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Authoritarianism: Social Disease

Tod H. Mikuriya

Authoritarianism, a contemporary term for despotism, favors authority over individual freedom and specifically relates to governance in which the individual's rights are subordinated to the interests of the group, state, or institution.

Philosophically, authoritarianism is based upon the premise that the individual lacks the capability for decision with regard to activities and knowledge deemed so by the group. Authoritarianism is defined as both institutional and introjected individual values.

Authoritarianism presumes a moral imperative of the institution to do whatever is necessary to achieve its agenda. The use of coercion to enforce prohibitive social sanctions to protect the individual from him/herself is seen as unpleasant but necessary and corrective.

Secrecy and disinformation are justified on the grounds of mistrust of the individual's use of information and rationalized frequently as protecting the group. "National Security!" "Public Good!" "School's Reputation!" "Family Name!"

Power and control may be familial, regal, dictatorial, or majoritarian but in any way the individual's rights are subordinate to the group.

The need for eminent power of the group is likewise rationalized by a low opinion of the individual which justifies a parental role for institutions.

Alexis de Toqueville warned of "an immense and tutelary power which takes upon itself alone to secure their gratifications and watch over their fate. That power is absolute, minute, regular, provident, and mild."  (referring to a populace preoccupied in their petty and paltry pleasures)(Democracy in America (1840) Ch VI What Sort of Despotism Democratic Nations Have to Fear.

Applying the criterion of John Stuart Mill and his view of the relationship of the individual and the state, authoritarianism IS slavery.

 "Whatever crushes individuality is despotism by whatever name it might be called." (On Liberty (1859) Ch 3)

H.L. Mencken characterized: "The ideal government of all reflective men, from Aristotle onward is one which lets the individual alone- one which barely escapes being no governmental all." (Matters of State, Prejudices: Third Series 1922, pp 289-92.)

The U.S. Constitution's Bill of Rights is a most remarkable collective expression of anti-authoritarian ideas empowering the citizen to date. It explicitly spells out individual rights:

"The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."(Amendment IX)

Pervasive efforts continue to attempt to eradicate or nullify these perceived "subversive" ideas wherever possible. The usual ploy is to deny constitutional applicability.

A more blatant dissimulation by radical right wing activists is the perverted interpretation that anything not specifically mentioned in the Constitution is not allowed.

The notions of free speech, due process, and privacy are collectively (but perhaps incorrectly) believed to be contained the Bill of Rights. The "conservatives" continue hard at work to press the fight against these "subversive" ideas.

Columnist Jon Carol, refers to a "Post constitutional America" brought to America by the Reagan and Bush regimes. (S.F.Chronicle 3/27/91)

The advance of technology empowers institutions to scrutinize the citizen in ways heretofore inconceivable. Computers make possible the sifting through our spoor of information and permit deep, comprehensive  and intimate knowledge of the citizen's personal life. Systematic surveillance including garbage, telephone records, credit cards, tax returns, health records, metal detectors, urine, sweat, saliva tests for drugs, hair and now a drug residue detection spray  make privacy an increasingly scarce commodity.

In Gulliver's Travels, Jonathan Swift's 1726 satiric fantasy of the Grand Academy at Lagado described the genesis of behavioral psycho biochemical surveillance:

 "He advised great statesmen to examine into the diet of all suspected persons; their times of eating; upon which side they lay in bed; with which hand they wiped their posteriors; to take strict view of their excrements, and from the colour, The odour, the taste, the consistence, the crudeness or maturity of digestion, form a judgment of their thoughts and designs. Because men are never so serious, thoughtful, and intent, as when they are at stool, which he found by frequent experiment; for in such conjectures, when he used merely as a trial to consider which was the best way of murdering the King, his ordure would have a tincture of green, but quite different when he thought only of raising an insurrection or burning the metropolis"

Swift relegated this notion to the peregrinations of an eccentric intellectual denizen of academia. Technology has turned this bit of whimsy into prophesy. Human nature, unchanging, makes possible new forms of despotism to which we are being increasingly exposed.

Authoritarians are oriented to leadership, dominance, and submission. Hierarchy, rank, and structure are important. Conformity and discipline are valued. Nonconformity, dissent, and variation are discouraged.

Authoritative or Authoritarian?
While authoritative behavior in a group permits cooperative achievement, authority itself, is not there to be served. Authority  is a requisite tool for organized, specialized, differentiated, and directed group activity. Authoritativeness is circumscribed, functional, and finite. Authoritarianism is pervasive, general, attitudinal, and philosophical.
The authoritative group is efficient and functions best in crisis or demanding situations. Decisions and action are swift, effective, and well co-ordinated. The military, team sports, business or medical team exemplify appropriate functional authoritative groups in action. Their activities are generally finite and temporary with varying levels of involvement.

The urgency of situations make some egalitarian groups nonfunctional. On the other hand, the smoothly functioning basketball, soccer, and hockey teams rely on sharing and relating to other team members' initiative. (directed, however, by the authority of the coach or manager)

For other situations with greater complexity and without the urgency of crisis or time, the egalitarian group with group process can better respond to the needs of the individual.

The optimally functioning group can shift from authoritative to egalitarian, in response to the situation and share leadership.

The survival of the individual in society requires learning how to use structure as a tool for cooperation and getting along with others.

Rules of sports or other group activities make effective social contracting possible. Contracting implies the agreement of the individual to abide by the conditions and rules in order to participate. Ideally, the individual should share in the benefits from the group.

These expectations vary with status of the individual and the nature of the group. From the wealthy leader of a beneficent democracy to an untouchable in a tradition oriented absolute monarchy or other totalitarian system. It depends who one i

Wider application of these social contracts permits requisite trust- a necessary and critical ingredient for the functioning of any group.

A Psychological Perspective: In Loco Parentis

Eric Berne, MD., psychoanalyst, psychiatrist, social theorist, founder of Transactional Analysis described the individual's personality as comprised of three mental states: Parent, Adult, and Child. (Superego, Ego, and Id in Freudian rubric)

He expanded Freudian concepts of individual intrapyschic economics by applying them to social interactions and group behavior.

In "The Games People Play"(Grove Press 1964) he outlined the interplay of parental adult, and  child components and their impacts upon participants. In Berne's model "game" meant a "crossed" transaction. Which is to say that a seemingly straightforward interaction had an ulterior motive.

He gives the example of a salesperson making a manipulative covert challenge to the pride of a customer by stating "This is, perhaps, too expensive for you." The statement may be manifestly true but carries a hidden emotional hook. The transaction is on the surface adult-adult but the hook is parent-child with the connotation that you are "not OK" by not being able to afford the more expensive item to be sold. The victim's pride or need to defend one's self-image causes the customer to be manipulated into buying something he/she might not be able to afford.

Berne goes on to catalog and describe varieties of "games" of social behaviors with dishonest ploys whose results characterize sources of dysfunction and distress.

Authoritarianism, as one might surmise, implies an over controlling and repressive parental orientation within the institution.

Predictably, one may expect a reactive childlike behavior that will either submit or rebel.

Berne further elaborated these interpersonal phenomena in The Structure and Dynamics of Organizations and Groups (Grove Press 1963 260 pp).

Authoritarianism and Pedagogy

Teachers who I most respected were the least authoritarian. This is not to say they were undisciplined or permissive. Teachers who were self-assured and competent welcomed and encouraged spirited and authentic discussions. There was no patronizing or suppression of this healthy ferment by the authoritative teacher who was non authoritarian. Sycophancy was discouraged and thoughtful dissent encouraged and respected.

Teachers respected the least were the ignorant, insecure, needing to control, and easily threatened because of their lack of competence in their subjects or inadequate personality.

Educational systems that nurture and protect the exemplary teacher who is often eccentric or  unconventional know the meaning of excellence and creativity. Conversely, the institutions that practice tyrannical majoritarianism or fascism snuff out the creativity of individualism and produce homogeneous mediocre technicians with vestigial social awareness. Preoccupation with appearance and spectacle rather than content generally reflect values of authoritarian institutions.

In a highly compartmentalized, complex technocracy, supertechnicians are promoted upward to leadership and management roles. Lacking contextual perspective afforded by a "liberal arts" background they are captive to flawed policy through naiveté and ignorance. They are condemned to execute what they may know to be unfair and wrong but are obliged to hypocritically carry them out. Such is the dilemma inherent in institutions that facilitates authoritarianism.

Functional egalitarian groups are superior in problem solving and avoiding difficulties caused by leadership mistake. Having the benefit of a diversity of perspective and talents there is a better chance to be effectively responsive to problems.

Since the group moves at the pace of the least able member of an egalitarian group, the better the functioning of each member, the better the potentiality for overall result. Notwithstanding the emergence of leaders and followers in an egalitarian group, opinions, feelings, and viewpoints of members are valued and solicited.

There is always the possibility of abuse of group process with intimidation and "pulling of rank" by bullies and manipulators but if the group is cohesive and healthy this behavior will not be tolerated.

The vulnerability to collective delusion and madness may be diminished but it still exists- especially when wider institutions upon which the group depends defaults in leadership or wider collective delusion.

Because the authoritarian takes the view that the individual cannot be trusted with the truth, information must be stated with hyperbole, confused with other factors, or outright fabricated. Dissenting information must be suppressed, avoided, dismissed, or discounted as part of a "managed" information policy.

Notwithstanding abstract or theoretical considerations, authoritarianism causes real and practical harm. One contemporary area is the so-called war on drugs.

Expedient dishonesty.
Poisoning the Font of Knowledge: Cannabis, Case in Point.

Cannabis sativa or indica was introduced to western medicine in 1839 by William O'shaughnessey, MD. who while in India as a contract physician for the British East India Company, discovered its therapeutic uses. He also described it's social use and preparations but more importantly medicinal properties of Indian Hemp.

O'Shaughnessey reviewed citations and descriptions in the Ayurvedic and Persian medical literature. He then performed both animal and human experiments before using it as a treatment for pain, anxiety, and seizures.

The medicinal use of cannabis spread throughout western medicine and was a major treatment of pain, mental disorder, alcohol and opiate withdrawal. It was the treatment of choice for the treatment of migraine headache.

The use of cannabis for psychological research into mental illness and non-medical purposes were described since it's use in Paris by Moreau de Tours in 1844. Baudelaire, Rimbaud, and other intellectuals used hashish in literary salons to explore effects on the mind. The use of hashish was learned from soldiers in Napoleon's army stationed in Egypt in the late 1700's.

In the 1860's Fitzhugh Ludlow chronicled his personal dependence on a pharmaceutical preparation of the drug.

In the 1870's through the early 1920's hashish houses existed in upper class northern cities that were described by Victor Robinson, M.D. in his historical works on cannabis; most notably An Essay on Hasheesh (1910).

Marihuana: Menace to Society

Marihuana, on the other hand, had its origins in Mexico.

The lyrics of "La Cucaracha" a song still found in school and popular song books describes a cockroach who cannot go any farther unless he has some marijuana to smoke. This was the first military marijuana and driving report since the cockroach was a model T Ford driven by the revolutionary soldiers of Pancho Villa. (a first mention of marijuana and driving and marijuana in the military)

Blacks coming in through New Orleans and connected with jazz Early instances of racist depictions of the "marihuana problem" are seen in the 1920's sensationalist depictions of Negroes luring school children to become marihuana addicts. In 1926 the New Orleans Item published a ten part series describing this new drug menace.

Louis Armstrong, legendary gravelly voiced trumpeter almost had his career terminated by a marijuana arrest in 1928.

A decade later Harry J. Anslinger was spinning tales of ax murders committed under the influence of the "killer weed" in his successful drive for national and uniform state laws to criminalize marihuana.

Dorland's 1926 medical dictionary describes marihuana as "a poisonous weed" but correctly identifying it a cannabis. Cannabis, on the other hand, is listed as a medicinal agent with analgesic properties. Marihuana was not mentioned.

During the 1937 Marihuana Tax Act hearings it came out that there was widespread ignorance that the active ingredient, cannabis a medicine usually prescribed as a tincture or in pills, was a mild analgesic that had been prescribed for the past hundred years. No instances of medicinal abuse or addiction had ever been reported according to the long-time lobbyist from the American Medical Association.

William C. Woodward, M.D., J.D. was accused of obstructing this effort to combat this drug menace just the way the AMA had successfully defeated a democratic administration measure to set up a national health scheme.

Notwithstanding, cannabis products were withdrawn from medicinal availability in the United States in 1941 because their presence contradicted the party line of Anslinger's reefer madness campaign. Cannabis could have no medicinal redeeming importance.

The mayor of New York City in 1938 asked the New York Academy of Medicine to study the alleged hazards of marihuana use which resulted in a lengthy report in 1944. The findings of this most complete social, medical, and scientific study to date concluded that the supposed dangers were greatly exaggerated.

The medicinal uses of cannabis and safety were reaffirmed and further research recommended for the treatment of opiate addiction withdrawal symptoms and the treatment of anorexia.

Predictably, Anslinger loudly and broadly condemned the study and definitively declared cannabis or marihuana to be dangerous and having no medicinal utility.

With the increased use of marijuana in the 1960's the U.S. congress set up a National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse in 1970. Their first report to president Nixon recommended broader therapeutic research and clinical applications. It too was dead on arrival because it "sent the wrong signal".

While there has been some progress on the recognition that cannabinoids have significant therapeutic application and promise, the same politically motivated denial of scientific and medical facts continued to prevail.

The California Research Advisory Panel responsible for the oversight of research on medicinal uses of cannabis underwent a "palace revolt". The physician appointees appended to their twentieth report to the California legislature recommendations to legalize marijuana's personal use and cultivation.

This little-known agency anachronistically placed in the Attorney General's office was censored by then Attorney General Van deKamp who refused to publish it. Assistant attorney general Richard Iglehart characterized the proposal as "crazy" and beyond the mandate of the legislature. Assistant attorney general Edward P. O'Brien wrote a dissenting minority report. (S.F. Examiner 8/17/90, S.F. Chronicle 8/18/90, Oakland Tribune 8/18/90)

The Sheaffer commission report had recommended clinical research "into the treatment of glaucoma, migraine, alcoholism, and terminal cancer." and commended the NIMH-FDA Psychotomimetic Advisory Committee's authorization of studies to explore the therapeutic uses of marihuana.(Medical Recommendations: IV. Therapeutic Uses Marihuana: a signal of misunderstanding. First Report of the National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse, 1972)

In the succeeding two decades there has been glacial, grudging response. Side effects of cancer chemotherapy has been permitted using Marinol since 1986. In late 1993 the indications were widened to treat anorexia and AIDS wasting. The deceptive generic name "dronabinol" is utilized to conceal the fact that it is delta 1,9 tetrahydrocannabinol, (THC) active principle of marihuana (cannabis).

Pharmaceutical expediency with fixed dose units of gelatin coated capsules of 2.5, 5, and 10 milligrams precludes the use of the smooth upward titration. Contrary to the protocols in the U.S. Pharmacopoeia using tincture of cannabis or other purified organic cannabinoid specify dropwise upward increments, dronabinol therapy affords an expensive, rigid treatment.

The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) has waged a continuing effort to down schedule marijuana and THC with a studied intransigence and complaints to the court. The domination of police over medicine continues to exert an irrationally based inhibition of therapeutic initiative.

John Lawn, then head of the Drug Enforcement Administration, saw fit to categorically and emphatically overrule the findings of his administrative law judge, Francis L. Young in the continuing case of the National Organization of Marijuana Laws over the legal classification as having no medicinal use. In early 1994 the U.S. federal appeals court affirmed that decision.

California Attorney General Van deKamp performed similar medicolegal malpractice  by refusing to print the conclusions of the California Research Advisory Panel. They recommended the legalization of marijuana with personal cultivation.

Manipulative "educational" efforts by the advertising industry provide a contemporary example of continuing hyperbole to attempt to create an intolerant climate for illicit drugs. The series of anti-drug TV spots by the Partnership for a Drug-free America depict marijuana as a highly dangerous substance. In addition to the proclaiming gross, permanent brain damage, they "cooked" the brain wave depictions much as they did their infamous "frying egg" television spot. (now the butt of jokes)

The substitution of propaganda for legitimate information with unsubstantiated hyperbole for manipulative purposes ("Send them a signal") is predicated on the notion that the reader will make decision desired by the prohibitionists.

A brochure from a chain of addiction treatment hospitals proclaims new breeds of mind-destroying marijuana over ten times as potent as compared with the old unimproved kinds.

The debased information and other lying has other consequences: exposed points of untruth may cause legitimate information to be disbelieved. The persons believing this incorrect information are ignorant. The story of the "Boy who cried "wolf!"

Since marijuana must be portrayed in the least favorable light, its beneficial properties are minimized, ignored, or denied. The medicinal uses that once were well known for mild analgesia and sedation have been officially forgotten. As part of the propaganda campaign to criminalize marijuana use starting in the 1930's it was necessary to depict the drug as having no medically redeeming importance. This persistent institutional denial continues to contaminate the body of knowledge pertaining to the drug.

What is not cited or published may be even more important than the hyperbole. The exclusion of previous medicinal intelligence of therapeutic efficacy causes the withholding of treatment in cases that could benefit.

This deprivation of a therapeutic agent through censorship is an unseen betrayal of the clinician who is unaware of this option of treatment. The ultimate victim is the sick person.

Society is victimized by the betrayal of the witting.

The persons who are ultimately responsible are the witting professionals who know what is true and choose to withhold or lie about it. These are usually in the employ of a government agency but may be freebooting wowsers.

The discounting of the utility of medicinal cannabis in mainstream medicine prior to its removal from the formulary by Robert Petersen, Ph.D. of the National Institute on Drug Abuse marked a turning point from being relatively objective and scientifically credible. Petersen characterized this drug that appeared in well-defined fashion in the U.S. Pharmacopoeia as "folk medicine". Currently, he functions as the "drug czar" for the State of Michigan where he continues his apologist for and promoter of the state religious dogma of "reefer madness".

The retention of cannabis on schedule I states functionally that the drug is extremely dangerous and without medicinal redeeming importance. Pharmacopornography.

It is fairly simple to look through the references of a book or paper on the topic on the medicinal use of cannabis to see what was omitted as what was cited.

In order to know more of the actual qualities of cannabis products it is necessary to read the scientific and medical literature prior to their removal from the hands of the physician. Descriptions are quite different from the tales of "reefer madness" propagated by Harry J. Anslinger, director of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics. Anslinger, a former high ranking Prohibition officer with international connections, successfully promoted a national marihuana prohibition campaign with Repeal. Repeal of alcohol prohibition took place in 1933, when Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt took office and repudiated Prohibition, a policy of the Republican administrations since 1919.

Contemporary descriptions of cannabis are generally grossly inaccurate with exaggerated claims of toxicity and adverse reactions. This disparity with the actual effects not only is harmful in the inaccuracy itself but is damaging more widely to the credibility of the proponents, themselves.

Scientific and general literature have become so tainted by bias that it is necessary to scan the references so as to be able to determine whether or not the piece is worth reading. It would be made easier to disclose funding sources to permit quicker separation out of the pervasive chaff.

The medical and scientific establishment has retrogressed to a "dark ages" with regard to medicinal uses of cannabis not unlike that depicted in the movie "Planet of the Apes" where the leaders of the apes desperately tried to suppress incontrovertible evidence of  a talking human and artifact of a past advanced human civilization.

The first federal drug czar William J. Bennett, a mediocre pale technocratic reincarnation of Anslinger, continued to warn of the dangers of marijuana and call for higher penalties in his trips to middle America hustings.

Bennett, a Jesuit trained Republican right wing radical apparatchik, dropped his pretext of scientific justification for punishing drug users (the "bad guys"). In a speech to the Southern Baptist church leaders he identified Satan as the etiology of drug abuse. (Don Lattin, San Francisco Chronicle 6/12/90)

While congress and state legislatures grapple with the reality of deficits and needs to come up with effective treatment and prevention of substance abuse, Bennett promoted punishing casual marijuana users.

Facilitated by John Sununu, Bush administration White House chief of staff, Bennett and other leaders of the "War on Drugs" the military are added to the ranks of the armed clergy dedicated to selective pharmaco-purity. (Military Aid Vital for Drug War, Bennett Says. Associated Press 6/22/90)

Subsequent federal "drug czars" have been less visible and colorful but continue to hew to the state religious doctrine undeterred by facts or other contradictions to its flawed premises.

President Bill Clinton, adult child of an alcoholic family, also sees demons in drugs. It is not the abstract Satan seen by first drug czar Jesuit Bill Bennett. Bill Clinton's father was an alcoholic who abused and abandoned the family. His brother has a problem with illegal drugs and when governor of Arkansas, worked with the system to have him involuntarily treated. These personal tragedies appear to have strongly colored his proclivity for moralistic, authoritarian, and coercive social drug policies.

In the heat of the 1994 election campaign, Clinton acquiesced to the extreme prevarication not seen since the 1930's when Harry J. Anslinger proclaimed marihuana caused violence. Then it was ax murders, now it is pistols and shooting. The usual state religious dogma is "amotivational syndrome". The change in rhetoric appeared to be connected with a perceived need to increase the level of pandering to the right wing elements.

 So far, his de facto vacuum of leadership supports continuing police domination of the field. The Attorney General continues to have domain over what should belong to the Surgeon General. The moral model of drug abuse preempts the medical model.

While not talking hawkish, the current Clinton administration continues its prohibitionist ways with Lee Brown the current drug czar, a criminologist police bureaucrat, with a smaller budget. Evermore draconian measures like mandatory minimum sentences and civil forfeiture initiated under the Reagan - Bush eras continue. The federal prisons, state prisons, and local jails overflow with the offal of the drug leviathan- creation of Prohibition, the American disease.

Societal implications of this punitive parental model of Government raise wider and continuing questions. What kind of future with prisons draining money away from education does this portend for the next century? One disability caused by this auto inflammatory American Disease is the dumbing down of a society distracted by the consuming anodyne of materialism.

Alexis de Toqueville warned in 1840: "It would be like the authority of a parent it, like that authority, its object was to prepare men for manhood; but it seeks on the contrary, to keep them in perpetual childhood: it is well content that the people should rejoice, provided they think of nothing but rejoicing."

Schools and other institutions that assume responsibility for children function in lieu of parental authority take on the task of training the person to be competent in basic skills of reading, writing, and mathematics. Part of this and in addition are conformity to specified and implied expectations of conduct.

As the student moves from primary to secondary school, expectations are increased with regard to individual responsibility. There is now a home room with classes somewhere else and more and different kinds of individual schedules.

In addition to mere factual learning, the concept of critical thinking and notions of well-roundness emerge in the better quality schools. Representative democracy, organizing, procedural techniques of structuring groups and social awareness is taught.

Theoretically, the students are being prepared for citizenship and productive participation.

Authoritarians are Bipartisan

Notwithstanding the use of deceptive labels as marketing tools: conservatives who are right wing radicals bent on deleting the Bill of Rights, the Authoritarians call themselves both liberal and conservative.

Ira Glasser, national director of the American Civil Liberties Union observed at the 1989 Drug Policy Foundation Conference in Washington, DC:

The right wing radicals want to jail you. The "liberals" want to put you in treatment programs.

If there is anything the Authoritarians want to conserve the least, it is the Bill of Rights.

The Bill of Rights and Privacy

While the Constitution enumerates and describes the power and organization of the state, the Bill of Rights specifically outlines what rights are retained by the individual.

Earlier during various constitutional bicentennial celebrations copies of the "unamended" constitution (without the Bill of Rights) were distributed by the reaganites.

Extremist forces continue to foment attacks on individual civil liberties. that they would like the power to bend the will of the individual to that of the crowd. Their definition of what constitute the beliefs and values of the majority would, of course, be theirs. Muslims, Jews, Hindus and other religions could count on having to be converted to fundamentalist Christianity to be good God-fearing patriotic Americans.

The fourth amendment guarantees the right to freedom from illegal search and seizure Random drug tests directly violate this guarantee and are becoming more rapidly widespread. One's bladder is at least as intimate as one's personal papers. The fifth amendment protects from self-incrimination. Random drug testing strips away this protection.

A burgeoning special interest group and industry has sprung into existence to profit from and extend the practice of drug testing in the workplace and schools.

Former directors of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Robert Dupont, M.D. and Donald I. MacDonald have played significant policy roles in having provisions written into laws and guidelines for mandatory drug testing in contracts with recipients of government monies.

The ninth amendment guarantees that rights not enumerated revert to the people with an implicit restatement of the first, fourth, and fifth to remove any ambiguity as to the intent of the authors.

Our privacy rights are being gradually taken from us. If a man is in a pot of water with the temperature being raised a degree a minute how long will it take him to scream?

For Every Action There is a Reaction

 The contemporary pharmacojihads are having unforeseen consequences. The courts are clogged, prisons are overcrowded, health care and welfare agencies are overwhelmed. Sexually transmitted diseases including AIDS, congenital syphilis and violence in the streets and home, and addicted babies threaten the fabric of society.

The forbidden fruit image of illicit drug use inadvertently markets these commodities to the oppositional teenager. Illicitude is easily drawn within the penumbra of awakening sexuality and individuation. Peer influence and networking, facilitated by an order of magnitude, by junior high school many male students cluster with groups overtly announcing their proclivities with signalizing garb. Distinct varieties among many subspecies of groupings have drug related identities.

The "jocks"; alcohol, "stoners", grungers, rastas; The Christians, DARE indoctrinated; abstinent or "drug free".

Within the past two years cannabis leaves have made a significant public reappearance. One cap proclaims "Chronic". When I asked a seller of the meaning of this, the answer was "It's a kind of weed- probably strong".

Women are also attracted by the illicit which is used on them to sell perfume. With the contiguity of illicit drugs and implied illicit sexuality, Opium, the fragrance, is marketed with this effective advertising concept (much to the consternation of the Drug Enforcement Administration).
The Real Drug Education

By the time the child is old enough to seek out illicit drugs he and she will have been exposed to many thousands of hours of the REAL drug education: drug advertisements. The child learns the merit of the potency of drugs "the strongest one can buy without a prescription". The implication being that the more dangerous, the more controlled. Imagine how primed and ready the thrill seeking teenager will be for drugs so powerful and dangerous that they can't even be prescribed.
Adolescence, the transitional period from child to adult includes the issue of differentiating from the identity of the parents and establishing one's own.

Seeking out activities and interests include explorations in sex, clothing, and music. Illicit drugs have become articles in rites of passage as much as "legal" drugs like alcohol and nicotine products.

Adolescent endogenous hormonally enhanced illusions of invulnerability and adventurousness are normal and generally healthy characteristics but also the source of tragic incidents.

Reproductive and sexual information is improving in informational quality to at least provide information about contraception and is slightly better than "Don't dance too close!", the level of instruction at my public high school. In the tentative probings of adolescent ignorance sex was indeed a tantalizing forbidden fruit.
The illicit nature of certain drugs take on a similar social meaning. and with a distorted and ignorant perception of drugs causes numerous avoidable misadventures.
Illicit drugs as a ubiquitous "forbidden fruit" by their illegality are practically marketed to this most vulnerable group that have the most to gain and lose.

"Educational" efforts by the drug prohibitionists are so beautifully done that they represent more a consumers catalog of illicit drugs. Their use is like a simplified version of the Physicians' Desk Reference for the general public.(Medical Economics Co. Oradell, NJ 1990 Edition 2075 pp) (Drugs of Abuse 1989 Edition, U.S. Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Administration 60 pp.)

The new tradition of having uniformed police visiting the classroom with the specimen kit of illicit drugs routines ironically may actually spread their use. Notwithstanding the police funded Drug Awareness and Resistance Education (DARE) efforts to teach techniques to resist peer pressure to use drugs, the increased awareness  of the underground Pharmacopoeia introduced by the police may have an unintended side effect. The orientation may help the preadolescent become a consumer of illicit substances. This is much like pornographers teaching sex education.

 Whenever I see photographs of this I want to scrawl the caption "What's wrong with this picture?" Why do we not see pictures of a physician or a nurse speaking to a class?

Society and Individual: The Issue of Control

"Just who do you think you are?" A question usually posed with exasperation and anger by a person in authority carries the message: "You are subordinate to me and the group. Letting that question reverberate to more basic meanings this rhetorical context, it raises the question of self perception in relation to the group- or society in general.

Control of the individual if not exerted from within will be imposed from without. Freedom requires self control. These are the basic and minimal theorems of a free, decent and utilitarian society.

Any encroachment beyond this is enslavement and compels resistance by the individual at the peril of his/her freedom.

Critical thinking in an authoritarian society is perceived as a menace and threat that must be dealt with promptly and decisively.

Should this character defect be permitted discipline and control are endangered.

Ignorance is an important instrument of social control for manipulation of the group by the leadership. With "managed" information the opportunity for questions and resultant dissent are minimized.

Censorship and denial is a major technique for avoiding embarrassment or loss of credibility.
The "memory hole" described in Orwell's 1984 how big brother dealt with history that didn't support current government policy.

Censorship may be official or defacto and informal.
One may think in terms of formal acts of rating movies or refusing to place books in libraries.

Exclusion from news coverage, committee agendas, advertising, space at shows, parades, parks, shopping malls are some contemporary de facto censorship techniques.

A Do Not Use/Use dichotomy is set up:

Semantic manipulation as formally summarized in the "Style Sheet on Alcohol and Other Drug Terminology" from the 1990 NCADI Publications Catalog from the Office for Substance Abuse Prevention (Propaganda?)

* Drunk Driving/Alcohol-Impaired Driving (because a person does not have to be drunk to be impaired)
* Substance use/Alcohol and other drug use
* Hard or soft drugs/Drugs- since all illicit drugs are harmful
* Recreational use of drugs/Use- since no drug is recreational
* Responsible use/Use-since there is risk associated with all use
* Mood-altering drugs/Mind-altering drugs


Secrecy is one overt expression of distrust by the Authoritarians. It permits avoiding accountability and responsibility for behavior by the leadership. Almost always it is justified as serving the most laudable motives; national security- a condition presented as sacred and inviolate- or, at least, individual privacy. (leadership's) Almost always secrecy is to protect leadership from embarrassment from stupidity or prosecution for illegal activities.

Secrecy is perhaps one of the most dangerous facilitating conditions for authoritarianism. Abuse of individuals and groups is most easily accomplished without usual constraints of fair play and respect for individuals.

Accountability is seriously compromised, attenuated or absent altogether.

In dysfunctional families covering up secrets of physical and sexual abuse is a necessary self-protective group pathology. The power of authority and group pressure is dedicated to presenting an acceptable facade to permit perpetuation.

A child born into this diseased group is coerced into participation as a victim. Frequently, the victim becomes a future perpetrator in training.

In larger institutions these dysfunctional patterns are recapitulated and defined as normative with finely and elaborately constructed facades.

Decorated with protective euphemisms proclaiming high-minded, clean, moral, beneficent, decent, and protective imagery belie institutional abusive behavior.

Faith is broken with the democratic, constitutional protections cracked and dissolved. Barbarism and cruelty tear at the fabric of decency of society that is based on mutual trust.

Secrecy is a tool for the manipulation of public policy by private means that suborns public process.

The term intelligence when used in the context of spying should have quotation marks to properly connote its irony. With the break up of the Soviet Union tales of corruption, cruelty and ineptitude unfold. Aldrich Ames, Operation MK Ultra: questions of drug policy and secrecy.

Born in cold war hostilities shortly after world war II, the Office of Special Services, precursor of the CIA, worked at developing a program to discover effective mind altering drugs.

Along with Nazi rocket and nuclear scientists were enlisted to help the U.S. weapons programs it is not improbable that experts in psychoactive drugs were imported and records sanitized. Notwithstanding the exotica of hallucinogens, the first "truth serum" was cannabis extract which had been taken out of the U.S. Pharmacopoeia in 1940 a victim of the 1937 Marihuana Tax Act.

Before becoming infatuated with LSD and agent BZ, the establishment tried out nitrogen homologs of cannabis extracts that were a hundred fold more potent than delta 1-9 tetrahydrocannabinol.

Substituted sympathomimetic amines including mescaline, Desoxymethamphetamine (DOM, STP, Ecstasy) were also developed by contractors to the government underground drug experiments.

Secret covens of research into drugs for extracting "truth" during interrogation and to pursue the illusion of "brainwashing" or "reprogramming" were developed in collaboration with medical and academic contractors.

Unwitting and witting subjects were fair game for investigators who led dual identities of academics, clinicians, and technicians.

In the mid-fifties many CIA and other intelligence agencies were dosing their unsuspecting operatives in order to prepare them to resist interrogation by the Russians. One of the axiomatic beliefs of those enamored of mind-altering drugs was that the Russians no doubt had them already and were using them and we had better be ready.

This perverse institutional pharmacological infatuation predated the Harvard psychedelic movement led by Timothy Leary by over ten years.

The malignant simplistic collective delusion of the concept of "brainwashing" became the vogue. Extrapolating from the behaviorist beliefs of Harvard psychologist B.F.Skinner (an early contractor to MK Ultra) the notion emerged that the person's identity could be destroyed and reprogrammed through coercion that included mind altering drugs.

The breaking of Winston Smith, protagonist of George Orwell's 1984, provided the blueprint for the flawed concept of "driving". but left out the use of drugs.(Orwell, a witting writer for the British Broadcasting Service with high security status, dutifully censored himself on the use of drugs for coercive purposes.) In 1948 the British intelligence community was thoroughly enamored with this toxic premise.

American and Canadian psychiatric establishments were also deeply involved in these "experiments". Reading down the list of individuals is practically a "Who's Who" of prominent government, private institutions and individuals.

During my brief tenure as director of the Drug Addiction Treatment Center at the New Jersey Neuropsychiatric Institute near Princeton, New Jersey, I was a witting but "naive" experimental subject for drug experiments in 1966-67.

Since I had experienced the effects of smoked cannabis casually it was not too large a personal risk to experience oral doses of charas extracts at different dosages. Carl C. Pfeiffer, M.D.,PhD, formerly a clinical pharmacologist from the University of Illinois ran a laboratory at the New Jersey Bureau of Research in Neurology and Psychiatry. In the laboratory I received low, medium, and high doses of the drug. Brain waves, blood pressure, pulse, were monitored; various blood and urine tests taken periodically during the experimental sessions.

Pfeiffer was relaxed and smiled knowingly when I expressed apprehension that he might get into trouble with the narcotics police if they knew what he was doing with this illicit drug. Some 20 years later I retrospectively realized that he could make a phone call to a contact in the intelligence establishment that would put a quick end to any investigation by local, state, or federal narcotics police. National security would be the message to the local police to butt out.

National security is one institutional rationalization that is the boundary and protective shield of the secret second government that operates outside the law. It covered a much more sinister suborning of the academic, medical, and psychiatric establishments.

From the 1940's through the 1970's there was an institutionalized delusion that it was possible to brainwash humans.

A pathologic minority in the behaviorist cult utilized torture and coercion like the reeducation of Winston Smith in Orwell's "1984".

B.F. Skinner was one of the early contractors to these operations. The mechanistic simplism of the hobbesian notion of a "tabula rasa".

The medical and psychiatric establishment sought to achieve this illusory state with the tools at their disposal turned to these black arts.

Donald E. Cameron, M.D., head of prestigious McGill University Psychiatric clinic used his position and the institution to perpetrate regressive "therapies" involving sleep deprivation, electric shock treatments, delirium-producing drugs, and stimulus deprivation in an attempt to "break" and reprogram patients.

Army Intelligence attempted to extract confessions from an sergeant stationed in France using LSD leaving the victim a psychiatric cripple subjects to nightmares and flashbacks. Congressman Ronald Dellums was instrumental in obtaining a court settlement against the government.

"Safe houses" equipped with one way mirrors and photographic equipment was used by colonel William White to observe an record unwitting subjects who were brought there by prostitutes for drugging and interrogation.

Some members of the scientific community have expunged their references to relationships with the intelligence agencies and contractors in "updated" resume's.

Secrecy avoids scrutiny and accountability and should be regarded with appropriate suspicion to hopefully avoid being abused.

Other Ploys and Techniques for Social Control

Smearing and otherwise discrediting dissenters continues to be a widely applied technique to discount the nature of dissent (or avoid dealing with the issue altogether). Election campaigns are only the most obvious because of the intense, expensive, and brief time in which they operate.

Agitprop- agitation propaganda- is the method of creating a distraction to avoid dealing with issues the leadership wishes to avoid. Starting a war to avoid domestic problems like debt or corruption is an unfortunately typical reoccurring ploy. Soviet Russia once formalized this as a specific governmental agency but most operations are more casual, spontaneous, and localized.

Marketing and "packaging" methods described by Aldous Huxley in Brave New World Revisited and Vance Packard in the Hidden Persuaders describe the use of rhyme, music, repetition, contiguous imagery, fears, insecurities, and sexuality to market political leaders and programs.

Privation, Feasts, and other Rituals

Calendars are defined by the holidays celebrated worldwide. From infancy to old age the individual is guided by these traditional rhythms.

Easter, the culmination of the remembrance of the Martyrdom of Jesus, begins with Lent where the Christian gives up something desirable like eating meat and celebrates with Easter dinner.

The connection with a certain food for Easter Dinner may be the only thing remembered by the individual.

Menace to the Authoritarians: Informed critical thought.

The qualities most feared by the authoritarians are factual information and informed criticism.

The light of day is the most effective disinfectant for the pustules of secrecy- breeding ground for criminality, excess, incompetence, corruption, cowardice, and venality. The leaking of the "Pentagon Papers" by a conscientious intelligence officer, Daniel Ellsberg helped bring an end to the military conspiracy and its leader President Lyndon B. Johnson.

The massive infection of the Vietnam war that depended on an elaborate series of fictions and abuses of power. Institutions finally had this massive spell dissipate with the Tet offensive. The images on the nightly television news seared the consciousness of America with the ugly truth and consequences of a flawed policy.

The factual information was the antidote to the poisonous propaganda fed to the public.

The Vietnam war era was a only a high point in institutional lying and an extreme example because of its lethal and vast scale.

The same forces and dynamics of authoritarianism pervade everyday situations from the international to the local government and the workplace. They work to keep the oligarchs firmly in control of the status quo and protect their agendas. The management philosophy: The mushroom farmer: "Keep them in the dark and feed them a lot of shit".

Peer Pressure and Group Empowerment: A Team or Mob?

The social human, hunting ape, naturally seeks approval and acceptance from the group. Peer pressure exerts a powerful influence over the perceptions and behavior of the individual.

The collective feats involving groups of highly skilled individuals continue to impress and inspire. The professional football teams competing in the super bowl, putting humans on the moon, and heart transplant operations are examples of affirmative group activity.

On the negative side are harmful and dangerous collective behaviors. War is the most extreme example. Notwithstanding a glossary of emblems to wrap the dead and euphemisms to palliate the level or extent of harm perpetrated. In the official state of war civil rights are summarily suspended. Martial authority reigns. Conscription and other involuntary servitude is reality.

Militarism, the designated official authoritarian state religion is historically the most deadly. Discipline, coercion and force are tools of the trade. Science and technology are the handmaidens to Mars. Groups of nations involve themselves to ever shifting alliances to wage war.

Other extreme examples of unofficial collective pathology may be seen in religious zealotry and cults. The term zealot itself is derived from an ancient fanatical suicidal Hebrew tribe.

Contemporary examples of authoritarian madness include the 1973 People's Temple suicide and murder of 914 including the leader Reverend Jim Jones.

The fiery end of the Branch Davidian compound near Waco saw the government cult of the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms crushing the David Koresh cult with 80 followers killed and the ATF losing 4 followers.

Synanon, another product of Northern California, began as a benign attempt at a "therapeutic community" for drug addicts in the 60's. This authoritarian confrontational residential program turned malignant with the leader Chuck Dederick turning to violence and attempted murder.

Aside from other cults like the Rajneesh that moved from place to place before disintegrating in Antelope, Oregon, there are less extreme authoritarian totalitarian groups that maintain control over their followers.

Religious fundamentalist groups usually led by charismatic figures have had recent setbacks from revelations of personal transgressions by the leaders. Hubris and hypocrisy uncovered resulted in humiliation, ridicule, and prison. Notwithstanding, there is a large number of people who wish to vest their trust in authority- who need to be led. The shepherd/sheep school of religion.

By contrast the state military, enforcement, and corrections cults are led by mediocre bureaucrats that are driven by other types of fear and ignorance mostly devoid of  charisma.

Suspension of critical thinking in favor of trust need not be the product of madness, lust, or other personal defect and can happen to otherwise intelligent and responsible people.

Victimization of the group by the manipulation of the leadership through disinformation is unfortunately too routine an occurrence in contemporary government. The authoritarian method of "managing" information has become so frequent that the public has been desensitized to the danger it continues to present.

As a child I learned first hand the power of propaganda and its effect on groups. On December 7, 1941 my sister and I, age 6 and 7 were transformed from normal children to war criminal surrogates in a small town in Eastern Pennsylvania.

When propaganda movies were shown at the school that depicted the evil Oriental enemy she and I could count upon being beset by our peers and beaten up and chased home. Angry cries of "Dirty Jap" rang in our ears. Few, if any, peers would stick up for us.

The boys I played baseball, basketball, and football with would turn on me, hit, chase, and temporarily shun me. Fortunately after a day or so I would be accepted back into the pack and assigned to the least desirable position. Doing without the right fielder was worse than letting the social leper play.

Certain people in that small town would make their antipathy known in more subtle and passive ways. The small rural town became a psychosocial mine field.

Ignorance was directly related to racist bigotry. Insecurity to level of virulence. Frustration to anger and danger of striking out.

Lying, and disinformation is characteristic in efforts to control institutions in conjunction with the entreaty to  suspend critical thinking in favor of trust of authority is seen in relations of authoritarian presidents and congress.

Emblem Abuse.

When the rhetoric starts waxing star-spangled red, white, and blue, watch out! One can be sure that the demagogue wants something unreasonable that he/she wants to avoid discussing substantively.

The unwillingness of a few dissenters at first- Senators Wayne Morse of Oregon and Ernest Greuning of Alaska were the only two to stand up to Lyndon Johnson's fraudulent Tonkin Gulf resolution cooked up to give him carte blanche for sending forces to Vietnam. They were the only two to question what later turned out to be complete deception of congress and the public.

Had there been more leadership in congress thousands of lives could have been spared but the level of critical thinking was low and will to resist a powerful or charismatic leader weak or lacking.

The forces of authoritarianism are ubiquitous and pervasive in a panoply of institutions and groups of all kinds. The ever present danger is the corruption and abusive policy in efforts to move foreword in carrying out the agenda of the group in power.

Institution Check List
* Who is in charge?
* What is the chain of leadership?
* Decisions-Who makes them?
* How are they made?
* What is the source of money and who decides on spending it?
Individual Rights
* How are individual differences handled?
* Is there stereotypy or sensitivity?
* What levels of conformity?
* How much privacy is allowed?
* What kinds of observation and surveillance are used?
* Individual privilege & initiative permitted?
How are mistakes & transgressions handled?
* Punishment vs. remediation?
* Accountability of Authority
* How are complaints about authority handled?
Secrecy. Who has access to information?
* How much disclosure is there about policy, procedure and finance?
Integrity. Do they walk their talk?
* Do their written policies reflect what actually goes on?
* Does the rhetoric match behavior?
* Will they provide references?
* What example do they and their trainees set?
Authoritarianism substitutes faith and conformity for reasoned persuasion preferring to resort to censorship, denial, and manipulation instead of argument and dialog.

The contemporary phrase "send a signal" is a common euphemism for "Tell them what we want them to hear" or, simply, lie.
The anti authoritarian or informed critical thinking citizen has a sacred humanistic duty to oppose this ubiquitous and pervasive evil through exemplary self-discipline and education of the ignorant. If not you, who else will do it?
If you saw people about to die in a burning building and you could help would you not have some moral responsibility to do so?

Freedom requires personal responsibility and knowledge.

The enlightened socially responsible individual is far less susceptible to the ubiquitous threats to liberty than the ignorant lumpen proletariat who are cannon fodder for in the next outbreak of war. (Militarism is, of course, the largest cult of force and death worshipers. Organized and rationalized in highly structured costumes and customs. They are different from other death cults in that they are government activities. Nobody thinks of the  militarists as cultists but as one examines rituals and beliefs it is difficult to find substantive differences.)

The ignorant, dependent and the fearful will continue to seek someone to tell them what to do. They will be told. They will be led. Vulnerable to manipulation by demagogues utilizing religion and the state religion of patriotism, they join their fellow lemmings.

Persistence and perseverance in the face of adversity will permit the few that have the will and ability to make a difference in society far beyond comparatively small numbers.

The breeding ground of authoritarianism is ignorance, fear, materialism, and apathy. Conversely, knowledge, self-confidence, frugality, and active participation protect the individual and society from these forces of darkness.

The Social Contract: Compromise without being compromised.
Very few people are islands unto themselves. Thus the individual must be continually striking bargains regarding what will be "rendered unto Caesar".
These contracts and transactions are ubiquitous, pervasive, and continuing, and life-long.
One is defined  by the company kept and one's deeds

Networking and conformity vs. corruption and complicity
Is that lunch really free?
He who lies down with dogs, gets up with fleas.
If what is being done became generally known what might happen?
Should your action be exemplary behavior for everyone?
Successful leadership and Institutional coping strategies.
Sergeant Bilko and the Army; "Doing well by doing good."
Utilize informal networking within a highly structured or dysfunctional system for syntonic goals.
Take care of your own and cover your flank.
When in a position of authority, be a good parent. Treat those for whom you are responsible as you would want to be treated.

Upon becoming aware of misconduct; memorandize. You may be left "holding the bag".
Tell if you can. Keeping secrets may hurt you.

Beware of the Sycophant
Persons that attempt to ingratiate themselves are not to be trusted. They will be the first to inform and betray because of their neediness. Anyone who says "I'm doing this to you for your own good". Why need this be told you if it is not evident in the action itself? Frequently this is said to paper over lies and assert personal power.

Anyone can be brought down.
Unprotected or exposed misbehavior can be utilized to get rid of tyrants. Everyone makes mistakes. Our friends and coworkers cover for these mistakes or handle them privately. To withhold this protection is an effective use to cause this mistake to become destructively public.
Is it better to fight or run?
Whether or not to escalate a dispute is a risk/benefit decision. When resolution or compromise is impossible, leaving or distancing oneself is survival.
Technology and Authoritarianism
The tradeoff of empowerment of the individual by technology is the enhancement of  surveillance giving greater capability for monitoring to authority, while losing secrecy and censorship abilities.  Surveillance of financial, health, and personal data and chemical testing is more complete and pervasive mass monitoring- limited only by cost.

Television, radio, and print media are generally controlled by the holders of wealth who manage the information- authority. Control is exerted by programming, advertising, and censorship for the benefit of the institutions.

Anti authoritarian Technology
Satellite, fax, video recorders, and personal computers permit uncontrollable sharing of information- including sex and institutional attempts at secrecy. The celebrated Rodney King beating by Los Angeles police was taped by an amateur videographer. The footage, broadcast publicly, became the intense focus for a successful damage suit against the city and individual police officers.

A Thought for the Future from the Past

Alexis de Toqueville concluded his chapter What Sort of Despotism Democratic Nations Have to Fear in his Democracy in America published in 1840 with his view of individual social responsibility:

"Let us then look forward to the future with that salutary fear which makes men keep watch and ward for freedom, not with that faint and idle terror which depresses and enervates the heart."