V. The Bear Roars Against Prohibition


(crowd) Louder… louder…

Bear: I can’t hear myself… testing… (testing the microphone and sound equipment)… that’s a little better… I could have set this up on the ground as a fallback, actually… I didn’t think of that… I can hear myself–I’m not listening to the rest of the band they’re not playing right now–so I think we can deal with it pretty much…

What am I supposed to talk about?… You’ve got to understand I’m not an accomplished public speaker, I know how to speak and I’ve done a lot of it in my time, I’ve been on all type of stages and things… I’ve studied acting and ballet, and all that. But rather than give a prepared speech … I thought I would just tell some tales… I’ll try and make the tales interesting and see if we can make the sound a bit louder for you… Can everyone hear? Put a little more level on the system… a bit of whistling… I think that’s about as loud as its going to go…

We have a problem in the world today… The problem has developed slowly but it’s gotten way out of hand. And it goes all the way back to around 1890 when a bunch of women got together... the Women’s Temperance Society was the actual name of it, rather than the Temperance League.

And they had the idea somehow that if they made it hard for people to get alcohol then people would stop drinking. And that would help stop men beating their wives, getting drunk and fighting, and all that sort of thing. No robberies, no murders, no break ins, nobody would do that stuff because it’s illegal.

Well, guess what? The first thing they did in the 1890s was to try to get congress to pass a law, and they must have had some muscle because they did. But of course all the pubs and bars and liquor salesmen protested and said it wasn’t Constituitional, and the Supreme Court said they were right. You can’t stop adults from doing this kind of thing, it’s their right. It’s a free society, people get to choose, that’s their freedom.

Well, the Temperance League couldn’t give up, so right around the time that WWI was happening they went around and worked up a petition to pass an amendment to the U.S. Constitution so the Supreme Court would have to allow it, because it would be read into the law. It was called the Volstead Act and it was passed. And so Prohibition lasted from around the end of WWI to around 1933. As soon as Roosevelt took office the first thing he did was get rid of it.

Now there’s no doubt that the economic problems of 1929 had something to do with the black market. The economy was smaller and the black market had more affect. I mean everybody drank, there was a huge amount of money flowing through the bootleggers. The mafia and the enforcement agencies found it very lucrative for both of them. And then bang–it’s gone.

Well I guess the mafia wasn’t all that keen to go back to just protection rackets and loansharking and all that. They wanted to soak up an incredibly lucrative trade in something that people wanted to have–but weren’t allowed to have. So what if it was illegal? Well, breaking your kneecaps was illegal. Killing your uncle Ben was illegal, but that’s what they did… so…

So there we were with the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937. They said you had to have a tax on marijuana because almost nobody in white society used it–maybe muscians, black musicians, laborers, et.al… There was a little bit of it around but y’know, it was a totally harmless medicinal herb.

By doing that they thought that no one was going to object. And then they got Randolph Hearst on their side, and he sold a lot of newspapers pushing the “killer weed”, “reefer madness” sort of thing. All the kids are smoking it and blowing their brains out sort of thing. Well they weren’t and there was nothing wrong with that, and there weren’t many of them, maybe a tenth of one percent of the population used this stuff and other drugs like alcohol and tobacco, the usual things. They also had a little problem around the turn of the century with paragyerics and people getting addicted to them.

Around 1904-5, somewhere around then, there were about 400,000 people addicted to paragyerics: opium extracts, painkillers, cure-alls and what not. 400,000 addicts–big deal, come on. Even with alcohol and tobacco it was less than one percent [of the overall population]. Do you know what it is today? Over 50%. And I bet almost everybody has smoked marijuana, or taken some other kind of illegal substance from time to time. And so they should, it’s their life, their human right; its their right to do it themselves.

But central intelligence is not allowed in any society and there’s rules, and you have to follow the rules … Alcohol is engrained in Western culture and you can trace it all the way back to Christians when they developed their religion and they had alcohol as their sacrament.

Alcohol: you set a bunch of fruit juice in the back room and forget about it and a week later you’ve got wine. It’s the easiest thing in the world and its everywhere. You can’t outlaw it. But you need to have alternatives. I never saw violence with a bunch of people sitting around smoking pot. And even acid, y’know, you get some weird behaviour, but most of that is due to the fact that you have to be covert. A lot of bizarre behaviour from drug taking is directly tied to the fact that it’s illegal, and that you have to hide your activities, which are perfectly normal.

Every animal on this planet likes to get high. Ronald K. Siegel wrote a book about 20 years ago called “Intoxication: The Universal Drive for Mind-Altering Substances” [1989]. And every animal that he examined likes to alter it’s consciousness when it [can]. Back in the old days I used to give acid to the dog and cat.

Mickey Hart [drummer in the Grateful Dead] gave acid to his horse and they used to go riding stoned together. The horse used to love it. And so we had a pussycat and we used to sit around smoking pot. And one day we grabbed the cat and put it in a paper bag and put a bunch of smoke in there and closed the bag. Well, the cat starts looking around and after a while the cat starts slowing down and we let it out and it went off. And the next night we rolled up a joint and watched the cat dragging through the bag. Now you tell me that being high isnt a natural thing for cats and animals! Of course it’s a natural thing–it’s a human right. But [the authorities] won’t look at that.

The Supreme Court has never ever examined the Constituitionality of outlawing anything like that, which is personal behaviour.

Drugs can’t be controlled in any way by making them illegal. You want people to not use drugs? Well it seems pretty silly to make selling drugs the most lucrative job you can get. A paranoid could do it. Schoolkids can do it. Anybody could do it. It’s that easy.

In cities you could go out in the morning, get a front for a hundred dollars worth and walk home at night with a couple of grand in your pocket, easy, and that ‘aint even working hard. It’s not right, that’s not a good thing.

If you pay $200 for an ounce of pot you’re not paying $200 for the pot, you’re paying ten cents for the pot, or less. Throwing a few seeds in the compost costs nothing. But the government can’t control it. The money goes to the black market, to the mafia, and it wasn’t so bad back in the 1930s and 40s and 50s. But when Nixon and Reagan closed the borders to get tough on drugs, it propelled the price–the delivery price, that’s what we’re talking about, the delivery service–through the roof.

And all of a sudden the amounts of money started to attract the mobs and cartels and very dangerous people, and the violence escalated more, with more and more assassinations. There’s a war going on right now in Mexico between groups for the right to carry drugs across the border to the US. The Taliban, Al Queda, all of these, where do you think their money comes from? 90% of it is supplying heroin and from the profits of growing the poppies in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The people that are killing Australian and American soldiers are actually being given the money to grow opium poppies. It’s not actually illegal to grow opium poppies in Australia it’s only illegal to make opium from it. You could grow peyote here, too, there’s no laws against that. But if you want to grow marijuana…

Throughout the world people are wising up… They’re saying, y’know, well, this planet is conscious, it’s a living place and we’re part of it… This conference is called Entheogenesis, right? I don’t have much truck with that… I think psychedelics are psychedelic because they alter the mind, and that was what Humphrey Osmond chose. etheogenesis means it creates a ‘god’ inside of you… Well I don’t think acid or peyote or any of those things create anything. They facilitate your mind, stimulate you, expand you, they get rid of filters. They do a lot of things… And then there’s this legal shit that’s laid on top of it all. And this is why I’m mentioning prohibition and all these things–it’s a nanny state. You gotta do this, you cant do that, we’ve got to stop them from doing that, you’ve got to restrict them…

They say “we can’t legalize drugs, it would be open slather!” I heard that when I first came to Australia… and I can speak fairly good Australian–my accent’s shit but I can understand it… And people would talk to me and 90% of it I thought I knew what they were talking about, but I had no idea… It’s a totally different language from American. “Open slather…” Boy, that creates an image…

Why do people think that all of a sudden… It’s just like saying, oh, if we give everybody a free shower then everybodys’ going to run out and grab a bar of soap. Some people will take drugs, other people won’t take drugs. If we make drugs illegal there’s always going to be someone turning your kids on at school because they can’t find somebody stupid enough to try this stuff.

You’ve got all these salesmen running around…

What you want is a free society. A free society means an individual is expected to behave. They are expected to be educated and to understand that when they do things that their social behaviour may be interfered with. They are expected to seek counselling. You shouldn’t have to do things in a hidden and covert way that breaks the law. If you’re breaking one law then why not break another kind? You’re criminalizing people. I don’t think there's any difference if you smoke pot, take acid, or drink alcohol or smoke tobacco, any of that stuff. It’s your behaviour and it’s your responsibility–you can’t go out and kill somebody in your car because you're drunk and expect to get away with it.

They’re saying that people are not responsible enough so they’re taking [their rights] away from them. And taxes… you cant tax drugs, you cant tax gambling. You tax them and you’re out of business.

I’ve worked in broadcasting as a broadcast engineer. It’s one of the things I’ve done. You may know about some of them but you don’t know about all of them. I’ve done everything from construction work on up and there’s nothing–I’ve not done a single thing I’m not proud of. I’ve gained value from everything–even studying acting, believe it or not. Acting kept me out of jail about 50 times. “Oh no, officer, I couldn’t possibly have done that… That’s not mine, I never saw it before…” While the police have been searching me I’ve moved a single flask of drugs from one pocket to another–while two cops were searching me and they never saw it.

It’s a matter of directing what people are doing when they interact with you. I studied method acting. There’s a school of acting by Michael Chekhov. There’s two schools of method acting: one Stanislovsky, the other’s Michael Chekhov’s. With Chekhov’s you impersonate the character. With Stanislovsky you create the character from your own resources. Both are very similar in the end because you’re working with yourself. But the thing with the Chekhov theme was that you only worked in little pieces, here and there. Your goal was over there and you took little steps. An actor would come on stage with a goal and the idea was to bring the others around to that goal.

So if you were interacting with say, a cop, or anybody else, you know where you want to go. He doesn’t know where he wants to go so he doesn’t really have a goal. And so he says something to you and you work off that. And then you say something to him and he works off that. You can steer it. It’s like steering a car. You can open up a visual sense and a direction. You can make them see what they want to see …

That was acting… I also studied ballet. But ballet dancers don’t earn enough as soon as they finish dancing they can't afford enough food. Ballet dancers are always skinny, no matter what they eat. I’m skinny because of what I eat but that’s nothing you guys want to hear. I don’t eat the corpses of vegetables of any kind. I haven’t for 50 years. That’s not common, but I no longer try to change people or teach them or even tell them much about it, because…What you eat is what you learn from your mother. That’s very hard to change. It’s like your language or your culture–it’s the thing that’s sort of wired in. We’re humans because we’ve acquired the things that we do when we were children. And it overwrites an area of the brain that most animals use for instinct. Our instincts are very weak and we can overwrite them. If the overwriting isn’t any good then you get somebody that misbehaves, criminal activity and things like that.

If you put your kid in front of a TV when they’re say, eight years old, then they’re not learning what they have to learn at the time they have to learn it. Kids interact with people all the time and pull what they need from those around them, from adults and children–that’s what they are and how we’ve learned to do this.

When kids passively watch TV–and it doesn’t matter if it’s just a test pattern–they’re not learning what they need to learn at that particular time with the process.

And so when they are adults, a man or a woman… wait a minute… their toolbox is nearly empty. And they know this as kids, they know something is wrong. They’ve got to fit in but they can’t work it out, so they go hang themselves or something stupid like that. Everyone says, gee, why are the kids committing suicide? Well, let me tell you something. I call it Sesame Street.

Kids sit there watching Sesame Street and they won’t learn to spell, or read. They’re just watching funny puppets; it’s fun, but there’s no interaction, and human learning is not passive. Once you get past eight, yeah it’s passive and it’s the content that matters. Well the content’s pretty dead, too. They put adult programs on after ten o’clock but do you think kids like to go to sleep at ten o’clock? No, they find a way.

I used to get a flashlight out of the cupboard and read books because there were no TVs in those days. And every day when I’d get out of the bed in the morning my mother would ask me why the hell I was so sleepy? [I’d tell her] I had a lot of sleep, yeah sure.

We’ve got a complicated culture, not well understood. Anthropologists sociologists, culturists, everybody else. It’s like trying to do brain surgery on yourself–it’s hard to understand why you get what you do, how you do it, or anything else.

And the politicians are always talking about something they can do to attract attention and get elected. And they’re afraid that legalizing drugs will get them unelected, and yet the majority of the people that are electing them use one kind of thing or another. And always have and always will. And besideswich, now we get to the point where, words aside, the damage is severe and it’s economic. The money flowing into the black market is trillions. That money is going into the pockets of the worst elements of society who are buying the people and the corporations.

Why is it the executives of this corporation or another corporation make a hundred million when their top employees only make forty five thousand? Well hey, you ever notice that mafia chiefs up on the hillside with their mansion and yacht, limosines and everything? Where are they working? It’s like the Sopranos down in the neighborhood. The big difference is it’s like an expensive aristocracy. The mafia is pure feudal aristocracy. Mobs of all kinds work that way. So it’s not surprising that they own them all.

All the money’s flowing to them and they’re buying everything with it. But the thing of it is that today’s economy is so complicated and moves so fast that nothing matters. Well, you can’t manage what you don’t know. You cant manage what you don’t see.

There’s a possibility that between a quarter and a third of all the money that moves in trade is moving underground. The arms trade, the drug trade, etc., everything that’s illegal. Ever heard of chop-chop? They’ve taxed tobacco to the point where it costs thirty or forty times what it costs to make it. And it’s easy, just a handful of seeds–it’s just a weed. It’s a common weed in North America. And so now the people growing the stuff are peddling it and selling it. You can buy an ounce of tobacco for less than ten percent what the price of taxed tobacco is. And they’re still making more money than they would selling it to the government.

The government tax it to the point that creates a scarity for a high price. They could have learned this by watching the United States. People smuggled container loads of cigarettes across the border from one state to another because there was a two cents difference in the tobacco tax. Two cents a pack. And tons of it goes.

With something like that you have to move a lot more [to make a big profit]. That’s why heroin was more popular with the mafia than pot until the price went far enough up. Still is. That’s wrong. The delivery… government can’t be in the business of delivering things like that. And illegality or high taxes promotes, rather than reduces. It creates a side market that is out of control. You can’t regulate it, you can’t control it, you can do nothing about it.

They say health and safety, that the drug laws are there for health and safety. What’s healthy about getting an unknown amount of an unknown substance and sticking it into your arm with a needle that someone else has used? I don’t get it, and I’m sorry, I never did.

When I was first turned on to pot–in 1963–I was like … 29 years old, and I didn’t know anything about it. I’d never heard of it in high school. And later on it was just a weed that grew on the side of the road.

Oh, that’s beautiful stuff, yeah. You say this is illegal… why’s that? And then of course, stick the seed in a pot and boom! Easy done it. How can you outlaw a plant for chrissake???

And I thought they were Christian. I thought that the bible said that God gave Adam all the animals and all the plants but to stay away from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and the Tree of Eternal Life and you’re cool. Well of course he didn’t do that, but it says right there in the Old Testament, right there in the fundamental faith that built Christianity. You have the right to grow any animal or plant. Well why’d you make it illegal, see? I don’t get it. They’re wrong.

I knew that eventually it would cause a problem economically, it has to. And I think that once you have that thought you wonder when’s it going to happen, when’s it going to happen, and then BANG! It’s happened. But boy is it big time. It’s gotten so far out of hand before it went down. I don’t understand how they managed to do it. Those guys are managing the world economy? Boy, they must’ve been like the guy trying to tune four pianos with both hands and feet whilst juggling a set of drums! I don’t know… but when it did collapse it came down with a bang.

So now what are they doing? They’re handing out money like crazy. The stimulus. But that doesn’t seem to be working too well. Retail sales are up–we must be recovering! But unemployment keeps rising. How do you judge whether you have a recession? Jobs? You don’t have [enough] jobs in America. The unemployment is still rising. Oh, people are buying stuff because you give them stimulus… here’s some money go buy some stuff… But not as much money is being given out…

I don’t know if you guys are familiar with the old 60s comic book called the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers…? Everybody likes that one… Well one of the Freak Brothers–I don’t remember which one, they pretty much looked all the same–said that, “dope will get you through times of no money better than no money will get you through times of no dope”. You can buy Burger King with a pound of weed. And you know, he’s right, that’s the thing.

If you give people money they will think, well, I could pay a month’s mortgage, or I could buy an ounce of weed. Think I’ll buy an ounce of weed... Maybe two ounces. That’s robbery, it ‘aint going to work. They say it’s this that and the other, bad loans, well we fixed this, y’know. Well, they can’t fix it. They don’t understand the cause. You can’t repair a car if you don’t know what’s broken. You know it won’t run. But they don’t know how to fix it because theyre not looking in the right place.

Drug prohibition is like the Emperor’s New Clothes. They don’t see it for what it’s doing. They say oh, look at all this violence, all these wars … and they don’t think why, why?? Why are they fighting to deliver this plant that you can grow in your own yard? There’s not a single, traditional drug that is not derived from a plant.

Opium–derived from the poppy plant, that’s a decorative flower. You have to pay somebody to collect it, then process that down to opium, and then you have to extract it and make a chemical out of it that’s more powerful. It all starts out being a plant. We make this worth several hundred dollars a gram and then people go out and say gee, I think I can make some money out of this.

Amphetamines! You can get the stuff [you need] from the hardware store and make amphetamines. And then we can make more money, we can sell that for a profit, it doesn’t cost that much to buy it, you can double your money.

They’ve created an artificial climate that creates these weird drugs and it’s really bad stuff. Speed’s always been around but it used to be a little bit … most people would put it in their mouths and go boom. I can’t stand to listen to myself talk like that, I got to drop that shit. That’s crazy. It’ll destroy your memory.

When they discovered the coca leaf you got twice the output … and one tiny outcome was noticed. They were so desperate for a local anesthethic that that’s the one they concentrated on. You take the cocaine away and nothing else… It’s not cocaine that they grow coca leaf for, it’s the other guys. If you take the cocaine away it’s fine, it’s not bad. You don’t become addicted to chewing coca leaves. It doesn’t destroy your life or your mind or anything else.

So when they found cocaine they were desperate for a local anaesthetic but there were problems. You put cocaine on tissue and the tissue dies. If you inject it under the skin it causes an abcess. It’s psycho-toxic, it kills the cells. It gets into your nervous system and it stimulates you and shuts down the nerves temporarily. It blocks the nerve and the nerve dies. After a while the nerves to your heart go bad and you lose your memories because the pathways have been killed. It never really gets you high–it’s toxic, it’s like sniffing glue or petrol. Sure it changes your consciousness for a few minutes, but it’s not really a high. But that’s the thing you think. If you just take a little more, the next one will do it. But it doesn’t.

Some things–plant substances–are all lumped together [with the other illegal drugs]. But we don’t get free unless everybody gets free. You cant say oh, well let’s legalize marijuana, let’s legalize peyote, let’s legalize acid… No, it’s all or nothing. Serious damage is done by hiding activities, by criminalizing normal behaviour, by creating a black market where nothing has any pitfall.

If you can control it, regulate it, you can teach people and make a fee, not a tax, but a fee to educate people, to train them that if they’re going to take this drug they need to understand it, what it will do, what it won’t do, how to get out of it if you don’t like it, how not to hurt yourself with it. All of these things are important. But you can’t say you can’t have it. And you can’t say I’m going to sell you a nickel’s worth of tobacco for fourteen dollars. Or [have a market where] five cents worth of marijuana will bring you $250. Maybe not even five cents–if you have a compost heap and seed you can get two pounds of it for nothing. For nothing, right?

But then the first thing you’ve gotta do is stamp out domestic protection, make sure all the money doesn’t go overseas, you want that back in your economy. When the first Japanese governor got elected in Hawaii; and the Maui Wowi, the finest, most incredible pot you’ve ever even dreamed about, right, the first thing they did was take the helicopters out and put infra-red cameras in, and wipe out the marijuana crops. Well the Hawaiian economy was going on the boil. It took them ten years to get back to half of what they were doing. They literally shot their own foot off.

I don’t get it. I didn’t get it then, I don’t get it now and I see no reason for them to pursue it. I’m hoping that someone in this crowd understands what I have to say and has a connection that can get this information where it needs to go in a way that can be understood.

I personally respect… Barrack Obama and many other leading politicians. I respect honest, integral people that have the best wishes of their country and their people in mind. I think they’re bombarded with stuff from every direction and the chances of them understanding something as sensitive and complex as this… it has to come in from the right way, from the right person, at the right time. They have to open their mind ‘cause I’m telling you, you can’t possibly not see this if you look at it. You have to see it because it’s so obvious what’s going on. But somehow they don’t. But, like I say… there’s ways of not seeing it. There’s an Australian expression ‘blind freddy could see that’. Well unfortunately, none of these guys are blind–that’s why they can’t see anything, I guess.

The problem isn’t with marijuana, or heroin, or cocaine, or any of that, the problem is with the LAW. Drugs have been used by humans since pre-history, for thousands and thousands of years… They’ve been in trade, they’ve always been in trade, they’ve always been used. Some people use them, some don’t.

The trouble is not marijuana versus heroin, the soft versus hard–that’s bullshit! The problem is the Law. The law is doing the damage. You can legalize marijuana but do you think the black market for heroin is going to disappear? Where’s the money? The money’s not in the marijuana. It’s probably about ten percent of the black market. The major, major heavy drugs is where the money is. It takes the same amount of effort to smuggle a pound of marijuana as it does to smuggle a pound of pure heroin, now which one do you think is going to bring the most money? It won’t be the pot…

…The problem is [governments] are always worried about something you’re going to do … Now most of the recreational drugs are also medicinal substances, but there’s an approach to make things available as a medicine but not for other reasons. Cannabis has it’s purposes and it’s one of the best sellers of the plant world. It gives us food, it gives us pleasure, it gives us healing, and it’s a pretty plant and it’s lovely to be around.

The pharmaceutical industry have learned that if people will pay that amount of money to do heroin or smoke dope, then why are we giving them these life saving pills so cheap? Viagra? Oh my god it costs half a cent a tab and they put insurance on it for fifteen. $15 for 100mgs. That’s why medicines are so expensive today. If we pay so much for recreational drugs why are we giving these life changing drugs for so little money go figure. The damage is so widespread on so many levels. Corrupting government, destroying economies, making people take unknown amounts of very unknown drugs under unsafe conditions… I don’t see anything good in it at all, I’m sorry…

As Bear so astutely pointed out, the problem is the law, and the governments that make the law, ostensibly on behalf of the people they should be representing, but in practice that gets warped by money, power and the nature of hierarchies in general. Back in 1998, during his interview with Bruce Eisner, Bear put forth a proposal that would counter the problem of government corruption at the root, and considering the current turn of world events, it’s worth considering again:

Well, people evolved over millions of years from a very poorly defined animal— because archaeological traces of people are not all that easily discovered—and no one’s really quite sure what the proto-human mammal was like, or what precursor it evolved from. These are the so-called “missing link” things that anthropologists have so much trouble with. But I think we’ve been pretty much like we are today for a very, very long time. A lot longer than most people realize. And our social structures were basically tribal during most of this developmental period. It is the social interaction between people that is the thing which makes us unique. Our social structures, and our methods of learning virtually everything that we use in our behavior, is learned from adults while we are children. That’s all very important, and this is one of the things I’m discussing in the little diatribe against children’s TV. It’s all interrelated, we know we’ve got something wrong, things are not working right.

In a tribal setting, people generally gather together to discuss and make decisions, and often there will be a person who is chosen as spokesman. Usually these people are highly dominant. And the development from this highly dominant individual as a spokesperson into the kings and princes was kind of a lineal thing, it just happened, that’s the way it went.

We now have a society that’s hierarchical. Most of the power is taken away from the people, and it’s put in the hands of the few individuals. These individuals form a government. We have over the centuries slowly tried to modify and develop a form of government that was more responsive to the people.

Unfortunately, it’s always been diverted, it’s always been taken over by those who love the power; you know, it’s an elitist group. One time this elite group was called princes and dukes and kings. Now the elite group is basically the people with lots of money. The people who are elected into politics are elected according to a set of rules.

In the United States this set of rules is called a constitution. There are some countries that don’t have written constitutions. They have a body of law that is considered as a whole, combined with traditions over generations, that actually functions as their constitution. But the rules that are described in the constitution are to define the way in which elections are run, the kind of people who can run for them, and so forth and so on.

If you examine the intention of the people who wrote the United States Constitution, their intention was that the government be a protector of the public welfare and promote good, health and so forth. They had a high ideal. The elite who wrote the US Constitution intended for the government to be weak, and to be easily ruled by the elite. The elite, of course, was the framers, and they were descendents of the aristocracy who had migrated here from England, and they had a very strong social, moral feeling that they were the only ones who knew how to take care of things, that most people didn’t, and therefore the society depended upon them to make sure things were done right. That didn’t last very long; the framers were replaced by the mercantile classes very quickly in the early nineteenth century. Money rules to this very day. So they were disenfranchised from their own system which they had set up for themselves; it was some sort of cosmic karma …

Unfortunately, most of the [Constitution] documents are too simple. They don’t really produce a description that will provide a real representative government, a government that really represents the people who go down and cast their votes. It represents other—monied—people’s interests.

You see it everywhere. In order to get elected, you have to have a lot of money, because media costs are very high. In order to get this money, unless you’re independently wealthy, you have it given to you by someone. And these ‘donors’ never give things without strings attached. So conditions are always placed on the donations in various ways. Sometimes these conditions are quite explicit, and sometimes they’re implied, but they’re always there.

The individual who seeks government usually is in a system that allows people to be reelected and often, in fact, gives them generous retirement benefits at the end of a certain number of years of service. This induces people to become professionals, professional politicians. Their true profession, however, is getting elected, and then retain the office, so their most important skills are solely to be elected and to remain in office. Their skills involve manipulating public opinion, of looking nice and talking well, seeming intelligent, seeming responsive, seeming competent. None of this is necessarily true.

In fact, that’s why you see the biggest absurdity of them all, movie actors becoming leaders of countries. It’s just absurd! Because a good actor with a good script can present himself as anything. A professional politician does not need to be a lawmaker. He’s used as one, but that’s not his profession. A politician need not know how to write a good law, how to run a country, how to generate foreign policy, how to generate an economic policy.

 He doesn’t have to have any of these skills; he can hire advisors. Actually, the advisors attach themselves to him like parasites, like fleas to a dog. He doesn’t actually have need of any skills at all that are of any other use except to become elected and re-elected. Judging from the current crop, perhaps other skills are just an impediment to a successful career.

I think what we need is people who are part of the community, who are citizens who have other jobs and other interests, who go and serve in the same spirit a person would serve on a jury, not as a profession that’s going to lead to a fat retirement, but rather as a service to the community and to his fellow citizens.

[We need to] establish a truly democratic form of government which is responsive to the actual needs and will of the people. You’ve got to address that, you’ve got to find the way. We’ve got a system that doesn’t respond to people, it responds to money. And it can convince people of anything it wants. People are holding office whose only job, the only thing they really know how to do, is how to gain office, and how to remain in office. They’re governing by means of their advisors and by means of the permanent public service, which is the career part of the government. If you want a career in government, then you go and become a bureaucrat, because career people assure stability and that things keep working from day to day. When the government changes, you don’t have a period of confusion for awhile while everybody new figures out how to get a secretary or something. The office already has them, the office is there, the secretary is there, you just move in.

The people at the top have to be just ordinary citizens, they have to be regular, working, respected, intelligent, capable members of the community. Whether or not they are very knowledgeable in writing laws, well then, there’s the need for advisors again. But they need to be not owned by money interests, or by some other interests, where they will not implement policy that’s difficult because it wouldn’t get them re-elected. The necessary policy is difficult, because it’s the cure society needs. You have to somehow eliminate this loaded deck the political systems have been set up based on the wording of the Constitution. A Constitution is like the foundation of a building. There’s no point in trying to fix the third story, which isn’t straight if the foundation is crooked.

All the laws, the Supreme Court and its decisions, and the form of Congress and the people elected to it, and everything else, all have the structure described in the Constitution. It describes who can run for office, who can hold office, how old they have to be, what rules and behaviors are expected of them. All of those things are laid down, and the structure of laws, how the laws are written and how the laws are interpreted and how they’re put into effect and so forth, they’re all structured according to the underlying framework which is laid down in the Constitution. If there’s a problem with the framework, then there’s a problem with everything that’s built upon it. You can’t make the corrections on the third floor, it all comes down to fixing the Constitution. So you can’t say, ‘Gee the Supreme Court said such-and-such, there must be something wrong here.’ You can’t fix it, you can’t correct the problem in the laws because the laws are written and interpreted only the way the Constitution allows them to be.

The Constitution should very explicitly exclude things like the making of laws governing non-injurious consentual behavior, moral judgements. Also, it needs to exclude laws which create black markets. All commerce must be conducted openly in a legal forum. Disallowing monopolies would be a nice touch. The system should also require that laws be enacted only for a limited period of time, at the end of which they automatically expire. And cannot be renewed unless they are reintroduced. They have to be re-debated, reconsidered. All laws.

It is not a good idea to allow people to go and become career politicians. An office holder is allowed to serve one term, or two terms, or specific periods of time in office, or a certain number of years maximum, at which time you’re no longer eligible to hold office. No handsome retirement fund. While serving in office you’re given a reasonable stipend to cover your costs, rather than a big salary, somewhat like pay for jury duty. You’re expected to continue with your present business as well. You’re just expected to devote a certain amount of time as a servant to your country, to help run the government, to help organize and pass legislation, and so forth. You’re expected to be one of us, so that what you do is what you would do for yourself, not what you can do for such and such corporation or such and such moneyed interest, or because the media will show you in a good light for reelection if you do this, or anything else. It has to be because it’s the right thing to do. I guess I am a bit too idealistic in all this.

It’s all rhetoric, though. They talk about less government, but simultaneously they’re increasing the government’s size. They talk about saving money, but the only programs they want to cut are programs that feed some tax money back to ordinary citizens.

They cut welfare, health, education, any kind of support programs that help new businesses. The tax breaks all go to the big corporations. The poor guy with the little shop down on Main Street, he’s bloody lucky to feed his family each week! 800,000 businesses do 3% of the business. 12 businesses do 90% of the business. The other 7% is the medium size guys.

But the little guys, which are everywhere, it’s like the donkey and the carrot. It’s the carrot of capitalism. This is a great free enterprise system, you can start your own business. They don’t tell you that you’re going to work 60 hours a week, at an average pay that’s below the minimum wage, and suffer from all kinds of stresses that will probably shorten your life, and you’ll be lucky to be able to send your kids to college. That’s the reality of small business. And not just in the United States, either, it’s everywhere, it’s the way it works. The rules are different for the little guy. They shouldn’t be, you know.

The first four priorities that a government should take care of are: welfare, health, education, and protection (like from fire or violence). Those four are foremost, all the rest are immaterial if you can take care of those four. Then what’s left over, you can spend on other things.

As technology increasingly replaces human labor with machines, there has to be a way of transferring the wealth these machines produce back to the people. It all goes to the owner at present. If you can replace 5,000 people in a factory with 3 technicians and a bunch of robots that’ll produce twice as much as the 5,000 did, if you don’t drop the price of the product, where does the profit go? It doesn’t go to the people who are put out of work. They now can’t buy the things the factory’s making. What happens when all the goods are made by machines and nobody has a job? Who’s going to afford to live? Where’s all that wealth going? Whose interest, and what purpose, does it serve? There’s not a single government anywhere in the world that can provide an answer. Most are not even looking for one.

The governments that are socialist have deteriorated into bureaucracies which eat up and absorb all the energy without creating any incentive for people. Those that are capitalist allow all the money to go into the hands of a few. The worst thing on top of all of this is the fact that, as far as I can determine, no economist anywhere has ever proposed a stable economic model. Every economic model I’ve ever seen is predicated on a certain minimum ‘level of growth.’ Growth means expansion. Something that is growing/expanding is not stable, any more than something that is contracting/declining is stable. Stable means it remains the same, and functions normally. It’s a buffered system. It doesn’t expand, it doesn’t contract, it just goes along running perfectly.

No one has ever proposed an economic model including this concept of stability. It’s always predicated on growth. You can only grow so far before something, what happens, you hit the ceiling. Then what happens? You crash! So you get boom, bust, boom, bust. The economic history of mankind is boom, bust. Because the economic history of economists is everything must have growth. You’ve got to expand, you’ve got to have more people, more products, more this, more that. And there’s a limit. There’s only so much available in raw materials, there’s only so much space that people can occupy, there’s only so many products they can absorb. Eventually, growth must cease. Otherwise there will always be boom and bust cycles.

And yet, no one is prepared for that. No one is prepared for the realities of it, it’s what’s valuable to you now, the money in your pocket today or tomorrow, don’t worry about next week, next month, next year, your children or your grandchildren.

In some ways the shit has already hit the fan. Look at Bosnia, look at Africa, look at where things are starting to break down. They’re having sort of a slow-motion breakdown in the relationships between India and Pakistan. (More bloody bombs!). Russia is an 800 lb. gorilla who has broken into the stash of home brew, or something, no one knows what’s going to happen. China’s long history is that of personal enterprise and reward, with a rigid and very elaborate social and family system that evolved some of the best businessmen that this planet’s ever seen. To become Communist, and to remain Communist for as long as it has, to me seems almost unbelievable. Already, we are seeing real Chinese capitalism starting to break out on the mainland. There’s no way in the world that scene can remain stable very much longer. It’s a monster, and it has to come to a crisis point.

The whole world is moving towards a social, economic crisis point. There are so many things that are stuffed up, and no one is doing a bloody thing to fix any of it. There’s little in the way of constructive arguments going on about any of it either.

I’ve always thought that probably no change of significance could occur in the United States. I can’t really judge the rest of the world, it’s a very complex picture. But my experience has led me to the conclusion that ultimately, the social structure would have to break down to some form of civil war before any significant political change could come about. In the case of the United States, there is an serious ongoing deterioration of the social structure, and a total retreat from any sort of rational action. Draconian laws are filling the prisons with non-criminals and no safety net is in place for those whose jobs are eliminated by technology. I don’t quite see what is keeping the whole thing economically afloat, to tell the truth.

In the United States, also for some reason, socialism has become an anathema. If you even talk about socialism, you’re a pariah of some sort. You don’t have to call it communist, but when anyone stands up and says they think government has a responsibility to its citizens, these people are automatically considered to be a problem. They’re considered a problem by everyone, not just the authorities, and are treated that way. The term: ‘Liberal’ used to be a badge worn with great pride, by people in political life. It was considered absolutely one of the highest compliments you could earn if you were said to be liberal in your outlook. It’s now considered as one of the worst epithets that can be applied to you. To me, it’s bizarre how they can twist the meaning of this term. Someone who is liberal is someone who stands for freedom, the word liberal comes from the same root as liberty. How can you possibly make that into an epithet? I guess it is now: ‘Liberty and Justice for those who can afford it.’ Or: ‘All men are created equal, but some are more equal than others....’

I’m not proposing that people should use heroin or cocaine, or anything. I don’t even propose that people should necessarily use psychedelics, unless they prepare themselves ahead of time. It’s a decision that each person certainly has the right to make. No one else should have the right to tell them whether they can or cannot do things.

Bear’s website, http://www.thebear.org/, provides the last details of his ‘modest proposal’ to end the war on drugs. On it, Bear details the real reasons for drug prohibition, saying:

The authorities don’t have any valid arguments against pot, their purpose in opposing legalization is to prevent any chinks in the armour, or cracks in the wall of prohibition. All propaganda against drug usage is false and/or misleading.

The authorities likewise don’t give a stuff about what any particular drug does. The stance that pot is a dangerous drug of abuse is only a surface excuse, propaganda for the masses. Marijuana was made illegal in the 1937 to remove a threat to the synthetic fibres made by DuPont, just as the same company has connived a ban on Freon, now that their patent on it has run out, under the pretence that it is ‘harming the ozone’–a claim completely without any proof whatsoever. DuPont has never had any interest in the welfare of people.

The law against LSD was put into place in 1966 primarily by Sen. Thos. Dodd, who set up and put through the law in 1966. The only real function of the drug prohibition is to create a black market trade, otherwise known as ‘money for nothing’.

The addition of any particular drug to the prohibition is a matter of the same policies which will maintain the illegality of all drugs to the bitter end. The drug trade is now the single biggest money operation in the US economy, and the money it produces is used to see to it that the laws will not change. I was told recently [1998] that the current value of the drug trade is estimated at $500 billion, a figure which agrees with the statements I heard about the amount of money leaving the US for cocaine in 1980, which was said to be $1 billion/day passing through Miami, at that time the main portal for the trade. Watch them invalidate the plebiscites in Arizona and California for the medical use of pot. I can almost guarantee that these laws will never be implemented, for the authorities cannot tolerate any ‘erosion’ in the wall of prohibition.

Pot isn’t even important to those in the big-money drug trade, except for maintaining a solid wall of prohibition, the same reason I noted above for the uselessness of proving scientific merit for the use of any prohibited drug. Money does indeed drive these things, which is why you have no chance to change anything. No one gives a minute’s notice to thoughts of ‘hypocrisy’. It isn’t a question of what’s ‘good for you’ or ‘what’s bad for you’. Alcohol is not as good a way to create money-for-nothing as heroin and cocaine (too easy to make at home), plus it was put outside the rules by the repeal of Prohibition.

Wm. Bennett, like the current fool, Barry McCaffrey, in charge of the ‘war on drugs’, is only a lackey of the money which runs the US government, i.e., ‘Big Business’, and the biggest business in the US is drug-running, so give it up... Barring a revolution or a new constitution, the US congress will never change the way election financing is structured, and that is one of the most important principles these interests will protect at all costs. This is a serious threat to the social stability and future of the country, so everyone must try to understand the real reasons behind it.

And then in a later essay, WIN THE WAR WITH NO MORE CASUALTIES,

Bear says:

Having said this, I wish to put forward the following proposal as a solution which I hope will be seriously considered. This is based on the Dutch approach, but is far more complete and coherent. I believe that we are now presented with a unique opportunity for some brave country to lead the world in eliminating this disastrous prohibition, which may very well be threatening the survival of all of humanity’s social fabric. The operant principle here is harm minimization. The best laws are always the simplest.

An outline for the reform of present laws on drugs and their use.

First, the entire designation until now called ‘illegal drugs’ needs to be divided into two classes, much as the drugs used in legitimate medicine are divided, into those which are freely available to any adult person, as are the over-the-counter products, and those which require medical advice and/or supervision, such as the prescription drugs.

Category A

This category includes all plants and crude plant derivatives including tobacco, opium and hashish, alcohol and (although not a drug per se) gambling. Including, but not limited to all plants containing the substances psilocybin, ergoline alkaloids, mescaline, cannabinoids, opioids, nicotine, caffeine, ecgonines (coca alkaloids) and ethanol. Although it is not a ‘drug’, I believe the costly, socially disruptive and frequently addictive practice of gambling should also be grouped in this category, since ‘problem gamblers’ often require counseling and rehabilitation, which is similar to that needed by people with problems controlling their use of drugs. Here too, advertising never mentions the odds against winning.

Category B

This includes all the chemical and highly purified products, whether derived from natural materials, or synthetic. Whether currently used in medicine, or not.

These two categories would then be dealt with in the following fashion.

Those in Category A:

The plants and materials in this category would be permitted freely to be grown, processed, possessed, and used by an individual for the personal use of that person and immediate family, but cannot be sold. A small fee must be paid on a yearly basis by those exercising this right.

Individuals may, however apply and be granted a license to produce these materials for sale to others, provided they are of good character, and pay a licensing fee. All the sales made under this provision will have a small fee attached at the point of sale. These fees are not tax, and cannot be transferred to general revenue. All such revenue derived from this fee must be used in the following manner by government: A portion of all fees collected under this rule will be set aside for education, detoxification and rehabilitation, and the remainder will be passed on to the health service to help with defraying the costs of treatment of the increased number of ailments which are the result of such drug use. In this way the system is prepared to deal with any problems, by making it ‘pay its own way’.

Those in Category B:

The material in this category may only be bought and used under the supervision and/or authority (prescription) of a medical practitioner, but otherwise are not restricted. The same licensing and fees for producers and sales as in Cat. A will apply.

Educational, detox and rehabilitation facilities must be well funded, staffed and available to anyone who needs them. A drug-user’s equivalent of ‘driving licenses’ could be required for the Cat. B (and perhaps also for Cat. A users). This license would take the form of a required course in the effects, dosage, hazards and health risks, followed by a test and the issuance of an ID card similar to that issued to road vehicle operators. The user is then informed of all the pertinent facts. Both categories would require that the user be an adult.

A requirement might also be made that a person who wishes to use the psychedelics be a member of a support group which should have a trained psychological worker associated with it.

An important principle is that the fees are kept reasonable and do not represent a ‘sin tax’ mentality, so as not to raise the price too high and re-establish the black market. Drugs and gambling are not of benefit to society and governments must not derive revenue from them, otherwise there is little motivation for the powers to discourage the practice.

Other drugs under consideration for prohibition, like anabolic steroids, must be returned to the medical community so as to destroy the growing international black market in these substances.

It is important to realize that ALL black markets are dangerous to the public health, damaging to the economy, corrupting to officials, and create a basis for crime. Honest democratic governments must never knowingly act to create situations which will allow black markets to develop, no matter how reasonable the impulse to do so seems at the time. It is also important to understand that legalizing the use of drugs will not encourage more people to use drugs, nor will it, as many have proclaimed, ‘send a message’ to youth that drug use of any kind is approved of by society.

This is an extract from the free, non-commercial biography, White Lightning, available for PDF download here.

Bear Owsley’s writings can still be found on his website: http://www.thebear.org/

Support The Owsley Stanley Foundation – a 501c(3) non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of “Bear’s Sonic Journals,” Owsley’s archive of more than 1,300 live concert soundboard recordings from the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s here: https://owsleystanleyfoundation.org