An Optimist’s View
In many ways cognitive liberty is an inalienable fact of the human condition. Whilst society always asks us to curtail certain liberties, it is important to recognise and appreciate cognitive freedoms our society does protect. This article argues that we are currently living in a golden age for psychedelic use.
Things we should be grateful for:
1. We are living in an unprecedented era of scientific and technological progress. One consequence of this is our ever-perfecting scientific mastery of mind-altering chemical compounds.
Scientists have created chemicals that never existed before: every new chemical allows for the human mind to explore new realms of experience that previous generations could not have witnessed.
We created LSD. The day that Hoffman first consumed LSD was a day in which humanity opened up an aspect of existence that no other human in our 200,000 year history could have experienced. The existential and metaphysical implications of the creation of these new states of being is something few take the time to consider; it is a form of progress difficult to quantify and evaluate, but it many ways it is the most extraordinary field of human endeavour.
2. The sheer extent of our access to psychedelic compounds is unmatched in the history of civilization. You can have entheogenic compounds shipped from the four-corners of the world; you can legally buy many of the mind-altering substances employed by the shamanic traditions of the four-continents. As for the illegal ones, an individual who really wants to get hold of a chemical is rarely stopped by the law: an invisible network of individuals form a psychedelic trading community that can never be stopped. For the price of a bar of chocolate you can buy a tab of acid and have a profound mystical experience far beyond the confines of the five senses and the powers of imagination.
3. Aside from the chemicals themselves, the internet has allowed for unbridled sharing of information about them. Sites like Erowid allow individuals to share experiences of every known psychoactive substance, the amount of literature available on virtually every aspect of psychedelic drugs is astounding, and much of it is being freely distributed on the internet. There is no explicit censorship on such matters: you are free to think what you like and express it to the world.
A consequence of this is that psychedelic use if safer, it is literally ‘more informed’. Individuals need not rely on the state sanctioned information. The state-sanctioned discourses on the issue of psychedelics are losing their grip: people can tell the truth about their experiences and the effects (for better or worse) psychedelics have on them.
Information on the manufacture, refinement, and creation of psychedelic compounds floats around the internet (seemingly) unchecked. This spread of information allows for an unstoppable grass-roots system of production to cater for the needs of the population.
4. Despite the laws, there is a relatively accepted community of psychonauts in the UK. Music festivals are an established part of British culture, it is a cultural movement that seems only to gain more momentum. It is the opinion of the author that the token police presence at such events often turns a blind eye to the use of psychedelics and other drugs: they keep the peace, whilst they know that if they could arrest 90% of the festival-goers for possession if they wanted to, they don’t. They see that nothing good would come of it.
Alongside this the internet brings the community together: The Shroomery, Drugs Forum, and Erowid are just a few examples of sites that allow free communication between psycedelic users. Then there are the myriad Facebook groups and pages that bring people together.
In the UK academic circles focussed on studying psychedelics are going through something of a renaissance of late.
5. Online anonymous black markets (such as The Silk Road) allow for global trade in banned chemicals. The good old Royal Mail becomes a tool in the unstoppable network of psychedelic trade.
6. Whilst drug laws are an indefensible persecution, they are so ineffective, that few are deterred, despite the many injustices done because of drug laws, most users can find what they want, and get away with it.
7. Times are changing: as time goes on, a greater portion of the population have tried psychedelics and drugs in general and have come to see the nature of the lies and propaganda that surround them. Our generation is the next generation of politicians and legislators: I remain optimistic that they will forge a more reasonable set of attitudes and policies towards drugs.
These are good times we’re living in but we mustn’t be complacent. Forces are at work that will continue to try to restrict cognitive liberty as much as possible, and there are many limitations that are currently imposed on us that could be removed. Stand up for your cognitive liberty and join us.