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Doesn't the left libertarian's position on, say, cigarette smoking play into the hands of capitalists?

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yoda's walking stick
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Aug 27 2011 14:12
Doesn't the left libertarian's position on, say, cigarette smoking play into the hands of capitalists?

I'll just say it. I think cigarettes should probably be outlawed or at the very least have the strongest systemic pressures brought to bear against the habit of smoking them. Unlike, say, alcohol, which can be consumed in a healthy manner in moderation, I don't think there's any healthy manner in which to smoke cigarettes. I'm not a libertarian. What can I say? I don't believe cigarettes have any redeeming quality for society, and I say that having been a heavy smoker for four years.

My question though is how libertarians distinguish their defense of an individual's "right" to smoke, from a near identical position taken by the likes of Phillip Morris that allows corporations to create demand for one of the most addictive commodities available that kills millions of people a year globally.

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Arbeiten
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Aug 27 2011 14:19

Ok I am not going to answer this because I don't smoke and don't care if other people smoke, but I think another point to take into account, that I think is important for people here to take into account, is the production of tobacco. Probably not the nicest industry in the world to work in, especially when what is being produced is pretty superfluous....

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Rob Ray
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Aug 27 2011 14:31

Mm tbh, I think you misunderstand the nature of "banning" substances - basically it's a complete waste of time. The (full-on violent, legislative and propagandistic) war on drugs is a century old and I could get hold of most "banned" substances this evening if I wanted to. And I haven't been into any form of illegal drug for nigh on ten years now, I just know people who know people.

What's more, Portugal.

yoda's walking stick
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Aug 27 2011 15:10

Just because illegal drugs are still available does not mean that their banning has not had an effect, does it? I imagine if marijuana, which I personally believe to be relatively benign, had the legal and cultural heritage that alcohol does, it would be far more widely used.

The important criticisms of the drug war, to me, are that it's carried out in a classist and racist manner, while focusing on locking people up instead of addiction prevention and treatment. A society can focus on addiction prevention and treatment while simultaneously banning, as a result of popular vote, cigarettes, can't it? Perhaps the only people who would face penalties in a banned substance trade would be the bourgeois and petit-bourgeois producers.

Again, how does the left libertarian distinguish her defense of cigarettes from that of the right libertarian's defense? In practice, I see no difference. It's a strange state of affairs when a nominal communist, out of some right wing influenced definition of liberty, effectively defends the lethal commodity production of Phillip Morris.

Furthermore, I think left libertarians ignore the way in which advertising creates demand. Corporate leaders are smart and stingy. If they didn't have research testifying to the effectiveness of advertising, they wouldn't invest billions of dollars a year in the practice.

Sidenote: How does a nationalized healthcare system like Britain's deal with the issue of cigarette smoking? In the U.S. where health insurance is privatized, I imagine that identifying oneself as a smoker results in higher rates. What methods are employed to discourage behavior that mortally impacts the health of cigarette smokers and those around them under a socialized system?

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Rob Ray
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Aug 27 2011 15:20

Actually cannabis use is very widespread, about 9% of the population in Britain smoke weed, which is nearly twice the rates found in Holland. Where it's legal. And over twice the rates found in Portugal. Where it's legal.

In terms of health damage btw per joint it's about 20 times as carcinogenic as cigarettes alone.

Point is, you can't stop people from abusing dangerous substances by telling them not to and prosecuting the few people dumb enough to get caught. You CAN do it through cultural change, clear information dissemination (none of this Talk to Frank bollocks) and decent rehab programmes tied to social change.

yoda's walking stick
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Aug 27 2011 15:39
Rob Ray wrote:
Actually cannabis use is very widespread, about 9% of the population in Britain smoke weed, which is nearly twice the rates found in Holland. Where it's legal. And over twice the rates found in Portugal. Where it's legal.

So these are anecdotes which could have historical or cultural explanations. Is it your belief that legalization of a product results in a decrease of its your use? What would the reason for this be? While it could be true, it does seem counterintuitive.

Rob Ray wrote:
In terms of health damage btw per joint it's about 20 times as carcinogenic as cigarettes alone.

Wow, that's very alarming. I was not aware of that. Still, marijuana is not physically addictive, at least not nearly in the same way other products like cigarettes are, and this translates into its less frequent consumption. I would consider someone who smoked a joint a day a heavy marijuana user. Whereas a heavy tobacco user often smokes 20-40 cigarettes a day. Furthermore, in my anecdotal experience, marijuana users rarely continue their habit over a period of decades or a lifetime as cigarette users often do.

EDIT: You added the last paragraph to your post after I wrote mine. I have to go so I can't respond to it now. But I'd like to hear other people's thoughts on the subject. It's really hard for me to distinguish the left libertarian's defense of the production of products which are inherently harmful from laissez-faire neo-liberalism. I imagine Ron Paul would have similar talking points to some I have read here. I don't intend any provocation in writing that.

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Aug 27 2011 15:53

They aren't anecdotes, they're statistics. An anecdote would be "my cousin was thinking about taking weed and then realised it's illegal and decided not to." It's not counter-intuitive unless you're working under the assumption that making something illegal makes its use less prevalent. Which is an assumption not supported by fact.

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Is it your belief that legalization of a product results in a decrease of its your use?

No, I just don't think legalisation in and of itself has any serious impact on use. I think culture is way, way more important. Technically for example nutmeg is a massively powerful drug which can offer a big hallucinogenic high and if you take too much it's lethal. It's also legal and a very popular feature in cooking across Britain, with a very low number of people using it as a drug at all - less than say, magic mushrooms or LSD which have a bigger media profile.

A lot of people smoke weed because it's well known and has an image of rebelliousness which attracts a lot of young people in particular. The cultural impact of legalising then is likely to be a factor, as it's no longer a big deal to smoke it - a factor which quite frankly trumps the impact of police no longer arresting the stoner in the corner when they raid a house party.

Edit: Neo-liberals aren't wrong about everything, they're just motivated by a different set of ideas. I think drugs should be legal because the facts support that case and dovetail with an anti-state objective. I don't think that objective should incorporate the growth of massive companies dedicated solely to exploitation of the market.

yoda's walking stick
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Aug 27 2011 16:20

OK, this is my last thought before I physically leave my apartment while hoping others take up this conversation in my absence. This thought is unrelated to the main topic, completely theoretical, with no provable basis.

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A lot of people smoke weed because it's well known and has an image of rebelliousness which attracts a lot of young people in particular.

Isn't a lot of the romanticization of the drug trade by young people a result of absorbing conservative values? The drug dealer is the reflection of the capitalist; by idealizing the former aren't young people simply consistently applying right wing values? Another aspect of the drug dealer's romantic appeal likely has to do with his assumed frequent of violence, a patriarchal feature.

radicalgraffiti
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Aug 27 2011 17:05
Rob Ray wrote:

In terms of health damage btw per joint it's about 20 times as carcinogenic as cigarettes alone.

i don't think that is actually true, many of the chemicals in cannabis have any anti cancer properties, as far is i know it more or less balances out.

also some parts of that artical are clearly bolox

Quote:
The British Lung Foundation report also shows that the health dangers of cannabis have substantially increased since the 1960s.

That means that clinical studies carried out in the sixties and seventies may well underestimate the ill effects of smoking the drug.

This is due to increased amounts of THC - or delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, the major active chemical compound - in the cannabis consumed today.

this is not backed up by the data, and it wouldn't make cannabis more dangers anyway, in fact the reverse, since people would need to smoke less for the same result

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Aug 27 2011 17:27

Right, here are my views

The 'left libertarian' view position on cigarettes, alcohol, and other drugs as far as I know is that of 'yes its bad for your health, but people should be free to choose if they want to, it is their right to be able to choose'

Whilst this allows capitalists to make shitloads of profit by selling stuff that is bad for your health, I don't really think this is 'playing into the hands' of capitalists or right wing libertarians.

If you were to take a view that, by being lib com, we care more about the community as a whole, rather than individuals, so therefore surely we wouldn't allow these things, well I think its a mine field. First of all, we have to balance the freedom of the individual and the community as a whole when it comes to deciding what people 'need'. Secondly, how exactly would you go about not allowing people to use these substances, because surely it would mean making a law ? Would this be ok if it was decided by direct democracy ?

Personally, I am sort of split. On the one hand I think people should be able to choose for themselves, and have the right to do it if they so wish. On the other hand, I think its not that much of a stretch to say it is detrimental to the community as a whole. I think both 'hands' valid, maybe it will be one of those things that we will just have to leave up to the people to decide by direct democracy post revolution.

@RobRay - I struggle to believe that stat is true, and that the BBC are un bias enough to not lie about such things. In simple terms, if that stat was true, how come there has been no recorded death ever directly linked to smoking weed, as compared to the huge amount of deaths caused by cigarettes and alcohol. The thing you said about culture being more of an influence than the legality, I think you are correct. But I don't think most people that smoke weed idealize their drug dealer as much as they do in movies, portraying the whole drug dealing thing as a story of rags to riches, which is of course a capitalist dream.

P.S I drink, and smoke weed very occasionally. I never have, and hope I never will, smoke cigarettes.

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Aug 27 2011 17:44

We don't have to "ban" any product it's the way cigarettes were marketed in the west- they have been purposely wrapped around various images (as with all capitalist products). Marketed to kids to make them feel mature and "cool". Market to women to make them feel free and independent. Marketed to men to make them feel tough....like a cowboy. The problem is the psychological attraction capitalists create via marketing that initially attracts people to smoking (as is the case with most all capitalist products).

They've done such a good job of it these false attributes of smoking have been ingrained into out very culture. The trick is to reverse that not to ban anything.

It's not just cigarettes that have been shoved down our throats it's a multitude of useless shit that we consume in the modern capitalist society. In a socialist society workers would create what we want and need rather than what a capitalist wants us to want and need.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Torches_of_Freedom

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Aug 27 2011 17:45
Quote:
Isn't a lot of the romanticization of the drug trade by young people a result of absorbing conservative values? The drug dealer is the reflection of the capitalist; by idealizing the former aren't young people simply consistently applying right wing values? Another aspect of the drug dealer's romantic appeal likely has to do with his assumed frequent of violence, a patriarchal feature.

Errr no. I would say that your ignoring the main reason young people become involved in crime, namely poverty. At the moment i'm looking for work, i'm probably going to get something that pays £5.00 an hour. If I was selling drugs i could make near five times that amount with half the work effort.

yoda's walking stick
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Aug 27 2011 19:28
Ellar wrote:
Quote:
Isn't a lot of the romanticization of the drug trade by young people a result of absorbing conservative values? The drug dealer is the reflection of the capitalist; by idealizing the former aren't young people simply consistently applying right wing values? Another aspect of the drug dealer's romantic appeal likely has to do with his assumed frequent of violence, a patriarchal feature.

Errr no. I would say that your ignoring the main reason young people become involved in crime, namely poverty. At the moment i'm looking for work, i'm probably going to get something that pays £5.00 an hour. If I was selling drugs i could make near five times that amount with half the work effort.

I wasn't talking about why people enter the drug trade. I was talking about why young people romanticize it. That this romanticization exists is confirmed by the popularity of cultural items such as mafioso rap or movies like Blow.

yoda's walking stick
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Aug 27 2011 19:32

Yeah, I recently read about that in the book the Cigarette Century.

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Aug 27 2011 19:50
Quote:
At the moment i'm looking for work, i'm probably going to get something that pays £5.00 an hour. If I was selling drugs i could make near five times that amount with half the work effort.

Not strictly trun:

http://freakonomicsbook.com/freakonomics/chapter-excerpts/chapter-3/

I'm sure there's a lot of freelance dealers who bring in 25 quid an hour, but the vast majority of the "Wire" type street-level dealers are getting /less/ than minimum wage!

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Aug 27 2011 21:14
Quote:
Quote:

At the moment i'm looking for work, i'm probably going to get something that pays £5.00 an hour. If I was selling drugs i could make near five times that amount with half the work effort.

Not strictly trun:

http://freakonomicsbook.com/freakonomics/chapter-excerpts/chapter-3/

I'm sure there's a lot of freelance dealers who bring in 25 quid an hour, but the vast majority of the "Wire" type street-level dealers are getting /less/ than minimum wage!

Well i didn't mean that I could earn exactly 25 quid an hour (I couldn't see that many people in such a amount of time). I know that if I went into selling marijuana properly for example I could make much more in a day then I would on minimium wage. obviously this would vary dempending on where your selling it (the availabilty of stuff in the area and so on) but in allot of places you would be better off than working minimium wage. Obviously not suggesting that I am in any way involved in illegal drug activitys. Plus you can deal and have a steady job, which provides two incomes.

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Aug 27 2011 22:29
yoda's walking stick wrote:
Just because illegal drugs are still available does not mean that their banning has not had an effect, does it? I imagine if marijuana, which I personally believe to be relatively benign, had the legal and cultural heritage that alcohol does, it would be far more widely used.

There is cultural background to it

Rob Ray wrote:
And over twice the rates found in Portugal. Where it's legal.

Consumption was decriminalized, not legalized.

yoda's walking stick wrote:
So these are anecdotes which could have historical or cultural explanations.

There are plenty of direct correlations with the decriminalization and the decreases in consumption, overdoses and "criminality". Read the full report here, there are also plenty of government reports on it but sifting a government website is a pain.

yoda's walking stick wrote:
Unlike, say, alcohol, which can be consumed in a healthy manner in moderation, I don't think there's any healthy manner in which to smoke cigarettes

I know a lot of people that only smoke when they drink alcohol, meaning that they don't do either all that often.

yoda's walking stick wrote:
How does a nationalized healthcare system like Britain's deal with the issue of cigarette smoking? In the U.S. where health insurance is privatized, I imagine that identifying oneself as a smoker results in higher rates. What methods are employed to discourage behavior that mortally impacts the health of cigarette smokers and those around them under a socialized system?

Even though they might have a strong impact on a National Health System due to things like cancer a smoker very probably die much sooner and thus spare a socialized system old age related health costs.

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Aug 28 2011 02:35

In a communist society, how many diamond rings would we be allowed to wear on our middle fingers?

The point is not about consumption, it's about production. In a society in which surplus value extraction didn't exist good luck to you getting any tobacco unless you and your mates set up a group to produce it for your own use. And good luck trying to get that off the ground. Smoking fags is about as ridiculous as wearing rare stones on your finger, and the problem with it is the fact people have to make that shit just to put food on their table, not the fact people chose to use it (or even get hooked on using it).

In other words, I'm pretty confident that under communism tobacco farms would go the way of call centres and advertising companies.

yoda's walking stick
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Aug 28 2011 03:17
RedEd wrote:
In a communist society, how many diamond rings would we be allowed to wear on our middle fingers?

At least eight. Didn't you know that socialism is developed only under conditions of abundance???

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Aug 28 2011 03:39
yoda's walking stick wrote:
RedEd wrote:
In a communist society, how many diamond rings would we be allowed to wear on our middle fingers?

At least eight. Didn't you know that socialism is developed only under conditions of abundance???

Ah, but material abundance does not entail symbolic abundance, such as the ability to gain monopoly over items deliberately produced to both create and take advantage of systems of scarcity.

Didn't you know that communism is a system of abundance of things that I decide the workers actually need as opposed to the things their false bourgeois desires might force them to think they want? Eh?

RedHughs
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Aug 28 2011 04:06

What fucking "left libertarian" position??

Distinguish our position from Philip Morris?? Yeah, all our commercials are running on all the channels and everyone thinks it's the tobacco companies... Sheesh...

How many troops do the left libertarians command anyway? Who outside this board pays attention to this "position"? How could random shit a few thousand people, at fucking most, say on BBSes or very small publications, "play into" anyone's hands? How many degrees of hypothetical argument are you removing yourself from reality in this post?

I mean, this certainly is the kind of shit people argue about today but that's mostly because most people are powerless trying to pretend they have some power.

I might have a personal opinion about tobacco but who cares?

Compared to the basic question of how we live all the "issues" that modern capitalism present us are a waste of time. Many of them are intentional wastes of time very explicitly designed to distract us from questioning this existence. Some are "real", not concocted by capitalists but nothing that communists need to spend their time on. We communists are not, repeat, not going to be organizing the whole of society. We only want to inspire the masses to organize themselves, rule themselves. For that reason, we should be making pronouncements on bullshit issues like "cigarettes, for or against".

Alexander Roxwell
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Aug 28 2011 04:51

The Ku Klux Klan was opposed to NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement).

Does that mean that we should support it?

We should take positions based on their merits not on what our enemies, or even our friends, believe.

I chain smoked unfiltered camel cigarettes from 1964 to 1990. I quit until 1992 and then resumed smoking camel filters until 2001. I still suffer from "yearnings" for a cigarette which I quell by overeating grape popsicles.

Cigarette smoking was, and is, a problem of mine but the very idea that the capitalist state is going to "protect" me from my own personal problems is laughable given its track record. It is not going to protect you either; even if it pretends to.

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Aug 28 2011 09:36
Quote:
In a communist society, how many diamond rings would we be allowed to wear on our middle fingers?

The point is not about consumption, it's about production

I like this line. However, I don't think tobacco will disappear atr, any more than booze or cannabis will. Productions will undoubtedly change--it'll probably be more localised and certainly more humane--and over time I imagine consumption would decrease. I think more of like the old skilled cigar rollers who held a position in the "aristocracy of labour"--a job that is respected and recognised. Or, shoot, even a situation where smokers are expected to partake in some part of the production of tobacco if they want to consume it. I speak as a vehement non-smoker, but folks are going to want fags and spliffs to celebrate the revolution.

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Aug 28 2011 10:15
RedEd wrote:
In other words, I'm pretty confident that under communism tobacco farms would go the way of call centres and advertising companies.

i'm not so sure about that..

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Aug 28 2011 17:35
Chilli Sauce wrote:
but folks are going to want fags and spliffs to celebrate the revolution.

I know I am if we ever get there

Spikymike
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Aug 28 2011 18:43

Well I don't think libcomers need to take a position on his but.....

The state acting in the collective interests of capitalism does seek to regulate certain trades and I for one as an ex-smoker have appreciated some aspects of that, in particular:

banning smoking in pubs , buses, trains and some other public spaces to the extent that has actually worked in practice.

and have not appreciated the banning of other substances which I may also in the past have enjoyed to myself!

but either way I didn't have much influence on either of those state policies/laws.

Caiman del Barrio
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Aug 28 2011 18:45

I was generally pleased by the smoking ban in workplaces. At the time I was giong for a lot of bar jobs and I'm an asthmatic.

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Chilli Sauce
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Aug 28 2011 20:50

Yeah, the smoking ban is fucking ace! I enjoy restaurants and pubs infinitely more now. Fuck the drinking ban on the tubes tho!

Jenre
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Aug 29 2011 11:33

there was one big problem with the smoking ban... people's dirty stinking B.O.

and i can't get away with smoking joints anywhere now.

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Chilli Sauce
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Aug 29 2011 20:32

You know, Jenre, my partner says exactly the same thing (on both counts!).

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888
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Aug 29 2011 22:41

If people want to damage their health, they should be allowed to. The only concern is when it affects other people's health. I smoked some crack the other day, it was great. But people like Yoda want to take that god-given right from me!