Drug legalisation is one of many socially liberal policies that “The Left” has managed to corner in modern politics. Other principles that fit into the same social liberalism bracket include LGBT rights, equality between sexes and race, freedom to practice ones religion and so on. It’s not surprising that our progressive comrades have gained ground in this area as The Right has generally jumped on the conservative bandwagon of social control.
Look at the phrase “Socially Liberal” though and you will find that it fits into the Rightist free-market ideology much more comfortably, especially that one key word “Liberal”. Logic would dictate that if a person can believe in social liberalism, then by following the same path they would also eventually believe in economic liberty. This is sadly not the case.
The lack of consistency between believing in social and economic liberalism is baffling to me as it presents a whole host of contradictions, undermining in this case, the Leftist argument for legalising drugs.
Social Liberalism In An Illiberal Economy
The Left, much in agreement with libertarians like myself presents the well-known case against the illegal status of drugs. I won’t insult your intelligence by rambling on about the cons of a war on drugs and just assume, as an educated individual you have reached the same conclusions as I have. Much more interesting and under discussed is the post-victory debate of us social liberals.
Take the black market as an example; both sides, libertarians and progressives argue that legalising drugs would eliminate a vicious black market. In a free-market economy this would make sense, cutting criminals out the equation by taking away their government gift of monopoly over powdery substances and plants. In reality, our crony-capitalist friends on the Left wouldn’t be able to resist economic controls similar to that of the “minimum price for alcohol” currently under consideration by our government.
Just look at alcohol and tobacco; massive government cash cows due to their astronomic levels of ever-increasing taxation. Taxes are so high that it is cheaper for a manufacturer to export tobacco legally abroad via plane, and have a British mule buy them, paying both retail price and foreign tax, and transport them back to the starting point illegally. Is it a stretch then, to assume drugs would be pursued by government in the same fashion?
Then there is the progressive pursuit of endless licenses along side health and safety jargon, apparently intended to protect us from those evil capitalists. Under our current economic structure the government would be meddling in drug dosages, amount legally sold, fitting licensure to suit big business, age of legal consent etc.
But wait, wouldn’t these problems put us right back where we started, creating the black market all over again? The black market in legal vices, alcohol and tobacco continues to grow year-on-year due to mounting government involvement, so why should drugs be so different?
Will property rights continue to be violated in the same manner as they are now under the draconian smoking ban? A ban in which people who have no ownership or stake in a property can dictate to the owner how they and their patrons shall behave. Or will the potential for Leftist-utopian marijuana cafes, as seen in Amsterdam, remain permitted despite a complete contradiction of a tobacco ban?
We can’t possibly know the answers to these questions given the erratic logic of the progressive agenda; I’m inclined to think it’s the same “I don’t like that it should be banned” mentality that they accuse conservatives of with regards to issues like homosexuality.
The socially liberal philosophy is based on the right to do with your body as you wish, thus making you responsible in smoking marijuana or taking ecstasy. Yet, this logic isn’t campaigned by the Left on issues such as obesity, alcohol and tobacco. I don’t understand the difference. This is, in part, because the economically illiberal system of socialised medicine does not compute with freedom. If society forcibly pays for your healthcare it is then able to supersede your rights as a private citizen and dictate the whims of the health Nazi’s. At least the libertarian ideals are consistent, that not only are we responsible for our actions, but also in paying for them.
In order to get meaningful drug legalisation benefits, it’s on us as libertarians to get the economic arguments across to those of a Leftist persuasion. They are already half-way there by supporting some social liberties, and its not much farther to understand that if an individual truly owns himself, he should own his money, too.
I will not be campaigning for drug legalisation as long as there is an oppressive and overarching government willing to exploit the situation.