Does Noam Chomsky Oppose Tax/Regulation of Marijuana?
Posted in the Bellingham Forum
#2 Apr 20, 2013
Particularly when the mentally ill are being scapegoated for all the gun violence in this country. Making marijuana more pervasive as a capitalist commodity will simply result in more scapegoats to choose from.
#3 Apr 20, 2013
And as the plutocracy becomes economically stronger, the masses grow increasingly sedated.
#4 Apr 21, 2013
Don't know what happened, but this should have been post #1:
While I agree with much of Noam Chomsky, his argument here, as helpful as it is in understanding the neglect of U.S. homeless, simultaneously contradicts arguing for regulation/taxation of marijuana (which unsure if he advocates that--but he does argue against criminalization of marijuana--I need to read more of his thoughts to have a better understanding of his ideas regarding that):
From Noam Chomsky 'Understanding Power'; Chapter 10; footnote 28:
"...comparison of the impact of social spending on poverty rates reveals a vast difference between the U.S. and other industrialized nations. See for example, Lawrence Mishel, Jared Bernstein and John Schmitt, The State of Working America, 1998-1999, Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1999, pp. 375-379 (the U.S. tax and transfer system creates a 28.5 percent reduction in the poverty rate, whereas the tax and transfer systems in all other industrialized countries decrease poverty rates by between 60 and 80 percent, the only exceptions being Britain, Australia and Canada, whose tax and transfer programs still reduce poverty rates by approximately 50 percent). See also footnote 2 of this chapter."
Meaning, an abysmal tax/transfer system cannot justifiably proceed to say we need more tax money by marketing/selling as a capitalist commodity a drug (marijuana) known to cause schizophrenia, etc.
#5 Apr 21, 2013
Apparently Chomsky does favor taxation/regulation of marijuana. Although he does not specify taxation in this quote, he approves of regulation:
Noam Chomsky: Legalizing marijuana would make a lot of sense, I don't think there's a single case of marijuana overdose on record and tens of millions of users. It's much less dangerous than alcohol, for example. The worst drug of all by far is tobacco; the death toll from tobacco is just overwhelming.
Guernica: But what about cocaine and heroin? They would still be there.
Noam Chomsky: They would. The fact of the matter is that they are far less dangerous than tobacco. Everyone is in favor of regulation, but what about criminalization? It's a topic that has to be considered carefully.....
(interview with Luis Fernando Cardenas found online)
#6 Apr 21, 2013
That's disappointing. Chomsky makes alot of sense on so many topics, but on marijuana he seems to be manufacturing consent.
#7 Apr 21, 2013
Haven't read too many books by him, but question references to his being anarchist. He maligns Reinhold Niebuhr (at end of Chapter 1; 'Democracy and the Media'), most pointedly in regards to Neibuhr's 'The Irony of American History'; yet in that Neibuhr rails against communism.
#8 Apr 26, 2013
Near the end of Chapter 1 of Chomsky's "Democracy and the Media", he refers to Niebuhrs' "The Irony of American History" as Niebuhr's Marxist period. Maybe Chomsky was being facetious, since 'The Irony of American History' was written in the 1950's decades after Niebuhr had left the Socialist Party.
#9 Apr 26, 2013
Interesting. I'm not Democrat or Republican, so didn't vote for Obama, but Obama has a good quote online that comes up when searching Niebuhr's 'The Irony of American History':
“[Niebuhr] is one of my favorite philosophers. I take away [from his works] the compelling idea that there’s serious evil in the world, and hardship and pain. And we should be humble and modest in our belief we can eliminate those things. But we shouldn’t use that as an excuse for cynicism and inaction. I take away ... the sense we have to make these efforts knowing they are hard.”—President Barack Obama
It was Niebuhr's writings opposing absolutism that influenced Obama to refer to the gun lobby as "absolutist" recently. However, as pointed out in my letter submissions to various newspapers (that did not publish them), U.S. citizens are court ordered daily to attend Alcoholics Anonymous where absolutism is emphatically insisted upon (caveats later appearing notwithstanding).
#10 Apr 26, 2013
Wikipedia is not all that reliable, but this is pretty interesting about Niebuhr:
Niebuhr couched his ideas in Christ-centered principles such as the Great Commandment and the doctrine of original sin. His major contribution was his view of sin as a social event — as pride — with selfish self-centeredness as the root of evil. The sin of pride was apparent not just in criminals, but more dangerously in people who felt good about their deeds — rather like Henry Ford (whom he did not mention by name). The human tendency to corrupt the good was the great insight he saw manifested in governments, business, democracies, utopian societies, and churches. This position is laid out profoundly in one of his most influential books, Moral Man and Immoral Society (1932). He was a debunker of hypocrisy and pretense and made the avoidance of self-righteous illusions the center of his thoughts.
Niebuhr argued that to approach religion as the individualistic attempt to fulfill biblical commandments in a moralistic sense is not only an impossibility but also a demonstration of man's original sin, which Niebuhr interpreted as self-love. Through self-love man becomes focused on his own goodness and leaps to the false conclusion — one which he calls the "Promethean illusion" — that he can achieve goodness on his own. Thus man mistakes his partial ability to transcend himself for the ability to prove his absolute authority over his own life and world. Constantly frustrated by natural limitations, man develops a lust for power which destroys him and his whole world. History is the record of these crises and judgments which man brings on himself; it is also proof that God does not allow man to overstep his possibilities. In radical contrast to the Promethean illusion, God reveals himself in history, especially personified in Jesus Christ, as sacrificial love which overcomes the human temptation to self-deification and makes possible constructive human history.
—Reinhold Niebuhr Domestic
During the 1930s, Niebuhr was a prominent leader of the militant faction of the Socialist Party of America, although he disliked die-hard Marxists. He described their beliefs as a religion and a thin one at that. In 1941, he cofounded the Union for Democratic Action, a group with a strongly militarily interventionist, internationalist foreign policy and a pro-union, liberal domestic policy. He was the group's president until it transformed into the Americans for Democratic Action in 1947.
#11 Apr 26, 2013
And this quote of Niebuhr is found in the New York Times article "Forgetting Reinhold Niebuhr" (9/18/2005):
"A democracy," Niebuhr said, "cannot of course engage in an explicit preventive war," and he lamented the "inability to comprehend the depth of evil to which individuals and communities may sink, particularly when they try to play the role of God to history."
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