This book explores the increasingly broad terrain of drugs in American society with an emphasis on politics. It begins with the War on Drugs initiated by President Richard Nixon in the early 1970s and extends to the current day with the vast power of the pharmaceutical industry (Big Pharma), expansion of global criminal syndicates, militarization of the drug war, and struggles between states and federal government over the legalization of marijuana. From the beginning, the drug war produced increasing authoritarian tendencies in American politics, visible not only in swollen national bureaucracies and burgeoning police functions, but in the rise of the largest prison-industrial complex in the world, a surveillance state, and the weakening of personal privacy and freedoms. At the same time, the legal drug system with some of the most profitable business operations anywhere has expanded to create a huge medical edifice, affecting the delivery of health care, development of modern psychology, evolution of the treatment industry, and many other areas of contemporary life, including the world of sports and recreation. Although prohibitionism remains very much alive, targeting a wide range of illicit drugs, today it is the hundreds of widely-marketed chemical substances sold by Big Pharma that result in some of the most serious health problems affecting society. This book explores the long historical trajectory of both the War on Drugs and the growth of Big Pharma, focusing on social outcomes and political consequences in the US and beyond.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 Drugs: The Historical Matrix
Chapter 2 An American Crusade
Chapter 3 Delusions of an Epoch
Chapter 4 Drug War, Authoritarian Politics
Chapter 5 Narco Globalism
Chapter 6 The Medical-Drug Behemoth
Chapter 7 The Medicalized Society
Chapter 8 The Great Pot Wars
Carl Boggs is Professor of Social Sciences at National University in Los Angeles, Adjunct Professor at Antioch University in Los Angeles, and author or editor of numerous books including Imperial Delusions: American Militarism and Endless War (Rowman & Littlefield 2004) and Masters of War: Militarism and Blowback in an Era of American Empire (Routledge 2003).
“Drugs, Power, and Politics is that rare thing: an urgently written book about a profound political and ethical crisis that appears on the scene at the precise moment when we need it most. Carl Boggs deftly navigates the warped history of American drug policy and the misbegotten war that has ravaged two generations of young Americans and shredded basic civil liberties for all of us. Boggs focuses a merciless light on this corrosive form of social control that masquerades under a banner of moral rectitude. A fierce, brave, and exacting history that is also a passionate call for peace and redemption on the home front.”
—Jeffrey St. Clair, editor of CounterPunch and coauthor of Whiteout: The CIA, Drugs, and the Press
“A wide-ranging historical and political treatise, Drugs, Power, and Politics explores American drug policy and its consequences from the Nixon era to the present day. Trenchant, contemporary, and astute, Boggs’s book dismantles the hypocrisy surrounding drugs from early moral campaigns, media sensationalism, global economics, violent cartels, and the power and rise of huge pharmaceutical companies to the current debates about marijuana legalization. Under one cover, the reader will learn why America is stuck in a morass of misinformation, dirty politics, economic travesties,
and human suffering, all the while being lied to about the pros and cons of licit and illicit ways we medicate ourselves.”
—Patricia A. Adler, University of Colorado Professor Emerita and author of Drugs and the American Dream