For as long as I can remember, America has been declaring war on concepts. There’s been wars on poverty, cancer and terror. It’s hard to take it seriously.
Though you might like to smoke pot, it’s difficult to believe that you’re at war with the American government. Yet you are. They declared it. That you haven’t been attacked is not testament to the good intentions of the DEA but to the ridiculous difficulty of fighting this war. A lot of people have been attacked.
It’s like that old saying: It’s a recession when your neighbour loses their job, it’s a depression when you lose yours. Well, perhaps, it’s only a war when you go to jail or a dealer has a gun against your temple. Because, God knows, a lot of people have gone to jail, been shot and had their shit burned down.
Yet the worst of the fighting has been on the third-world supply side. So here, in the first-world, consumption side, it’s still quite easy to convince ourselves that it’s not a real war. Recent events in Mexico are making this illusion rather difficult to maintain.
We can all agree that we are in a war in Afghanistan. In 2008, 2014 civilians were killed. In total 1095 coalition members have died. And I’m not sure how many “enemy insurgents” or Taliban have been killed. For argument’s sake, let’s say 2000 died last year. That bring us up to about 5000 deaths.
Last year, in Mexico, almost 6300 murders were the result of the drug trade. This year has already seen over a thousand. It’s more violent than Iraq.
That’s just Mexico. How many others have died in drug-related murders in Canada, the USA, Europe, Central and South America, Africa and Asia?
But it’s Mexico that concerns us here.
Although it borders the empire, it’s now tottering on the verge of becoming a failed state. Drug dealers are fielding an army 100,000 men strong to fight against the 130,000 strong Mexican army. Even if one pays no attention to state corruption, it’s an equal fight. And one should pay attention to state corruption.
The barbarians are at the gate.
What seems to have started as a war of cartels against each other has morphed into a Narco-Insurgency. The cartels have made common cause against their common enemy. That is, the Mexican and American governments.
Warfare being what it is, predicting what this insurgency will morph into is almost impossible. I, of course, have some ideas. Hence the blog post.
Unless these cartels can unite to set up a monopoly along the lines of Rupert’s Land, they have very little to gain from holding territory or overthrowing governments. Indeed, it is the anti-drug policies of these governments that secure their profit margins. Their mark-up is caused by the illegality of their product.
Overthrowing the governments who make them rich makes about as much sense as catching Osama Bin Laden. They need those governments.
But war operates with a peculiar irrationality. Although this may have started as a war over territory it has become an insurgency. Once it became that, the dealers were faced with a choice: They must either win or lose.
In a real war against real people, losing is not an option.
Unable to give up their supply routes into the rich first world, at war with each other and then the government, they have found themselves in engaged in a grim battle for survival; coming into direct conflict with the source of their wealth.
They are victims of their own success. Equal in guns and gold to governments, they can no longer be controlled by these governments. It doesn’t matter that their guns and gold are built upon this control. The situation is beyond that.
The power has shifted.
The model that built the strength of the cartels, while draining that of the state, is undergoing a catastrophic change. It’s quite literally reached a tipping point.
Whether the cartels like it or not, they’re hovering on the verge of statehood.
Though they may have been successful cartels, they’ll fail as nations if they attempt to form their own. Even if they manage to defeat the Mexican army and hold a city, a few bombing runs will quickly make them kings of rubble.
But this won’t kill or even wound the cartels. Their profits will be driven up and they’ll happily retreat out of this well-lit fight, returning to the shadows where they thrive.
More battles will ensue.
They have to.
And the drug cartels will win.
The War on Drugs operates by a self-defeating logic. Every battle the state wins brings them closer to losing the war. The more the suppliers are squeezed, the higher the prices become and the more power fewer people gain. Should whole cartels be wiped out, new ones spring up, selling the same drugs at more profitable margins and controlling more territory than their predecessors.
In the meantime, the state invests money chasing its tail, passes crazier laws that drive huge swathes of its economy underground and finds its officials corrupted by bribery and intimidation. The best and brightest people see the easy money and chase it. A brain drain into the underworld starts.
What could have been a great, legitimate businessman becomes a drug lord. What could have been a solid soldier becomes a street corner drug dealer. Even research and development is effected. Genetic research, advanced farming and chemistry follow the cash and deregulation.
The state wilts as the cartels grow.
This is where we reach the tipping point expressed in Mexico. At some time, the government can no longer enforce its laws. The state fails. The cartels supplant it. They either claim territory as independent kingdoms –a bad policy– or they infest and co-opt the government — a good one. Better yet, they do both.
Using a mixture of bribery and fear, they put the government in their pocket. The state becomes an extension of cartel power. Adopting the powerful symbolism of nations, the cartels use all the existing structures to grow their own strength.
The police leave some areas alone while patrolling others, the courts pass laws that support the cartels, the army acts against competing dealers, dissidents and enemy nations run by differing cartels.
Pretty soon, you have your average, every-day sort of country.
Just think of Russia and it oligarchs, America and its military-industrialism or Britain and the East India Company. This is how countries are born, maintained and exist. The state is just the violent arm of business monopolies. It performs exactly as few decent social functions as it has to keep that game stable.
It taxes more than those functions cost. Pockets the difference.
Though I see only a difference of degree here, not of kind, and though it’s difficult for me to avoid applauding the suicide of any state, I’m primarily a realist. A government run by drug cartels, versed in thuggery and accustomed to control by violence is not an improvement over our legal cartels. It’s a step backwards.
These people are yet to learn the subtleties of governance. They’ll be blind and brutal dictatorships, utterly unrestrained by law, decency or any of the things that civilized people fought and died to gain. The cocaine cartels will make Haliburton look like saints. This is something any would-be progressive might consider while berating SUVs then snorting a few lines.
But I cannot sensibly endorse one version of this statist monstrosity over the other. Especially when Mexico is being eaten by the parasite its policies have fed. If anything, this is evidence of the state’s stupidity and unfitness for life.
Let’s not forget — it gave birth to these cartels.
The War on Drugs is a lot like drugs and the state is your typical junkie. It’s grown dependant on this nonsense, ignores reason, likes the way it makes it feel, is being forced to ever increasing stupidity, short-sightedness and brutality while ignoring that the whole endeavour is suicidal. It must be ended.
We have to kick this shit.
This solution is so blindingly obvious that even Pat Buchanan is now seeing it. The only people who benefit from this war are the dealers and the people “fighting” the dealers. Everyone else is getting screwed by both.
And who wants to see a world without drugs anyway? At best, people want to see a world without the drugs they enjoy. That’s simple hypocrisy.
But, in ending The War on Drugs, we should learn what we can from it.
pic nicked from here
The first lesson is that the illegal economy works extremely well. Pot is one of the few things in our society that is ever-growing in quality. The state should legalize drugs but not monopolize them. Let people grow and sell it in the free market. Decrease regulation over other products and let us enjoy the benefits.
It also clearly points to the problems with lawlessness. Might becomes right and AK-47s replace lawyers. This should give pause to any honest anarchist.
But, if we continue down the same road we have, we can now see where the path ends. We glimpse our future in Mexico’s present. The logic is ruthless.
So we have a choice. Let’s hope that we make the right one. For a change.
most pics nicked from here