you getting pissed at me for drinking a beer because some drunk asshole drove through a crowd of people.
For those who say, well, hard drug users are not healthy and I don’t want to pay their health care costs—blarney. The unhealthiest drug is the cigarette. There have been multiple comparative studies on cigarettes and their costs to society. These studies don’t get cited often because what they have found is cigarette users save society money. They die younger due to fast killers like lung cancer, unlike super-healthy people who need to have their ailments supported for decades. The health-costs critique is particularly amusing in America, one of the fattest countries in the world. No one is calling for a criminal crackdown on the obese.
Even the concept of “hard” drugs is silly. Caffeine can be just as powerful as methamphetamine as military studies in World War II demonstrated. Caffeine can get you to a hallucinatory point and easily kill you. However, caffeine is not illegal so almost no one does pure caffeine, much less injects it. The cultural norms surrounding its moderate use have not been destroyed by prohibition. No one wants to get “hardcore” with the stuff ten-year-olds get fucked up on at birthday parties.
Buy Subversive here.