The failed policies are real, the people they have failed are real, the liberalizations are real, the struggles, the education, the agitation, the organizing underlying the liberalization are real.
In the Moot, "Mike" -- who warns me that he "may be too transhumanist/technophilic for your liking" -- offers the following comment:
I suspect in the next 10 to 20 years we will see a lot of progress in this area. New neurotechnologies like deep TMS and ultrasonic neuromodulation may allow non-invasive targeting of reward related regions of the brain. This could conceivably lead to cures for many addictions. So drugs may merely become superfluous and unnecessary.
By the way, "Mike" also says some nice complimentary things about Amor Mundi, whatever our disagreements which, it goes without saying, is appreciated, but I am skipping over to the actual substance of his comment which, as he feared, is not at all to my liking. And, again as he suspected would be the case, it is his "transhumanism" and "technophilia" that is the problem.
Let me put it this way.
A meteor could hit the earth and "end" the problem of addiction for everybody on earth for good, too.
It really could.
But, to my mind, surely, it contributes less than little to the serious work of policy-making or activism that would facilitate more sensible and just outcomes where consensual (or not) private (or not) use and regulation of variously unhealthy (or not) variously addictive (or not) substances are concerned, however, to waste too much time pondering the whole meteor strike scenario.
Or, at any rate, it is almost always wrongheaded to file the time one spends thinking that way (which might, after all, be quite as edifying as the time one spends reading a good book or praying or masturbating, all of which have their places in the lives of those whose private perfections make recourse to them) under the heading of "serious thinking about actual problems that need thinking about" here and now.
With respect, here is what I hear "Mike" saying to me at the key point in his comment:
Blah blah futurology "may allow" more blah blah futurology hence "could conceivably lead to" still more blah blah futurology and "so" dramatically still more blah blah futurology.
As an exercise, imagine it is 10 to 20 years ago and Mike's counterpart (there were many, there always are) offered up some comparable futurological thought experiment that was also logically possible, I suppose, in the abstract, certainly enough to sell a story, this or that promising technique in a lab somewhere or idea of a technique he might have read about in OMNI magazine could, with a little luck and linearity appear on the scene and scramble the terrain and circumvent all the problems that presently define it. But either that idealized outcome didn't come to fruition at all, as these things almost never really do, after all, or let's say, something like a qualified variation of the idealized outcome did indeed "arrive" after a fashion, through the developmental glass darkly, through the inevitable complex socio- cultural- regulatory- promotional- engineering- economic- political- emotional- cluster-fuck of a trajectory that nobody could really sketch out back then, the ineradicable interminable stakeholder struggle that came to actually distribute the costs, risks, and benefits of its stepwise fraught fruition, in ways that articulated the substance of the outcome in ways that have little connection to the idealized outcome..
The futurological enthusiast talking then like "Mike" is talking now contributed less than little to the clarity or possibility or justice available in the vicissitudes of that struggle. Or, if he did contribute some such measure here or there, it was almost entirely accidentally so, accidentally in the same way that any poet or politician or well-placed prostitute could have done.
And worse than that -- in my view -- that futurological counterpart likely did a lot of abiding definitive damage instead, amidst the sparks of incidental insight, confusing idealized outcomes with real developmental struggles and sensible deliberation about actually-existing costs, risks, and benefits before us.
The fact is that the worst variations of futurological discourse (which I do not attribute to "Mike" explicitly, nor to most "transhumanist-identified" and "singularitarian" dupes of Robot Cultism, but they really should be made to better understand the company they are keeping) were media hype-notists and disasterbators whomping up irrationality to attract attention to themselves or salesmen whomping up exuberance to get at the money of their marks. We are reaping the whirlwind of corporate capitalism's smarmy smart guys and stooges right here right now.
Futurology is the hyperbolic quintessence of neoliberal discourse: Hyperbolizing derangements of sense in the service of elite or incumbent advantage, peddled as neutral cost-benefit analysis.
Foresight is all very well, indeed, it is indispensable, but when would-be developmental deliberation and planning assumes the tonalities of prophesy or salesmanship or substitutes abstract projection for proximate substance you can be sure that it is an explicit racket, more often than not, or, more innocently but quite as terrible, it is a confused and disavowed engagement with contemporary social and cultural problems displaced onto a symbolic terrain denominated as "the future."